Friday, April 29, 2016

Movie Magic

Trona, California
February 17, 2010

You probably have seen the Trona Pinnacles, but just didn't know it. Production crews for movies, television, and commercials have been drawn for years to this area 150 miles north of Los Angeles.

This group of over 500 tufa (calcium carbonate) towers rise up to 140 feet from the Searles Dry Lake and can be transformed into an alien world or the desolate reaches of the earth with the right lighting, camera angle, and special effects. Star Trek V, the 2001 remake of the Planet of the Apes, and many a car and truck commercial are just some of the video productions that have been filmed here.

The Pinnacles are best though when you are by yourself and have them all to yourself. You don't need any Hollywood magic to feel desolate in these surroundings.

The Trona Pinnacles in the 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes

Friday, April 15, 2016

The End of the Road

Near Venice, Louisiana
March 15, 2010

The road south of Venice
I always found the mouth of the Mississippi River an interesting blob on the map. If you extend your arm out and wiggle your fingers, you would get something that looks like the river from south of New Orleans to its delta. I was in the mood for a drive with lots of unknowns and a defined end that would signal me to return back.

The Great River Road runs along the course of the Mississippi River from its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the nether regions of Louisiana. That was my drive for the day. I drove the road along the west bank of the river, but in many places I was on a sliver of raised land with water on both sides of the road. However, this was not a road of solitude but one bustling with activity. Venice is the last town on the road, and the oil business was evident all around. I could see the oil business even miles further down the road.

The legislature of Louisiana stopped the Great River Road at Venice, but there were still a few miles of road left before the Gulf of Mexico put an end to it. I drove south past Venice and down the road as far as I could. Then I came to a dead-end where the paved road abruptly stopped. Although there was a dirt driveway that served a few oil industrial sites further south and went for another mile, the end of the paved road was the end of my adventure down the Mississippi River.

The Mississippi River Delta