Saturday, July 04, 2015

Whatever Happened to Him? (The Alabama Hills Series)

Happy July 4th for my fellow Americans, and if you are not American then I still wish you a happy July 4th for different reasons!

Today I thought I would release an updated video of something I did some years back:

Some notes on this video:

1)I would have liked to have had this video up about the time James Best died (April 6, 2015), but I had too much going on. Although coincidentally, this video and blog was the next one I truly intended to do after the last one in February. James Best was best known to more middle-aged audiences as the Sheriff in The Dukes of Hazzard tv show. He had a lot of roles in westerns. I seem to remember him co-starring with Audie Murphy in at least one western, but he tended to get the antagonistic roles in tv and movies that I remember him most in. In any case, RIP James Best.

2)One geeky tech issue this video has comes with the advances in technology that changes things around for me a little. When I got my new computer almost a year ago I was finally able to edit video I had taken at 60 FPS and actually show it to you at 60FPS on Youtube as well. If you can view a video with that frame rate over a monitor or tv with high definition it looks great. The issue though is that most television and cinema movies use a lower frame rate (like 30FPS or 24FPS). The problem is the way you have seen me do this over the past few years with inserting footage from a movie doesn’t work right if I have to render all the footage at 60FPS. In the case of this video, it doesn’t look too bad, but during the panning movement in the clip from Ride Lonesome it stutters some because of this issue. If I want to keep using movie video within a video like I have been doing, then I am going to have to put up with that.

3)Yeah, I edited down the capture scene. James Best does resist a little more if you have not seen the movie. With the footage I took that was all I could get in to make it work right. There was something James says when he realizes his gang's ambush will not work that I imitated his voice for some humor, but this ended up being a case where I thought less is more would be better for the viewer. So, I edited that out as well. Watch the movie if you haven’t.

4)When I originally made a blog and video to this location I said something that the area that you see Randolph Scott comes from is a dead end. That’s partly true in that what seems like a trail ends. It wouldn’t be impossible to take a horse from below to that point, but just not really practical. I say this not that it matters much from a movie standpoint, but if you were in the mood to hike up that way from below or hike down from that spot back to your car then it is just a mild scramble.

5)If you didn’t know what I was referring to with the title of this blog and video then you have to watch this video. My New Agey, neo-nostalgic, quasi-spiritual, archtypical mythic, and tiny bit of humor thrown in is in response to that eternal question. If it doesn’t make sense to you just let it go and don’t worry about it. ;)

Okay, that’s all for what is important about the video, and I was going to throw out some thoughts about nostalgia. I think I will leave those for another blog. The past few weeks have been really annoying to me. Tragedy, major political decisions, and the responses to them have forced me to stay off social media due to some of this.

Since James Best is best remembered for his role in The Dukes of Hazzard, I thought I would mention how annoying it was to hear that TV Land has decided to cut showing episodes of that old series. Then we have golfer Bubba Watson, who owns the car used in the show, deciding he will paint the American flag on the car and remove the Confederate flag.

It is true the Confederate flag has been a symbol of controversy since it goes back to the biggest watershed issue in the history of the U.S.A. At the end of the day, it is just that, a symbol, and like all symbols depends on the meaning given to it. So, on the one hand you have people that react to the symbol seeing something representing slavery and on the other you have people seeing a symbol of state’s rights against tyranny.

I’m sorry to say that I think the recent emotional reactions to this is a bunch of symbolism over substance. The tv show had nothing to do with what the people are reacting to. I hate to tell Bubba Watson that the name of the car is still The General Lee. That symbol is still there.

All of this is people obsessing over the things that do not matter. To get rid of evil you have to destroy it all or change the heart(s). Yet, we don’t live in that type of ideal world where evil will just go away. You can destroy all Confederate flags and it is just a matter of time before another evil, mentally ill person arises.

Be vigilant, yet realistic my friends.

The original blog on did on this location can be found here:
Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?

The music used from Incompetech is the following: CowboySting, Pale Rider, and In the West.

Until next time…

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Let the Hate Flow Through You

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is a follow up to my last blog. Oh the irony! Today I thought would be a good day to talk about some HATE!

I was sitting in on this class a few years ago about a certain issue in public policy and how to deal with it. It was an online video feed so I wasn't actually there. After all these suggestions were mentioned on what could be done to influence the public and policy makers, a woman kindly suggested that one should “get angry!” That’s right convince people of your position by getting outraged!

Arguing from outrage (a variation of the appeal to emotions fallacy) has always been a tactic people have used to “convince” others, and social media really plays upon it. In fact, it is a common theme I have heard over the past few years with people asking, “Where is the outrage?“ For me, getting outraged over something doesn't mean someone has special access to moral superiority that others don’t. I think sometimes people get a little too tempted into using it as if it somehow makes them feel morally stronger.

What I am about to say I would suggest you already know, but I am just going to mention a few things about this that seem to be going on in a situation like this. Yes, I have had this used against me online and in public. The sad thing is in just about all cases I was trying to be reasonable and present good factual information, but then comes the “how pathetic” type of response to me. It’s like, “what do I do now?” This is because when someone is outraged he or she doesn't want to hear reason anymore. It then becomes a case of throwing a few one liner cheap shots back and forth at each other.

One of the words connected with all of this is the word “passion”. You know, “follow your passion.” For example, this person was very passionate about this, and that makes everything they did okay. As if it justifies any bad behavior. Passion can be a good thing, but if it not kept in check can become obsessive. Which might not be a good thing.

In my experience, people that get outraged means they can’t give you good reasons to persuade you, have run out of good reasons to persuade you, or can’t handle what you are saying to them. They are fed up and had it. They are using it as a shaming tactic.

That might work on some people, but in my own experiences you don’t win people over by acting that way. In fact, quite the opposite. It will harden them, and they will resist you even more later on.

What typically happens when a person feels outraged is they FEEL they have the moral high ground. In that psychological state they feel the righteousness flowing through them in such a way that they can’t be wrong. You are wrong, and I am right! I will not back down now you idiot! Lol. If you think I am wrong about this, think of all those times you have been outraged yourself. Did you ever think while the outrage was going on that you were in the wrong? The Emperor (Darth Sidious) in the above video was speaking to you during those times. It was the power of the dark side in you.

Like a lot of things I have mentioning in the past few blogs, there is a time and place for getting angry over something. However, if not kept in check can be a very bad thing. It’s the type of thing that can lead to fist fights and wars. In the end, getting outraged as you see on some of the social media sites over and over just leads to desensitization. People will stop caring, and it will just be noise.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Virtue: Internal or External

I started out my first blog of the year saying something that should have been a little odd. I didn’t think anyone would take what I said seriously about my resolution to be a better person by finding fault in others. That’s sort of a joke I have said among friends and family over the past few years when people start talking about having a resolution for the New Year.

I’ll start this one out by saying that I think everyone has an idea in their head about the way people should be, society should be, governments should be, and the world should be. The problem is everyone has, at the bare minimum, a slightly different view of how the world should be. We all recognize that just because something in the world IS a certain way that it doesn’t mean it OUGHT/SHOULD be that way. So, everyone wants to see the world become something like they think it should be.

One of the problems that comes up with that is we don’t live in an IDEAL world. Nor can we make it an ideal world because one can always think of ways the world can be better. Many dictators of the 20th century shed much blood in attempting such experiments. I’ve seen many younger people think that all we have to do is pass a few laws and magically everyone will be much better. Like, all we have to do is pass a few laws against evil and everyone will be good.

Traditionally, going back to the ancient Greeks like Aristotle to the biblical writers to a good portion of thinkers in western civilization, the primary issues of morality were internal. Meaning, one’s concerns about morality, virtue, ethics, etc. were inside of you. You are not naturally good in this view. You actually have to work to become a better person. It is an internal struggle inside of you that constantly goes on. It takes discipline and you might never become the person you should be, but the internal fight is what is important.

What bothers me the most right now about how the internet has become is it appears to me that a good percentage of people out there think they are already morally good, and it is anyone that opposes their ideas is the problem. For example, take your typical Yahoo news article. You read the article. Then you go to the comments and you see all sorts of fighting back and forth about whose fault it is. For the record, I tend to skip comments altogether on about 95% of all articles out there, but I know what I am about to describe is usually how it works. Typically, it is either some political party, the president (or any leader anywhere), some corporation, etc. that is the fault or to blame. Now, politically speaking, there could be concerns there, but I always wonder if even if a person got his or her way politically on every issue that they believe that would make them a better person. Or, more tragically, that a person only believes he/she can be happy only if a certain political party is in power or certain political views are imposed.

Some time back I was reading something I have an interest in. One person complained that the other person should be a protester and the right thing to do would be to go outside on a street with a sign protesting what was wrong. First, there is a time and place for these sorts of things, but I think in most cases these types of protests don’t really get the results they think they do. I mean, sorry, I usually do not read all the signs and bumper stickers out there. If I do see one I tend not to take that very seriously because it takes a lot more than a few rhyming slogans to persuade me. Second, and the real point, being a protester does not necessarily make a moral person. I’ve seen many a parent use a child in a protest, and I have to admit I have serious doubts they are truly teaching any sort of moral discipline to that child. I worry that people try to use “noble causes” as an outlet for some bad behavior they have. When one demonizes others it becomes a lot easier to justify one’s own moral inadequacies.

Here’s one way I try to do this for myself, but I am going to use it as an application for everyone. So, please don’t get the wrong idea here. This applies to me first and foremost, but to make the point I have universalize it. If you wake up every morning and look into the mirror not seeing the most evil person on the planet then something is wrong. This is just the first step in a mental approach I’m suggesting. I’m not saying we are all 20th century dictators, but there is so much in our lives we do everyday that does not contribute to the good of ourselves and the good of others. I mean, how many times have we walked by someone in need and done or said something. Or, lacked the discipline to stop whatever bad habit we have that could be causing us to harm ourselves or others. Given the power of a 20th century dictator maybe we would be a lot closer to them than we would care to admit. There is a time in place to judge others, but we humbly need to look inside ourselves first.

The pictures were taken at Gull Lake off the June Lake Loop. That hawk was in a campground that some gentleman pointed out to me. It was huge! The biggest I had ever seen. You don't get the size of it based on that picture. I used the tilt shift effect for that last picture as an experiment to give it that miniature effect.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

"Legend of the June Lake Slot Machines"

(GPS: N 37° 47.955 W 119° 03.815)

For Americans, today is one of the most holy days of the year. The day families gather to eat, drink, watch commercials, watch two teams play football, and most importantly watch half-time entertainment. Yes, it is that most religious holiday: the Superbowl! May it bless us!

I'm not going to say too much other than I used to attend Los Angeles Rams games as a kid since my father had been a season ticket holder for decades. I loved watching football. I'll probably tune in a few times today to see how the teams are doing, but I just despise how the modern Superbowl is shown. All the stuff that doesn't matter becomes important. It really bothers me when I hear people say they will watch the Superbowl only for the commercials. What the? Seriously?

(Edit Feb. 2, 2015: I watched some of the second half. As soon as I saw the Seahawks go into shotgun formation, on 2nd down at the one yard line, on the final crucial play I said, "What the? What are they doing?!They should not do this! This is not good!" I didn't care about who won to be honest, but it made me sick to see how that went down for Seattle. It really was a no brainer.)  

Enough of that. Lets talk about an oddity I discovered a few years back. I was out driving around the June Lake Loop and found this odd monument. Apparently, it had just been put up a month or so before I saw something odd off the side of the road. It was a slot machine! So, in this last October I went back to get these two pictures.
"During the 1930′s in central Mono County, demand for gaming entertainment skyrocketed with the influx of hundreds of employees working on the Mono Basin Project. To accommodate the workers, many local bars and cafes installed slot machines. Although illegal, there use in Mono County thrived for many years. Unfortunately, upon completion of the aqueduct in 1941 and transfer of all workers, demand for this activity diminished. Within a few years most slot machines were voluntarily removed. It was rumored that the last slot machines were hastily dumped into June Lake in the middle of the night by local merchants in response to an imminent raid by the State Revenue Agents, however, the legend of the slot machines did not end there. Over the years, numerous attempts to locate them by special cold water dive teams failed. Although no one has inserted a coin into one and pulled the handle, many people still gamble on hitting the jackpot and finding those 'one armed bandits' at the bottom of June Lake, forever lost? Time will tell."
A little tidbit that I had not known about the area. I have doubts that there are any slot machines at the bottom of June Lake.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Anti-Selfie

One thing I consciously decided to do when I first started this blog was to never post public pictures of myself. There were a couple of reasons for this. One being a tradition that goes back to the days of bulletin board systems (BBS) and the early days of the internet that you were not supposed to do that due to a person wanting to keep their anonymity. In those days, you were expected to use an alias and not go by your real name for a reason. Part of that was to protect yourself from the potential criminal behavior of others. Now we have gone in the complete opposite in that not only is your name and face out there for anyone to see, but where you live, cars you own, etc. In other words, it’s an open invitation for all sorts of creepy criminal behavior out there.

The real reason I don’t like to post pictures of myself is not so much for the reason I just mentioned, but for a more artistic one. I wanted the focus of this blog to be on what is out there in the world and not myself. I want you to see that mountain, that rock formation, that forest, that animal, that movie location, or whatever piece of scenery I was showing without me being in the picture. I like the idea of giving the 1st person perspective pictures (and video) to at least give an attempt to show you what it would be like if you were where I was standing.

Years ago I used to mention how a person on a site I was on was constantly posting nature pictures, but with her face in a good portion of them. It was kind of annoying because it was almost like someone standing up in front of the television during a crucial scene. I wanted to see the beautiful scenery, or check the snow level conditions, and her big mug would be in them. The whole thing came across as, “Just look at me!” A little too narcissistic and trying to get attention in a way that the site was not really designed for. In fairness, she stopped doing a lot of that so I stopped saying much about it on here.

That was really before social media sites took off. What I was just talking about was the tip of the iceberg because now everyone is taking pictures of themselves constantly. Just last week I was walking along somewhere and I passed a family. The father said to everyone, “Time to take a selfie!” He proceeded to pull out the selfie stick and the family bent down for a picture.

My worst experiences with this sort of thing are when I am trying to take a picture of an animal at a zoo or aquarium. People will start jamming others to get as close as possible with their backs to the animal. Naturally, they are assuming the animal will cooperate which is a story in itself.

I understand the need people have for family pictures. I also understand the need to show those pictures to other family members and friends. However, I think we are overdoing it on this one. I feel sorry for people on sites like Instagram because all they know how to do is take self-portraits.

For all practical purposes, this site is anti-selfie. It has always been this way, and I intend to keep it that way. 

Btw, did you see the pictures above? Notice I didn’t pose in front of the camera for them? ;) 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reminder (Starting 2015 the Right Way)

My New Years Resolution: to be a better a person by finding faults in others. In other words, to be a better criticizer.

There is a certain irony in what I just stated, but I'll get to that in a few blogs I intend to be doing over the next month or so. I wanted to start getting back into a little bit of commentary on things that are bothering me in how the internet has become.

I'll be throwing in some pictures I took during the fall so things don't get too boring on here, but before I do that I want to stress that it is important that if you are new to my blog or have forgotten, then is important to read over the answers to questions I posted about two years ago:

Questions, Questions, Questions (blog link) 

The reason I had to do that was I started to get really tired of typing up the same type of responses to e-mail over the years. For a while it didn't bother me, but since I don't have all the time in the world I thought it would be better to do this as a type of FAQ. If the question has already been answered on there then don't expect a response from me by e-mail.

As I have stated over and over before, it does take me time to get to any e-mail sent to me regarding this blog. So, if I don't respond right away it is nothing personal. I know a lot of people expect instant responses, but I can't be that way. It depends on how my schedule is. Sometimes it can take a few days, a week, or longer if I have other real world issues that are a priority. 
Another important reminder is that you should not be sending anything to the old Hotmail account. I don't use it anymore. I said it a few times last year that I changed my e-mail due to a malware virus that got a hold of the e-mail and the addresses in it.

If you get anything from that e-mail address then you should delete it since it is not from me. A recent e-mail attributed to that address was sent to my yahoo address and a few friends told me about it as well. The funny thing is the e-mail said something about it being sent from my "iphone". I don't own an iphone! LOL!

Finally, the above pictures were all taken at Silver Lake on the June Lake Loop.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Ghost Mine Above Lee Vining

The Ghost of Christmas Past appears to have shown up for this video:

1)The Log Cabin Mine

So, it had been about nine years since I had been back to this mine. I’ll link to what I did then below, but this mine was one of my early blog entries going back to 2006. Over the years I have had some feedback about it or someone asking me if I had heard of this mine using a different name. I had known of it as the Simpson Mine which goes back a hundred years to the surname of who had the rights to the mine.
Over 40 years ago the Boy Scouts of America were given the property. So, one of the names I had been given was “The Boy Scout Mine”. Finally, “The Log Cabin Mine” is what it is known as today.
I knew the basic history of this mining area, but these names threw me off a little when people would ask me about it. There are signs off of Tioga Pass with those names, but I just wasn't making the connection and just had forgotten when people would ask me using those names. In any case, they all refer to the same place.

You can find more pictures I took here if you care to see more of them:

The Log Cabin Mine (Flickr)

Let me give you the quick version of this mine’s history.

Since the mine is a little out of the way from civilization on a rough road and at almost 10,000 ft. it does not get too many visitors. It’s protected by the government so that’s why it is still mostly intact with a lot of “junk” lying around. No, one cannot take anything.

It was the most productive gold mine in California from 1910 until World War 2. At that time the operations had to stop since gold was not allowed to be mined since silver, iron, and zinc were needed for the war effort. After the war the gold standard kept the price of gold so low that the expenses to keep the mine going outweighed any chance of making a profit. The mine was maintained with hope the day would come that the price of gold would go up. The property was eventually given to the Boy Scouts. During Nixon’s presidency the gold standard was lifted, but none of the companies that leased the mine from the Boy Scouts ever were successful. The U.S. Forest Service acquired the property in 1991, but there is still gold there.

My original blog entries on this one can be found here:
The Simpson Mine

If you have more interest in this one then a really easy to read book can be found on Amazon:
Gold Mine in the Sky

2)Blog Year in Review 2014

This is the lowest output I have ever had for this blog with only six entries this year. I could have even had one less had I thought I did not need to address the new e-mail issue. This is the way I like it these days. I want to focus on quality and not rush projects.

This was the first year I don’t think I ever went out actively looking for some movie location to go to. There are some spots that I want to visit, but that is a matter of being inspired to do that and hoping the conditions are right for that.

Even hiking this year was a let down. The Death Valley hike I posted about on Halloween was probably the highlight of the year for me, but I intended to do some others. One of the big problems I had was Yosemite was on fire again! It’s really frustrating to do all this planning over months to a year in advance and then that happens while I am there. I actually did do an easy mountain climb, but it’s not worth posting since the smoke was really bad when viewing from the top. I intended to go back and do it again, but then Yosemite had another fire so I just gave up.

So, I am kind of glad 2014 is over in this regard. When the conditions were that bad I just had to put my interests into other things. I believe I will have a little more activity in 2015 on here.

So, until then have a Happy New Year!

The music from that used for the video is Tempting Secrets and Satiate.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hunting a Bird in Death Valley (Halloween 2014)

Happy Halloween!

Since it is October 31st I planned something a little mysterious for you:

Since taking an HD video was why I did this hike again, I did not make as much an emphasis with taking pictures since I had already done that years ago. However, you can find all the pictures I took this time around at the following link:

The Death Valley Hike Pictures (Flickr)


I’ve think I have told the story of a few people that have commented to me or told me via e-mail that they think the hikes I do are okay, but they really just care about the movie locations I have shown. I don’t usually respond to something like that because my response would be something like, “Of course you don’t like the hikes I show because you can’t do them.” 

This is one of those hikes that I did that if you can’t find something interesting in it then I guess I just have to give up this blog for good. I mean, if you don’t like this one then I have two words for you, and they are not "Happy Birthday"! In my continuing quest for death deviance, I put my body and soul in an extreme harsh environment and there is indifference? What’s wrong with you people?!


If you have been around this blog long enough or looked at some of my earlier blog entries you probably recognized this one. I finally got to do this one again after years of wanting to do it one more time to get a better video of it. On my original Youtube channel I did an experimental three part video of this hike. It was first set of videos I really put a lot of effort into. I had some good ideas with it, and I guess it was okay for the early days of Youtube, but it had two issues with it that made it lack the style Youtube was and is known for. One would be that the quality was not all that great since the camcorder used tape to record. 

The other bigger issue was that it was just too long. Trimming and editing videos down has been a very important thing I have learned over the past few years. There are many videos I have done that are hard for me to watch now because I know I should have edited them down a lot more. In this video, I cut out a lot, but even so it is still quite long. 

The last half of the video was done in one take. That was something I had planned to do knowing it would be slightly shaky after a four hour hike to the spot and moving around on a dangerous incline. Yeah, I actually did fall down at one point, but I recovered pretty well. As I fell, I remembered to just protect the camcorder and kept going. Of course, all those years learning how to control my fall in martial arts training helped. 

Btw, the video was shot at 1080p at 60 fps. Please watch it at the best quality settings your system can handle. 

C)The Hike 

Since I had done this one before about eight years ago I kind of knew what to expect; I’ll link the blog entries for that hike that has my original thoughts from the first time below. My brother and I spent the night in Lone Pine. I wanted to spend the night in Trona (or Ridgecrest) since the drive to the trailhead would have been a lot more direct, but I found out the road from Trona to where we would start the hike was closed. So, our friends met us at Lone Pine early in the morning, and we drove to Towne Pass where the hike began. 

The video petty much shows you how it went. It took about 8 hours to get to the site and back. You can add on an extra thirty minutes for me since I was doing video and pictures there and back again. 

The ups and downs of the hike are still annoying. That 1,000 ft. of elevation gain coming back from the plane is rough, and I had forgotten about the difficulty of some of the terrain there. Since you know you have to do it to get out of there (no cell phone reception), we just kept plugging away until we reached Towne Summit again. It was still difficult from there, but at that point you know you can finish the hike. The final part coming down that wall you initially climb is probably the roughest part. It’s a lot hotter there, and the sagebrush/cactus plants attack your legs if you are not careful.

This time around I was not as dehydrated as the first time. There was some cloud cover at times to block the sun, but it was still a warm Death Valley day with the temperature being about 90 degrees. In any case, I was glad when it was over. 

D)The Albatross 

The actual goal of the hike and what makes it unique and mysterious is the plane crash itself. I covered that before, and you can read about it in the links I provided below. I think the general story is well known: this SA-16 aircraft attempted to fly from Idaho to San Diego, it was a C.I.A. aircraft, one of the engines malfunctioned, and the plane crashed where it is today, but somehow the crew all survived. 

In the book Grumman Albatross: a history of the Legendary Seaplane by Wayne Mutza there is a short section about this flight and crash. He seems to be skeptical of the idea that the pilot and crew jumped out of the plane and then the plane flew for around twenty miles to land mostly intact on the slope near Towne Summit. I can understand that skepticism, but I am almost equally skeptical of anyone being on that plane and not dying on impact. It’s almost a miracle in any case.

So, the sequence of events of what happened to that aircraft and crew as they flew over Death Valley is one of those mysteries I’m not sure we will ever know for sure. It sure would be fun to hear from one of those crew members if any are still alive. If anyone has anymore info out this or comes across unclassified information I am all ears, but it is not something I intend to pursue on my own. 

I hate to report that someone about a year ago did some graffiti by carving their intials/name and the date they were there into the side of the aircraft. WHY? I could probably shame them by mentioning who it was since I have pictures of the registry names in the survival cache left there, but I’ll stay away from that.

E)Closing Thoughts 

I was a little snotty/sarcastic above in my opening remarks, but I should make it clear that I don’t recommend people doing this hike. Unless you are well prepared and experienced in hiking scrambles in extreme environments do not even think about doing this one. They call this area Death Valley for a reason.

I’ll never do this hike again. If someone wants to fly me in and out on a helicopter then I might be willing, but I am done with this one. With that said, it is hikes like this that make this blog worthwhile. 

I do have alternative video footage I shot. I have a few ideas somewhere down the road I could put together for a more narrative approach. If I ever came across more information on this flight…It would be fun to actually fly around in a real SA-16...but I’m not in the mood to spend more of my time and money on this sort of thing. A lot of it depends on the interest I get on this one.

The original hike blogs:

The main historical account about the crash can be found HERE.

The following music was taken from for the video: Hitman, Opressive GloomTenebrous Brothers Carnival - Prelude.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Planet of the Apes Village (Malibu Creek State Park)

(GPS:  N34° 06.010 W118° 43.995)

Since the new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes movie opens tonight/tomorrow I thought I would show something from the original 1968 movie with Charlton Heston. I have hesitated showing this one for quite some time due to a few factors I mentioned on my last blog on here. There is nothing left there, and the area is not super scenic. Yet, I do like this area, and the fact the new movie has come out kind of inspired me. However, make no mistake, I don't believe what I am about to show is super impressive so take it for whatever it is worth.

This was the same day I visited where the farm was in Ride the High Country. Based on a mention in Medved's Hollywood Escapes book and a quick Google Earth view of the area prior to going I knew exactly where to go to get to the ape village in the original Planet of the Apes movie. So after doing what I needed to at the farm I headed north along a dirt road. After a few turns I ended up at the following:
The actual village site would have been where the two dirt roads intersect. If you look in the background you can see where the saddle of the mountains/hills connect. The big bushy tree in the background is the same one as in the movie from what I can tell, but is not helpful as the saddle in showing where the village was at. Btw, all the bushy type of trees on the left side of the picture are covering up where Century Lake would have been during the time of the movie. The lake is still around, but I don't think it goes out this far to the road anymore.
The above picture is taken from my camcorder. If you head down to where the ape village would have been and look to the right up this hillside gets you this perspective. Some of those bushes up above appear to be the same as during the time of the movie.

The above picture is turning around and looking at where the lower dirt road goes. You will notice the crags which are the clearest landmarks for letting one know it is the right area. This road takes you to where you can see Century Lake:
Unfortunately, when the state purchased the park they took down the ape village set. Malibu Creek State Park has other Planet of the Apes locations, and there is one more I wouldn't mind getting back there to do, but if and when I do is a different story.

I did a video for this one, again not super impressive, so take it for whatever it is worth:

Strolling Through Ape Village (Youtube Video)

However, if you would like to see some real apes in action, I also uploaded a fun video I had of me playing around with some of the baby chimps at the Los Angeles Zoo:

Dawn of the L.A. Chimps (Youtube)

Music used: Stoneworld Battle, Satiate Percussion, Winter Reflections, Return of Lazarus, Hidden Agenda, and Moonlight Hall.

Of course, if you would like to see the old blog I did at Point Dume for the ending of the original movie then go HERE.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How I Choose Locations (The Fun Creepy Easter Bunny Edition)

Happy Easter!

Although I am in serious mode here for this one, I wanted to lighten this up with the funny creepy Easter bunny. A little distraction which I’ll explain at end on this one.
I mentioned last time that I wanted to dedicate a blog entry to how I go about choosing which locations or hikes I do. I know I have talked about parts of this in the past, but I thought I would go over it again here. Let me start this off with a story.

Years ago, not too long after the blog really started, I got a reader who enjoyed what I was doing and kept asking me when I would put up a future film location I had talked with him about. It was one that I eventually intended to do since I had pictures and video, but it was not one that I was super excited about. Why was I not too excited about it? Well, it is one of those that you know you are in the right area, but there is nothing too spectacular about it.

When I eventually did get it up he was a lot more excited about than I was. He then “challenged” me to find the location of one crucial scene at the end of a movie. I eventually watched the movie ending to see why he wanted me to do it. The scene was a good exciting one, but there was a problem. First, there were a lot of quick edits. However, the real problem was, after looking into where it was filmed, that all that appears to remain is some empty fields. So, basically, the guy wanted me to drive a few hundred miles to take pictures and video of some open fields.

That’s not really the way I work, nor do I just go somewhere for the sake of going somewhere. There are certain things I look for when I decide I am going to some location. Let me mention a few of them.

At the very top of the blog I say, “explore artwork done in nature.” I’ve always meant that to be somewhat ambiguous. The obvious thing one would think is I am referring to human created films done outdoors. That’s partly true, but the bigger picture is I am talking about the beauty of nature itself. The handiwork that has gone into making the rocks, rainbows, mountains, rivers, clouds, valleys, etc. as powerful and beautiful to behold.

So, that is a major part of the decision in trying to figure out what I want to do. Is something I visit going to give me that sense of “WOW!” Some places I have visited have done that more than others for me. One of the really powerful things is being on top of a mountain looking down for miles and miles around. The majesty or transcendence I have encountered climbing certain mountains is not something that I think can be expressed in videos or pictures. While I attempt to try doing that on here I know I can never capture that 1st person perspective unless one experiences it him/herself.

When it comes to film locations its not enough for me to go to just anywhere a film was made. There still has to be some “wow” factor as far as what scenery was used. For me it’s not really about nostalgia, going to where some actor has been, or even posting “then and now” pictures. Those are not major influences on how I have gone about doing things on here. Those aspects are on here, but its not really what inspires me.
The second part of what I think about in trying to decide which locations to show on here is how unique the location is. Is it something out of the ordinary? Normally, I don’t like to show places that have tons of people around. Why? Because in that case the location is pretty well known. Which means that there are probably tons of pictures and video on all the social media sites out there. Anybody can do that. I try to avoid places I just drive to, get out of the car, point and click. The most rewarding places I have been to are the ones that are much more remote that takes some work to get to. Usually, that is by foot as well.

The third issue I am thinking about, especially when talking about film locations, but it also applies to history sites, is how important the scene was in the movie. Obviously, if a major action scene took place that will probably capture my attention more than just a scene of dialogue. For example, a western movie gunfight spot is usually interesting to me, while a love scene done under a tree not so. Likewise with history, if the spot is of historical significance fine, but if it is just a case of some historical person walked down this road everyday I’ll pass.

Of course, if the movie is important to me then the more I care. In the past, I have had people wanting me to do more for a couple of movies and, as much as I hate to say it, I did not share the enthusiasm they did for the movie. There are a lot of transition scenes in movies I tend not to show on here because of this. I will say that there are some movies that I don’t think are really that great, but there might be one scene in it that was filmed in a really cool way that cause me to search it out.

So, those are the three big criteria I am thinking about when I decide to both visit a location and what I post on here. I’ve been to some places that I just didn’t think were worth posting about. Last weekend I revisited the Baden-Powell Mt. hike which I like to do just as a elevation training hike. I think I have shown the mountain from the distance and a hike at the base of it, but never that hike itself. It just is not that impressive to me to show on here.
Since it is Easter and lots of kids will be looking for those eggs today, I thought I would throw out one other thing that has always interested me about what I have done on here. Many times I have had an image in my head from some movie or a picture of some place, yet I did not know exactly where it was at. I could be at home thinking about it, then I could be out on the field looking for it. I can’t figure out how this could be. Then at the right moment something happens and there is an epiphany. “I’m in the right spot! Oh wow! I’ve just gained an insight about the universe!” More could be said about that, but I'll leave that one for now.

About the Easter Bunny story, I do see rabbits a lot where I live. It’s not too uncommon, but a white one is a different story. I came home from an evening walk about a week ago. I saw this white rabbit, but at the time I thought it was some toy on my yard some kid left behind. Then I saw it eating grass about 20 feet away from me. I wanted to get a picture of it so I went inside my place and got a point and click camera. Unfortunately, I don’t use this camera very much at night so I was fumbling around with the controls trying to figure out how to turn on the flash. Then, the next thing I knew is I nearly jumped as the little creature was at my feet. It proceeded to run around me a bunch of times. At this point, I was pretty sure it was someone’s pet since it didn‘t appear to be that afraid of me by getting this close. I wanted to pet it since it was attempting to be friendly, but decided against it for possibly health issues. I did give it some small carrots I had which it did eat, but I was told after that might not have been the best thing for it…oh well, if it was good enough for Bugs Bunny…it did eat them all.

Afterwards I was looking at the pictures and they kind of creeped me out a bit. You know, white rabbits like that are pretty darn creepy. The fires of hell were in those eyes! So, I had to rewatch some of my favorite rabbit scenes that night:

Monty Python Holy Grail Rabbit Scene:

The ultra weird David Lynch Rabbits:

Of course, there is always an article like this every year: