ATL to NOLA to TX

A few weeks ago my best friend Tig said “goodbye” to Atlanta and packed her bags for Texas. Though I hate to see her leave Georgia, I can’t be upset about someone moving back to the Homeland. I jumped at the oppurtunity to road trip with her to Houston and as we planned the drive she casually mentioned that she’d never been to New Orleans before. In my opinion, a night is all you need, so we made a stop. Here are some highlights from our trip.

IMG_2155 We went straight from the highway to Erin Rose Bar for beers and – well – killer po’ boys!

IMG_2161IMG_2159IMG_2165IMG_2331IMG_2178IMG_2184IMG_2185IMG_2232The Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone was a must for me. Sure, touristy, but it’s an institution. I had to have a Vieux Carré in the bar where it was created. For me, it was a bit like checking off “Champagne at The Plaza.”

IMG_2238IMG_2241 We picked Kingfish for dinner and were so happy we did (thanks to Patrick King for recommending it via Twitter). We had an epic 4 hour meal and savoured every bite and sip. Add this place to your NOLA list.

IMG_2243IMG_2338 Onward to Texas! While on the road (and before refueling our bellies at The Chimes in Baton Rouge), one of us mentioned how we wished we’d have time that weekend to go to an Astros game. A few minutes later, Tig’s brother texted her “‘game tonight, roof open, 70 degrees.” Could we get there in time? We sure could. What better way to welcome Tig back to Houston than driving straight to the ballpark for some ‘Stros, overpriced beers and nachos in the Crawford Boxes.

IMG_2340IMG_2346IMG_2349 Texas forever.

Special thanks to Sam Hunt for providing our soundtrack for 90% of the drive.
Thanks to the Undisclosed Podcast for filling the other 10%.

Masters Sunday

Happy Masters Sunday! To celebrate this glorious afternoon in golf, I dug up some photos from our first (and only) visit to Augusta National back in 2011. I sure wish I was walking barefoot on the softest grass in the world drinking a cheap beer right about now…

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Charleston Getaway

On the first weekend of February, Mark and I headed to Charleston for a quick winter getaway. We arrived before dinner on Friday night and left early Sunday morning, making it our quickest trip there to date. Regardless, we enjoyed every minute, as one tends to do in the Holy City.

We stayed at the beautiful Belmond Charleston Place in one of their newly renovated rooms. We didn’t leave the place the night we got there. We spent a few hours at The Thoroughbread Club followed by one of the best food experiences of our lives at the Charleston Grill. Whiskey, champagne, wine, crab cakes, beef tartar, scallops, and lamb racks with a live jazz soundtrack. It’s no wonder this place is recognized as one of the best restaurants in the nation.

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charleston 019On Saturday, we did what any normal person visiting Charleston does: ate, and then passed the time until we could eat again. We started with cappuccinos at the newly opened Saint Alban, then walked next door to Leon’s for one of the best fried chicken sandwiches we’ve ever had.

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storyboard001We then drove around the neighborhoods, got some sun on our faces, then headed up to The Citadel so House of Cards obsessed Mark could see the campus for the first time. When we arrived we stumbled upon a UNC vs Citadel Rugby match and enjoyed the free entertainment (Citadel won).

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charleston 017Our last meal was at Edmund’s Oast, recommended by the wonderful Mickey Baskt, manager of Charleston Grill. This place was fantastic! Cured charcuterie, braised lamb meatballs (our favorite item of the night), bacon egg & cheeseburger, all paired with in house IPA’s for Mark and awesome cocktails for me. We rolled out of there fully satisfied and quick to recommend it and return.

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A Little Hill Country

At the end of January I went to Texas to spend time at my parents house in Burnet. It was a perfect winter week in Texas – you know, 75 degree days and blue skies. I took a film camera (Mamiya 645) and shot 2 rolls (Kodak Portra 400). These are some of my favorite photos from my trip.

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hillcountry 001My grandather (Papoo) enjoying a margarita on the front porch at the young age of 96. The night before, my Dad was trying to convince him to grow a beard. Papoo’s winning defense: “I can’t get any better looking.”
On the right, Mom at Inks Lake State Park

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hillcountry 007Inks Lake State Park exploring.

hillcountry 005Part of the ranch property where my parents live.

hillcountry 002The little Oasis on the right is one of the coolest spots on the ranch.
In the background, a very dry Lake Buchanan.

hillcountry 008When you see signs like this – follow them.

My Mom has a great book called Texas Backcountry Hangouts, a guide to country stores and backwood bars around the state. We want to visit every one featured in the book, and she’s been taking it with her and getting the owners to sign on their featured pages. A handful are within a short drive of my parents house so we decided to check another off of the list one afternoon.

hillcountry 003Castell General Store – check!

Until next time, Texas…

Jamie Goes West | Part III

_MG_4827 copyI never got tired of the drive into Yosemite. It was so quiet and chilly and so still. It looked like it hadn’t been touched in ages.

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static.squarespace-2We decided to go check out some redwoods and eat lunch. This is the one place I wish I had explored more but also felt super nervous about venturing out in alone. Yosemite is so big. The tree line goes for miles and miles.

static.squarespaceWe drove around for about 30 minutes before we found this amazing spot. A lot of times, Kern and I respected each others space. We would find a spot and we would go totally different ways. Often Kern would come back and I would regret not following him because he would always have these epic shots on his camera to show me. This time I saw this super white knee high grass that was calling me to it. It’s actually one of the places that didn’t translate to film well. I photographed it like crazy but I wasn’t happy with any of the images. I even took photos with the iPhone and no amount of editing would do it justice. Maybe I was just supposed to be there in the moment.

static.squarespace-2Scott + Amanda. I was walking around and I saw this super cute young couple with a camera. I immediately ran up to them and asked if I could photograph them. They were super down and after 30 minutes of hanging and shooting, we became fast friends. I really wish we could have hung out more. Turns out, Amanda is an awesome photographer in Southern California.

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static.squarespaceThe first time we saw Half Dome. This stone ended up being the center piece for most of the final journey.

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static.squarespace-3This is a hilarious attempt at a self portrait with my Rolleiflex during our lunch at Mirror Lake. Mouth full of food, bad exposure, awkward angle. I love it all.

static.squarespaceI never would have gotten this shot if it weren’t for Kern. He saw this earlier and I totally missed it. We had just finished our hike to Mirror Lake and he took us exactly to this spot for this shot. Extremely thankful as it’s one of my favorites.

static.squarespaceThe drive up to Glacier Point. We cruised up on fumes jamming the Madi Diaz record.

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static.squarespace-1Underexposed, but these tones. Damn. I love this shot.

We met so many cool people on the trip. I actually lost Kern here but after walking around for 20 minutes I found him chatting it up with a couple who was drinking wine and eating cheese. Turns out they were celebrating their anniversary. At first I tried to get Kern to leave but they ended up being so cool that we stuck around. We ended up leaving over an hour later. We followed them back to their minivan and the guy got me drunk on tequila from Costco. I want to visit them in San Diego but I can’t remember their names for the life of me…

static.squarespaceThe final big hike before we left up to Yosemite Falls.

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static.squarespace-1At the top I took this guys photo. His posture bugs me but you can still get a feel for the vastness of the space. I honestly was scared to death taking this photo but I didn’t tell him.

static.squarespaceThe top of Yosemite Falls. If this were in the Spring, it would be rushing with water and we would’ve been dead in seconds. So quiet and calm now. I also thought I would fall to my death getting to this spot. Kern actually left me during our hike because I was holding him back. It was a really neat experience to do the last leg alone. I got up to the top and laid down for a nap.

static.squarespaceYou will see some guys on the top left that actually slack lined across the falls. It was the most insane thing. They were harnessed in but still the most epic thing to watch them walk across the gap. I could have gotten an amazing photo if I had gotten there an hour earlier. They were taking everything down by the time we got to the top.

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static.squarespace-1Two photos of the same thing in a row, but still cool to see how different cameras and film captures the same subject differently.

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static.squarespaceWhat an incredible trip. Life changing in so many ways.

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A huge, huge thanks to Jamie for taking over the blog this week and sharing his adventure. Nashville, Jamie knows how to party, and you should be at the Pop-Up Art Show he’s throwing on January 16th.

Jamie Goes West | Part II

11111 (1)The Salt Flats. Our friends Matt + Ali told us we had to go visit the Salt Flats in Utah. I’m so glad we did. I’ve never been to a crazier looking place in my life. Shout out to As Cities Burn for turning a boring drive into an epic rock concert. We luckily figured out we both love their first album and it was a big bonding moment for us. There’s no exit by the way for the Salt Flats. You just drive along the highway and then, turn. 

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static.squarespace-3This could be my favorite photo I took of Kern. It’s just epic. His look. The light. The bronco. The color contrast. I gotta frame this.

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static.squarespace-5The Salt Flats are literally nothingness. Just miles and miles and miles of flat hard crusty salt-ground – that’s the best way to describe it. As soon as we got out there, Kern geeked out and started driving super fast with his hands behind his head looking at me. I mean, theres nothing to hit the car or cause us to flip or anything. Its just a flat surface with nothing in your way for miles. Someone told me next time I go, I should just close my eyes and run. Man. The thought gives me chills. I can’t wait to try that.

static.squarespace-3It definitely was not a perfect night. We cooked dinner and watched the most amazing moonrise ever. The biggest, most orange moon I had ever seen rose from the horizon. Of course it was too dark to capture on film and no iPhone could do it justice. You just had to be there. However, as we were leaving, we got the Bronco stuck about 5 feet from the road. Apparently the Salt Flats can also be like quick sand. I mean we got Buzz stuck. Thankfully some sweet guys helped us out super quick. Our trip could easily have been significantly changed if we hadn’t met those guys.

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static.squarespace-2On the way to Yosemite, Kern noticed on Instagram that his friend from Santa Barbara, Dylan, was near us camping for a while. After an hour of searching random camp sites, we connected with Dylan. We ate, drank, and listened to the latest Bahamas record.

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static.squarespace-1The Crab Cooker. Kern took me to this badass natural hot spring in the middle of nowhere. The directions were super sketchy and Kern made me promise not to tell anyone. I can’t post a lot of photos from here because there were other people there when we arrived and there’s an unwritten rule that you have to be naked. It was easily one of the most badass times on the trip.

Here’s a photo Kern took of me. It shows you how isolated the hot spring was.

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Tomorrow, Part III – Yosemite.

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Hey, Nashville! Jamie is throwing a party and selling prints. You should be there.

Jamie Goes West | Part I

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We love great adventures. Last year, we slowly started to share some of our adventures here and they were well received. To celebrate more exploring in 2015, we’re handing the reins over to Jamie Clayton for our first post(s) the new year. In November, Jamie left Nashville for an epic journey out West with some cameras and a ton of film. He’ll take it from here…

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Earlier this year I shot a wedding in Denver and ran into one of my friends from Nashville, Kern Ducote. Kern is a stud. Solid guy, amazing soccer player, photographer, and lover of the outdoors. I told him over brunch that I wanted to take a trip out West just to take photos. He told me he would be a great guide on the trip and we should make something work. He also said last year he spent 300 days out of the year sleeping outside. That blew my mind and made me hungry to experience a drop of what that was like.

A few weeks later (and a lot sooner than I had expected), Kern called me and mentioned driving from Denver to Tahoe and hitting up some National Parks on the way. I was totally in. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I trusted Kern. I bought some hiking boots and flew to Denver.

static.squarespaceMatt helping Kern plan our trip from Boulder to Tahoe. I loved how much trust Kern put into his old paper map. Turns out there are some places google maps can’t take you.

static.squarespace-1Kern with Buzz the Bronco, a 1986 Bronco II all packed up ready to go. This bad boy rattled and hummed the entire trip but I grew to love it.

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static.squarespace-1The first and only snow I saw the entire trip. One thing I thought I would see more of.

static.squarespace-2Kern. He KILLS it in front of the camera. This moment was fun. We were at a gas station in Colorado and the snow was perfect. I had to start throwing some snow balls at everything.

static.squarespaceKern with a good friend of mine Andy Sig in Breck. Andy also showing us some awesome spots to hit up on the way.

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static.squarespaceKern is also a super rad photographer. We had a lot of fun comparing film vs. digital during certain shots.

static.squarespace-1Sunset as we came into Utah. We tried our best to get to Arches National Park before sunset. Our intentions were to hit up Delicate Arch that night as soon as we got there for sunset. In hindsight, there was absolutely no way we would have made it. Here I think I was trying to convince Kern not to stop and pick up some free skis for his time in Tahoe. I promised him he would get a good deal on some skis when he got there, even though I had no idea. Two days after getting to Tahoe, Kern sent me a photo with some skis someone had hooked him up with!

static.squarespaceThe beauty of Utah exceeded all expectations. It is such a weird and beautiful state. My film mentor Jon Canlas is from Utah and so it was awesome to reflect on how far I had come as a film shooter since meeting him 4 years ago.

static.squarespace-1This was taken as we pulled into Arches. I love how cool the moon looks at dusk on film.

static.squarespaceKern cooking. The dude is amazing on the camp stove. I never went hungry. I learned so much from the man. This was the first night in the middle of the desert in Utah. He made a pasta dish and I got us drunk on some Hot Toddies.

static.squarespace-1First morning in Arches. Kern decided to longboard down this sick stretch of pavement.

static.squarespaceFollowing Kern was almost dream like. He would pop up somewhere. I would head his way and boom, he would show up somewhere else. He had been traveling out west for almost an entire year. I was a definite rookie and I learned that real quick when I woke up this morning.

static.squarespace-1I thought I was going to die probably every day on this trip. This was the first time and I basically just got used to it. I was such a rookie when it came to climbing around and hiking. Did I mention I absolutely hate heights? I followed Kern to that huge arch in the previous photo and by the time I showed up, he was across this sketchy rock just hanging out. After crawling on all fours for 10 minutes, I finally reached him. Then I had him carry my camera bag and his own gear back out of there. I ‘d be lying if I said that was the only time that happened on our trip.

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static.squarespace-1The next day our mission was simple. Go through the Fiery Furnace (alone) and catch Delicate Arch at sunset.

static.squarespacestatic.squarespace-2Fiery Furnace could have been my favorite thing we did on the entire trip. Being inside slot canyons and the desert, it’s out of a science fiction film. You can’t explain it. We had to convince a girl to let us go alone. It actually wasn’t that hard. We just charmed her, paid her $8 per person and watched a 5 minute safety film. It is extremely easy to get lost inside the canyons. The normal tour covers 2 miles and takes 3 hours. We had no agenda, we just wanted to get lost. And then of course find our way out.

static.squarespaceOur time in the Fiery Furnace mainly consisted of climbing over amazing rock formations, getting stuck in a giant maze, retracing our steps and figuring out a way to get out. The best way I could describe it is a giant playground for adults. The picture on the left is actually where we ate lunch. Probably my favorite lunch spot of the trip.

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Kern would go first and then shine his light on the best route. Also here is Kern photographing the juniper tree that I fell in love with. It is one of the most gorgeous things I had ever seen. It haunted me for days to come afterwards. Before I got my film scans back I went to the lab and harassed them just to see my negatives. I ran through 30+ rolls of film trying to search for one negative, this one. The Desert Juniper. Below is the scan I got back from the lab.

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static.squarespacestatic.squarespace-1Shoutout to TOPO for a hookup on a sweet day pack.

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static.squarespace-1Hiking up to Delicate Arch for sunset.

static.squarespaceWe made it to the Arch! Only to find 50 other photographers already up there. Some joked about my film cameras, other people were super into it. We met an older couple at the top of the arch. We hit it off and they ended up taking us to dinner that night and we are now friends on Facebook. Easily one of the highlights of the trip. Hi Zava!

static.squarespace-1I have to share this photo because of the crazy story that comes with it. I took this photo on a hike in the middle of nowhere Utah. We left Arches at night and we stopped at a truck stop to catch some sleep. I convinced Kern to drive 30 minutes more to some campgrounds in this random erie suburban small Utah town. In the morning we woke up and saw that we were surrounded by hills. I was coming off this Arches high and so I go, “Dude let’s hike that.” Why? I have no idea. I’m an idiot. It was again one of the many times that I thought I was going to die. It was way too steep and rocky to even reach the top. I also realized how much better of a hiker Kern is than I am. The only thing I was content with was the realization my last meal would have been Kern’s breakfast tacos which still linger with me. Kern hiked up about 20 yards ahead of me and said, “Dude. Not all peaks are meant to be summited. Lets go back down.”
We got down and packed up and headed to… THE SALT FLATS.

Part II coming tomorrow…

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Hey, Nashville! Jamie is throwing a party and selling prints. You should be there.