Monday, September 03, 2012

Why I Hate Yosemite and What is Killing the Internet

Actually, I don’t really hate Yosemite, nor do I believe that the internet is going to be dying. I’ve been reflecting over the past year on why I have burned out on a lot of things I used to like about being online. I think I have a better understanding now than I did a few years ago. Some of you that I have corresponded with by e-mail already know where this is going.

About a month ago I was at the summer home and my brother wanted to do some hikes in Yosemite. The last time I went inside the park, not just crossing over a mountain side or pass, I was not very happy about how that turned out which I blogged about at the time. Some years have passed since then, but the memories remain, and I did not like how we were treated there. Some of the hikes we did will come out at some point on here, but we did take a day to go into the valley. You get seven days when you acquire a pass at one of the gates so we wanted to take advantage of that on one of those days.

When we first got into the valley it was rather dry, warm, and mostly brown looking. The main waterfalls were practically all, if not completely, dry. We ended up taking a bus tour to Glacier Point. Looking back it might have been a better idea to drive ourselves, but I wanted to give my brother a break and not drive another hour.

Well, right away after we ordered our tickets there was some confusion as to what bus we were supposed to be on. We knew where to go, but the ticket agency and the bus drivers were not in sync on this. They kept telling us different things. As I went into this crowded bus we were forced to sit separately, I started to develop a bad mood, and realized this was probably not a good idea. The bus driver started talking to all of us on the bus, but I quickly realized this crowd was not lively at all. I kind of felt bad for the bus driver because it felt like no one wanted to be in that bus. In any case, off we went.

He told us some history, the origins of Yosemite, and other stories. I followed what he was saying, but I could understand if someone was bored with what was said. I got to see a little, but not as much as I would have liked from that seat in the back. Blah, blah, blah, etc. We finally got to Glacier Point.
We got there early that morning so the sun was not completely overhead. There had been some smoke due to lightning strikes so there was some haze in the air. In fact, there was smoke from a strike near the Mist Trail just outside the lower right side of my picture when we were there. Had we been there a few hours later my pictures would look different. I wasn’t trying to duplicate Ansel Adams here with the black and white look. Although I knew based on his pictures in Yosemite, what I had would look a lot better this way than with color. So, this is why I did a few tweaks in photoshop.

Now I have to admit the internet does not need more pictures like the ones I am posting on here. It is a great view, and I will give you that, but pictures like this have become what I call “token” shots. It is such a tourist spot that millions of people have come by here to take pictures of this. The uniqueness is not there that I like to strive for on this blog.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past year or two I have been standing next to a stranger as they say how they are going to post this on facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. People are flooding the internet with a lot of the same stuff over and over. It started to hit me more and more in the past two years that the online-world has become a little too cookie-cutter for me. The creativity is not out there like it used to be. I’ve just gotten to the point where nothing really surprises me anymore. Everything is a little too predictable with people stating the obvious 50,000 times. Like any genre, be it the movie western or types of music, the more it oversaturates the market it eventually gets to the point where people have to move on to something else.

It was always bothering me why sites like Youtube kept changing (and still do) their features every six months to a year against the wishes of the users. I think part of the problem is the concern the public is going to get bored and look for the next fad. Vimeo did something like this recently too which I will get back to at the end of this.

All of this is reminder of why I have enjoyed hiking in the quiet areas of the back country. When I was in Yosemite Valley I felt like I was walking through Wal-Mart. Too many people! I feel bad for the people that come from other countries and think this is where they have to go. I don’t think they are getting a true Sierra wilderness experience.

So, when we came out of Yosemite Valley (and Glacier Point) I did not have that feeling of satisfaction I do hiking out somewhere in the Eastern Sierra. On that tour bus you can go up to Glacier Point and walk down back to the valley. We thought about it, but just decided to come back on the bus so we could spend more time in the valley before we left. There was a young lady with friends who said that was boring and that she was going to “hike” back down to the valley. She did not say that to us directly, but if she did I would have ripped her a new one for that. Down-hiking a few thousand feet back to the valley is not what I would call a hike. The real hike would have been coming up from below. Then again, most of the hikes inside of Yosemite I do not really think are that impressive, but I did get one in that I liked. Of course, I love the stuff that just borders Yosemite on the east side which is totally different than what I am referring to.

So, those are my main thoughts on the current state of things. Take it for whatever it is worth.

Let me give an update on a few things:
1)I really meant to have a few more videos up this summer. I started editing before the summer began, but never uploaded any. They are done, and are ready to go. Most are just old footage from the old camcorder; mostly remakes of things I have done before. Be sure to check the Youtube channel in the next few weeks for this since I will not update them on this blog. I will announce them on Twitter though.

2)Vimeo shot themselves in the foot with me. My paid subscription ends tomorrow. I don’t like how they have changed the video viewing to a full screen. The only way I could use it like I used to would be to embed it on here for each video, and I am not doing that. If they make the necessary changes then I will purchase another year from them, but at this point my money goes elsewhere. So, as much as I hate to say this, you are probably better off going to my Youtube channels right now.

3)I have started going to a few new and old movie and hike locations with the new camcorder. At some point I will start mixing in the new camcorder videos, but at the same time still upload some of the older footage at times.

4)Again, don’t expect me to come up with blogs every week like I have done in the past. Blogs will come, but at a slower pace which will keep me refreshed. At some point I will open up the comments on new blogs again, but I am not in a hurry on that. One thing I am not sure everyone realizes is that I get tons of e-mails. Not just from the blog, but the more I blog the more I get. Sometimes I think people see something I did 1-2 years ago on here and e-mail me as if I just put it up last week. It gets worse the older in the archives people go. Other times I feel like I created a second job for myself that I do for free.

That should cover it. I feel much, much better than I did a couple of months ago. Whatever I had took about five to six months of my life from me. This summer was just about getting back into reasonable shape. So, I was not as hardcore in what I did, but it was fun.

When you have time be sure to check these out:

Blue Whale Breaching Competition

The Day of the Fin Whale

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Devil's Doorway (The Iverson Ranch Series)

(GPS: N34 16.525 W118 36.600)

Like I lot of places I have covered on this blog in the past, this is another one that I had hoped to have up a long time ago, but never did. My trips to Iverson Ranch go much further back than this blog, but back in those days I was not as "hardcore" about hunting these places down as I have become over the years. This is one of those spots that I was always trying to get good pictures and footage of, but never did.

How come? The lighting I had was never really that good during the time of the year I would go. I would get there early so there would be too much shade or the sun would not be overhead. One time I shot okay video there, but then a month or two later I got a new camcorder so I would just tell myself I would go back for better footage. Then the next time I would go and the wind would be really bad with garbage cans falling over on the streets. I was tempted to post that footage just to show the crazyness of it. Even with this "latest footage" from a year or two back I just sat on it thinking I might go back to Iverson again. Well, enough is enough, lets just do it now.

So, walking down one of the side streets with all the condos around one can see this big rock ahead. It has been seen in old b-movies, but you have to look for it. I've got a story about the condo on the left, but I'll get to that in a moment. The key here is to walk to the end of the street you see and turn right.This is known as the Devil's Doorway. It is an arch hat still exists today, and both sides have been used in lots of old b-westerns and serials. This next photo is from Buster Keaton's Three Ages silent movie. Here Buster Keaton's character runs over the top of the big rock avoiding the other caveman.Here is how it looks these days. If you look carefully through the archway you will notice a condo on the other side. In the Days of Jesse James, Roy Rogers, Gabby Hayes, and others went through the arch to avoid being chased.Gene Autry used it to slip away in Oh! Susanna.Looking directly through it. Lots of other examples could be listed of movies and serials that used it. I show a few others in the video.

Before I post the video links I thought I would tell the story about what happened as I was doing the video of this area the last time I was there. I made the trip, and the first thing I did was walk right to this spot. With no hesitation I started making the video. I knew what needed to be done and what needed to be said as I am usually well prepared when making videos of places I have been to before. Within about 30 seconds of me doing the first take a dog started barking, and the garage door about 15 feet behind me went up! The guy who lived there pulled out with his car, and offered to sell me the rocks if I could find a way to transport them. We both agreed that might be a little tough. He was a friendly guy, but it kind of spooked me. That's one of those things that I have always explained about why I don't enjoy going to Iverson Ranch as much as other places: everything is a little cramped and you quite literally have your back against people's property. I added some of that footage with the dog barking and the garage door going up at the end of the video for fun. You wouldn't know it from watching it as I completely shut up at that time, but that is what happened.

The Devil's Doorway (Youtube Version)

The Devil's Doorway (Vimeo Version)