Orange Juice, ETC

The blog of Elias & Theresa Carlson

Tag: Road Trip



Last September my parents invited me to join them on their road trip from Priest River to Long Beach with a pit stop in Yosemite. We took the scenic route through the windy roads of Oregon, driving for hours, encountering only a handful of travelers on the long expanses of highway from small town to small town. It was everything a road trip should be. We ate roadside BBQ, picnicked on a log off the side of the road, arrived at hotels after dark and watched tv while snacking on Red Vines as we fell asleep, three to a room.

I had never been to Yosemite before. What an incredible place! From the moment we drove into the park we were surrounded by massive sheets of stone reaching upwards and outwards, sprinkled with patches of green. We entered at Tioga Pass and followed the road through the park to Yosemite Valley, where we spent most of our time before exiting at the South end of the park. We only spent a day and a half in the park but it was enough time to hit many of the iconic views, do a couple of short hikes, and watch a few the climbers make their way up El Capitan. I am excited to go back sometime with Elias and spend more time hiking, exploring, and camping in the park.

Make some time to visit this beautiful place, you will be blown away.









Kings Canyon in Three Parts (1/3)


In June my friend Jeremy and I decided to fly to California to pay my brother Joseph a visit and engage in some kind of fly-fishing based adventure. We found ourselves in Kings Canyon, somewhere between Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, deep in the Sierras. We have each undertaken to write about the trip from a more creative standpoint vs. the typical documentary style you might expect. Accompanying each of our writings are photographs taken by the author of that section, with a variety of cameras. Jeremy is a crack shot with an iPhone, Joseph’s battered old Pentax Spotmatic 35mm rarely leaves his side, and I insist on lugging around heavy medium format cameras on even the steepest hikes (seriously though, it’s so worth it).

We hope you enjoy our efforts.


Part 1 by Elias Carlson

The light in Southern California is qualitatively different than the light in the Pacific Northwest. A warm, dry light, it pervades every corner of the landscape. Even the shadows can’t escape its influence. I’m convinced “The Golden State” moniker refers, not to the fabled gold rush, but to the gilded Californian light.

Before I continue, let me set a few things straight. As a Northwestern son, born and raised, evergreen sap and rain pumps through my veins. Cut me deeply and you may discover North Cascade granite where you might expect bone. The air I breathe is silver and cold, it is wet with fresh rain. I’ve been fortunate to travel far and wide, but I only begin to feel at home when my latitude nears 47 degrees.

Despite my dyed-in-the-wool Northwestern ways, California, and the Sierras in particular, have begun to carve out a warm golden niche in the corner of my heart. The language of glaciers and granite is my native tongue and the Sierras speak a familiar dialect. We’ve only just begun the conversation, but it’s clear we’re going to be fast friends.

Blame John Muir. The wily old prophet of the mountains first piqued my interest with his legendary memoir My First Summer in the Sierras. With a brother in Pasadena, it was only a matter of time before “The Range of Light” and I became acquainted. My first glimpse came last September on a five day fly-fishing road trip from Seattle to LA. As Joseph, Tuck, and I wound down the 395 at the foot of the Eastern Sierras I began to fall prey to the same spell that enchanted Muir. Even from a distance the siren song of the mountain range beckons.

My enchantment with the Sierras has only increased after three days in Kings Canyon. It is a photographer’s wonderland. Golden light ricochets between towering clefts of granite, each peak and crag daring you to capture its brazen majesty. These types of conditions are what I live for. They are my drug. Yet even in the midst of such staggering natural beauty lies conflict.

Perfect light, majestic scenery, and adventure aplenty combine to bring out the best and worst in me as a photographer. I find myself struggling to balance competing desires: How can I ever hope to create a truly meaningful picture when the grandeur before me is overwhelming to the point of numbness? How do I actually experience a place, or a person, when I’m constantly viewing life through a lens?

I fear I’ll always be chasing a cliche. I fear I’ll miss a truly great photograph because I’m only paying attention to the obviously good ones. I worry that I’m not being present with the people I love because I’m distracted by the light. I haven’t yet found a solution to these problems. Maybe that means I’ll never be a great photographer, doomed to dabble forever in the shallow end of the pool. Or perhaps struggling through these conflicts time and time again is the path to greatness. I don’t know. I suppose only time will tell. In the meantime, I’m sure enjoying the view.




















For the photography nerds: All photos taken with a 6×6 Minolta Autocord or 6×7 Bronica GS-1 on Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Ektar 100, or Fuji Pro 400H medium format (120) film.

To the Redwoods…

Much to our surprise and delight, last week my boss gave each of the designers a surprise three day vacation as a way of thanking us for our hard work in June and July. After some deliberation Theresa had the brilliant idea to pack up and make for California and the Redwoods National Park. We’ve been talking about making this trip pretty much since we got married, and it’s pleases me to no end that we are about to do it for real.

We promise to return with pictures and stories from our adventures. Oh, and I’ll be leaving my hatchet at home…

Where the Sidewalk Ends: A Story of Love and Road Trips

What would you do with your life if money was no object? If you could spend your time as you wished, with whomever you pleased, doing as you liked? Don’t worry Miss America, I’ll let you handle world peace. I’m not that ambitious or altruistic. Instead I’d get a nice truck and an immaculately restored airstream trailer to lug behind it. I would grab my beautiful wife, a map of the national forests, and head off on the grandest road trip imaginable. Cameras in tow of course.

I doubt if my grand vision will ever become a full-time reality, so instead I’m determined to break off little pieces of it whenever I can. A slice of the good life is just what I need every so often to keep computer-screen induced claustrophobia at bay. Theresa and I love a good road trip. Our relationship has grown strong over the long miles somewhere between Seattle and Idaho. We dream of visiting the Redwoods, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Joshua Tree together, and I know someday we will. Last weekend however, we settled for something simpler and closer to home.

We set out Sunday after church with a Trader Joe’s tote full of snacks, and enough cameras to arm a high school photography class. The rules were simple. We were going to drive to milepost 134 on Highway 20 (where it has been closed for the winter) and either of us could stop the car at any time to take pictures. As much as I love road trips, the worst part always seems to be that we have to be somewhere by a decent hour. This time however, the day was ours. There would be no time limit or destination to meddle with our enjoyment. Theresa and I had each other, and a full day to enjoy one another beneath the majesty of the North Cascades.

The North Cascades Highway is an old friend of mine. I’ve spent a good portion of my life gazing in wonder at the epic splendor that is presented to my hungry eyes between Darrington and Mazama. This time was no different. It has been a delight to share my favorite stretch of highway with Theresa, something about driving it with her by my side makes it sweeter. If ever there was a perfect day this was it.

There is so much magic to behold in this world if you have eyes to see it. I hope that by sharing a few of our favorite pictures from this trip that we can help you see a bit of it.

Be sure to click on any of the pictures if you’d like to see them larger.