the journal

Archive for February, 2009


Events: Free Photography Workshops

Filed Under local travel, photography, urban-explorers.com

I run small workshops every once in a while called Shootin’ Up LA. In the past, they’ve been for friends only, but I’d like to make the activity a public event for anyone living in the Los Angeles area (free of charge). Here are the details:

Shootin’ Up LA IV – Good Timez in 09

Thursday, February 19, 5:30PM

It’s about time again! Join me for the fourth installment of Shootin’ Up LA!

Let’s get together Thursday (Feb 19) for a bit of photogging. Who can stay indoors in the evening on days like these? Anyone with a camera is welcome to come, no matter if you own a top-of-the-line SLR or just a disposable. As the saying goes, “It’s not the camera that makes a good shot, it’s the photographer.”

I find that photographing with other people inspires more creativity and sharing of photographic ideas. After work on Thursday (5:30-ish), meet us at the Mission Goldline Station in South Pasadena. After spending an hour or two (or three) shooting stuff in the area, you’re free to grab a bite to eat at one of the superb dining establishments in the area. You can meet us in the area if you can’t meet us at 5:30pm.  Contact me via e-mail on how to do that.

Most of the evening will be played by ear, following our eyes to the next interesting thing, but before the sun sets, I’d like to run a small workshop on macro photography and provide tips & tricks on how you can take quality shots of really small stuff with your camera.

Shootin’ Up LA V – Wildlife Weekend

Saturday, February 21, 10:00AM

Join me for the fifth installment of Shootin’ Up LA – Wildlife Weekend!

Let’s try something new and get together on Saturday for a bit of nature photogging. Anyone with a camera is welcome to come, no matter if you own a top-of-the-line SLR or just a disposable. As the saying goes, “It’s not the camera that makes a good shot, it’s the photographer.”

We’ll meet at the front gates of the The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden at 10:00 AM. If you can’t meet us at that time, you’re welcome to meet with us in the gardens anytime between 10-2pm. Contact me via e-mail on how to do that.

In the gardens, I’d like to run a small workshop on macro photography and provide tips & tricks on how you can take quality shots of really small stuff with your camera. This will be similar to the Thursday evening outing, but location and lighting will make this workshop as different as, well, night and day!

I can be reached at : kahunna@no_spamming_gmail.com


Echo Mountain Hike

Filed Under local travel, photography

It was supposed to rain over an inch today in Southern California.  That’s a lot for us.  Enough for most here to reconsider their weekend activities.  For instance, I was hoping to have made a weekend trip out to Joshua Tree National Park myself, but when the rain came down yesterday, I pictured myself soaked to the bone carrying my camera gear around in 40 degree weather.  Not my idea of a fun weekend.

So I hung out around the house, got some chores done, and worked a bit on my book. Rainy day activities.  Funny enough, though – the rain didn’t come.

So late in the afternoon, I grabbed my rain jacket and hiking pole and headed out to do a little hike in the local hills.  I went to my favorite spot: Echo Mountain.  It stands about 2,500 feet above the San Gabriel Valley and has some cool ruins of a 100-year old funicular train station and hotel.  Along the 3-mile trail, I passed many hikers coming down. When I reached the top at about 5pm, I was alone. Just me, the clouds, and the spectacular view of the Los Angeles area.

I listened to my iPod on the hike and at the top, a Sigur Rós song began to play. Untitled #6. It really added to the mood and thought it would be appropriate background music while you view the photos and videos I took (with my Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS)

February Leaves


Tiny Mushroom

Tiny Mushroom - (Thumb Comparison)

Tiny Growth on Rock  - (Thumb Comparison)

Rays of LIght 2

Los Angeles Between Storms

Rays of Light 1

City of Angels

Echo Mountain View

Storm Rolling In


How Much Does A Trip to Nicaragua Cost?

Filed Under international travel

One of the common questions I get asked by friends and co-workers when I tell them about a recent trip is, “How much did it a trip like that cost?” Many are surprised by the answer. One excuse “someday” travelers make for themselves is that travel is too expensive to consider, especially during our economic crisis. But if you’re a glass-is-half-full, always-looking-for-the-silver-lining type, like my brothers are over at BootsNall.com, you might use this as an opportunity to finally make that Big Overseas Trip. The website specializing in independent travel recently discussed in their e-mail newsletter the opportunity this economic crisis offers: The economic downturn “has caused airlines and hotels to become desperate, to the point that they are slashing prices to unheard-of levels.”

If that isn’t enough incentive to plan – and I mean really plan – your overseas trip, consider the fact that there are still places in the world that you can travel comfortably in for less than US$40 a day.

I recently sat down and reviewed all of my expenditures from my recent trip to Nicaragua. I’m a quite fastidious journal writer when I travel. Among other details, I tend to write down every centavo, santim, pence or penny I spend on an international trip. So allow me to answer exactly how much a trip to Nicaragua cost me.

Keep in mind a few things:

  1. I am a mid-budget traveler. I’ll generally stay at a cheap hostel (“it’s just a bed”) or camp in my tent. If i have my camera gear with me, I’ll usually get a private room.
  2. When exploring a city, I tend to enjoy walking around a place rather than visit a museum.
  3. I’ll spend a bit more on public transportation if it will get me to my destination faster (i.e., a taxi over a bus).
  4. If I opt for a guided trek, I’ll usually look for experience & reputation before price. I don’t care about the amenities they might offer (such as camping gear or food).

With that said, here’s the breakdown of my expenses. Costs are in US Dollars. At the time of travel, US$1 = 19/20 Cordobas.

Nicaragua 2008 Trip Report

November 26th – December 14th
Airline ticket (including taxes): $442
Total amount spent in country: $626
Average amount spent per day: $35


Joshua Tree NP From Space

Filed Under local travel

NASA’s Earth Observatory has posted an image of one of my favorite camping spots in California, Joshua Tree National Park.

NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using park boundary geographic data (GIS) provided the U.S. National Park Service and Innovative Technology Administration’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and Landsat data from the United States Geological Survey. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.

When Joshua Tree National Park was first proposed for preservation in the 1930s, the suggested name was “Desert Plants National Park,” because of the 700 plant species, including cacti and succulents, wildflowers, desert palms, and hardy shrubs that manage to survive in the desert climate. The plants support the park’s wildlife, among them 25 species of snakes; mammals such as bighorn sheep, ground squirrels, and coyotes; hundreds of migratory and resident birds; and thousands of species of insects and arthropods, including tarantulas, fairy shrimp, scorpions, and more than 150 species of butterflies and moths.

From space, all this biodiversity is far less visible than it is on the ground, but the reason for the diversity is apparent in this Landsat satellite image captured on May 28, 2003. The high levels of biodiversity are the result of the adaptation of plants and animals to three major topographic and climatic zones that meet in the park. The north-northeast part of the park intersects the southern edge of the Mojave Desert, which is higher in elevation and slightly cooler and wetter than the Colorado Desert areas in the eastern and southern parts of the park. A third topographic zone is provided by high altitudes (above 4,000 feet) of the Little San Bernardino Mountains at the far western edge of the park. Natural springs, forced to the surface near geologic faults, also create five rare desert palm oases in the western part of the park.

Ultimately, the park was given the name of its largest, most iconic, plant resident: Yucca brevifolia, nicknamed the “Joshua tree” by European settlers. Rangers have described the plant as the “canteen of the desert” because its tissues hold water during dry spells. Although its spiny leaves and thick bark discourage all but the thirstiest animals, the living tissue of a Joshua tree is often the last source of moisture for animals during times of extreme drought. Ecosystem and climate models suggest that climate-suitable habitat for Joshua trees could dramatically shrink in coming decades as a result of global warming.


Valley of Fire State Park 2007 – Gallery

Filed Under galleries, local travel, photography, Uncategorized

After looking at the photos in this gallery, you might be surprised to hear that they were taken just an hour or so from Las Vegas. Valley of Fire State Park is usually lost in the shadow of the less natural activities in Sin City. When I went in the spring of 2007, I found myself alone quite frequently. But while exploring an ancient land painted in reds and oranges – without a casino in sight – I was not complaining.