Since my last post, I've become a resident of California, let me tell you a little about what that's like.
I live in Aliso Viejo. It's a planned community that was incorporated 20 years ago from Laguna Beach. I'm 3 miles from the Pacific and it's all nature preserve from here to there, you can hike out in a little more than 2 hours through the ridge trail of the Laguna Canyon. This coupled with the beautiful weather have offered me plenty of reasons to stay outside and I have been feeling great exploring the outdoors in my free time.
Alexanne, my other, is doing the Summer InArch program at Berkeley for the Summer while I am working at a great healthcare architecture firm in Newport Beach. I have a dog with me and his name is Fox. When I left Virginia, we put everything we owned inside of a POD and sent it off to Berkeley. Because of that, everything I have in this house was brought in the backseat of 'Volvy' the grey Volvo. Until this morning I had with me a few pots and pans, a bunch of camping gear, an inflatable mattress and this computer. Today I headed down to the local Lowe's and made myself a big basic work table for under $50 (did you know they cut wood you purchase there for free?)
On the way out here we took it slow, 14 days to reach the Pacific coast from the Atlantic. Stops outside of Atlanta, Mississippi and New Mexico to visit with both sides of the family. We camped in Eureka Springs, Arkansas for two nights and visited the work of Faye Jones including Thorncrown Chapel. The entire town and especially the chapel were beautiful and I highly recommend it to anyone who is traveling anywhere near this place. We stayed at a Core of Engineers campground that was very nice called 'Dam Site Beaver Lake Campground'.
We hiked up the ridge to the peaks of the Sandia mountains West of Albuquerque for a 12 mile hike in blazing heat. The trailhead starts at the East end of Indian School road and the hike was moderate and provided many opportunities for Tree Identification, something that I have been interested in along the trip. We saw some great Apache Pines and Cottonwoods along the stream that runs along this trail. There is a waterfall called 'Three Gun Spring' that is a refreshing and beautiful oasis at the peak.
After spending much time with friends and family in Corrales and Portales, including a trip on the Rail Runner commuter train to Santa Fe, we headed towards the Grand Canyon for three nights of camping on the South Rim at Desert View Campground. The view is of course, incredible. I couldn't believe it when I learned that the North Rim of the canyon is ten miles from where we were standing. It's easy to imagine how the Spanish explorers were fooled when looking down into the canyon, guessing the the Colorado river was a 'creek' no more than six feet wide when in reality, it is more than three hundred feet wide in some parts. We hiked out to Shoshonee Point, an unmarked trail with a 270 degree panorama of the canyon. We stayed with Alex's parents who came along with us for the trip and met a few solo motorcycling travelers who joined us for campfire songs and burritos.
Leaving the Grand Canyon put us in the deserts of Arizona en route to an apartment I thought I had secured in Costa Mesa. When I arrived, the person that I had contacted and sent a check to told me that it was too much of a burden to move his things out and couldn't have the place ready for a week... so I had a mild panic attack, not having a place to stay in California and starting work in 4 days... Alex calmed us down and put us in a Super 8 to hunt for an apartment. Which puts us here, in an Archstone chain apartment complex that offers two month leases. Couldn't be better really, glad it turned out the way it did.
I'm planning on taking some trips tomorrow to see some local classics. I wanted to go to the Salk Institute but it turns out that they are closed on weekends so I'll have to go on a Friday afternoon. Instead I'm heading towards Los Angeles to find some Neutra houses and the Eames house in Pacific Palisades. I have yet to see some of Eric Owen Moss's work in Culver City so I'm interested in looking around there. I'll be revisiting some of Morphosis' and Gehry's local work. Any suggestions for more to see in Southern California would be greatly appreciated! I'm about an hour from San Diego and 45 minutes from LA.
My job is great! The people are very welcoming and dedicated to their work. The principals are focused on delivering a high quality product and there is a lot of potential energy around. The office looks out over Upper Back Bay, a nature preserve with trails and a biking/running circuit that is well traveled.
I hope to get an update from Alex and her time at the In[Arch] program. I know that now she is deconstructing a clarinet and it seems to be a pretty intensive program, having her at the studio for the majority of this weekend. I will see her this weekend for the fourth of July weekend as I head up to the Bay Area.
I'll leave with some sketches from the journey West.
I-40 to the Grand Canyon
Road Impression I
Road Impression II
Architecture Research Lab specializes in design and construction technology and is located in Berkeley, California - www.archresearchlab.com