Archive for the ‘ Connected Documentary ’ Category

Cambria to Monterey

Cambria to Monterey: 103 miles

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I woke up to a foggy Monday morning in Cambria but Tim the innkeeper informed me that the fog would blow away by 10am. I had coffee and some chocolate chip muffins I packed myself and headed to San Simeon and Hearst Castle.

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The road footage of the previous day was garbage so I made a few modifcations to the camera setup and it worked great. It was a short 10 miles to Hearst Castle so I got there on the very first tour of the day.

Hearst Castle and William Hearst is the inpsiration for Orson Welles’ classic, Citizen Kane. Sadly I missed the evening screening of the film at Hearst Castle last Friday but today will do.

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The castle was donated by the Hearst Corporation to the State of California in 1957 and is now managed by the California State Parks. They do still own the surrounding land where Black Angus cows graze along with zebras who are descendants of the exotic animals that Hearst once populated the area with.

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The house was a continuos project of Hearst and architect Julia Morgan.

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I’ll save the details about the tour for the documentary but on with the road. It was 10am by the time I got back to car and started to set the car back up. Not far from San Simeon are Elephant Seal colonies where I stopped by and took some pictures and video before I set on for the challenge of the day. Big Sur.

Big Sur is the most exciting and deadliest part of California 1 that requires you to check road conditions before setting off as there could be landslides. The fog had moved inland and roads were dry and the sun was out which made for an excellent day to drive up.

The road winds it’s way along the California coast with tight switchbacks and hairpin turns with a suggested speed limit of 20mph. But with the car I was driving I could make the turns at 35-40mph.

Throughout this part of the trip, there were three times where traffic was controlled due to construction. One of the things to keep in mind about the highway is your rearview mirror. There are numerous turnouts for slower cars to use to let faster cars through. Sadly, many drivers don’t know this thus making the trip a lot longer than it should.

After passing these vehicles eventually, it was now time to take note of the damage on the road. Orange traffic cones line the edges of highway marking places where rock slides had destroyed the road recently and taking the steel barriers with it. A huge bridge construction effort is underway thus making us wait for at least 15 minutes before we could pass.

Just last year, the road was closed for seven months due to damage. It’s a sad reality that such a beautiful road is being reclaimed by the sea.

The Mazda RX-3 2012 base model worked perfectly. The front wheel drive of the car enabled ease of turning the corners and just having fun.

California 1 is not a place you would want to drive during the summer. The road is filled with people going back and fourth along with numerous bike tourers. Most bike tours go from north to south which to predominantly downhill coupled with favorable tail winds and the coast on your side, thus making a perfect ride. Being on a bike also provides the opportunity to experience the road like no other. You can stop in the middle of Bixby Bride and enjoy the view. Something you can’t do in car. It’s something I’d like to do but I’ll get into shape first before trying this out. Michael Ballard over at crazyguyonabike.com has a great journal on his trip down the coast in 2010.

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I hit Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey around lunch time and proceeded to Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach is home to the famous 17 Mile Drive and Golf Course. It’s a private area thus requiring all vehicles to pay $9.50 to take in the scenery. Bikes get in for free. No motorcycles though.

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The views here are amazing as the Pacific waves crash on the jagged rocks of Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach is also home to the world’s most photographed tree. The Lone Cypress tree which is estimated to be 250 years old is also the trademarked tree of Pebble Beach thus making it illegal to photograph the tree for commercial purposes. The tree is actually being held in place by steel cables to prevent it from falling into the ocean. At least the cables aren’t that visible.

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I drove into the tourist area of Moneterey and checked in for the night.

Not far from Monterey is Salinas, birthplace of John Steinbeck and home to the Laguna Seca Racing circuit. But it is over in Monterey where Steinbeck made famous the Cannery Row, where fishing boats that netted the waters of Moneterey Bay docked and sardines were packed until over fishing killed the industry. Now all that remains is a tourist row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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I’ve never been to the aquarium before so I made it a point to visit on this trip. It’s not Sea World, but the collection is still amazing. Their collection of jellyfish and sea horses is just stunning. The aquarium highlights the biodiversity of the Monterey coast (which by the way is a protected area that stretches all the way to San Simeon).

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After I had cioppino for lunch the rain and the wind started to come in. I then made my way to San Francisco up along the 1 since it was a weekday and I knew the traffic that was ahead of me as I drove up the peninsula. This version of the documentary will end here but I will keep adding on to it as I come across more stories and information about the coast.

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Santa Monica to Cambria

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So my journey begins on the part of California 1 on Santa Monica beach. Let’s get an overview of the purpose of trip. Two years ago I fell in love with the road here in California. It provided amazing landscapes and driving opportunity that made me want to make this. My dream is to eventually photograph/ document various coastlines along the Pacific Ocean.

Santa Monica Pier

The Pacific Coast Highway is a an All-American Road, the other one is Route 66. Highway 1 shares it with the US 101 and even Interstate 5 at some points. But the most beautiful parts of California 1 is part where I’m driving tomorrow, the area between Big Sur and Monterey.

But for today, it’s from Santa Monica to Cambria.

With gas prices at an al time high, hybrid cars were nowhere to be found at the Hertz rental. I was shocked that they offered a Hyundai as a replacement. I know it’s a great car and great gas mileage. But seriously?!?. So I went for the Mazda RX-3 sedan version. My friend had this car and it was awesome and so was this one. Very sporty and even has a manual transmission option should I want it. Yes please.

Cameras used for this are the Sony NEX C3, Panasonic Lumix LX-5 and a Nikon D200. Mounting them was a challenge. The focal length of the Sony was a bit short plus all the shaking in car with the roads meant that most of my footage from day 1 is useless. Salvageable but it will take a lot of work.

Lumix video was great but ran out of batteries. I do have an audio recording of the whole thing so that’s good. As for the D200, I’l need to make a few adjustments today to get better images but the system is working as I had hoped.

The trip took me roughly four hours and it was long. Most of it on the US101 to get better time as the sun was setting and night driving will make shooting difficult.

Getting out of Southern California is easier said than done. For some reason the 405 was not moving. Good thing I decided to start from Santa Monica. This allowed me to bypass that area completely and take the PCH up to Malibu, hand a right at Pepperdine University and hit the 101 from there.

The weather was great so everyone was out at the beach. Which meant traffic.

The Malibu canyons gave a great opportunity to get a feel for the car with it’s twists and turns and I was happy. The rental reminds me of my own car back home.

I had been running on coffee with my “jetlag” from New York the whole day and things were getting dicey at around Santa Maria, a good 1 1/2 hours from Cambria. Gas mileage wasn’t so good. I stopped for gas in San Luis Obispo and filled up 7.5 gallons.

It was well into the night once I got to the inn in Cambria where I would spend the night to recharge and prepare for the next day.

Cold Beer and Inspiration

I’ve always wanted to get out of the house. I remember waiting in the garage when I was little and would beg to ride in any car that was leaving the house. Whether it was picking up my brother or sister from school, or just to get groceries. My nanny even took me on my first public bus ride. Just anything to get somewhere. That desire for travelling got me on an 8 hour road trip to the province one day and I gave up at the 6th hour.

Road trips have been an integral part of my growing up. My father worked a lot and the one time that we get to spend a lot of time together were either on vacations and most of it included a road trip of some sort. We even went out of town one time without bringing any food or some sort. This was before Starbucks and McDonalds put up rest stops along the highway.

These trips were always exciting. There was a time we could drive from Manila to Baguio (approximately 244 km) in 2 1/2 hours compared to the usual 4. Don’t tell my mom. She wasn’t with us at the time.

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In these trips I would learn about our family history in some places. My grandmother would tell stories about every town we passed by. Like the moment she first saw my grandfather. She would sweep in front of the house when my grandfather’s bus (he was a bus conductor) would stop every afternoon. She would tell on how My grandfather and his best friend would smuggle rice into the city to trade for medicine during World War II. My father would point at the elementary school and bakery he used to work in. Stories that aren’t written in history books but in the roads and towns that we passed.

My siblings and I learned how to “attack” corners and overtake vehicles during these trips. My brother recieved the most instruction and my sister learned how to drive in winter conditions. I on the other hand learned how to maintain speed through corners in wet and dry conditions and hear the car complain as the traction control set in (Yes Yosemite I’m talking to you).

I’m inspired to make this documentary because this is the first long road trip I’m taking by myself. The United States is one of the few countries that is “safe” enough for me to do this and documenting it is essential. I draw inspiration from the blogs at crazyguyonabike.com and Roff Smith’s Cold Beer and Crocodiles . Even though these trips were made on a bicycles, the spirit of adventure is there.

Have you ever felt that moment when you’ve been driving for a long time that the car becomes an extension of your senses?

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There’s something about the car that makes you feel in control of your life. Well at least in my point of view.

Clear day on the I5

The road narrows

In two weeks I’ll be embarking on a journey that will take me across the country. But after taking a breather and exmaining my capabilities, I’ve shortened the journey and changed it.

The cross country train ride would have been amazing since it’s not a road, it is not part of Google Earth Street View. That alone was difficult. Not to mention I mapped the ride to Chicago and it was very long.

I’ve decided to drive up the California coast instead. Specifically the area of California Highway 1 between San Luis Obispo and San Francisco.

I drove there the first time in the spring of 2010 in a Nissan Hybrid with my sister. This time around I’ll be travelling knowing what I’ll need. The difference today is that I’ll be equipping the car I’ll be using with a number of cameras that would almost make it look like a Google Street View car but in simpler terms. I’ve marked the series of stops and places I intend to visit and the entire journey will take me three days.

There’s something to be said about a road trip. This documentary narrates some of the history of the road and will attempt to capture the unique views only visible on this road. One of the driving factors for me on this documentary is the possiblity that this road may no longer exist in it’s current state in the next ten years. Though no fault of man. The Pacific ocean is slowly eating away at the cliffs and eroding the land beneath the it.

The drive is also very special. The trip will take me to a twisting part of the highway where I never bothered to look at the speed limit. The speed limit is a distraction at that point and it’s not posted anyway. I think it would be even better if I can get my hands on a manual transmission car for this, but I doubt I’ll be able to find one.

I have part of the script for the narrative bits and rest would be in the car. This is very exciting.