Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/08/06

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Subject: [Leica] Road-trip or The Summer of LUG (Word of warning: Long!)
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2000 02:19:49 EDT

 There are various reasons for leaving the comforts of home and set out on a 
drive of a couple of 1000s of miles. In our case it was a combination of a/ 
not having seen friends along the West Coast for a while and b/ having just 
gotten the first of the prototypes of the RapidGrip finished and needing to 
field-test them and c/ the occurrence of the first Photo San Francisco Show. 
Any of these reasons are valid and needs no further justification. The old 
Chrysler 5th Avenue was filled up, air-conditioning was declared functional, 
cameras and films selected and off Tuulikki and I went. As usual we stopped 
off with our friends in Portland, ate well, and listened to our godson's 
experience of spending 3 weeks on a US Navy research vessel looking at 
thermal vents in the Pacific. Obviously the situation was critical when the 
ship ran out of coffee towards the end. Navy Intelligence is obviously not 
that good. The scientific crew was mainly from the West Coast and they must 
have been oblivious to the fact that NOTHING operates here without coffee! To 
keep it on the LUG line, Jeff, our godson has had a M3 with a 50DR since he 
was 14 (he is now 25). I gave it to him as a birthday present and it has a 
prototype chrome Rapidwinder on it and yes, he uses it still and very well 
 After Portland we slid down the I-5 and stopped overnight at Mount Shasta. 
This is a storybook mountain. Perfect cone with snow on it, visible for miles 
and it just looks right, a true designer mountain! After a long hot drive we 
ended up at Ed's place outside Sacramento. Ed Popejoy is a fellow LHSA member 
and photographer/cinematographer with enough knowledge about both subjects to 
keep conversation going until the wee hours in morning. He is also a very 
good cook and host as well as an avid collector of photobooks. There are 
always some moments that stand out after a trip. Sitting on Ed's back-porch 
watching his neighbour take off over our heads in a biplane is one of the 
moments. Of course Ed has his own plane and airstrip, but we stuck to more 
conventional transportation for the breakfast at Bangor Café. Best pancakes 
around, none of this wimpy low-fat stuff. Real butter, bacon and big fluffy 
pancakes. So what if it shortens ones life with a year or two!
Onward to San Francisco and Peter Choy, LUG dinner, and Photo SF. For four 
days  the three of us talked photography, Leicas and more photography (and 
more Leicas!) Peter is a very genial host and as our time was somewhat 
limited down there, sleep depravation was the name of the game. Subjects 
ranged far and wide, who is good, who is bad, is Walker Evans over valued, 
are M3's better than M2's and how come the light in Peter's Focomat 1C would 
not come on after I assembled it (and would Peter's wife force him to remove 
it from the dining-room table when she came home!). Of course no final 
answers could be given as this would prohibit us from further discussions. 
Well, the 1C suffered from a loose wire in the lamp housing and I assume 
Peter moved the enlarger later).
 The Saturday LUG dinner was great. Peter organised it with great skill and 
supplied a large box of wine to the occasion. The food was very good, just in 
case we tested it the night before! The 24 LUGgers and family were certainly 
not shy and quiet. Of course there were enough Leica's floating around in 
there to cheer up any LUGger. At one time I had 7-8 M's in front of me and 
Bryan Caldwell's picture is proof - and that was only at one table! Black 
M2's, M3's, M4-Mots' M4-P (=Tuulikki's), M6's, etc. Bryan had a black paint 
M3, a Shintaro paint job and when I looked at the camera I recognised it as 
one that I had passed on to Shintaro early on when we were testing 
paint-finishes. Bryan had picked it up in Tokyo last year. The Leica-world is 
indeed rather small!
  I always consider the measure of a successful gathering being how long you 
hang out outside the restaurant afterwards. Several of us stood in the wet, 
foggy SF evening for another hour and discussed life and the pursuit of the 
perfect neg. and other subjects essential to LUGgers.
 Prior to the LUG-dinner we had visited the Photo SF exhibition. This is a 
show for dealers trading in photographic prints. It is a bit unnerving 
standing there leafing through a rack of photos and realising that these are 
original Atget, Brassai, Weston, Cartier-Bresson and Eugene Smith prints that 
you are looking at. As with any show of this magnitude, there is stuff there 
that you like and some stuff you just don't understand, but it certainly was 
worth the effort to see it.
 Sunday we played tourists, went to Golden Gate Park and took pictures, had 
dinner with Peter and his neighbours and as we were leaving the next day, it 
was late before we got to bed. Tuulikki remarked that what was truly amazing 
was that in 4 days in the city, Peter and I only managed to spend about an 
hour and half in camera-stores and we did not buy anything (well, I did pick 
up some more batteries for my M6TTL, what else is new!)
 Monday morning we left for Eureka and Tree-LUGger Gary Todoroff. Gary, 
Joanne, and daughter Clara plied us with salmon and other goodies and Gary 
and I only spent a couple of hours discussing cameras (probably a new record 
for us!) Maybe it could have something to do with the fact that we sat at the 
same table at the Saturday LUG dinner and already covered some of this 
subject. Possible, but highly unlikely knowing Gary and me!
 After Eureka, up along California 101 - after Highway 1 - one of the great 
roads in the world, although in the summer it is packed with campers and 
motor-homes lumbering along at a snail's pace. Another overnighter in 
Portland where I performed an important scientific experiment and on 
Wednesday we were back in Vancouver. The RapidGrip was tested and found fine, 
although I probably need to test it a bit more extensively in Europe in 
September. Our cat, Barnack, has been loudly explaining to us the extreme 
hardship he has suffered in our absence. Only two people taking turns feeding 
him, petting him and spoiling him while we were gone. This is unendurable 
hardship and he is still letting us know about it!
 First of all  a special thanks to Peter for organising the LUG-dinner and 
supplying the wine, as well as putting us up for several nights and in 
particular for the content in the wooden box! And it was great to meet and 
put faces to the LUGgers in California. Thanks to Ed for showing us that 
there is life east of SF too and for providing the best steaks I have had for 
a loong, loong time. It is one thing being able to contact each other at the 
stroke of a key on the computer, but nothing beats sitting around a table, 
eating and drinking for an evening. Of course it was particularly fun to 
convince Godfrey DiGiorgi to try out a Rapidwinder too!
As we always say, nothing beats a good roadtrip and this one was among the 

OK, for those who are wondering about the scientific experiment? I am an 
occasional sufferer from something known as "Cluster-Headaches" or 
Cluster-Migraines. These are debilitating headaches of nuclear proportions. 
The attacks come every 4-6 hours and last for up to 2 hours and this sequence 
goes on for 2-3 months. Fortunately these headaches only occur every 7-8 
years, but 2000 was one of these years. Some might have noticed that I have 
been absent, or restrained my self to short messages on the LUG. This has to 
do with the strain on the eyes when reading and writing on the 
computer-screen. Luck had it that this time my local doctor found some new 
medication that seems to have a/lessened the severity of the attacks and b/ 
shortened the duration of period of attacks to the all-time short time of 9 
weeks. One of the conditions of this malady is that red wine, chocolate, 
certain cheeses can trigger these attacks or increase the severity of them. 
Peter gave us some extremely nice bottles of red wine when we left SF and as 
I had not had any feeling of headache for the last 3-4 days I decided to try 
and see if it was over. The experiment was a success. The headaches are gone 
and further testing with Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream 
has confirmed the diagnosis. One advantage in getting older is that the 
frequency of these headache periods is further and further apart. It used to 
be every 2-3 years and over the last 17-18 years it has decreased 
drastically. If I am really lucky, the next attack period will coincide with 
Leica's first Digital M camera-back (the working version).
 It is now obvious that I can write long missives and stare at a 
computer-screen again so I declare myself back in good working shape!
All the best,
Tom A