We left Saturday evening and by the time we reached the forest it was night. Not wanting to drive too much on a windy mountain road at night, I quickly found a place to park and it wasn't until Sunday morning that we get to Lake Arrowhead, our first destination. As idyllic as it seemed in photos, when we got there the lake appeared to be encumbered by housing and businesses with not a direction in which the lens could be pointed where nature would appear to be preserved in it's original state. Nonetheless, there was snow there from the storms, which passed just the day before, and Gilli really enjoyed it since she doesn't get to be in the snow often.
On the way down I saw a picturesque little cliff and a nice place to pull over, so I decided this would be a good place to make the first plate. As you can see in the above image, lighting was erratic due to various layers of after-storm clouds passing over the sun at different speeds. When I came out to the camera with the plate ready to shoot of course a thick cloud was crawling it's way across the sun... I could have made a plate with just longer exposure, but I really wanted harder light, so I waited... and waited... Here I am waiting as seen by Jozlynn.
While I waited my collodion decided to dry out quite a bit along the two thinner edges and so the final plate turned out to have rather intriguing pattern of marks at top and left sides, and I think they worked out fairly well with the rest of the composition.
Our next destination, Bonita Falls, required us to go back down to the city in order to access a different part of the mountains. Friday rain and high winds downed quite a number of rocks from the cliff sides along the highway. One of those rocks, of a larger variety, decided to land on a side of tight right curve, and was apparently about 2-3 inches farther into the road than I estimated. My rear right tire grazed it, but didn't pop. However it caught the rim, a 24.5in machined steel rim, and bent it up with the ease with which only nature can destroy manmade articles. Air, initially in the tire at 100psi, escaped quickly and loudly in a span of under 2 seconds, and I new we were spending the night in the city, as driving a 26.000 pound vehicle with only 3 tires in the back is not a good idea. Here's the view I was confronted with when examining the damage left by my camouflaged enemy, the rock.
I am starting to notice a pattern. During the 6 years I've traveled with Gilli, 3 out of 4 mishaps, mechanical or otherwise, occurred on Sunday, making same-day repairs impossible... We had to find the nearest hotel and hunker down for the evening. Steve Watkins, the Fort Worth lad I blessed with the Durst 8x10 enlarger just a little while ago (read about that trip HERE), helped me by shooting me over info of a mobile mechanic in the area and by 8:30 next morning I was on the phone, waking up the mechanic and trying to explain that Photo Palace Bus needs his help. By 9:30 he was on location and with a sizable sledge hammer proceeded to bang on the rim for about an hour, every once in a while pausing to catch his breath, in order to undo the damage done by a rock in a fraction of a second. Here he is taking one of the swings at it.
A new tire had to be put on since the wall of the old one was pretty badly damaged, but by noon we were back on the road, hading once again for Diana Falls.
In theory we were rather close, but our mistake was trusting google maps app - this was the second time it sent us in such unexplainably convoluted ways to a destination which was normally accessed by a straight road. I'm not going to go into details of this detour, but I'll just say that some of the turns and streets I had to guide Gilli through could not be described in any other way than 'hairy'.
Even after crawling out the maze of tiny streets and asked a local for directions, we still missed the turnoff and ended up taking the road all the way to the end, where it turns into gravel and leads to a patch of rural camping sites and a shooting range. After turning around once more I thought it was time to stop and make a plate or two. There's a part of a canyon where yucca plants are abundant and a lot of them have dried up shoots, which extend 10ft+ into the air like nature's surreal parodies of light posts. Here are a couple of plates I made at that stop.
By then we were done exploring aimlessly and went straight to the ranger station, which we passed on the way, to ask for exact directions. There we were glad to find out that not only Bonita Falls existed and weren't too far from us, but that at the closest inhabited location to them there was a nice RV campground. Making it there in under 5min, we booked a spot, set up camp and I set out to make the following plate in nearby creek before I lost the light.
Bonita Falls though is still a place worth visiting. If you can train your brain to ignore the copious amounts of modern cliff paintings, concentration of which increases as you enter the basin of the falls, it's a rather magnificent sight. The best part about it is that the water falls along an almost perfectly vertical cliff, which can not be climbed and defaced, so looking up one is presented with quite a stunning view. Here's Jozlynn enjoying the said sight.