WELCOME TO RIVER DAVES PLACE

2018 Route 66 Hot Boat and Custom Car Show

FastLoudPhoto

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Last weekend was the much anticipated Route 66 Hot Boat and Custom Car Show in the desert city of Needles (with the “Billy B’s” moniker being conspicuously absent). Just like last year, I was all set to travel with, party with, and of course, shoot the event with my good friends, Daren VanRyte (OCphotographics) and Scott Shanklin (StryderPhoto). So on Saturday morning at a very early 5am, we met at Scott’s office in Chino Hills and hit the road.

Leading up to the trip, we had our usual flurry of group texts to plan the weekend. You know… where we’ll meet, when to leave, what gear we’re bringing, and most importantly… which craft beers will make the cut for the hotel shin dig that would ensue after the show. Like me, these two guys are beer fanatics and have a taste for only the finest craft brews. But unlike me, they take it to the level of “aficionado” with both of them being brewers themselves. So that’s when I just sit back and reap the rewards.

When I first met Daren and Scott in 2016, it was clear we had a lot in common. We all three surf. We love good beer. We’re all photographers, and we all LOVE motorsports with a definite lean toward boating. In fact, Daren and I met because we were both shooting the first Catalina Fun Run for Speedboat Magazine, put together that year by Lavey Motorsports. The rest, as they say, has been a very fun history. Since then, Daren and I have become co-hosts of that event with our friend, Corey Vodvarka. And together we’ve covered a lot of events and had a lot of good times.

With our travel plans realized, we made it to Jack Smith park on time and ready to start the show. We were a little concerned that the parking lot didn’t seem as full as last year, but we unpacked our gear and got ready to start shooting the days events. As we walked around, we saw a lot of our regular friends from the motorsports world and got caught up on the stories and gossip from over the winter. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it down to the water for the hot pass after the National Anthem, but later we heard that one of them got a ticket for no registration, which seems downright un-American.

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Maybe that was the problem. I mean, there were a lot of cool cars, and there were plenty of boats in the show, but definitely far less boats making runs on the river. We wondered what was going on, thinking that maybe the storm that blew through the day before was keeping people away. But maybe it wasn’t. Throughout the day, we heard several stories of former participants that didn’t attend because of the level of harassment by the police last year. And based on the National Anthem pass, I guess they were right. Just like last year, the police patrolled the water handing out tickets for anything they could find – once again dampening the buzz that attracts people to the show and surely disappointing the Needles Chamber of Commerce who hosts it. Never the less, the day went on and we shot the brave drivers who dared enter the water to put on a show for the fans.

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Scott, shooting the shooter who is shooting the shooter.

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Erick, tag-teaming between photo and video.

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Of course, the day wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the River Daves Place booth for a free beer and a chat with Dave, so we made our way over and found a huge line of people waiting to buy RDP gear. Its always fun hanging around his booth and there are always some good laughs to be had. There were some of the same cars and boats we’d seen in previous years, and some pretty cool new ones, and we had a great time capturing our best shots while sipping on a cold one here and there. The weather was perfect, and from a photographers perspective, the light was perfect, too, bringing out the color in all of the beautiful paint jobs.

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As the end of the show neared and the awards were handed out, we packed up our gear, a little frustrated by the lack of action on the water. So we called it a day and headed to the Avi to check into our room and start sampling all the great, ice cold craft beer that was waiting to be freed from the growlers. It didn’t disappoint and we were passed out by 11pm. (Hey… its tough lugging all that heavy gear around! ;))

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The next day we woke up, fueled up the truck and hit the road back to Orange County. But not without stopping for a kick-ass breakfast at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant right there at the HWY 40 freeway entrance in Needles. It was my first time eating there, and holy cow was it ever good. We definitely weren’t going to need a lunch stop after that. The drive home was fairly uneventful as we took in the desert scenery and shared stories of things we shot from our different locations around the park. That is, until we spotted a new target….

As we got close to Ludlow, I noticed a freight train off to our left, winding its way through the beautiful desert landscape. Being the photographer that I am (that we are), and always framing up a shot with everything I see, I pointed it out and asked Daren and Scott if they were interested in stopping to see what we could capture. I saw some mountains on the other side of us, which I thought would make a good backdrop to the train, and wanted to give it a look. Without hesitation they both agreed, so we raced ahead of the train to try and make the exit, cross the bridge and get to the other sunlit side of the track before it reached us.

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As we pulled off the freeway, things started getting tense as we tried to find a side road to reach the track out in the desert, all while trying to free our camera bags from the mound of crap in the back of the truck. We couldn’t see it yet, but we knew it would be approaching fast and wouldn’t have a lot of time to set up. We found our way up to the track and parked the truck, only to find another train coming from the other direction and blocking our way across the track. We quickly bailed out, running at full speed to try and get to the end of the other train before our target train arrived. I imagine we probably looked like the end of a police chase, with the doors flying open and each of us running in different directions to get to the other side. I, for one, haven’t done much in the way of surfing – or any other form of exercise lately – so it was no easy task running alongside a train with a 45lb camera bag strapped to my back. Now things were getting downright panicky, and I worried we weren’t going to make it. And if we did, I worried that the guys wouldn’t find my body out in the desert should I have a heart attack from my run. Finally, the other train passed and we crossed the track just in time to see the target train coming down the hill.

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As that train approached, there was so much excitement. We all scrambled around looking for that perfect spot to shoot from. The train chugged its way down the hill and was finally upon us. But with all the excitement, I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be and didn’t really get the shot I envisioned. Disappointed, I made my way over to Daren and Scott and found that they had gotten some pretty cool shots close to the track. Another lesson learned for not overthinking stuff. We stood there and shared our shots, knowing that we had narrowly missed a rare opportunity. As we looked around, we found that we were standing in the middle of what appeared to be an abandoned portion of town (if you’ve stopped at Ludlow, you know its barely a town in the first place). There were dilapidated buildings, old junked cars, and mounds of debris. We started realizing there was tons of cool crap to shoot besides the train and spent the next few minutes walking around and shooting the various sights. But just as we were about to go back to the truck, we heard the faint sound of another train whistle way off in the distance. We all looked at each other with a… “did you just hear that, too?”… look on our faces. We realized that another train was coming and once again, scrambled in a panic to find our perfect spots.

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Determined to get that shot I envisioned, I began another dead sprint to a better spot I saw up a small mountain. But being in the horrible physical shape that I am, I once again didn’t make it in time. The train came and went, while Scott and Daren got all the good shots down near the track. At that point, I decided that with those two trains, there must be more to come, so I proceeded to WALK to the location that offered the view I desired, and wait for the next one to round the corner.

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(Scott, risking his personal safety for "the shot".)


About 10 minutes later, I finally made it to my spot and got settled in to wait for the next train. The air was crisp and fresh, and the views were spectacular. And as I sat there in the peacefully quite desert, I just knew this was going to be worth the effort. Just then, without warning, the next train came from the west, cresting the hill top and heading down the hill right into my line of sight. I’ve never hunted, but I imagined that seeing that train rolling into my frame of view is what its like for a deer to walk into the view of a hunters scope. I was so pumped I could barely contain myself. And as it got to my marks, I shot as many frames as I could to ensure I didn’t miss it this time. Success! I know it sounds corny, but its almost like a drug when you know you just captured something special. I know my buddies would agree. So with that, I hiked my way back to them to share with them what I got.

We showed each other our shots on the backs of our cameras, along with the stories of how we got them and had some good laughs. Its always an adventure when the three of us get together, and this was no exception. We spent another hour–and-a-half exploring the buildings and filming the many trains that ultimately passed that day – turning our 3 ½ hour trip into a 5 ½ hour trip home. But it was worth every minute.

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As we loaded up the truck with our gear, we were all glad we stopped. The day before had been fun with the car and boat show that we had planned. But as we pulled away and got back on the freeway, we all agreed that it was this unplanned, unexpected stop that made the weekend.

Normally, we’d all come home and process our photos, then post them individually on our personal social media accounts. But this trip was different. We shared a really cool experience as a group. So with that, we thought it would be fun to share it as a group with you. If you’ve enjoyed this story, thank Dave. He didn’t ask us, or pays us to write it. But it was his generosity at the show that inspired us to post it. (He’ll know what I mean).

If you’d like to see more images from the weekend, feel free to follow us on Instagram at our respective locations:

Daren VanRyte: @OCphotographics

Scott Shanklin: @stryderphoto

Erick Bryner (me): @fastloudphotograhy

Next up: Water Ski Races in Parker. Can’t wait to see what adventures unfold this week. See you there!


Erick Bryner
Fast Loud Photography /
Fire Drill Productions
 

stryderphoto

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Hell yah dudes!!!
That was an epic weekend full of great boats, cars, people and adventure. I'm ready for the next one!!!!!
 

RiverDave

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Your best article yet, that ironically enough isn't an article! :D When you are passionate about the weekend, and have a great time, it sure does make it easier to put into words the following week.

If you read your article on the boat show (top half) and click on the front page and read mine, they are virtually interchangeable! I really enjoyed the second half with the story about getting the shots of the trains, and especially seeing the final shot that you were going for. I would have to think you guys could probably sell some of those shots to BNSF and cover the trip pretty easily. :)

RD
 

FastLoudPhoto

Tommy Gun's Backup Guy
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Your best article yet, that ironically enough isn't an article! :D When you are passionate about the weekend, and have a great time, it sure does make it easier to put into words the following week.

If you read your article on the boat show (top half) and click on the front page and read mine, they are virtually interchangeable! I really enjoyed the second half with the story about getting the shots of the trains, and especially seeing the final shot that you were going for. I would have to think you guys could probably sell some of those shots to BNSF and cover the trip pretty easily. :)

RD
Haha. Thanks Dave! The thought did cross my mind. See you this weekend!
 

charlyox

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Great story great pics. I glad you guys had a great weekend. Thanks for sharing.


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69GS

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Wow, great pics and nice article, the train pics are very cool. Talk about Horsepower !
 
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