California

It has been a while since I have added some new photos to my website. I have been taking photos, don’t worry about that, I have just been so busy these past couple of months. So much going on! I have been keeping fairly up to date on my Instagram account though so feel free to check it out and follow along.

For the last 3 years, Ash and I have been going down to California for Coachella every April. This year, we thought we would get down there a day earlier and camp overnight at Joshua Tree National Park which is only an hour or so from Palm Springs. It was such a great decision and I am so happy we did it. It is an incredible area to explore.

These photographs are from Arch Rock. It is a really cool spot off the main road around the White Tank Campground. There are huge rocks and boulders littered all over the place, each in its own unique size and shape. We were like two little kids jumping from boulder to boulder, walking through little slot canyons and climbing amongst them all.

Just to give perspective at how big Arch Rock really is, I thought I would post a photo below with Ash standing by. The top photo is from sunrise while the photo with Ash is the afternoon before.

Arch rock

 

More to come.

Nic


A few more photographs from my road trip through Nevada and California through Death Valley National Park to Racetrack Playa. I was disappointed that the dust storm had started to tear through when I got there depriving me of some spectacular sunset pictures but I was extremely happy that despite what felt like 100km winds pushing through the playa, that by 3:00 – 4:00am the dust had thinned out enough for me to see the Milky May arching right across the sky. It was amazing being able to enjoy it all to myself. Selfishly, it is one of the reasons I love venturing out on my own. Just that the thought of being the only person to see that particular moment in time.

In the image below you can see a shooting star to the left of the Milky Way.

Milky Way - Racetrack Playa

I could have stayed out there and just admired it all night if it wasn’t so damn windy and cold but I was happy with the couple of shots I was able to get before calling it a night.

Milky Way - Death Valley


Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park in California. I flew 3 hours in a plane to Las Vegas, and then drove another 5 hours through the desert just to get there, sleep in a car, see some stones on a dried lake bed and then turn around the next morning to get back home… That’s over 14 hours of travel for a 12 hour stay. Crazy?

This remote, dried up, ancient lake bed sits 3,700 feet above sea level and is so damn flat. Towards the middle of the lake bed sits what would be an island, named ‘The Grandstand’. A stack of tall, jagged rocks that stick up and stand out in contrast to the bright surface of the dried up lake. It gets windy out there, I can attest to that, it was absolutely howling the whole time I was there but it has been known to get up to 150 kilometers per hour!

Sailing Stones, Racetrack Playa

That picture above, that is exactly what I came for. They call them Sailing Stones, rocks that mysteriously move along the lake bed. I’m not talking about little pebbles that skip in the breeze, these rocks or ‘stones’ can range from anywhere between 25-30lbs right up to 700 pounds! You will notice in the photos, the trails or ‘racetracks’ (which gave the valley its name) out the back of the stones. It has been said that the stones only move once every two or three years and most tracks last for three or four years. If it wasn’t for these marks in the mud, we wouldn’t even know they were moving.

Sailing Stones, Racetrack Playa

Since discovered in 1915, no-one has actually seen them move and so all we can do is speculate. The most likely theory is that with the playa surface being made up of very fine clay sediments, it becomes extremely slick when wet. When you put together the information I mentioned earlier about it being quite high in elevation, mixed in with the strong winds surging through, you can imagine that this would be the most likely scenario.

So as you can see, it really a fascinating phenomenon. I will leave you with one last shot I took with the stones off on their trail heading towards the Milky Way… Being so remote, the stars were absolutely incredible out there!

Sailing Stones under the Milky Way, racetrack Playa

I absolutely loved it out there. I got to see something that I have admired and marvelled about for quite a while and I would definitely recommend everyone to try get out there if they can. It is such a great feeling to be out in such a remote part of the world and knowing you are the only person there. Truly amazing.

Nic


Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to receive notice that my new working visa had been approved. My previous visa had expired at the end of April and so I had been eagerly awaiting this new one to come through. The timing couldn’t have come much better. It was the end of the week and so I was able to sneak away for a weekend and make the most of having to leave the country.

I had been doing some research the past few months on a place called Racetrack Playa, a remote area in Death Valley in California and after checking flight loads and times, I decided this would be my destination. I flew into Vegas on the Saturday and rented myself a 4WD as I knew I was up for some long, rugged driving but I knew what I was getting myself in to so I just enjoyed being out on the road, busted out to some tunes and was looking forward to getting out to my final destination. The image below will give you a bit of an idea of the territory I covered…

map

The drive was amazing. It was as if I was driving through Mars. The mountains out there are dry and desolate and were always there on each side of the highway. The elevation was quite interesting too along the way. About halfway there at Furnace Creek I was driving through the lowest point of the country which was 200 feet below sea level. On the flip side as I was moving closer to the Playa the was sitting over 5,500 feet ABOVE sea level. Saying that though, I wasn’t scaling or driving over any mountains, the road just kept slowly ascending and descending without it being too noticeable.

After travelling for about 3 hours, I came to my turnoff off the highway and on to the back roads. As I said, I had done a bit of research and knew I would have to do a bit of driving on gravel roads but to my surprise, the roads were paved… That lasted only a few minutes though and I found myself driving through some pretty rough gravel roads before too long.

Death Valley

It was a long drive and due to the condition of the road, I didn’t find myself driving much faster than 20 mph. I passed a couple of cars coming back the other way but I loved the thought that I could possibly be out there all by myself. I had planned on sleeping out there in my car so I did secretly hope no one else would be out there and I was fortunate enough to have that come true. It was just me and my camera in the middle of absolute no-where.

A view of the road ahead of me…

Death Valley

I kept driving along and just when I thought it had to be around the next corner, the road just keep weaving through the mountains and valleys. There were certain areas with nothing but sand, there were others with small shrubs and cactus’ and then an area in a valley that was just full of Yuccas or Joshua Trees. It was always changing and some of the plants, cactus’ and flowers truly were beautiful to look at. Finally after driving for some time through the back roads, a sign caught my eye…

Teakettle Junction

Teakettle Junction! On that sign I saw something that made me a very relieved man… No, I wasn’t thirst and in need of some tea but now knowing that Racetrack Playa was 6 miles away was extremely good to know. Weaving through those roads, it was still a fair way off but at least I now knew for sure I was on the right path and knew how far I had left to go. It made me a little at ease too as the sun was preparing to set behind the mountains and I knew I would now at least get to my destination in light so I can scope it out a bit, find some locations to shoot at night and pick a spot to park the car and camp out.

Finally, there it was. I was confident that was it in the distance and I was right!

Racetrack Playa, Death Valley

As I was approaching Racetrack Playa, a dust storm was coming in behind me. I was hoping it wouldn’t be coming in my direction and that it was going in the opposite direction but I wasn’t so lucky. It hit just as I got to the Playa but having been through 2 dust storms in Palm Springs both times I had been there I knew at least what I was in for. Saying that though, the wind was incredibly strong and it was coming in quite thick. I just hoped it wasn’t going to settle in all night and the next morning.

The photo below is the dried lake bed of Racetrack Playa with the dust clearly visible in the background. The reason I came all the way out here was to see the Sailing Stones which I will talk more about in my next post but these stones move along the lake bed most likely due to being pushed by the wind… Having a dust storm and 80-100km/h wind push through shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise.

Racetrack Playa - Death Valley

I will leave it at this for the moment but I will be post more pictures in the next couple of days of the Sailing Stones and also some amazing pictures I am extremely happy with of the Milky Way I was able to get in the middle of the night once all the dust had started to clear away.

Thanks for following my adventures, I am very excited to bring you the rest of the photos.

See you all soon.

Nic


What is it they say… Everything happens for a reason? After today I don’t doubt that for one second!

Today, tickets for Coachella went on sale. 11am Mountain Time. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I’ve bought my fair share of festival tickets to know that but I was going to give it a go anyway while I was at work. With Ash in the skies all day and a two ticket limit per person, it was all up to me.

As it turned out, I was up all night long running laps from my bed to the bathroom and ended up making the call to stay  at home bed ridden for the day. I have to admit, it was a blessing in disguise (maybe). There is no way I could have sat on my computer at work trying for 45 minutes as I did frantically trying to purchase tickets.

I thought I was off to a good start as I skipped to the standby page a few minutes before 11am. I got through and was able to select which tickets I wanted only to keep getting messages that they were unavailable. I thought I would keep going until someone comes up to say they are sold out incase it was crashing due to the volume of people on the site. Chatting with Parker’s mate Brennan he told me to keep trying. With error after error I wasn’t hopeful but finally I scanned over the page as it crashed back to home and it said I had 1.30 mins to confirm my purchase! I was in! I couldn’t believe it. Tickets are booked and we are hitting up Coachella in April! It’s not quite the line-up of last year, last year’s setlist is probably the best list of acts I have ever seen but there are definetely some wicked bands and DJs playing this year too.

CAN>NOT>WAIT!!!