One of the natural wonders we visited while in Oaxaca was Hierve el Agua, a set of rock formations created by fresh water springs that resemble waterfalls. We weren’t sure in advance whether we’d get there, so we neglected to bring our bathing suits, but it was fun to explore and photograph all the same.
In March Stephanie and I traveled to Hetch Hetchy. Neither of us had been to Yosemite’s other valley, and I was doubly curious to see the aftermath of the Rim Fire. I really had no idea what the immediate result of a forest fire looked like. I kind of expected charred trunks as far as the eye could see—I certainly didn’t expect these surreal scenes of technicolor orange.
When traveling in a new place, I’m drawn to the backgrounds, the negative spaces, the tapestries of color and texture that exist just behind the people and cars and advertisements and graffiti. That background is what differentiates one place from another; it’s what makes a place a place. But it can be hard to photograph [well] because there’s all that other stuff in the way. And I didn’t have the weeks or months, let alone days, to immerse myself in the buzzing energy of Oaxaca enough to anticipate those moments of perfect urban composition.
As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a handy conceit. I was struck by how many Volkswagen Beetles were plying the cobblestone streets of the old city. So I took a photo of one or two—I love the juxtaposition of an old car against an interesting facade. I found that the familiar and graceful shape of the Beetle was a convenient foil for my true intention—to capture something of the place behind it. So what started out as a whim, turned into a sport, and I began walking the streets of old Oaxaca intent on collecting Beetles in their natural habitat.
Recently the what-can-I-optimize-next? gaze fell upon our knife block, but my exhaustive web searches for a suitable replacement came up empty. In the world of knife blocks, something with a smaller footprint and more capacity did not seem to exist. Once I’d reached the end of the internet-of-things-to-buy, I turned to Etsy, which I’ve started to use lately as a marketplace for custom-made goods. I’ll search for something, and if I’m lucky, there will be a “Request a custom order…” banner beneath an item I like. In this case, I found a design that inspired me made by a seller, Jimmy Essien of The Aurora Artisan, who was willing to work with me.
Every evening I get an email from my dad’s SPOT Satellite Messenger letting me know his latitude and longitude along the Pacific Crest Trail (and that he’s OK). He asked me to track his mileage, so at first I put his coordinates into Google Maps, which actually has the PCT plotted, but the mileages didn’t seem to match the “official” mile markers that he’s referencing from Halfmile. They offer a KMZ file of the PCT for Google Earth, but I totally failed at getting it installed on Ubuntu. Eventually I was able to commandeer Stephanie’s Mac to get it to work, but it seemed like a hassle when all I really wanted was a quick way to enter his current latitude and longitude from the email and find out what half-mile marker he’s the closest to.