Friday, January 01, 2010

American Odyssey pt.2 On The Road

". . . we were on the edge of the desert, somewhere around Barstow . . ." when we began to wonder exactly whose idea it was to drive to Portland via Vegas! The plan was to head out east for a couple nights in the casinos then north to Portland via Salt Lake City & Twin Falls, Idaho. We'd return to LA through the Redwoods, Napa Valley, San Francisco & Santa Barbara- a 2000 mile round trip, in a week!

Las Vegas is more surreal than I could ever have imagined-nowhere does fabricated over the top decadence like Vegas.
We stayed at a quiet little place off the strip- the sophisticated & understated Hard Rock Hotel!



The casino CCTV must have observed me standing in a corner to make this drawing -I was soon surrounded by 3 burly security men checking what I was noting down in my black book. When they saw I was merely sketching the most senior said "pretty good . . ." and they left me alone.

Vegas to Portland is a long drive-especially if you make a 4 hour detour into the desert to see the Grand Canyon-only to find it 'closed'! The changing landscape we saw across 800 miles was impressive. We stopped in Salt Lake City, Utah-it was freezing there but those Mormons sure keep a nice, clean town. We saw a lot of exotic road-kill along the route and travelling hundreds of miles meant it was only a matter of time before we killed something. Thankfully it wasn't a raccoon or a deer or a bison but a hapless pigeon who met his maker when our radiator grill struck him at 90mph!



Rolling into Portland we instantly fell for this charming city. Despite the rain & mist the town has a relaxed vibe to it that you instantly warm to. The lovely folks at LAIKA had set up a tour of the studio for us-we were gob-smacked by the detail of the sets & puppets for Coraline. Many thanks to Patrick, Chris, Jan, Tony and everyone for making us feel so welcome.



On the way down to San Francisco we took a breath-taking route through the great Redwood Forest and the Avenue of Giants. We also found the 'Chandelier' or 'Drive-thru Tree'-it's 2400 years old!


After that it was on to San Francisco down through the vineyards of the Napa Valley. . .






The steep hills of SanFrancisco give the city a unique character but they're hard work!

Of course while in San Francisco we had to visit PIXAR! I did my Ronald Searle presentation for an appreciative audience & then we were shown around by our welcoming hosts Daniela Strijleva and Ralph Eggleston.


That was the last stop on the tour-we were pretty exhausted after so much travelling & visiting friends & studios. On the last night we relaxed in Haight Ashbury before hitting the road next day back to LA.



Back in LA on the last weekend I hung with my old buddy from Uli's studio Leo. We went down to LACMA- I was keen to see their Picasso collection.


We spent a recreational last day in LA hiking up Griffith Park with Amid Amidi. We toured the observatory before Leo led us up a treacherous route to the summit of mount Hollywood. We braved the threat of rattle-snakes, mountain lions & Amid's moustache to see the incredible view from the top.





The 'Theme Building' restaurant at LAX is currently shrouded in scaffolding while undergoing renovation work. I flew back to the UK on the 7th December after 3 weeks of countless sights & experiences. I saw as much as possible & met more people in that time than in a normal year back home. America was good to us - I'll be back . . .

22 comments:

CrowPie said...

An amazing post, thank you for sharing this!

Kendra Melton said...

Wow, how awesome. Looks like you guys had a blast, and you got some cool sketches out of the trip. I really love the collection of visitor tags.
thanks for sharing!

Daniel said...

Matt...dude...

Your drawings are amazing. You're getting so damn good. The Caesars, Redwood, and San Fran ones especially. OMG.

Thanks for sharing this stuff. Are you using marker now, or are you smudging your ink?

Rochelle said...

This was fun to read through. I've always wanted to visit San Francisco! Great stuff, and I love your sketches.

I'm jealous you got to go to all those places, but at least we know a little of what it's like through your eyes! =)

Jess said...

Brillo pads Matt! Love it, brilliant work. It's just as I remember it. The Pidgeons End is perfect.

hierhelen said...

BEAUTIFUL!!!

Elliot said...

Magnificent.

stefan said...

Looks like you had a great time - I'd love to do one of those road trips one day. I really like the Vegas Image - and the cleaned up protestors in LA - there's so much going on in them, brilliant.

Brandon said...

Great to stumble onto your blog. I ate lunch with you when you came to Sony with Kris. I've never seen your work though. Inspiring stuff and hilarious stories.

KP said...

Love it dude... wish I was there... wait...

Really... My biggest question is how did anybody get you to go for a "hike" in Griffin Park? Must have tied a beer to the end of a stick and dangled it in front of you face. You do know that Los Angeles is a desert and really no place for man nor beast?

Miss you lad! Hope you pop by when you get back into snowy, sloggy Britain...

Marcos Mateu said...

Beautiful LAX sketch!

Octavio E. Rodriguez said...

Awesome sketches and pics!

MAUMONT said...

Quel post!!

Merci d'être passé sur mon blog,je suis très flatté.

J'aime beaucoup ton coup de crayon et tes influences!

Bonne continuation!

XAV said...

I've made nearly the same trip last may but without Portland, it will be one of my next trip, it seems to be a wonderfull city !

Monkeyfeather said...

Epic.

MikeS said...

WONDERFUL sketches and illustrations, Matt. Sounds like it was a great road trip!

limbolo said...

Look at all these tarts in here... Drive safely now.

opi said...

Great

Luc Desmarchelier said...

Glad you survived the excesses of Vegas, the temperance of the Mormons and the temptations of San Francisco on your Wild West Tour. Amazing to me that the pigeon was the only casualty, considering!
And a very happy new year to you Mr. Jones.
Cheers.

Matt J said...

Thanks for all the comments everyone-good to hear from you!

AMIN said...

very inspiring work

j'adore
you are in my favourite blog
:)

Gorillustrator said...

Fantastic illustrated travelogue Matt.
The Caesars palace piece is great, love the glimpse of a bit of reptile on a stool.