The most surreal place. An adventure where dream comes to reality.

The most surreal place. An adventure where dream comes to reality.

Many of the great advantages of living in Utah are the spectacular landmarks, such as the Bonneville Salt Flats. The Salt Flats is famous for being the home to the Bonneville Speedway.

Worth the every moment

Worth the every moment

Mickey Thompson became the first American to break the 400MPH (644 KM/H) speed barrier in 1960, which took place at this very Speedway. Ever since, many land speed records have been recorded and broken on this magnificent wonder.

Fortunately, the Speedway is only an hour and a half away from where I live so I figured it was about time I took my bike out on a weekend adventure to the flats. My initial intention was to head out there in time to capture the sunset, camp overnight on the Slat Flats, and capture the sunrise in the morning. But an adventure wouldn’t be an adventure if everything turned out the way things were planned.

Initially planned to camp out on the salt flats so packed my camping gears.

Initially planned to camp out on the salt flats so packed my camping gears.

I headed out there with minimal camping gear packed onto my Thruxton, but managed to get to the flats slightly too late to set up my camera equipment to capture the sunset. Thanks to my handy iPhone, I managed to get some quick shots of the beautiful sunset scape.

Capturing the final minute of the sunset with my iPhone

Capturing the final minute of the sunset with my iPhone

The last minute of sunset at the speedway

The last minute of sunset at the speedway

Missed timing was just the beginning. One very important factor about the flats that I didn’t consider was the lingering soft mud below the salty surface. I had been out on the flats before, but with a car with four wheels and never on a motorcycle. I learned very quickly that street motorcycles don’t handle well on soft/muddy surfaces. The lesson came unexpectedly when I rode onto a patch of slushy mud, and the next thing I remember is my bike and I taking a bath on a field of mud and salt… Hold on, let me back up a little bit.

Normally I would wear my bomb proof Belstaff Trophy jacket to moto trips such as this (why? because it’s bomb proof); however for some reason I figured it was time to break out my leather Belstaff Brad jacket and wear that to this trip. Ok, just remember the “leather” part.

My Belstaff Brad Jacket. Maybe I should have just wore my Trophy instead.

My Belstaff Brad Jacket. Maybe I should have just wore my Trophy instead.

Back to taking a bath on the salty mud field. So the next thing I notice is that the entire right side of my bike’s surface is buried in this mud, as well as my entire right arm (because I fell off to the right). Fortunately because the surface was soft with mud, it didn’t do any damage to my bike, and I really didn’t mind my arm being buried in the mud, expect that my arm happened to be wearing my favorite “leather” Belstaff jacket!!! Last thing you really want to do with your premium leather anything is soak it in salt-saturated mud…

After managing to lift my bike upright (which wasn’t easy since I was standing on a surface with ankle-deep mud and the bike does weigh 500+ pounds), and wiping off the mud from my bike and myself, I headed to the nearest town Wendover, a casino town just across the Nevada border. Stopped by the town’s supermarket, bought some cleaning materials, and spent the rest of the night scrubbing mud and salt off my bike and my jacket at a motel parking lot.

Managed to clean off the mud and started heading into Wendover.

Managed to clean off the mud and started heading into Wendover.

Day two. After such a failed first day and spending the night at the motel instead of camping, I couldn’t be bothered to get up early to catch the sunrise. I took my time and headed back out to the flats in the later morning. Once I got out there, I made sure to take my time and stuck to the path leading out to the Speedway. Once I made it out to the Speedway (the only way to tell that you are on the Speedway is the two orange cones placed some distance from each other, lining up the path), I realized I failed to take one more thing into consideration.

Made sure to be careful when going out onto the Speedway the second time.

Made sure to be careful when going out onto the Speedway the second time.

Northern Utah starts to get hot this time of the year, which translates into very hot out in the Salt Flats. I didn’t realized until I was out on the flats that I would feel like an egg frying on a pan. Because the salt surface is so pure white (i.e. light reflective), it’s almost like having the sun shining from the top as well as from below. Imagine having one of those reflecting tanning screens people use on the beaches, expect that this reflector is the entire floor you’re standing on. Big fail number two.

The blinding salt surface was hot. Quickly unpacked and set my gear up.

The blinding salt surface was hot. Quickly unpacked and set my gear up.

 

Realizing that I wouldn’t last very long on this surface, I quickly unpacked and set up my camera gears. It’s very hard to focus and take photos when you are cooking in the sun, and every corner of the place is blinding your eyes. Despite the heat exhaustion, I managed to take some shots, although it was about a quarter of what I initially planned to shoot, and quickly got out of the salted frying pan.

Hastily taking shots.

The photos turned out better than I had hoped for, and just from looking at it, you would never have guessed about the bathing in salty-mud and frying under the ruthless heat experiences. What you would see through these photos is the pure essence of an adventure, a dream becoming a reality. The Bonneville Salt Flats is definitely one of the most surreal places I have been in the world, and an experience that’s worth salt-mud bathing your prized possessions in. The photos speak for themselves.

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Through the viewfinder shot with my Hasselblad. Love.

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The photos turned out better than I expected.

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The Aftermath: I had no idea how adhesive the salt would be. Chunks of salt were clayed to virtually everything: shoes, pants, jacket, helmet, bags, especially to my bike (engine, frame, handle bar, battery, exhaust, wheels, and more), and etc. Since, I’ve detailed washed my bike twice but still find white salt in hidden corners, and hand cleaned my Belstaff jacket with special leather cleaner, which will do for now but will likely have to send it off to get it specially cleaned soon. Worth it? Every moment of it. Would I do it again? We’ll see…

Bike filled with salt. Still getting the salt off after two washes.

Bike filled with salt. Still getting the salt off after two washes.

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Chunks of salt were caked onto everything.

 

Motorcycle ride up Highway 1 (aka. PCH) is a pleasurable experience, but adding camping to the experience just perfects it. We were lucky enough to get a last minute camping spot at the Pfeiffer Big Sur camp ground, and the rest is history.

For more photos, you are welcome to visit our Instagram: MySelf, JBL, Rick Poon.

Bikes in Nature

It was great to see our bikes parked at our campsite, seeing them in their natural setting.

First priority, setting up our home for the weekend.

Once our rides were parked and living quarters established, it was time for us to start preparing for dinner.

First, get the charcoal going.

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Prime Ribeye Stake and Corn on the Cob.

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Not sure why we bought canned corn, but it was delicious!

These enamel bowl and cup from Best Made Co. can’t get any better for camp cooking!

The hand of a master.

The darkness came sooner than we were expecting so we ended up enjoying our beautifully firewood-smoked stake in dark. To our surprise, it was a great pleasure eating under our headlights, which also happened to produce some beautifully lit photos.

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Steak and Corn on the Cob looks irresistible.

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Such a surprising delight eating under a headlamp.

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Quick Video of our Cooking Delight:

 

Want to experience food & pleasure at its finest? I had the pleasure of visiting GJELINA restaurant at Abott Kinney in Venice, Los Angeles for just that. The place is filled with beautiful people, delicious food, which seem to taste better just because its served on a patina tabletop, and an aesthetic atmosphere that is second to none.

Food in the photos below: Lemon buckwheat ricotta pancakes, créme fraîche & blueberry maple syrup compote // Crispy sunny eggs, prosciutto, romesco, arugula & lemon // Mushroom fontina truffle goat cheese pizza // Moroccan baked eggs, merguez, chili, tomato sauce, cilantro & spiced yogurt // Latte Cortado

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Latte Cortado

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Lemon buckwheat ricotta pancakes, créme fraîche & blueberry maple syrup compote

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Crispy sunny eggs, prosciutto, romesco, arugula & lemon

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Mushroom fontina truffle goat cheese pizza

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Moroccan baked eggs, merguez, chili, tomato sauce, cilantro & spiced yogurt

Recently returned from a 2 month long trip to Southeast Asia (SEA),  and I took the Lowepro Passport Sling bag as my main carry around bag.

STYLE

The main reason I initially chose this bag was due to its  non-camera bag look. If you didn’t know about this bag, you wouldn’t know that this bag was carrying a $3,500 + camera gear inside it. My biggest concern for this trip was getting my camera stolen, so wanted my bag to be as discreet as possible.

Fellow traveler with the Passport Sling at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, Vietnam. Definitely doesn't  look like a camera bag

Fellow traveler with the Passport Sling at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, Vietnam.

When you are sleeping at multi-bed dorms, traveling on trains, buses, and etc, you really don’t want to draw any attention to your belongings, especially to your expensive camera, and this bag does a perfect job of being discrete. I couldn’t find any other dedicated camera bag that was this inconspicuous. The photo above shows how normal the bag looks in public

COMFORT

Backpacking means a lot of walking and carrying my bags around, so I was a little hesitant of having a sling bag on my shoulder with heavy camera equipments for the whole trip.

For the first week, (before I started my travel) when I just carried it around, I could feel my shoulders getting soar. “Uh oh” is what I though. But surprisingly after that, I didn’t feel any discomfort, and that’s how it was throughout the whole trip. This is the bag that never (almost literally) left my side (I even slept with it next to me) and always carried it with me, and I didn’t get tired from it.

Problem with sling bags is that they tend to slid forward when you are either bending down, or moving around a lot, but the Passport Sling managed to stay well fixated to the back, and at the same time it was easy to pull it forward when you wanted to.

Few discomforts came from the shoulder pad, which never stayed in place so always had to adjust them back to my shoulder. Also, when the load was a little too heavy, the strap adjuster would undo itself occasionally.

PRACTICALITY

One thing I wish this bag had was a little more room. Mind you, this bag has PLENTY of room if you are using this bag as a photography trip, but since this was my backpacking trip, I had to carry a lot more than just regular photo gears. Every now and then, I wish this bag had an inch more space.

Regarding space, I don’t understand why this bag has an extension zipper. Its nice to make the bag smaller when you don’t need the space, but I didn’t think it was necessary. But this is just a personal taste.

I love how the camera padding is removable. Once its removed, the bag transforms into a regular messenger sling bag, with plenty of open space. There are two permanent mini slots inside which are big enough for few cables, and/or memory cards.

The bag has external pockets which are great for water bottles, & books.

The bag has external pockets which are great for water bottles, & books.

Externally, there are two side pockets, which are great of slipping maps, guide books and etc, and also there is a very spacious pocket on one end of the bag, which is perfect for water bottles (can fit 3 hand held bottles easily), and/or an umbrella.

To show the capacity potential of this bag, I’ve stuffed it as much as possible. Below is the result.

Things that went in the bag (from top left to right)

What 's inside the bag

What ‘s inside the bag

- T-Shirt (because I could fit it)

- Two water bottles

- Camera Padding (included in the bag)

- Canon 5d Mk ii with Canon 35mm f/1.4 L

- BlackRapid Sport Slim

- Canon original strap

- Accessory Bag with 5 filters and filter lens adaptor

- Accessory Bag:

- Charger for Canon5D

- Charger for Canon S95

- Silicon Power Rugged Armor 500GB HDD

- Canon S95 with Lowepro Case

- Cullmann Nanomax 200T (click for separate review)

- Remote Trigger

- Book

Impressed?!?

Other Blog reviews of the Passport Sling Bag

1) Goingsomeplace.com: Gear Review: Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag

2) Travelproject.com.au: A His and Her Review of the Lowepro Passport Sling Bag

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