I was all over the map this weekend — literally. Next weekend starts what will most likely be a very busy time for this Diva with no break in the action until mid December so I suggested to my hubby one of our beloved road trips. We packed up the Divamobile, hit Trader Joe’s for road trip munchies and headed out.
But Is It Art?
Our adventure actually started Friday night. My friend Darryl had been telling me for months about the Nevada Camera Club but since I am usually shooting some concert on Friday nights I haven’t had a chance to attend. For some reason my calendar was open and I felt a sub-conscience pull to attend the bi-monthly meeting. Coincidence? maybe…maybe not… but the reason became crystal clear as soon as the guest speaker started talking.
First a bit about the club. It was founded in 1979 and is open to photographers of all stripes and experience levels and lectures, field trips, demos and competitions are all on the menu. The speaker was Ralph Nordstrom and as soon as I heard the title of his talk I knew why I was there as this Diva has been on a quest of late to reignite the artistic fire in her soul and Ralph is all about the artistic side of shooting. When he announced that his lecture was called The Photographer As Artist I knew that — as seems to happen so often lately — I had been drawn to the right place at the right time.
Nordstrom is a landscape photographer who gives multi-day workshops in places including Death Vally and Joshua Tree and even though that’s not really my subject of choice (I prefer rockers and roadies) he had my total attention for his entire lecture as he talked about the “Tripod of Artistry” — Expressive Spectrum, Creative Vocabulary and Interpretive Decisions. I took pages of notes and will definitely be at one of those workshops in the near future.
Hot (Very Hot) Date
The lecture was so amazing that I lost track of time and was late for a dinner date. Part of breaking out of the creative rut I have been in has meant changing up the routine and, while a dinner date with your spouse may not sound unusual to many, it is something we have not done much of in a long time. So in the spirit of trying new things, we headed over to what many consider to be the best Thai restaurant outside of Thailand: Lotus of Siam.
There has been much written about this local jewel in a strip mall in a seedy part of town across the parking lot from an infamous sex club, so I’ll keep it short. I finally got there more than 1/2 hour after our reservation and Bill had already gotten a table and appetizer. I took a bite of what they called “Prawn in a Blanket” as I picked up the very extensive menu and immediately proclaimed these piggies as little chunks of heaven. We took the waiter’s suggestions and ordered Drunken Noodles with Sea Bass and the Crispy Duck Curry. It was all good but not near as good as those prawns. I guess I am just a Pad Thai Diva but there was an herb that I found overpowering and, well, we decided that when we go back we’ll order from the appetizer menu because there were a ton of tasty sounding options right there alone. And if you have never been, don’t play the macho card and order it “hot.” We went with medium and ended up with a lingering but not unpleasant burn as we headed back to Diva Central.
On the Road
We had decided to head into the middle of the state this time and drive up to Rachel — the closest town to Conspiracy Theory Central (a.k.a. Area 51). But first we had a very different stop to make.
My good friend and fellow Diva Samantha (owner of doggie/human clothing line Vegas Rock Dog) was involved in the 7th Annual Hallo-Wiener Dachshund Event — a big fund-raiser for the Las Vegas Hot-Diggity Dachshund Club and Rescue organization. This Halloween for doggies event took place in a westside dog park off of Summerlin Parkway and included costume contests, a huge raffle and of course wiener dog races. Bill says that anything not at least knee-high is rodent and not canine but I thought they were uber-cute.
While at the event, I was introduced to the owners of the Queen Victoria Pub inside the Riviera and scored an invite to an event that sounds like big fun. It is a Vegas twist on a traditional English High Tea but with specialty martinis and it is called the High-Tini. A $12 ticket gets you your first martini and appetizers. Girls, grab you fancy hats — a must for a high tea — and show ‘em how we do it in Sin City. Sorry guys, this one is for the ladies only and it’s on Saturday, October 16th from 3p-6p. I’ll be there if my Diva schedule allows.
So back to the road trip. I said we were headed for Rachel but as our best trips always are, this one had no real destination. Yes, we stopped in Rachel but the only flying saucer we saw was the prop hanging from the back of a tow truck outside of the Little A’Le’Inn — a little diner and souvenir shop dedicated to all things, well, alien. We bought a guitar strap with alien heads on it exactly like the one we bought the last time we were there about 10 years ago.
But this trip was really about putting some of the things I learned in that Friday night lecture (and have been finding more and more important in my life) into real practice. Mostly it was about listening and doing what felt right and not following a predetermined plan.
Ralph Nordstrom ended his talk by encouraging everyone there to “share their world.” I am incredibly grateful to have this forum in which to share my world and — because I listened — I have some things that really speak to my soul to share. It does not always makes sense. But there were too many “oh that’s why that happened” moments to ignore on this trip. Our 480 mile counter-clockwise trek around the massive Nellis Air Force Range Complex was always meant to be about good conversation, re-connecting and recording it all through my own lens. But it seems that every stop led to moments that would have not been possible without those random steps along the way.
First we stopped to take some pictures of what felt like a seasonal lake in Pahranagat valley and while we were there I saw a dragonfly — I have always had a thing about dragonflies — and tried to sneak up on it to get a picture, sure he would fly off before I got my shot. That did not happen. Instead he hovered right in front of me and seemed to look right at me as I got closer and closer. What should have been maybe a lucky shot ended up as a deep feeling of connection and a dozen amazing shots. I was a bit overwhelmed by that special “moment” as we got back into the car.
Wait…back it up a bit more. At the Hallo-wiener event, Samantha told us about some friends of hers who had ventured a bit too close to Area 51 proper and ended up with permanent criminal records so (as curiosity would have it) we decided to head up the dirt road that actually leads to “the remote location” to take pictures of the very forceful “keep out” signs on its boundaries. The ones that say “deadly force authorized.”
But maybe halfway there, we decided that it was getting too close to sunset (and the loss of natural light) so when I went to turn the Divamoblie around we found ourselves at a lonely corral that housed a single beautiful horse. More connection with another soul and more good images. As we continued to drive North and away from Rachel I saw one of the most stunning moon sets I have ever seen. I almost kept driving as I was sure I could never get the shot. But I listened to my inner artist, pulled over, set up my tripod and got shots I will always treasure. We pulled back on to the highway and the the silvery sliver of moon disappeared behind the mountains within a minute or two.
I was struck by how everything seemed to conspire to bring me to that spot at that time. Had I not spent the time connecting with the dragonfly or at the corral or had we ordered food at the Little A’Le’Inn as we had planned, I would have missed the moment. And as I am learning more all the time it is those moments that make all the difference in my world.
Thanks for the chance to share those moments — to share my world — with you.