All images © Tim Keller unless otherwise noted


 

November 8, 2017    The Road Home

Bonneville Salt Flats, truck on Utah highway 80

After staying four nights along the far northern coast of California--in Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte counties (see my photography blog for photos and notes), we proceeded through Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado to home in northeastern New Mexico, about 1500 miles in four days, ending our 4000-mile, 15-day road-trip vacation.

Tim Keller and Christina Boyce at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats

At Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats (above and left), a stranger approached and asked to use my iPhone to take our picture. She impressed me as homeless and unreliable, but I handed her my phone: You can see the skepticism on my face. She didn't run off with my phone, and we got a rare picture of the two of us together on this trip. This part of Utah, along with many of Nevada's two-lanes, is where we cruised along well above 100 mph, protected from speeding tickets by "rabbits"--other cars ahead of us going the same or higher speeds. Actually, we never saw any police out there giving speeding tickets. I found my comfort limit to be 125 mph. There's a sticker on the Porsche dash that says "M&S 150 MPH MAX." I had to ask at the dealership. It means not to drive this car over 150 in mud or snow. Okay, no problem, I won't do that. The sticker amuses me.

Christina Boyce in Utah Bridge over Colorado River at Moab, Utah

In the photo pair above, I captured Christina taking an iPhone 7 photo in another part of Utah, and the big footbridge over the Colorado River where it passes between Moab, Utah, and nearby Arches National Park. We had followed the Colorado down from its headwaters atop the Rocky Mountains west of Denver on our way to California; we enjoyed following it back upstream from Moab to Grand Junction, Colorado, before turning southeast across the southern Rockies to home.

Cimarron River, Colorado, autumn

Our last day driving took us over Colorado's 11,312-foot Monarch Pass among others, and along rivers and creeks lined with trees holding their last yellow leaves of autumn. (This is the Cimarron River, near Cimarron, Colorado, at right.) It was a good way to come home, ready to settle in for the winter. We have snow on the ground this morning as I type. Since our return, along with processing all of these photos and posting these blogs, I've tilled our big garden and prepared it for winter, and I've stocked up almost three cords of firewood. October was a perfect time to travel. We didn't plan it that way, but we learned that October is the best month to visit the Sonoma and Napa county wineries--and we were two counties north of there before last month's devastating fires struck the wine country. We did drive into a heavy snowstorm atop the Rockies west of Denver, though that was an early storm on the way west September 30. We got back over the Rockies coming home ahead of the first big snows there. Already we're planning a return trip to the redwood coast and the wine country next October, plotting a different route to see new country along the way. Meantime, the car's in the garage, snow's on the ground, the fireplace is crackling, and life is good.

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November 1, 2017    California Redwoods

Porsche Cayenne S in California Redwoods Porsche Cayenne S in California Redwoods

The impetus for our 4000-mile, 15-day October road trip was Christina's lifelong dream of seeing the majestic California redwoods. After three days touring and tasting in the Napa and Sonoma wine country, we spent a full day driving up the coast from Bodega Bay to Fort Bragg, where we stayed in an Airbnb up in the redwoods atop Simpson Road three miles above town. Finally, we proceeded north into the deepest redwood forests in California's northwesternmost counties, Humboldt and Del Norte.

Terry Randall Keller backpacking up Redwood Creek, 1972

I had been there before. In the summer after I graduated from Cal State Northridge, I drove my 1960 VW van, which I'd made into a camper in my dad's garage woodshop, all the way up the coast, alternating between mountains and sea. I made it as far as Edmonton, Canada, pondering my draft status as the Viet Nam War raged, deciding to return home and refuse the draft. Another story. My brother Terry accompanied me for the first three weeks, as far as Bend, Oregon, and we backpacked eight miles up Redwood Creek to sleep along the creek under the world's tallest tree. I photographed Terry on the trail, above (and camped together in Oregon, and more recently). A few months later, I moved from LA, where I lived for two months in my van on the beach and two more months in an Ocean Park guesthouse, to Graton in the Sonoma County wine country. From there, I returned to the redwoods several times on solo camping and backpacking trips.

California redwoods

Flash forward 44 years. Christina and I drove up the rugged winding coastline (see my photography blog) and through the redwoods in a Porsche Cayenne S (top photos), something my dad would have especially appreciated. Christina found a solo walk deep into the deepest redwood forest to be a spiritual experience: We're already planning a return next October when she wants me to leave her alone in there for hours, her new church. We'll be searching for an Airbnb that combines redwoods, elk, and the beach: Believe it or not, that's conceivable here, where elk herds come all the way to the sand where the redwoods end. It'll be another road trip, because when you finally have a Porsche in your life, you're always looking ahead to the next road trip, and new ones after that. The journey is at least as important as the destination--although, as a destination, California's redwood forests are pretty formidable.

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October 30, 2017    Tussle

Elk tussle in California redwoods

Driving up California's Highway 1 along the Mendocino Coast, winding between dense redwood forest and pristine coastline, we came upon a herd of several dozen elk grazing just east of the highway near the Humboldt County line.

Elk tussle along California's north coast

Two big bucks in the middle were doing what two big bucks will do, tussle. We watched and photographed for 10-15 minutes, using the big 70-200mm Nikon lens to reach them. The two big guys kept at it, a long slow slog for dominance (or play?). When we finally returned to the car to continue north, they were still at it, and the dozens of other elk were still grazing with zero interest in the two bucks. Eat, or fight. Natural selection.

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October 25, 2017    The Loneliest Highway in America

Nevada's Highway 50, Loneliest Highway in America

New Yorkers might not enjoy driving across the empty expanses of Utah and Nevada but we reveled in it. Crossing different routes westward and eastward, we never experienced Mojavelike flatness and barrenness; instead, there were mountains everywhere we went. Christina took to calling out each time we crested another summit pass, and they seemed to come every hour, usually summits around 6000 to 7000 feet, often lower than our Raton home that sits at 6800 feet elevation.

Nevada's Highway 50, Loneliest Highway in America

Stopping for photography was irresistable, including these two seemingly endless dirt side roads off Nevada's Highway 50, promoted as "The Loneliest Highway in America." With its mild temperatures, October was a perfect time to be out there, and we passed perhaps as many bicyclists as cars--a few per hour. The views were stunning and we were blessed with clouds to add to the visual drama all the way across, two full days of driving to cross the two states, from Grand Junction, Colorado, to Truckee, California, with an overnight stay in Ely, Nevada.

Christina Boyce on Utah two-lane blacktop

Between Delta, Utah, and the Nevada border, along dry Sevier Lake, we stopped to take photos along a straightaway--and we got some great ones. I just ordered a small (8"x12") print of this image of Christina standing on the center line, which we'll mat and frame and keep in the house. (As always, click the image to see it enlarged.) I posted this image to Instagram this morning (@hilocountry) but that platform cuts off the top and bottom, so the shadow is shortened and only the bottom rays of the sun remain, a disappointment. (Nikon's 3:2 aspect ratio is longer than Canon's 4:5 which I think is what the iPhone and Instagram have, too.) You get the full frame here, and we'll have it on our wall at home. Meantime, we so enjoyed this drive, and the destination, that we're already plotting new routes across Utah and Nevada and Oregon for a return trip to California's wine country and redwoods next October.

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October 20, 2017    Road Trip!

Christina Boyce and Tim Keller, The Maven Hotel, Denver 2017

For as long as she can remember--all of her life--Christina has longed to see California's magnificent redwood trees. We talked for years of making the trip, combining it with winery tours and tastings in Napa and Sonoma counties along the way. I lived out there for two years, more than 40 years ago, after I'd graduated from college and was fending with the Viet Nam War and its military draft. I'd hiked and camped in the redwoods countless times; in fact, I could see the redwoods just a mile west of my cabin window along the Gravenstein Highway at Graton west of Sebastopol. My brother Terry and I once backpacked eight miles up Redwood Creek, near Arcata, to camp under the tallest tree in the world. But Christina had never seen a redwood tree. This month, we corrected that. Last week we returned from a 15-day, 14 -ght, 4000-mile, six-state road trip that took us from New Mexico through Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California and into Oregon before driving home on a different route across the same states.

Family reunion in Santa Rosa

I'll be posting photos here and at my photography blog over the coming days and weeks--keep up with both to see the whole trip. We started in Denver where we stayed at the luxe new Maven Hotel (selfie above) in LoDo so we could literally walk across the street to the Rockies-Dodgers baseball game. At the other end of our journey, we had a family reunion over Mexican dinner in Santa Rosa, California--three days before the devastating fires broke out there, taking dozens of lives and thousands of homes and businesses. Above right, Christina and I share good times with my cousins (clockwise from us at left) Coby Larson, Jim Rosa, Eric and my cousin Denise Larson, and Merriall Rosa. Denise had to evacuate to Eric's for several days, and Jim and Merriall had to evacuate to Coby's in Petaluma for more than a week--but that was still days away as we enjoyed margarita pitchers and Mexican. They're all okay now, and by the time the smoke filled the Sonoma and Napa county skies, Christina and I were blissfully north along the Mendocina Coast at Fort Bragg. Our luck carried throughout our road trip.

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