Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tejon Ranch

Dear Reader

Tejon Ranch is a location few in the public can access, unless one is fortunate to work in the entertainment industry and has the opportunity to shoot at the ranch. Tejon Ranch is located north of the HWY 138 and extends north of Bakersfield past HWY 58. The ranch is mainly used for cattle grazing and shooting commercials, photo shoots, TV and feature films.

The ranch ranges from an African savanna to rolling green hills; something one would find in Ireland. Since the ranch, in certain locales is above four thousand feet in elevation, in winter, the rolling hills are covered in snow. Therefore TR offers film makers a wide range of locations to shoot at, in fact the ranch is so large, one could have several big budget films shooting at the same time and not interfere with each other, nor would one know the other production is there.
Lodging is plentyful, the Best Rest Inn, the Ramada Hotel, both in Lebec, and the Econo Lodge in Gorman. There is a dump station and fuel at the Flying J in Lebec, hardware stores and a small grocery store in Frazier Park, restaurants aplenty.

The great plus about the ranch is that it is less than an hour and half north of Los Angeles. TR has easy access in most locations for large vehicles, there are a few locations on the ranch that are not accessible by large trucks.

I have been on the ranch on numerous occasions, almost every time, we shot at a different locale. This time we were shooting a scene with cowboys and cattle, the sky was cloudy and menacing, we observed lightning strikes several times, yet the air was surprisingly humid and hot. Our caterer was cooking a barbeque delight, ribs, chicken, corn on the cob, grilled vegetables, it was a great feast. Our shoot was over and our bellies full, it was time to go home.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dumont Dunes Revisted

Dear Reader

As I indicated, there was a reason why I was at Shoshone, California. Shoshone is the closest town to Dumont Dunes, about thirty minutes north. If one needs fuel, including diesel/gas, food or lodging, Shoshone is the closest town to Dumont. The closest city is Pahrump, Nevada; there you can find a grocery store, casinos, and better lodging, especially for large crews. The Shoshone Inn is small, twenty rooms max, and it is basic, a bed, TV and a shower/tub.

Our crew is small, so Shoshone was the perfect place to lodge, fuel and eat. As the driver of a large motor home, there was plenty of parking and since my motor home is fond of diesel, my RV was never hungry, the fuel was not cheap about thirty cents higher than Baker and Baker is about sixty cents higher than Los Angeles. Shoshone does have an RV park, so on extended stays, the dump station is a necessity.

The road into Dumont Dunes is a rough road, at best, I was able to maintain about five miles an hour, so it took me about an hour to reach the main parking lot. Once you are off the main road the ground is soft, so read the road carefully, one of our guys made the mistake of driving too close to the dunes and got his SUV stuck. We hired two guys who were familiar with the dunes to lead us to our location, around the corner from the main parking lot. I was a little apprehensive about leaving the main parking lot, but our guide assured me I would not get stuck. To play it safe I engaged my automatic traction control, which provided power to both rear wheels, I kept a steady speed until we arrived at our designated location.

Our guides bought a modified sand rail with then to traverse the four hundred foot sand dunes and bring crew and talent to location. Even the best four-wheel drive truck would have problems climbing a dune with a twenty-five percent incline. Dumont is very tricky place to navigate; even the best of driverscan get their vehicles stuck in the loosedry sand.

It was a hundred and five in the shade and humid, the clouds looked ominous and menacing, could a monsoon be near. The Producer stared at the sky for a moment, I assured him that a monsoon would be rare in this region; I was right it did not rain. Watching a sand rail climb a sand dune is like defying the laws of gravity; it requires a skilled driver who knows that in order to reach a location on the side of a dune requires the driver to pass the location and make a long curve up pass the designated locale and then maneuver the sand rail down to such location.

From where I stood, next to the motor home, the crew looked like ants. The sun was slowly setting and the sand was a golden brown, the air was still and quiet. We owned the Dunes, which I thought was unusual, but our guide indicated to me that Dumont Dunes is dead from late April to early October. Therefore if one wants to shoot at Dumont, without any interference from the public spring to late summer is the perfect time to do a shoot.

Be warned though, it is hot, hot, hot, bring plenty of water and an air conditioned motor home like one from Mike Green RV’s (818) 317 7099. In the cooler months it can still get hot in Dumont Dunes, so prepare properly. Again I will always recommend Willie’s On and Off Road Center (760) 257 3734 for your off road needs, including dune buggy’s, scouting, plus more. Sheri Davis from the Inland Film Commission (951) 779 6700 ext. 231; is always the best person to call for information and film permits for Dumont Dunes and the entire Inland


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shoshone an oasis in the desert

Dear Reader

It is quit now in the town of Shoshone, except for the sound of an owl and some birds, an occasional car passing by. The sun is slowly rising above the mountains, I can hear the rustling wind from the nearby trees, a cool breeze blowing in the inhospitable desert town situated south/west of one of the hottest places in the world, Death Valley. Shoshone has an allure about it, a town forgotten by time, a place were miners mined for gold in the late 1800’s. Behind the Shoshone Inn visitors can see the entrance to such a mine, closed with chicken wire guarding the entrance from trespassers. If one listens carefully one can hear the sounds of an encampment of miners discussing the zest for treasures buried in the ground below them. Those days are gone forever, but this town an oasis perched in the unforgiving Mojave Desert provides solitude to those who seek solitude.

I arrived in Shoshone late afternoon, the air was hot and thick, and I let my diesel engine idle for a few minutes allowing the turbo chargers to cool off. I registered at the motel, a place that reminded me of something my parents would find on their travels in the 1950’s, a one story U-shape building surrounded by trees. My room was located in the back, as tempted as I was to back up to my room, the towering trees with its thick branches detoured me from such a thought. Instead I parked my RV next to the Inn, away from trees. The room was modest, the air conditioner blasting, keeping the room at a comfortable temperature.

I was hungry; I prayed that whatever food I could find would be eatable. I walk across the street to the Crowbar Café & Saloon; I peered through the menu, a cross between Americana and Mexican food. Could this food be good, I pondered? The waitress seemed nice, I ordered an enchilada combo, the plate arrived hot, and the food was delectable. This was the best enchilada I had ever had the chance to indulge in, I was happy, very happy.

I went back to my room and grabbed my camera, this place was too tempting not to take pictures, and I took many pictures. In a world with more malls and mini-malls one needs to take time and make since of life, this is why man or woman must seek solace and explore new roads or in this case old roads, a way to link oneself to the past.

Shoshone is about a mile long, if one blinks their eyes for a moment, they could pass this town. This is a place one should stop at, smell the clean desert air, and discover the rich history, the museum, and rusting relics of a life melting in the hot sun. Wild life in abundance, the hot springs and the still of the air, far removed from the bustling city. At night one sees stars, galaxy’s from a far off place, the hollowing of coyotes in the distance, a darkness one could not find anywhere except in the deep caves that miners dredge in the not so distant past. To the south/east I could see the lights of Las Vegas, glowing like a fire.

On my next blog I am going to discuss the purpose of my trip to Shoshone.