Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Into Idaho on the Lewis & Clark Trail! Tour d'Joko: Yellowstone Edition - Episode Two

On the day before my vacation began last week, I was speaking with my manager at work about traveling and adventure and the like. He asked if I had ever read “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen E. Ambrose. It’s a history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, beginning with the politics of it, Merriwether Lewis’s relationship with Jefferson, and continuing with the expedition itself. My boss highly recommended the book. I picked it up on my lunch break to be my vacation read. Now, I am starting on the opposite coast that Lewis and Clark began, but a good part of my journey followed the Lewis & Clark trail. Specifically, the part that occurred in Northern Idaho. 

Given that I was allowing myself 2 days to go 800 miles, I had time to take the scenic route, US Highway 12, from Lewiston, ID to Missoula, MT. As I drove down US 12, I passed several famous sites from the Lewis & Clark journey: The Long Camp, where they stayed for 3 months; Canoe Camp, where they built the canoes that would take them down the Clearawater River, the Snake R., and finally onto the Columbia (which we saw last episode). I didn’t stop at these sites, and I regret that now that I’m done and continuing to read about their journey. I needed to get to my first campsite! It was first-come-first-serve at the place, and I was worried I may not get a site! Turns out, the place was mostly deserted.
See, this part of Idaho is a sparsely populated part of a sparsely populated state. I drove Highway 12 and saw 3 or 4 cars an hour in either direction. 

As you heard in the video, I was lamenting about the lack of my radio choices out there in the foothills of the Bitterroot Mountains. Christian Country or Fox News radio were pretty much it. This theme continued as I traveled eastward. I listened to more right-wing Fox newstalk radio this last week than I had in my whole life. Now, this may upset some of my liberal friends, but I came to a conclusion after listening to hour after hour of this right-wing babble. It’s pretty much the same style and verbiage as left-wing babble. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Rush Limbaugh sounds just like Ed Schultz, but coming from the opposite side. Ann Coulter and Randy Rhodes say the same things. Bleep out the words Obama, Romney, liberal, conservative, Republican and Democrat, and you’d not know which political agenda the speaker was coming from.  

After the listening to this stuff, I needed to re-connect with my Progressive soul… so with nothing to do in my van in the middle of nowhere, I made this song, Romney the Bain Man

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bring It On! Yellowstone Trip - Episode One

I should have made a more comprehensive list of what to bring on my journey to Yellowstone. 

It was a six in the morning on Tuesday when I began my trip, and although I had loaded up the van the day before, I had to pack some last minute things.

  I was 3 miles from home when I realized I had forgotten my winter jacket. I turned around for that.

  I was 100 miles from home when I found that I was missing the “shoe” (the piece that connects to the camera to allow it to mount) for my better tripod. Grrr!! This was going to effect the quality of my videos.

  I was setting up my bedding for my first night’s sleep when I realized I had forgotten to bring a pillow. 

  Now, here in this first episode of the Tour, I set out on the journey. Most of this video takes place in the rather boring and very windy Eastern half of Washington State. I had never been on this road before, and despite some gruelingly barren terrain in the middle of the state, seeing the Columbia River, the Palouse and Snake River valley were quite interesting.  

The videos will get more interesting from here, although I do introduce a brand new special effect courtesy of Google Maps.  


Introduction to the Tour d'Joko: Yellowstone Edition

Once upon a time, a man, halfway through his existence on this planet, began a new life. He told himself he would no longer live the life that others wanted him to live. He would not give in to his fears and let them hold him back. He would live the life he was meant to live…

 Over the course of a few seasons, this worked well. He was happy. He had found a way to express his muse in a way he enjoyed. A few others seemed to enjoy it as well. He had learned to follow his bliss.  

The man had learned to reject the demands of society and his fears, but he had not learned to control his desires, and his desires brought him low. He had planned an epic voyage to the land of the Yellowstone, but his desire for the drink prevented the quest from going forward. His chariot in ruins and taken away, stripped of his means of earning coin and on the verge of being sentenced to the dungeon, the man swallowed his pride, understood he was sick, recognized he was powerless in the face of the drink and sought help.
The man recovered. He continues to recover. He learned to understand the difference between higher and lower wants. The drink was put away. A new chariot was acquired. He stayed out of the dungeon. He remembered his bliss and began following it once again…

And the quest to the Land of Yellowstone was begun…
* * *
Hello, friends! I’m back! 

Yellowstone was magical. At times, I faced challenges that required heroic measures. It seemed to me that introducing the story as a fairy tale was the way to go. 

With 4+ hours of footage shot in high-definition (which means my 6 year-old computer has trouble processing it), I’ll be making videos from this journey for weeks to come. One thing I haven’t done in a long time is a “title sequence”; the following will start each episode in this volume of the Tour d’Joko. 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Off to Yellowstone!

An old friend of mine whom I’ve known since high school (who happens to live in Montana and I am going to visit in a couple of days) commented on one of my very first videos: “it’s amazing what one can get can get away with when one is completely unreserved about what one does”… 

Words to live by. 

Tomorrow, I depart on a thousand mile journey into the wilderness. I’ll admit, I have both a lot of fears and a lot of expectations for this week long journey. My fears include: What if my car breaks down in the middle of nowhere? What if I run out of money? What if the weather won’t cooperate? My expectations are ones I have self-imposed. I want to make the best ever Tour d’Joko videos I have ever made. What if I wuss out and am lazy about getting the footage I’ll need? What if I don’t spot a single bison, bear or wolf? Up until today, I feared I’d run out of memory on my digital video camera, but I bought a 32GB SD card today for $23... A couple years back, a 16GB card would have cost $100.… 

I’m heading off into the unknown, and to be honest, I am not 100% prepared for what might happen out there. I’m maybe 80% prepared. That said, I want to recapture the spirit of the very first Tour d’Joko, which happens to have occurred exactly five years ago this week. I spent a week on the road, and to my mind at least, what I captured on that journey was special. The first Tour d’Joko ended up being chronicled it 21 video parts. Here a couple of the early ones.

As a videographer, I have evolved since those days, so, content wise, there will be similarities but hopefully, some significant improvements from the first Tour d’Joko. Ack! How to balance spontaneity with direction… this is my challenge. Visiting another National Park that begins with the letter “Y”…

I’m going to be offline for the next week. See you all here in June when I start digesting the videos to come.