Happy New Year

renaissancemanCalifornia is a place where many people ‘take it to the limit…’ as the Eagles song goes.

And the end of the year is a time for reflection, wandering thoughts – so this post is about both.

20 or so years ago, somewhere along the way south of I’m not sure where, along the northern CA coast, I took a turn off into a sizeable rest stop/ parking lot/’viewpoint’… Took in what was a brilliant sunset, even in B&W.

After i pulled in, another vehicle did too, a school bus, but no school kids here, it was converted to be living quarters for the owner(s). It parked so the door was on the far side of me, at the far end of the parking lot. The windows were covered w/ crude shades, I watched as lights went on. Then i saw, underneath the bus, a pair of human legs, and four legs of a dog step out. The dog relieved itself, both got back on the bus. My first experience w/ Nor Cal off the grid, in a manner of speaking. Anyone on that bus got a job? Doubtful.

nc_sunsetcntctI came across these negatives while trying to put together some darkroom montage that takes things in a new direction, using sandwiched negs in the image. 


The chair at the bottom is one neg, the top is a sandwich, dodged out from bottom up, the sunset mentioned above, and a shot of a driftwood sculpture at Patricks Point SP. I will always remember the sunset, and with it the school bus. This chair is a place to sit down, & contemplate… ‘whatever’. 

I wouldn’t want to direct your thoughts, just encourage them.

I will also remember Patricks Pt SP, the wild and crazy things people did with driftwood. Not quite off the grid, but heading that way. It’s a long walk to that beach, and if there is a park ranger at that SP, he/she doesn’t get there very often, anyone there is left to their own devices. Dance naked, howl at the moon, nobody notices or cares.


I took one neg into the darkroom, did some things with it. A steady hand and a sharp exacto blade got into the act too.


Turning this over in my mind, many other thoughts/images bubbled to the surface, the main one, the most tantalizing to think or write about being the whole idea of ‘off the grid’.


This sign is off the grid for sure, somewhere in the Mojave desert, it’s many miles to anywhere, someone started this, and many others added to it, what a great idea.

It wasn’t so long ago that most of America was rural, farms and ranches, there wasn’t much of a grid to speak of, and most weren’t on it. Some survived, some didn’t.



When i took the B&W neg. of the above into the darkroom, the shack became somewhat transparent. No surprise.


Nowadays, we like to think we can be adventurous, walk on the wild side, get away from the daily hum-drum routines of our lives, an idea that can be very entertaining – think ‘burning man’ in the Nevada desert, or this bonfire i attended some years ago on Ocean beach, sponsored by a group of wild and crazy artists i belonged to.


Taking ‘the road not taken’ can also be a death trip, there will always be warnings, even if you don’t see them. 


There is at least one story in the media every year about someone out west who takes the wrong turn, the wrong road, and ends up dead, frozen in snow, or totally dehydrated in the desert.

Here’s a place that’s just one step short of off the grid, Bonk’s Jawbone canyon store, just northeast of Mojave Ca. This was shot in 1996, the place is gone now. Jawbone Canyon got it’s name for being a really rough off-road dirt bike place – as in “it’ll rattle your jawbones”.


So… uh… before you ‘take it to the limit’ … pause for some thought.

“There must be some way outta here said the joker to the thief…”

Bob Dylan song, best recorded by Jimi Hendix. Do a ‘youtube’ search, it’s there, it’s just that pasting the link does wacko things to my blog.

Since the end of the year is always the anniversary of my longest road trip ever, my migration to the west coast, from Arlington Va. to SF, Ca., I will remember a day-long respite in Holbrook AZ, thanks to some hi-desert snowstorm that closed Rt 40, i took in the Petrified Nat’l Forest SP. To a guy who was used to seeing trees standing upright, green and growing, this was a mind-bender.

This long view was awesome, blew my east coast mind.


I’ll be back next year for sure. I still have Gigabytes of images, and many thoughts.