After hanging out with Joe Glyda in Oklahoma, our next stop was Colorado, where we were planning on spending a few weeks. Now the problem with this drive was that between Oklahoma and Colorado… is Kansas. So let me give you a little recap of Kansas in the following iPhone photo:
We stayed in Cheyenne Mountain State Park, which was absolutely beautiful. The front of the bus was facing the mountains and the back was overlooking the city. When we woke up in the morning, there were often deer hanging around the bus doing their little deer thing.
One of the great things about staying in Colorado Springs was that we were within minutes of my longtime friend and wildlife photographer, George Lepp. It's always great hanging out with George and his wonderful wife, Kathy. We went to dinner with them one night and spent some time catching up at their place as well.
George was also gracious enough to help me out with a custom printing project I had planned. Last year, when I was in Bagan, Miranmar, I shot a 14-image panorama where I tried to encompass the sheer saturation of temples in a small area. In the end, the aspect ratio of the image came out to be 17.5-to-1… NOT an easy image to print. We worked on it for a while though, and eventually came out with a successful print, measuring 20 feet long. (If there was no software limitation, it would have printed at 40 feet, which would have matched the length of the bus!) It's an impressive print to say the least.
Me, George and Kathy Lepp, doing a test print of my Bagan pano.
Another fun thing we did in Colorado Springs was eat in the Airplane Restaurant. This place is exactly how it sounds, too. It's a Boeing KC-97 that has been converted into a restaurant. The waiters even don airline attendant attire. The food was decent, and it was definitely a unique way to do lunch.
After Colorado Springs, we moved on to the quaint town of Golden. We couldn't have parked in a better place. The little RV park was right on a river and at the foothills of some beautiful Colorado mountains. You can walk from the bus to town in less than 10 minutes and there are plenty of interesting places to explore.
More on Colorado to come…
Here's a shot of me with George Fields' Flxible. George is the fabricator and mechanic who is working on my vintage bus.
After Photoshop World, we flew back to Fort Worth and stayed at the shop where the vintage bus is getting worked on. Upon returning, I was excited to find that much progress had been made since we left! I posted the updates on the Creative Cruiser web site right HERE.
It's been a while since I've been in the same location as my vintage bus, so we spent about a week at the shop in Texas so that I could take measurements, work details out with the great team working on the bus and make some crucial decisions regarding the systems it will have. When we finally moved on, I felt really confident that the bus was definitely in the right hands.
Here's my bus in George's shop, getting lots of TLC.
When we moved on, the next stop on the map was Tulsa, OK. We stopped here for two reasons: First, my friend and fellow photographer, Joe Glyda, lives in Tulsa and we were psyched to pay him a visit! Second was an exhibit going on at the Philbrook Museum of Art called "American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow." Streamlined design was the follow-up to the art deco period, and it's the style I'm most interested in. When the vintage bus is complete, the interior will feature this kind of design.
Our day in Tulsa was a blast. I'm used to seeing Joe in the midst of Photoshop World craziness, so it was nice to have a full day of one-on-one time. We got breakfast and then headed to the Philbrook Museum. There were over 180 streamlined design items on display there, many of which would be great additions to the vintage bus, and some of which… I already have! The grounds of the museum were really surprising, in that I couldnt believe we were in Tulsa! It was a massive and beautifully arranged array of gardens and walkways.
After the museum, Joe showed us around Tulsa a bit and he did a good job at honing in on the stuff we like to shoot. He took us to the massive Tulsa oil man! And man, is he massive! We spent a while shooting there, and I'll hopefully process the images soon. For now, though, here's Karen, sitting on his gigantic shoe.
We had a great time touring around Tulsa and spending time with Joe.
Next stop: Colorado (but we have to drive through a lot of nothingness to get there!)
Yup. It's that time again. The digital love fest that is Photoshop World invades Orlando. And since we spent much of the winter in Florida, we flew there from Fort Worth. Actually, I flew first to Los Angeles and then to Atlanta to present my Kelby Training seminar. While I did that, Karen flew to NJ to hang with her family for a week. We met up again in Orlando before the conference kicked off.
Every year, Photoshop World takes on a different theme. Last year was rock & roll and the NAPP team dressed and performed as KISS at the keynote. This year's theme was Project Photoshop, based on the hit TV show "Project Runway." If you've ever been to a PSW keynote you know that they go ALL OUT. So they created a perfect parody of the TV series, down to Julianne Kost taking on the roll of Heidi Klum. Oh, and not only were the dresses themed after different Photoshop tools, but they were actually designed by fashion students in the Orlando area.
Above, my class on HDR plugins is about to start at the Orange County Convention Center.
I taught three classes this year: Actions & Intermediates, HDR Plugins and Extracting Hair in Photoshop CS5. There were also a handful of new instructors, which was great. PSW is just as great for meeting new people as it is for learning new things. One of the reasons we always look forward to it is that so many friends are converging in one place.
After this event, it's back to Texas to work on the vintage bus project. More to come!
At the PSW Expo, onOne Software had a photo booth, that Karen and I just couldn't resist.
By the time Mardi Gras ended, we were pretty much ready to move on from New Orleans. Besides, the vintage bus project needed some serious attention, since the California mechanic was NOT working out*.
Luckily, some helpful folks on my "bus nut" forums stepped in and recommended George Fields, a fabricator and mechanic located outside of Fort Worth, TX. We drove from Louisiana to Texas and after meeting with him I knew he was the right guy for the job. The next step was getting the vintage bus shipped 1,300 miles to Fort Worth. (no biggie, right?)
I'm not going to go into detail here, because I posted the whole story, with lots of photos, on the Creative Cruiser website, which is dedicated completely to this project. Karen also made a video of the vintage bus' arrival in TX, which you can see HERE. So now, the two busses are spending a week together while we head to Florida for Photoshop World.
*"Not working out" would be putting it very nicely, as you'll read on the Creative Cruiser progress page.
It seems that Mardi Gras is one of those things that I've wanted to experience at SOME point, just for the experience, but never really made the push to be down there for all the craziness. This year, however, we were actually at the right place, at the right time and with the right friends!
We were parked in St. Augustine, Florida, which is actually the oldest city in the country, (Karen's blog post on that HERE) and were lucky to run into our friends and fellow full-timers Shonda and Michael. We stayed in the same RV park and explored the city together while we were there. It was then that we learned that they were headed to Mardi Gras after leaving Florida. We hadn't really thought about it, but after looking at the map and calendar, we figured it was a convenient time to do it, and heck, we'd be with friends! We were in!
Now I'm not really sure how to explain Mardi Gras, because it's one of those experiences where if you haven't seen it for yourself, words and photos might not do it justice. It's crazy wild.
We arrived a few days before Fat Tuesday and set out for Bourbon Street one night, and at 8 pm it was already packed with people in costume, street musicians and women lifting their shirts for strings of beads tossed from streetside balconies. Karen and I had to hold on to each other's shirts just so we wouldn't lose each other, which could easily happen in a split second amongst those masses.
What's interesting though, is that we ended up finding our happy place NOT on Bourbon Street, or in the French Quarter, or on the main parade route. Instead we hit up Frenchman Street and found it to be like a breath of fresh air in comparison. Now, mind you, it was still Mardi Gras and it was crowded. But it was crowded with locals and funky, more eclectic parades. We visited a few bars/restaurants there and they all had such a unique and local flavor, and it was all classic New Orleans, from the decor style, to the music, to the people.
On Fat Tuesday, we ventured out really early. And of course, at 8:00 am, there were bars open, with customers drinking outside. We had tickets for a venue called the Eiffel Society, which had a private building with restrooms, a bar, food, etc. It also had a private grandstand so we were able to watch the parades without having out toes stepped on. All in all, the right choice for watching the mahem!
In the end, we were really glad that we went, and now that we know the SERIOUS craziness can be avoided and traded in for a more local and interesting experience, we'd probably do it again!
Next stop: Texas (and Vintage Bus updates)!
While it would have been nice to stay in the Florida Keys longer, we had more places to see and friends to meet. First stop while back on the "mainland" was Biscayne Bay. My Las Vegas friend, Steve, and his family were vacationing in Florida.They rented a catamaran for the day and invited us to go sailing with them. Score! (We love being on the water, and would one day like to live on a boat.) It was great to catch up with Steve and Beverly (they are two of the nicest, most fun people we know!), and get a nice view of Miami from the water.
And speaking of boats, we happened to be parked in Fort Lauderdale right in time for Trawler Fest, a big old boat show featuring the kind of boats/yachts that are not only livable, but some of them are so sea-worthy they can cross the Atlantic. Since I'd like to live on a boat one day, I wanted Karen to see the boats, to see what she thought of the whole thing. Might have been a mistake though…. After five minutes of touring some yachts, she was ready to move in and "set sail"!
After leaving Fort Lauderdale, we headed to Orlando… and to Disney World. Karen hadn't been there in ages and I dont even remember the last time I was there, so for Christmas, Karen's parents got us passes. We stayed in Disney's Fort Wilderness, which is convenient to all the theme parks. In one day we did both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The next day we went to Disney's Hollywood Studios, which pleasantly surprised me. The whole park is designed in an art deco, Hollywood heydey style that was done really nicely. As far as the rides go, our favorites were the Rockin' Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror (Karen thought it was pretty cute to NOT tell me what the Tower of Terror actually did, prior to going on).
Yup, he hung out with Disney characters all day and even had a beer with Mickey.
Karen gives a more detailed post of our Disney adventure on her blog RIGHT HERE.
More on Florida to come…
After traveling to Colorado and then New Jersey for the holidays, we brought in the new year in Florida… Arcadia, Florida. If you haven't heard of Arcadia, don't worry. Neither had I, up until the point when the Bussin' rally was scheduled to be held there. And that's how we brought in our 2011 – at a bus rally.
Bussin' is an event for folks who have done their own conversions or are planning to. (By conversion, I mean taking a bus and converting it into a condo on wheels.) The rally was great, for several reasons. For one, it was nice to make new contacts, and friends, in the bus world. There aren't a whole lot of bus bus people out there, so it's nice to have an event that brings many of them together to talk shop, share stories and learn from each other's experiences. It was also a great place to catch up with friends. Our friends and fellow nomads Sean and Louise attended the event in their Neoplan bus, and we were thrilled to be able to spend more time with them. In fact we brought in the new year with them in their portable hot tub! It was also great to meet up with other Flxible bus owners to get ideas for my own bus project. (Details on my project HERE)
Above is an amazingly restored Flxible bus that's owned by our friend Dave.
The Annual FotoFusion event was held again in West Palm Beach, so that was the next destination for us. I taught three classes there, and got to catch up with a lot of other instructors and friends I haven't seen in a while. That's one of the great things about events like that – they bring together friends you make from all over the country and saturate them in one little town.
It was also a happy coincidence that my friend and photographer, Greg Gorman, had a gallery opening in Fort Lauderdale, right as we were passing through! Greg is a phenomenal photographer, and has shot all the big names in Hollywood. If you've never seen his work, you've got to check it out HERE.
As far south as we could go
After Fort Lauderdale, travels continued south. That was the goal… spend the coldest part of the winter (well for most of the country) in the most southern area we could get to. That being the Keys. A few months ago we were up in Maine, near the start of good old Route 1 and finally, we made it to the end, in Key West.
The first stop on the way down was Key Largo, which is known for its underwater park and amazing scuba opportunities. We didn't don the wet suits though. Instead, we did a glass-bottom boat tour that gets you underwater views of the John Pennekamp Coral Reef. (we also found a glass-bottom BAR in Key Largo. Go figure!)
We stayed parked in Sugarloaf Key to have access to the lower Keys and got to explore Key West and Bahia Honda State Park, which is just north of Big Pine Key. The state park probably had some of the nicest beaches in the continental U.S. And Key West… well, what can you say? There's nothing not to like! For more on our stay in the Keys, check out Karen's post HERE.
Hi everyone! I want to share an incredible opportunity with you all. Actually, I would say it's the photographic adventure of a lifetime. In Oct./Nov. 2011, I'll be taking a group of lucky photographers and/or adventurers out into wild Africa for a multi-destination trip focused on photography and exploration.
Here's the deal: We all fly into Johannesburg and spend the following 10 days exploring Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Botswana. We will have a skilled guide, Dana Allen, to lead us on our journey, while I serve as photography and Photoshop expert, to make sure you get the photos of a lifetime.
Here's some of the things that make this trip so unique: We're catering to photographers. Whether you're a pro or a beginner, you're going to get the most out of this experience. While travelling between destinations in Africa, we'll have two planes – one for us, and one for our gear. That's right. You're allowed up to 90 lbs. of gear EACH. While we're out exploring, we'll travel in open Land Rovers, and each person will have their own row, ensuring a clear view in all directions.
The time of year was also carefully planned out, as it's the beginning of the summer season in Africa and the camps were chosen for the both the scenic views and the unique animal behavior in the regions where we'll be travelling.
So if you've ever drooled over those amazing photographs of African sunsets, elephants at their water holes, and wild cats on the prowl, here's your chance. Join me on a journey you'll never forget.
For more details and sign-up info, click HERE.
Karen surprised me with a 140+ page hardcover book for Christmas that covers our 2010 adventures living on the bus together. You can browse the whole book here. Just keep in mind that it's designed to be browsed as two-page spreads in a printed book.
If you'd like your own full-color printed copy of the book, you can order it here. We make zero profit on the book so that we can keep the price somewhat reasonable.