Rain Check

Jun 9th 2010: Travel

Seattle decided to treat me with rain today – didn’t I hear it called the “Rainy City” somewhere? – and so, sitting in one of the gazillion cafes, it’s a good opportunity to do a check-in of how the road trip is going. The short answer: good so far. So there you go. You can return to Facebook now.

But for your reading pleasure, I’ll expand on that. After a quick six hour drive on day zero I spent the first two days with my friend Adam in the Redwood National Park, up North in Humboldt county. On Sunday I then headed to Seattle, stopping in Boring, OR, and bypassing Portland and the massive thunderstorm that was going on there (sorry to all my Oregonite friends) in one massive, continuous coffee-and-diet-coke-fueled 13 hour rage. I’ve been bumming around Seattle ever since, sipping coffee, cursing the hills that remind me an awful lot of San Francisco, and generally bracing myself for the *real* start of the trip on Friday: tomorrow I will head to Vancouver to meet Angela, my partner in crime until San Diego, and the next day we’ll be heading out into Banff and all that beautiful nomansland.

Have I taken any “serious” photos yet? I’m afraid not. My Leica has been happily tugged away so far, but will slowly emerge as the core of the road trip is coming into full swing, as I start getting into the mood. Stopping in the not-so-pulsating metropolis of Boring, however, already showed some of the challenges to be faced. How to photograph small town America? Look at my Chicago series for example! A stellar opposite. For starters, verticals aren’t going to fly. This is new territory for me. And being in Boring, which on a rainy Sunday afternoon was … well … not very exciting, I came to realize the challenge might be more substantial than originally anticipated. But life would be (like) boring if we didn’t rise to the challenges. I’ve always had a thirst for figuring things out and making them happen, so I’m once again in the I’ll-figure-it-out-as-I-go-along boat. In the meanwhile I’ll continue taking the occasional digital images and posting them on that other blog, which has also emerged as more appropriate for this trip. Thanks to daily overstimuli as I travel from town to town, site to site, I might not be able to put together longer, coherent, and substantial blog posts and instead stick to short updates and “great capture” photos to be posted there. Another TBD.

A quick note on the Subaru: It has already proven itself to be the sensible choice. From soaked, slick dirt roads in Humboldt to soaked, slick highways in Oregon, the all-wheel drive has given the car a fantastic handling. Drives like a rock…. You know what I mean. The seats are super comfortable: after the Sunday marathon to Seattle I was exhausted but not at all sore. And then it comes with all those little perks: seat warmers, power outlet in the trunk for an electric cooler to keep my film safe, gigantic sunroof with bars to hold on to so you can stand up, stick your torso out, and shoot your big safari game with that AK-47 you swear you got for hunting … or with that 400mm roof-mounted lens with extension tube. One disappointment, as with most non-American cars, are the flimsy cup holders that just seem like a sorry afterthought. Maybe more recent models have addressed that cultural divide? Imagine the incredible looks when the Japanese engineers were educated about the Big Gulp! The other concern is a leaky gasket, common for a used Subaru with that milage, which means it’s eating through coolant like there is no tomorrow. If I don’t want to blow the engine in the middle of Kansas I’ll need to keep an eye on that.

The sun just came out, so a good chance to actually capture at least a few impressions of Seattle. Check-in recap: photos: not yet, Boring: boring, Subaru: awesome, mood: stoked.

Note: more photos can always be found on Road trip photos on Dropbox and if you want to know where I am, check the progress map.

Posted in Travel by Ernst Bruening on June 9th, 2010 at 8:03 pm.

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