This is the end. Beautiful Friend.

What an amazing journey it was. A little recap…

I left Caprinteria, California the evening of Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 to drive across the country. Final destination: Anderson, South Carolina. I wanted to get across Los Angeles, spend the night in Joshua Tree, and begin the journey fresh from there on Sunday morning.

California to Arizona to New Mexico to Texas to Oklahoma to Arkansas to Tennessee to North Carolina to Georgia to South Carolina. Ten nights on the road, staying in Joshua Tree, Phoenix, White Sands, Santa Fe, Santa Rosa, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, and Nashville. With all the detours, 3,000 miles driven.

I stopped when I wanted to, shot what I needed to, ate more than I should have. I met old friends and made new ones along the way. I fell in love with parts of this country I’d never seen, stood in awe of epic natural beauty, and more than once wondered why the hell so many of us cram into cities like Los Angeles when there’s more than enough space for everyone out here. (I can hear you New Mexican’s now… shhhh don’t tell them!!)

I made an effort to shoot every sunrise and every sunset. Didn’t catch them all, and some didn’t catch me, but I collected a few along the way.

I’ll be assembling a picture book and offering that on this site. It was such a beautiful journey, and I’m very pleased with many of the photos made, and I hope you’ll support the effort and consider adding the book to your collection. Soon I’ll be assembling the Wallpaper pack, as well. [Edit: it’s here]

Here’s a collection of every entry to this log along the way. Also the photos can be viewed on flickr, here.

Driving Across the Country; California to South Carolina

Cross Country Drive Starts Tomorrow!

And So It Begins…

Carpinteria to Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree to Phoenix

Phoenix Fire Station 42

Sunrise Over Phoenix

Phoenix, AZ to Alamogordo, NM

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Beautify Your iPad (Or Any Device) with Images from Across America

Alamogordo, NM to Santa Fe, NM

Abandoned Shop in Duran, NM

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Sunset on Route 66, Between Santa Fe and Santa Rosa, NM

Blue Hole, in Santa Rosa, NM

Santa Rosa, NM to Oklahoma City, OK

The “Oklahoma Standard”

Sunset on Lake Hefner, Oklahoma City

Pops on Route 66

Truck Fire on I-40 in Arkansas

Sunrise Over Little Rock, Arkansas

Memphis, Elvis, and Dr. King

Nashville, TN — Loveless Cafe, Neon and… the Parthenon?!

Tail of the Dragon

Thanks to everyone who supported me on this journey. Followers on twitter, listeners of TWiP, friends and family.

The final photo. Just before leaving North Carolina for a short stint in Georgia, the sun set, the rainbow bowed, and the traffic lights turned red one last time.

This is the end. Beautiful Friend. This is the end.

Tail of the Dragon

My final day of driving…

From Nasvhille, Tennessee, through North Carolina, Georgia for a touch, and finally ending in Anderson, South Carolina. And the road down… is the Tail of the Dragon.

One end of the Dragon. I was there mid-week, so the roads were nearly empty. I’ve seen video of this place on the weekend… insane. What’s the point of driving it with 1,000 other enthusiasts (and just as many cops)? It was blissfully peaceful while I was out.

The warm water and cool air cause a mist to sit on top of the lake. Very mysterious looking.

To the right is one of the dams on Calderwood Lake. Check out the view from space, too.

The victims of the Dragon. And we all know what you have to sacrifice to the dragon to appease her.

Misty mountains of the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina.

Nashville, TN — Loveless Cafe, Neon and… the Parthenon?!

I stayed the night with a high school buddy in Nashville, and after a burger at Rotier’s we did a little night sight seeing. Imagine my surprise when we pulled up in front of the Parthenon.

Then a drive down the main drag, which looked every so cool. I love these neon signs, they just add so much character to the area.

And finally, the next morning, breakfast…

The Loveless Cafe had been added to my map at some point, and I’d heard it referred to at least once or twice. So there was no way I was missing this treat. Nor was it gonna miss m’ah belly!

That cheesy potato thing in the front? My god. It’s like butter, sour cream, potatoes, and lard. And let me tell you… it’s goooooooooooooood.

This shirt really summed it up for us… “Praise the Lard and Pass the Biscuits”. Amen.

Their wall of fame. Quite the collection of characters on this wall!

Memphis, Elvis, and Dr. King

I’ve never been to Memphis before, and I can already tell that I need to come back. I even tried to convince my buddy in Nashville to get his ass down to Memphis instead of me heading up there, but it wasn’t an option. So I had a couple of hours at high noon to wander the town in the blazing heat, snap some photos and find a good local BBQ.

I had rolled into town for lunch, with great expectations of amazing BBQ. Unfortunately for me, I came on a Monday—and the highly recommended “Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous Charcoal Ribs” were closed. Tragedy struck! The door was open though, and the (intimidatingly large) man at the front suggested I try Blue City Cafe. But on the way there, a stranger who saw me come out of Rendezvous with a hung face offered another suggestion. Look for the sign that says “Pig with attitude” he says. I found it and went in—apparently well past the lunch rush, as the Pig was mostly empty. But I took my place at a table and ordered up some ribs.

As I tweeted after, while these were good, I’ve definitely had better. Which just made me want to stay in Memphis even more, determined to find some amazing BBQ. But as I’ve already said, I was getting a little on the anxious side to get to my destination. Plus, my buddy in Nashville (who wussed out on joining me in Memphis!) was expecting me there that night.

I’m gonna take a stab in the dark here, and guess that this town is off the hook at night. Just maybe.

I spent a couple of hours wandering, at first on the main drag, which is fabulously closed to street traffic.

Then I met Elvis. Nice man. Doesn’t talk much though.

Next I headed towards the National Civil Rights Museum, wandering through some pretty desolate parts of town along the way.

Interesting legacy in this city, of course.

Something tells me this limo doesn’t get too many calls anymore.

The balcony where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, at the Lorraine Motel, on April 4th, 1968. These cars represent the cars parked there when he was shot, waiting to take him to dinner. (They are not the original vehicles.)

From there, it was time to head back to the car, and hit the road for Nashville. I jumped the streetcar heading back the direction I came.

Everything in town was like this… empty, vacant, nearly deserted. I hope it was just because it was a Monday, and in the middle of the day. It’s a city rich with history, and I look forward to returning one day to properly enjoy the music, the food, the drink, and the people!

Sunrise Over Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock has a very nice downtown. The renamed President Clinton Ave, and the beautiful Clinton Library make for a great stop on the trip. I probably should have spent more time there, but I had a long drive ahead of me and really wanted to get to Memphis for lunch. I probably should have stayed in Memphis for the night and added another day to my journey, but anyway…

I shot the sunrise here, and that’s about it. Unfortuantely the rises on the “wrong side” of the city; I’m sure  sunset is pretty spectactular there. But alas, I was pushing 10 days on this journey and for all my talking of “I’ll spend as much time on the road as I damn well please”, I was getting anxious to get to my destination.

Truck Fire on I-40 in Arkansas

I’m no ambulance chaser, but this was too good to pass up. A beat-up old Ford truck on the side of the road, it’s engine on fire, and not one, not two, but three separate attempts to put it out.

Photos like this must be accompanied by captions :-)

It’s just a small fire…

We can put it out with this jug of water and this blanket!

Well that didn’t work. And my fire extinguisher is empty/ wrong kind/ inadequate.

Oh good, here comes the cavalry…

Just in time, my beer was getting hot!

Hey, his extinguisher is smaller than mine!

Ooh but it’s doing something, the fire’s going out!

Oh damn, maybe not… that can’t be good.

Nope, that did NOT work out so well now did it. Maybe it’s time to step away from the burning vehicle.

Burn baby burn…

Is that the blanket from earlier, now on the ground burning? Ouch.

Aha! The big guns are here…

Now we’re talkin’. Let’s get some water on this weenie roast!

Give me a hand with this willya?

Oh yeah, here we go… now once we get this fire put out, the car will be…

As good as new!

*ahem*

Pops on Route 66

This is a fairly new construction on historical Route 66, and it’s already a “must-see” on many lists. It’s a fantastic throw-back to a time long gone, and an absolute pleasure to see. It’s always heartwarming to see something constructed with care, with love, and with humor. This gas station, restaurant and obviously soda shop on Route 66 is all of those things, selling hundreds of types of soda from all around the world.

The big neon soda bottle out front begged a sunrise shot, and finding the exact moment when the light balanced between the sky, the giant bottle and the lights inside the store and under the awning took some patience, but it all came together in the end.

And for the record, I had a peach soda with breakfast. Hey, at least it’s a fruit!!

The website for Pops is www.pops66.com but at the time of this writing the site was down.

Sunset on Lake Hefner, Oklahoma City

Who knew Oklahoma City had a lake. Or two. Or three… heck I dunno, look it up! Lake Hefner is quite beautiful, and quite large, and even has a light house. And the sun set ever-so-nicely over it for us.

The “Oklahoma Standard”

There’s a slogan I learned that gives an insight to the attitude of the people of Oklahoma City—the “Oklahoma Standard”. This slogan was born in the aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, when rescuers came to help, and the local citizens went out of their way to help the rescuers. The way I heard the story told, the rescue teams that arrived were many of the same rescuers that were in New York following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Those rescuers in New York had to buy all of their supplies; in Oklahoma, they weren’t “permited” to spend a dollar. People were so grateful, and so friendly, and so helpful, that a new standard was set—the “Oklahoma Standard”.

I’m happy to report that this standard is still alive and well today.

Carl Shortt (@cshortt on twitter) approached me both on this blog and on twitter, offering not only a place to stay while visiting Oklahoma City on my cross-country adventure, but to show me the highlights of his lifelong home. An avid photographer himself, he was eager to show me around and spend the day shooting together. And shoot we did! From the moment I woke up and was rushed out the door to a local favorite for breakfast, to the sunset shoot on the lake (a lake?!—yep, they’ve got one), to the sunrise shoot at Pops on Route 66 the following morning, Carl went above and beyond, proving that the Oklahoma Standard is not only alive and well, but thriving—and I’d like to think being raised every day.

These are my photographs of the Oklahoma City Memorial. If your recollection of this tragedy is fuzzy, a quick google will refresh your memory. The monument stands at the location of the original Federal building, and the reflection lake sits where Timothy McVeigh’s truck was parked when it ended the lives of 168 men, women and children at 9:02am on April 19, 1995.

The 9:01 gate; the south entrance to the Oklahoma City Memorial. The two entrances are marked as 9:01 and 9:03; the moment before and the moment after the bombing. At 9:02, everything changed.

The Reflecting Pool, capped by the 9:03 gate.

The Reflecting Pool, revealing the Memorial Museum. The museum is housed in the former Journal Record building, which largely survived the blast. However the outside wall has been mostly left as it was that fateful day, scarred for the world to see.

 A volunteer is “painting” the inside of the engravings on the rock wall, making names of the victims easier to read.

A fragment of the original building, as it was left after the bombing.

A silk rose, left on one of the memorial chairs. Many of the chairs are small—for each child lost in the blast.

The entrance to the memorial is flanked by a chainlink fence for visitors to attach memories and tributes to. Even now, 15 years after the bombing, at least twice a year these tribute walls must be cleared to make room for more.

Santa Rosa, NM to Oklahoma City, OK

This was a long drive, without too many stops. In fact, I drove right past the Cadillac Ranch and didn’t even realize it until 20 minutes later! I know, embarrassing. I need a “proximity app” on my iPhone that alerts me when I’m near a predetermined landmark. Anyone know of something like that? Shouldn’t be too hard now that there’s background processing on iOS 4, right?

Anyway, I didn’t go back. As much as I’d love to have seen and shot it, a) I actually did have people waiting for me for dinner that evening in Oklahoma (see last photo below), and b) I figure it’s been shot to death. So, onward and eastward I went.

A short collection of photos from the day’s drive then… These first four are all in Texas, racing across the panhandle. I didn’t realize it’s actually possible to drive across the great state of Texas in just a few hours!

Upon entering Oklahoma, the landscape changed quite dramatically. OK I’m shooting what was dramatically different, but there you go :-)

The next shot illustrates why I was in a hurry to get on to Oklahoma, and skipped returning to Cadillac Ranch. My new friend Carl Shortt (@cshortt), who invited me to stay at his home and showed me all around Oklahoma City, was waiting here with other friends at this amazing fried chicken place called Eischen’s. Seriously amazing fried chicken!!

The following day he toured me around they city, and we even met up with another twitter follower and This Week in Photo fan, Gunnar Hood (@gunnarhood). But those photos will have to wait for another post. I gotta hit the road!