Category Archives: travel log

Vancouver Trip

This post is a little overdue. John and I went to Seattle and Vancouver over Labor Day weekend to visit Jessica Glesby, Leanne Prain, Mandy Moore and Yarn Core. Jessica of Yarn Core, based out of Seattle, ended up canceling on us which just meant we got to spend more time in the great nation of Canada. It was really great productive trip. I wish I could just work on my documentary all the time.

I’m temped to sit here to tell you all play by play how the trip went, list the great food we ate, talk about the wonderful things we saw, the feeling of adventure I felt in my gut but I’m not going to. This is not a travel blog, this is my documentary blog. Of course this brings up an interesting issue, how honest can I be here? I mean if I confide in the blogosphere all the worries and problems I encounter, it might make me extra vulnerable to the world of criticism, doubt, and other negative vibes that come from being in the film industry. What if an investor reads one of my blog postings and thinks I’m too ____(fill in blank) and then doesn’t want to invest. Just something to think about.

With each trip I take and each shoot I do I get better which is true for most things. I’ve had many conversations with people about what does a documentary director actually do, what does a documentary producer actually do and interestingly enough, the answers are never really the same. Different people have different ethics and ideas about what you can do and not do in documentary filming. After our International Yarn Bombing Day shoot in San Antonio, I learned that I needed to make a wishlist shot list to help organize the shoot. Before we left on our trip I had written all the interview questions out, I had made a shot list, listed potential locations down, printed out maps to everything, scheduled the trip, and budgeted everything so we could not spend too much. A lot of these things are things producers usually do but for this trip I ended up doing most of it. I was pretty damn prepared. I even knitted John a hat and me a scarf for our trip.

Most of my hard work paid off while John and I were out in the field. I didn’t account for a tremendous amount of traffic on I-5 coming into Vancouver which made us miss our first interview which was with Jessica Glesby. Thankfully Jessica was super cool and we rescheduled to do the interview in the morning, before our interview with Leanne and Mandy. She even gave John and I some suggestions of places to eat in Vancouver. Everything worked out because John and I got to squeeze in a little nap before we wandered around the downtown area in search of dinner. I won’t get into it too much but Vancouver is beautiful and so are its people. We had a great time and got to go over everything for our big days of production on Saturday and Sunday.

We got up early Saturday and headed out to meet Jessica. Even though we were prepared, batteries charged and all, I felt a little nervous. It felt vaguely like I was about to go on a blind date. She and I had been in touch for months now but we hadn’t really met. Once we were face to face it felt like we were old friends. John and I set up and dove right in. We had a two camera set up. Producer Spencer Stoner, lent us his Canon 5d Mark II. Jessica was really fantastic on camera. I felt like the interview went really well. John thought I was a little too formal and made the criticism that I should talk more conversationally. He said that Jessica was great but other interviewees might be more stiff on camera. Duly noted.

After lunch with Jessica and her boyfriend, we headed back downtown to meet Leanne and Mandy. We were meeting at Leanne’s apartment on Bute Street. We got there and started setting up while casually talking to both of them. I had mentally prepared myself to be a better interviewer, I was relaxed and ready to be more conversational, less formal. They wanted to be interviewed together but I was also planning on interviewing them each on their own first. I could tell what made them great professional partners, they easily complimented each other. When one was stuck the other jumped in and vice versa. Once we got all our audio set and ready to go, we only had about an hour worth of battery power and space on our cards. This was disappointing but not devastating. Once we got as much as we could, we left knowing that we would meet up with them later for a nighttime yarn bomb.

We rushed back to the hotel to dump all the cards, power up all the batteries and physically and mentally rest. We got some dinner, tested all the equipment and packed the car again only to head about again. Once we met up with Leanne and Mandy we walked over to the Carlyl statue that they were going to yarn bomb. Some people stopped and watched, or just made comments as they walked by but no one stopped them or stopped us for filming (I love Canada). We got a lot of great stuff. I even used my GoPro camera to get some super low angle shots. After I looked at the footage later, I couldn’t be happier with what we got.

After it was done, we all decided to go get a drink and just unwind. I was temped to put mics on them and film while we were hanging out but John talked me out of it. We hung out with Mandy and Leanne and got to know them better. Leanne has another book coming out called Hoopla. Mandy has been writing for some craft sites and magazines. I wish I would have brought my knitting with me, I feel like I could have used her expertise. (She had to leave a little early that’s why she’s not in the picture to the left.) All and all it was a great day.

The next day was all for B-roll. Again, I had made a wish list of shots to get. John and I drove around Vancouver, each taking turns getting some shots. This was pretty fun. Eventually when the sun started to set, we reluctantly had to leave Canada and head back to Seattle where we were flying back at 5:00am.

I might have to go back to Vancouver at some point and meet back up with Jessica, Leanne and Mandy and see how they are all doing. This trip was really amazing. I now have 100 more Gigs to log and transcribe. I just realized that today is September 11th and everyone is remembering tragedy but I’m trying not to look back to the horrors of the past, I’m looking forwards to the beauty that people can create with yarn.

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Amy and I got up kind of early because we had to go back to the Haight and return the bikes. We accidentally went on the right bus the wrong direction so it took us a little longer than we had expected. On the plus side, we got a bus tour of the city. Once we returned the bikes we anxiously went back to Rachel’s. We packed and got ready to leave. It was a very quiet morning. No one really wanted to talk. We were starving after the bike stuff and thought we’d eat burritos at Hol’s favorite place Taqueria El Farolito. They were okay but really greasy. I still like Papalote better. We walked back through the Mission to grab our stuff and go to the BART. We said our good byes to Rachel. It was sad. She and I got along as if we’d known each other for years. She’s an incredibly warm fun person.

The BART ride to airport was long. Again, we didn’t say much to each other. We didn’t want to leave. We were both going back to our stressful lives in Texas. Everything just seemed better in San Francisco, simpler. I wanted Rachel’s life, biking to her job, living in the Mission. I could do that in Austin and I do but something seems to be lacking. On the plane we watched Nick Swardson‘s comedy special on Comedy Center which coincidentally was filmed in Austin. When we landed John greeted us but lost his car in the parking garage. Everything was different. I don’t know if it’s because my ears hadn’t gone back to normal or what but it was as if the volume and saturation was turned down.

Finishing our lists

After our long day and late night, we let ourselves sleep in a little. Today was going to be the day we bike across the Golden Gate bridge and try to accomplish everything on our to-do lists. Yesterday was Amy’s big list day: we went to Ghiradelli and had Irish Coffees. Amy still needed to see the Haight and eat oysters. I, on the other hand, had barely started my San Francisco to-do list.

We headed to the Castro: Rachel knew of a great brunch place, Crepevine, that specialized in crepes. The food was good but with huge proportions. I ordered an omlette and Amy ordered a crepe and once I tasted hers, I wished I had ordered a crepe too. We walked around the Castro, checking out the sites: We saw  the Castro Theater, we people watched and we met the gayest dog in America. But after looking for Castro Camera without success and it getting later and later , we gave up and headed to the Haight.

The walk to the Haight was long and exhausting. Amy and I had probably walked more in the last couple days than we had in the last couple of months. We admired the beautiful houses on the way and imagined ourselves living there. The Haight was just as I had remembered, a mixture between old psychedelic ex hippies and modern day hipster united under the shared marijuana and fashion. We popped our heads in Ameba Music but kept on towards the bike rental shop. It was getting late and we weren’t sure if we’d make to the bridge in time.

After getting our bikes, putting on our helmets, we were ready for anything. The only snag was that Rachel and I had to keep stopping every now and then to check to see if we were going the right way. There were like 10 different bike routes and it got confusing going through Golden Gate Park and later Presidio. I realized very early on that Amy was not as excited by this experience as Rachel and I were. We kept on through the city towards the bridge with the occasional regrouping stops. In the Presidio we got a little lost. Thankfully there were more experienced bikers that stopped and told us where to go. We knew we were getting closer when we saw and stopped at the scenic points. After more hills, sharp curves and Amy cursing under her breath, we made it.

I’ve always been a fan of bridges. There’s something beautifully metaphoric about a structure that brings together two estranged pieces of land. The Golden Gate bridge is obviously a favorite bridge not just because of it’s vivid red color but also because of the stories it holds. Have you ever seen the documentary the Bridge? A film crew basically filmed the Golden Gate bridge for one year after finding out that it is the number one suicide destination and catch a bunch of people jumping off it. It’s such a compelling tragically beautiful film.

Once there Amy parked her bike decided she would rather walk across the bridge as we rode across it. I didn’t want to beg or push her to ride any more than she already did so I didn’t protest. It was sunset and as Rachel and I rode across I felt invincible. It was an amazing adrenaline rush. We did it. The whole experience was magical. There’s a feeling I get on a bike that I don’t get from anything else. I feel untouchable like I can do anything and go anywhere. It was windy up there but I hardly noticed. The sun light warmed our side of the bridge in a golden glaze of warmth. It’s hard to say how long we were up there but we definitely experienced the whole magic hour on the bridge.

We met back up with Amy and now that the sun had set behind the ocean it got ridiculously chilly. They grabbed some coffee and hot chocolate and we set off into the darkness in search of oysters for dinner. This ordeal felt like it took the longest of any of the other activities of the day. Everyone was tired and hungry and no one really knew where we were going. We headed towards to piers in hopes of some amazing sea food restaurant but settled on one mostly because of location. Amy got her oysters and we sat, relaxed and ate our dinner. Biking across the city does give you an appetite.

We followed Rachel back to the Mission. She took us a round-about way that she assured us had less hills and would be the quickest. I was starting to feel the hurt of biking for 6 hours but I was just going to keep peddling through it. Once we got back we decided to go back out to Kilowat and grab one last drink.

The rest of the night is a little bit of a blur. We went back to Rachel’s and we all got ready for bed and crashed.

Below is a rough idea of how far we biked. We back tracked and got lost more than this map lets on but you can get an idea.

A San Fran Day Out

Amy and I started the day at our own pace. Rachel was working and we weren’t going to see Hol until that night. We relaxed, got ready and left to go explore the city.  Rachel was working at a cheese booth at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market so we took the BART to the Embarcadero stop and headed to the Ferry Building. It was another ridiculously beautiful day. I can’t believe people live here. It’s just so flippin’ perfect. It was very crowed but manageable. On the outside of the farmers’ market, there were people selling crafts, handmade purses, jewelry, clothing, etc. and on the inside and back area there was all the food you could imagine. We searched to fine Rachel’s cheese booth with great effortless success.

Amy and I had plans to gather food from the farmers market and have picnic on the pier. We got cheese from Rachel’s booth, a loft of bread, some berries, apples, and salami. The apples and salami were the hardest to settle on but in the end we made the right choices. We parked our selves on the pier and feasted. It was kind of a beautiful moment because there were two old women doing the same thing right next to us. It made me wonder if Amy and I would be doing this together 40 years from now.

We walked down the pier in search for things to scratch off Amy’s to do list. We went back to Musee Mecanique and spent about $1.50 each checking out the different machines. I was really fascinated with the early moving picture machines, like nickelodeons etc. I could have probably spent hours in there. I was temped to drop $20 for a book of old photobooth pictures but it was $10 more expensive than I wanted to spend so I didn’t. We followed the Blue Angels gazing crowd along the harbor. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people sitting the the grass knoll of Maritime National Historical Park watching the air show with their families. We made our way through them to Ghirardelli Square. Amy’s dad had told her to check out the old chocolate factory. It was a cute little square. We checked out the Ghirardelli store but were completely overwhelmed with people. While Amy fought the chocolate loving crowd, I found to restroom and chilled next to a fountain. She gave up and sat next to me on the fountain only to be splashed by some toddlers whose parents were not watching. Amy was pretty annoyed. 

We left in hopes of drinking the best Irish coffees ever. Irish Coffees were actually invented not in Ireland but in San Francisco at the Buena Vista Cafe. Buena Vista Cafe was just as crowded as everywhere else. We managed to get one bar stool that we both shared and ordered an Irish Coffee. I was more thirsty for water and to be honest, I’m not a coffee person. Some old men talked us up while the old bartender, who was actually a little famous, winked and made kissy faces at Amy. The Irish Coffee was really good but super strong and so was our company.

Rachel was suppose to meet us when she got off work but decided to go home instead to rest up for tonight. Some how I convince Amy that we should walk to Union Square up the steepest hills of the city. It was beautiful but we were already a little tired of walking. Needless to say, that didn’t last long and we took a cab over to Union Square. We shopped around in the Levi Store and H&M. Amy found a couple pairs of pants and I got a cute functional dress that I planned to wear later.

When we got back to Rachel’s place we did the girly thing that girls do: Dress Up. Oh yes we tried on different outfits, played music, and danced around. It was fun. I think we do this because it helps get us pumped up for the night. Once we were ready, we hopped on the BART towards Oakland. Hol was having people over for a BBQ. We were excited because we were starving. We got there ate some tacos, drank some beers, talked to some people. We probably stayed for an hour or two and then left. Hol was too messed up to give us a ride to the BART so we hitched a ride with two of his friends. Amy, Rachel and I were really hyper and being very silly. On the BART back into town we made friends with a school teacher, Doug, who lives in the Haight.

Once we made it back to the Mission, we headed to Kilowat which is like a hipster metal/punk bar. We sat at the bar drinking our beers and I started up a conversation to the guy to the right of  me and Rachel started up a conversation to the guy to the left of her and Amy was in the middle. We both got bored of these guys quite quickly, nudging Amy to save us and moved on. More drinks and more guys later, the bar closed and we considered our options. We could continue hanging out with Lion and Dragon or we could go home. We went home.

From Woods to Wine

Today was the day we were going to hang out with my good ol’ friend Hol. The funny thing about Hol is that he has been Mr. Plans for the last month and half. Every couple of days he would call or message me asking “so what’s the plan for your trip?”. Amy and I didn’t really have solid plans, just a list of things we wanted to do. If you know Hol, you know he has to be in control all the time. He wanted to take us camping, hiking and kayaking but because of time and Amy’s lack of enthusiasm at these ideas, we limited it to just hiking and we adding wine tasting. Hol was reluctant to pick Amy and I up in the Mission but he caved. He told us he would pick us up at 11am so Amy and I got up, got breakfast at Atlas Cafe just down the street and walked around the Mission.

It was another ideally beautiful day in San Francisco. Hol ended up picking us up closer to noon because he’s Hol. Now Hol’s plan was to take us hiking in Muir Woods then we would go to Napa Valley. I argued with him for awhile about this because most wineries/vineyards close at 4 or 5pm so it seemed obvious to me that we should go to Napa Valley FIRST, go to two wineries/vineyards THEN go hike in Muir Woods. But Hol didn’t want to drive back through San Fran, he wanted us to go to Oakland with him after our day. And since he was driving and we did it his way.

I was excited to drive across the Golden Gate bridge towards Muir Woods. Hol and I mostly caught up in the car while Amy was off in the back seat in her own world. When we got there, we had to hike to actually get to the park itself. The park was simple, beautiful and small. It was reminiscent of the California Redwoods but with smaller trees. The trees were tall enough to create a canopy that seemed to make it about 10 degrees cooler in the forest than it is outside of it. We did the hillside trail and walked. The terrain was very tame but pleasant. It was very relaxing. To be honest, my heart wasn’t into the hike. I really just wanted to get going and go to Napa and try some wine. I felt very anxious that we were going to run out of time and miss our opportunity to do a tasting at all. Amy was really excited about the possibility of Napa. She manages a restaurant in Austin and hosts a wine tasting at her there every other week. I really wanted her to get to have a good Napa experience.

After listening to the heartbeat of the earth, we got back on the road towards Napa Valley around 3. No one wanted to make a decision where to go. Amy had never been there and didn’t want to add her opinion to mine and Hol’s overly-opinionated mix. Hol was whatever about it since he didn’t even want to go there in the first place. I tried to see if they were more interested in reds or whites since certain wineries have different specialties. I just decided that we should go to V. Sattui since I had been there, liked it, and they had food. For $5 we got to try 5 different wines from a list but, our bartender was not counting because we each got to try like 10 different wines, some they were the special ones that were not on the list. I ended up buying a couple bottles that I plan to give to my family for Christmas. We each got some food from the deli and went out side to have a great lunch full of wonderful food and wine. I can’t remember what wine we paired with our meal, it was wine and delightful. I’m not going to lie, I got a little tipsy.

The tip back to the bay was somewhat relaxing. Watching the sun set over the hills, painting the sky with different shades of oranges, reds and purples, put me an a satisfied lethargic state, but the wine buzz probably had more to do with it. Hol took us to some bar in Oakland, The Missouri Lounge. We got the “special”, a shot of some really awful whiskey and some cheap ass beer for $5. Now I don’t really love cheap beer. I mean Lone Star is not that bad and drinking enough Miller or Bud Light can be nice but that’s it. No Keystone. No Natty. AND I don’t like Pap’s Blue Ribbon (PBR to you hipsters out there) – Sorry! We chilled and people watched at this cute little dive.

Hol ended up taking us back his place so that we could decided our next move for the night. I love his house. He has managed to make an amazing garden in his backyard, which I couldn’t really show off to Amy because it was dark. Once we got there, Amy and I realized just how tired we were. Hol ended up taking us to the BART station instead of continuing the fun. Rachel was asleep when we got in because she had to be up early to go work at the farmers’ market.


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