Los Angeles is the kind of city that grows on you. Well, in my opinion anyway. The first time I descended into it’s salty, smoggy arms, I was quite young, and coming from crisp and fresh New Zealand, thought the rest of the world was really like those apocalyptic movies where everyone is wearing masks and trying to survive between the robots and flying cars.
However, over the years since then, and since living in California for quite a few of those, It’s become a comforting little travel hub, where I get to escape LAX and catch up with some great old friends. Therefore, what better a starting point for my epic cross-country expedition than this?
It began as far West as I could manage, where I dipped my toes into the salty goodness of Malibu beach while watching the surfers catch wave after wave. From there I started the long drive East. In total, I drove 6,470 miles or 10,412 kilometres from beginning to end (including my drive north from NYC to Canada, and back to Maine).
I can tell you now, it’s going to be very difficult to communicate how this trip affected me. A series of seemingly random events, occurring at such perfect moments, that I can only wonder what the universe was trying to tell me. I will try and paint you a picture not only with photos, but words this time around. I enjoy writing, although I struggle to form coherent sentences with the onslaught of words that swirl in my brain. I will try.
Here is a brief exploration of my time in California. Even though there’s plenty here, I’ve culled these quite heavily. It’s hard to tell such a story with a handful of photos, but I feel this sums up the relatively short period of time there. As I can’t go anywhere without lugging multiple cameras with me, this work is a combination of digital, 35mm and med format film.
Through the haze of the thick Friday evening traffic, I could make out the the dry, jaggad edges of Mt San Jacinto as it stood above Palm Springs. We drove through the tree line streets and I felt a stab of nostalgia for this place I’d never been.
The heat hit us first. A 45 degree brick hitting you smack in the face as soon as the cool car door broke its seal. From then on, the temperature would be a continuous plot to this story. Welcome to Palm Springs, where the weather is good, the drinks are cold, and the swimming pool is your best friend.
From here on in was a combined adventure of art and culture. Mid century Modernism architecture, The luxurious Ace Hotel and a trip to Salvation Mountain and Slab City via the Saltan Sea. To end, we wound our way up to Joshua Tree and experienced the magic of the Integratron dome (if you haven’t been, I insist you try it), before dinner in Pioneertown and a night of glamping at Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream hotel.
These last few images of a deserted town on some road, somewhere, was my farewell to California. I said goodbye to Dana and hit the road solo. This skeleton of past life was the first of many like it across America. Now a barren truck stop at a dry intersection, the remaining structures held so many stories that were dying to be told. With not enough time to hear them, I paid my respects to this lonely place and headed towards Arizona.