Mar 11, 2010
Day Three (08.25.09) As the sun started to set, bright oranges and yellows stretched across the Coachella valley. The strong shadows created depth and empahsized the sea of windmills that began to surround us in all directions.
Dave and I were cautiously scanning the road ahead to spot the giant dinosaurs, not quite sure where along the interstate they were exactly. I think we listened to the campy single 'Send Me An Angel' about 10 times in a row just so that it would be playing when we finally did spot them on the horizon.
Made popular by The Wizard and Pee Wee's Big Adventure, you get the feeling from those movies that the Cabazon dinosaurs are a roadside tourist trap standing in the middle of a blank desert. This isn't the case anymore. Cabazon has expanded around them, and not only is the area landscaped now, but there's a Burger King right out front.
When we finally did spot the dinos we didn't have an exit to take so we had to to make our way back again. It actually created a great reveal because of how the sun silhoutted the T-Rex. Call it childish, but I was pretty excited to see those giant tourist traps.
Our stop at the dinosaurs was brief, but somewhat surreal. This had been an image that I'd had in my head for quite a while leading up to the trip, so to finally see the landmarks in person I was able fill in the blanks left by my imagination. We took pictures, some of the best from the trip of ourselves, and generally just wandered around to let the moment sink in.
Since the gift shop inside the Apatosaurus was closed, we made plans to return the next morning on our way to Newport Beach, which would also give us a view of the dinosaurs in a new light. The revisit also lead to Dave buying a rubber T-Rex head puppet. It came in handy, allowing me to make more of a scene when I wanted to poke fun at Dave for hitting the rumble strips on the edge of the highway.
Regardless of how much time had been spent in the car, there were a lot of reasons to celebrate at this point. Indio was just around the corner. We'd made it.
Mar 10, 2010
Day Three (08.25.09) Blazing sun and miles of interstate in front of us, we left the neon of Vegas behind for the scorching heat and stark beauty of the Mojave desert. It was blistering in the middle of the afternoon, but in my mind this is exactly how I had pictured the road to Indio.
We played Send Me An Angel by Real Life and You Don't Get Much by BoDeans, both songs becoming the undisputed theme songs for the trip thanks to a not-so-classic-movie called The Wizard. You may remember it starred Fred Savage, a Nintendo Power Glove, and featured a scene with the infamous Cabazon Dinosaurs (coming up next).
Dave and I couldn't help but use The Wizard, a piece of childhood nostalgia for each of us, as inspiration during our own trip. This often lead to us quipping about Jimmy running off or one of us slowly pronouncing every syllable of California like he did in the movie. As Joshua trees started to appear we also had to play, no surprises here, U2's Joshua Tree album to further remind ourselves of our location.
Of all the road time we had, this was probably the most defining. We knew we'd be in Indio by the end of the day to relax, drink, swim, and shoot the breeze. At the same time we had already seen some pretty memorable things in both Salt Lake and Vegas, which only helped to fuel our conversations and keep us guessing about the remaining days ahead. The foreign landscape around us created a rare ambience, and with good (or campy eighties) music playing and a willingness to explore, there didn't seem to be anything to distract us from being in the moment.
I had made it clear early on that I was interested in picking up some kind of Route 66 souvenir, so as we reached Barstow we stopped at a roadside convenience store and I picked up a shirt. Not quite satisfied, I actually found a large wooden Route 66 sign the next day in Newport Beach that was more in tune with what I had in mind. There's nothing quite like a stereotypcial memento to mark the occassion.
As we headed further west it wasn't long before the terrain started to change. We hit the Cajon Pass and the expansive desert was replaced with richer hues of lush vegetation and a steady increase in traffic; the pass itself acting as a funnel between the populous of southern California and the desert to the north. We were just barely skirting the greater Los Angeles area, but as tall palms, overpasses, and billboards appeared, the interstate became expectantly urban.
Through the pass and San Bernadino, the traffic cooled somewhat as we changed direction, heading southeast towards the entrance of the Coachella valley. It was all happening pretty fast. The signs and sprawling urban landscape became a quick reminder that over the last couple days we had traveled across the USA, north to south, roughly 1500 miles (2400km) and 22 driving hours. And then there it was, the first hint of our destination clearly marked - Indio 64 miles.
Day Two (08.24.09) As we hit the Vegas city limits I was both excited and stressed out. Half of the interstate seemed to be under construction and the traffic was fairly chaotic. I was still driving, and I have to say that even after being to Las Vegas twice before this, the experience of driving myself around was still nerve-racking. However, it also broadened my view of the place as I hoped it would.
Dave was actually shooting footage as we drove down the strip while I was busy trying to navigate our way to the entrance of Harrah's. I had both my HDV and mini cam with me on this trip, which is why throughout many of the videos you'll notice a transition between widescreen and a smaller fullscreen image - I emphasized the difference for effect and because the quality isn't nearly as high. You'll also notice that the footage for each location is often a mixture of what I captured both coming and going, the Indio sign on the dash is often a giveaway. Anyway . . .
There was nothing about Las Vegas that was really surprising after having fully explored it before, but that's not to say it wasn't awesome to be there again. That night we had some drinks, went to Beatles Love (purchasing the tickets was the first thing I did to confirm with Dave that we were actually going to Indio) and then had some more drinks as we tried our luck.
Our stop was brief, but memorable, and my night ended with me laying drunk in the bathtub of our room just to use the little TV in the bathroom.
To complete the stay we picked up a few souvenirs, and this was the moment that created a new running joke for the trip. Telling me about someone who he forgot to get a birthday gift for, Dave picked up a Chihuahua-sitting-in-a-birthday-cake ornament sculpture thing - it was pretty ridiculous, but a funny gag gift anyway. Well the gag gift had no price tag and actually ended up costing $20, which was fairly ridiculous when it looked like something from the dollar store. Dave still got it. For the rest of the trip if we happened to be looking at the things we had picked up we'd have to comment on that stupid dog.
"Do we have our map?", "Yup". "Do we have our money?", "Yup". "Do we have a Chihuahua dog with a party hat coming out a birthday cake sculpture that cost $20?" (groan) "Yup".
Before leaving the next day we explored the Forum Shops, toured our hotel once more, and walked around Caesar's and the Bellagio to get in a bit of last minute gambling. It was fun, it was quick, and then it was on to California.
Mar 9, 2010
To skip ahead and VOTE click here.
With the number of times I've submitted, uploaded, and promoted my projects you'd think I'd be comfortable with the film contest/festival process - at least on the independent/DIY level. In truth, I think I've just learned how to reason with myself to appreciate that the challenge has the potential to be a great reward in and of itself.
So here we go again with me asking you to vote for one of my short films.
Last year I uploaded my film school short, The Geology Student to Season 2 of Yobi.tv and in Week 3 of the contest I was voted into the semi-finals. With 40 weeks having gone by there's now 40 weekly winners, including myself, and voting has just begun for the week.
There are 4 rounds of the contest and each week 8 people are eliminated. All you need to do is click this link (or the giant banner above) and use your email address to vote for my short. You only need to cast one for each week.
They've actually simplified the process from last year, improving the page layout to keep you in the right place while trying to vote, so it's easier than ever.
The winner this year, besides getting a portion of the prize money collected, will get a trip and 2 tickets to the Toronto International Film Festival, which would be sweet. It's a pretty amazing prize!
That's about it, I'll keep things simple myself. If you have a couple minutes to spare it's easy to click over to watch my short and vote for me. There's no thumbs up or rating system, a vote cast is simply a vote to win.
Thanks for all of your help and support folks! As always, it means a lot.
Visit my profile page to vote here.
Mar 8, 2010
Day Two (08.24.09) On route to Las Vegas from Salt Lake, I-15 briefly cuts through the northwest corner of Arizona before leading into Nevada. While I didn't think much about this when reviewing the map before going, I was amazed at just how significant this stretch of road really was.
This brief section of interstate through Arizona was only about 30 miles long, an unexpected surprise between Utah and Nevada, but pretty much as soon as we hit it, the canyons and cliffs appeared. On the way down, this was actually a brief section of the road trip that I drove. It was incredible.
Dave and I rolled the windows down, the heat radiated through the car immediately, and I cranked up Vega4 on my iPod as we weaved through the towering rocks. It was exactly what you'd expect Arizona to look like, hinting at how spellbinding the Grand Canyon must be, and ultimately lasting no time at all.
I shot this video on our way back through (with Dave driving obviously) and it proved to be one of the most scenic stretches of interstate that we saw on the entire trip. Leaving Arizona and entering Nevada the terrain shifted immediately once again. The canyons stopped and a vast desert appeared before us.
Day One (08.23.09) Through Montana and Idaho, by the time we reached the Utah border it was late into the evening. By that point Dave and I were fairly quiet, enjoying music and making predictions about what the landscape looked like that we couldn't see. I remember Dave selecting a lot of R.E.M. tracks.
All of the population in Utah is practically located in the corridor surrounding Great Salt Lake, which gives the illusion early on that you must be close to Salt Lake City (if you're not used to the drive). In reality, by the time we reached Ogden, we were still a ways off from our destination, and with midnight rolling around we were feeling beat.
Bursts of rain continued to hit us randomly and then stop, on and off several times throughout the day. I remember this becoming more treacherous as we neared Salt Lake. The dirt on our windshield combined with the lights of oncoming traffic and buildings made for one blurry mess. In any case, we made it to Salt Lake City, spotting the giant temple from the interstate and looping around the international airport several times in our effort to find our hotel. By the time my head hit my pillow I was out.
Day Two (08.24.09) We awoke the next day intent on exploring downtown Salt Lake before heading south to Las Vegas. We parked kitty-corner to Temple Square and took a casual walk around the complex, spending extra time to take pictures of ourselves mimicking the statues. If there is one thing I could say about my impression of Salt Lake, it's that the place was immaculately clean and well landscaped.
We followed the Salt Lake Temple with a trip up to the State Capital Building, taking more random photos with statues and pictures of ourselves sitting on the steps. 'I'm Just a Bill' from Schoolhouse Rock was sung (by me anyway, haha).
The entire time I was trying to contain my enthusiasm, not because of any single thing we saw, but because I knew that this was just the beginning of our road trip. We could have easily spent several days exploring Utah, but instead the brief stop actually helped to justify the distance we were covering for the sake of the things we were going to be able to see and experience.
It was upon leaving Salt Lake City that the clouds from the day before finally started to break up. Heading south to Vegas the sun suddenly appeared, giving everything a golden colour and revealing the incredible transformation from the green and grey of Montana. It was as we passed Provo that afternoon I remember quipping, "this is where the road trip really begins".