A Visit with Paul

January 01, 2015  •  2 Comments

Paul, a friend of mine from the San Diego area, and I finally decided to go on a photo shoot together.  We had been thinking of a trip to the Four Corners area but decided it was too cold for an extended camping trip to that area.  Thus, we decided to meet at the Trona Pinnacles and take it from there.


On my way to the Pinnacles, which are located  in the Mojave Desert near Ridgecrest, California, I saw a side road off of US 395 that looked interesting.  It was was cut-off to Garlock, CA.  Upon arriving in Garlock after about a six mile detour from 395, I found only a few abandoned buildings in the area, one being the old Garlock post office.  After snapping a few shots, it was back to 395 and down the road to Trona Pinnacles.


Paul was not at the Pinnacles upon my arrival so scouting out a campsite for that night seemed to be a good thing to do.  Soon Paul arrived.  It was late afternoon, the sun was low in the western sky and the light was starting to improve.  After shooting for awhile, we decided it was maybe time to eat.  For me supper was a couple of rice cakes with cream cheese.  Paul had some cabbage with spiced tomatoes, which I sampled, and some cheese.  After supper I set up my cot and sleeping bag in the back of my truck.  Paul brought his van to sleep in.


One reason we met at the Pinnacles was to try out some shots of the Milky Way with the Pinnacles as a foreground.  As the skies began to darken, the temperature began to drop.  We experimented shooting the Milky Way for quite some time.  The results were interesting if not successful.  Most of my shots were over-exposed which resulted in the stars not being pinpoints in the sky but rather small dashes of light.  This occurs because of the movement of the earth while shooting long exposures - back to the drawing board for me.  I may practice some this winter in Vock Canyon.


The night was cold and the early morning just before sunrise was not much of an improvement but we wanted to catch the early light on the Pinnacles.  People speak of the “golden hours” just after sunrise and just before sunset as the optimal time for shooting color images.  While that may be correct, I have found that the “golden hour” in many parts of the Desert Southwest is the “golden 15 minutes”.  Anyway, I took some shots that I had scouted the previous afternoon.  We then ate breakfast and headed off for my home in Vock Canyon.  For breakfast Paul had grape nuts – rice cakes with peanut butter and bananas for me.


 It is only a few hours drive from the Pinnacles to Vock Canyon.  Paul followed me in his van as he was unsure of how to get to my house.  He had visited once before on one of his major road trips to relax, sleep in a bed and take a shower.  After arriving in Vock Canyon, we just sat around for a while and sort of planned out the next few days.  We kind of had an idea where we wanted to go but nothing concrete in mind.  That evening I made some quesadillas with jalapeno slices and Paul opened a can of chili – scrumptious. 


The next morning we had a breakfast of eggs, sausage , tomato slices and toast with raspberry jam.  Paul had a loaf of Oroweat Winter Wheat bread, a hardy bread with a good taste and a texture that fights back.  Since then, it has become my bread of choice.

                                                              Grapevine Canyon

Later, we hopped into my CRV and got on the road for Grapevine Canyon.  It is a short drive from Vock Canyon across the Colorado River and into Laughlin, Nevada.  The pavement ascends into the foothills west of Laughlin.  After a few miles, a right turn on Christmas Tree Pass Road leads to Grapevine Canyon.  It is a dirt road but is wide and well maintained and passable by passenger cars.


Grapevine Canyon is an area marked by a whole bunch of petroglyphs and is a short hike from the parking lot just off of Christmas Tree Pass Road.  There are also some nice vistas across the Colorado River into Arizona and the mountains just west of Vock Canyon. 


Returning to Vock Canyon, we discussed our plans for the next couple of days and had a late lunch of hamburger patties, a salad, fresh green beans which Paul had brought and ginger snaps for dessert.  Later that evening, I snuck into the kitchen and got a couple more ginger snaps.  Sorry Paul.


The next morning we got on the road in Paul’s van for Sedona, Arizona, an area that I’m not real thrilled with but Paul wanted to go there.  We stopped in Williams, AZ for sausage and egg McMuffins at McDonalds.  We ate them outside and got back on the road for Sedona.


What a mistake.  It was Thanksgiving weekend and the Sedona hordes were there.  Drove around until Paul found an old trail into the hills north of town.  Paul and I went up the trail for a bit until I turned around and Paul continued on.  Back to the parking lot for me.  I snapped a few images of the red rock to the east – nothing spectacular or even photographically interesting to me.


We then went to a campsite south of Sedona.  It is a private, national chain of campgrounds and Paul has a membership with them.  As we were driving around looking for a campsite, I saw an older green Honda parked in a site next to an RV.  The Honda had belonged to my friend Kathy and she sold it to Don, another friend of mine.  I hopped out of the van and went to visit with Don and Arlene.  Arlene’s cousin and her husband were also there.  After a while I went to the campsite and set up my cot and sleeping bag.


That evening Paul and I went into Sedona for supper at an Italian restaurant he knew of - spaghetti and meatballs for me and lasagna for Paul.  It was dark and cold when we returned to our campsite so I crawled into my sleeping bag.  It got really cold that night; in fact there was frost on my sleeping bag.  I had drunk too much iced tea at supper that evening and had to get up twice to go number one.  The second time was at about 4:00 AM and I could not get back to sleep so just laying in my sleeping bag and being kinda cold was my only option.  When the sun finally came up, I hung my sleeping over the picnic table to dry off.  Paul and I then went up to Don’s RV for a cup of coffee.


We lounged around quite a while until we got back into Paul’s van and made our way to the camp restaurant for breakfast.  I had eggs, ham, hash browns and a biscuit washed down with ice water, while Paul had eggs, hash browns, coffee and pancakes.  We then headed out for Lake Watson near Prescottt, AZ.  Lake Watson is one of my favorite places.  Upon arriving we sat on a bench overlooking the lake waiting for the sun to get lower in the sky.  We then spent quite a lot of time shooting the rock formations at Watson Lake before leaving for Vock Canyon.


The next day we had rice cakes and cereal for breakfast and went on a hike near Kingman.  We spent most the day there shooting and hiking.  It was mostly hiking for me and we got separated for quite some time.  I had been to this area before and always wanted to get further along one of the trails so that is what interested me most that day.  The weather was great  and I had plenty of alone time out on the trail to ponder whatever slipped into my thoughts.  The check engine light on Paul’s van had lit up earlier on the trip so we hopped in and went to a car repair shop in Kingman.  Paul decided to wait until his return to San Diego to get it further checked out.


The next morning was a breakfast of eggs, sausage and cereal.  Paul then left to return home. 

Another fun adventure.



desert southwest landscape photography
Yeah, shooting Trona at night was more of a learning experience for me also. And I will have ginger snaps for your next visit.

Make sure you bring some ginger snaps when we get around to that four corners trip. You owe me.

I haven't done much with the images from this trip yet. I think one from Sedona and a couple each from Watson Lake and the last day may have some promise. And I may even be able to beat one of the Trona night shots into something hangable, though it'll take some doing. The main gain from that episode was learning the limitations of my camera for night shooting. Was recently looking into a new one but got too traumatized by my other Xmas expenses. Well, that plus treating myself to the 18-270 lens I was talking about.

Happy New Year!
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