Viva la France! Road-trip Foolishness Pt. 4: Tours, Cher River, & Auvergne

If you are ever crazy enough to take a road-trip through France, a good place to stop is Tours. It’s known for the Loire River Valley, which a lot of people stop through to see all kinds of fantastic castles. For us, Tours was a stop between traveling from Mont Saint Michel to Marseilles.

We got in to Tours from MSM at about 7PM, where we found our AirBnB and crashed for the night. The next day we decided to go exploring, walking around and getting lost. We stopped in some small mall to look for a swimsuit and some tennis shoes, and we found the Cathedrale Saint-Gatien, which was one of the most beautiful churches I have been in.

My group and I wanted to see some sort of castle, but we weren’t too keen on doing a castle tour. I looked into our options and I found the perfect thing– kayaking around Chateau de Chenonceau. We booked in advance with Canoe Company. Now, they don’t really have online booking, but if you are traveling internationally and email in advance, they will reserve a spot for you and you can pay on arrival.

We really had a magical kayaking trip down the Cher River. We arrived at around 4PM and the four of us were split into two canoes. The trip towards the chateau was really funny, as we were shit-talking each other and kinda racing. I say kinda because we were actually a hot-mess, trying to coordinate our paddling to move forward. One of the highlights was when we got up to the chateau and were able to kayak underneath it and back. IT WAS SO BALLER.

On our way back, we noticed a field of sunflowers on the shore. We dragged our canoes up the bank and spent a good amount of time frolicking, taking lots of pictures and avoiding bumble bees. The sun was beginning to set so the light was perfect. To top it all off, hot-air balloons were inflating in the distance. It was one of those afternoons where things just got better and better, where everything felt like a dream and my non-stop smile made my face ache in a pleasant way.

Once we docked, we headed back to our AirBnB where pasta was made, laundry was finished, and sleeping commenced. We woke up very early the next morning for our 9-hour drive to the south coast of France and to the gorgeous city of Marseilles– but before we get there, I have to tell you all about a little place off of the beaten path in Auvergne.

Our half-way marker was at the Jonas Caves in Saint-Pierre-Colamine. The caves, also known as Grottes de Jonas, were an ancient troglodyte village back in the 14th century. It was a bit of a drive up the mountains to get to it, but it was so neat to get out of the car, stretch our legs, and explore caves that people used to sleep, eat, bake their bread, and die of the plague in. There were stairs and doorways and windows and lots of picture opportunities. Additionally, there were faux animals along the mountainside, so if you’re into kitsch, 10/10 highly recommend.

If you decide to visit, know that there is a chance no one will speak English. When my group and I went, the lady at the tour office spoke only French, and the signs on the pathway were also in French. It was fine for my group, since 3/4 of us spoke the language. However, it’s very easy to mime wanting a ticket (which was like 3 euros.) Even though you may not be able to understand the signs, it is still a really cool experience and if you’re like me and crazy about photo ops, there are plenty to be had.

So that is the half-way point of our road trip across France. Keep an eye out for our adventures in Marseilles, Chamonix, and finally Lyon.

Safe Travels and Happy Shooting!

 

Embarrassing America, Pt. 3: Nevada is the Actual Worst, Glacier National Park, and Some Rock Heads

Oh, Nevada. I had no idea how useless you were.

(No offense, to those who live in Nevada. At least you have Las Vegas?)

We drove and drove and drove through Nevada, looking for gas, food, civilization, anything. There was nothing. We started to play a game: Ways to Die in The Middle of Nowhere, Nevada. We were getting very creative with how to end ourselves, should we be stuck in this desert purgatory. (We came up with 36 ways to die, for the record.)

Finally we found a place to stop for gas, in a little city town village place called Middlegate, Population 18 17. The town was a gas station at the side of the road and a sketchy motel. They had newspaper clippings from the civil war framed in the bathroom. It was that kind of place. So, lemmie tell you, we were more than relieved to get to Idaho and sleep that nightmare of a state off.

When we got up the next day, we powered our way through Idaho and Montana, and after a series of stops and wrong banana peeling (I’m looking at you, Sean,) we made it to Glacier National Park.

To be honest, we really struggled the first 24 hours we had in Glacier. We came just before the start of the season, so almost everything was closed. We got in to the park in the early evening and were hungry, and couldn’t find a place to eat, save for the random fancy restaurant where the cheapest meal we could get was $25. We were too poor for that, so we ran before the waitress could even give us water. We weren’t prepared for a $25 chicken strip.

What made up for our repetitive faux-pas was Montana itself. They call it “Big Sky Country” for a reason. It’s absolutely breathtaking, and a place I could totally live… If they had more than one Starbucks in the entire state.

But they did have a rainbow, so that’s a win from me.

We also needed firewood, and a tarp, and a lantern… It was much colder in Glacier than Yosemite, so when we woke up the next morning in a puddle from the rain the previous night, we were miserable. And nothing was open. So we did a lot of driving to get what we needed, acquired firewood and a tarp, and made it all work out in the end. We finally got to go hiking after spending most of our first day there trying to get our bearings, but after that was smooth sailing (or should I say hiking?)

Also Sean is a lumberjack.

We were very excited to see snow at Glacier. Granted it was still late May/early June so it wasn’t too surprising, but still neat just the same. This was my second time in Glacier National Park, and I still loved every moment of it. My favorite was Avalanche Lake, which was a super easy hike with a super gorgeous pay off in the end. I even made a deer friend– a little prince of the forest. It was a really lovely time. 10/10 highly recommend.

After our adventures in Glacier came to an end, we headed back east to our lonely, boring lives. On the way back we stopped at Mount Rushmore, which was rad. I seriously loved it. Yes, I know, it’s just a bunch of rocks that were carved into heads and yes it may be one of the tackiest, self-important things in the country, but you know what? I too am tacky and self-important, so that’s why I loved it. I live for this kind of tasteless thing. It was really neat, and a good way to end our trip (well, we did drive 14 more hours after this, so it wasn’t really the end, but… It was a good send off.) I think my favorite part about Mount Rushmore was the older gentleman who I photographed– well, I photographed his cool backpack, that had different patches from national parks. I asked him if I could take his picture and he told me “This is my better side anyway.”

Okay, old man. You’re classy.

It’s been like a month since the end of my trip and I’m still pining away for the mountains and my friends. I miss them terribly, and I can’t wait for my next adventure. I am truly happiest when I am traveling and taking pictures, so if you need me I’ll be on pinterest updating my travel board until my next journey.

Happy Shooting!

Snapchat Adventures to, in, and from New Orleans

My snapchat adventures continued on my trip to New Orleans for the SPE National Conference. My mom and uncle tagged along, and, well, it was an interesting road trip.
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We started in Michigan obviously and took a full day to drive through Ohio, Kentucky, and part of Tennessee. We stopped for the night in Nashville, ate at the Hard Rock Cafe (because tourism, duh,) and went to bed. We woke up, hopped in the car, drove about two hours and then had a four hour excursion through a ton of antique shops, because my mother and I have a problem.

I’m telling you, if you don’t go to antique stores, you are seriously missing out on some beautifully strange things.

Well, we finally left Alabama and got into Mississippi around dusk, and man… Mississippi is actually the worst state. Worse than Ohio. It smells funny, the roads are super dark at night, there are NO lights basically ANYWHERE, exits are few and far between, and when there are exits, the towns look so spooky you’d think Freddy lived there or something. So yeah, Mississippi? No bueno. If you’re from Mississippi, mad props to you, but sorry not sorry on my opinion of your poor, poor state.

But yeah, we got to Louisiana, checked into our fancy Motel 6, and crashed.

Only to wake up hella early the next day, because I had one day to do some sightseeing. So our marathon through New Orleans happened.

My adventures through New Orleans ended with an SPE related event, which was a lecture at the New Orleans Museum of Art by JERRY UELSMANN.

If you are unfamiliar with this amazing soul, go educate yourself.

He is one of the founding members of the Society for Photographic Education, and he is a charismatic speaker and has endless wit. I bought his book after and had him sign in, and he signed it TWICE. His reason? He didn’t like how the first signature looked. I love that man.

He asked if I was a student, and I told him yes. He said that he was too, and that it was important to never stop learning. I couldn’t agree more.

I went to bed on cloud 9 and woke up and spent the next 3 days above the clouds. SPE was incredible. I met some incredible people like Olivia Parker, Anne Noble, and faculty from Columbia College Chicago, Judy Natal and Ross Sawyers. It was a wonderful time, and I’m already looking forward to the Regional Conference this Fall.

And that was New Orleans. After a brief trip to the cemetery, we headed back to Michigan. In one go. Because we are insane.

Also, how creepy is that abandoned Toys R Us? It was down the road from our classy hotel accommodations.

And that is my snapchat adventures for New Orleans. I’m not traveling anywhere for a while, so the snapchat streak is coming to a temporary end. Thanks for browsing my selfies and bad jokes; I’m sure you weren’t avoiding anything important.

Happy Shooting!

New Orleans in 35mm

I went on a wonderful trip to New Orleans, Louisiana over my spring break for the national Society for Photographic Education conference. And, of course, I brought a few cameras with me, one of those being the camera I take with me everywhere, the Fuji Natura Classica.

So, here are some pictures from that wonderful 35mm film camera.

I started taking pictures in Nashville, and continued into Alabama, Mississippi, and of course, Louisiana. Getting down to New Orleans was quite the trip (because it literally was, y’know, a trip,) and I made sure to pull out my camera or my iPhone (do it for the snapchats!) whenever it was fitting.

I think some of the best places to take pictures are antique shops. We stopped at a few in Alabama (our butts were hurting from the driving, so we needed to walk it off and go on a treasure hunt in the process,) and man, you can find the coolest and weirdest stuff. I found a flashgun for my Polaroid Automatic 100 at one, so I’m looking forward to trying that out.

Actually, the southern United States are interesting in general. You should go if you’ve never been, and the rest stops are wayy nicer than they are in the north. They have security and everything, if you can imagine that.

Because rest stop areas are obviously the most important thing on any journey.

At least they are when you live in Michigan, and most of the rest areas look like a place where Freddy is hiding in the forest… Can’t really rest at those rest stops without sleeping with one eye open.

Well, that’s all for this installment of my trip to NOLA. Keep an eye out for some medium format prints, digital photos, and snapchats!

Happy Shooting!

New Orleans Cemetery #3

I had a very limited time in New Orleans. Of the four and a half days I was there, I had one day to sight-see. That day, my family and I went around the French Quarter and took one of those bus tours around the city. It was really nice, getting a crash course on New Orleans. We stopped at Cemetery #3, but were only allowed ten minutes to explore. So, naturally, I wanted to come back.

The day we were leaving we woke up at 6AM so I could go take pictures at the cemetery before driving alllll the wayyyy back to Michigan. If that’s not familial love, I dunno what is.

So, we went, and spent an hour walking around. I took a lot of pictures with my Lomo Fuji Instax Mini, and got to do some double exposures with it. It’s a neat little camera. I also took a lot with my medium format (my pitiful Voigtlander,) which I need to get developed. I love that camera because of the antique aesthetic is gives my images. Wow, that was a very hipster thing of me to say.

But yeah, antique? Old graves? I’m into that.

STORY TIME.

So my mom and I were walking at the edge of the cemetery, where there were these sort of tombs in the wall– think morgue, but lots of them. So we’re walking along, taking pictures because that’s not disturbing to do in a cemetery, and we start to hear this knocking sound. My mom and I looked at each other, made a “no freaking way there is not someone knocking in that wall” face, laughed at the ridiculousness of that idea, and continued taking pictures.

But the knocking sound continued. After a while my mom and I were like “okay, this isn’t funny,” and we were the only people we saw in the cemetery. So, who was knocking?

We weren’t going anywhere in a hurry, until I finally said, “THIS IS WHY PEOPLE DIE IN HORROR MOVIES.”

So, yeah. We left that place reallllll quick after that conclusion.

If you’re ever in New Orleans, I recommend Cemetery #3. The more famous ones are #1 and #2, but if you’re not in the mood for crowds, #3 is less visited by the touring masses.

Just. If you hear knocking… run.

Happy Shooting!