It’s 9:00 am, and the three of us are beginning our drive to Austin & Reimer’s Ranch Park in Central Texas. The sun had finally broken through the clouds, but it didn’t feel any warmer. With both Carlos’ vehicle and ours’ packed, we hit the road. The drive was particularly boring, meaning there was not much to see in between San Antonio and Austin along the highway. However, a much needed dose of California was needed and luckily that was soon to be had through the great establishment that is In-N-Out.
The next morning, we’d all gotten a late start. The three of us headed to Reimer’s Ranch for short-routed sport climbing where trees lined the park and small paths descended from parking lots into the wilderness where a river ran alongside the mountain walls. On the first day, we climbed in a region of the park known as Proper; the routes were short and concise and great for warming up. On our second day, the weather yielded little sun but the climber population had doubled in the section known as North Shore.
Along the path to North Shore, steps were made of existing rock in the region and the winding dirt path led up and over rocks, streams, between tree lines, and made abrupt stops where the path would disappear altogether. The wall that held all the bolted routes had been named, The Middle Earth Wall where I soon found this name to be so appropriate that I couldn’t have thought of a better name myself. The path became hidden at points, reminding me of the path the Dwarves took in Mirkwood in The Hobbit.
Amongst those whom we met, were Vick Smith and his son Kyle who showed me how to use an ascender using the RADS (Rapid Ascent Descent System), Tommy Blackwell and the CTM (Central Texas Mountaineers) group providing maintenance at the park on March 7th, 2015 for, “It’s My Park Day!” As the sun began to leave, so did the climbers in climbers. We headed back to the campground, Rock Dog, where we met reconvened with everyone from the park for a campfire party. Around the campfire gathered climbers and friends where their respective dogs frolicked about. Campers, as per usual rock climbing tradition, all drank beer well into the night where the evening festivities reached a conclusion with a milk-crate stacking contest.
By March 8th, 2015, we made our way back into Austin. Carlos insisted we pay a visit to a friend of his who had started a CO-OP living situation in town. The house was impressive. It contained seven housemates, 2 cats, 2 dogs, a music room, and plethora of chairs and couches. It stood three stories in height and the backyard sat on a river. In the front yard, there was a wooden picket fence painted with murals and patterns. The rain had come back for the evening and it was the heaviest rain we had seen in some time. Our socks and shoes had become soaked with the stream of water that ran down the street and through it’s gutters and we were still in need of a place to park and sleep for the night. Once the conversation began to slow, we headed back to the east-side of town where we found a neighborhood with no parking restrictions and set up camp curbside.
The following day, we headed to Harker, a town that’s one and a half hours north of Austin to visit Kiyoko’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Davis. The two of them were hippies, they enjoyed smoking weed and tobacco and even had an indoor smoking room primed with computers, lamps, and wifi. We spent the night watching a movie called, Tracks, and partaking in the liberal use of the smoking room. By the next morning over breakfast, Ben and I split ways. I headed to a Hertz and rented a car and made my drive down to San Marcos to meet with a friend, Eric Morales, I had made back in Santa Monica over two years ago.
It was nice to seem him succeeding as a published editorial photographer, but I often found myself contemplating if I hadn’t taken the year off from photography and continued pursuing publication, what might have been. However, after seeing his body of work, I knew that I had consistency issues I had to deal with in order to seek the work made available through fashion editorials and magazines, that is to say, before I start contacting editors once again, I need to craft and sculpt my portfolio with greater care. Eric’s work had developed to serious and consistent portraiture, photographing industry giants and trailblazers, to celebrities such as Danny Trejo and Paul Wall. I find myself contemplating, “Is this is the route I should continue again in an effort to find more work so that I may be published?” I know I am not a strong climber by any means and photographing rock climbing has been something to do in order to pass the time, but the big question that I can’t seem to shake is why do I feel the need to be published? Is it to garner the respect of my peers? Is it purely for ego? Do I even enjoy fashion editorial as a photographic pursuit? Will I still be making art? Why do all published editorial photographers all look the same? Do I even care to make all my pictures consistent? Why am I only photographing as a body of work? Are photo essays and books even important? I’m not the only one who has done a trip across all of the Americas, so who gives a shit if I take pictures?
Regardless of all these thoughts and the constant insecure inner dialogue, I got to know and understand Eric and his roommates Bailey and Lindsey. Their youth and vicarious nature served as a reminder to not care, and maybe Emerson Thoreau had a good point. Perhaps life isn’t about self-actualization and the alignment of your true-self by realizing your cognitive dissonance; perhaps it’s about living life to be happy and the rest will happen.