My Cross Country Trip to New England
As many of you already know, I have re-located from sunny Southern California to snowy New England to be with the love of my life, Bobbi Lane! This past November we embarked on a grand adventure driving across country in my Technopod RV, now dubbed “Priscilla,” taking all my belongings to Bridgewater, MA, just south of Boston. Along the way we stopped and visited with my family and our friends. So… in this, my first blog post of the year, I tell the story of our travels:
Farewell to LA –
I have had a lot of mixed feelings about leaving Los Angeles, my home for all of my adult life! I had been telling myself for years that I really wanted to “get out of Dodge,” leave the traffic, and general congestion behind. However, Los Angeles was literally the place I grew up, had a career, and it is the place where most of my friends and family live. I had several “going away” parties, and I was sad to see so many friends who would no longer be available at a moments notice, once I had moved. I had even grown found of recent acquaintances at the RV park where I spent most of the last year in preparation for my move.
The last photo I took in Los Angeles was with my iPhone when I went downtown to have a farewell dinner with Julia Dean and Brandon Gannon of the Los Angeles Center of Photography – I walked around the neighborhood and snapped this shot of the Los Angeles Theater:
A new chapter in my life was about to open. I was excited, and frankly, a little scared! I was going to be moving across country to unfamiliar territory, moving in with a new woman, meeting many new people, and dealing with a whole slew of unanticipated problems. But first, the trip itself was going to be a real adventure traveling through areas of the country that I had never been. I was ready however, and Bobbi flew out to join me so I was not doing it alone!
First stop – Zion National Park
I have been to Zion several times, but Bobbi has not, so I decided to go into full support mode which was to set a precedent for the whole trip. I did not take as many photos as I normally would because I was more concerned that Bobbi have a good time – I did all the driving and handled logistics for the park visit. We arrived in the late afternoon as the sun was going down, and it was cold! Not much snow on the ground, but very cold none the less – mid teens at night! The only thing we had to warm up the RV was a small electric heater…
This littler heater would be important many times during the trip. My propane heater did not work, and in fact, I had to disconnect the propane entirely when my propane line dropped on the freeway leaving LA. We expected that once we got to the southern states we would have an easier time with the temperatures – this was not the case however, so the early cold was a harbinger of things to come!
Zion is very majestic and I brought along my little GoPro to capture a sense of it in video from the vantage point of the hood of the RV.
Sometimes though, you can discover a whole world by looking down – this satellite-like image was taken on a walk along the river:
My best scenic shot was taken from the same walk, catching the reflection of the canyons in the river:
We spent two days in Zion and left early in the morning to begin the next leg of our trip, but not before snagging a few more shots:
On the other side of the tunnel leading out of the park is the amazing Checkerboard Mesa, an area full of interesting rock formations – here is a quick glimpse from the hood mounted GoPro:
A Drive Through Arizona on the way to visit my Family in Colorado
Our next stop would be in Durango Colorado to visit with my sister and step-mom for Thanksgiving, this was a long drive through very scenic country, and as I was doing all the driving, I didn’t get many photographs. We did stop just outside of Page Arizona to get a few shots from the bridge over the river south of Lake Powel:
We drove a long time through Indian lands in Arizona – through towns with names like Kabito, Kayenta, Dennehotso, Tec Nos Pos… We stopped at a tiny roadside out cropping of eroded rocks call “Baby Rocks”:
Finally we passed into Colorado, through the Four Corners area, where the four states: Utah, Arizon, Colorado, and New Mexico, come together. We had a steady climb into the Rockies before finally arriving at my step-mom’s house just outside of Durango Colorado!
A Family Thanksgiving in Durango
I have visited my family here many times over the years, my sister is now living with my step-mom in her large estate. We had a great time, but again, I did not take many photos – a few walks around the property, and visits into town were all I managed. Bobbi did quite a photo shoot for my sister and her music partner at Baker Bridge, famously used for the scene in Butch Cassidy, where Paul Newman and Robert Redford jump off the cliff – the drop is not nearly as impressive in real life. You can view a gallery of the shoot here:
My sister Yvonne, and her music partner Cook, performed a little concert for us after Thanksgiving dinner:
Not too much snow at this point in Durango, but a chill was in the air – winter was on its way.
After 4 days, it was time to go. We headed south to New Mexico to visit friends near Santa Fe – You can get a glimpse of the gorgeous Durango property in this video taken as we left and drove down the long driveway:
New Mexico and Santa Fe
Our next stop was in Santa Fe, where we stayed with David Michael Kennedy, just outside of town. David is a long time friend of Bobbi’s, a famous photographer who often teaches at the Santa Fe Workshops.
David was a very gracious host and a great photographer now best know for his gorgeous platinum prints! It was a real pleasure to hang out with him at his studio, seen here:
Everyone we visited on this trip was either a photographer or a musician, and we requested that everyone who hosted us, take our photo, and we, in return would photograph them. I’m including some of the portraits of us at the end of this post. As usual, I did not take as many photos as I would have liked – here’s one of the central plazas in Santa Fe at night;
We spent a little time at El Santuario De Chimayo – a fantastic little church, know for its “holy dirt” that cures illness!
After spending time with David we headed further south, just outside of Albuquerque to visit with Karen Kuehn. Karen is another famous photographer, a good friend of Bobbi’s, and someone we hung out with at Burning Man. She lives on a farm with all kinds of animals, horses, sheep, a donkey, and many dogs. We had a great time in Karen’s hot tub…
…and Bobbi took some photos of Karen with her dogs:
After a great time with Karen we finally started our journey east in earnest, and headed for Texas. We were determined to get through to Austin and then on to Dallas to visit with friends before heading to New Orleans. Instead, we got stuck in Fort Stockton Texas, sort of the middle of nowhere, West Texas…
Fort Stockton, Texas – Breakdown and Race Against the Weather!
Just after passing Fort Stockton, Pricilla decided to have a bad fuel pump, and we had to limp back to Fort Stockton for repairs! We had to wait over night for a part and we decided to stay in a motel rather than rough it without an electrical hookup…
The following morning we were in for a surprise! The weather had been fairly mild on our trip so far. The temperatures had been steadily climbing since we left Zion, and by the time we got to Fort Stockton it was 75°. However, overnight a serious cold front moved in and the temperature dropped to 30°! This was going to be the pattern for the rest of the trip – cold weather was chasing us the whole way!
Fortunately, we found some good old boys in town who knew a thing or two about RVs and we had a reasonably successful repair. Good thing, because I am hopeless with motor vehicles of all kinds…
We managed to escape Fort Stockton by late morning, in a vain attempt to out-run an approaching storm. Fortunately, we made it to Austin, and the comfort of the company of our friends Stewart and Louise Roholt…
Stewart is a photographer and musician and we had a great time sharing – here is a quick little clip of Stewart playing my hang drum for the very first time:
We had lost a day in Fort Stockton, so unfortunately, we only spent one night with our great hosts. The original plan was to attempt to make it to Dallas to visit with Tony Corbell, but we got a surprising text video message from Tony:
… showing 3 inches of solid, white ice covering his front yard and street. Apparently most of the off-ramps into Dallas were closed due to the ice on the roads! The RV is not the easiest vehicle to drive on the best of days, but we were not about to tempt fate on icy roads. So we headed south towards the gulf in an attempt to find a warmer climate!
Louisiana & New Orleans
After a brief overnight stay in Lake Charles, we made it to Lafayette, where we stopped to visit with Debbie Caffery, another famous photographer friend of Bobbi’s. We had a great little visit with Debbie and Bobbi shot some great portraits of her.
Next stop New Orleans…
We stayed 3 nights in New Orleans in an RV park right across the street from the French Quarter, and though the weather was unusually chilly, we had a blast!
Our first night was magical, and we filled up on food and drink before running back to the RV, exhausted. The next day we walked around the whole French Quarter visiting shops, restaurants, and taking in the sites – there’s always some surprise right around the corner, like running into a wedding party parading down the street.
We had a lot of fun visiting art galleries and gift shops, mostly window shopping, but occasionally finding something irresistible – always something to photograph…
We were soon on a mission to find some great jazz music! It seemed like most of the clubs we walked into were devoted to contemporary “cover” music, some soul, some blues, mostly rock and country, but precious little that could reasonably pass for jazz. Until we found Fritzel’s right on Bourbon Street!
The first band we saw, the Shotgun Jazz Band, seen above, was sort of the warm up act for the house band, but they were incredible! Super solid group that were just swinging for a home run! Great stuff! When that finished they made a point of telling everyone to stick around for the next band, and they were right. Fritzel’s house band was awesome – here’s a little clip to give you an idea:
When it was finally time to say good bye to New Orleans, we mad a mad dash to Jacksonville, Florida
We really didn’t spend much time in Florida, nor did we get out to see Jacksonville at all, but we did have a great time with our hosts Deb & Rick Ferro – AND… it was warm! This was the only place on our trip that was warm, and it was quite a relief I must tell you!
Rick prepared an amazing Italian meal, and we were treated to the Christmas wonderland decor of their warm condo. Rick took us out to the pool area the next day for our classic portrait. Then it was time for us to head north, so we said good bye to the warmth of Florida and aimed for…
Charleston, South Carolina
Our hosts in Charleston were Rick Dean & Gary Link, a great couple, and we had a fabulous time hanging out with them! Rick is a prominent wedding photographer and good friend of Bobbi’s. Rick and Gary were great hosts with a wonderful house full of fantastic art.
One of the highlights of our stay was a really great meal and a night on the town in one of the trendier areas…
We needed to keep heading north however, and so it was time to visit one of my old friends in…
We drove north and inland a bit to a little town just outside of Lexington in North Carolina to visit with an old friend of mine – Lee Spears. As I mentioned before all of our hosts on this trip were either photographers or musicians – Lee is the later, plus the amazing craftsman who made my hammer dulcimer! Lee lives in a very cool (figuratively, not literally) log cabin in a beautiful rural area:
Besides music, recording arts, and luthery, Lee is an expert baker – he treated us to the very best apple pie I had ever had:
We had a great time with Lee and I got to spend a little time making music during our visit:
Time was running out for us with more bad weather approaching. We again needed to head north to make it to our next stop before snow storms overtook us. So we headed into Virginia and on to Maryland…
Our next stop was just outside of Baltimore to visit with Theresa Airey, another famous photographer friend of Bobbi’s.
We had a great little visit with Theresa, and stayed overnight, after dealing with a failing master cylinder on the RV breaks – another setback that cut our stay a bit shorter than anticipated. All in all though, we had pretty good luck and had managed to avoid serious weather delays. Theresa’s place was very nice and warm, nestled in a beautiful wooded area.
We were now in a kind of mad dash to get home to the Boston area, and so off we went with one more stop in…
Racing against more snow we made it to Fairfield, where we met by our last host on our trip, Kate Eisemann, her Husband Bruce Mandelbaum, and son Will. One more, cosy night, great breakfast, and great conversation, and we were on our way to Boston. Bobbi shot this quick portrait of Kate & family, just before we left!
Our final destination was Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and we made the rest of the trip without incident. We were treated to some serious cold! Unusually cold weather that was to be dubbed the “Arctic Vortex,” frozen, crunchy, icy snow everywhere! We are now ensconced in a classic New England home – we are renting the 2nd floor from Bobbi’s friends Kevin and Judy, until the snow thaws and we can look for a place of our own!
The next morning we wrier treated to a rather spectacular display of ice crystals on the windows.
What an amazing adventure!
I have a gallery of my images from the trip, including more ice crystals, posted here:
Here are some more of the portraits from our trip, with some of us taken by our hosts…
Bobbi has been so busy since we got back (she went off to do a travel tour in Myanmar) that she hasn’t had time to go through the thousands of photos she shot on our trip! Hopefully, I’ll be able to sit her down – after her trips to Dubai, India, and Venice – to sort through some more images and put up a more complete image gallery – stay tuned!