I have done so much traveling this past year, I impress myself.
June of last year I went to London where I stayed with a great friend/performance artist Katie O'Brien. Katie and Sinead started a project called The Muffia (http://TheMuffia.co.uk), part of which includes them donning blonde wigs and Merkins. They have recently gotten a lot of press including an article in London's Guardian. Katie took me to this abandoned tunnel under the Waterloo station where graffiti artist Banksy held a 3 day street artist event he dubbed the Cans Festival. The artists, with permission from the city, filled the walls with absolutely incredible art.
CAMA BEACH, WA
In August I went to a family reunion at Cama Beach on Camano Island about an hour north east of Seattle. We stayed in these amazing little wood cabins right on the water. Each cabin comes equipped with it's own little kitchen and bathroom and each bed has it's own handmade quilt made for the Cama Beach cabins from the Stanwood Quilters. My sister Margarite came and we spent the last day in Seattle walking around and laughing till I almost peed my pants. Then I went to Portland for 4 days for a friends baby shower and had the opportunity to hang out with drag king stay with Billy Clarke a photographer/friend up there.
And then there was Swing Kid Vote (http://SwingKidVote.blogspot.com). Swing Kid Vote was a panic blog I started in September of 08 in response to the Palinisms that filled the airwaves. That blog and it's readers sent me to Fort Lauderdale Florida where I hitchhiked with Billy Mitchell- the world record holder for Donkey Kong and Ms. Pacman, and then onto Virginia where I got in a car chase with an angry republican housewife (her chasing me), and then to Flagstaff AZ where I met my late grandfathers last wife, author and folk singer Katie Lee. Did I mention that my Grandpa Brandy was a race car driver... awessssome. His life was pretty much a mystery to me, so getting to meet Katie Lee was a treat. She wrote a book called Sandstone Seduction that has a 22 pages of memories, love letters and photos from her love affair with my grandfather.
Really though, Swing Kid Vote was an amazing adventure and I strongly recommend reading the blog and the feedback. There are tons upon tons of photos from the trip. Truly the greatest benefit of that project was seeing how many people deeply cared about the 2008 election and were willing to do whatever they could to help.
In January a friends father flew me to Maui to see her as a surprise for her birthday. I love being a birthday gift. I got to get grounded and feel my feet on the earth in one of the more beautiful place on this planet.
NEW ORLEANS, LA
The following week after NYC, my friends Adrian and Judy Allen bought me a ticket to go see them in New Orleans. I LOVE NEW ORLEANS. Judy is an excellent photographer as well and part of the goal of the trip was to shed whatever photo knowledge I could in the time I was there. Adrian and Judy are amazing, they stayed in New Orleans during Katrina and own 4 houses, 3 of which are in the 9th Ward. The 9th Ward is where Adrian grew up and it is where Katrina hit the hardest. As Hunters Point is to San Francisco, the 9th Ward is to New Orleans. The trip was wonderful in part because Adrian and Judy are huge foodies. We went to incredible restaurants every day for lunch and dinner. Of the tops I would say Jacques-Imos was up there with creole,
jambalaya and gumbo. Mmmm. The highlight of the whole trip for me was the last day there they took me to Holy Cross- a Catholic boys school that got hit hard from Katrina and, with the exception of minor juvenile vandalism, is still frozen in time. I honestly think these are some of the most exceptional photos I have ever taken. The last photo in the grid was taken by Judy Allen.
In late April for my fathers birthday I drove him and a friend of his to a spot where they go train hopping. I know what you are going to say... yes it is dangerous, but he started hopping freights when he was 13 with his brothers. Here are some shots from that day trip. Unfortunately right as we pulled up a train was leaving, so I didn't get any photos of them hopping on. Next Time.
ROADTRIP SAN FRANCISCO TO NORTH CAROLINA
Now up to present time, I just took a cross country road trip with my friends Janice and Don Christopher who are blessed enough to be retiring. They bought a house in North Carolina, so we drove HWY 40 across the southern part of this beautiful country. The second day driving was my favorite- Flagstaff to Amarillo Texas, stopping in Albuquerque for lunch. The color pallet is amazing. I never really realized the varying color pallets of each part of this country. That stretch of earth is miles of salmon colored mountains speckled with rich brown bushes and the occasional tree that runs up against the pale blue sky with edible white cloud puffs. It is amazing.
We stopped for two nights in Nashville. I could definitely see myself living in Tennessee. We went to the Country Music Hall of Fame, which thankfully is dedicated to the older country musicians- Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells and Waylon Jennings era. I love the outfits they used to perform in. All of the personalized elements- stitched initials on the boots, abalone inlaid names into the instruments and embroidered garments. While there I magically landed at a house turned cafe called Cafe Cocoa. There I met up with a friend of a friend (and aspiring photographer) Carrie O'Brien. She was an excellent hostess and took me out to dinner with about a dozen of her friends.
And now I am back. Home and grateful for my nest and my kittens.