A few years ago I met this bad ass art-nude model named Katlyn. She had an expressive face, an amazing super-artsy posing technique and an übergnarly briarpatch of a bush, but none of that was what was really amazing about her — she was only 20 years old, yet her modeling m.o. consisted of traveling from city to city, shooting with various photographers along the way to make money. She slept in her car or in hostels, thus keeping her road expenses to a minimum, and was able to make a good living while seeing a lot of the country at the same time. Fabulous!!
Come to find out, there’s a whole sisterhood of traveling models on Model Mayhem — many of whom travel pretty much full-time, booking trips to random cities and hitting up every local photographer in the area to find work as they go. It works out great for photographers, as they tend to get tired of the same old local gash, and this gives them the opportunity to work with someone new — especially guys who live in podunk towns without many serious models. If a model is hardcore enough to travel around booking shoots, odds are she’s pretty serious about work and will do a good job/not flake/not be a bitch. (There are always exceptions, of course.)
Another example is my good friend from the Goddess Collective, Jill V. She splits her time between Vancouver B.C. and Vegas/Phoenix, but travels all over the place to shoot, and has been doing it for years. She’s pretty much used to sleeping on couches and living out of a suitcase — a true gypsy, which I admire greatly, as I am kinda high-strung and aspire to being more gypsy-like myself. I’m one of those people who likes to have my stuff with me, ya know? I have a long way to go :/
As a model in Vegas, I’m actually pretty lucky — even though all the local photogs are sick to death of my dumb ass, there’s always a fresh stream of guys coming into town for tradeshows or vacation or whatever, so I never really run out of new clients to shoot for. You’d think competition for bookings would be pretty stiff in Vegas, given the abundant local “talent…” but the truth is, there aren’t that many serious nude models, let alone art nude models, in Vegas. Women here are spoiled by the easy money that can be made elsewhere, and can’t be bothered to go through the trouble of getting up at 5am for a desert sunrise shoot, ya know? Also, most of the chicks here are heavily tattooed and/or have fake hair/tits/lips/whatever, so I get a lot of bookings based on my more-or-less natural appearance.
So while it’s fairly easy to sit back and wait for photographers to come to me, I always thought it would be fun to try out the life of a traveling model…and what better time to do so than summer, when it’s 115 degrees in Vegas and too hot to shoot outdoors anyway? So, I decided to take the plunge, and plan a modeling trip of my own…to the Pacific Northwest.
I chose the Pacific NW mainly because of my photographer friend Irisphoto, with whom I’ve shot a couple of times in Vegas, and who was always trying to talk me into visiting Seattle, where he lives, so we could shoot in the forest. Now, like most models I get cold really easy, so I asked him when was the hottest time of year in Seattle…and he said late July-August. At the time I planned my trip, I thought I’d be working Sturgis in August…so I booked the trip for mid-late July, hoping temperatures would be warm enough that I didn’t freeze my balls off.
Also at the time, my grandma was intending to have a family reunion at Lake Tahoe the weekend of July 25, so I planned out my trip in a big loop, starting in Vegas and ending up in the Tahoe area on the 25th. I figured to leave Vegas around July 5th, then head to the San Francisco Bay Area for a couple weeks to spend time with my family there, before heading on up to Seattle, then back down to Tahoe and then to Vegas again at the end of the month.
To secure gigs, I logged into Model Mayhem and posted what they call “travel notices,” to alert photographers in the cities I’d be passing thru to my availability: “Hey guys, traveling Wonderhussy on the loose! Who wants to shoot?” I posted notices in all the major towns along my route: Bakersfield (hey, you never know), San Jose/San Francisco, Medford OR, Portland OR, Seattle WA, Bend OR, and Reno/Tahoe NV. Then, I sat back and waited.
Now, legit traveling models are more proactive — they blast out direct messages to all the photographers in every city they’re visiting, and see who answers. But this being my first such trip, I was pretty passive, and just posted travel notices, waiting to see who was interested. Plenty of photographers regularly check the travel notices in their city, trawling for fresh meat so to speak, so I did end up getting a decent amount of interest, almost exclusively in the Seattle area. I ended up booking 7 shoots, most of them full or half-day bookings, so if all went well and no one flaked, I stood to make a decent amount of money — which was sorely needed, as both my cell phone and my laptop are on their last legs
Now speaking of flaking, I hear from photographers all the time about how flaky models are, and how many of them either cancel last-minute, or don’t show up at all. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s a two-way street — I’ve been stood up by a photographer or two in my day as well, and when you’re driving 1,000 miles for a shoot, you’re assuming quite a bit of risk…and it’s not like you can ask for a deposit (I’ve tried that before, and it just turns people off). So I just hoped for the best, and booked as many shoots as possible to compensate for any possible flakes. Also, my sister came along with me…so if worst came to worst, I could write the whole mess off as a profitless-yet-fun roadtrip.
Fortunately for me, I had very few flakes on the trip — really just a guy in Bakersfield, who cancelled because of a scheduling conflict (but really I think he didn’t want his wife finding out he was shooting a nude model). But I had to pass through Bakersfield anyway, so it was no biggie — I just stopped there for dinner with my friend Dr. Zhivago, instead.
Anyway, the breakdown ended up being: 1 shoot in the SF Bay Area, 0 in Medford, 0 in Portland, 4 in the Seattle area, 1 up near the San Juan Islands and 1 in Reno. (I did get an email from a guy in Bend, but he was only offering to pay $50 and it just wasn’t cost-effective.) As a bonus, my grandma’s family reunion in Tahoe ended up being cancelled, so I came back to the Bay Area after Reno, and booked 1 more shoot in ever-glamorous Petaluma, CA in the north bay. So really, it was a total of 8 shoots.
The total miles traveled was around 2,526….and that’s a lot of gas money!! My sis paid for a gas a couple of times, and we took turns paying for food…and I also tried to stay with friends or family when possible, to avoid the cost of motels. I even brought my camping gear, thinking to save cheese that way whenever possible. But it’s really hard to do your hair and makeup in a soggy, damp tent…so until I get a van, motels or friends are really the most feasible option as far as lodging goes. Anyway, I still came out ahead on the trip…although not by as much as I would have, if I’d had a van or RV :/
Anyhoo, I basically started out my modeling tour in the Bay Area. After the unfortunate events of my last blog, I headed down to the east bay to shoot for Natural States, this nudist website that videotapes you doing stuff naked, like painting and jogging and whatnot. We went up to this park in Walnut Creek and he filmed me hiking nude among the oaks…and guess what, that wasn’t the first time I’ve been naked in public in Walnut Creek! I was born there, at John Muir Memorial Hospital — delivered by a Dr. Kronik, no less!!!!! Lulz!!!!!
That was my only shoot in the Bay Area, and on the 16th I departed Santa Rosa, CA, bound for Medford, OR, where my mother’s super-awesome cousin had offered to let us stay at her place for the night. Google Maps said it was around 6.5 hours to Medford…but that was if you took boring-ass I-5, which as everyone knows is one of the most boring freeways anywhere. So my sis and I decided to take scenic 101 up the coast instead…and while it took way longer, it was fabulously beautiful!! They call the Nor Cal coast up around Humboldt the “Lost Coast,” because most of the population has deserted it due to a shitty economy…so all that’s left are beautiful misty redwood forests hiding sporadic marijuana grow ops, with the occasional hippie and a few Bigfoot tourist attractions here and there. FABULOUS!!
Alas, however, we didn’t want to get to my mom’s cousin’s house too late, so we pretty much had to haul ass the entire way up, gawking at the gorgeous scenery as it flew past at 70mph Our one pit stop was to get gas at this funky little outpost in Humboldt, a convenience store that sold all kinds of tourist shtick and pot-smuggling accessories, LOL. We met this super cool hippie biker there named Cy Cascade, and he put one of my Wonderhussy stickers on his bike and invited us to visit his camp at Burning Man. But then we had to get back on the road, and floor it through Eureka, Arcata and Crescent City…all of which I would have loved to have stopped and explored! Once I get a van or camper, the first fuckin’ thing I’m doing is go back and take my time through that area. It’s gorgeous!!!
As it was, we rolled into Medford pretty late, so just barely had enough time to pick up some delicious foodie-type pizza and head over to my mom’s cousin’s house for a late-night dinner. This woman is so bad ass, and her backyard looked out onto the most beautiful pastureland, so we had a really good time staying over with her, and I thank her for her generous hospitality! She cracked open a bottle of really nice local wine for dinner, and gave me a little goddess face to add to my 2014 Summer Adventure Hat before we headed on our way up to Portland, our next stop.
Interestingly, I was unable to book any shoots in Portland (?!), so we only stopped there as a sort of layover. My recently footloose sis is considering moving there, so it was a good opportunity for her to check out the scene, so see if she could handle living among all those earnest white people. While in town, we stayed with my awesome tattoo artist ex-boyfriend, who had recently bought a huge house with plenty of room for not only me and my sis, but also his two roommates and these three mountain biking lesbians he’d met at Burning Man who were also in town. Talk about a fun group! My special favorite was his one roommate, this awesome 90% deaf gay man who collects jewelry to sell on eBay, and who gave me a beautiful silver bracelet as a token of his esteem. But everyone else was cool, too.
The lesbians were actually really interesting because two of them lived in a pickup truck, with which they towed a cargo trailer that, besides being used for mountain bike storage, had also been converted into a mobile kitchen — one of them was a legit chef, and cooked up a bomb-ass dinner for everyone one night. But aside from cooking, they lived in the truck, which was a monster 4X4 with a huge hi-top camper shell on the back — they had a system of storage drawers underneath their sleeping platform back there, and it was a pretty cozy setup. Hmmm!!
Since I already have a bad-ass little truck, I’m thinking that maybe I should just put a camper shell on the bitch and call it a day, instead of getting a van. I hate to jinx myself, but my little ’05 Ranger made this whole trip like a fucking champ, and at 136,000 miles it’s still going strong. I’m only the second owner, and have put 100,000 of those miles on it myself, maintaining it religiously all the while…and have never had a problem with it other than a dead battery, so I’m guessing it has a LOT of life left in it. If I can get a high-top camper shell and a storage rack on top, I could probably go pretty far, in decent comfort. Something to think about!
Anyway, after the amazing trailer-cooked dinner, we all stayed up late drinking and talking, but one of the lesbians had to go back to Saipan in the morning (the one who didn’t live in the truck, obviously) so my sis and I spent the next day just roaming around Portland…which is one of the only cities in the U.S. where female toplessness (and nudity) is legal, as long as it is without the intent to arouse. Well, I didn’t intend to arouse anyone, so we both went topless…although I was too big a puss to do it in town, and only walked around this park, sunbathing and picking blackberries and whatnot. But still, it was a pretty liberating experience!
My hardcore series of back-to-back photo shoots was scheduled to begin the next day, so I went to bed early that night, while everyone else went to some no-holes-barred gross-sounding vegan strip club (a strip club that also happens to serve vegan food). Now believe me, my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was in overdrive, as I would have enjoyed nothing more than to visit a vegan strip club in Portland…but I hadn’t been sleeping well, and really needed some beauty rest, so I forced myself to go to bed in the the little basement bedroom we were staying in. But my sis reported back the next morning that the club had been truly disgusting, with women licking each other’s assholes and whatnot — apparently, Vegas strip clubs ain’t nothing compared to Portland! So I was pretty bummed that I had to miss seeing that.
Moreover, I was especially bummed because I still hadn’t heard back from the photographer I was supposed to shoot with the next day. I had confirmed all my shoots about a week prior to the trip, but now this guy wasn’t responding to my emails asking what address I was going to. I emailed him the night before, and the morning of, just before leaving town — no answer!! If I missed out on that vegan strip club for nothing, BOY was I gonna be pissed!! But I headed up the I-5 toward Portland anyway, hoping he’d respond by the time I got to Kent, where he lived.
I stopped at a rest area along the way and did my hair and makeup, at a picnic table near these two miserable-looking Bible-thumpers who were unsuccessfully attempting to proselytize to travelers, none of whom showed the slightest interest in their pamphlets. Maybe they were just there to save wayward teen prostitutes — apparently there’s a big problem with human trafficking up there, as this sign posted on the bathroom wall indicates. Yikes!!
Anyway, my shoot was supposed to be at noon, and by 12:05 I still hadn’t heard from the guy, so I assumed he was flaking. I sent him one last email, including my phone number, and apparently that was the magic bullet because he finally texted me. Apparently there was some miscommunication, but whatever — we straightened it out, and had a fantastic shoot at his home studio…and I finally made some money! Up til that point I was pretty broke, so it was a huge relief to get some cash flowing again
After my shoot wrapped, my long-suffering sis picked me up and we continued on up to Bellevue, where I was to be interviewed for this awesome documentary being made by another full-time traveling nude model named Kristy Rebel, all about the experience of being a traveling nude model. Alas, Kristy herself was out of town modeling (LOL), so I just interviewed on camera with her videographer…but it was a cool experience, and it sounds like it’s going to be a very interesting documentary. It also happens to have the greatest name ever: Bring Something Sexy. LOL…story of my life!!! Here’s the link…check it out!
Anyway, I didn’t have much time to dick around because I had a photo shoot booked on Mt. Rainier the next morning at 5am!!!!!!! I was supposed to meet the photographer at this nearby campground, and my original intent was just to camp out there as well, so I’d at least save myself the drive time. But as mentioned previously, the thought of getting ready in a damp, dark tent sounded miserable, so I had gone ahead and booked a cheap(ish) motel room in nearby Enumclaw, WA…about 30 min away. So that meant I had to get up at 3am (!!!), and couldn’t really dilly-dally. I had a quick dinner at Chipotle, which is the greatest traveling model food ever — ubiquitous, cheap, healthy and awesome. I wish I’d eaten it more on my trip…but I didn’t want my poor sis to get more bored than she probably already was. Anyway, then I hauled ass out to Enumclaw.
Now, I was actually really excited to visit Enumclaw, as it’s a site of no little notoriety, being the location of a super-infamous horsefucking scandal about which I once watched a fascinating documentary! It seems there used to be a ranch out there where guys could go pay to be fucked up the ass by a stallion (!!!), until one time this Boeing exec got rammed too hard and started bleeding internally, and the other guys dumped him anonymously on the steps of the local hospital, where he died. A thorough search led animal cruelty investigators to discover the ranch, but when they went out there, they determined that there was no cruelty being inflicted on the animals, as they seemed to enjoy fucking the men! In fact, as the investigators pulled up to the ranch and spotted the main stallion grazing peacefully in a corral….next thing you know, a little pony came out of the barn, ran up to the stallion and started fellating him!!!!! I’m not making this up!!!!! If you don’t believe me, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enumclaw_horse_sex_case and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoo_(film). FAR FUCKING OUT!!!!
Aaaaaanyhoo, I didn’t have time to look around for any horse-related shenanigans — I basically just checked in, got a drink at a local cocktail bar, and went to bed. But one thing I did make time for was smoking weed in public — it’s legal in Washington State!!! I hit my little glass travel pipe while walking down the sidewalk in broad daylight, and nobody batted an eyelash — the only people to approach me were two Mormon missionaries, who asked if there was anything they could do to help me. Being as I had a pipe full of weed in one hand and was on my way to a cocktail bar, I was able to respond “No” totally truthfully…although now that I think about it, I suppose I could have asked one of them to stand in for me the following morning at the damn 5am photo shoot. “If you really wanna help me, brother…….”
So, don’t ask me how, but I was somehow able to drag my ass up at 2:50am (I woke up before my alarm even went off) and get ready for this photo shoot. I usually go to bed later than that, LOL! My poor sis had to get up with me, as I had another shoot booked immediately after the first one, and she would have been stranded in Enumclaw without a car all day if she didn’t drop me off. So we both headed out in the predawn misty rainy darkness, me running late as usual, hauling ass along these winding mountain roads that felt like nothing so much as a David Lynch movie.
But I made it to my shoot only a few minutes late, and the photographer turned out to be super cool — a true artist-type who likes to shoot at dawn because the light is like a giant softbox in all that gloomy mist up there. We drove way the fuck up some crazy logging road, deep into the forest, and the temperature dropped down into the 40s. Whenever we got to a spot he liked, he would have me jump out, pose for several minutes, then get back in the car to warm up. This went on for five hours!!!! It was astonishingly beautiful up there, but I’ve never been so cold and damp and miserable in my entire life!!! To make matters worse, at the end of the shoot he casually mentioned something about having heard Sasquatch up there one time — you know, Bigfoot!!!!! As in, the giant hairy beast-monster known to carry off women and mate with them!!! He was dead serious, too…YIKES!!!
I didn’t have much time to worry about it, though, as I had to meet the photographer for my next shoot at the Chinook Pass by 10:30 — my ever-loving sis picked me up and drove me out there, and I spent the next 8 or 9 hours shooting with my friend Irisphoto. His plan had been to shoot on the mountain as well, but the whole area was so socked in with fog that we only shot for an hour or so, and did the rest of the shoot back at this house in a nearby suburb. WHEW!! It was much warmer there, and we had a pretty good time shooting in this awesome old railroad caboose he has on his property, as well as among the trees and vegetation on his extensive grounds. He even offered to let my sis and I stay overnight in his caboose, which has been totally remodeled and is really comfortable inside…but alas, I had already booked a room in town, and had arranged to meet another photographer there at 9am, so I had to decline.
So my sis and I checked into our next shitty motel, a Days Inn on a super-methy, prostitutey stretch of highway in Federal Way, and I basically just passed the fuck out and finally got some blessed sleep before getting up at the luxurious hour of 7am and doing it all over again. This time, the photographer wanted to shoot up on Mt. Rainier as well…but first he thought he’d make some use of my hotel room, since I had it anyway, and he could shoot some boudoir stuff. So my sis took off for the day to do some sightseeing, and I went down to the lobby and met up with the photographer.
Now, many (most) of the photographers I shoot with are real characters, but this guy really took the prize!! I ended up really liking him and enjoying his company, but he kinda started everything out in a super-weird manner: he came up to the room and started drilling me about my limitations — i.e. how much vagina I was willing to show in photos. Idk, I make it pretty fucking crystal-clear on my Model Mayhem bio, but he had all these weird clinical questions about my labia and whatnot, and it kinda took me aback! Plus he had me strip down and turn in a circle so he could see my body, which was unusual…and plus, did I mention he was a dead ringer for John Candy?!?!?! I didn’t know what to make of this fucker….but I eventually figured out that he was just nervous and kind of a hyperactive ADD-type, and as I said I really grew to enjoy his company, and had a really good time cruising around with him all day. But considering all the wacky characters I’ve shot with over the years, I am sorely tempted to do a one-woman monologue-style show about my modeling adventures, with me doing all the voices and impressions. Wouldn’t THAT be awesome?! I’m here to tell you, I’ve shot with some real DOOZIES!
After shooting in the room for awhile, we headed back up to Mt. Rainier…which, shockingly, was totally blue and sunny and gorgeous that day!! We were able to get quite a few nice locations in, including flowers and trees and rocks and cabins…and this one ice fucking cold waterfall that I actually got into. Man, I really suffer for art!
After that day, I was totally pooped and just met up with my sis at our next shitty motel, a Travelodge up in Everett. I was staying up north because my next day’s shoot was in Anacortes, out by the San Juan Islands — but Everett turned out to be a really cool little town in itself, with all kinds of fun, funky hipster bars and restaurants, so it was actually an interesting place to stay. We had dinner at this hipster-foodie Latin place called Sol Food, then pooped out early so we could get up in time to drive up north and do a little sightseeing before my shoot the next afternoon.
Now remember, my sister and I had just been down in Baja California, Mexico a few weeks before all this — now that we were headed up to Anacortes, we had basically traversed the entire length of the West Coast, from the Mexican border to the Canadian! Since we were so close anyway, we decided it would be stupid not to drive all the way up to the Canadian border — even though I didn’t have my passport on me, and even though even if I did, those fuckers wouldn’t let me into their precious country on account of my DUI
It’s true — you cannot enter Canada if you’ve had a criminal conviction, which I just found out a few weeks ago, and which really cheeses me off! Apparently if the conviction was over 5 years ago, you can pay the Canadian government some kind of fee (around $200, I think) and they can grant you special dispensation for entry — even Pres. George W. Bush had to do this as head of state, since he had a DUI back in the day! It seems those moosefucking commies up there really take shit seriously, and me and my ilk are personae non grata. Meanwhile, they have this whole bullshit park on the border dedicated to peace and brotherhood with the U.S., including these symbolic gates which may “never be closed.” HAH!!!
I didn’t waste too many tears on it though — I had to be at this Indian casino in Anacortes by 2pm, for my shoot with Fotosymfony. He had booked a pretty nice suite with some cool ultramodern decor, so for once I didn’t have to freeze my ass off, and was able to roll around nude and semi-nude in relative comfort, as my sis got sloshed at the bar downstairs. When I finished, my sis and I got back in the truck and hauled ass out of there — away from the the freezing misery of the Pacific Northwest “summer,” over the mountains into the eastern portion of the state, where things would hopefully be warmer.
I didn’t have another shoot for two days, down in Reno, so now it was kinda like a little vacation. We cruised through the gorgeous, endless Pacific Northwest twilight (one thing I’ll say for them, they have the longest, most amazing golden hour ever), stopping to pick blackberries and take photos and other various road-tripping-girlie things. We drove through the most beautiful country, down through all these little towns and over the amazingly gorgeous Snoqualmie Pass, and ended up in ever-glamorous Ellensburg, WA, where we stopped for the night mostly out of necessity. On the way, we tried to stop for dinner at some tourist trap in the boonies called The Brick, supposedly the oldest restaurant west of the Mississippi, where they used to film the TV show Northern Exposure….but despite the fact that the website said it was open til 11, come to find out at 9:30 the kitchen was already closed. So we ended up at a shitty truckstop in Ellensburg, which was actually probably way cooler, anyway!
The next day I had no photo shoots, so I was able to get up and go for a run…after beating up the free breakfast at the Super 8 where we stayed. (On this trip, I became pretty adept at milking all I could out of these shitty motels — and loading up for breakfast was one way to get my money’s worth.) Anyway, my running experience in Ellensburg SUCKED ASS, because not only did I keep getting lost among all the dead-ends and horse properties, but somewhere around mile 4 it started pouring rain, and now I was lost and soaking wet and pissed the fuck off!!! I ended up running 7 miles of soggy hell, and boy was I ready to get the fuck out of Washington after that!!!
A quick stop at Starbucks for coffee and makeup adjusted my attitude immensely, and then it was off on the road again — adios Washington, may we meet under better terms next time!!! Alas, it continued to rain on and off the whole way south to Oregon, which really sucked because we had planned to camp out at some hot springs that night, and camping in the rain ain’t no fun. We really didn’t want to miss out on these hot springs, though, as they came highly recommended by many people…so we just booked the cheapest room we could find in the closest town, Klamath Falls, which was only about 80 miles away. Practically next door, haha. If we hauled ass, we could make it to the springs by dusk, soak for a couple hours, and then be at the hotel by 1am or so. I didn’t have to be in Reno til 5pm the next day, so we had a little leeway.
But hauling ass really sucks, as it made me miss out on some really cool roadside attractions — like this full-size replica of Stonehenge I apparently blew right past without even noticing! Apparently, all kinds of kooky Wiccans and shit go out there and chant and wave sage and shit, but I didn’t even notice it D’OH!!!! I hate rushing!! Why can’t there be 30 hours in a day??
As it was, we were only able to stop in Bend, OR for a quick bite…and I had heard so many good things about Bend that I thought I might really like it there, and had wanted to explore it a little. But I think I found out all I needed over burritos at the FABULOUS Parilla Grill — the food was excellent, dare I say better than Chipotle and at the same price, but the atmosphere of the townspeople was decidedly bro-ey, and not really my scene. And this was in summer — I can only imagine what it’s like in winter, when the place is choked with sno-bros!! I said this before in my blog about Mammoth — I hate snow culture! Snowboarding, skiing, whatever — it all seems to be popular with the most assholiest of all annoying assholes. “Whoa, bro, way to shred!” I’d like to shred your face on a cheese grater, bro!!! And don’t even get me started on skiiers….elitist poseur fucks, one and all!
Thankfully, we were basically just blowing through Bend on our way down to the fantastically magical Umpqua Hot Springs, which are way out in the boonies sort of southwest of town. It was a pretty substantial detour to be taking on such a tight schedule, but BOY AM I GLAD I DID! I almost ran out of gas, and had to shell out $4.99/gallon at some foggy little podunk campground along the way, but guess what? It was totally worth it! Those springs are A M A Z I N G ! ! !
I know I say this about a lot of hot springs I visit, but Umpqua really is up there in my top 5. As you may know, I prefer a natural hot spring experience — undeveloped, in nature, no admission charge. Up until now, my favorites had been Deep Creek, Arizona/White Rock and Saline Valley…but Umpqua might have stolen the top spot! I am DEFINITELY coming back to camp there sometime…it was wonderful!!
To get there, you drive through a rainy, misty forest (and this was in July, so I can imagine it must pretty much always be rainy and shitty there) down all sorts of winding roads that get progressively worse, until you reach a turnoff onto a really bad pot-holed dirt road. One thing I’ll say for Umpqua, the turn is well-marked by helpful regulars…which is really cool, considering some of the “other” springs I’ve been to have sort of an elitist attitude among their regulars, like they don’t want people to know about them. Deep Creek regulars are guilty of this, and I have gotten some very nasty emails from Saline Valley regulars for having dared to write about those springs…god forbid.
But anyhoo, Umpqua is cool as fuck and all are welcome. You park in a little lot by these vault toilets, pay $5 (it’s the honor system…but don’t be an ass), and then hike up a short but steep trail, about 10 minutes or so (and totally doable in flip-flops) to this little clearing on the side of a cliff overlooking a rushing creek, with four or five little rock-lined pools radiating misty heat into the forest air. Giant old-growth fir trees surround you, and it is totally magical. The hottest pool is at the top, by the source, and it’s around 107 degrees — hot, but totally soakable. The other pools are cooler, and the main one, which is in a sort of open-sided wooden hut covered in hippie graffiti, is pretty tepid and actually kinda gross….but it’s where most people were soaking that night, so I hung out there for awhile to chat.
I was there on a midweek rainy night, and even then it was pretty crowded — these springs are legendary! Kids and grownups come from all around to soak in the fabulous atmosphere, and we met some really interesting characters there. First, we were hanging out talking to a toothless old letch who gave me a foot massage and invited me to visit his camp at Burning Man (hmmm….I sense a theme), and this other cool old naked dude who was with the adorable 11-year-old son of his drug dealer — this amazing little kid in board shorts who was totally comfortable chatting with me and my sis, who were both buck naked and drinking wine. That was kid was so freaking cool — he kinda reminded me of my little brother, who is now a successful software engineer, haha. See?? There’s hope for you, kid — even if your dad is a crazy hippie drug dealer who drags you to remote hot springs full of strange naked ladies on rainy nights!!!!!
We also spent some time chatting with an awesome Zen Buddhist high school history teacher, who filled us in on the secret racist history of the state of Oregon. OMG, I had no idea!! Oregon comes off as so liberal and friendly…but come to find out, it used to have the biggest Klan chapter outside of the south, and really mistreated blacks and Chinese laborers back in the day. No wonder I saw so many freaking white people there!! Seriously, my impression of Oregon is white bros, white yoga women and white hippies in VW Vanagons — I never saw so many VWs in my life…nor so many, many white people. They were all friendly and cool, but still….kinda creepy, like the Granola Stepford Wives!
Alas, after soaking awhile and only a glass and a half of wine, we had to dry off and leave for Klamath Falls…getting into that godforsaken little burg around 1am, and checking into yet another shitty motel. At least now that we were out of the Seattle area, motel prices were more reasonable — back in Everett and Federal Way I paid between $80-100 for a shitty room with a “Continental” breakfast — out here, the same deal was $50. And in Reno, the room was only $30 — no breakfast, of course…but who gives a fuck?!
But really…$30, $50, $80, $100….that shit adds up! Next time I do a modeling trip, I have to have some kind of van or RV, as lodging is really ridiculous. My problem is, I have to wash my hair pretty much every night before a photo shoot — and that can be hard to do in a van. So I guess what I really need to do is sign up for a 24Hour Fitness membership, so I can use one of their gyms wherever I go. Hmmmm…all things to consider, when I think about becoming a vandweller.
The next morning, it was time for my final shoot of the tour — some kinda cheesy strip-poker site based in Reno, NV. We headed down from Klamath Falls through the Lassen area, stopping in Susanville to buy lottery tickets (my sis felt Susanville was just the type of weird podunk town where winning tickets would be sold…alas, neither of us won), and then came down the 395 into Reno. Along the way, we stopped on a friend’s advice to check out Zamboni Hot Springs…but I am sad to report, they are no longer open to the public. There’s some kind of nutty hippie pottery studio there, and I’ll bet you anything they have their own private soak going on…but the guy was kinda weird and didn’t invite us in or anything, so we left, and headed for the fabulous Sands Regency Hotel in ever-glamorous Reno, NV.
Acutally, Reno was way nicer than I’d expected — I’d never really spent any time there, but I found it to be a super cute, quaint, fun little town with great outdoorsy options and a thriving hipster marketplace full of bars, restaurants and vintage shops. I really liked it! Now granted, this was summer — I’m sure in the winter it gets clogged up with sno-bros, just like everywhere else with mountains. Yecccchhh. But during my visit, it was great — I ran five miles along the Truckee River Trail, and really enjoyed myself. All races of people were out and about, walking their dogs and riding bikes, and I only saw one or two bums…a far cry from Vegas!
Anyway, my reason for being there was this awesomely cheesy photo shoot. I met the photographer at his home, where we shot the first video: me dressed in a horticulturist’s outfit, trimming a bush in the backyard. Then I stop and put down my shears: “Hmmm!” Cut to me stripping my clothes off and displaying my own bush, which I then proceed to trim up with scissors and a razor, in the shower. Classy!!!
The rest of the shoot was at this studio inside the photographer’s place of employment — I got the feeling he sneaks in there to shoot stuff on the downlow, since the company he works for has a badass studio setup but makes a different type of product that isn’t totally unrelated to strip poker, but I guess isn’t into nudity. Anyway, we shot some videos of me in some kind of sexy Star Wars costume, swinging around a lightsaber and stripping naked, and that was pretty much that — the end of my Pacific Northwest Nude Modeling Tour of 2014!! I got my money, counted up my total, and found that I have enough to pay for a new laptop, a new cell phone, and a chemical peel (I had a terrible breakout last month)…woo hoo!!!!! If I subtract all the gas and hotel money, I probably came out a little behind….but it’s all good; I had a blast and so did my sis (I think).
From Reno, I cruised back through California to my starting point, near Santa Rosa, on July 25. 10 days, 2,526 miles…and no flat tires, no speeding tickets, and no cancellations YAY!!
As mentioned, I did have one more shoot a couple days later, in Petaluma — I was kinda sketched out by this one, since I got it off Craigslist, the guy had no Model Mayhem profile, and he wanted to shoot in an industrial park area. They always warn you about shit like that in Amateur Modeling 101…ya know?
But it turned out to be totally cool — he had no Model Mayhem account because he was insecure about the quality of his work, but after leafing through his portfolio, I told him with 100% certainty that he needn’t be so bashful — usually, it’s the other way around, with photographers being overly boastful about the quality of their work, which can sometimes test the limits of the (admittedly subjective) word “art.” But this guy’s was fine.
Anyway, he was a really nice man, and he seemed so pleased with me that it gave the confidence to start thinking about doing another modeling roadtrip…maybe in the fall, after Burning Man. But where?? I’ve been wanting to check out New Mexico, so maybe a Havasu-Phoenix-Tucson-Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Flagstaff-Vegas loop? Or what about Colorado? I could do Vegas-Salt Lake-Cheyenne-Denver…the problem with these western states is, the population is so spread out, it takes forever to get from city to city. But as long as I made enough cheese to pay for my gas and incidentals, I’d be happy…I love roadtripping, and I’d love to see more of the country that way
Whatever the case, I definitely need to start working on some kind of camper option — whether a van or a camper shell for my truck bed; either way I’m totally comfortable sleeping in a WalMart parking lot, and brushing my teeth in the bushes or whatever. I just need to get the hairwashing part figured out — anyone work for 24Hour Fitness that can hook a sister up??