Wednesday, April 01, 2020

I Wanna Be A Cowboy

So I was part of a cattle drive back in October. Yep, always wanted to do the Red Dead Redemption thing as seen in westerns.

Checking today's date! Oh, I guess I better tell you what was really going on here...

Well, kind of, sort of...I was told to bang the side of my vehicle if the cattle were just standing in front of me to keep them moving. We were just passing through, and I think they were just transferring the cattle to a different field. However, I do know the cattle in this area do go on a traditional cattle drive much further away later in the fall.

In any case, hope you area all holding up over the stay at home order with the COVID-19 . I'm following all the rules the authorities are laying out for us, BUT I am a little skeptical of what is being reported and how big the threat is. There is something a little "Phantom Menace" about all of this. If I say anything more about this I will wait until this is over.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

A Joel McCrea Shootout Part 3 (The Alabama Hills Series)

(GPS: N36 35.995 W118 07.490)
(AKA The Shark Fin Hike Part 3)

Alright, the finale of this location and the hike. I think of all of the locations and hikes I have shown over the years, this is the one I have ended up delaying the most for many reasons. It is a little out of the way compared to other spots in the Alabama Hills I like to go to. Do not get me wrong, you can drive pretty close to this and do a short walk to it.. However, I tend to like to park in one spot in the Alabama Hills and hike around. I will get to some of the issues I had in editing the video together, but let me continue where I left off in the last blog.

After the major cowboy versus cowboy battle, our main bad guy flees off into the rocks. Joel McCrea chases him down. He hides behind these rocks for cover.
 This shot was interesting to me in that the camera man had to be down really low. Possibly, he was on he belly holding the camera up to get this shot. I did not do that, but I did have to lean over in a very painful way. It was a difficult shot to get because of that issue. I am glad I got it though and is one of my favorite pictures of the bunch.
 After exchanging some gun shots back and forth. Both of our characters try to sneak up on each other here. Our bad guy sneaks up only to find Joel is not there anymore. Where could he be?
 I mention this in the video that part of the trick is to make the viewer think this area is big enough so that a lot of sneaking around can be done. While I was there I did not think that really could be done. IMO, you can not really get away with sneaking around without the other person knowing like they did in the movie.
 In the movie, Joel sneaks around and clearly has the advantage. Our bad guy knows he is caught, but Joel sets up the honorable gunfight duel with both guys putting their guns away. Joel basically says, "Sure you want to do this?" Of course, our bad guy draws first, but is beaten in the draw. Fortunately for him, Joel shot him in the arm and he will live.
 This is the perspective looking at Joel. They go back and forth here between the two creating tension in the movie.

That covers the main parts I wanted to do for this blog. I want you to see the video since I spent much more time on it than any other video I have done. Let me explain the process for this one:

So some years ago I scouted the area, took pictures and video, went back a few times, dealt with some bad windy weather on one trip, did some pre-editing on the computer, did not like some of the footage, figured out how I would deal with the sun, went back, and finally got the footage I liked. A few months later I started working on the project on Sony Vegas. I put it all together with tons of cuts and edits to emulate how it was done in Cattle Empire. Then tried to render the footage and all sorts of weird things started to happen. It would not fully render the video and stop. It would put "ghost" images into the footage that never made sense to me. I tried it on an alternative computer that is much faster, and the same thing happened. After me staying up almost twenty four hours without sleep because the thing was driving me crazy, I figured out how to put it into parts that would work for a final render.

I hope you enjoy it. Bonus points for you that watch it multiple times to stop and match up every single rock used in the movie. LOL!

A Joel McCrea Shootout (Youtube Video)

The music used from Incompetech.com is called Stay the Course and Bittersweet.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Joel McCrea Shootout Part 2 (The Alabama Hills Series)

(GPS: N36 35.995 W118 07.490)
(AKA The Shark Fin Hike Part 3)

Happy Leap Year Day! Lol!

This is the second part the Joel McCrea Shootout. Again, this gets a little confusing because I need three blogs to do this location, yet all three are the final part of the Shark Fin Hike series. If it does not make sense to you, then do not worry about it too much and just follow along.

In Cattle Empire, the bad cowboys attack Joel McCrea's cowboys. During this scene there are a lot of quick edits back and forth. I cut out all of that here, but I do show some of that in the video. Eventually, Joel and company get the upper hand when the group that Joel sent to set up the flanking attack charges. Which leads to this shot as the bad guys basically give up.
I mention this in the video that it appears that they shot this movie in the afternoon. I typically like to get to the Alabama Hills early in the morning. In this area, that is an issue because the sun hovers right into the direction of the camera when I am there in the morning. I learned my lesson on this, and the last time time I was there made sure to bring an umbrella to block some of the sunlight.  
 In the movie, our main villain does not give up and runs off into the following group of rocks.
 This is where the fun really starts to begin. Hopefully, you can match up some of the main rocks here with the above picture.
 At the start of this our main bad guy hides behind the following rock and takes a few shots at Joel McCrea
 In the following picture we have the perspective of Joel McCrea looking at the rock our bad guy is hiding behind.
Tomorrow I will wrap this up by showing Joel McCrea's perspective, where they try to outwit each other, and the final gunfight position.

A Joel McCrea Shootout (Youtube Video)

The music used from Incompetech.com is called Stay the Course and Bittersweet.

Friday, February 28, 2020

A Joel McCrea Shootout Part 1 (The Alabama Hills Series)

(GPS: N36 35.995 W118 07.490)

(AKA The Shark Fin Hike Part 3)

This begins the climax of what I have been building to in the past few blogs. This is the third and ending part of The Shark Fin Hike series, but this particular location itself will take a few blogs for me to present everything. I'll probably have to re-edit these as I try to finish it up.

Over a decade ago I was watching the movie Cattle Empire (1958) with Joel McCrea. I did not really care for this movie very much. A lot of westerns use a variations of the same stories over and over. How they are executed though is the key. In the case of Cattle Empire it is the type of movie I would watch once because of Joel McCrea, but never watch again. However, they did one thing at the end for the climax of the movie that I really liked.

I told myself at the time that I would have to hunt down the location and do something for it on this blog. It was not a priority compared to other things I wanted to get done. I'll get to some of the obstacles in the next blog or two as to why it took me so long. Let us get started on the actual location.
 The movie starts on a town set, but it gradually has outdoor scenes for the cattle drive scenes. At the end, two opposing groups of cowboys fight it out here. The above rock formation was taken from the Cattle Empire movie. It has been seen in lots of movies in the background, but in this movie it is featured.
The bad guys show up on both sides of the above rock formation. Before that happens, Joel McCrea and his cowboys head to the following gully.
 This is our gully that they come to.
 When they arrive Joel's cowboys hide behind it. He eventually sends part of his cowboys off further to the west to set up what is a flanking attack from the side.
 This is another shot of the gully that will give you you some idea of how they used it here.
 I'll continue this in the next blog.

A Joel McCrea Shootout (Youtube Video)

The music used from Incompetech.com is called Stay the Course and Bittersweet.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Tom Mix Hut(s) (The Alabama Hills Series)

(GPS: N36°35.790 W118°07.700)

(AKA The Shark Fin Hike Part 2)

So after spending some time at the Shark Fin rocks all one needs to do is continue on the trail past them to get to the next destination. When I did this hike on my own I could not remember how much further I needed to go since I had not been here in over a decade. After pulling around the corner of some rocks I came to this spot.
The following is a screenshot from the Tom Mix movie Riders of the Purple Sage made in 1925. In the movie Tom Mix climbs a mountainside and comes to these habitation huts.
My angle for this shot is a little off here, since I should be moving over to the left some to line it up when comparing it to the following picture:
However, if my memory is correct, I was using the following picture from a different scene that lines up better.

 I think that works:
In the movie, they have Tom Mix look over into a shot of Yosemite which is great in the movie, but nothing you would see from here. Remember he is supposed to be on an elevated mountain here that he climbed to.

As I state in the video, I always enjoy looking up the old silent film sites just to see if there are any traces of what once was. In this case, there is a lot! That I am thankful for. Eventually, I will show a site where I can tell you it is the right spot, but there is nothing left. That is typical for many silent movie locations.

The Tom Mix Hut (The Shark Fin Hike Part 2) Youtube Video

The music from Incompetch.com is called Mister Exposition and Frogs Legs Rag.

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Shark Fin (The Alabama Hills Series)

(GPS: N36 35.930 W118 07.090)

 (AKA The Shark Fin Hike Part I)

It begins! This is the first part in a three part series. This is a good series for a beginner to the Alabama Hills, or someone who also wants to check out some other areas a little off the beaten path.

I've had to delay this series for a bunch of reasons. The obvious one was what I was talking about in the blog of December 2019. However, one of the big reasons I have not had as many Alabama Hills blogs in recent years has to do with the fact that many more people are showing up there and hanging out in the areas I would make videos at. It is hard for me to do things if there are people or vehicles in the spots I am going to. This has happened a bunch of times to me after driving a few hours to a spot only to find it occupied. I was going to say something about this in this first video, but I thought it would take too long, and I would sound a little too irritated. It is a little more complicated than the way I just described it. I'm going to wait until I go back in the next few months, and see how the situation is before I say anymore on this.

The GPS coordinates take you to where you can park right off of movie road. It is a very obvious spot you get to right as you enter the Alabama Hills from Whitney Portal Road onto Movie Road. More than likely you will encounter some vehicles here because the Shark Fin is used for rock climbing. That is what most people know it for. I am going to emphasize the movie location part of it for this blog.
It is pretty obvious where to go here. The sign tells you to park here because you are not to take in vehicles any further. So you do have to get those feet moving.
I have encountered rock climbers on the Shark Fin once or twice. Not always though. In the most recent time they were there I just bypassed them, and came back at another time. It is pretty typical to see this rock formation in the background of movies. I mention a Buck Jones serial in the video, The Roaring West, make in the 1930's that has it in the background.
The one serial that had it was the Hi-Yo Silver movie you can find on dvd. It was originally The Lone Ranger serial from 1938. It is the same movie that has the ambush in what they call "Lone Ranger Canyon" in the Alabama Hills. Here the rangers ride into their secret cave.
Of course, there really is not a cave there.

The Shark Fin (The Shark Fin Hike Part 1) on Youtube.

Music taken from Incompetech.com that is used for the video is called Crowd Hammer.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Revolutionary War Reenactment (President's Day Weekend 2020)

If you have followed this blog from the old days, I have gone to the Civil War reenactment in Huntington Beach a few times. That one benefits from being on Labor Day weekend. I had never been to the Revolutionary War reenactment before which is over the Presidents' Day weekend. In the past, I would forget about it only to remember the weekend afterwards, it would conflict with something else, or, in the case of last year, I was taking care of mom.

This year I had already had a full weekend of stuff to do. I was not sure I would go until the very last moment. I got there early and could only stay a few hours, but I enjoyed it a lot. Maybe I can go for a full day next year.

When I arrived there was a church service that is always kind of fun. You are kind of back in time with a "this is real, but sort of not real" situation at the same time. Especially if you are a person of faith you kind of have those moments when attending something like this. Our good revolutionary era pastor educated us on the use of banners, the meaning of Jehovah-Nissi using the story of Exodus 17 with Moses holding his arms up with the battle against the Amalekites, etc. Praise songs were sung, and a closing prayer.

I headed over the British encampment after a group of British soldiers picked up a deserter. The guy in white was taken over to be court marshaled for leaving his post.
 Eyewitnesses were called back and forth. Apparently, he left his post and visited a bunch of ladies. The ladies tried to defend him, but he was found guilty. The sentence was death by firing squad.
 I left as they were taking him away. A few minutes later as I was in my chair I heard the firing squad shots, but did not look to back to see the fate of the victim.
 The above was part of a cannon demonstration. Very loud. As the battle took place a little later they kept firing these cannons.
 It was the Battle of White Plains in 1776. Some of the colonists headed out to the field.
 Some of the British kneel and fire!
 The colonists fire back!
 The colonists were not as disciplined during this period. Both sides had casualties, but the British came out on top during this battle. One of the colonist leaders presented a sword to the British leader present as a token of acknowledging the British victory.

I had walked around both camps earlier. In the main area, in the middle of everything they had many things people were selling if you are into that period. George Washington and Ben Franklin were scheduled to speak, but I left not to long after the battle since I had scheduled other things today.

I really liked this. It felt a little smaller compared to what takes place on Civil War reenactment on Labor Day Weekend. The good news is a lot of people were there during the battle so I think more people were there as the day went on. So, hopefully, I can come back next year.

The HB Historical Society

The HB Historical Society Revolution Page

Next up! The series I have been waiting a very long time to get moving on! I think you will like this one.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

My "New" Toy

Happy 2020!  

The last Christmas present my mother got me back in 2018 was a toy drone. I have used it a few times in 2019. I will probably show some video from it at times, but want to keep those short since unless you are really into that it can be a bit boring the way I do it. Here is a screenshot of Tioga Lake with the drone near the Yosemite border (can't fly in national parks).

I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things, but I will probably need another month or two before I upload some new content. I have too many other things going on right now.

One thing I wanted to say about the Eastern Sierra is that it is largely seasonal: late spring, mostly summer, and a little bit of fall. That is for most people. If you are into skiing that is not really what I am talking about. I had a family drive by as I was walking about two months ago asking why a certain restaurant was not open. They were surprised since people fish and hunt, etc. I had to explain that fishing season was over, it is a seasonal area, and we were getting to the point that this particular area will be snowed in for many months.

No matter what time of the year your travels just try to be aware of where you going. Have a little knowledge before hand especially it if is an isolated area. Let others know where you are going and an approximate time frame of your activities. It is going to happen that we hear another story about someone who traveled somewhere and goes missing. Nature doesn't play by the rules we think it does.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 was a Rough Year! (In Memory of Mom)

I hope you are having a great holiday season. It has a been a long time since I have done something for this blog. I owe some of you that have e-mailed me over the past year an apology which I will get to. Seeing how this is the last day of the year I have been reflecting on what happened this year. 

1)What happened this year?

This year was kind of a disaster. When I began the year I made a Youtube video explaining all the things I intended to do. There was really only one thing that would prevent me for doing more videos, showing pictures, and doing more blogs on here.

At the end of last year, my mother had just passed her driving test when she started to complain about something hurting in her right arm. It never improved over the holidays. Took her to the doctor at the beginning of the year and was told a few things.

Thinking things would get better I started a few new blogs during the middle of January. It was within a few days of that we had to take her to the hospital. We got the news she was not doing too good. So, long story short I took care of her for the next five plus months until she took her last breath.

Both my mother and father were really great to me. My mom was just awesome. Always great to talk to and encouraging. A lot of my soul got ripped out during all of this because I realized just how much I was dependent on the well being of my mother going back as far as I remember. So, at some points during the next year I will probably say things on video and in the blog just as a "shout out" to my mother's soul and memory.

My Apologies! A bunch of you e-mailed me this year. I would say a good 95% of the e-mails I did not respond to. Nothing personal to you, but if you read the above I had my hands full and in some ways still will for a while. I just was not that motivated. So, if you see this I am sorry and please write me again in 2020 if you wanted a response. I'll try to be better about this.

I pretty much forced myself to do those last blogs back in March, but I really was not that inspired in those. I am still not really all that inspired, but I do have some items I want to share at some point this upcoming year.

2)Fall Colors?

Last year I did not get to go. This year the Eastern Sierra fall colors were just not as good as other years. The timing of the colors was a little off. On most years you have a window of opportunity in some areas of about two weeks. I'm not sure if it had to do with excess snow and water from the winter, the weather, or just some other factor. The time I was there I could see the colors continue to change over the week, but it was a bit irregular. Some leaves stayed green, others were turning gold. This was one of the best areas I experienced at the time. I was at the June Lake Loop at one point right before I left. It had those irregular patches of green and some yellow, but nothing worth showing. I thought as I left it would be another week, but even then lots of leaves had fallen.


I'll have some more to say very soon in 2020. Happy New Year!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Hike the High Country: The Green Creek Trail (to Summit Lake)

(GPS: N38 03.060 W119 19.180)

Time to wrap this one up. After the Hoover Lakes we continued up the trail back and forth. Eventually we ran into this worn down sign that splits the trail:

If we wanted to hike back up to Virginia Lakes we would take the trail left. It is a serious climb back in that direction if someone has ideas of doing that. Our goal was Summit Lake so off we went straight ahead.

There is actually a nice little meadow here that the water that falls from both the Virginia Lakes trail direction and Summit Lake that drains into all the previous lakes I have shown. Unfortunately, I did not get any good pictures or videos of this area. Have you have seen the Miner's tale ("All Gold Canyon") in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs anthology movie? I highly recommend the movie, but it really reminded me of this area along with a few others I have been to when I saw it.

In any case, we dipped down into the meadow with a crossfire of all the streams coming in. Then we hiked up the trail's final ascent to the lake. There was the destination I had both seen from a distance on the trail from Virginia Lakes and on maps over a few decades. Summit Lake!
My brother and I walked up to the lake and remarked on the beauty if it. At this point the clouds kicked in giving the area an overcast look to it. The smoke was not too bad here. I mentioned how I would like to be here in February/March just to see what it was like. My brother just said everything would be only white. Yeah, with this years snowfall it is probably just a winter wonderland of cold snow and ice.
I decided to walk around the lake for a few reasons. One I just wanted to see what the other side of the lake was like.
Glad that is not a volcano! Lol!
I reached the other side and looked back.

I show it in the video, but I walked a little further because I wanted to say that I entered Yosemite from this direction. Yes, the border of Yosemite is at the end of this lake. There is a sign and marker showing that it is the border.

The interesting thing about this hike is I mentioned that the clouds were slowing moving in to make it more overcast. As we headed back it continued to be like this until it started to get really dark. Then about the time I reached Green Lake the rain drops were coming down.

Keep in mind firefighters were still dealing with fires in Yosemite and other areas. I would say about the time I was near the final twenty minutes of the hike back to the truck it just started pouring. I was trying to keep my cameras dry in my backpack. I waited under a tree for about ten minutes hoping that the rain would pass. I got tired of waiting and raced back to the truck where my brother was waiting.

Once we started driving away and got closer to HWY 395 the rain stopped. If only the rain that was there would have hit those fire spots. In any case, a few days later I think the worst was over with the fires and they were in complete control.

Hike the High Country: The Green Creek Trail (Youtube)

Overall, a fun hike. One doesn't need to go all the way to Summit Lake and back in a day to enjoy it. I wouldn't mind starting at Virginia Lakes, then descending to Summit Lake, and then coming out at the Green Creek Trail head as a day hike. It would take some coordinating with a few cars, but can be done.

Music used from Incompetech is called Vulcan and For Originz.