Category Archives: Alabama Hills

Something Different, An RV Adventure!

This post is going to be a little different because I’m going to talk about our recent RV trip (with just a little photography thrown in).

Our usual June schedule is to get in the RV and go to Prescott, Arizona to visit family.  We spend a few days there, and then return home.  This year we also had family spending a few days in Mammoth Lakes, California within a couple of days of our planned Arizona departure.  So, we decided to connect the two trips together to make it one grand adventure!

Another difference between our 2015 Arizona trip and this year’s trip was we got a new motorhome.  Our previous motorhome was a 29 foot Class C, and this year we have a 33 foot Class A.


Maverick, 2006 29ft Class C Motorhome by Georgie Boy/Coachman


Goggins, 2006 33ft Class A Motorhome by Fleetwood

There are quite a few differences between the two motorhomes, including size.  Goggins (a name we borrowed from our Grandson) is built on a W22 Workhorse chassis, is 33 feet long, has 2 slideouts and has much more storage than Maverick.  Maverick was built on a Ford E-450 Truck/Van chassis and didn’t have any slideouts.

Driving Goggins is a much different experience than driving Maverick.  At almost 13 feet high, Goggins presents quite a large flat surface going down the road, kind of like a billboard.  So, when it gets windy or large trucks pass me, I can really feel it.  Nothing unsafe, but it can really get your attention and keep you on your toes!

Here’s a look at our route:

Our adventure started in Fontana, California, across the desert (during a heatwave) to Prescott, Arizona. From Prescott, we continued on for an overnight stay in Boulder City, Nevada. It was still very hot in Boulder City, and we had the longest leg of our journey across the Nevada desert to Mammoth Lakes, California. Before we headed home, we spent a couple of days in Lone Pine, California.

Just before we got under way, I was able to purchase an RV specific GPS, the Garmin RV 760LMT. The Garmin 760 is a decent GPS, and it’s larger size makes it easy to see on the large dashboard of Goggins. I was able to connect it to my Mac using the supplied software and download all of my routes and waypoints. I could have included the route as well, but opted not to, and let the GPS do that from waypoint to waypoint. There’s not much else to say about it, except that I didn’t rely solely on it for planning our trip. There are a lot of trip planning tools out there, but I found Good Sam’s Trip Planner does a very good job. The other tool that I used a lot was Google Maps. For each leg of the trip, I used Google Maps to locate gas stations, and shifted to Street View to verify that it was suitable for an RV the size of Goggins.

The grand total in milage was just over 1,200. This was by far our longest RV trip to date. As I already mentioned, we crossed many miles of desert. We also had the opportunity to do quite a bit of climbing up some very steep grades. At 33 feet long, Goggins is quite heavy at approximately 20,000 pounds, not to mention that we also tow our Honda CR-V. I have to say that I’m very impressed with the Workhorse Chassis. Goggins is powered by a Chevy Vortec 8.1 liter engine and has an Allison transmission, and the combination worked quite well. The only downside that I can think of is that at times there is quite a bit of noise. It doesn’t help that we are sitting right on top of the engine and transmission, but the main noise maker is when the clutch fan kicks in. And, since we were in the middle of a heat wave and doing a fair amount of climbing mountains, the fan kicked on a lot!

As the temperature rose outside, I started off by using the dash air. It worked adequately for awhile, but as we got further into the desert, between Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona the thermometer climbed to 120. In order to keep the inside of the coach somewhat comfortable, I started the generator and turned on both of the roof air conditioners. This strategy actually worked well, that is until we got onto some rough roads. Once we got off of Interstate 10 and on some two lane secondary roads heading to Congress, Arizona, we pitched and bounced around enough that the carburetor on the generator flooded out. I pulled over and was able to get it running again, but the road didn’t change and it just stopped again. Luckily we were gaining elevation and the temperature was slowly dropping from 120 down to 100. I know, that still seems very hot, but the drop was enough for the dash air alone to keep us comfortable.

Moving from a Maverick (Class C) to Goggins (Class A) with its 2 slide outs was a huge difference when we are parked. We have quite a bit more storage, both inside and a lot more leg room! We can stretch out, the dogs can play, and we aren’t bumping into each other constantly. It’s amazing what a couple of slide outs will do! One of the other little luxuries we now enjoy is a powered awning. In the past, Maverick’s manual awning did provide shade, but it was always a pain to put it up when a sudden wind came up. There were plenty of times during our 9 years with Maverick that a pleasant day turned to night, and we went to bed with the awning out (but tied down). Then, seemingly out of nowhere a heavy wind came up and started pulling on the awning and shaking us awake. So, I pulled on my clothes, jumped outside in the dark and worked to get the awning put away before the wind did any damage. Now, with Goggins I simply push a button, and the awning rolls up without a fuss!



From my ramblings above, you’d think the trip was only about driving Goggins. As I mentioned, we did visit with family, both in Prescott and Mammoth Lakes. We saw some beautiful scenery, drove through some very interesting little towns like Goldfield, Nevada, and had some fun hiking and playing golf! I was also able to sneak in some photography now and then.






So, I know this website is dedicated to photography, and you’re probably wondering what this post has to do with that. Actually, not much! RV’ing, spending time with family, spending time in nature are also passions of mine. I did mention that I was able to sneak in some photography time, and I’ll cover that in another post. The only thing I will say is that I used my LG-G4 cell phone’s camera for all of the photos in this post. Yes, I did have my other cameras with me, but there were many times when all I had was the cell phone. The LG-G4 did a pretty good job overall. I used Snapseed to edit my photos once they were on the phone, and I have Google Photos set up to automatically back up every shot I take. It works great and is something you should consider.

That’s it for this post. I’ll get back to photography next time. In the meantime, get out there and make some memories!

Mono Lake Drama

Mono Lake is one of my favorite places for photography.  My wife, 3 small dogs, and I make an annual trip to the Eastern Sierra for Fall colors and I always try to make the short trip to Mono Lake.  This year was no exception.

As usual, I brought along several cameras.  The lineup included my Olympus E-M5, Sony RX100, and Panasonic FZ1000.  So far the FZ1000 has seen the most use, followed closely by the RX100.  Sadly the E-M5 has seen no use (the trip isn’t over just yet).  Why the FZ1000?  Because it is the most versatile camera I have ever owned.  I used it to make photos of everything from the Alabama Hills and Eastern Sierra under nothing but moonlight, and to take quick snaps of a herd of deer passing through camp, handheld in low light.

Getting back to Mono Lake. I had a lot of fun with the FZ1000.  The clouds were really dramatic on the day of my visit.  They were so dramatic that they almost didn’t seem real.  I’m sure Mono Lake has had millions of photos made of it.  One of the things I like to do is see if I can find something different, something unique to set my photos apart.  The stormy sky was a big help with that!  The other thing I did was try out some of the different artistic modes available in the FZ1000.  I did shoot normally (RAW, aperture priority, ISO 125/200), but also made quite a few photos using the “Dramatic Black and White” mode.

Here are the results in Dramatic Black and White:

And just for fun, here are some in color (edited from the original RAW files):

I know there are some of you that are wondering if a camera like the FZ1000 is for you. Nobody can answer that question for you but you. But based on my experience using this camera, I can say with confidence that it is an amazing camera! Yes, it is considered a bridge camera (not a DSLR), and it has a 1″ sensor vs cameras with larger APS-C and M43 sensors. And one more thing, it really isn’t that small. In fact, it’s quite large compared to my E-M5. On the plus side, it is quick and easy to use. And not having to change lenses is huge! I carry it and a few other supplies in a small messenger bag. I think the image quality is excellent, and I’m able to tweak the RAW files as much (or little) as I want. Don’t count this camera out (or one like it) just because of its sensor size!

That’s it for this post, until next time Happy Shooting!

Old Camera, New Tricks!

Catchy title, don’t you think?  Actually the camera I’m referring to in this case is my Olympus E-P3.  While it may only be a few years old now, in the world of electronics (including cameras), this is almost ancient!

As time goes on all things electronic evolve.  In the never ending quest to keep people buying their products, camera manufacturers continue to up the ante.  The E-P3 had many things going for it, especially the retro look and feel.  The camera was built very solid and felt good in your hands.  And it looked very cool too!  One of the techie features that I liked was the in-body image stabilization.  The only complaints I remember reading about was that the E-P3’s image sensor (12mp) was getting old and could/should have been updated.  But even with a “dated” sensor there was plenty of praise for the image quality just the same.

I’ve had my E-P3 for a couple years now, and even though I’ve added a newer camera to my collection, I find myself drawn to the E-P3.  For our 3 week trip to the Eastern Sierra this year I brought my newer Olympus E-M5, Canon 60D, and E-P3.  The 60D stayed in the bag and in the motorhome for the entire trip.  My main shooter was the E-M5, but the E-P3 went everywhere that the E-M5 did.  At 1st I put the 14-42mm kit lens on the E-P3 and figured that I’d just keep it in the bag for backup.  I did end up taking some pictures with it and was pleased overall with what I ended up with.  It was then when I got to thinking that maybe I could use the E-P3 for more than backup.

One of the things I try to do when photographing a landscape scene is the look for something to help make it pop.  Clouds, beautiful golden light, or a unique perspective.  Not necessarily a gimmick, but rather something to help tell the story of my composition.  And it turns out that I had something in the camera bag that would help with this perfectly!  The Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye lens!

The fisheye is definitely unique.  It provides a very wide, and somewhat distorted point of view.  It’s not something that you want to use all time, but it is fun to experiment with.  And since I had my main camera setup for serious shooting, I could play with my E-P3 and Rokinon all I wanted.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the E-M5, but there was something hard to describe about picking up and using the E-P3 again.  It was fun!

My E-P3 has been with me for 2 years of shooting.  Sometimes it hasn’t been pleasant.  Not the camera, but what it has had to go though.  I’ve taken on hikes, in the rain, and snow.  It’s gotten soaked, and dropped twice.  I had some cuts and bruises but I healed.  My poor little E-P3 still has its battle scars.  There are a few nicks and dings on its body, and the pop-up flash doesn’t work anymore.  But it still fires up and takes pictures like a champ, and I think I love it even more now!

That’s enough of me singing the praises of the E-P3, here are some photos from its last outing:

That’s it for this post. Until next time, Happy Shooting!