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It's What's Next

photography

Day 20, Branson to DSM! (HOME SWEET HOME)

Home today from the 5500 mile plus trip. It was Fantastic. I will write a synopsis soon….

Here are some pics… some are similar or the same as ones from the blog some are completely new.  All are redone.

Mark


Day 16, Phoenix to Albuquerque

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Near Sunset, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Today was a great drive that took me from Phoenix Arizona to Albuquerque New Mexico. I am starting to get jaded a little bit by all the scenery. It takes more to impress me than it did at the start of the trip. (I am sure that one week in flat Iowa will cure that).

About halfway through the drive today I spotted a sign that said crater national monument turnoff was ahead. It also said tune to am radio 1610 for information. So I tuned in and they told me lots of info and hyped it all to hell. They did not mention the price, the announcement just said “all this for one low admission price”, that made me skeptical, but it said it was “just five minutes off the highway” Actually six miles at thirty miles an hour = twelve minutes off the highway. So twelve minutes later I get to the crater and they want fifteen dollars to see it. Sorry not in the budget. I did tell the manager that the sign for the radio announcement should read ADVERTISEMENT, not information. The manager said that they don’t mention the price so that they can get more people off the highway into their place. (yeah and I hope these travellers take a big crap in their parking lot and then leave).

I got to Albuquerque without a Couchsurf host for the night. I had sent out a few requests but no replies. I was in the parking lot of a super8 when I checked my mail one last time and found that I had a place to stay. (Helen and Lester in Albuquerque) They were great hosts and we went to see the movie Vampires Assistant together. The one picture with this post is close to sunset just outside of Albuquerque. Tomorrow is Alb to Oklahoma City, a drive of about 540 miles.


Day 12, Las Vegas, Nevada

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paris

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Ok, after all of the beautiful nature made scenery of this trip, I arrived in Las Vegas yesterday. It all seems so mundane compared to everything I have seen on this trip. The blah, blah, Bellagio, Planet Whatever, and the crazy ass people were not really doing it for me. I still walked the strip for an hour last night and got some photographs. Today I am going to my dad’s house in Pahrump for a couple of days. We usually take some pretty scenic drives while I am there. We are also going to drive back to Vegas to go to the Atomic Bomb museum.


Day 11 Crescent City California to Bakersfield

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Part of the "Elk Roadblock", Crescent City, California

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Pacific at Sunrise

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Giant Redwoods flanking Highway 101

Frosty start to the morning, northern California

Frosty start to the day, northern California

Today was day eleven and the last day of PCH. I got an early start just before eight a.m. and headed back out onto California highway 101. As I hit the last of town there was a traffic jam because of elk crossing the road. As I went past I rolled down the passenger side window and got a good elk “head and shoulders profile” shot.

I got out of the car a couple of more times for photos and video before getting off of 101. The second picture is the pacific ocean crashing the beach just after sunrise.  The third is a  couple of giant redwoods on either side of the highway.   The final picture is a house that still had frost on the roof, ground, and trees.

I ended up covering about 700 miles today total. I am skipping San Francisco and Los Angeles because I spent so much time in Portland. SF and LA were only going to be two days each and that would not have been enough anyway (good excuse for another drive).  Tomorrow a leisurely 300 miles to Las Vegas.


Day 10b, Pacific Coast Highway to Crescent City California

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Pacific Ocean, Oregon Coast

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Pacific Ocean, Oregon Coast

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So far on this trip I have covered the daily distance that I intended. This was not the case on the PCH. There are excellent turnoffs and state parks what seems like every five miles, and I stopped at a lot of them yesterday. I put in twelve hours on the road and still only made it about 360 miles. Around every corner and over every hill there were miles long stretches of beach with crazy rocky or evergreen covered cliffs. The waves were cresting fifteen feet and the spray was going twenty-five feet in the air. The sound is this low bass rumble that you can feel in your gut. I understand why people are drawn here.

Today I have a lot of miles to cover. The goal is Fresno, California. Part of the trip is Pacific Coast Highway, then I turn inland for the rest of the drive.


Day 10a – Today’s Drive

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Today’s drive takes me from Portland over to Tillamook where I will catch the Pacific Coast Highway for the next 380 miles south to Eureka, California. Do a google search for Pacific Coast Highway Images. Crazy beautiful. Clear skys are predicted!


Day 7,8,9 Portland, Oregon

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Dry Suit Surfing, Pacific City, Oregon

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Pacific City, Oregon

Day seven and eight were touristy uneventful days. Spent a lot of time catching up with Christine and checking out Oregon nightlife which is great. Today, December 7th, we drove to Pacific City in Oregon on the coast. It is a beautiful town on the pacific with great oceanscapes. The temperature was twenty-nine degrees so cold was the word of the day. Even though the temperature was not agreeable there were still hardcore drysuit surfers making it look warm. Tomorrow morning I am hitting the Pacific Coast Highway, (highway 101). It is supposed to be one of the most picturesque drives in America.


Day Six – Portland, Oregon

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Multnomah Falls

 

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Chess, downtown Portland

 

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Classic Mercedes

 

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Christine, Portland Streetcar

 

What a fantastic day. The first indicator that yesterday was great is that I am blogging today instead of last night. Anything that I would have written, like just about everything I said after midnight would have been jibberish. Alcohol played a big part in this and I love it for the effort.

We started the day yesterday by hitting some non-starbucks coffee shop that was great. It was a converted mechanic’s garage that had a good atmosphere and great java. It was a doubly good idea considering the chilly climate in Portland at this time of year. I wanted to go back out to the scenery along highway thirty just outside of portland and Christine was game. We went to Multnomah falls and it was fantastic. The scale was immense. There were two waterfalls, the biggest drops 620 feet from Larch mountain to a collecting pond before going under a scenic bridge and over a second falls. The bridge and second falls is pictured.

Next was downtown Portland. P-town has the largest number of microbreweries per capita in the nation. The huge selection of beers was well showcased in the Winter Ale Fest that was going on in the heart of downtown. For twenty dollars I sampled ten different beers along with some specialty cheeses. My favorite beer was Stone Brewing company’s Arrogant Bastard Ale. It was a rich dark beer with complex flavors. We hit Powell’s bookstore downtown as well. It is three huge stories of books books books. Every weird person in Portland was there!

Christine just moved into her new place and she had no groceries. I brought the pans and recipe to make stuffed pizza with me on this trip so we collected the ingredients and made stuffed pie. After a great meal of spinach ‘za we hit some bars here in Lake Oswego. There is quite a collection of eclectic watering holes here and they were all serving up the Jameson. Irish whiskey was calling my name (chanting it really) all night and I rose to the occasion. I slept well and now find myself here….

The pictures are Multnomah falls, two kids playing one side of a chess game in downtown P-town, a classic mercedes, and Christine chilling on the streetcar.


Day Five – Portland, Oregon

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Winding Highway 30 scenic drive, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

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Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Oregon Scenery is the best so far….

Today’s drive was 430 miles from Salt Lake City to Portland Oregon. I got started a little late and then got behind some kind of pilot car that was driving twenty miles an hour for forty-five minutes. It had traffic backed up for ten miles. Then I hit the Oregon state border and the speed limit went down to sixty-five and I thought it was going to be a shit day of driving. What I didn’t know is how beautiful I-84 in Oregon would be. It was fifty miles of driving along the Columbia river gorge that saved the day. The road winds next to the Columbia river with mountains shooting up both sides. I pulled off on scenic highway thirty and got a couple of pictures. The first is looking back at the twisting road, the second is overlooking the valley and the Columbia river. It was definitely the most beautiful part of the drive.


Day Four – Boise, Idaho

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Still water above Shoshone Falls, Idaho

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Shoshone Falls, Idaho

Sometimes it’s who you know…

Last night there was a comment on my blog from Jen Campbell from St Lukes ER telling me that if I was headed to Boise I should check out Shoshone Falls on the way. I sort of thought about it while I was driving today and then I saw the sign for Shoshone Falls – nine miles. I got off of I-84 and made it to a beautiful spot. What a great tip and I would not have gone without Jen’s good advice. I got a few pictures there. The first one was in the still water above the falls and then second is from the falls overlook.

The drive was only about 350 today and it was smooth. Again minimal speeding and no tickets.

Boise Idaho is great. Staying with a couchsurfer Lea Rainey. She is a crazy busy IT consultant who works from home. Her place was comfy great and she knew a great Sushi place downtown. Boise was cold but a well placed coffee shop did the trick. Back at her camp we walked to a local spirits place for some great microbrew beer. I worked on these pictures and now I am getting sleepy. Tomorrow is a 430 mile trip that ends in Portland, Oregon. Portland is one of my main destinations. I am visiting a friend from St Thomas who lives there. I don’t have to drive again after tomorrow until Sunday morning…..


Old Timey

Mark and Merle Circa 1973

Mark and Merle

This photo is a picture that my mother recently received that was take by my grandmother. It is a photo of my brother and I in front of her door at the house that I remember so vividly from my childhood. My brother Merle is five and I am seven… I love this picture of my brother and I.


Day Three – Salt Lake City

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The Hip-Hoppin_Hippies.....

Great day no driving….. Hung out in the SugarHouse area of SLC, walked around and had a great morning exploring. I hit a kick ass thrift store and bought a couple of “new” shirts. The place was crazy cool. It was housed in an art deco modern building with three floors of used goods. It is run (very efficiently I might add) by the mormon church.

Afternoon, two movies and hangin’ talking about couchsurfing and life in general. Evening time and Zak pointed us to a great burger joint with a one sandwich feast called a garlic burger. It was definitely tied for the best burger that I have ever eaten. (Tied with Shipwreck’s bleu cheese burger in St Thomas). Next was Maggie McGhee’s with pool and dollar fifty beers. I bought us a round of micro brew beers for the two of us. It came to three dollars. I told Zak that she did not charge me enough. “That’s the price on Tuesday nights”, he said. “f’n-a-right.” says me.. Last stop was a bar called “A bar named Sue”. I had a beer there called the Bohemian Viennese. It was an awesome beer.

Home and time to crash, right?… Wrong!… Zak purchased a random bag of crap from woot.com that just happened to arrive today. Evidently you pay eight bucks shipping and they send you a box of what-the-cus-ever. So we were drunk, and we opened the box and there were a lot of items that were semi-cool. The item most interesting to a drunk person was a collection of battery operated animated figures called the “Hip Hoppin Hippies” There were five in the set and they were individuals except that when one started playing they all played. I broke out my video camera and got some great footage of three of them playing together. Totally campy but funny. It will be the fotali background when I get home and make it so. It was totally a fun night. I took a picture of three of the hip-hoppin-hippies and made it the photo of the day. When I get home, www.fotali.com will have them for a video background….

Mark


Fotali.com

I have been playing a little with fotali.com. I want it to be a site dedicated mostly to photography/videography. The splash screen is a thirty second full screen video of some of my slides from this summer. Let me know what you think. (warning, fotali.com is for fast internet connections)

Check out fotali.com


Day Two – Salt Lake City

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Ensign Peak - Salt Lake City, Utah

Easy drive today. Four hundred miles to Salt Lake City. The scenery enroute was fantastic and the drive was smooooth. No tickets and minimal speeding.

Zak is my buddy from couchsurfing this summer and the long driving trip to Key West and the east coast. He lives in Salt Lake City and now I am surfing at his place. His roomates are cool, one of them is into film and tv production. We saw a pretty crazy movie called Fantastic Mr. Fox. It is the new movie by Wes Andersen from Life Aquatic and Darjeeling Limited fame.  Zak treated to pizza at a great dive place in college town, it was great.   Lastly we hit a great spot called Ensign Peak which offered a fantastic view of the entire city.


Day One – Laramie, Wyoming

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Lone Tree, I-80 Wyoming

Today was first day and the longest drive of the trip. About 725 miles. Nebraska sucked as always, and I got a warning speeding ticket just before I snuck out of the state. The temperature got progressively colder as I climbed into the mountains in Wyoming, bottoming out at 17F just as I got to Laramie.

Just chilling with Max in Laramie writing this post. Max has been a couchsurfer for the last year. When my friend Zak found out I was headed this way he said I have to surf at Max’s place in Laramie. The place is great. Good movies and thanksgiving leftovers!

I got a few good pictures on the way today. Editing them on the laptop sucks so I am going to work on them tomorrow when I can sit down and really give it my full attention.

I love driving by myself! Tomorrow Salt Lake City!


Pacific Coast Here I come!

miners

 

Tomorrow I am embarking on a three week west coast driving trip. The plan is to go to Portland and then drive the 101  (Pacific Coast Highway) to Los Angeles. From there over to Pahrump, NV to visit my dad then a couple of days in Vegas. From there Grand Junction Colorado, Denver, Lincoln NE then back home to Des Moines. I plan on taking a lot of photos and video. I am couch surfing or staying with friends the whole way so expenses should be minimal. Tortillas and peanut butter with honey are the staple of the trip. I am going to try and blog every night.

Overnight towns are

Laramie, Wyoming – one night /Salt Lake City – two nights

Boise, Idaho – one night /Portland, Oregon – three nights

Eureka, California – one night /San Francisco, California – two nights

Los Angeles, California – two nights/Las Vegas, Nevada – two nights

Pahrump, Nevada – three nights/Grand Junction, Colorado – one night

Denver, Colorado – one night /Lincoln, Nebraska – one night

HOME !


Back to St Thomas

After the longest stretch of time off island that I have had since first visiting in 2006, I am back. My longing for the beautiful weather, turqouise water, and laid-back atmosphere has been growing over the whole summer. This last six weeks I have found myself re-editing my HD video from the islands over and over again. It was time to come back.

This time around, things are a little different. No longer employed, I could not justify the expense of a rental car. I have always told people that you can make it fine on the island without one, but I have never actually tried it. The grocery store is about a mile away, and I can catch rides with my friends when it is time to stock up. Not having a car will also have the benefit of forcing me to eat more meals at home.

I will have plenty to keep me busy. The beach and pool are right outside my door and I have ten books that I would like to get through on this trip. First up on the book list will be “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White. This book was recommended in Stephen King’s book “On Writing” as a great refresher of good use of the English language in writing.


Key West Fireworks

Beach Crowd Fourth of July Fireworks, Key West

Beach Crowd lit up by Fourth of July Fireworks, Key West

Everyone gets fireworks pics. This picture is of the crowd on the beach in Key West for the Fourth of July.


Key West, Miami Beach, Washington, D.C., Home

Next stop on the trip was Key West.  We actually took off from New Orleans and drove though to Key West without stopping in Gainsville, we drove all through the night and pulled into Key West at 6am.  We slept in the car in the Days Inn there and then called my friend at 7:30.   My friend has a vacation house in Key West which we were able to use.   The house was beautiful and had it’s own pool.  The original plan was two days here but the house beckoned us to stay a couple more days.  Key West is certainly a different animal.  It reminds me a lot of St Thomas.  There is a culture there that is laid-back-sunny-wonderful.  We spent the fourth of July swimming in my friends pool and drinking.  That evening the fireworks were fantastic and I got some great pictures.   I took pictures of the crowd lit up by the display, a few photos are excellent and I will post them soon.  Key West was so wonderful that I want to go back and stay two weeks, maybe do some fishing….

The drive after Key West was a short, beautiful one, that landed us in Miami Beach.  Our couchsurf deal fell through at the last minute so we stayed in a kick ass art deco hotel on South Beach.  Cost was $48.  We spent the next two days drinking, hitting South Beach and crashing the hotel pools of the properties around us.  I can’t speak of Miami proper, but Miami Beach would be a GREAT PLACE TO LIVE for a while.    Again, pictures will follow,  it is too dificult to do them justice editing them on the laptop.

From Key West we drove to Washington D.C. and visited a good friend that I have not seen for five years.  She had a wonderful condo in a building with a pool on the roof.  We hit the Air and Space Smithsonian during the day and then the White House, Vietnam Memorial and Lincoln Memorial at night.  It gave me chills to see these things in person.  D.C. is another place that will require a couple weeks visit for a proper treatment.

Today we got up early and got back on the road to Des Moines, about 1100 miles, but home is fantastic too…………

Update…   Home safe and sound and editing pictures from the trip!


The Trip so far…. Photos to come!

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I am currently two days into a two and a half week tour of the southeast US. The plan is to hit Wichita Falls TX, New Orleans, Gainsville, Key West, Miami Beach, Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach, Washington D.C., Louisville and then home!

I spent the first night in Wichita Falls, went out with some old friends, met some new ones. Got drunk in a place where they serve you alcohol in the parking lot and you drink it in your car….

On Sunday we drove from Wichita Falls to New Orleans, Louisiana, parked in the French Quarter and got soaked to the bone in a drving rain that did not let up for 20 minutes. We hit the Quarter for a few hours and then met our host for some beers. Patrick (our host) has been coming back and forth to New Orleans for years. He lives here permanently now and really knows the area. The bar that we met up was in the northeast end of the FQ in an area that is mostly locals. The bars were more friendly, the drinks were cheaper and better endowed and it was a great atmosphere. We sucked up some booze and live music and crashed at Patrick’s comfortable place in Uptown.

Monday we hooked up with Daniel in the French Quarter. He is a very organized host and takes it seriously. He has a wonderul place that is cool, comfortable and well furnished. He showed us around some of the local spots and we hit good waffles in the morning at a diner. It is stifling hot in New Orleans right now.  And we spent a good part of the early afternoon just chillin in Dan’s nice house. I called the Royal Sonesta hotel.  They are located in the middle of the quarter in a beautiful location on Bourbon St. I told them that I stay there every year for Mardi Gras (which I do) and that I was just in New Orleans visiting some friends. I asked if we could use the pool. The manager said they don’t have a particular way that it is done like that, but if we walked into the hotel and to the pool and did not cause any trouble, they probably would not even notice. The next five hours was spent in the pool and drinking beers. By the end of the day the burning sun had fought back and forth with pouring rain on several occasions, both were very welcome.  Today we head out for Gainsville Fl it is about 600 miles of driving with the stop we are making in Panama City to drop off a fellow couchsurfer………


Couchsurf Campout – South Park, Coloardo

Couchsurfing AT the campout!

Couchsurfing AT the campout!


Recently I had the chance to meet up with about 300 other couchsurfers at the first annual campout just south of Denver in South Park, Colorado. It was four days of drinking, camping, drinking, hiking and drinking. I hiked into the mountains a couple of days up to 12,200 feet and got some great photos at the snowline. I drank way too much, froze my f@#king ass off, and took a lot of photos! I met so many wonderful people saw and did things that will be with me forever.

Mark Miner

180 Pictures from the campout! if you want to download any of the pictures, highlight it and then hit the download button!

My couchsurfing profile!!! <- Click here to see it.


Couchsurfing

Zak Evans, Couchsurfer from UTAH!

Zak Evans, Couchsurfer from UTAH!

Recently a friend of mine turned me on to a site called couchsurfing.com. The basic idea here is that you register your couch or spare bedroom as a place that fellow travelers can ‘crash’ when they are in your town. You register on the site and can immediately start searching for places to surf. To increase your chances of being accepted as a traveler you need to get verified (a painless one time procedure).

I used couchsurfing.com to arrange a place to stay in Indy on a recent trip. I located a place for the two nights I was going to be there, found a person to host us in a spare bedroom and was all set. At the last minute my stepfather decided to go on the trip as well and he got a hotel room instead and we all stayed there.

Last week I received a request for someone to surf my couch on Friday and Saturday in Des Moines. It was a 21 year old guy who is traveling all 50 states. He is about 6 weeks and 17 states into it at this point. He stayed Friday and Saturday and it was a blast. I learned so much more about couchsurfing, and he had a great time partyiing in Des Moines until 4am!

My plan is to do a bunch more couchsurfing this summer. It is very affordable (read –free–). Meeting new people and seeing a city through the eyes of a local is a great way to travel.

LINK TO PICTURES FROM THIS GREAT WEEKEND

Mark


My cat can beat up your cat!

Eugene

Eugene, looking like the Nick Nolte Mug Shot

Eugene is a two-year-old Ragdoll cat with a wonderful personality. This photo makes him look like a bad-ass (he’s not). He is a very good cat who spends a good portion of his time hanging out on my computer desk while I edit photos and write.


Cant get enough HDR.

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This tree is from a single nef file. Photomatix one exposure HDR settings were used to make the image. This is also the first post using Blog Desk. The post was separately edited on my laptop and then uploaded as one file to make the post.

 

Mark