Northern Cali Road Trip

My younger sister Erin lives in Lake Tahoe, California. She’s active in the music festival scene out there and is a talented clothing and costume designer. This past August I went out for a few days to hang out, take some photos of her creations, and do a little road trip down to Yosemite National Park.

The first few days were spent at her house, which is just a block away from Donner Lake. There are some DARK skies out there, and you can see a billion stars on a clear night. I was able to put my night photography skills to use for some photos of Erin’s up-cycled wedding dress that she retrofitted with LED lighting. I love the photos we got of her dancing on a dock underneath the Milky Way!

We also did a hike in the Sierras and took some photos of her custom creations – a denim cat print Hand Fanny (fanny pack for your hand), a leather fringe Arm Fanny, and a Feather and Chain Strappy Bralette.

And finally, I got to witness my sister’s alter-ego. The woman, the myth, the legend, MISS BINGO at The Great Bingo Revival. She designed her costume, a disco-inspired red lycra bell-bottomed jumpsuit.

Then it was time to pack up her 1990 Dodge Camper Van named Van Wilder and hit the road. The first stop along the way was the Travertine Hot Springs for a sunset dip and photos of Erin’s custom active/swimwear. Then we continued to a campground near Mono Lake.

After a few hours of sleep, we packed up and drove to the South Tufa Area at Mono Lake for sunrise. A smoky haze from nearby forest fires filled the sky as we drove down the access road. It started to glow an ominous reddish color as we walked out to the lake which added some ambiance to an already otherworldly place. After doing some landscape work during sunrise, the sun had finally cleared the thick layer of haze and a warm soft light was falling on the vertical tufa formations. The perfect opportunity for some lifestyle portraits of Erin and her backless hooded jumpsuit creation!

After breakfast, we made the drive over to Yosemite National Park, where we had scored a camping spot in the valley for the night (not an easy feat in the dead of summer). The route we took was through Tioga Pass, which had stunning views at every turn. Then we entered the valley which was completely breathtaking for a first-timer. Given our limited time there and it not being the best season for landscape photography, I didn’t have plans to do much photography. We biked around the park and took some photos of Van Wilder in front of El Capitan and just took it all in. Looking forward to going back!

Sadly it was time to drive back to Tahoe, regroup, and then head over to Reno for my flight home. When I arrived at the airport, I found out that my flight home had been canceled and I had been re-booked the following day. My sister picked me up and we headed out to nearby Pyramid Lake which was a place she had wanted to take me anyway but it had been closed due to the forest fires. Pyramid Lake is on Paiute Indian land and is considered by them to be a sacred place. Outsiders are not permitted on the side of the pyramid formation. When we arrived, we drove right onto the beach. It was empty – we didn’t see a single person the entire time we were there. It was very serene and relaxing and we got a beautiful sunset. A surprise ending to the trip.

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