Friday, September 11, 2009

Home for Awhile...and Cali Road Trip!


'No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until one comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.'

 - Lin Yutang

See photo albums below:

Vancouver and Edmonton

Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach and L.A.

California Coast and San Francisco

Home was a seriously mixed bag of feelings. I gave myself 5 weeks to see everyone and get all my paperwork (work visa) in order before I was due back to NZ mid December ('08). I was really excited to see everyone but also had a dreaded feeling of going home. It guess it was the void of adventure that I wasn't so keen on but reveled in the comfort of arriving in a familiar airport, where you know the language and the best way to transport yourself from point A to B.  

I stopped in Vancouver briefly to say hi to the kitties and pick up some winter clothes and went off to Edmonton the next day. Visiting friends and family in Alberta was of course really great. My mom had a table at the Festival of Trees in Camrose to sell all her knitting wares so I joined her to sell some of my prints from NY, Hawaii and SE Asia...we had 3 full days of catching up and mother daughter bonding, which made it a more than worthwhile endeavour.

I stopped by the island (Victoria) to see old friends: Stacey and Aron as well as Kelli. It was an awesome visit (as always) before going back to Vancouver to meet up with Marj. She came up from San Francisco for a week of visiting with myself and her friend Mirena. We caught up on all the happenings of the last 4 months since we said goodbye in Bali and of course had heaps of fun, as per usual.  

After spending such a great week with Marj in my home city and having some time to take a step back to look at the big picture. I got to thinking if going back to NZ was such a great idea. The pay is not overly high in NZ, the currency is quite weak and I didn't have a lot of luck finding work while I was already there for 3 months. I wanted to get ahead in my photography and the business of it all and could do that easier with a solid home base within my own country (definitely less red tape). I loved NZ but it is so far away from the mecca of photography, namely New York. So I cancelled my flight for the time being and decided to stay put in Canada, my home and native land...true, PATRIOT loooooove... 

This lead me back to my Dad's farm in Saskatchewan to see Tronn, my brother, and my Dad, then back to Edmonton for further visiting over Christmas. It was a good time for me to be home and I knew that I made the right decision to stay put.

In January ('09), I received an invitation from The Depot Artspace in Auckland, NZ, inviting me to exhibit with 2 other female photographers during the Auckland Photo Festival in June. I didn't really have to think about what my answer would be so I emailed back with a resounding YES! 

The next few weeks were spent in front of my laptop, continuing to market myself, preparing for the exhibition, looking for jobs and catching up on editing photos and various projects I had been working on until one night....I had the most horrible dream. I was in a bathroom tied up and couldn't move at all. I was trying to say something and a lady came in with my laptop and raised it high above her head and aimed the corner directly at my forehead before starting to bludgeon me until my entire frontal lobe became a gaping hole. Blood and brains were everywhere and when I tried to talk, all that came out was garble and drool. I woke up and laid there for 2 hours, completely freaked out.
The next morning I woke up feeling spent from that nightmare. I had received another email from Marj regarding coming to L.A. to meet Dan (we had met him in Bali, he is originally from Germany, and he was coming over from Australia). I had told her that I couldn't really justify a trip having no income and just getting back from the other side of the world but I took the dream as a cue that maybe I needed a mental health break (or rather a break from being glued to my laptop day and night), so I told her I would be there.

The bus driver had to shake me awake upon arrival at Seattle airport. I walked into the airport sporting an imprint of the texture of my camera bag on my cheek and wiping drool from my chin....classy! 

I had some time to kill so I went and got lunch. Eating isn't what it used to be. My sensitivity to alcohol had seriously progressed to a point of not being able to eat anything that had even the smallest amount in it (or I could count on being ill for 4 to 10 days). I had to learn the hard way that some extracts, like vanilla, actually contained pure alcohol. Really bad news for someone who loves her cookies with coffee – no more, unless someone could tell me exactly what was in it. Booooooo!

I landed in Long Beach where my surf sister Marj was waiting for me! She pulled up and we headed off to her sister's. We had a really good dinner and visit with her sister Beth and her husband John. A very warm and welcoming couple, but I would expect nothing less from someone related to Marj.  

Most of the next morning was spent catching up and hanging out. Dan had called so we headed in to L.A. to pick him up. He was in Pasadena couch surfing ( He hadn't changed a bit...besides his sun bleached hair from living in Perth, Australia the last few months. The three of us went to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and explored. I got faux stabbed by Jason from Friday the 13th and had a small heart attack. Later, we went bowling at Lucky Strike before calling it a night.


Marj and I headed off to Laguna Beach the next day. I loved driving down there by the ocean through all the cute little surf towns. We walked around to different galleries and had a super chill afternoon. When the light got good, we cruised as fast as we could to beat the sunset at Huntington Beach.  The next hour was spent photographing the pier, surfers and sea birds. A dreamy golden hour.

A surfer told us about the Tuesday night market in town where we ended up running into a t-shirt vendor named Allen Scott. One of his t-shirts had 'Cardone' on them. I asked if he knew Ryan Cardone and it turned out that he used to design t-shirts with him for a skateboarding line they did together. Small world. I was meeting Ryan in a couple days to talk about putting my surf photography on his stock site ( I loved every minute of that day. Sun, surf, art, coffee and one of my best friends in the world:)

The next morning, we went back to L.A., picked up Dan and went on a tour of Warner Bros. Studio. We got to see the set of E.R., Cold Case, The Ghost Whisperer, Friends, Gilmore Girls etc. It was pretty cool, although I don't think I have seen even one episode of any of the aforementioned, save for Friends! We really wanted to see Ellen but she was taping during the golden hour. We did see where she parks her Porsche though. We didn't see any stars but figured they were all hiding behind bushes and buildings and too intimidated to approach US. Ha ha ha. Our tour guide thought the story of the 3 of us meeting in Bali would make a good movie. When we were on the ER Emergency Entrance set – Marj had Dan pick me up and pretend he was running me in. Afterward he said my bones were REALLY heavy. Hmmmm? Lol! 
Other Danisms:

'Ooooooooh!' He just says this a lot...when he gets excited. 
'Look there's a hobo!' When seeing a homeless person in L.A.
'Where's the pee-pee box?' I think he picked this one up in Australia?!

We also had a lot of fun in the Friends room where all the paraphernalia from the set was. We got our picture taken in front of a green screen where Dan was pushing me and Marj was trying to stop him in front of the train from Harry Potter. So it went nicely with the photo of Dan carrying me into emergency after his attempt to kill me.

We headed to Venice Beach afterward to meet my friend Nell. She had recently moved back to California from Vancouver where she was a yoga instructor and back to her old job as a lifeguard while studying yoga therapy. We walked Venice Beach down to Santa Monica Pier where we did a lot of swinging (on swings!) and then to the pier. Nell took us to Mao's for dinner – a popular haunt with the locals. DAYUM it was good!

After we left, we were all shivering walking to the car. Dan said 'think warm thoughts' but I thought he said 'think warm farts'. We all laughed and thought it was a creative, albeit smelly, way for one to warm up!

We drove through Rodeo Drive and looked at some of the houses in Beverly Hills, then off to Sunset Boulevard. Whisky a Go Go wasn't at all what I expected. I kept trying to picture Jim Morrison on stage and it just wasn't working. There was a really good band playing though who sounded like a cross between Tool and Metallica (Scarlet Paradigm). We dropped Dan off and said our goodbyes. Oh where in the world will we see him next? 

The next day, we met Ryan Cardone just outside of L.A. He is a really great guy. We had a 2 hour meeting and mostly talked about surfing and photography. Loved it and am very excited to contribute his site ( 

We got to Pismo Beach just in time for sunset but the sun disappeared behind the clouds literally as soon as we got our cameras out. The same thing happened at Venice Beach. It forces me to be more creative, but as most of you can probably surmise by now - I like my solar flares:) I love photographing with Marj. She does her thing and I do mine. I feel so good after a sunset photo session. I suppose it could be likened to taking a hit of your favourite drug.  I am addicted!

We drove into the college, coastal town of San Luis Obispo and checked into our hostel - $25 each a night? Yeeks! A far cry from Asia prices! We went to the farmer's market. It was SO All American. I felt like I was in a football movie. We went to an organic restaurant and had some really good eats before meeting Marj's friend at a little coffee shop where we chatted about all of our travels, dreams and future plans. Marj convinced us to continue the evening at a pub. It's a college town so I would imagine everyone was in their early to mid is reminded of how old they really are when surrounded by a crowd that looks SO young! A guy from Mexico City came over and asked if we were from Germany? Hmmm. Perhaps Dan rubbed off on us a little?

The next morning we hit the road again, stopping in Cambria for coffee and loitering, San Simeon to see the elephant seals, the coastline to watch a storm linger above the Pacific and Monterey for a little taste of its charm.

We finally got to San Francisco just in time to make it to the Valentine's Day Bitter Ball Cruise! Marj got us tix for my birthday and we danced the night away in the San Francisco harbour with pretty much ALL gay men. It was fantastic! 

We spent the next few days cruising around San Fran. I was sick from something that I ate that must have had some kind of something in it but I tried to ignore it as best as possible and enjoy it all.
We met up with Goosh my last night there and had dinner together. I hadn't seen him since he and Suzanne got married and left Vancouver. We had a superb eve of catching up and talking about...what else? Photography!

'The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.'

 - St. Augustine

No comments: