Weeks 5 and 6: Mushroom with a View

October 23rd, 2010 by Toby

45 days, 4200 miles

Something Washington, Oregon and way-north California have in common is that funny fungus, the mushroom.  They’ve got it in spades– both dangerous and delectable.  Supposedly people are leaving this world all the time in these parts with  “Here Lies Hume. Ate a Bad ‘Shroom” on their tombstones.  Me, I love them, and I have to clamp down on my taste buds when I pass them in the forest.  And they’re everywhere–they’re the rabbits of the shady woodlands.  John shot some footage  in a wet mossy clearing with the sun blasting through, and you can honest-to-God SEE the spores flying off of the mushrooms.

I guess I’m thinking a lot about mushrooms because: 1) I can smell them now, here in the Humboldt dark,  2) I’m devoted to their earthy taste, how they make peace with the bite of garlic, salt and lemon,  3) I like their weirdness, all sluglike chewy, musky and dipped in dirt, and 4) I’m a sucker for symbols, and I can smell one coming like the mushrooms making amour here in the dark.

Here it comes…  I can’t control myself… Oh god, am I really going to compare the past two weeks to… a fungus?  To a pretty porcini, to a macho stiff morel, to a shy chanterelle… even to the cheap waxy white mushrooms you buy at the grocery store?  Yes, I am.  Weeks 5 and 6 were all of these sauteed in a nice northwestern autumn stew.

We were rooted in the Olympics of WA like its native Sitka Spruce.   Not ready to leave yet, we visited the Makah Reservation, whose museum taught us that the coastal Makah and Orvette tribes were tough whale and seal hunters.  They would sail out in groups of eight on boats carved out of entire tree trunks, and each man had a job, one of which was to dive in and sew the whale’s mouth shut so it wouldn’t sink.  (When sharks arrived, the hunters would toss rocks off the boat– a tactic that seemed to distract the sharks and send them chasing the rocks down.)  Everything they caught they’d eat or use:  seal bladders for bags, intestines for bow strings, sewed up seals for floats to tow whales back to land…. Fascinating stuff. 
Next, east to Crescent Lake, a big stunning puddle of glacial tears left for us to go all slack-jawed.  We treated ourselves to a great night at the classy, old school Crescent Lake Lodge.  Pretty white painted wood on the outside; rich birch beer colored on the inside; glass porches all lit up like a warm pumpkin.  In the morning, the girls and I kayaked on the lake.  I’ve gotta go back one day to dive into that greenblue perfection. 
Next, a bit deeper into the rainforest: Sol Duc Hot Springs.  The resort there has three hot natural mineral pools, approx 103F.  I’ve always wanted to sit in a hot spring, and my romantic fantasies were somewhat dashed.  Although these pools were natural and surrounded by rainforest, they were paved and highly populated.  Kind of a strange, intriguing ritual: sitting around in swimsuits in steaming, tightly packed circles, watching each other steep in hot lazy abandon.  At least half the bathers were whole families of Russians, from small children to their great-grandparents, and they spent the whole day hanging out in a red flushed social scene.  Hot soupy pools of strangers not being John’s scene, he skipped out. But the girls and I curiously indulged.  Once, a bald eagle flew over very low.  I was glad I wasn’t a seagull. (see week 4)

After almost 2 weeks in the Olympics, we took a twilight ferry to Whidbey Island, then drove all the way to the Cascade Mountains.  Impressive.  Vast.  True to their name, cascades of water bolted down the mountains in thin streaks.  We found a  high mountain campground to sleep for 12 bucks.  We had it all to ourselves, made a big fire and practically touched the stars.

We wound our way through the mountains a few days until we spilled out into Oregon again.  The Columbia River gorge is really beautiful.  Craggy cliffs, waterfalls blasted mid-plunge by bombs of hooligan winds….  We went to Portland, and we all loved it!  After finding a place to park Harvey in the Pearl District, we got to see our lovey, Amanda Demanda from NYC.  Crazy timing!  She’s in Portland, we’re in Portland…. We had a big love fest (and lunch).  Then I got to reconnect with a pal from my college days at Tulane: Pete!  Pete was this cool grad student in the drama dept (directing) when I was an undergrad, and he was an influential part of my early acting days.  He’s also a great musician.  It’s funny how, years later, you can be a parent and 20 years older, and yet you slip right back into how you felt when you were 18 or so…. (Maybe I still act like an 18 yr old?)

Ok, moving on to McMinnville, Oregon and the McPhillips farm!  Ramsey McPhillips is a friend we know through our brother-in-law, Duke.  He’s got a house in the Beaverkill, NY, as do we.  Ramsey is a dashing character– tall, debonair in a farmer-meets-Fred Astaire kind of way, and sporting a formidable forest of a mustache.  He lives on his family’s 1850 farm with his beau, Fred, who makes crazy good jam.  The farm is a beaut, and the girls wanted “to stay forever.”  They also wanted to steal Penny, the dog who jumped high as John’s head, and Betty, the horse that’s never been broken and has the personality to show it.  We couldn’t miss the chance to pepper our film with a one-of-a-kind like Ramsey, so we reworked a funny scene from the script and begged him to be in it.  A pretty sunset dinner scene on the farm.  He was great, the kids were great, the scenery magnifico…. Watch out, Bertolini!  (This was our first dialogue scene outside, and with 4 people, and John did great.)

Next, we hit the Oregon Coast, which is, like, high drama in the vein of Dracula.  Jagged fangs of rock jut out into an angry ocean, while cold fog sweeps in.  Off Heceta Point we peered down at hundreds of sea lions in action.  It appears they’ve smartly claimed a sliver of coast that is blocked off by nature to human nuisance, and here they rush the waves in loud barking throngs, ride the surf and float in dark gossipy pods. 

WA is a heavyweight, but OR is still a contender.  And lo and behold, northern Cali is throwing punches, too!  Two cool towns: Trinidad and Arcata, which has the most amazing French patisserie, Cafe Brio… Mon dieu.  (Thank god for flour.. And the luxury of casting your own soft self in your movie.)  We’ve spent the last 2 nights in Humboldt county. In Patrick’s Point we camped at Agate Beach, with its black sand and Dalmation-like driftwood.  The girls could search these kinds of beaches for hours, there’s such a treasure of sealife, rocks and ocean-claimed bric-a-brac, and their pockets are never big enough.  Now we are in Humboldt Redwoods Nat’l Park, inland some, where the trees boast up to 360 ft.  It’s raining.  Must be sweet music, like Marvin Gaye, to the mushrooms.  “Let’s get it onnnnnn….”.   

 Oh.  The mushroom metaphor.  Uh, that was yesterday, and I musta been catching a whiff of that famous Humboldt hoo-haw when I let that one hit the page, ’cause I have no idea….  I will say this, though:  this week, the film really started to take shape –not unlike, um, a mushroom cloud, yeah!  What once was a shy spore turned into a fertile poof that now has begun to balloon, and it’s hanging over our every move.  It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty, folks.  John and I are making a film, after all, and there are only so many beauty shots a film (or blog) can take.  So from here on out, I hope to see this blog shift gears and start shelling out our story as a 2-man movie crew.  (The kids hang out in their trailer like superstars, awaiting their call to places.  Prod. assistant isn’t in their contract.)   Several good things happened this week:  all of the pre-production work I’ve put into the film (Union contracts, insurance, Payroll accounts, security deposits, minors work permits, workers comp… ) — all that was once Greek to me and not an actor’s 2-cents now makes sense and has come to fruition, and we have a green light to roll! John, too, has come a long way, as he’s gotten more quick with the camera and tackled the sound equipment and is teaching himself Final Cut.  I’ve come to realize, not easily, that scripts change and often for the better, and that a lunatic ax-man like John is a good mix with a methodical mental-motor like me.  We have actual production meetings where scenes are hashed out, details honed.  John asks all the hard questions, and sometimes I want to bury my head in the sand or whack my partner with a wok ; usually I wanna kiss the sand he walks on and whack myself for “not thinking of that!”   Sleep sucks.  Dialogue, story holes, spelling lessons, state capitals…. my head is so revved up at night, it leaves a skid mark on my pillow.  

Film, homeschool, looking out the window and seizing the time to step into the view…. I don’t think we’ve ever been busier.  Good thing we have time — we need it!  And good thing it’s raining along the Mendocino coast, because nothing clears your head like a walk in the rain and the sight of a raging ocean in fierce motion.  




Week 4

October 7th, 2010 by Toby

In this corner…. Weighing in at 50 billion pounds of sand, sea and wilderness….!  Undefeated….!  Unstoppable…!  Ladies and gentlemen, Mother Nature’s reigning heavyweight champiiiooooonnnn…. WASHINGTON!!!
And in this corner……….. …….  …. Wait.  Sorry, there is no contender in this corner.  I know, I know, what about all that “Cali’s so dreamy… and Oregon’s the Fonz” talk…? Well, call me Crosby Stills Nash n Toby, because I am LOVIN’ the ONE I’M WITH!  Oh yeah, I am having a big, gushing, feels-like-the-first-time love affair with Washington state– the Olympic Peninsula, in particular.  And John’s not even jealous, because he’s in on it, too.  Yep, we’re having an old-fashioned ménage-a-tree with the Olympics….. Get it?  Lots of trees…?…?

See, love makes you silly, don’t it?  That’s what Week 4 has done to us– it’s made us giddy and glad and happy,too.  But before I bore you (or beat you) to death with my Oh Joy! schtick, you should know that this week had its fair dose of horror and mortality,too.  Oh yes, indeed…

But first, the week in a flash!

Seattle was a fleeting bit of fun, as John took us around his old college town.  We saw Univ. of WA’s pretty campus — I enjoy imagining John as a religion major, with that young hot bod, sitting in his furniture-less pod, ruminating over the meaning of God…  (Ahem, I digress…) We went to cool Fremont and colorful Pike Market, where I confess I smugly smiled at the rockfish gazing out from its bed of ice.  (see week 2) And we visited some friends (John Moore from DC ; and Lars, John’s college room mate and partner in crime, and his sweet family).

Next, we hit the Olympic Peninsula, a place I’ve been aching to see.  And like I said, it has really hit the spot.  I mean, everywhere we go it scratches a new itch… Oh yeah, that’s right… Just a little to the left… Ah yes…  Now over a bit… Ahhhh, you’re the best, Olympics– Thanks…. 
(Perhaps this is a good moment to talk about a married couple’s sex life while living in an RV with  their TWO CHILDREN….!!!  Two very precocious children…!!!  In the SAME SPACE as their parents…!!! ….. Oh never mind.)

Ok.  The first place we stayed was in the wonderful tiny coastal town of Pacific Beach.  We loved this place so much, we kept adding on days there, never quite ready to leave its sleepy, friendly ways.  The RV park is perched along an eye-stabbing display of coastal grandeur: waves break in rolling tiers of white water from at least a quarter of a mile out into the Pacific, and the beach is another 1/4 mile of flat mocha-fudge crusted sand.  The girls can ride their bikes on it, while above kites and seagulls fight over who’s more ecstatic….  Every morning we would walk to town (the girls always bike) to deplete the local bakery of its mini croissants.  Sometimes we’d return in the afternoon and stick around to play Scrabble and share a whole triple chocolate cream pie.  One local asked if we were the “gypsies” — I nearly melted at the reference as my heart answered “yes, yes we are zee gypsies…!”
This week found us feeling better (John was over the flu;  Lulu fInally kicked that poison oak to the curb, but not before breaking out in an all-over rash from the medicine she was on for her sinus infection, poor kid), so we really took the time this week to just…chill.  At this risk of sounding cheesy, self-righteous or downright dull, this week was one big ball of happy…..

…..Until Zelda’a hamster, Big Jr, King of balls, met with a sad ending.  I like to think these guys have a good life, as far as pet hamsters go, because they get lots of fresh air and exercise… But  this sweet guy had an unfortunate habit of hanging out under feet.  And while they were getting some exercise on the beach, well…. RIP, Big Jr.   We buried him with some flowers and Lucky Charms.  It was pretty sad, and Zelda took it hard.  

And then the day turned all National Geographic on us!  One minute we were playing soccer on the beach, and the next this bald eagle sets its sights on a seagull and… well, good night, Irene!  It was wild: the gull made one last effort to escape by diving into the water, but the eagle was waiting there for it to surface and immediately grabbed the gull in its talons and flew off with it to the sand.  With a look of disdain it started plucking feathers off,  while the gull’s brethren circled and shrieked above in a sad sort of death dance.  Then the eagle grabbed the carcass and flew to the top of an old pylon for more private chowing; then finally high up to a tree.  
When we got back to our site, it was dark, and something wasn’t right.  The hamster cage, which was still outside, had been knocked down and torn apart– and where was Lulu’s hamster, Jesus?  Gone!  We searched with dread for the small dark hamster– not an easy task when you’re blinded by the night– and John yells. “I got him!” And just in the nick of time –a big black cat was seconds away from pouncing on Jesus!  Jesus’ heart was racing, but he was ok.  John is a hamster hero!!  And Nature is a brute.  Zelda cried, “So much death… I can’t take it!”

So we moved, somewhat hesitantly, beyond Pacific Beach, only to be pleasantly surprised by the plush, posh stillness of Lake Quinault.  We stopped for lunch at the lovely old Lodge there, and it didn’t take more than an ant-size arm twist for the kids to convince us to stay the night.  This place is stunning; the bright green backyard slopes down to the lake like a slice of Merchant Ivory prettiness.  Folks sit silently there, sipping wine and drinking in the blurs of lake and mountain views…. As we walked by, Lulu says, “They’re all sitting there drinking wine and… all that Beethoven stuff…”  (I wonder what WE are…?  The Monkees?) 
We took our first hike into the Olympic rainforest here.  Mmmmm…. Gorgeous, magical, blah blah blah…!

 Kalaloch: another insanely beautiful, primitive camp spot dangling above the ocean.  We are still here, after 2 days enjoying this beach (easily saw 60 starfish) and  Second Beach near La Push.  I don’t even know how to describe La Push without sounding like the biggest braggart/jerky girl in the world. It’s simply… high inducing.
Nearby Forks is where the Twilight stories take place, and that presence is heavy there.  The girls go gaga for this, but for John and me, it’s all about the succulent,  fern-covered forests with their mossy evergreens (like a bayou’s brother), the rivers spilling onto low-lying splayed beaches (some with chunks of tree-covered mountain coughed out into the ocean), and the overall awe-filled Ohmmm of the place.   
They get an average of 15ft of rain a year here.  Meanwhile, pockets of the Olympic land belong to various local tribes (Quileute, Quinault, Hoh, Orvette, Makah….), who are good-looking, mysterious-to-me people.  I wanna hold my breath while we drive by in Harvey, as if that would lighten my step.  I want to explode in thanks for being here.

Lulu and I are sleeping in the tent tonight.  She’s not stealing the covers, which is good: it’s cold.  She smells like a campfire. The sound shooting up from the ocean is loud as a lion, and never stops roaring.  Sometimes i can hear the crash of what must be whole trees en route to becoming the giant pale boney driftwood that lines these beaches.  When I go outside the tent to take a hope-it-gets-me-through-the-night pee, I’ll look up at the stars and see shapes of constellations I can actually outline.  John and Z are asleep in the RV.  We’ve been on the road for 29 days.  Soon, we’ll have to really delve into the meat of the moviemaking.  But this week, we fell in love……      



Weeks 2-3

September 28th, 2010 by Toby

Week 2-3 in a flash:  2100 miles/ CA: Big Sur, Monterey, Half Moon Bay, Pescadero, San Fran, Marin, Lassen Volcanic Park, Mt. Shasta.   Oregon: Crater Lake, Bend/Sisters.  WA: Seattle.

Every road has some bumps, right? Days 8-20 had some real peaks and some definite valleys–and not the kind that are filled with mossy beds and pretty flowers, although there were a few of those, too.  Let’s start with a high point.

We stayed 3 days in Big Sur, which is a dreamy place.  Its redwoods hover over you like a faithful friend, and they make everything seem quiet and dark in a lush, smoky way.  Our campground was right on the Big Sur, a shallow play-with-me river– and the kids did.  John and the girls took a good long hike to Pfeiffer Falls.  It’s just so damn pretty in Big Sur.  And then on our way out we stopped at the Big Sur Bakery, which should have a sign that says “Dangerous Curves Ahead” because that’s what you’re in for after sampling their collection of streudels and donuts…. It’s too hard to choose so you gotta pick a bunch and dive in.  Eating those sugar bombs while driving along Hwy 1, with its famously steep craggy blues and greens… It’s almost too much for a dough-loving romantic sucker like me.

Next stop, an odd “high end” RV park in Marina, CA, just above Monterey.  This was our first stay in a paved RV park, and it wasn’t really our style.  We prefer the more primitive kind, or at least John and I do.  The kids like the ones with pools and game rooms, etc, but really as long as they can ride their bikes, they’re happy.  
This was an ideal place for John to buckle down and start downloading all the random footage we’ve got so far, while the ladies and I hit the town like veritable  civilized folks.  We had lunch in Cannery Row, watching seals while others cooked for us… Then we hit the Monterey Aquarium, which is fantastic.  But while fondling all the starfishes and sea cucumbers and such in the Touch Pools, a footlong pink rockfish attacked Zelda’s finger like it was “fillet” mignon!  Lu and I had seen this fish eyeing our finger, but only Z had the guts to keep it there, and sure enough this fish took a gobble at it, drawing blood!  She shrieked, and the staff man said, “They don’t bite,” and I’m like, Oh yeah!?!?! I felt a mother’s pang for revenge and started fantasizing about grilling that briny bitch on a stick…. but perhaps this was the fish’s revenge.  Or Z’s fingers look like a wormy feast?  Anyway, its over, and she recovered enough to join Lulu in an hour of bat ray petting– slimy, sinister-looking and lovely things.
One thing I love about this region? A new character enters the picture– the fog!  It breezes in like a bold diva in the visual soap opera of the Cali coast.  It’s so cool– you could be driving along, waving hi to a cow, then you hang a left and suddenly you’re swimming in marshmallow mist…. Also, the dunes along the coast are a unique and very sensitive habitat, speckled with pretty plants that make you wanna eat candy: sea rocket, yellow sand verbena, beach bur, salt bush, seaside daisy, coast buckwheat…. Even the words sea grass…. Ahhh… don’t you wanna take a hit?  

Next: Half Moon Bay.  The drive along the coast to and above Santa Cruz is pretty awesome.  This is an area that looks great for living; definitely a cool place to go to college.  And there’s a ton of produce growing there:  artichokes, strawberries….  John and I keep saying that people seem happy in Central CA.
So another weird RV park, but we were hardly there.  We visited the Welch family in Atherton, a great gang that Lulu had gotten to know on her Alaskan adventure with her grandparents last summer.  They were the most charming hosts– gorgeous house, great kids, swimming, basketball, dinner and a surprise cupcake celebration for Lulu’s 12th birthday.  If our heavy on nature, isolated  explorations are peppered with great moments like these, with friends new and old, then this trip will really resonate for years to come.  Thanks, Welch’s!!

The job I was on hold for in San Francisco was postponed, so we retraced our steps some, heading south on 1 to a sweet KOA resort near Pescadero beach.  That strip of coast is breathtaking– unpeopled, immaculate.  And we are new fans of KOA, which both of us had assumed was a cheesy RV trap.  But no!  It’s got it going on– clean, bright, even downright fancy at this one!  We shot some fun play here amongst the grassy dunes and rock castle beaches.  Fall was starting to show here, even the rampant poison oak blushing like the happy harlot she is.  In fact,  she got Lulu, who awoke on her birthday with her cheeks all rouged up with poison oak’s painful kiss.  A week later Lu is still enduring the red hell vining across all parts of her body, the poor kid.  Even puffed up and itchy, she doesn’t complain, our beautiful Lu…..

The next day we drove to San Fran for some distraction.  Aside from the poison oak, Lulu and I both had gnarly headaches from a bad cold that is still tripping us up like shoelaces that refuse to be tied.  We walked around downtown then had an Italian dinner with our lovable friends Curt and Justine. But by the time we got back to the KOA,  John was tripped up, too– and down for the count.  For the next few days, he was simply enveloped by the good ol’ bastard, the FLU.  He’s still working his way back.  It’s strange watching a rock get flattened like that,  but John is tough and knows how to stare something like that in the face.

This was a good opportunity for me to get acquainted with Harvey.  By the time I’d driven him through SF and into our next campground in Marin County, we were good friends, Harvey and I.  I love him; his long heavy torso, wide turns and all…. Samuel P Taylor is adjacent to cool Bolinas on the ocean side. A pretty park, not that John would know, he was so sick.  We were without electrical or H2O hookup, which was a nice change from the previous week’s privileges, and the girls and I biked and hiked around.  I made a fire, cooked a mediocre dinner compared to John, who usually helms the fire and food, but I enjoyed stepping in.

Next morning, we moved on for a long haul in and up to Redding, where we spent our first night in a hotel to de-germ and watch some TV. We also gained some new family members: 2 black bear hamsters, which are sweet companions for the girls until we can get a dog.  When I tell you that these boys are endowed with the biggest set of nuts you can imagine on something so small, you gotta believe me.  Think of a small fuzzy pale peach resting on two tiny legs.  Actually you can’t even see the legs, they’re so obscured by those cojones…. Too much information?  Sorry, but it’s a feast for the eyes and good for a belly laugh.

Next we visited a new favorite park: Lassen Volcanic Nat’l Park.  Outrageous.  Even John had to find the strength to get out and hike in to the bubbling mud baths.  (As king of fart jokes, maybe he felt hypocritical not paying his dues to the Mecca of sulfuric gasses.) But this park is so damn stunning, changing all the time– patchwork green meadows stitched with narrow snaky streams, high snowy peaks,  volcanic rock, armies of treelined mountains….  That night we slept on state park  land, waking up to Mt. Shasta staring down at us.

We drove out of CA and settled at another nice KOA in Sisters, Oregon. Oregon is like the Fonz from Happy Days; too sexy and confident in its coolness to have to make a big fuss over itself.  It’s all there, all the things for which other states claim fame, and yet it just hangs out in its almost-corner of the country, quietly letting its natural good looks do all the talking.  
The girls and I went horseback riding at a nearby ranch.  Lu had a real beauty– a Norwegian Fjord and Belgian mix named Cookie– massive, broad and with a thick Mohawk.  Z did great on her classy black– her first time riding solo. I was on a  grey mustang that had a big scar on its back from being attacked by a cougar when young.  We saw a rattlesnake on our ride.  The horses weren’t phased at all, even as that sucker rattled as we strode by.      
Then we visited a good friend of John’s from college, Deb Smith.  Cool woman, teaches middle school, great kids, fish biologist husband… Again, people seem happy there. That night Zelda and I tried to read the skies, but the stars were shy.  Z is dedicated to mastering that inky map, and knowing her, she will.  

Now we are in Seattle. I have voice over work tomorrow, thankfully.  John is feeling much better, and he’s giving us the grand tour of his old college stomping grounds.  Lu still has poison oak.  The two hamsters (Jesus and Big Junior, King of Balls) are swell.  Harvey is hanging in there.  After a week of some low valley, we are at a peak again.  And loving a good life. 





Week 1

September 15th, 2010 by Toby

I can cut carrots, open a can and make a tuna sandwich while riding along the winding, harrowing Hwy 1.
Elephant seals are massive heart-melters.  
I could live in the central coast region, happily.
Montana de Oro is a forever favorite place to camp and hike.  The coast is like a pick-up-sticks splay of giant petrified dinosaur spines.  And there are mounds of the coolest rocks you could ever find just lounging on the beach like treasure.  Great kid spot.
RVs are not low-maintenance.  
The Kern River is a real beauty and fun to swim.
Next time I wanna pee outside in a wind storm, remind me not to.
If you want to hug a Giant Sequoia, you better have 15ft arms.

Week 1: 750 miles.  Week one has been a gem; has exceeded my hopes and expectations.  We began  shooting on day 1– no sound yet, but ample opportunities for John to get chummy with the camera and endless scene candy…..
Day 1: We pulled out of Topanga and headed in and up, parking the first night on BLM (Bureau of Land Mgt– our customary best friend) land — Jawbone, outside Red Rock Canyon State Park.  The stars were so thick the sky was almost white.  And then the sunrise…. so burnt-orange and crusty, like a marmalade biscuit all warm and welcoming and make-you-feel-all right.
Day 2, a sweet spot along the Kern River above Kernville and part of Sequoia National Forest.  We swam in the cold dark water, and John caught cool water shots until the sun went down and we were all frozen but amped.

Day 3:  We visited the Trail of 100 Giants.  Insane behemoths and a great playground, except for when John stepped on a bees’ nest.  Then we drove in a long big circle through the mountains, resting in California Hot Springs that night at our first RV park.  The kids could ride their bikes (Zelda wiped out twice and got chased by a dog, tough kid) and we had electricity, H2O and our first fire.  Good living.

Day 4: Thinking we had to be in Vegas soon to meet my mom, we rambled through gorgeous rolling sizzled-golden hill country, like out of a classic Western movie, until we stopped for a swim in Lake Isabella.  We needed a cool-off/wash-away moment:  my mom, we’d just learned, wasn’t going to be able to make it to Vegas (bummer), and Lulu was having a minor pre-teen meltdown about not seeing her pals, being away too long and when was she gonna get a dog.  Understandable stuff, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed by a sailor-mouth rant and ensuing family battle of  bawdiness.  ( I think Lu won this one– she had me cornered and cringing with her Spanish-fly Inquisition of acts I don’t dare mention so early in this trip’s literary life.)
So without the prospect of Vegas, we headed west towards the coast.  We stopped in a tiny town called Buttonhollow where they had the most outrageous taco truck called Tita’s Supusaria (?).  I didn’t know what the hell a supusa  was, and I know that’s not even the correct word, but it must translate to “cloud of heaven” because it was a billowy warm pillow of cheese and squash/cheese and beans, like a tortilla dumpling….mmmmm, goddamnitall MMMMM….!
Then we drove for the first time at night, and we got to know a whole new Harvey.  The snaky road must’ve been a beauty, but it was dark and spooky and got real quiet in that night-time in a car way.  Each kid had an end of the RV and a cinematic view of the stars to put them to sleep.  John turned into Los Padres Nat’l Park down a road that soon turned into something out of a horror flick– a lonely ominous and pockmarked road with Sleepyhollow branches overhead…. John and his flashlite stopped and got out to explore, disappearing behind the next steep bend….. Good thing, because it was only getting worse.  We had to back up a mile in the blackness before Harvey could turn around, then parked somewhere for a few hours of sleep.  It was our first pull-over sleep and kind of creepy, so….
Day 5: …. at a sliver before dawn John was already up and moving on to Montana de Oro below Morro Bay, a place we all love.

Day 6:  same spot, more shooting, this time at sunset for John to work his B-roll magic.  He’s got a natural artistic flair that i can’t help but imagine will create some cinematic gorgeousness.  Plus, the kids are so damn beautiful and just ripe for camera-catching.

Day 7: we headed up Hwy 1 and made an unintentional but serendipitous stop in a cool town called Cayucos.  Great vibe, beautiful beach…. But you could repeat that like a broken record from this point on– the whole coast and Hwy 1just don’t let up– too beautiful to ever get old….  We stopped above San Simeon (with a promise to return and ring Hearst Castle’s doorbell) at Piedras Blancas beach,  the elephant seal colony.  The juveniles (still huge) were hangin out like lazy kids at a juke joint,  cuddling up, flipping sand, sometimes undulating their way to the water for a slow dance with the waves…. But the squirrels there almost steal the show– they are as blubberous as the seals and will jump up on your lap if you let them.
We settled in at Fernwood campground along the Big Sur River in Big Sur, where the tall redwoods always make you feel like a kid.  Z and I took a wade that slipped into a swim, and we all had a sweet meet by the fire where John sampled some score for the film and I melted the bottom of my boots. (“Mom, are your boots smoking?” “Holy shit– they are!” )
Today, I’ll hopefully retrieve mail sent here and look into hitting some hot springs!

On the burner for Week 2:  sound!  (yikes) Monterey Aquarium, Half Moon Bay, San Fran for vo work, more home school (the best stuff to learn is what’s smack dab in front of you).

Harvey is doing great.


The world is our living room….

September 7th, 2010 by Toby

….. Starting tomorrow, September 7, 2010. At long last, we are poised to hit the road!

It’s been a tilt-a-whirlwind since we got back to CA two weeks ago. Thanks to the deep generosity of our friends the Korades, we’ve had a base in Topanga from which we could get our “ship” together. It’s almost a blur– just so much to do: film pre-production (like peeling an onion– endless), home school prep (gimme sumthin to write on, man!), RV search and destroy (we came, we saw, it conquered our hearts)…. Plus big moves like seeking Payroll help and buying Final Cut Pro, camera lenses and sound equipment (ouch), all of which cost a pretty fat penny. But we did it! And now, it’s time to set sail.

We found an RV (we’ve named it Harvey) that feels perfect for us: a 29 foot 2005 Fleetwood Jamboree. John bought it flat out. It was kind of like searching for a pet: we sniffed around and fell for Harvey, and now we’ve spent the last few days getting to know each other. We already got one parking ticket and killed his battery. Good ice breaker.

Tomorrow John will set up his art show at Abuelita’s here in Topanga, but we won’t stick around for it. Anything we need to do, from now on we can do it from the RV. And there is still a TON to do. But first on the list is to go park ourselves in front of a cool landscape somewhere, take a swig of the view and just …. enjoy ourselves.

Pretty wild, to think we’re actually on our way.


August 15th, 2010 by Toby

…. as in, Are we ready to?

I’ll speak for myself, and I think John, too, when I say that we’ve got those pre-rumble butterflies. We have one week left on the East coast, which means that we’ll be heading back to the West coast, which means it’s getting close to Rumble Time.

I’d much rather someone ask, “Are you excited?”. Then I could say, Yes, thanks for asking. We are. Or, “When do you guys split?” Oh, ya know, soon as we get the RV… and a few other small things, like sound equipment and Final Cut, no big….

But are we ready to rumble…?

I’m nervous, and even intimidated at times, but we are getting closer. I’ve been talking to Screen Actors Guild; I’m working on the contract/logistics…. The story/screenplay is progressing from a stutter to a song…. And even the kids are talking about the trip.

It’s clear as an interstate sign that we will have some big surprises (read: challenges) ahead of us. But first: find that RV. Second, get our good friends the Korades to Yoda us on the ways of the RV –“Do not THINK (about the septic tank), young Adams, DO!” And then, finish getting what we need for the shoot (sound/editing).

Beyond that? Roll out the concrete carpet, ’cause we’ll be living in our new castle-on-wheels and just start learning as we go. Literally. (And not just about the film. There’s all the history and geography and….the girls have already learned how to swear in French! Ok, Lulu is writing a book, and Zelda is studying piano. And the girls can swear in French.)

Ok, CA here we come. And if anyone knows of a really cool looking, functional, affordable RV for sale out there, let us know! We may go the buy-an-old-rental route, for its warranty benefits, but man, those suckers are hurting on the style front…..

Oh! And the title of the film as of now is: Never Say Goodbye.



July 6th, 2010 by admin

Hi. So we are on our way! Well, not actually on the road on-our-way, but sort of!

Ok, we moved out of our beloved old double-wide chateau at the bottom of Topanga Canyon. It was bittersweet, but a little bitter doesn’t taste so bad when you know you got a lot of sugar on the way…. I’m talking about the kind of Left turns that turn into right turns that turn into twisted little paved adventures that turn into stories that linger like cement…. All sweet and sticky and kinda twisted, like a stick of licorice. This is what I’m talking about.

So here’s the deal: John, Lulu, Zelda and I are going to get in an RV. We are going to drive that baby all around the country. John and I will home school the kids (and vice-versa). And we are going to shoot a damn film along the way, dammit! I have to use such emphasis because, well, sometimes you gotta show something who’s boss and so here you are witnessing my kid-gloved attempt at reminding the still-unnamed movie that we are coming, dammit! (Ok, three’s a charm.)

Anyone who knows John can guess that the film is practically half-done already — if that man were a superhero he’d be called OctoMan or MillionDo’er Man or Mitosis Man for his sheer talent for juggling countless endeavors at once. All I can say is, I’m glad I’m on his team. And yes, he’s already completed much of the score and begun to tackle the big challenge of how we are going to shoot the film. ( We bought a Canon D5, and John has been getting tutorials from our good pal, Thad Wadleigh. Thanks, Thad!)

Of course, lots of things can go down when you’re making a film. And traveling in a big boat on wheels. And so, this is the place where we are going to share our experience. Should be interesting, so please stick around!

As of today, July 6,2010, we are on the east coast. John and the girls are in Beaverkill, NY at our wonderful house there. I am in NYC hustling for work while I can get it. We have our camera. We have fine willing actors (wait ’till you see these guys on camera!). And we have a script. Now we need to hone in on an RV, get ready for school on the road, and to start putting all the other fine pieces together ( sound/ contract stuff/ Final Cut Pro/etc.).

Our estimated time of departure? Well, we fly back to CA in late August and have no home to load our lives back into, so…. Late August it is!

Video blogs to follow. Stay tuned.


Knick-knack paddywack, Give the blog a bone

May 6th, 2010 by admin

I’m not really blogging. Wonder Wheel is. So anything that sounds bad, boring or banal, you can take it to the double-W. They’re in charge — not me. Anyway, isn’t double-W sorta redundant? See, this isn’t my problem. They’re the boss, and the ones writing this now-boring, banal and dare I say BAD blog. (not to mention heavy on the alliteration…. I guess it runs in their family. Get it? Wonder Wheel..? All those “W”s…. ok, boss. I’ll go look busy… Sheesh!)

So this is a test, and only a test… Of the Emergency Blog-cast System…. This is a test.