Archive for the Highway 101 Category

It doesn’t revolve around you

Posted in California, Hess, Highway 101, lexington, Martha, Ventura on July 16, 2007 by lenscapremoved

The feeling isn’t anything but overwhelming.

I’ve been thinking about everything all at once. In a day and a half Elliott and I drove across the entire country. In 31 hours, we saw the Pacific for the last time this summer and crossed from California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and into Kentucky.

If you read our plans, we had planned on stopping in Flagstaff to spend the night. We got to Flagstaff and I asked Elliott if he wanted to stop. He said no. “Let’s just go on to Lexington” We did.

Living out of a car for that long wasn’t as much of a challenge as we thought it to be. We didn’t’ stop for more than 15 minutes, and most stops averaged about 5 minutes.  So all of our trash built up because Elliott and I really could care less about cleanliness. Our last good meal was the morning we left. The LaBelles and all the members of 237 Pomo went out to eat together for breakfast and Elliott and I were on the 101 by 11 AM. That was the only meal we would have that day since our only attempt at food would be to stop at a Dairy Queen which was so full of Western-rednecks that you couldn’t turn without hitting a shoeless kid in the face with your hip bone or backing into a bra-less mother who was chasing five kids around the Route 66 bumper sticker caddy. We opted to buy snacks (since this DQ was combined with a gas station/general store) and keep going. I had no idea the Snickers bar and bag of chips would be my last for the day.

Somewhere around this part of the trip marks the beginning of a horrible stomach ache for me. I wasn’t feeling so great after only eating beef jerkey and the junk from the first stop. The next morning’s McDonalds catered to my hunger but came along with a bit of a side effect. Symptoms included more nausea and constant word vomitting which mostly pieced together as complaining. Elliott diagnosed it as the whines and I treated it with biting my tongue for as much as possible, at least until someone new called. Then a new symptom came about when I began regurgitating the situation to my new listener.

Martha gave her estimate of how long it would take for us to hit I-40. Looking at a map it didn’t seem like it could possibly take that long. But it did. I shouldn’t have been surprised when she was right. She was always right. But after hitting I-40 we saw a sign that said Wilmington, North Carolina, 2500 miles. We weren’t heading to Wilmington, but it was a bit of a realization of how far we were about to drive because from Ventura to Lexington is about 2200 miles.

Every time I go anywhere I have a tendency to push the limits, or at least that’s what my parents keep telling me. If driving across the country in a day and half doesn’t emphasize that I’m not sure what I would have to tell you to get me to believe it. I didn’t tell my mom what we had done until I was about an hour away from Louisville.

The entire time I had sent vague text messages like, “Slept in New Mexico last night. We’re past Amarillo right now.” Now, I did sleep in New Mexico at about 85-87 mph and we had made it through Amarillo. Heck we were in Oklahoma when I sent that text. But she called me and we chatted a bit. She asked where I was, and I gave another bland answer, something like, “Um, well we’re actually past St. Louis.” This was way farther than we should have been. In reality if we had gone by the planned route we would have been at the end of I-40 in Oklahoma, or about 5 hours from St. Louis when we would stop that night. After a bit more interrogation I told mom what was going on. To my surprise she was more excited that she was going to see me than she was mad. I guess love conquers anger sometimes.

Now I don’t have much to show you as far pictures on the way back. The only pictures I shot were somewhere in Arizona. Elliott was on the phone with intern Britney and I had been watching this beautiful sunset for about 10 minutes in the mirrors. As we topped the hill (yeah they have hills in Arizona!) the road took a beautiful light and reflected the sun and the scene coming through my shaky sideview mirror was amazing. I knew this was my last chance to take the picture I had been debating on, and honestly the best spot I had found. I was riding in the left lane and knew I had a car riding my tail but slammed on the brakes and went into the median. Rocks bounced around and tired skidded to a stop as I was already reaching for my camera and Elliott kept talking as if nothing was going on.

I only shot about 17-20 frames of this, but love two of the pictures. They’re simple yes, but the clouds were amazing. This was the sunset I wish we had gotten in Ventura. We never saw it, but I’ll take this one as a bit of a replacement.

This isn’t a great picture. I just like it because it means something to me. If you remember from earlier in the trip when I was beating myself up over my bad pictures, I was saying that the harder you work for a picture the more it means to you. Well I didn’t work too hard for this but it’s a memory to me.

The same sun that set behind us would be rising in a few hours in front. Elliott traded off with me a few hours after I shot this photo and he drove through the night. I took back over somewhere in Texas only to watch another beautiful sun peaking over the horizon. For two hours it was a spectacular view. If you ever get the chance to drive across the country I beg of you to plan your trip so that you can drive through the night just once. It’s a very powerful feeling to see the sun go down and know you’ve been pushing on the whole time it was lighting the rest of the world when it gets back around to you. I can’t think of a bigger way to realize the world doesn’t revolve around you. But when I was driving and seeing it peek back up over Texas at 5 AM, I felt like it was rising for me.


Too little time

Posted in Chinatown, Highway 101, Mary Margaret, San Francisco, Ventura on June 8, 2007 by lenscapremoved

            Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s a nice place but I wouldn’t want to live there”?

            Well on first impression, I think that’s how I feel about San Francisco. As much as I like big cities and love how diverse the people are, my initial reaction is to say, “Eh, don’t think so.” 

            When we first drove in we missed the turn for the 101, so we got down into the real people, not the tourists. That’s the thing I don’t like about staying in Fisherman’s Wharf. Where are the real people? Not here, because everyone here has a disposable camera and a shirt with the Golden Gate on it.

            But when we were driving through what I guess was the real downtown I didn’t feel comfortable at all. I’m not saying I was scared of the homeless people or afraid I was going to get shot. No, none of that stereotypical fear that comes upon good old country boys when they first see the city. I just mean I can’t imagine working somewhere like this. I can’t see myself fitting into this scene very well.

             I’m sure it’s not a typical fear because I’ve been to places like Washington D.C., Madrid, Rome, Miami and tons of others and not gotten this feeling (well OK maybe in Miami). I think it’s just the fact that is seems really congested. I know I’ve only been here for one day, but that’s my first impression. Maybe after today I’ll change my mind.

             Despite knowing I wouldn’t want to live here, I really want to investigate this place but there’s just too much to do for the amount of time we’re going to be here. Dave got to Ventura yesterday so we really need to be moving along to get there either tonight or tomorrow.

             I really want to see Alcatraz, but that takes too long for what we’re looking at. Ed and I really want to see Chinatown, even though Elliott made a face at the idea. I think it would be cool to see the Golden Gate parks, Lombard Street and maybe just for the heck of it, swing by Castro District.

            Last night we spent our time hanging out in Fisherman’s Wharf, looking at sea lions and other tourists. The three of us look like such stereotypical tourists it’s pathetic. Three huge cameras around our necks that everyone probably thinks we can’t use. A host for a restaurant asked us to look at the dinner special. When we just kept going he said, “Hey, why don’t we all get the same camera and walk around together?” Here is where we laughed and made camera jokes about how we all had different cameras and lenses and probably seemed like even bigger nerds.

            So as my time will surely be cut short here, I guess that just means I need to start planning my next trip here. Mary Margaret tells me her aunt lives here on Jones Street. I joked and said we’ll make a road trip next summer and just stay with her. She said, “No that would be cool.” She said  Brian and Courtney (brother and fiancé) flew out and stayed with her.

             I might just hold her to that.

I moved to San Francisco just to see what I could be

Posted in California, camping, Hess, Highway 101, Martha, Matthews on June 7, 2007 by lenscapremoved

            There are some days that it seems like every picture you shoot is better than the last. Every frame will be in the competition for the best possible composition and exposure. It seems like you’re never going to stop making each picture better.

            Today wasn’t that day.

             In fact, I didn’t shoot a single picture that I actually like today. That means not one single frame out of 200 are decent. Sure, I’ll upload the usual amount onto this Web site just to give you an idea but go ahead and feel warned. I’m not a fan of anything.

             Today we basically didn’t do anything. We drove, and screwed around a lot. I can’t tell you how long it took me to get that last post up. We were scamming off of a Days Inn (or creepin’ as we call it). That failed eventually and I guess we tried about 7 different parking lots all over Eureka. Some of you are thinking go on and forget it then. But honestly, when we’re getting as many hits as we are I feel kind of like people care (even though most people aren’t reading the text) and want to produce. We’ve had two days with over 650 hits and most days go around 300.

             Ed is working on an incredibly impressive tent. This is probably one of his best yet. I actually hope it rains tonight so he didn’t just do all this for nothing.

             We all seem to have our own jobs. Ed is the leader in building the tent and chopping the wood that Elliott and I bring in. I light the fire. Elliott sets up the tripod for us to cook on. Ed opens the cans and stirs. On the road I’m the driver, Ed is the navigator and Elliott is the backseat driver and backup vocalist for whatever we’re listening to. He works in a few lyrics in between checking his phone for text messages from Shannon, usually to find he hasn’t gotten one. None. But he’s optimistic.

(FYI, I’m thoroughly loving this fire against my back while I type on this picnic table)


 Start new day, June 7, 07                       

            I just drank a cold free coffee that cost me $1.50. The lady last night told me “free coffee at 8 AM!” I was so excited. Elliott ran into a similar problem, but handled it differently. He was buying one of his girly drinks, a caramel cappuccino, and the lady told him it was $3.75. He said, “No.” He told her he wasn’t going to pay that much for it and she rang it up for $2.50. I wish we could do that with campsites.

            I called Martha yesterday to let her know we’re on our way. She sounds really nice and she said she was excited to see us. At least until I told her we hadn’t showered in about three days. I said I hope we get one before we get there, and she said, “Yeah…” We’re about 100 miles north of San Francisco. It’s 11 AM, another late start. We’ll try to get there today and spend today and some of tomorrow there. Mostly we just want a place to pile into and stay. But I’m positive we’ll miss this camping. Today is day 13. We have about 3 more to go.

            That’s all for now kids. Ed is practicing throwing a hatchet into trees. He’s actually getting pretty good. Elliott is probably wishing he had stayed on facebook a few more minutes. And we’re all hungry. So it’s time to get out of town and get back on highway 1 and head to the 101.

            Thanks to Alice, Allie, the parentals and everyone else who keeps complimenting the site. We enjoy going through the comments and seeing your opinions. I’ll post more photos when I get a stable connection.     

            Thanks to anyone who reads. Look for another update tonight (our time) or tomorrow morning.            

Welcome to Cali

Posted in California, camping, Hess, Highway 101, Matthews, Ventura on June 6, 2007 by lenscapremoved


            California came. And we missed it.

            Southbound on the 101 the welcome to California sign was blocked with an abandoned semi trailer. We all shouted and turned around to go back and take snappers of ourselves in front of it, which turned into leaving our mark.

                   Today’s theme: team spirit. It all started with Ed marking our trip on the post. “Team Kernel 6/05/07 Lexington, Ky to Ventura, Ca 4100 miles”. That’s the mileage at that time. We’ll be closer to 4,700 by the time it actually happens.

             Shortly after that my mom called because I texted my dad to say we made it. While on the phone with her we started running up on something I had never seen before. On the shoulder of the road was a tree that had broken about 75 feet up and had no branches and was the biggest round tree I had ever seen. I wanted to say about 30 sentences at once. Instead, “Oh my God Elliott. Look at that…tree,” came out.

            I was so surprised that I’m not even sure why I addressed only Elliott and I forgot about my mom being on the phone. It was my first sight of a redwood tree. Honestly, it wasn’t even a big redwood compared to what we’ve seen today.


             We stopped on a beach and explored for two hours. I thought we were there for maybe 45 minutes. Time just flew and so did the photos. I took an entire gig of photos (a lot for those of you who aren’t photogs) without even thinking about it. We basically risked our lives the entire time (sorry moms…and yes Becky that’s Elliott jumping rocks again) by scaling large rocks and looking at the seascape. I’m not going to say much about it. The pictures that came weren’t great but they can show you better than I can through a keyboard.

             While climbing Ed slipped and scratched his leg. He showed me and I told him I wasn’t impressed. He’s OK, just in need of a shower (which I think we all are). We signed Team Kernel onto the rocks there too before leaving. Ed left his marking on a leg he was climbing too. I told you, team spirit.

             Right now I’m on a beach in Redwood Forrest National Park. It’s dark and we’re trying to warm a few cans of Ravioli over a fire. It’s not working too well because we didn’t find much besides hard driftwood or soft, rotten logs. We looked for about an hour and Ed chopped at a huge piece of driftwood the entire time and we got one decent log off it. (Right now Elliott is mad at me for getting a small bit of ash in the pot and mad at Ed for stirring it in. Ed and I don’t care).

            We got to play Frisbee on the beach after finding firewood. It was actually warm then. We played for about an hour before coming back to start the fire.

             So here we are again. I’m listening to Ed and Elliott quote the same jokes we’ve been laughing at, sing the same songs we’ve been singing and use the same catch phrases that we’ve all had for two weeks. We’re all in on it, and I’m sure we’d get on anyone’s nerves who was around us.             I’ve always wanted to camp on a beach. This is something I really wanted to do on the coast. I pushed for this. Ed was worried about getting sand in our gear, but I say it’s worth it. Although, it’s not really flip flop weather anymore. And I can hardly feel my toes.

             As the Ravioli is almost finished, so is this blog. It’s not much. But it helps you get a fill, warms you a bit but still leaves you wanting more.             I hope I miss out on the latter.  

Start new day here (June 6, 07)

             We’re in a Super 8 Motel parking lot scamming wireless in Eureka, California. We look like creeps; three guys in a black car with tinted windows from out of state all on laptops and with long lenses. Today we’re heading to San Francisco to see the sequoia forest there and explore the city.

             Not sure where we’re sleeping. Heck, I’m not even sure if we’ll be in the city today. We’re a little over 300 miles away.

             Keep a look out. If we go in, I’m sure I’ll upload again. I have a lot to post about but not much time. I’m not a fan of doing this in a car in a parking lot.

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Snappers by Ed Matthews (more to come):


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No rain, no rainbows

Posted in Hess, Highway 101, Matthews, oregon on June 5, 2007 by lenscapremoved

            Ed told me that the coast of Oregon was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen. He kept talking about how much the rain was appreciated and that no one minded what I thought was crappy weather. During the first half an hour I was in doubt and wanted to rush through to get to California. Elliott fell asleep quickly, as he has done almost any time we’ve had to drive over an hour. Ed and I just watched the landscape change through the thick fog as Ben Folds’ ideas about life and learning played through the speakers. As the music panned through the tracks the fog began to fade and reveal a tangled mess of trees to our left and a rocky coast out the passenger window.

            Our first stop was at Cannon Beach, where we found a cold and misty beach behind a restaurant. After our first five minutes of the Pacific chasing our toes with its foam, the clouds spit water into our expensive lenses and the wind throwing sand into our eyes and hair we were ready to get back in the car and explore farther South.

            The forest thickened and the road narrowed and became rougher. We weren’t on the Oregon Trail Interstate anymore. The Lewis and Clark Trail, or this part of the 101, was made up of pavement that’s patched and cluttered with dips and brief construction. None of this was an aggravation. It seemed like worse the road conditions were the more beautiful the scenery around us became. With each broken part of pavement there was more trees that hung over the roads forming perfect arches for us to pass through. Each highway cone was an exchange for a breathtaking view of a lighthouse above crashing waves shooting a warning light through the fog or a glimpse at a group of sea lions resting on the rocks.

            About midway through the coast of Oregon we reached Florence where we stopped at the world famous Mo’s. The best clam chowder in the world, or so they claim. I had to try a bowl. And I must say, now I’m a fan. I was pretty upset that I didn’t do a full meal of it instead of just settling for a burger. We think there is one near San Francisco so I’ll have to try again.

            Start new day here. My computer died last night when I typed that first part.

             We left our campsite immediately last night to explore. We wondered through woods to find a sand dune that towered over the area. It was easily the highest elevation around. After scaling it and taking a break at the top for about half an hour we were going back down and Ed and I found it much easier to run. So straight down the slope we galloped through the sand sinking nearly a foot with each step and extending at least six feet horizontally. It was an amazing time that made me feel like a kid again. We had to scale the mountain again just to try it again.

            As different as our music taste is, it’s actually starting to come together. We’re all listening to one of Ed’s bands as if it were our own music. In fact, one band of Ed’s is actually such a favorite we call it our theme music. Any time and every time after we do something remotely cool we play it and drive with the windows down. No matter how cold or how fast we’re going we play our theme music. Ed is starting to branch out too. He knows all the words to three Old Crow Medicine Show songs.

            Today (June 5, 07) we’re heading down the coast again. We plan on getting to California, but we’re not sure if we will. If we can have another blissful and misty day like yesterday I wouldn’t care if we didn’t see it for another day.

             It’s looking sunny today, but I’m OK with the rain.



      I’ll upload some of Ed’s stuff once we get a chance to go through it. His computer is slow and doesn’t have wireless (blame the Kernel). Don’t worry. Keep up with the site and you’ll see our entire trip soon. Very soon.

At first glance

Posted in camping, Hess, Highway 101, Mary Margaret, Matthews, oregon on June 3, 2007 by lenscapremoved

           It doesn’t get much more uneventful than today.

            We woke up and got in the car, drove for hours, and got out to make a new camp. We’re in Farewell Bend, Oregon right now. Having a name is about all Farewell Bend has to offer. We’re next to a cow pasture and a lake. If you look off of the eastern side of I-84 you can see us right there as you come into the state’.

             The transmission problem has thrown a knuckle-ball into our plans. We want to get past Portland tomorrow, but we’re not sure if we can. I don’t want to drive the car too far if it actually is having a problem. It’s not slipping, there aren’t any unusual sounds and the only thing that seems to be wrong is that the stupid warning wont go away. I’m not a mechanic but I’m almost positive gearing down for the steep mountains threw a sensor out of whack.              Elliott is standing next to the highway almost on the barbed-wire fence containing the cows, waving his phone in the air trying to find service to call someone. I’m positive he doesn’t even have anyone to call. He just likes to talk to people. Before he left he was going down a mental list trying to figure out who he should call, should he find service. I think I’ve had as much luck as he has here at the campsite. I’ve been text messaging my dad and Mary Margaret back and forth pretty consistently.

             So we’ve figured out the rest of our route. If you’re looking at Oregon, find I-84. It runs across the top of the state. We’ll take it all the way to
Portland tomorrow, which is over 300 miles from where we are tonight. We’re planning on getting a crappy hotel outside of there and trying to find a Volvo dealer to talk about the car even though it can’t be serviced until Monday. From Portland, we’ll take Highway 30 all the way to Highway 101, then we start our trip down the coast.

            This part may be my favorite. I love mountains, exploring, animals and “roughing it” but I think I’ll find the coast to be the most enjoyable. We had an option, to see Crater Lake National Park in Oregon or to see the whole coast of Oregon. I pushed for the coast. While I appreciate seeing all the beauty of the mountains, hiking and landscape portraits, I want to enjoy as much of the 101 that I can. I feel like to put all of our road trip’s emphasis into that type of scenery would be overkill.          

             I’m ready to see California.