Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Seminyak

Our MEL layover is the price of admission for cheap passage to Bali. Ethel's childhood bestie is getting married there and it's the type of shindig that's not to be missed. When we get off the plane, we're flattened by the heat and humidity, and this is followed in short order by the extortion visa fee at passport control. Minutes beyond this, we are thrust directly into the maelstrom of The Hustle: every two seconds, we're solicited for something or other (ride to town, carry your bags, directions to the ATM, etc etc etc). It's a taste of what we'll experience over the duration of our stay, and it's oppressive. We've got a ride prearranged, and my instinct in cases like this is to act like I belong (and mind my valuables), but that's an impossibility in a place like Indonesia.

When we find our ride, I'm ready to tune out the world in the relative safety of the car. Hahahahaha. Entering the flow of traffic is unlike anything I've ever experienced in many tens (hundreds?) of thousands of miles of driving (I think I'll write more about traffic in Bali later on). Our route takes us down progressively more ridiculous streets until we're finally in a dead-end alley so narrow that the driver must stop at a cutout so that the car doors can open.

Anyhow, we have successfully arrived, in one piece, at the villa we're sharing with 6 other people, so we drop our bags and immediately retreat across the street for a cocktail. Having a 10pm introduction to the madness of Seminyak is amply disorienting...sights, sounds, and smells all make equal assaults.

Anyhow, our villa is lovely and serves as a ready respite from the madness down the alley, around the corner, and in the whirlwind of Seminyak's main drag:


Quite nice!

We've got a few days in Seminyak, and I can't say that I've got much nice to say about it. Between the drunken Aussies, the din of car horns, and the oppressive humidity, the silver linings are few and far between. I count them as discovering an awesome coffee shop, being able to relax in the villa's relative silence, and oh wait that's about it.

Also, I pretty rapidly contract some sort of bug, probably from eating salad or the ice in a drink or something, and enjoy this as my primary view for a couple of days:


Game of Throne

While some of the other places we'll go don't feel as sketchy, Seminyak itself feels -super- sketchy to me, so I usually don't even take the camera with me when we go wandering. In hindsight, I was probably overly cautious, but my general approach when traveling is to be as small of a target as possible.

Beyond the "small target" effort and the "leaky gut" escapade, a fair bit of bandwidth goes toward not dying. Pitfalls are around every corner - they include, but are not limited to: exposed rebar, jagged open drains, rabid dogs, insane drivers, Australians, corrupt police, heat, humidity, carcinogenic plastic smoke, and machetes. As facetious as I may come off, these charming dangers are actually a lot of the fun of traveling. I know that we could, wallets permitting, be whisked off via helicopter to some exclusive resort, but that's not really experiencing a place, is it?


Naptime


Standard state of disrepair

I take particular notice of this scaffolding right down the alley from our villa. I don't have my camera with me the day prior when it's twice as high and five times as sketchy, but you get the idea.


Totally fine

We do find some nice cafes and whatnot. Unfortunately, I have just recently finished reading Snowing in Bali, and it's hard for me to look at any capital-intensive (and conspicuously empty) restaurant and assume that it's not built on bales of coke.


Well-presented


Ditto


Deliberate vintage

Ah, whatever. Still a nice spot for breakfast.

Perhaps more noteworthy than these various sources of discomfort is that there's a huge disparity between wages and the cost of all things related to tourism; it feels extremely exploitative towards the Balinese. This is my first time traveling somewhere "dirt cheap," so maybe I'm just extra-attuned to it, but the general theme is that of squalor just over the wall of every four-star resort, and it's quite hard to reconcile. This is another topic that will be a recurrent theme as I take you on a fair and balanced tour of the place :)

While it's unfortunate that Seminyak itself is the lowlight of the trip for me, it does mean that better experiences are in our immediate future!

-

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

MEL Layover

On a sunny day last year, Murphy and I find ourselves with just the wrong amount of time in the Melbourne airport...far too long to really feel like staying in an airport, but barely too short to escape and make an excursion into the city for a quick lunch. Changing from being a transiting passenger to a passenger entering Australia and then subsequently having to re-clear security has both time and cost implications, and Tullamarine isn't right by Melbourne's CBD, either.

This great indignity means that we do get to explore more of MEL than we would have otherwise, and it happens to be a pretty quiet day in the terminal, so we find ourselves enjoying an atypical luxury in an airport - isolation. Entire departure areas without a soul in sight are seemingly around every corner!

Of course, this means that I've got ample time to wander around with my camera, in between lunch breaks, coffee breaks, duty free breaks, etc.


Mechanical


Patiently waiting


Expanded metal


Spinelike


Pretty bird

When we finally get to board our flight, the day is nearly gone. It's my first time on a 787, and while it feels pretty much like any other plane, we're theoretically going to be less jet-lagged on the far side thanks to the lower cabin altitude. All that aside, I do manage to catch some great Australian sunset light on the engine and wing.


787 at sunset

Next stop DPS!

-

Friday, February 19, 2016

Renovated Reno Residence

Architectural photography is a form of this art I enjoy immensely, but is one I don't get to practice as often as I'd like. It's extremely time-consuming and super-technical; I also can't imagine what it would be like to do this during film days. Mad respect yo.

Whenever I have the opportunity to dive into some architectural work, I'm usually keen for it, and I feel fortunate to be excellent friends with a guy who produces astounding residential and commercial spaces. Lest this sound like an ad, Paolo, overlord at Tutto Ferro, cares deeply about his craft, so I love setting up a camera in front of his work.

Anyhow, these photos are from a house in Old Southwest Reno that underwent a lengthy and comprehensive renovation. It still (mostly) looks like an Old Southwest home from the outside, but nearly everything got given a good going-through. Here are my favorites:


Side walkway


Front yard


Front door


Welcome


Sitting room


Many surfaces


Coolest guest bathroom ever; sunken Japanese tub


Stacked sliders


Back patio

Thanks again to the owners for graciously allowing access, to Paolo for his tireless work to transform the joint, and to top-notch photo slaves Nate and Murphy for tolerating the drudgery.

-

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hookjaw Swoop

Ed. note: goddamn backlog.

Last year Two years ago, Murphy and I found ourselves indecisive about what to do over Memorial Day weekend, so we made a snap decision to go visit Hookjaw in Montana. Of course, we don't go there often enough, but it's grade-A R&R material whenever we do go.

Hookjaw is an official Guilt-Free Zone, which means that most anything goes. In practice, it's a little less hedonistic and a little more epicurean, which is a) just fine, and b) probably why it doesn't have tales of debauchery floating about.

It -is- the Wild West, so refreshers on gun safety are part of the customary menu.


Hold on tight, snowflake


Something something second amendment

Perhaps one of the more noteworthy aspects of Hookjaw is the ridiculous amount of territory that's easily accessible just out the front and back doors. Between the high concentration of fly-fishing temples, gigantic valleys, and expansive mountain ranges, there's always something to go explore. Grand views, details, and decay are all equally interesting given one's mood.


Aforementioned decay


Another day on the Jeff

Hookjaw is right along the Jefferson River, and the valley is classic Montana Big Sky. In addition to the obvious outdoorsman-type pursuits, there's easy access to hiking, trail running, and biking, which always perks up my little elf ears. I've gone for 20-mile runs up in the mountains and 2-mile trots along the river; both are equally rewarding, although the former usually means more treats.


Compliant willows


Beavers do their thing

Most days end with a beer in hand and a wander around the neighborhood. Everything's in a constant state of change due to nature doing its thing and whatever wildlife happens to be passing through.


Hells Canyon Creek


Post/wire detail

On this particular trip, Murphy comes equipped with a Tenkara fly rod, which she puts through its paces, at least in a cursory fashion.


Murphy takes a call from her stockbroker


Behind the scenes: -very- patient lighting crew

It's easy to lose an entire day to traipsing around up in the hills, mountains, rocks, streams, and forests. There's lots of evidence of human presence, but at any given moment, dollars to donuts you're the only one around.


Nice spot to relax


Across from the Tobacco Roots

The BBQ, campfire, and warm roof back at home base always mean that the day's sins are forgotten, swiftly after they're shared with whomever else happens to be crashing the party.


Lazy Jefferson


Sunset in the hills

While the days at Hookjaw always tend to be filled with something or other, sometimes frenetic and sometimes very lazy, it's always a relaxing way to disappear for a while. The 12-hour drive from Reno is a bit of a downer, but perhaps this is a small price to pay for a little slice of wild west paradise.

-

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Earnslaw and Walter Peak

I've shown several photos of the TSS Earnslaw from afar, but it has taken all the time I've spent here spread over the better part of a decade for me to actually ride the thing. Short story: it's great!


At the helm


Cecil Peak, up close

The Earnslaw used to be the lifeline for all of the remote stations scattered around Wakatipu, but now it's on the easier duty of shuttling day tourists back and forth between Queenstown and Walter Peak Farm. Walter Peak does a great lunch service, and it's expensive, but every now and then there are locals' deals that make it a lot more palatable. So that's when we go :)


Lone stand


Walter Peak Farm


Patience

It's only a 35-minute trip across the lake to get to Walter Peak, and depending upon the wind direction, it can be calm or awful. No matter the weather, they allow you out on the deck, and while my insides don't do that well on boats in general, being out in the fresh air always makes it easier for me.


Well-tended


Not so well-tended


Sheep (shearing, ahem)

The whole process is pretty touristy: mandatory photos upon boarding (for sale!), sheep shearing demonstrations (exit through the gift shop!), etc., but it's a cool enough setting that I can tune all that stuff out and enjoy the lake, mountains, and food.


See!


Next arrival


There's an old saying...

Perhaps the neatest opportunity is using the trip as a jumping-off point for bike or running adventures. The far side of the lake is difficult to access at all but a few points, so hitching a ride across to go crush oneself in new territory is probably a worthwhile pursuit. Will report back...


Guts


Buh bye


Rigging

On the way back, we talk to a couple of very friendly Chinese women who are on a whirlwind 5-day tour of the entire country. It boggles my mind the amount of ground they'll cover, activities they'll do, and utter lack of opportunity to stop and smell the roses they'll be faced with, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes!

-

Past Detritus