Location, Location, Location
Now, we all know this typically is a real-estate reference; but for me it fits in nicely with having visited so many of the Game of Thrones locations, before they were GOT locations.
Of course this is gem of the bunch. We visited there a few years after their "civil war", (no war is civil) but we were lucky to be among the first "tourists" back visiting; there were areas still littered with land mines and the family who lived next to the apartment we stayed in told tales of where snipers were across the way and how everyone in the seemingly idilic city were armed to the teeth.
I almost drowned there, a story for another time, that said we were there in winter and got to experience "long nights".
Again we were at several of the GOT locations before they had acquired that note of distinction.
Spain, Ireland and Los Angeles
OK these are really a stretch.
We spent several months on the island of Majorca which is part of Spain but an island whereas all of the GOT filming took place on the mainland.
Meanwhile, in Season 3's "The Bear and the Maiden Fair", a few shots of an actor-bear (Bart the Bear) were filmed in Los Angeles, USA. Due to various laws against international transport of large animals, the production team could not simply fly the actor-bear into the United Kingdom.
And then there's Ireland; even though we spent a month driving all over Ireland we never did make it into Northern Ireland, which is of course, while on the same island a different country. There's been plenty of controversy regarding that, of course and a topic I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. So I'll stick with Croatia and Iceland but I would like to visit those other locations to be sure.
I've had this book for a while and just yesterday decided to go through it and see where I stood, so to speak.
Only 117 out of 1000, and I thought I was well traveled.
I've only been to 2 continents, Europe and North America.
Like any of these sort of "bucket lists", it's got plenty of "issues" and biases, but if you don't take it too seriously, it's kind of fun.
I can say I've been to 47 out of 50 US states and 26 of the highest elevation points; (my daughter and I started "collecting" high points and are actually members of a High Point club when we hit the lowest of the high-points in Florida.
But many of these states were essentially "fly-overs" sometimes plowing through at high-speeds in the middle of the night. It might have well been a video game at that point.
However on the other hand, I've often gone well out of my way to visit some of various state's iconic experiences, even one's that I may dread, the country's biggest state fair, in Texas of course certainly ranks high on that "list".
I've swam from Alcatraz; not on above list but one of my most memorable adventures.
Climbed the stairs to One World Trade Center, 2,226 stairs to the top, by the way; also not on the list, visiting it is but by elevator is not quite the same.
That Being Said
I still want to hit more high-points with Skye, knowing full well that we'll never get all 50; Alaska would probably cost $25,000 each and I don't force having access to those kind of funds anytime soon.
But we both really want to hit Whitney, which ironically is in our home state and the highest point in the continental US. We've hike in areas all around it and even camped at it's base-camp once. But it will take some co-ordinating and getting a reservation, not to mention getting physically prepared for it.
Getting my Black belt in Brazilian Juijitsu
I started training over 20 years ago and have made it all the way to brown belt, but have not trained regularly in over 4 years, so I'm a bit rusty. But I know I will someday be able to tie a black belt around my waist.
Going to Mongolia for the Naadam Festival
It's one of my goals for this year. It will depend greatly on my financial situation as well as work commitments.
The Boston Marathon
I pretty much thought my running days were behind me and then I signed up again to run the 50K at Burning Man. So as long as I'm getting back into marathon shape, I might as well keep the dream of Boston alive.
Swimming with Great Whites
In a cage, of course, but I would very much want to see one of these magnificent creatures up close and personal.
While We're on the Subject
There are several animals I would like to see in person. Africa's "Big 5", of course, lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo; I would add cheetah and hippo to that at the very least.
I want to see a polar bear in it's habitat, which is very quickly disappearing thanks to global warming.
I did see a condor come up from the depths of the Grand Canyon and then take a ride on the wind to glide high above me; that was truly a treat of a lifetime.
I want to see the Great Wall of China, maybe even run a marathon on it.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg, which I would like to make it Antartica at some point as well, which is again quite and expensive journey.
Werking and Getting High
I was working in the film business as a set dresser over 30 years ago which is sort of amazing on one hand and kind of sad on another level.
I was a lead man or rather lead person for many years mostly for Cindy and I worked on some pretty impressive shows and then I was set decorator for several years.
I even served as Vice-President for the Set Decorator Society of America for a term and was on the Executive Board for two years before that.
So on a certain level there is a seen-that, done-that attitude. but more to the point I don't want my job to overtake my life; I don't want to take it home with me, which is somewhat ironic in that I don't have a home to take it home to.
It really struck me how engrained this business is in me and how much apart of my persona it has become when a few years back I received an update on my pension hours, which showed I had over 70,000 worked hours; keep in mind, I was working rather minimally for several years when I was home-schooling Skye and my 10 years as a set decorator had my weekly hours capped at 52 hours per 5-day week although I was probably working closer to 70 hours a week, except on Barbershop 3, but that's another story or perhaps blog post or....
Recently I have been day-playing as a set dresser back in Los Angeles and thankfully I've really been enjoying it.
I remember now how much I like doing the job.
Even when it demands me to do something I am not particularly comfortable with; for instance working all day in a "man-lift" fully extended very high in the air.
Scared of Heights
I think I developed a fear of heights when I was in my teens and my dad forced me to finish the climb up to Angels Landing at Zion National Park There's no view more dramatic than what you see hanging onto a chain bolted into a cliff.
Angels Landing is one of the world's most renowned hikes and is an unforgettable short adventure hike worthy of all bucket lists.
"Anyone in an average physical condition can make this heavenward trek, but it can be mentally challenging with its steep switchbacks and sheer drop-offs. There are chains bolted into the cliff to provide secure handholds. People who have a severe fear of heights should not attempt the final stretch but can enjoy the trail all the way to Scout Lookout." from the Park's trail map.
I was so scared I didn't even get to enjoy the view and I think it damaged me in regards to my ability to manage my fear of heights.
However in the film business it can be hard as in you might find yourself unemployed if you're not willing and able to perform certain tasks.
Honestly it was scary working in a little one man lift fully extended but I never felt endangered. I had my safety harness and I was working on a flat and stable surface. I was just really high up in the air.
Getting sunburned and wind burned were more damaging at the end of the day than dealing with one of my personal demons.
It was a beautiful day and a wonderful view.
The Blvd. of Broken Dreams
The first time I was on a set was when I was 17; A high school buddy of mine had some ins and we made some nice fast cash over the summer. Beat the hell out of working at some fast food joint or working in a mall both of which I'd already done and had more than my fill of.
I never though that I'd end up making a career of moving furniture for the stars. I figured, I'd put a few months in and then go back to writing my great American novel, like my heros Keourac, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald.
33 years later and I'm still at it.
Granted, I've had some breaks and diversions but at the end of the day, when I received a letter about my pension and it shows I've got over 70.000 credited hours, I obviously am a lifer.
I've certainly had a good run. I've worked with some of the best directors out there; Ridley Scott, David Lynch, James Cameroon, David Fincher, to name-drop just a few.
I've been paid to travel around the world.
I've joked around with Robin Williams, flirted with Jaime Lee Curtis who flirted back, shot hoops with Rollergirl, got training advice from the Terminator; swaped stories with a guy in the movie Platoon.
I've also had more than my fair share of tragedies; from freak accidents, to early cancer victims, AIDS and so much in between.
There's a reason my spirit creature is a cockroach.
I used to tell Cindy that ideally I would like to live a semi-nomadic life, which for many years is exactly what we did. We had a home base in Los Angeles and then would go on location on jobs.
I loved it.
Then Cindy kept getting jobs in Atlanta and the "commute" between LA and Georgia become a bit much so Skye and I eventually moved out and joined Cindy.
But it was too landlocked for me and honestly the South is not my cup of tea. Don't get me wrong, I made a ton of great friends and the great majority of people from those parts are not racist rednecks, but as you got further from the city the number of Confederate flags in people's yard increased considerably; to some of these folk "the South Will Rise Again" is no joke. But like I said, they are the exception not the norm.
That said, a very important aspect to that lifestyle being bearable is "semi"; full nomadic which is how I'm living now for the most part is very, very hard in this day and age. And can get to be pretty pricey or dangerous is one chooses to skimp, by say sleeping in one's car or going to cheap motels in less than lovely neighborhoods which is where cheap motels are.
Since I wasn't working and from what everyone I was saying there wouldn't be much work for several weeks I decided to head out of town.
But where to go?
That's when things got a little crazy.
A Mixed Bag
The pics that follow are from LA, Joshua Tree and Lone Pine.
I've been pin balling around so I tend to lose track.
I had spent a good amount of time in Lone Pine many years ago when we were working on GI Jane. Not a lot had changed, which was nice.
I did some camping just outside of Bishop.
One of the main reasons I was in Bishop was to deal with transferring my truck from Georgia to California. I figured the DMV would be much less crowded and a bit more pleasant than those in LA.
And I was right. I didn't have an appointment and still managed to get out within a couple of hours which included a trip to the bank because I didn't have enough cash on me and they didn't accept credit cards.
It was super cold once the sun went down, so after 2 nights of uncomfortable sleep, I decided to head to warmer regions.
Rooms at Circus Circus were $18 a night; It'd be silly to pass up such a bargain.
Somehow I ended up at a pawn shop buying a camera and a couple lenses to I could start practicing a little photojournalism before my (hopefully) upcoming adventure to Mongolia.
As always the people watching was wonderful and beyond entertaining....
I veered off course and ended up using my 4-wheel drive for the first time in ages to get up a hill to check out the wild flowers that were in full bloom.
Jon Danniells is an adventurer and traveler, a teacher and student, a husband and a father, a cook and a farmer, a "week-end warrior" (very amateur athlete) and has not earned any money on these labors of love.When I googled myself what showed up first was my IMDB listing, which is basically a resume for my 20 and then some year career in film, for which I fortunately do get paid.