I am sure you are wondering why we called the last photography journey #GuerrillaPhotographyTrip, we drove over 1500 miles in 74 hours, shooting four locations in two different states, two of those locations we shot both night and day photos. Spending 74 hours in the car with two humans and not getting in one single fight the whole time, which alone was a miracle. Justin and Bailey made this trip amazing and I am so happy that I got to spend every minute with them!
When I sat down to write this, I had to get out my itinerary from our trip to make sure I knew the right order we did. We ran nonstop the whole trip. Leaving from Phoenix at 4am on Thursday morning our first stop was The Neon Museum in Las Vegas Nevada. The Neon Museum is a collection of antique and historical signs from The Strip, Gas Stations, Hotels, and Casinos. It was fun; unfortunately it was a guided tour, which the three of us very quickly realized that we don’t like guided tours. The history was great for this location and the overcast weather made for great lighting on all of the old signs. Shooting with restrictions and guidelines are not my thing.... clearly. After a couple hours in the Neon Museum we decided it was time for breakfast, which Bailey got us so excited for this new place called Hash House A Go Go, after searching for it and finding it.... there is suddenly an hour wait..... which our schedule did not allow for. So after all the hype that Bailey got us prepared for Justin and I were disappointed to say the least. We found a hot dog place and moved on.
Making the drive from Vegas to The International Car Forest was our next task, as usual Bailey was asleep in the backseat and Justin and I were jammin’ out to country in the front seat. We made it about an hour out from The International Car Forest when we came across a man selling his assortment of military goods from Ammo Boxes to Guard Shacks. We got out to check everything out and while looking around we struck up conversation with the owner Keith. While chatting with him we realized the love that he has for everything there, every ammo box had a story and a background, he had nothing but good shooting locations for us to try, and was very interested in our trip and the photography we were doing. I love that we had the opportunity to meet Keith on this trip!
Finally pulling up to The International Car Forest I felt like a kid in a candy shop! Simply seeing the cars standing on end, painted on and never ending, as if they just grew there was breath taking (maybe you have to be a photographer to understand why breathtaking is the word I choose, we like weird things like this). We photographed the cars and location for about a couple hours then turned the camera on Bailey and photographed her! What a fun afternoon into evening. We lost the sun so fast that afternoon it seemed like we had been there for an hour but it really had been over five hours! We drove about an hour to find dinner, on the way I spotted an older man sitting outside the general store with his dog and cane with a hammer on it, so naturally I got out and asked to photograph him, Thank you JP for putting up with me photographing you for a few minutes.
Getting back to the Car Forest we prepared to photograph at night! We quickly got to shooting using our colored flash lights and long exposures. We photographed for a few hours and decided to make the drive to our next stop that night.
After driving for a couple hours we noticed the temperature drop almost twenty degrees. The next part was written very well by Justin Swartzentruber:
“Last night we were driving from a remote part of Nevada to another remote part of California to take some pictures. We had been driving for over an hour and a half without seeing any other cars at all on the road.
We got to a point where we couldn't see anything resembling civilization. We pulled off the road and turned off our lights.
The Moon and stars were the only things that gave any light. There were no street lights, no houses, no businesses anywhere and we hadn't seen any cars for almost a hundred miles. Not only that, it was dead silent. We didn't even hear any animals.
The only thing around us was a huge plain full of creosote bushes completely surrounded by mountains on every side. The mountains glowed in the bright moonlight and the smell of the creasotes was woodsy and clean like that first day you bring home a new, live Christmas tree.
The three of us just stood out in the middle of the road and soaked it all in without anything at all to distract us from the beauty of the night sky and the peacefulness of a few moments spent in an environment where there is absolutely nothing happening at all. There is nothing like experiencing that kind of total serenity.
I'm so glad I got to spend that special moment with a couple of fantastic friends. Sometimes life needs to be more like that little moment in that little valley in the middle of nowhere. Just nothing other than life happening and sharing it with some special people. Enjoy your summer."
After an hour or two of sleep we woke up to an amazing sunrise right on the shores of Mono Lake in Northern California. Took a short drive into town to eat a good breakfast at a local Diner then headed to the abounded mining town of Bodie California. Spending a couple hours there on our unguided tour, which if you don’t remember we prefer those, was interesting to say the least. Seeing the warped and busted floorboards, the bowing brick walls, and the outrageous amount of dust everywhere was indeed a sight to see and a photographers dream to explore. We captured the raw look of Bodie and some more photographs of Bailey.
Making our quick exist from Bodie we made the long haul to Boron California. In Boron we explored and photographed the now abounded Boron Air Force Station and Former Federal Prison. This location was by far one of my favorite places I have photographed and explored yet! While walking though you get these nonstop creepy thoughts and feelings, yet totally overjoyed to be walking around without any problems. Like a rollercoaster of emotions we went into building after building, where someone apparently made a Zombie movie because of all red paid looking like blood and words like “Zombie Inside,” “Dead Inside” and “Don’t Let Them Out” spray-painted all over. Walking into the buildings I couldn’t help but think who used to walk these halls, who was stationed here, who was in the prison cell I was standing in, and why it closed.
Making the drive from Boron home was the hardest part, both physically and mentally. We were all tired, but we were able to make it to Phoenix and have everyone in their beds before the Sun came up, barely, on Saturday morning.
During our trip we kept writing down funny quotes that the three of us had said along the way on the cover of our itinerary folder, so I thought I would share a couple of those below.... they may not be as funny to you but to Justin, Bailey and myself we may just die laughing!
“Sometimes a person will recommend a book, Sometimes a book will recommend a person.” –Justin
“What?! Snowway?!” – Bailey
Bailey says “Let’s go get coffee” Justin replies “I don’t even like coffee” Bailey ends with “Well, you’re going to like coffee today”
“I stated seeing so many things last night I stopped telling you” –Justin
“Hey, my sandwich is in the back!” – Matt
Discussing how cold it is....
“I brought a long sleeve shirt” - Justin “Yah I brought a sweatshirt that little one is using as a pillow right now….” –Matt
The best reassuring quote of the trip was “We’ll be fine” Said by all of us when we felt like we could die at any moment.....
I had one amazing trip! I could not have asked for two better people to be sleep deprived, starving, and scared with. I am blessed to call them my friends and super blessed that they are willing to put up with me as I go through my OCD photography process. Thank you Bailey and Justin for making this trip so much fun! Can't wait for our next one. Speaking of our next one we have already started planning our next trip! We will announce the details of that one soon!