2028 miles later…

So after 2028 miles traveled in two weeks I finished my solo road trip. After a few days back in LA I left last night for London. The trip as a whole was great, though I now think maybe if you are dealing with grief sending yourself into isolation is perhaps not the best thing to do. You end up thinking, or rather over thinking, about things too much. Without much human interactions along the way, I tended to run over a lot of things in my mind. Things about my mum’s last year I could have done differently, things I regretted, or mistakes I felt I made. I thought for days about the day she died, running over constantly minute by minute of the last hours I spent with her, and then watching her die in my arms. Maybe it is because I do not want to forget this, or maybe it’s because I still feel guilty, I’m not sure.

This whole¬† trip I felt I was on some kind of mission, a mission for what I really do not know. But I felt like I was trying to get somewhere or find something, but it never happened. I think I felt going to LA, back to where my mum was brought up, I would feel closer to her, or would discover more about her, I did not. LA is such a strange city, and it has changed enormously since the 1950’s when she was there. I expected to land and start shooting a story about my mum, when really now the whole place has nothing related to her. I tried going round her old neighbourhood, her old high school, but didn’t see the point in taking pictures of the old buildings she once frequented, what would this tell me about her? Nothing. So I left LA.

I first traveled up the coast with friends to San Francisco. I was reading my mum’s first husband Barry Miles’ biography about the 60’s and it talks a lot about his friendships with the Beat poets, and his time with them in the US. It was nice to read about their history while being in the places at the same time.

After San Fransisco I went back to LA then hired a car and went out on my own across three states: California, Nevada & Arizona. The country is amazing, such huge open expansion of land, something we simply have nothing like in this country. One day I was in Death Valley, walking on salt plains in the baking sun, then a few hours later I was surrounded my snow on the mountains. Then I would be driving through a huge rain storm in the middle of no where in the desert, then sunbathing around a motel swimming an hour later. It was so varied.

I decided to shoot mainly film this trip. I felt so fed up with digital photography. I had so much more fun with my old Bronica, it felt like proper photography. Though I have not processed the films yet, they may all come out underexposed and out of focus, will wait and see…

Tomorrow I am off to the Lake District with only my Bronica. It couldn’t be a more different place to the ones I’ve photographed over the last month, but this time I will be with lots of friends!

I am in the land of the phallic cactus.

…otherwise know as Phoenix, Arizona.

Oooo I say.
I actually thought you only saw cactus like this in cartoons or westerns.
It kind of feels like you are on a movie set when you walk around with all these cactus everywhere.
Couldn't resist an old sunset image.
A nice fluffy one.

I have left Vegas, and all it’s mass of human tragedy and shit architecture.

I have left Las Vegas and am in the mountains surrounded by snow. It’s very strange, as I was sunbathing in the desert 2 days ago, now there are piles of snow everywhere. I was not expecting this, I think the locals can see this with my flip-flop footwear, lucky I do not feel the cold.

I am so glad to of left Las Vegas, what a horrible place. I am pleased to say I did not gamble, get drunk, go to a strip club, or get married. It is such a strange place, plonked right in the middle of the American desert but it could be anywhere. The whole city is trying to pretend to be somewhere else, every casino/hotel is called things like New York or Hollywood or they try to recreate parts of Venice, or Roman palaces. The whole place is build on greed, excess and all on the back of other humans misery. The casinos are terrible places, they are designed to entice you in and keep you there for as long as possible, fooling you out of as much of your money as possible. They do not care who you are, anyones money is good. I saw rows upon rows of elderly people putting vast amounts of money in to fruit machines, what I could only imagine was coming from their pensions or savings. They sell drink 24 hours a day, have cash machines everywhere and you can even bet while sitting at the bar. They deliberately make it so there are no windows so you have no notion of time passing, you can never see if it night or day outside. I saw one man in a wheel chair actually collapse at a machine and had to be taken away in a stretcher, it was beyond depressing. Funnily the casino did not want me taking pictures of this, I wonder why.

I don’t get Vegas, maybe I am just being a snob, but I hated the place, the people, and everything it stands for. I won’t be going back. I did take some pics though, here are a few:

Sums it up really.
The only green things in Vegas.
Even the trees have lights.
'New York'. I miss the real one.
Some of the many signs.

I thought looking at the metal bars on the many walk ways were more interesting than the buildings behind them. Out of focus Vegas is more appealing, to me anyway.


Off to the Grand Canyon tomorrow…

My road trip: Day 1-4.

So I made it out of LA after a week or eating and sightseeing, including a lovely trip up the coast to San Francisco with friends.  It felt like an actual holiday. Though as well as a holiday this is supposed to be the start of my next project about my mum. But I can say that I did not feel any attachment what so ever to LA in connection with my mum, I could not even imagine her living there. I can see why she hated it so, and perhaps this was a silly place to try to start the story from. It was over 50 years ago that she lived here, there is no longer anyone here who knew her and the food could not be more different, so the story about her life and food has not really started yet. I did a bit of visiting her old neighbourhood (Beverly Hills), and her old school (Beverly Hills High), but they brought up no emotions at all. She hated living here and hated her school with a passion, so what I really expected to find I am not sure. I certainly do not want to illustrate a book with pictures of bland buildings.

So I left LA last Wednesday, I’m out on my way to do a road trip. I going to some of the places she used to talk about. First stop was Death Valley, I stayed there for 2 nights and loved it. While driving down the long highways surrounded by the mountains and salt lakes I realised she had seen these exact same views. The view has not changed for thousands of years, unlike LA. So it felt nice looking at these for the first time and imagining her first time as a young child seeing the same prehistoric landscapes. Without sounding too cringy I really felt her around me, somewhere, I imagined her on top of the mountain having fun. I really miss her, all through this trip I keep thinking oh can’t wait to tell her about that… and then I remember. A lot of the anger and guilt feelings are fading and now it’s more a sad lonely feeling, and a feeling of hopelessness in a way because I just have to except it, there is nothing else I can do. She would have loved this trip, that’s what perhaps makes me feel more sad, that she is missing out, but she would be really happy that I am doing it, so that is what I keep remembering.

I am back on the road tomorrow, heading The Grand Canyon way. I stopped over in Las Vegas, thank god I am leaving tomorrow. It is truly horrendous in so many senses of the word. Looking forward to getting back to the country roads. The driving out here is fantastic, I enjoy it more than the stops. You can go where ever you want, the scenery is always fascinating or weird, you can blast load music, sing along, scream, cry, and stuff your face with Mucho Cheese (a new addiction of mine, best described as a genetically modified Wotsit), and swig Root Beer…living the (American truck drivers) dream.

One of my many 'Road' pics.
...and one more.