Whenever you tell someone you’re going to drive from SF to LA, they inevitably ask, ”Are you taking the 101 (aka the pretty, yet slower route) or the 5 (the faster but gawd-awful-boring-cow route)?”, to which most people will reply, “I’m just gunna shoot down the 5.” This was my answer on January 2nd as well. But it was technically Day One of my TDM, AKA Tour de ‘Merica, and I knew I had to photo document whatever drive I took. This left me with a the great (nay I say impossible?) challenge of making Highway 5 interesting, or at least give it a valiant effort. I decided to change routes and go all the way to Vegas instead of stopping in LA, so at least I would also have some desert to offset the blandness.
There had been terrible fires recently, and the air quality was the worst I’d ever seen. While approaching the famous Grapevine section of the drive, I couldn't even see the massive mounds of rising hills until I was right at their base, and only then did I know it was coming due to the familiar red and white silo that marked its eminence. The sky was pure white. The terrain was covered in a thick hazy blanket that even the deepest blacks could barely penetrate. It did make for some interesting photography, however, so for that I was thankful. It took me ten and a half hours to reach my parent’s doorstep in Vega; half of which I spent scouting the landscape for places to pull over for a shot, and the other half contemplating my journey ahead awhile reminiscing about the New Year that had just passed. I have to admit I was a bit melancholy. I love San Francisco, and I was/am leaving a really great life there for something that is completely unknown. As I drove down the various desolate highways, my mind weaved in and out memories and of hopes. For this first leg of my journey, as will be every one to follow, my camera was my shotgun rider. I admired the scenery and hopefully captured some of its glory, even if it was the boring, dreaded Highway 5 shielding itself in its thick white cloak. Perhaps it was a metaphor for my year ahead: A blank slate was painted across the sky for me to create a meaningful new story.