It’s a New Beginning.

After quite a few years on the back burner and a few domain issues, I am back online. Up and running. I hope to dig in and let the creative juices flow back into the internet. And it sure is nice to be doing this from “home” again. And I bring you all another wonderful view of the Flathead Lake, here in western Montana. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Boy Who Never Got Wet.

This is a sad story about being too busy to go swimming in the gulf. 17 months working steadily at a steady, but time consuming job, making ends meet, yet I’ve missed one of the most basic rights of living in such a beautiful place. I’m not much for going to beaches or needing to be around water, ether. Much of this area of florida derives its economy from its tourists. This renders the beaches free during the unbearable heat of the summer and impassably crowded during the cooler winter months. essentially, i’d either burn, get wet and be miserable or be comfortable, feel like livestock, and get in the water. I chose not to worry about either. I had many other things to get into. these included a trip around the Tampa bay by boat, explore some of the marshier inter coastal waters, and spend more time knowing the lively downtown nightlife. This is what i’ll miss in a couple of days. I booked a bus for Toledo, arriving friday.
the decision came after an unexpected phone call with an offer to spend the fall in northern Ohio. I took a week, packed, sold and donated anything that wouldn’t fit into two duffle bags, and departed my rented room. I opted to spend a few days with family, here, while waiting out my last few days. The baby image sums it up. I had to spend a little more time around my newest family member, also to properly thank my uncle, aunt and cousin, who have made Florida a temporary home for me.

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The above images are a few shot on my last night in town.

At the Train station

A simple early morning post. I am waiting for a bus to the amtrak station in orlando. currently, i am on my way back to ohio for little over a week to see my youngest brother, zac, graduate from Ohio University. It’ll be great. I haven’t seen my family in over a year, not since i left ohio January of 2012. I’m limiting myself to only taking a small carryon backpack from northface and my laptop bag. i’ve only been able to pack my gf2 body and a small argus c44, as they are the only two cameras that would fit with my clothes in the bag. the bus depot, here in st. pete, is quite small. strangely, it is equipped with pay per use wifi from brighthouse networks and a gumball machine.i’ll be posting rather sporadically as I’m not sure what the wifi situations will be until i arrive at union station in Washington, D.C.
As follows, the trip schedule is: bus to orlando, 130pm train to union station in DC, switch trains to cincinnatti, spend a morning in downtown cincy, then take a greyhound for $10 to dayton. It looks to be a slightly hectic trip as I’ll be spending a few hours of downtime at the mall in washington, then venturing over to Univesity of Cincinnatti campus on thursday morning for coffee. there will be tons of downtime on the train to sleep and work on images

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Images via Ipad.

In The Middle

First time in a plane in 19 years, second trip by plane ever, and I got an entire row to myself on a sold out flight. But, the fucking window was stuck shut. So no view of anything.

TPA is a great little airport to fly out of. I’m pretty sure I now know exactly what “tsa approved” is and how to make it function for carry on stuff. I seam to have had a far better experience than anyone else I’ve met who travels with a full camera kit. It’s 8:13 pm Tampa time, though I’m only 200 miles out of den according to the pilot. My largest problem is that i cannot sit in one spot this long, even if I technically have three spots (abc in row 21).

After the argument with the cabby trying to pull one over on someone who refers to Detroit as the last place I’ve felt to be home, I bartered a $40/ 29 mile ride to the downtown Denver mall to snap some shots of the Halloween bar crowd and grab a bite to eat at the 6th Starbucks in 24 hours. Finally meeting up with Mak, the night ends. For me it’s 2:30am. Still at half past midnight I am shivering and editing a few fun snapshots from the trip out.

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buckets of the things i need to learn about parachord could fill tropicana field.

I’ll be straight; this is a two parted review. I could go into detail about everything that happened before 1pm, but that’s best left for someone else’s’ lawyers to figure out. After 1pm, I began my day trip north. I set out with a simple mission to try on some of the backpacks I’d been drooling over for months online. It was a nice sunny afternoon to bus/hike/hitch up to the other side of Pinellas County, FL.
My first leg, well the snake rather, almost caught my leg as I took my first twenty steps towards the bus stop by where i’m staying. i startled a 5 foot black racer poised under a bush by the sidewalk. Fast little things. What is it with me and black racers in Florida? I know, I must have mentioned this in a previous posting. The wildlife here never amazes me, As though the state’s ecosystem is always trying to kick out civilized mankind. The bus trip to the transfer with my trusty new camera remained uneventful. The next bus was 25 minutes off, so I ducked into a wendy’s for a frosty. It’s the columbus, oh part of me. I had been avoiding this chain the entire time I lived there and for the past half year. As I finished some fries and approached the stop, a bumper from a newer mustang flew across the road into the sign post in front of me. Thanks to the county for amazing sign placement. I avoided the debris from a 55 mph crash. luckily a woman pulling out of the parking lot near me ran from her car and called 911. As it turned out the camero, hit by the mustang, deployed all its airbags. Neither driver, being only one person per car, sustained any injuries. They both denied the paramedics help. Two totaled sports cars, completely sober drivers, and zero injuries: one hell of an insurance problem for someone, i’m sure. With the stall in traffic, I even caught the bus to just south of Tarpon Springs. Oops. My destination is just outside of Clearwater. Taking some spare time saved for picture taking, I hoofed it to the store, over a few miles and through a really nice Korean War memorial park.

the scene of the accident.

florida has an amazing collection of old war vehicles lying all over the place.

As I thought the stores entrance was on the south side of this park, I walked the length of the park. In hindsight, the backdoor is actually a loading dock for kayak tests, not an entrance, but the employees graciously led me through the door and onto the amazing showroom floor of Bill Jackson’s. This is a store I’d heard about in great detail on the way down through Georgia. The place lives up to the hype and exceeds it in many ways. Unlike a box store, no one pestered me at minutely intervals to ask, too chipperly, if I needed anything. This is one of my greatest pet peeves. But the second I had my first question a gentleman was there with exactly the answers I needed.

the ebtrance to bill jackson’s, just off us 19.

I really only meant to see how the packs felt, but there is something amazing that happens when you step foot into a real live store with real live people, especially such a nationally recognized, locally owned, outdoors store. You spend more money, but you wind up with what you actually need, not what you thought someone else told you to want. No specs or biased, inflated forum reviews. With bags, its just that. You need to speak to someone who actually uses the products. Like shoes and cars, you, also, have to test drive them. I’ve owned as many bags as any bicycle-commuter/weekend warrior and have owned many things that have been returned or suffered catastrophic failures. I lost a laptop down three flights of stairs in college from a faulty shoulder strap, for example. Just as you’d expect from a place like this, the person assisting me took his time to help me get everything right. They offer an amazing $35 pack fitting. Without even asking, I was given a general fit by the associate at no cost. I had become overwhelmed with so many options from kelty, northface, and $900 wonder packs. This store only carries what really works, something for every one’s individual needs, no crap, and nothing that costs more than is worth in practice.
I found out as I combed through each model with my rep that I’d been looking at packs from the wrong perspective. I wound up purchasing an osprey porter 65, from their travel and trekking collection. Basically, what I needed was a backpack/duffel bag/back country hiking bag. Osprey actually makes something that does all this, with out jingling outer straps, can be checked on planes, has a removable day pack(which at $35 I saved to buy later), and all for $129.  I chose the 65l version which is the larger so that i can use the extra room for film supplies and my sleeping bag. For now I find my Timbuk2bag fits perfectly as the attachable day-bag. I hope the photos of all this do it justice, my journey now takes me back home and to the grocery.

What went into the bag.

with room to spare.

Just as I had some bus issues finding the store, these problems persisted. After a bus passed my by at the stop a mile down from bill Jackson’s, I spent a half hour talking about weather, storms, and Florida’s heat with a woman waiting on the next bus. Luckily, I flagged down a pickup driver and went on my way to the downtown Walmart for groceries, skipping the bus, altogether. The bag on my back ignited constant conversations with almost everyone I met. But what better way to test a frame less 65l bag than to fill it with $75 in groceries for the next few weeks, then hike the five miles home. I’m sure the sight was something strange to people downtown. Drenched in sweat, I made it home just before 9pm. My initial findings are that I’ve found the best possibly bag for the way I travel. I may never fill it up to 38lbs in canned goods again, though it handles well. I suited it up with everything I had to normally carry as well, roamed around the house, yet nothing I could do made it difficult to maneuver in or carry. I even found that the cavernous sleeve for the straps to tuck away into at the airport can hold a water bladder, if needed. Not having the extra straps is a godsend. I’m yearning for the daypack to go with it. It’ll give me a system which is actually only one pack when it needs to be, but can be separated when i need something lighter or hop the train. In the coming months, I’ll be able to fully test it out, as I plan on heading back to Ohio for a short family reunion, then out to Vegas to visit with friends. All this after the summer heat passes of course.

a shot of the bag, fully loaded with all my camping gear. smile.

The Snowbirds.

"One crow for sorrow, two for mirth, Three for a wedding, four for a birth." ironic image from clearwater beach florida.

Presenting a first week on the gulf coast of florida. After that viscous first couple of days in the sunshine state, sarah and I began to relax, first in Palm Harbor with a friend, then Large. Traveling through three temperate zones left us a little worn out. My crazy camera fiasco subsided and over the next week acquired a used Canon rangefinder and AE-1, to subsidize my problematic Nikon body and broken Bronica. In the next few days a constant need for salt water and morning bagels, made by retired new yorkers, kept us sated. Our host Mike took us out to a late night romp one the Pier 60 Beach. Sarah and I ventured out that following wednesday to experience the full tourist trap experience in the day.

pirates at the beach.
birds at the dock in Palm Harbor.
My two new companions. Left, a Canonet QL17; right, an AE-1

To be short, after the middle of the week, we moved over to stay with my uncle and aunt in Largo. Aside from frequent, humid walks to the mall and ruining a pair of shoes, the week is best summarized in a few rolls of film. Sarah and I parted company for the weekend. My uncle, Leo, lake most of my family, dazzles many a taste bud if left alone in a kitchen. The food to say the least is spectacular. Which is a nice change from the endless strip malls of central Florida and a great way to end any evening. At the invite of my cousin I may take a break from travel to work and raise money for the next part of the adventure. In the mean time, I point my lenses to the abandoned buildings left here with the changing temperaments of the tourist trade.

An abandoned carwash. This is one of the sites i found on an excursion through Largo and Clearwater.
Largo's Heritage Villiage.
Largo's Heritage Villiage. When we arrived my flash batteries had just died. I asked Johnathan if he had any. Inside the church, a collection plate had four new AA batteries. Devine intervention to allow this shot.

Toasters

Reaching the end of our first full day in florida. Weather here treats us weary northerners extremely well. We entered the state after a grueling nine hour drive; Atlanta to Tampa. Light to moderate showers bathed the little civic as I sped down I75 then onto 27 South as temperatures hit low 60’s. From peanut factories in southern Georgia and discovering the true meaning of strip malls in Ocala, what I envisioned as the beginnings of a thunderstorm turned into rampant sprinklers on the fritz. I lay my head dozing off onto the pillow in a suburb known as Palm Harbor.

The day swept by with whimsical photos of pelicans and teaching fourteen year olds how to properly maintain a bmx bike. Three years as a bike tech and eleven years spending thirty miles a day on a bicycle tend to not die when cries for help are heard from a nearby bike path. The boys were not only amazed by my knowledge and history of BMX, but also my skills with their bikes after eight years with out a bmx of my own. I found flattery in providing my drivers license as proof that I am indeed just recently thirty and not twenty-three. I must look damn good for my age and having missed a shower for the last two days.

First things we see in the morning haunt us the rest of the day. No batteries and the mug is still empty.

Today is bitter sweet at a glance and tragic and fun as my memory will provide in the days and weeks to come. Wandering the beach in Clearwater’s hotel island, cold and sand covered to the knees. It does get everywhere, indeed. I am as I might put it, stuck in 35mm hell for the coming week, or unless I can find a replacement for my now in operative Bronica, The Toaster. The first instance at the peanut factory, where the mirror mechanism initially bound, brought me to almost tears and screaming rage. After this morning, the shutter released and the last of the current roll finished out at the boat docks on the west side of town. The bmx-ers were dazzled with the age of my non video, film camera, in their words more or less. And tried to find solutions or ideas as I wrenched, greasily on a bound chain on one of the bikes. Three juvenile heads couldn’t unravel the mysterious broken innards of the chrome finished camera.

Eventually, the shutter unbound again. Off to the local camera shop, Lake Shore Camera Exchange, to pawn as much equipment as my bag would carry, including our house host’s dusty Nikon N75, donated to aid my cause, to attain a usable medium format camera. My film cost for the trip included a seventy-five percent ratio of 120 film. There is more money in medium format film than Nikon equipment in my collection of belongings. The attendant at the store, an older larger built, tall, gentleman, who claimed the bronica may have been one of the best optically constructed cameras showed me nothing aside from 35mm bodies priced at almost double to triple the tags seen daily at shops in New York or any larger midwest reseller. I longed for The Columbus Camera Groupback home. Sarah, Mike, our host, and I left slightly disconcerted with the high trade in prices offered for the cheap nikons and the refusal to buy a camera with such an outstanding reputation simply on the rational of Bronica’s retirement as a company a few years back.

A simple guide book provided by our hosts in Atlanta, to aid our navigation out of Georgia and allow us to stretch from time to time, taking a break from driving.The inside of the little Toaster on her last day in semi-working order. At the time of our visit to the camera shop in Florida, I was unaware she was actually broken.

I desperately searched the web for information, praying for any indication of the nature of the mechanical problem. The only real advice given in searches, “Buy a Hasssy”, one of those cameras of the same period as The Toaster, known for breaking under much less stress and costing a trans atlantic trip and half a grand to repair. A light found its lost way through the tunnel, KOH’s in upstate New York began popping up on Google. On Friday, I’ll attempt to pack the bronica to ship back to Dayton, OH, sitting with my one trunk in my parent’s attic, until I return and bite down on the $350 price tag and two month turn around on the repair bill.

Upon arrival at the local camera shop, I was still unaware that the malfunction was anything more than user error. This is an inside shot of what occurred later in the evening within the camera.
While at the local camera shop, I was still unaware that the malfunction was anything other than user error. This is what I latter discovered. The mirror is locked down due to an issue with the gearing in the winding/cocking mechanism.

As of this writing, I’ve posted my plea in my Facebook account, with the reposting aid of my friend Robin, I currently plea for assistance in finding an inexpensive alternative to use as our adventure passes into the western states. On the table for consideration is anything able to shoot 120 and 220 film at any price point. Please, if possible, email me with any input or feed back. I do apologize as more articles are to follow in the next week. Right now, I sleep, adding a few days to consider how to end what may become a temporary, mandatory break from producing new content here.