Relocating from Chicago to Philadelphia was bittersweet. It's been a few weeks now and it was definitely the right decision, but Chicago had become home for the last couple of years. It was very enjoyable for me to stroll the little over a mile from our apartment in Bucktown to my shared office space in Logan Square. I made the walk nearly everyday and I got very used to what I saw as I walked northwest up Milwaukee Avenue. So during my last week making that walk I tried to really take in, and of course document all the cool little vignettes that I passed. Here is my walk to work; pictorially.
My friend Miklos is an amazing guy. He's a sculptor and a fantastic cook. This year he finally took me with him on an annual foraging expedition. Our prey was stealthy. We went foraging for morel mushrooms in the wilds of Illinois. I won't say exactly where we did it, as foraging grounds are a prized and guarded secret, but i will say that we were mighty successful. We found lots of mushrooms and had a ton of fun doing it.
Being back in Chicago has been good. Well, in most ways it has been good. In one very prominent way it has been bad, which is to say cold. This has been the worst winter Chicago (and the rest of the country) has seen in years. I had the chance to escape the cold for a few days for a great shoot down in Houston, but the rest of the time we've just been enduring it. On one particularly cold day Sarah and I went down to the edge of Lake Michigan to see what a 92% frozen lake looks like. In a word, beautiful. It almost made the frostbitten ears worth it.
Once Sarah and I left Los Angeles, the goal was to get back to Chicago as quickly as possible. Despite not wanting to get back to the worst winter in Chicago in decades, we had a job to get to in New York. We decided to fly rather than risk getting stuck in the snow with Timmy so we had to drop him off in Chicago first and make our flights. The last several days were longer with an average of 8-10 hours of driving a day, but we did manage to stop at a couple of cool places like The Salton Sea and Petrified National Forest for picnics and photos.
On our recent road trip, hands down our favorite part of this trip was the four days we spent driving down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco down to Los Angeles. The route took us through Monterey, which is now one of our favorite places on earth since it is where Sarah and I got engaged, and through Big Sur, another of our favorite places because it is simply amazing. It's so incredible to have majestic redwood forests adjacent to beautiful beaches. And, 70 degrees in January was a bit better than the slew of plolar vortices that were attacking Chicago.
Sarah and I had far too little time to spend in Death Valley National Park on our recent cross country trek. Sarah and I plan to make another trip there dedicating an entire week to it. We stayed at Furnace Creek Resort where we enjoyed having a drink at the bar and chatting with fellow travelers. It was here that we learned that the winter weather and road conditions were going to prevent us from making it to Yosemite. We only had time for one early morning at Zabriskie Point and a leisurly drive through the valley. On the drive we stopped on the highway for 10 minutes watching two coyotes that were strolling alongside of the road. At one point I had Sarah let me out of the car so I could run several hundred feet up hill to photograph the valley below and Timmy the Trailer driving through it. Sarah subsequently got yelled at by the park rangers for stopping on the highway, so she had to keep driving down the road leaving me in the dust. I was out of breath running to catch up with her. Worth it.
Sand Hollow State Park in Southern Utah was a wonderful accidental find. On the drive toward California from Monument Valley, we needed a nice place to rest for the night and found it in a google search. It ended up being one of our favorite spots of the trip. It didn't hurt that it was beautiful and warm with a crisp blue sky.
Monument Valley was near the top of my list of places to visit on our camper trip. I've rarely been anywhere so iconic and yet full of history. I was very excited to introduce Sarah to it. I had not been there since a road trip i took close to twenty years ago. It was even more spectacular than I remembered. I wanted to try and take photos that aren't the typical shot you see from this heavily photographed spot.
While in Red Rock Park we went on a lovely hike and were followed every step of the way by our little canine pal Rosie. We were trying to get up to Church Rock, but we found some patches of snow and ice thwarting our progress. We did, however, get some great views of it from the next butte over.
One of our favorite accidental discoveries was Red Rock Park in Gallup NM. After an aborted attempt to camp at another park that left a lot to be desired, Sarah's keen eye caught a sign for Red Rock from the highway. The folks running the park were friendly and full of stories and the setting among the, you guessed it, red rocks was spectacular.
We finally got away from the snow and salted roads. The first real leg of our trip started with a car wash and then took us through some amazingly beautiful country, including a wind farm out in the boonies and the stunning Lake Meredith National Recreation Area.
The Lewis Clark Valley is on the border of Washington and Idaho and is where the Snake and Clearwater rivers confluence. We went for a drive "up river", which is to say up the Snake River to where it meets the Grand Ronde River. It was very peaceful and I wish we had had more time. Next time we are going back in the summer.
After shooting an ad for Subaru in New York a couple of weeks ago (which was delayed by severe weather) Sarah and I started to drive from NYC back to Chicago. En route we hit even more severe weather. 35mph on the freeway with poor visibilty is not my favorite way to travel. Once the sun went down we got off the road. Welcome to Sandusky OH. While stuck in Sandusky we did a quick rewrite of our upcoming travel plans. The holidays would now be filled with a railway adventure. After that we will be taking our trailer Timmy on the road (if once again the weather doesn't thwart us). Stay tuned here as well as follow our travel blog Eric & Sarah Go Places for more about this adventure. In the meantime, here are some beautiful stark landscapes from our layover in Sandusky.
On the border of Kentucky and Tennessee is a fantastic place called The Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area. It is well worth exploring if you have a few days. In the center of it, just on the Tennessee side is a working 19th century farm known as the Homeplace. It is like stepping back in time. It actually made me want to live a more rural lifestyle. Maybe someday, we'll see.