Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Mojave Airport

Dear Reader

It is a cold windy morning at the Mojave Airport, just east of Hwy 14, in the town of Mojave. Our site representative is leading us on a one-lane dirt road. The high beans reveal the twist and turns of the road, I am the last vehicle in the caravan, I make a sharp left turn, and then I position my motor home next to the other vehicles. I drop the jacks, and then I let the slide-outs out.

Mojave airport is not the usual airport, there are no gates or ticket booths, it is just one huge runway with lots of parked planes. There are a number of private hangers, repair facilities and a fuel station. The Mojave airport is a place that the airlines store their old planes in a mothball state. It is also a place that is used for many car shoots, commercials and feature films. Take that scene in the movie “Speed”, when Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock try to escape from that out of control bus. The bus hits a cargo plane and blows up; it is suppose to be LAX, one problem, LAX does not have mountains from the west, there is a little lake called the Pacific Ocean. The closest mountains are north east of Los Angeles about forty miles. Though the Producers would have love to shoot that shot at LAX, the FAA said “no”. A little movie magic and the Mojave Airport is the perfect substitute.

We were shooting a commercial for a big Japanese car company. It was a two day shoot, the first day it was just a couple of people to set up the shot, so they did not need me, the second day they really needed me, the airport was hit with gale force winds. Anything that was not tied down flew to Barstow eighty miles away. This was typical weather for late spring, cool and windy. There are numerous helicopter pads on the airbase, with various views; to the west are the Tahippi Mountains, a favorite with producers. The movie “Water World” was shot at the airport, they bought in a huge water tank and blue screen, add a little movie magic and you would think they are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

As the day wore on, the winds increased, the crew came into my motor home to access the Internet, and watch the latest news updates. I kept the coffee and tea brewing all day long. Our caterer had his own motor home and he kept the crew very happy.

The town of Mojave is several miles away, with plenty of lodging, dump stations and affordable restaurants, for any size crew. One is not going to find any high end dining in Mojave, but you will find a Starbucks. Mojave is located about two and half hours from Los Angeles, if one is tempted to speed on highway 14, think twice, even in the early hours the CHP patrols the road, looking for speeders and drunk drivers.

The Mojave Airport is the perfect location for your next shoot.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Los Angeles to Seattle in a night and a day

Dear Reader

It takes me about twenty-two hours to get from Los Angeles to Seattle driving about sixty miles per hour, that may sound slow, but when your vehicle gets about seven and a half miles per gallon at 70 miles per hour. At sixty miles per hour I can up to nine to ten miles per hour. At this speed the CHP pays little attention to me, I can enjoy the ride, listen to my XM radio, drink some coffee, call some friends, access the internet, take a long nap, text some friends, make a cake, the usual things a California driver does while driving.

On this trip I had a night and a day to drive to Seattle, normally I like to take two days at twelve hours a day to get to Seattle. I drove until I was tired, I stopped at a rest stop, and in fifteen minutes I was sound asleep. I was on the road at four in the morning, the sun was slowly rising, it was time to find a truck stop to fuel up, I had driven about two hundred miles I was on ¾ of a tank. I pull in to a TA, the truck stop is filled with every imaginable tractor-trailer, the smell of burning diesel fuel fills the air, and the sound of diesel engines idling produced a constant roar.

By noon I was passing through Sacramento, the traffic was light. I was starting to get tired; I pulled into the next rest stop and took a power nap. By twelve-thirty I was on the road again. At five in the afternoon, I was eating diner at a Pilot Truck Stop in Roseburg, Oregon. I had burn through a hundred gallons of diesel fuel by the time I reached Jubitz Truck Stop in Portland. It was eleven thirty, I had driven about eight hundred miles, I was tired, and my eyes would not stay open anymore. I top off my tank, parked my RV in one of the stalls and breathe diesels fumes from all those idling trucks all night long; I did not need to take hit from my can of “LA Smog”. I set my alarm clock to wake me up at three in the morning. By four I was on the road again, at six-forty-five I was at a rest stop in Tacoma, I met Roger there, he would be driving RV number two, I was driving RV number one and Dave would meet us at the location in his Class C production motor home.

We were finished by four in the afternoon, we drove back to Tacoma, there’s a Casino just north of the city, great food and plenty of parking for our large motor homes. I stayed in the North West for the rest of the week, getting caught up with my paper work and getting information on my next job.

Part two, my ride back home on a train.