Monday, April 29, 2013

You're my shining star: Las Vegas' Neon Museum

One of the few things on my "must see" list was the Neon Museum (aka boneyard) in Las Vegas. I'll never forget stumbling across photos on Flickr several years ago that someone had taken at the boneyard (back before it was open to the public) and immediately falling in love. Needless to say, I was happier than a little kid at Disney once there.

It was everything I wanted and more--typography, rusted bling and a one-hour tour chock full of Vegas history. If any of those things appeal to you, escape from the strip and seek this museum out. I still get a giddy feeling thinking about the tour.





Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rivers and parks of the west

I’m back. Actually, I’ve been back since Monday but was immediately buried in meetings and to-dos. I took photos (nothing fussy, just my iphone), shot video, wrote myself notes on stray pieces of paper, sent postcards and even recorded voice memos to friends back home, but how to process all of this? I'm going to cheat and pretty much copy an email I sent my coworkers when I got back. Given that we're enviro-river people, you'd better believe I started with rivers.

I saw the freaking Snake River (hint…look down)! Maybe this isn’t a big deal to everyone, but as someone who has heard about this river for the past 12 years, it was fairly epic. I may have come close to shedding a tear. Maybe. The photo below was taken outside of Twin Falls, Idaho, and the Snake met us here and there on the drive back through Oregon. There wasn’t a single time I saw it that I wasn’t blown away.

Traveled 629 miles today through two time zones, snow, mountains and canyons. NV/ID

The epic list of rivers I finally got to meet doesn’t end there. I saw (not comprehensive and in no particular order) the Snoqualmie River, Yakima River, Columbia River, Snake River, Rogue River, LA River, South Umpqua River, Umpqua River, Willamette River, Calapooia River, Santiam River, Klamath River, Prairie Creek, Strawberry Creek, Russian River, Eel River, Mad River, and Soquel Creek. For years, I feel like I’ve had a special window into what we do on the west coast because one of the grant programs I manage, reading, scoring and offering advice to places I’d never seen. Each of these rivers represents a place we’ve worked (or considered working) and where what little we’ve been able to do has had an impact. The Eel River (below) was one of my favorites. Its blue-green water wove in and out of our path along the 101 through northern California, and I was lucky enough to get to see one of the removal projects we’ve been working on there for the last several years.


I drove through deserts and mountain ranges, traveling from the most barren climates through peaks where snow was still falling. I saw the following federal lands—Snoqualmie Pass, Snoqualmie National Forest, Umatilla National Forest, Great Basin National Park, Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Mojave National Preserve, Redwood National Park, and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest—and traveled the Pony Express, El Camino, and Oregon trails. 3,589 miles…give or take a few.



Also, lest you think it was all nature and work, I can also say that I played arcade games in Portland, had brunch with a guy who will be on the next season of America’s Next Top Model in LA, attended a proposal in Downtown Disney, and visited a neon sign boneyard outside of Vegas, but more on that later.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A travelin' fool: Seeing the U.S. state by state

I have so much to download from my trip out west and am trying to wrap my brain around how to describe everything I saw and experienced. It was phenomenal and different on so many varied levels. From the people I met (oh, LA) to the different environments I experienced, it all deserves its own time in the limelight.

While I take the time to process everything, I need to freak out a bit about the map above. You guys!!! Look how few states I have left to visit! I'm so lucky we were a family that struck out on big road trips (lightbulb...this shit runs in the family). Many of those southeastern states were seen from the back of a wood-paneled station wagon and a white minivan.

So...who wants to take me to Hawaii?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Epic west coast roadtrip

I'm traveling along the west coast this week (and next!) for a combination of work and play. There is an insane amount of documenting going on, including quick video segments. I'll share more later, but for now, here we are waiting in the rain to score some of Portland's famous Voodoo Donuts.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Sign Painters

 sign porn
A tiny portion of my pictures of signs. Some of my favorites are held hostage on Flickr, awaiting me to renew my pro account.

When I found out Sign Painters, a documentary on the art of the hand-painted sign by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, was premiering at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, I was over the moon. I've been stalking, er, following along since I saw Faythe first mention the project on Twitter. I can't say that I'm obsessed with good signage, but an interesting sign has always been able to lure me in. Judging from all the photos of hand-painted beauties littering my phone and Flickr account, it is safe to say I've had a thing for them for quite a while.

The film, itself, paid homage to the craft and passion of sign painting. After an intro chock full of sign porn, we traveled the country with the filmmakers and listened to stories from some of the greats. I was humbled by the stories of apprenticeship and years of dedication to learning their craft. Sometimes I find myself frustrated with not automatically knowing how to do certain things or not being considered an expert (shoots a wary look at the ukulele sitting unplayed in my corner). What a cocky bastard I am to think I should be good at something after giving it an hour or a week!

Another thing that really spoke to me was something mentioned during the q&a when Levine made reference to how important it was as a filmmaker and a researcher to be able to add quality content in a field where information is scarce. As a collector of information and stories, this really spoke to me. Like graffiti long abandoned under an overpass, Levine and Macon extend the legacy of some of these artists beyond faded traces left on that brick building you always pass walking home from work.

Seeing the film surrounded by portraits in the Renwick's Grand Salon was just the cherry on top.