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3,000 Miles to Ghostland, Part II

I think that most visitors probably don’t care about my commentary (like in part I), so I’m going to keep the chattiness to a low roar. The photos below come from various places in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, including Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Shiprock, Zion Canyon, and more. If you would like more info, post in the comments or better yet, let’s go have a beer (or wine, as the situation warrants).

Horseshoe Bend sunset

A rainy sunset, somewhere in Utah

A hoodoo in Mystery Canyon near Kanab, Utah

Watchman sunset, Zion National Park, taken from Canyon Junction Bridge

I love pictograms/pictographs and petroglyphs, and seek them out whenever possible. Navajo and Hopi lands seem to be full of them, with many dating as far back as 3,000 years.

Petroglyphs inside Monument Valley

It’s interesting to think that these hand prints might be from someone who died 1,000 years ago.
Hand print petroglyphs in Monument Valley

Here’s one thought to be Kokopelli, a Native American god that combines Johnny Appleseed, the pregnancy stork, St. Patrick, and Loki all into one, much cooler figure.

Petroglyph of Kokopelli

Sand Island bluff, a short drive north of Monument Valley, has a large panel about 100 feet in length just covered with thousands of petroglyphs. It’s pretty neat and only takes about 20 minutes of your time to see it all.
Sand Island petroglyphs

Some are more modern and occasionally humorous (if you find petroglyphs, please don’t do this):
Sand Island petroglyph graffiti

Note the icon high up on the wall. It’s maybe 25 feet off the ground, so it’s kind of a mystery how it got up there. What’s not a mystery is that some idiots have tried to hit it with firearms, thus the bullet damage in the surrounding rock. Dear random morons: I hate you.
Petroglyphs at Sand Island, including bullet damage to one

Below are a few shots of the hike to Angels Landing in Zion Canyon (here’s an overly dramatic video that shows the view and some of the dropoffs). The hike is very strenuous and the final approach to the landing is basically a cliff ledge. It’s not for the faint of heart. (Sorry about the photos; to save on weight I didn’t bring my big cameras with me).

The final steep, narrow spine to get to the top of Angels Landing.

The final steep, narrow spine to get to the top of Angels Landing.

Part of the trail.

Part of the trail. Note the tiny white car on the road near the top-right of the photo.

Taking a break at the top of the Landing.

Taking a break at the top of the Landing.

The view from the top. Worth the effort and anxiety.

The view from the top. Worth the effort and anxiety.

The whole reason I planned this trip initially was to photograph Shiprock, a huge, 1,500-foot-tall monadnock in northern New Mexico. The day I went to visit, that part of the state was absolutely nailed by torrential rains. The closest I could get was about 7 miles out, as the roads became impassable. I had to slog through deep mud and deal with non-stop rain to approach these horses. Thankfully, they stayed still long enough for me to get a portrait.
Horses in the rain near Shiprock, NM

The Watchman in a boring sunset. Zion National Park.

The Watchman during a boring sunset. Zion National Park.

Two views of the Monument Valley “mittens”:

Dusk at the Mittens, Monument Valley

Dusk at the Mittens, Monument Valley

Dawn at the Mittens, Monument Valley

Dawn at the Mittens, Monument Valley

Here’s a few shots from the unspeakably beautiful Upper Antelope Canyon. Go here before you die.

Sunbeam, Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon

Sunbeams, Upper Antelope Canyon

"The Heart," Upper Antelope Canyon

“The Heart,” Upper Antelope Canyon

"Sandfall" in Upper Antelope Canyon

“Sandfall” in Upper Antelope Canyon

And to close, sunrise at the “totem pole” in Monument Valley. Thanks for visiting, and let me know if you’re interested in prints or want to give me a high five.

Sunrise at the Monument Valley "totem pole"

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3,000 Miles to Ghostland, Part I

On the last day of my trip I found myself seated across from an attractive female employee of the MGM Grand Las Vegas, eating lunch and discussing travel. As the meal wound down I briefly reflected on how relatively uneventful this trip had been. I was immensely tired and travel worn, a cancelled flight shuffled some plans around a bit, and I’m pretty sure a ghost chased me out of an isolated pet cemetery one inky Utah night, but that’s all business as usual for me. Despite having seen some of the Southwest’s most beautiful sights, I felt slightly incomplete still.

After a moment I looked back to the face across from me, thanked her for buying me lunch, and watched while she placed the just-signed check directly into a glass full of water by mistake. Enjoying the slightly embarrassed but highly amused smile that arose on her face, I quietly thanked the universe for the proper ending I was hoping for.

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Ten days earlier I started my journey in Laughlin, the decidedly lower rent version of Las Vegas. For $25 I had a nice hotel room and ten thousand senior citizens to keep me company. In between these two gambling bookends was 3,000 miles of driving and a disappointingly large number of mediocre photos. Below are some that I hope are slightly better than mediocre. There’s kind of a lot, and I’ve written a fair amount of text, so feel free to take a break if you need to. I’ll wait until you come back. (Click on a photo to enlarge.)

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The first destination was some hole in the ground, apparently called “The Grand Canyon.”

View from the Desert View Watchtower

Grand Canyon

My friend X-Ray joined me for the first few days of the trip and suggested that we swing by the Flintstone’s Bedrock City in Williams, AZ, not too far from the Grand Canyon. This place was hilariously awful. Even though people worked there and some people who probably had leprosy were camping there, the place was about as abandoned and neglected as could be. It was sublimely beautiful in its decay.

Dinosaur slide, Flintstone's Bedrock City

Note that the sign only says “Fred’s House.” Apparently, his slave-wife Wilma lived outside.

I’m not sure who this man was, why he was in jail, why his arm was torn off, or why he was allowed to decorate his cell, but I absolutely love that the owners of the park didn’t even try to hide the modern surge protector (which, you’ll notice, doesn’t actually have anything plugged into it).

Oh look, a camera taking a picture of a saber-toothed tiger. Let’s take a gander at the scene.
Old-fashioned camera at Bedrock City

Way to let me down, Flintstone’s Bedrock City.
View of a sabre-toothed tiger

Don’t be fooled: this “goatasaurus” is actually just a regular goat. I’m not sure why there’s an apostrophe. Apparently, they couldn’t afford to hire staff that know how to spell.

Returning back to the Grand Canyon, this is the Desert View Watchtower, which stands guard at the east side of the park.
Desert View Watchtower

Interior of the watchtower:
Interior of the Desert View Watchtower

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Grand Canyon Grand Canyon

This is Goosenecks State Park; don’t go here. On paper it seems like it should be interesting because flow of the river is so crazy, but it’s not really worth the trip.
Goosenecks State Park

This is Horseshoe Bend just outside Page, Arizona. Go here instead:
Horseshoe Bend

The grave or memorial site of Ginny Roberts near Mexican Hat Rock. Try as I might, I can’t find any information on Ms. Roberts.

Below are the “Betatakin” Anasazi ruins at Navajo National Monument (one of three such sites at the monument). Unfortunately, this time of year you can’t get to the 800-year-old dwellings, so I had to be content with photos from across the canyon. The scale of the photo is a little misleading, as that alcove you see here is about 450 feet high. The canyon is about twice that in total.
Betatakin ruins, Navajo National Monument

In order to save on gas I borrowed a Prius from my company. Here it is in the middle of the Valley of the Gods, Utah.
Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods is north of Monument Valley, and because it’s not on Navajo lands, you don’t need a guide. While driving through the park I saw these cattle grazing with Monument Valley in the distance. I took this photo from the same spot as I did the shot of the Prius. As I crept closer to the nearest cow, which had surprisingly large horns (do female cows have large horns too?), I kept looking back at the car hoping that it was close enough to run to if need be. I’m not sure that it was.
8U0B1649-1

I call this photo “birds of a feather,” ’cause…you know…the oil thing in the back kinda looks like the horse. Yes, I know I’m very clever. Yes, I know horses don’t have feathers, which makes the title funnier. Yes, I still know that I’m very clever.
Birds of a feather

This one I call “fish out of water.” See above, re: clever.
Fish out of water

The Navajo Twins

Toadstool hoodoo

Tree and arch, Monument Valley

Monument Valley

This is the inside of a tiny little chapel on the road to Flagstaff. It appears to be always open and usable by anyone. While taking photos inside snow was lightly falling outside. It was a very pleasant, calm moment. Curiously, as if to provide an exact definition of “juxtapose” for me, the bible on the lectern was open to Jeremiah 14. God is in full “angry Old Testament god mode” here.

Church near Flagstaff

Church near Flagstaff

Called “Moqui holes,” the indentations in this photo were created by Indians climbing to and from a place where they hid supplies.
Moqui holes inside Mystery Canyon

Sunset near Monument Valley

I played tourist one day and went to the Four Corners monument. Here’s me kinda-sorta standing in four states.
Four Corners monument

And here’s a wider shot of the monument:
Four Corners monument

Abandoned store

I mentioned earlier that I was at a very remote, very large pet cemetery one night, which I happened to come across accidentally while exploring another area. The sun had already set so it was getting dark quickly, and there was absolutely no wind; all the wind chimes you see in this picture weren’t making any noise. I took this photo and then kept walking in the direction of the newly dug grave in the background. Suddenly, a large group of birds exploded in a panic out of a tree next to me and the wind came up out of nowhere, sending the wind chimes into a frenzy. I figured that was my cue to leave, and with the largest goosebumps I’ve probably ever had, hurried back to my car.
Pet cemetery at the Best Friend's Animal Sanctuary

Sunset near Monument Valley

This next shot is of Agathla Peak near sunset. Rising more than 1,500 feet from the earth, it’s the hardened throat of a volcano that has long since disappeared.
Agathla Peak near sunset

I’m going to wrap up Part I (quite suddenly, I might add) with this photo of a Monument Valley sunrise taken from the balcony of my hotel room at the View Hotel (which was awesome). I should have Part II up in a day or so, so check back soon! Also, I might actually make prints available for some of these photos (which is rare for me), so if you’re interested, let me know.
Monument Valley sunrise

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Random Jazz: Melancholy Ghost Wolf Edition

Another day, another “where the heck do I pust this stuff?” post. Since most of this has kind of a forlorn feel, I figured it made sense to group it together. The next post should be happier, including some photos I did for my awesome friend and her new business.

First, some photos from the ol’ abandoned Griffith Park Zoo. Built in 1912 and closed in 1966, the zoo was probably a terrible place to raise your animal family.  According to Wikipedia, it was constructed in the “caves-with-iron-bars style,” which as we all know is how most animals in the wild have built their homes since the discovery of iron in the 15th-century.

Abandoned Griffith Park Zoo

Old Los Angeles Zoo

Abandoned Zoo Cage

Old Griffith Park Zoo stairs

This is the view looking up from inside one of the iron cages. The view out the front was pretty much the same sad thing.

View from abandoned cage, old Griffith Park Zoo

Abandoned Animal Cage

It’s hard to see in this shot, but that thing at the bottom is a gigantic wolf dog. Members of a wolf dog rescue group were at the park with several of these magnificent animals, one of which was apparently curious as to what I was doing.

Ghost Wolf at Old Griffith Park Zoo

Up next is a random road-side display I found when visiting a friend. I really hope the owner of that car didn’t have a run in with a drunk driver, although seems to be somewhat common these days unfortunately.

Drunk driving car

To close, a few beach photos.

A child's lost bucket at Crystal Cove

Crystal Cove sunset

I wanted to take some photographs on New Year’s Day, so I figured that a good way to start off 2014 was to visit my “memorial rock” and do some reflecting on the past. I said hello to my lost friends, took some pictures, and headed home thinking of the future. As always, thank you for visiting.

Corona Del Mar Rock at Night

 

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Catalina Dreamin’

I had a birthday recently, and because I’m so awesome, Catalina Express decided to give me a free round-trip ticket to the lovely island city of Avalon. Someone told me that they do that for everyone on their birthday, but I’m pretty sure they’re wrong and they did it because I smell nice, among other things.

Anyways, I’ve been traveling to Catalina for years to scuba dive, but had never actually photographed it. So with my trusty camera in hand, I headed over.

The weather was pleasant and the island quiet, so I had a fairly relaxing day (more on that in a minute).

The first thing I did was head over to the Casino to take the walking tour of said building, which I had never been inside of.

Via Casino, Avalon, Catalon

Catalina was at one point quite famous for its “Catalina tile,” which is still used extensively to decorate the island. The next few tile mosaics (?) are on the walking path to the Casino.

Shark mosaic on Catalina

This one shows what I think is Sugarloaf Point in the distance, before the large rocks were destroyed to make room for buildings, including the current Casino.

Ship mosaic on Catalina

As I waited for the tour to start, the young woman selling tickets took a call on her cell: “Please tell me you’re not calling with bad news….She…didn’t make it? … Oh $&*#…Oh $&*#….” I was the only one who heard her in this very private, very sad moment. I felt like I should say something or try to comfort her, but what do you say to a total stranger in a situation like that? In a moment she had moved into a side room and the tour started, so I never found out what I may have tried to say. I hope she’s doing ok.

Back to the tour, I’ll say that the inside of the Casino is incredible. The Wrigley family spent an obscene amount of money making it about as ornate as was possible at the time. The waiting area just outside the movie theater has a roof filled with 22-carat gold-leaf stars. I don’t have a photo inside the theater, but trust me when I say that it’s breathtaking.

Ornate light fixture

View of an island traffic jam from the second floor of the building, which is actually about 10 stories up.

Catalina traffic jam

This is the chandelier…thing at the center of the formal ballroom on the top floor of the Casino. The piece is quite large and can be rotated.

Chandelier of ball room at the Avalon Casino

In the entry way to the theater are a number of beautiful mosaics and wall paintings. These pieces, which are the originals put up in the 1920s, are still impressive to look at.

Mosaic on Avalon Casino

In the event that your workplace doesn’t like au naturel, 85-year-old mermaids painted onto the sides of large public buildings, I’ve decided to make this one small. Click to see it full-size. This mural was the only one completed as originally intended using Catalina tile. With opening day around the corner, the Casino’s designer was told to paint the rest directly on the concrete facing of the building. This piece is one of the prettiest works of art I’ve yet to see in California.

Mermaid mosaic on the Avalon, Catalina Casino

 

Earlier, I mentioned that the day was relaxing. That is, with the exception of hiking to the top of the cliff just above the Casino. What a trek!  Walking to the cliff-face directly over the building, I came across this structure set into the ground. By the looks of it, it was buried for some time and was recently uncovered when the dirt was washed away. Decorated with a tile cross and about the size of a child’s grave, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t just that. I’ve not been able to find any information on it though.

The Casino from the cliff behind it, including a grave(?)

The Casino and Avalon harbor from the overlooking cliff

No idea what this is meant to be, but I found it looking out from a house on the hike back down the hill.

Wicker animals

I got a late lunch whilst waiting for the sun to get lower and took some pictures of various tile installations around town. It’s quite interesting to see the large design variety on  structures and buildings. Below are two such examples.

Catalina tiles

Catalina tiles

Carrying all my gear up the hill again didn’t sound very appealing, so I hired a cab to take me part of the way. The sunset wasn’t spectacular, but the waning daylight still made for a great view.

A lonely sailboat

To close off the post, here’s a shot of Avalon harbor just after dusk. Thanks for visiting!

Avalon Casino and harbor at night from the overlook

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Eating Humble Pie — or — How I Nearly Killed a Japanese Man in the Middle of Nowhere

I’m currently engaged in a project at my day job that is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever worked on. If it doesn’t kill me, there’s a good chance I might collapse into a whimpering heap, appearing only occasionally to buy sour candy and look handsome in a tuxedo.

Since I probably won’t be able to travel until March, and since I just got a new camera, I figured I should get one last photo road trip (or phroad trip, as the scientists call them) under my belt. The new camera is significantly more light-sensitive than my previous body, so I decided to head out to the Trona Pinnacles to get some shots of the Milky Way. Turns out, I’m really bad at that, but more on that in a minute.

Regular readers know that I’m crazy for abandoned places, so in my research on the route to Trona I found an abandoned military complex to visit. Unfortunately, the place had been severely worked over by idiots prior to my arrival, so what could have been a cool time capsule was instead a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

That said, some of it was kinda cool and/or funny, like this trailer blocking one of the roads into the town. Someone loves their zombie movies.

Jake Reinig abandoned military complex

Jake Reinig abandoned military complex

Payphone booths, now empty.

Jake Reinig abandoned military complex

Jake Reinig abandoned military complex

I’ve been to some pretty crazy places, but I still get nervous walking through dark hallways, even during the day. At times I feel like I’m one meth head away from a shiv to the kidney, so once in a great while I might have a weapon on me…

Jake Reinig abandoned military complex

…particularly when there are zombies lurking about.

Jake Reinig abandoned military complex "dead inside"

This is why we can’t have nice things. Not only are there tire tracks on the tile, but notice all of the holes smashed into the walls.

Jake Reinig abandoned military town

Jake Reinig abandoned military complex

The best selfie I’ve ever taken.

Jake Reinig abandoned military town

I’m no expert, but I think fire alarm quality is reduced by bird nests built inside of them.

Jake Reinig abandoned military complex

One of the things I’m always amazed at when I visit abandoned places is how shot up they are. Bullet holes are everywhere, proving that many gun owners are not at all responsible individuals. In the event that you had to be somewhere when an idiot started firing into a building, this is actually a good spot to be: that door, as the entrance to a justice center, is fairly bullet proof.

Jake Reinig abandoned military town, bullet holes

It took a beating, but very little of the glass was actually punctured all the way through.

Jake Reinig abandoned military complex, bullet holes

Continuing up the road the traveler goes through Johannesburg, California, home to one of the the loneliest playgrounds in the world.

Jake Reinig Johannesburg playground

 

The Trona Pinnacles are the really interesting remnants of springs that bubbled up from the bottom of an ancient lake that has since disappeared. Actually, I say interesting, but they’re likely super boring unless you’re a photographer or a geologist. Visit once for sure, but you probably don’t need too long if you’re not there to take pictures.

This shot was taken from several miles away, so you can see how big the tufa formations are. In the foreground are some semi-abandoned train cars from the semi-abandoned “city” called Trona. (Fun fact: the Trona high school football team has one of the only all-dirt football fields in the world.)

Jake Reinig Trona Pinnacles Abandoned Train Cars

Two questionable attempts at industrial art:

Jake Reinig Trona Pinnacles Abandoned Train Cars

Jake Reinig Trona Pinnacles Abandoned Train Cars

Note the cars in this shot. They really show how big some of these things are.

Jake Reinig Trona Pinnacles

As the sun sets, some of the rocks and hills take on really interesting colors.

Jake Reinig Trona Pinnacles sunset

Jake Reinig Trona Pinnacles sunset

Returning back to my earlier statement about being bad at Milky Way photography, I’ll complete the story: my new camera is pretty light sensitive compared to what I’m used to, so I figured the Milky Way would practically photograph itself. Turns out there’s a lot more to it, and I did a pretty bad job of the photos.  Basically, I let in too many stars I didn’t want, and didn’t bring out enough of the galaxy that I did want.  I also didn’t do enough homework to know that by far the best time to photograph the MW is around summer, when the galactic core is visible. I’m posting these photos as evidence that I still have a tremendous amount to learn. Hopefully in a few months I’ll have the right conditions to capture some truly awesome photos.

Jake Reinig Trona Pinnacles Milky Way

 

Jake Reinig Trona Pinnacles Milky Way

So, about the Japanese tourist I almost hit with my truck: the pinnacles are in the middle of nowhere, and once the moon sets the valley they’re in becomes pitch black. The main body of pinnacles has a confusing series of roads that runs through them, and I was driving slowly in the inky darkness trying not to get lost. I drove over a rise in the road, and there, smack dab in the middle of this tiny little trail is a man with his tripod.  He was very sorry that he was in the way, but asked very earnestly if I wouldn’t mind driving my truck into the rocks so that he wouldn’t have to move his camera, which was likely in the middle of a long exposure. A fellow photographer, I obliged him, but was even more annoyed when I got back on the road to find his car (with his friends inside) turned completely across the road, blocking it again. At least I had the satisfaction of knowing that I probably ruined his photo (insert evil laugh).

Having established that I’m a jerk, I’ll close with this next photo. While waiting in my nice warm truck for the moon to set (and the sky to darken), I put my old camera out in the cold to capture a four hour time-lapse of it going down.

Jake Reinig Trona Pinnacles Moon Timelapse

Stay tuned for more (and hopefully better) photos from Trona in the future.

 

Cowboys and Indians (and Miners) in Joshua Tree

My brother, his girlfriend, and I went to Joshua Tree last weekend. We were supposed to do some bouldering and take some pictures. We did absolutely no bouldering and very little photography, but did end up doing quite a bit of hiking and scrambling, and even more “getting lost while hiking and scrambling.”

We also learned a valuable Christmas lesson about bringing Hawaiian rolls on a camping trip but not having butter. I’d tell you what it was, but I’m saving it for my eventual screenplay about camping and bread products.

Joshua Tree is chock full of abandoned mines and related equipment. Near Barker Dam is a neat structure called the “Wall Street Mill” which used to be part of a major operation. It’s supposed to be closed to visitors, but as you can see the barbed wire fence doesn’t work too hard keeping people out.

Wall street mill

Near the mill is an area called the “car lot” which has a number of derelict cars.

The parking lot, near Wall Stree mill

These tires have seen better days. Speaking of tires, have you seen the ridiculously sexist Goodyear tire ad from the 1960s? I’m not sure why I bring that up, but it’s kinda funny in a really horrible kind of way.

Detail of a car near the Wall Street Mill

Besides having deadly mines around every corner, Joshua Tree also has a pretty large body of native American pictographs and petroglyphs. Near the Wonderland ruins is a really cool rock that has a large, hollow cavity inside. If you climb under and into the rock you’ll discover a variety of hidden pictographs, including the noon day sun at the top of the cavity.

Indian pictographs near ruins at Joshua Tree

Here’s a lousy attempt at capturing the Milky Way from Arch Rock. I just got a new 5d Mark III, so look for these types of photos to vastly improve over the next few months.

Joshua Tree milky way over arch rock

The Hall of Horrors is large split rock site with numerous (and fun to climb) slot canyons. Here’s me being dumb by chimneying through a relatively deep canyon.  My photos on the other side were terrible, so at least I risked my health for nothing. That’s always nice.

Me, doing a chimney climb at Hall of Horrors, Joshua Tree

The next day we hiked to a remote part of the park. I say “hiked,” but really I mean “continually lost the trail and had to climb random hills and out of various gullies.” The cool thing about this particular remote area is an abandoned miner’s cabin built into the crevice between some huge boulders. Because so few people know about this place, the cabin still stands as the miners left it many decades ago.

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

Abandoned miner's cabin at Joshua Tree, Eagle Hill

One of my favorite places in the park is the rock containing the so-called “Disney” pictographs. This large rock near Barker Dam has a number of authentic pictographs and petroglyphs on it. However, in the mid-twentieth century a Disney film crew (shooting “Chico, the Misunderstood Coyote“) decided that the real pictographs weren’t vibrant enough to film and proceeded to paint and carve their own, or to paint over the originals.

Despite this stupid act of vandalism messing up the site, I still like to come and sit here at night while I do photography. It’s cool to consider that for hundreds or thousands of years, Native Americans also came here to talk and laugh and look at the stars in much the some way.

 

"Disney" pictographs near Barker Dam, Joshua Tree

This is valley that lays in front of the Disney rock.

Joshua Tree sunset

Around the corner at the rock and above your head is this hidden sun pictograph. I don’t know if it’s authentic, as it’s really bright still and to the best of my knowledge, all of the legit pictographs in the park are red or brown in hue. I doubt the Disney staff did this, since it would be essentially impossible to film. So, who knows? Maybe it’s modern vandalism, or maybe its hidden location has kept it safe and vibrant all these years.

Sun pictograph near Barker Dam

"Disney" pictographs near Barker Dam at Joshua Tree

Another shot of the valley.

Sunset at Joshua Tree near Barker Dam

And one last parting shot from later the same night.

Milky way from the pictograph rock at Joshua Tree

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Graveyards, Ghost Towns, and a Mountain or Two

For the first time that didn’t involve me being sick, I didn’t attend Thanksgiving with my family. Instead I headed out to the high desert east of the Sierra mountains.  As is typical with my trips, I had absolutely perfect weather for most of the trip: clear skies, no wind, and relatively warm days. Normally I consider this my curse, but since I wanted to do star photography it was an ok problem to have. It just means that my daytime and sunset opportunities were more limited.

Driving up on Thanksgiving day, the first stop I made was to explore near Lone Pine for a cattle graveyard that I had previously heard about. You know, normal holiday stuff.  I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but it ended up being significantly different than whatever I was expecting.

Finding it is a little difficult as it’s fairly well hidden, but the scenery is incredible. Because it’s so remote, however, it’s also eerily quiet.

 

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Lone Pine

“Graveyard” really isn’t the right word, as there were no graves. Only the remains of dumped corpses, including whole skeletons of cows and horses.  In some places there were only large pieces of leather laying around.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Lone Pine Cattle Livestock Graveyard

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Lone Pine Cattle Livestock Graveyard

There were also more recent additions. This one kind of freaked me out to be honest. If you’re squeamish, don’t click the photo below. Otherwise, the link takes you to the uncensored shot. The view from the other side was way worse.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Lone Pine Cattle Livestock Graveyard

 

I did a few other things in town and then headed out to the Alabama Hills fairly early in the day. By sunset almost all of the clouds were gone and it got cooooooooold. The park itself is really neat, particularly if you like climbing around on stuff or are into bouldering/rock climbing. Loads of movies have been shot here too, so if you’re a movie buff, you can get a movie map and see the related sights.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Alabama Hills

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Alabama Hills

This was the extent of my sunset. At least I had the Mobius arch to myself.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Alabama Hills Mobius Arch

The stars were incredible, as was the Milky Way. Unfortunately, my 7d and its crop sensor aren’t the best tools for the job, so the detail isn’t quite as good as if I had a full-frame camera. If I buy one next year I’ll be sure to come back (if you have $3,000 you want to give me, I’d be happy to mow your lawn like 5 times).

Jake Reinig Travel Photography Alabama Hills Milky Way Star Photography

Because the weather was so nice, I was able to drive up the next day to the Bodie ghost town. The town is normally closed through the winter because of snow (it’s above 8,000-foot elevation), but was still open this year.

Bodie is a relatively recent boom town, and through the actions of the State and others has been fairly well preserved in the condition its former residents left it in.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town | Abandoned Truck

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town | Abandoned Truck detail

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town | Interior of a house

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town | Interior of a house

I wasn’t able to get into this building, which I’m assuming is the Undertaker’s residence. All of the coffins appeared to be for children.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Undertaker, Mortuary, Coffins

Another room in the building. Note the Haunted Mansion style portrait on the wall. Both of these coffins also appeared to be child-sized.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Undertaker, Mortuary, Coffins

Speaking of child-sized coffins, the cemetery had a relatively large number of kids in it. I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a time or place where worrying about losing your child is a normal affair.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Child's Grave, Cemetery

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Exterior of a Building

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Abandoned Safe

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Old Gas Station

Another building that they don’t want you in. Note the still working light bulb above the coffee machine.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Interior of a Store, Working Light Bulb, Coffee Machine

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  Medications

There are two roads to Bodie. One comes from the 395 to the west of the town, and one is south of the town. If you ever visit, I recommend heading in from the west, but coming out from the south. The view of Mono lake from the southern route is amazing.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Bodie Ghost Town |  View of Mono Lake

The lack of clouds meant a boring sunset that didn’t help dress up the tufa columns.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Mono Lake

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Mono Lake

This tufa is part of an island of sorts, and is probably 20 feet tall.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Mono Lake Tufa

The Milky Way and a few other stars from Mono Lake. Man, I wish I had that full frame camera. (I wonder if my family would be hurt if I didn’t get them any Christmas presents.)

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Mono Lake Milky Way and Stars

The next day I headed back down towards Bishop and Lone Pine, stopping at a few places along the way.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Cattle & Horses Grazing Near Bishop

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Landscape of a Tree Near Bishop

This is a shot at Keeler, which is a town east of the Owens dry lake.  A former boom town, it fell on bad times when the nearby mines gave out. It fell on further hard times when Los Angeles diverted the river that fed Owens lake and killed it. The town is in mostly bad shape but is not really a ghost town (since a number of people still live there), even though lots of the former mining equipment is still present. This very tongue-in-cheek sign reads:

“Keeler Beach – Camps for Rent”

“This beautiful setting provided by LA Water Dept.”

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Keeler surfboard

I finished the day off back at the Alabama Hills. Lots of rocks have arches in them, including this one that sort of looked like the Predator or an angry ant.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography |  Alabama Hills Double Arch Rock

Again, no clouds, but I played with the sun and various arches near sunset to try and get something interesting.

Jake Reinig Travel Photography | Alabama Hills Arch Sunset

And to wrap up, here’s the same formation at night.  While it was a little intimidating being out there by myself, it was definitely worth it. The view was amazing.

 Reinig Travel Photography | Alabama Hills Arch Milky Way & Star Photos

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Random Jazz: On the Road Edition

I’ve been shooting a fair bit lately, but mostly stuff I can’t share with you. That’s why you get two random jazz posts in a row. Also, because I saw what you did in the pet food aisle at Kmart. You don’t deserve a coherent post.

Anyways, below are a handful of photos each from a few recent trips: Seattle, East Jesus/Slab City/Salton Sea, and an abandoned waterpark.

First up: the waterpark. The slides and such are destroyed and not very interesting. However, the graffiti and stencil work left by vandals is pretty awesome.

Abandoned waterpark stencil

Abandoned waterpark stencil

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The previous tenants left their tumbleweed behind. I hope they don’t need it.

Abandoned waterpark tumbleweed

Abandoned waterpark graffiti

 

As you enter the park, there’s a road with billboards on either side of it. These artists took over each one to wonderful effect.

Abandoned waterpark stencil billboard
Abandoned waterpark stencil billboard

Abandoned waterpark stencil billboard

Oh, and here’s a picture of some Chinese lanterns just because.

Chinese lanterns

I visited Seattle for a few days. I didn’t get time to do a ton of photography, but still enjoyed it immensely.

Seattle ferris wheel

So, as usual, I had near perfect weather on this visit. Regular readers will recall that I’m cursed with good weather at most places I travel to. It’s great for just existing and getting around, but it usually makes for sort of ho-hum photos. Anyways, I drive over to this park to try taking a boring sunset photo of downtown Seattle and the very impressive and very tall Mt. Rainier in the background.  I’m actually kind of excited, because I didn’t expect such a clear view of the mountain.

I got to the park two hours before sunset so I could make sure I got a good spot, since I know this place gets crowded. Not a single cloud was in sight the entire time. However, once the light finally started getting interesting, this one cloud decided to meander in and block my view of Rainier. I’ve decided that I’m at war with the sky.
Seattle sunset

 

This photo probably couldn’t be more cliche, but I decided I should get it anyway. Consider this a reward for what you did in the toothpaste aisle.

Seattle public market sign

 

Mt. Rainier, before my enemy The Sky made his move. Fact: Zeus lives here.

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This was visible on someone’s balcony whilst walking to the waterfront. Don’t ask me. I don’t know.

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A shot from inside the market. Supposedly, there’s guys throwing fish everywhere. I imagined it as though I’d have to be ducking fish left and right (on a side note, are ducks known for squatting to avoid things? I wonder where that term comes from.). The only flying fish I saw were on this sign.

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I was walking away from the market and this man said “hey, can you teach me everything you know?” I said “no, but you can have my hat.” And so, I gave him my hat. Also, my bucket full of balloon animals.

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So long Seattle, and thanks for all the fish.

Speaking of fish, this is the Salton Sea.  It’s 50% water, 50% salt, and 50% dead fish. The air is 100% gross to smell.

It is the only place I’ve ever been, and I’m not joking about this, where the shore is literally made of ground bones.

Salton Sea dead fish

Why go there? Because of East Jesus. It’s a cool place, and much nicer than West Jesus. Slab City, which is the larger community that East Jesus is in, is…interesting.

Here’s my friend Ania, sitting in the dirt for some reason.

Anna at East Jesus

East Jesus

 

My brother and I thought the art installations and low amounts of light pollution would make for interesting photos. We were right. Unfortunately, we didn’t really take any. Both of us came away feeling disappointed in what we had captured.  Here’s one that I did like.

Night photography at East Jesus

 

A shot from the pet cemetery at Slab City. Poor Gunner.

Pet Cemetery, Slab City

 

And, since hummingbirds are good luck, I’ll leave you with this shot as the last of the bunch. Feel free to click on my name at the top of this page to see more of my stuff. Thanks for visiting!

East Jesus humming bird

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Random Jazz: Way Overdue Edition

I’ve been collecting photos for a while now that don’t quite fit into their own sets. So, here’s a somewhat largish collection of location and portrait work I’ve done recently.  I’m supposed to get up at like 4:30 in the morning tomorrow and it’s already 11:30 p.m., so this is almost all of the writing I’m going to do. Lucky you. :)

 

On the trail to Holy Jim Falls

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Holy Jim Falls

Dominator wreck

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A random yard chicken

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San Clemente rainbow

Jezebelles Girl Rock Choir

Memorial at Holy Jim Falls

The next four are from a campaign I did for my friend’s new business Bronzed Sugar. The weather had been nice for a while, but of course on the day of the shoot it was super overcast and cold. Poor models. Fortunately, my friend also owns a marketing company, so these photos after retouching look decidedly better.

Bronzed Sugar Long Beach

Bronzed Sugar Long Beach

Bronzed Sugar Long Beach

 

Bronzed Sugar Long Beach
Jezebelles Girl Rock Choir

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Dominator wreck

 

Me and a model on location.IMG_7699_1

Jezebelles Girl Rock Choir

Long Beach lighthouse

Jezebelles Girl Rock Choir

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Jezebelles Girl Rock Choir

 

And to close, variations on a sunset at San Clemente pier.

 

San Clemente pier at sunset

San Clemente pier at sunset

San Clemente pier at sunset

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Paris and Beyond, Part 3: Saying Goodbye

Jake Reinig, travel photography

My original introduction has been removed, so if you read the comments you might be a little confused. Maybe someday it’ll be back. 

I have another couple of posts from France that I’ll put up, but this is the last one of a general nature. In a few days I’ll be posting about French street art and will also do a “best of” post. Until then, I hope you enjoy this last big set.

The two staircases at the Arc de Triomphe are arduous to say the least. Don’t want to go down? Sneak into the semi-hidden disabled persons elevator next to the gift shop.

 

Local flora at the Jardin des Plantes. In addition to the gardens, there are a number of great museums here, as well as a zoo. I don’t recall its name, but if you go skip the greenhouse/botanical museum thing. Boooooooooooooooooring.

 

 

A friend of mine is obsessed with chandeliers, so I was on the lookout for photos I could take for her (this one is at Versailles). Curiously, I’ve always found them interesting too, likely the result of staring at my grandmother’s large crystal chandelier for most of my childhood. It bugged me to no end that the candles were so crooked on this one.

 

Toy moulins (windmills) in a shop window near my apartment in the wonderful Butte aux Cailles neighborhood.

 

 

The Louvre is an amazing place, but: it’s unimaginably massive, and as you can see below, it’s also insanely crowded at times. Most museums in Paris close on Mondays, so on this particular rainy Monday, that meant everyone wanted to get inside the one museum that seemed to be open.

 

Sculpture at the wonderful Parc de Bercy.

 

Something about the woven mask on this mummy haunts me. I don’t know if it’s too many horror movies of monsters with missing faces, or if it’s my brain trying to figure out why there are no features. Either way, I think the funerary garments are beautiful.

 

The beautiful interior of Sainte-Chapelle.

Iya Traore performs in front of Sacre Coeur. Watch a video of his awesome skills here.

Sculpture at Église Saint-Louis des Invalides.

One of my favorite locks at Pont de l’Archeveche.

Disneyland Paris is awesome, but for someone who grew up within miles of the original park in Anaheim, it feels like some strange doppelganger. It seems…sterile in comparison.  Nevertheless, jump on the RER and head out if you get a chance. It’s a great place with a lot of really fun rides (make sure to go on Big Thunder).  This is a shot of “Phantom Manor,” a “scarier and darker” version of the ride than at other parks (as seen from the steamboat landing).

The animatronic dragon beneath the castle. Sorry for the junk picture; I didnt have a tripod and it’s about negative one-thousand dark in the cave.

Scary “Small World” doll is scary.

I don’t normally colorize my images much, but it’s been more than 30 years since I’ve had a “first time at Disneyland” experience; I don’t have any photos from the first first time, so I thought it only fitting I have one that looked like it.

My mom and aunts visited for a little while. They visited the souvenir shops for long whiles. Here’s two of the three in their natural habitat.

In the crypt of the Pantheon.

The Elizabeth Tower (home of “Big Ben“) in London.

Resting place of a young Parisian.

The roof and chandelier in the beautiful Palais Garnier (also called Opera Garnier)

Mass at Notre Dame de Paris.

 

 

My daily view as I left my apartment.

Parisian sparrows hold court at Parc de Bercy.

 

Sacre Coeur, as seen from the Belvedere of Sybil at the delightful Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

The centerpiece of the park is the lake and artificial island pictured here. The so-called “suicide bridge,” near the left of the picture, gets you access to the Corinthian-style Belvedere on top of the island.

Prayers drift in the dark of Notre Dame.

Ghost fish at the Paris aquarium.

Play time, as shot from the top of the Centre Pompidou.

Sacre Coeur near sunset.

Late night traffic at Mont Saint-Michel.

Long exposure of the Moulin Rouge. If you want a unique experience, get off the metro at Pigalle and walk to the theater. And by “unique,” I mean be the object of attention for adult store workers or drug dealers. Unless you want to be (literally) robbed, don’t go into any of the clubs here unless you’re fluent in French.

My last photo of the post, dedicated to Andrew. Thanks for stopping by, and thank you to Paris for being so good to me.

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