On This Day (A Look Back)

I thought it would be interesting to go back in time, little by little, and see how the past few years have been when looking back. It’s always so fun slash bittersweet when Facebook pops up your “On This Day” memory and it’s something that makes you smile, get hungry, or have gas. Well, I thought, what if I look back on this exact date and see what I was doing all those months and years ago?

Mistake #1: If you decide to do this, don’t pick a date in between the 28th and the 31st. There are quite a few months without 31 in them, and this caused for worldwide chaos and confusion. Not to be stymied, I just chose a photo from the last day of that particular corresponding month. Leap years cannot be accounted for. And yes, I actually did a search schlep through several hard drives and chats to find these.

Mitake #2: Don’t be ridiculous. I’ve never made more than one mistake in my life.

So here goes a rough date map of what I was doing on this day throughout my recent life.

 

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1 month ago (7/31/16): Doing set photography for a short comedy starring Jennifer Westfeldt and Noah Bean. I happen to know the writer and director very, very well.

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2 months ago (6/30/16): Running over lava to see the new flow (61G) the night it “opened” in Kalapana, Big Island, Hawaii. So incredibly worth it.

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3 months ago (5/31/16): I had some fuzzy photo someone took of a Vietnamese rice wrapper wrap I made. I think this day is what started my current addiction.

4 months ago (4/30/16): Editing photos, otherwise known as sitting and staring at a computer for days on end.

5 months ago (3/31/16): In the Caribbean taking a morning snorkel before work starts.

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6 months ago (02/29/16): In Argentina spotting wild ostriches (actually rheas, similar to the ostrich and emu).

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1 year ago (08/31/15): In Indonesia, exploring rice fields.

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2 years ago (08/31/14): In bed feeling queasy after eating too much at my friend’s rooftop party in Harlem. Still sick.

3 years ago (08/31/13): Laying sick in bed. I think I even quit dreaming of food at this point, which tells you how sick I was.

4 years ago (08/31/12): Sick in bed with mono, soon to be actually diagnosed as Return of the Lyme.

5 years ago (08/31/11): Diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Oh, the joys that are about to come!

8 years ago (08/31/08): Recovering in Brooklyn from the previous night’s falafel eating contest. I did not place, though I finished my plate in not last place. Coincidentally, my display of passion for food is also how I landed my first food photography gig.

10 years ago (08/31/06): Wondering what the heck I should do with my life. Heck, I’m still wondering that. I think I was on a hike in the Northeast with my fam.

Decades ago (08/31/??): My parents are pregretting having me.

Centuries ago: We can surmise, but why? We all know that Christopher Columbus was a hero.

All right, I’m drained, not feeling great (yeah, I get sick again every once in a while but luckily only feel nausea today), and have more editing to do. The good news is that September starts tomorrow, and though I’ve been enjoying summer, this coming month is going to be very exciting and full of work and travel. So here goes!

 

Our Road Trip in Patagonia: The Film is Here!

After nearly a month road tripping through Chile and Argentina, our video is finished! Dreamed up by Didier Van Bellinghen of Belgium, the film documents our adventures through Patagonia via our Wicked van rentals, Couchsurfing, and the 10 of us who met up for our epic adventure.

I shot b-roll and photos for the film, which was excellently edited by Didier (www.Picture-Perfect.be). And though it makes us look more on the serious side, rest assured that we were laughing, crocheting, hiking, poking fun at each other, overeating, cooking, sleeping in crazy locations, meeting strangers, camping beside glaciers, and more together over the weeks. We all became great friends, and I’m so proud of this little film!

Filmed February-March 2016 from Santiago, Chile to El Calafate, Argentina, down to Punta Arenas in Chile and everywhere in between!

 

June = Hawaii

“Why, oh why, haven’t you posted any photos or stories, Coop?” asked a passerby. “I miss the good posts–the ones that made me laugh out loud before LOL was an abbreviation,” commented no one ever.

Well, the truth is that, shockingly, I’ve still been busy. And with a last-minute gig in Hawaii and a road trip to follow, that’s meant zero time for the things that matter most. Kidding–I am terrible at blogging, as you know. Luckily an awesome video documenting our Chile and Argentina road trip is a’comin’! Stay tuned.

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Locked in My House on the Way to Machu Picchu

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Doors in America can be locked and unlocked from either side. This is handy in the case of locking someone inside, needing to get out in the case of a fire, or because having locks any other way simply wouldn’t make sense. Any other method of padlocking from one side, or locking and not being able to unlock even when inside, would not only be a safety hazard, it flat-out wouldn’t make sense.

In much of Peru, as well as in many other crazy countries, doors can only be locked from one side. This is precisely how I got locked in the place where I was petsitting while on my way to Machu Picchu.

I was actually locked in the yard and not the house, but climbing a tree, then a shed, and then a high stone wall with my camera gear seemed like a bad idea. I had to give my keys up since a local friend was picking up the owner of the house, and I was going to be off in Machu Picchu land by the time she got back. But it was a Sunday, and no one was supposed to be around to disrupt that not-so-simple door. But alas, the local farmer decided to uncharacteristically visit on a Sunday and accidentally lock me in. After about 4 hours of waiting, Skype calls, and efforts to plan a trip I had not planned on taking, I reached my friend Nancy and was rescued. It was an inauspicious start to my trip to Machu Picchu, but to be fair, I hadn’t planned any trip at all. 

To say I don’t like tourist attractions, museums, and common sites is fairly obvious. But when you live an hour away from one of the most well-known sights in the world, and you have insider advice from locals, people–including locals–getting rather annoyed at you for not going, well, maybe you better just go. I had one day to make it happen, and that was Monday. I didn’t really feel I HAD to see Machu Picchu, and therefore hadn’t planned. I had no tickets for the train, bus, mountain, site, hostel, nuthin’. 

At 4:30, Nancy and her friends felt so bad about me being locked in that they ended up driving me to Ollantaytambo, the starting town for all things ruins, for a nice dinner. There were no train tickets left, so I got one for early in the morning and got a hostel. At 4:30 the next morning, I woke up, walked to the train depot, met my Canadian seat mates, and sat back to enjoy the most expensive train ride of my life. It involved a dancing clown, a fashion show, Inka Cola, and beautiful views somewhat marred by the poorly designed neon lighting inside the train. I would have loved to hike in the jungle, but alas–there was simply no time, as my flight to Lima was the very next morning. I ran to get my bus ticket, and then my Machu Picchu + Machu Picchu Mountain hiking ticket, and then back to the bus to take an awesome sidewinding ride up to the site. It was time to start!

From one anti-tourist traveler to all other one reader seeing this post, I can definitely say that walking up and looking down on Machu Picchu was beautiful indeed. Unlike Madonna, in person it looked exactly how it does in every photo. There were clouds hovering across the way on Huayna Picchu (also called Wayna Picchu), very few people on the site itself, green everywhere, and threatening clouds surrounding this tiny ruined town on a mountain. But there was little time to spend there, as I’d gotten a ticket to hike Machu Pichu Mountain/Montana. While most people stay on the ground site, or do a trek up to the ground site, or hike Huayna Picchu (the peak in the clouds that’s the background of every Machu Picchu photo ever), my local friend Saito had recommended the lesser-known Machu Picchu mountain. It’s also twice as tall (starting from Machu Picchu) as Huayna Picchu. Here’s what the peak looked like after I’d already been hiking a while.

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Hiking was beautiful but tough. Yes, the air is certainly thinner, and yes, there were a fair number of hikers. Most were from South America, several hadn’t brought water (I shared), and many thought I was crazy to be hiking “alone.” But I loved stopping when I wanted to take photos! We were all huffing and puffing, but the constantly evolving scenery was fascinating. It went through mountain moss fog zones, temperate rainforest, deciduous forest patches, greenery, spiderwebs, rocky bends, and more. Part of the hike had stone steps that, if you fell off (which I nearly did when I slipped in the rain while coming down the mountain), you just might die while falling down the whole mountain. It was awesome.

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Eventually I made it to the top, and ate a few snacks while taking photos along with everyone else who was up there. The 360 views and feelings of superiority weren’t too shabby.

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After coming down, I had a lot of time to explore the site. I actually wrapped around and walked through it nearly 3 times, especially because it started to drizzle and scared many people off. Water. Seriously, folks. I didn’t mind getting Machu Picchu shots with practically nobody in them. The mountains reminded me of China if I’d ever been to China, and the views, chinchillas, and steep drops were pretty awesome. It ended up being a perfect day. I even caught some obligatory selfies! I caught my bus, got a snack, hopped on my train, and took a 50-cent ride back to my town. A few hours of sleep, a ride to the airport where my money was used to bribe our way out of a police stop, a flight, a sketchy hotel, a 3-day bus trip, an illness, and a border crossing later, and I was in Chile. But that’s for next time.