—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

541 773-3373

Day 96, John.

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This is John from Santa Cruz, who is a little bleary eyed, cuz he’s up early in Reno, showing off his ‘48 Ford Woody in the Dawn’s Early Light. He’s been up for awhile and went to bed very late last night, because he’s here with his car for Hot August Nights.

If you’re not from Reno, you may not know about Hot August Nights. New Orleans has Mardi Gras. Rio has Carnival. All of Germany has Octoberfest. All of Mexico has Cinco de Mayo. And Reno has Hot August Nights.

And what a fête it is. Car guys from all over America bright their babies to Reno for the first week of August to show them off. And being in Reno during Hot August Nights is like going back in time. There are more ‘55 Chevys than you can shake a stick at.

Shelby Cobras abound. Corvettes from ‘54s on up roam the streets. And I even saw a ’67 Austen Healy MK 3000 just like the one stolen from me, right after I completely restored it. I loved that car. Five speeds and an overdrive. And the insurance company screwed me, cuz that’s what they do.

Back to Hot August Nights. You’ll find hot rods, hot girls and plenty a hot dogs. You’ll even see your dream car, but someone else will be driving it. And you’ll have fun.

John from Santa Cruz certainly is.

Day 95, Brandon.

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This is Brandon on Virginia Street at 5:50 in the morning and he is the fourth Reno Police Officer who I’ve photographed out in the Dawn’s Early Light.

And now you know all I know about Brandon. I asked could I take his photo. He said yes and here it is. Usually, I ask a few questions, so I can get a thread to hang a short few paragraphs on, but I couldn’t ask Brandon anything, cuz a tourist came up and wanted to know where—

And Vesta and I moved away, cuz Brandon had his job to do and we didn’t wanna get in the way. It was enough that he smiled for the camera.

Day 94, Brian.

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This is Brian, out in the Dawn’s Early Morning Light. He’s wide awake with a smile. When I asked him what he was doing out so early, he said he had just come from the library, where he dropped off some books in the book drop.

He’s a reader as are we. We are, cuz we don’t got a TV and if you don’t have one of those, books become your friends. So, like Brian, we too, go the library a lot. They have a lot of books there and they keep getting new ones and you can read ‘em for FREE.

Vesta and I are library and bookstore junkies. When we lived in Europe, we haunted the ones on Charring Cross Road in London and since Paris was our base, we knew all the good ones there and they had a lot.

In America, we don’t have many of those kind of independent bookstores anymore. We got Barnes and Nobel and to be sure, we go there quite a bit, but it’s a chain bookstore. If you live in Portland, they have Powell’s, which is like those European bookstores. If it’s not the best bookstore in America, it’s awful darn close.

But Portland is six hundred miles away, so we don’t go to Powell’s very much.

The library in Reno is only two blocks away and we go there an awful lot. In fact, we were there yesterday. I’ve heard that the guy who designed it thought libraries should be outside and if you go in there, you do have that kind of feel. And he must’ve like islands, cuz you get the impression that you’re going from island to island on a bridge as you move around the library.

We had a good library in Medford for the first couple years we lived there. It was in a really old brick building downtown and it was crammed full of books. But the local government had to justify it’s existence, so they built a new giant, ugly, impersonal affair that looks like it was designed by a third grader, who flunked drawing. I’d’a said design, but third graders don’t get to take design. And besides, the guy who designed it, obviously had never taken any classes.

I’ve never taken any classes either, but I think of myself as an artist and I’d really like to design a library. I could do it. I like books and I’d build a place that with lots of rooms, with overstuff chairs like you see in old black and white movies, where you could sit and read the day away.

In fact, I’d make it a black and white library. No color allowed. Just white pages with black print and nothing else to get in the way of your imagination.

Day 93, Terry.

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This is Terry, out Virginia Street at 5:20 this morning. Terry is a member of Reno’s finest and as you know, if you’ve been reading these 365 Days of Faces posts, I believe the cops in Reno are just about the best in the world.

Well, I thought the tourist police in Venezuela, when we lived there, were pretty gosh darned good too. President Chavez wanted more tourists in his country and so to promote tourism, he created the tourist police. A tourist could do no wrong. Okay, almost no wrong.

So if you were an American there and had a problem with a local, like a store owner, for example and the cops came, you won. Those were great policemen. Maybe they weren’t so good for you if you were Venezuelan though.

The Reno police treat everybody, tourists and locals alike, like Chavez’s tourist police treated the tourists. And that’s saying something, cuz I know it’s gotta be hard for ‘em, being cops and goodwill ambassadors at the same time.

It’s a fine line they gotta walk.

Anyway, Vesta and I were out on the bridge and we heard this car burning rubber loud enough to wake the dead buried a mile away.

“Someone’s going to jail today,” Vesta said as he was peeling out again.

“Or the hospital,” I said.

And then we heard him again and again and again.

“Where are the police?” Vesta said as a black and white drove by.

I waved, the cop waved back.

“Think he’s out looking for the speeder?” Vesta said.

“Maybe,” I said. Then, “Let’s head downtown.” We’d been there about fifteen minutes and nobody had come by and we can always find somebody out by the Reno sign.

When we got to Virginia, we saw the speeder, wheels spinning, smoke coming from his back tires, car a blur as he flew from Sixth down to Third. Turns out they we’re filming and there were plenty of police out, keeping the citizens out of harm’s way.

And that’s where I found Terry. And now I think I’ll be hanging out downtown in the mornings for a bit, cuz with Hot August Nights, I outta be able to people my project with seven or ten more of the guys and gals who keep the peace in Reno.

Day 92, Stew.

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Here is Stew, who was obviously in a hurry, cuz he was hustling across the bridge, head down, intent on getting to where he had to be.

“Can I take you picture?” I said.

“I’m late for work.” He stopped.

“Man, you said that last time I asked you.”

“And I was late for work.”

“You said it the time before last.”

“I’m always late for work.”

“It’ll just take a second,” Vesta said.

He looked thoughtful.

“It’s the only way to get him to stop bugging you every time we see you out here,” Vesta said.

“Oh, alright!”

I took the picture.

“Okay, I gotta go, cuz—”

“We know,” Vesta said. “because you’re late for work.”

“You got it.” And he hustled off, walking even faster than he was before.

“See you tomorrow,” I said. He waved his hand in the air, without looking back.

“I think that went well,” Vesta said.

“Me too.”

“Let’s go home.”

Day 91, Nani.

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“Life is this big,” Nani held her hands, palms flat, about a foot apart, “and you have to squeeze this much into it,” she stretched her arms as wide as they could go.

Nani, whose whole name is Kanani Keawai ‘Ki, is Hawaiian, but she was raised in England, so she speaks with a British accent. She weighed five-hundred pounds when she came back to America and had to fly in two seats. She’s obviously lost a whole heck of a lotta weight in the last four or five years.

She will be forty next year and she has stage three liver cancer.

Vesta and I met Nani on our way out to our bridge, where our friends, Mike and Addie Mae we’re waiting to surprise us and it would have been quite a surprise, cuz they drove all the way from Arizona to have their photo taken in the Dawn’s Early Light. And wouldn’t you know it, the one day we don’t make it and they show up.

Nani was lost and looked a bit confused, when we came across her. And she didn’t know how to get back to her motel. But we knew where it was, so we walked her back and that’s why we didn’t make the bridge.

She was full of life and regaled us with stories on our walk and we laughed quite a bit. And when we got back to her room, we said goodbye and we walked home.

“Look,” I said to Vesta, as we turned the corner onto our street, “somebody’s parking in front of our house.”

“Interesting,” she said back to me.

“It’s Mike and Addie Mae.”


We went to Starbucks with them, where I sinned and had coffee. Really, quitting it was pretty stupid, and I’ll go to Trader Joe’s and buy some today. Then we went out to breakfast. Now they’re on their way back to Arizona and I’m typing this and that’s why I’m a little late this morning.

And I’m a bit sad, thinking about Nani.

Day 90, Sean and Brittney.

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Here are Sean and Brittney, who were on their way home from a night of clubbing when we spied them crossing the river on the Sierra Street Bridge. Vesta and I got there the same time they did and they were happy to let me take their photo.

That is one wonderful thing about Reno, when you’re out with your girl, having a good time, you don’t have to go home, just cuz the clock strikes 2:00, like in California or a lotta other states. You can stay out and enjoy yourselves to your heart’s content as long as that’s what your heart wants.

And did you notice, I said they were walking home? Yep, walking home, right thru downtown at 5:30 in the morning. You can do that in Reno, cuz it’s a safe city.

Now add in Friendly. And I can swear on a bunch of Bibles piled high to the ceiling, that Reno’s a friendly city, cuz Vesta and I and oftentimes Devon too, have been out on these streets in the Dawn’s Early Light, stopping total strangers, from the homeless to the cops, from loners to lovers, from those going to and those coming from work and so many others and we’ve never received a bad word from anybody.

So to recap. Reno’s a fun city and you can have it till you’re too pooped to stand. And it’s a safe city. Fun and Safe. Now throw in friendly and why would you wanna live anywhere else.

Well, Paris, I understand that. Madrid, that’s good. Disneyland, I wouldn’t mind living there. But you get what I’m saying. Reno is a great place to be. It really is.

Day 89, Lee.

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This is Lee, but he goes by other names as well. Yes, I guess you could say he’s a man of many names. Vesta and I caught up with him at five to six in Downtown Reno. I asked could I take his picture and he was happy to oblige.

Today, he was proud to say, was his twenty-second wedding anniversary and we congratulated him. He and his wife, who I guess was still up in their room sleeping the sleep of the just, are from Houston, where they were born and raised.

When I asked him his name he said he didn’t give it out, not to anybody, but, he said, “My wife calls me Lee.” He had a soft voice, so much so that I had to step in close to hear him.

“So, I’ll call you Lee.”

“But a lotta people call me Sugar Bear.”

“Really?” Vesta said, “Sugar Bear?”

“Or Mr. Dread,” I answer to that as well.” He laughed.

And we did too. Then we shook hands and said goodbye. And then he was gone and we were too.

Day 88, Howard.

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This is Howard out on our bridge at 5:30 this morning. He got to the bridge the same time Vesta and I did, only he came to it from the north and we from the south.

He had a carry-on bag in his hand and he looked like he’d been in a fight. I walked up to him and asked could I take his picture and he asked why and I told him and he said okay.

“How come you’re out and about so early?” I asked him.

“Looking for the Greyhound,” he said. “I think I took a wrong turn.”

“You’re close,” Vesta said. “It’s only two blocks.” And she told him how to get there.

“Thanks.” He stuck out his hand for us and we each shook it. And for a guy who looked like he packed a solid punch and could take a hard hit, he had a gentle grip.

Day 87, Sean.

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Here is Sean at 5:45 this morning. He came by when Vesta and I were talking to Lou and Gary, who I shot out here at the beginning of this project.

We were telling them that when we started doing this, dark in the morning was the perfect time to do these By the Dawn’s Early Light photos, cuz we’d found a spot by the bridge where the combined light from the Wild River Grill and a street lamp on the Virginia Street Bridge combined to make perfect lighting. I thought so anyway.

But they tore down the bridge and we had to move and now I gotta depend on God for light and he rotates our planet and makes the winter days longer and now it’s staying dark later, so we might have to change our time to 5:45.

“But then we wouldn’t see you every morning,” Lou said. And then it him me. We wouldn’t be seeing Gary and Lou as they headed over to Cal Neva for breakfast and Keno every day. We wouldn’t be seeing Scott on his way to work every day. We’d miss the lady who cleans the walk in front of the movie theater. We’d miss Captain Thomas and his seagoing tales. We’d miss Jim on his way to Starbucks. We’d miss waving to Balwinder as he zipped by on his new scooter. We’d miss the fishermen Pappy and Gary if they’d already caught their lunch. And we’d miss so many others.

What a difference fifteen minutes can make.

Day 86, Russell.

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This is Russell, he came by with some friends right after Vesta and I got out to the bridge. I’m guessing he’s about twenty-five or so, but he looks nineteen. He and his friends were coming from somewhere, where they had a bunch of fun, that was obvious.

And they were headed someplace else, where they were gonna have even more fun. That was obvious too.

But they stopped for a minute and I got this picture of Russ. Then they headed up Sierra, toward downtown, laughing all the way.

That’s one thing about Downtown Reno, the fun never stops. It goes on twenty-four seven and you don’t gotta look very hard for it. It’s right there in front of you, all you gotta do is want it.

Day 85, Michaela.

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This is Michaela at 5:29 in the morning. Vesta and I were talking to Thomas, who captained giant container ships before he retired, on the other side of the street, where we usually hang out in the Dawn’s Early Light, when I saw her walking fast toward downtown.

“Hey!” I shouted as I dashed across the street, “can I take your picture?” I’ve done this before and lotsa times, when I’m running toward a woman, they look a little apprehensive and more than once I thought afterward that it was good they didn’t reach for a gun.

But I guess now that I don’t have a mustache anymore, I don’t look so threatening, cuz this is the second girl who said, “Sure,” since I shaved it off, without any questions.

After I took her photo, I asked her what she was doing out so early in the morning and she said she’d had a long night and she was on the way home. So, I gave her my card and told her the picture would be up on my FB page in an hour or so and she thanked me and left.

She thanked me for stopping her and taking her picture. How cool is that?

Way cool, that’s what I think.

Day 84, Johnny.

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This is Johnny, out on the Sierra Street bridge at 5:20. He came by with a spring in his step, like he didn’t have a care in the world, a young man out to enjoy the early morning and the sunrise.

However, me, on this day. I had a care. I’d had my coffee before Vesta and I left the house. Coffee I dearly enjoyed, but coffee I was not going to be enjoying anymore.

A couple years ago I posted that I was quitting my ghostwriting job and that Vesta and I were going to survive on only our photography.

I’d said I didn’t like the job, because I was writing for a deadline about stuff I mostly didn’t feel good writing about. However, the people I was writing for were good people and every now and then there were some pretty good benefits.

And one of those benefits was more coffee than I could ever imagine having in our house. I did a piece about a certain coffee and they liked it so much that they sent me oodles and oodles of it.

I thought we would never run out. I knew I was drinking too much before the free coffee filled our coffers and I promised myself I’d quit drinking it when we ran out of this better than excellent stuff we had on hand.

Now we got just enough left for me to make a pot tomorrow. Then it’s over. And after tomorrow my coffee drinking is going to be over, because a promise made is a promise to keep, even if it’s only to yourself.

Besides, I drank so much of the stuff in the last two years that my teeth are turning brownish, so I ordered a teeth whitening kit from Amazon and it comes tomorrow afternoon. So, I get my last morning coffee tomorrow morning, then it’s on to whiter teeth and a coffee free future.

So can you see why I’m bumming hard right now.

Johnny though, he’s not bumming hard. He’s a pretty happy guy. Give me a couple weeks and I’ll be a pretty happy guy again too. I promise.

Day 83, Beau.

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This is Beau at 5:35 on a gorgeous Sunday morning. He had his left arm all bandaged up and it looked serious.

“What happened to you?” Vesta said.

“Pit Bull.” “It looks like it hurt.”

“Well, yeah!” He held his arm up, said, “I could see the bone.”

“Whoa!” I shivered from my head to my toes, then said, “Just before you got here, this girl, must’ve been maybe eighteen or nineteen, flew by on a skateboard. She was leaning back and not doing any work, cuz this pit bull was pulling her and they were going fast. They’re strong dogs.”

“Yes they are,” Beau said, then I took this picture.

After he left I turned to Vesta and said, “And you wanted me to jump out in the street and try and stop her.”

“She was gorgeous,” Vesta said.

“It would’ve been a great picture.”

“And I coulda wound up like Beau!”

“Sometimes you have to suffer for your art,” she said. “It’s just the way it is.”

Day 82, Israel.

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This is Israel, from Santa Maria, California. At 5:15 this morning, he came sauntering toward us wearing that holster and with a Bud in every hand. He stopped when Vesta said good morning and I asked could I take his picture.

“Wait till I get the holster off, it’s killing me.” He set his beers on the bridge rail, then lifted his shirt and we could see that if the antique holster was made for William Bonny, then Billy the Kid was a lot thinner than Israel.

“Where’d you get the holster?” Vesta wanted to know.

“Virginia City.” He got it off and slung it over his shoulder. “Only three bucks.” He laughed. “What a bargain.

” Okay so maybe the holster didn’t belong to Billy the Kid.

“Say, are you guys on drugs?” he said right after I took his picture.

“No,” Vesta said. “Why would you ask?”

“Well, you do know that it’s 5:00?” “We know,” Vesta said.

“So really, you’re not high or anything?’

“Flying on coffee,” Vesta said. “That’s all.”

Day 81, Jeremy.

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This is Jeremy. This morning, just a bit before 5:30, he came peddling down Sierra like a ball of fire, pulling Fuzz, who was on his skateboard. Remember Fuzz? He’s the guy who can skate on his board faster than any human should be allowed to.

Today, in the Dawn’s Early Light, he was coasting, letting Jeremy do all the work, while he enjoyed the tow.

My brothers and I used to do that when we were kids. We took a two-by-four and cut it into two foot pieces, took our skates apart and screwed ‘em into the two-by-four strips and voila, surf skates, times three. We skated all over the neighborhood and we took turns towing each other on our bikes.

Being a kid in Lakewood, California was a whole heck of a lotta fun.

These guys, Fuzz and Jeremy, they’re adults, but they had a kid glow about themselves today and I gotta admit, I was kinda jealous.

“I have to get me a skateboard,” I said after they left.

“Why not just get a gun and shoot yourself?” Vesta laughed.

“Are you implying I can’t handle a skateboard?”

“Who, me?” She smiled. “No.”

Day 80, Vivian.

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This is Vivian. She parked on the Sierra Street Bridge at exactly 5:31, a minuted after Vesta and I got there. We watched as she got out of her car, on the other side of the street, with her dog. We don’t wanna pounce on people, like we’re after their spare change, but we don’t wanna let ‘em get away either.

So I shouted out. “Can I take your picture?” as cars whizzed by between us.

She gave us the once over, saw our cameras and shouted back, “Sure.”

I dashed across the street with Vesta shouting at me to watch out for cars, but I was watching and that brand new Ford Pickup bearing down on me, didn’t even get close.

Vesta came across after the truck passed and I took this shot.

Vivian’s a runner and she’s apparently as into as much as Vesta is, cuz she’s got her knee taped up, so she can get through her mile. Running is good, but knees are too. Vesta’s been sidelined, by me, cuz of a heal spur. She wanted to keep running, despite the pain, but jeez, running’s good, but heals are too.

Me, I jog, not as good as running, but my knees and heals are doing fine.

Day 79, Fuzz.

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This is Fuzz on the Sierra Street Bridge in Reno, Nevada at 5:45 in the morning. Vesta and I were talking to Pappy, the guy who’s fished the Truckee River everyday for over forty years, when Fuzz came barreling down Sierra at about a hundred and eleven miles an hour on his skateboard.

And he came to a stupendous ass stop right in front of us.

“Pappy, I got a little problem with the board.” He flipped it up with his foot, caught it and handed it over to Pappy, who apparently had been a master carpenter in a former life.

Pappy took it, looked at it, said, “I can fix it. But I found better wood in the river up by Idlewild Park, wider, a bit thicker.”

“Really?” Fuzz said.

“Bring it by my place. I’ll fix you up.”

“Hey can I take your picture?” I said.

“He’s okay,” Pappy said.

“Pappy says your okay, you’re okay.” Fuzz smiled and I took the picture and then he was gone, fleeing up Sierra faster than you’d think any human can make a skateboard go.

“You shoulda taken a picture of the whole him,” Vesta said.

“Yeah,” I laughed, cuz Fuzz, though covered in tattoos, had a body that woulda put Arnold Schwarzenegger to shame when he was Mr. Universe or whatever he was back then.

I’d like to add that hanging out in the same spot every morning, Vesta and I have discovered that there is a whole community of ex addicts and alcoholics and Vets who came back and couldn’t adjust, who have sorta bonded in a way you wouldn’t expect.

These guys don’t have much money, but they got some, a small pension or social security or they do odd jobs. They don’t hurt anybody and they don’t seem to have anything to do with those who sleep in the rough, who are using and the kids on meth who you see in the early morning, sometimes asking for money.

These guys have rejected the system most of us live by and they seem genuinely happy about it, but they are suspicious of new people.

And once you get to talking to them, if you can break through, they are a delight to know.

Day 78, Dave.

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This is Dave in Downtown Reno, enjoying our city by the Dawn’s Early Light. Dave is one month out of the Navy, officially retired after serving TWENTY years. The only thing I can think of is, he must’ve lied about his age when he joined, cuz he looks like he’s about nineteen.

We spied Dave walking down Virginia, on the other side of the street, with a tripod in hand and a camera bag slung over his shoulder, so Vesta shouted out, “Hey, are you a photographer?”

“No,” he shouted back. But he was out taking pictures. When he said he wasn’t a photographer, he meant he didn’t do it for a living.

He spent his last tour of duty in Italy, where he took lots of pictures. Before that he served his country in Madrid and before that, we don’t know, cuz Vesta changed the subject, by asking him where he lived now.

“In my car,” he said. And no, he’s not homeless. He’s driving all over America. Seeing it all. Photographing it all.

God, I wish I was him.

Day 77, James.

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This is James, out in the Dawn’s Early Light at 5:30 in the morning. I had photographed him a couple times before, but both times I’d photographed other people too, people who’d come out specifically to have their portrait made.

So, James got left behind.

Also, in every single one of my photos of him, he’s wearing this big smile. No matter how many times I told him to not look so happy, that smile came on just before I took the picture.

“I can’t help it,” he’d say. “I just got off work and the rest of the day is mine.”

James is a short order cook who works the graveyard shift. He gets off at 5:00 and we see him as he’s on his walk home.

However, this morning, I got a serious portrait look outta him. We were talking about America and I don’t know why, but somehow the conversation turned to JFK and Bobby.

“America was the hope of the world till they killed Kennedy,” he said. “But we got a second chance to still be wonderful. Then they killed Bobby. Now we’re just another country, like all the rest.” He turned sad, got the serious look on his face I’d been looking for and I took the picture.

And it’s a great photo and when I processed it, it was even better. It was everything I was after.

But when I thought about why he wasn’t smiling, I decided to go back and look at all the smily photos and I picked this one, but they’re all kinda like this.

Day 76, Mary.

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This is Mary from Cocoa Beach, Florida at 5:25 in the morning. She’s here on holiday for a week and she’s enjoying the heck out of Reno. Unlike a lot of tourists, she’s not staying at one of the big casinos. Instead she opted for staying at the Plaza downtown by the river.

Mary’s an early morning walker and she’s an espresso drinker. This morning, she was on her way to Starbucks on Virginia for her espresso fix.

We got a lotta stuff you can do in Reno, besides giving all your money away to the casinos and more and more, tourists like Mary are beginning to figure it out. You can stay downtown, stroll by the river, meet wonderful people and maybe even forge a lifelong friendship, cuz we got friendly people in Reno.

So if you’re from far away and you’re reading this, consider the Biggest Little City in the world for your next vacation spot. And if you get here before my year on the bridge is up, you can come out and have your portrait made in the Dawn’s Early Light.

Day 75, James.

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This is James at 5:45 on this Saturday morning. After I took his photo, I asked why he was out and about so early and he pointed to the sunrise and said, “Just for that, no other reason.”

And I have to admit, seeing the sun rise on a new day is all the reason one needs for being up, outside and walking around in the Dawn’s Early Light.

Day 74, LeeAnn.

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This is LeeAnn at 5:30 in the morning. She was out walking with friends and at first they didn’t want their photos taken, but when I told them what Vesta and I were doing every morning out on the bridge, she said I could take her photo, so I did.

I only took this one and I shoulda taken a couple more, cuz her hair goes almost to her waist. Ah well, you can’t win ‘em all, but you do have to keep trying, so maybe if I see here again, I’ll get a shot of her with all that hair.

On another note, a long time ago I drove a motorcycle off a cliff. I was out riding in the dirt with my friend Mike Ward, who also happened to be my leadman, which meant he was my boss at the airplane plant where I worked.

Anyway, it wasn’t a big cliff. I was going downhill and didn’t see the fifteen foot drop. I stayed on the bike and managed to land on the wheels, so I was protected some by the shocks, but I got thrown off and wound up in the mud.

When Mike found me, he decided we had to go right into work. We worked swing shift and it was around noon, but it wasn’t a problem he said, cuz he’d just authorize the overtime when we got there.

I worked in the microfilm department and it was the kinda job where you had to look neat and clean and where they smiled if you wore a tie. When I clocked in, everybody knew something was up, cuz I was covered in mud.

Right after Mike okayed the overtime, he called an ambulance. Oh yeah! I forgot to mention I could barely walk and was in a whole lotta pain.

The ambulance took me to the hospital and the hospital people wanted my phone number, cuz they wanted Vesta there, I suppose in case they had to do some kind of life saving surgery. But they didn’t have to do that.

I’d wrenched my back and they gave me muscle relaxant pills and told me to go home and stay off it for about a week, then I could go back to work. So I did that and it didn’t cost me a cent, cuz I was injured when I fell down on the job.

And the reason for this story is because every other year or so I lift something the wrong way and that old injury comes back with a vengeance. Right now I’m on Vesta’s leftover pain pills and moaning and groaning, cuz, you guessed it, I goofed up and lifted a ton of camera equipment the wrong way.

So we drove out to the bridge today, instead of walking, and boy oh boy did I ever feel like an old ferret when I hobbled outta the car. But I’ll be better soon, cuz Vesta said if I’m not, she’ll have me put down.

I don’t complain that much. Really, I don’t.

Day 73, Scott.

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This is Scott at exactly 6:00 in the morning. I asked him could I take his photo. He asked why. I told him. And he said, “Sure.”

When I asked why he was out so early, he said he’d just woken up. Then he left. So other than the fact that he’s probably a Texas Longhorns fan, I don’t know anything about him.

Like yesterday with Jason, I got this photo just as the sun was peeking up in the east. I like to take these photos a bit earlier, but I’m beginning to become enamored with this light, but that’s not why you’re not seeing a 5:30 photo this morning.

Right after Vesta and I got to the bridge, this street preaching person came by and he decided my soul needed saving. Vesta, well she took one listen to this person and took a powder.

“She don’t wanna hear what I have to say?” the preacher man said.

“Guess not,” I said.

Then I was treated to twenty minutes of hell fire and brimstone. And I did my best to be polite and not laugh, cuz he was very serious as he told me the Bible and Fox News go hand in hand and anybody who thought different was gonna burn for sure.

“God created Fox News to save America,” he said. “You do watch, don’t you?”

“I don’t have a TV.”

“Then how are you going to hear God’s word?”

“From Fox News?”

“That’s right.”

“I’m hearing it from you.” And I never shoulda said that, cuz he wouldn’t shutup about the living saints, Hannity and O’Reilly. But Megan, she wasn’t up to sainthood level. She is a woman after all.

He told me waking America up was his calling and I told him mine was taking pictures and that I appreciated everything he had to say, but he was scaring off all the nice people whose pictures I wanted to take. So he owed me a photo.

“No, you can’t take mine.”

“Afraid I’ll steal your soul?”


“Okay, time for you to move on.”

“I get that a lot.”

“I bet you do.” But I was talking to his back, cuz he was walking away.

Then along came Scott.

Day 72, Jason.

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This is Jason at 6:00 in the morning, who like Chris, who I posted yesterday, is also a Reno police officer. But unlike all of the other photos I have posted, Jason is being bathed by the early morning sunrise. What a difference a half hour makes.

The gorgeous early morning light is fleeting. However, the not so gorgeous direct sunlight seems to work here, so I guess I got lucky, cuz in about a second or two, Jason woulda been squinting.

We talked to him for a short while. Jason not only works for the RPD, he also does outreach work with the homeless and Vesta, Devon and I learned more about the homeless problem in Reno and in America in ten minutes taking to him, then I woulda thought possible in such a short time.

Did you know if a homeless person is clean and sober and in a shelter for three weeks that the city, with the help of people like Jason, will move them, with their permission of course, into temporary housing and will also try to find them a job?

Sadly though, less than ten percent of the homeless who the City helps this way, succeed. Still, as far as I’m concerned, if one out of a thousand is uplifted into a new and productive life, than all the money spent on all the programs for the homeless is well worth it, cuz you don’t count the worth of a human life in dollars. No, you don’t do that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now, that we’ve got the best cops on the planet, right here in the Reno Sparks area.

And most of ‘em, at least the one’s I’ve met, got a sense of humor. A couple weeks ago a couple RPD guys peddled over to where Devon and I were climbing over a concrete fence to go down to the river.

I didn’t know if it was against the rules, to go over the fence where we were, so I threw my hands up in the air and said, “I didn’t do it.”

And this cop says, “That’s funny, you look just like the guy in the wanted poster we got up at the station.”

These are the kinda people we want patrolling our streets—on foot, on bikes, on motorcycles and in their cars—cops who care and who know how to laugh. I think so anyway.

Day 71, Chris.

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This is Chris, out in the Dawn’s Early Morning Light. As you can tell from the star peeking up from the bottom right of the photo, he is a police officer. He’s one of the guys you’ll see peddling around on the bikes the cops here use in the early morning.

And he is one of the reasons downtown Reno is just about the safest downtown in America and if you don’t believe me on that score, try hanging out in Downtown Anywhere at 5:30 in the morning, day in and day out, with a kid and you’ll know, soon enough, I’m telling you true.

And I have to say something about the Reno and Sparks cops. They’re just about the friendliest cops you’ll find anywhere. We’d only live in Nevada for a few minutes, when I had my first run in with the law here.

We’d been twelve hours on the road and we had a car full of stuff. Our last load from our last home, when Vesta said, “You’re missing your turnoff.”

I was in the fast lane and cut off a couple cars as I jerked the wheel to the right, crossing four lanes of freeway when that second car I cut off turned on his red lights.

When the officer approached my window he said, “If you’re gonna cut somebody off, you ought to at least be going the speed limit.” Seems like I was going something like forty-five in a sixty-five. Well, I was pretty tired.

He asked for my license and Vesta fished it out of her purse. “You don’t carry your own license?” he said.

“He’d just lose it,” Vesta said.

“Where do you live?” he said as he looked at my Oregon driver’s license.


“Really? How long?

“About eleven minutes,” I said.

“Ah,” he sighed, then laughed, then reached past me and gave my license back to Vesta. “This one’s on me.” And that’s pretty much how it’s been for me and the Reno and Sparks cops. Every single one of them I’ve met, and I’ve met a lot of ‘em, have been friendlier than you’d ever think a police office could be.

And you know what I’ve learned about our cops living downtown? If they’re hassling you, you pretty much deserve it. If you’re walking around, milling about or sitting on a bench by the river, no matter how much you’ve had to drink or how stoned you are, if you’re not bothering anybody, they won’t bother you.

But if you start in hassling, annoying and bothering people—well, let me just say, you probably shouldn’t do that.

Day 70, Vu.

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This is Vu, who is out and about in Portland with her morning coffee, which she got from Starbucks. She was very happy that I wanted to take her picture. Which I did.

Whenever I see a smile like this, it puts one on my face as well. And someday I intend to wear one that big for the camera. It’s just that a big Vu type smile on my face really, really makes me look dorky like and I don’t like looking dorky, so subconsciously, just before anyone clicks a shutter pointed my way, my camera face comes on.

But I am getting there. I don’t wear the sunglasses much anymore and I shaved off my mustache a while back. True I grew it right back, but I’m thinking about shaving it again. And I am working at smiling for the camera, I really am.

On another note, Vesta, Devon and I will be heading back to Reno in about a half hour. Six hundred miles to go before we sleep. So, tomorrow morning, bright and early at 5:30, the three of us will be back on the Sierra Street Bridge and we hope to see you out there smiling, or not, for the camera in the Dawn’s Early Light.

Day 69, Susan.

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This is Susan out in the Dawn’s Early Light. I caught her as she was opening up the Beaumont Market in Portland.

I asked her if she owned the store and she said, she just worked there.

I asked her if it was a fun job and she said, it was the greatest.

I asked her why and she said, because she got to meet lots of wonderful people all day, every day.

I asked her did she know she had a very positive attitude and she said, it’s always best to look on the bright side than the other.

I asked her did she know the Force was powerful in her and she said, she knew that.

Day 68, Baer.

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This is writer and photograph framer Baer Charlton, in front of his store on 4223 Fremont Street, in Portland, Oregon (address included for those who live in Portland and might want a picture framed).

Getting his photo up this morning was no easy task. I forgot my card reader, so I had no way to get the photo from my SD card onto my MacBook.

But wait! my camera does wifi, so I should be able to make it a hotspot and upload the images to my computer. But it I couldn’t make it work.

But wait! I can connect my camera to my phone, upload the photos to that, then hook my phone to my Macbook and copy them over. But it seems the only photos I can move from my phone to my machine are ones that I took from the camera using the phone to make the photo.

So, I went to Fred Meyer here in Portland and bought a card reader, but when I got back to Tiffany’s, I discovered that the Preview program on it is too old to read my new camera’s RAW files and I don’t want to upgrade the system on it, cuz if I do that, my MacBook will be so slow that I might as well throw it away. No thank you Apple.

But wait! I could download a trial version of Lightroom and convert the RAW files to jpg. But it turns out the latest version of Lightroom won’t work on my old computer and you can’t download an older version. Adobe wants me to upgrade my system and turn my machine into a brick. No thank you Adobe and are you in cahoots with Apple?

But wait! I could download a RAW to jpg converter. So I did that, but it wouldn’t work on my machine unless I upgraded my system and turned my Macbook into a brick.

So, I downloaded three different converter programs, and I found one that would work on my FOUR YEAR OLD COMPUTER, cuz I don’t wanna buy a new computer yet, just cuz Apple wants me to. I use this for writing and occasionally for photo work and for that it’s just fine.

It’s like this giant conspiracy these software guys got with Apple to make me spend more money on a new machine when mine still works okay. And before you think I’m over reacting, I tried upgrading my system and it made my machine so slow I wanted to throw it at the wall.

It was a good thing I saved the original system discs that came with it, cuz when I went into the Apple store for help, they told me once you upgrade you can’t go back and they suggested that I buy a new computer.

I actually had to wipe my machine clean and start from scratch to make it work like it used to, before the hot shit Apple upgrade called Mavericks that was supposed to make my life so easy that all my worries would just melt away made my machine useless.

Phooey on you, Apple, I figured out how to get this photo from my card to my computer, despite all your best efforts. So there. I win this time.

Okay, back to Baer, he’s a super nice guy, so if you’re ever in Portland, stop by his store and say hello and tell him Ken sent you.

Day 67, Tim.

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This is Tim, out on the Sierra Street Bridge at 5:30 in the morning. Vesta used to wave to him every morning as she ran past him as he walks his two dogs. But a heel spur has forced her into temporary running retirement.

Tim said he missed seeing her every morning and Vesta said she’d be back in a couple weeks or so and he said that was good and that she should keep running and she said that was her goal.

Vesta, Devon and I are going to be on the road this weekend, so if you live in Reno and were planning on coming on out to the Sierra Street Bridge in the early morn, we won’t be there till Tuesday. Sorry.

So my goal for this weekend is to find three subjects in the Portland area who will come out in the Dawn’s Early Light to have their portrait made. Well, two subjects, because writer Baer Charlton is going to come out tomorrow. So that means I need to find someone on Sunday and Monday.

I have a lot of friends in Portland, but if 5:30 in the AM is too early for you all, well Portland’s got bridges.

Day 66, Mariah.

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This is Mariah, who was in the middle of her early morning walk, when she stopped to look at the sunrise. I took this shot, then I told her about my project and asked could I take a couple more with her looking at the camera.

But as it turns out, I like this one the best.

When I asked where she was off to when she turned to leave, she said her walk was just about over and now she was gonna go home and take a nap.

“Hey,” Devon said, “that sounds like a good idea.”

“It’s got my vote,” Vesta said. “Let’s go home and take a nap too.”

“But we’re not staying at home.” Devon was right. We’re taking a one day stay vacation at the Grand Sierra Resort, cuz they got a great big pool called, “The Beach,” and we’re pretending we’re in Hawaii, even though it’s rained buckets most of the day yesterday.

“Okay, let’s go back to the hotel and take a nap,” Vesta said.

“I’ll vote for that too,” I said.

“Me three,” Devon said.

So that’s what we did.

Day 65, Skip.

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This is Skip, who parked his pickup on the Sierra Street bridge to get a look at the empty space that used to be the bridge on Virginia.

“It’s a shame they felt that had to take it down,” he said and we agreed. We also agreed that apparently they didn’t have to build a new one, but that they were going to build their modern looking one, which wasn’t going to fit in with the look of the city, no matter what we thought about it.

I asked Skip how he got his name, cuz I wondered if he used to sail, as sailors in the Caribbean are all called Skip by the locals.

“My sister named me after her dog Skipper.” “Really, I said, I had a dog named Skipper, but I’d never thought about naming my kids after him and he was a good dog.”

“Well, I came along after my sister’s dog died and she really loved that dog.”

“Hey, Devon said,” Indiana Johns was named after a dog, just like you.”

“I bet you’ve heard that before,” Vesta said.

“I have,” Skip said. “Now I gotta go and save the world from some very bad people.” And he got in his pickup and left with a wave.

Day 64, Balwinder Singh.

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This is Balwinder Singh and Vesta, Devon and I have been trying to get his picture for about a month now. Usually, he zips by on his bike, peddling too fast for us to stop him, or he comes by when our backs are turned and oftentimes, we see him before we get to the bridge.

“Let’s leave early tomorrow, so we can get the Sikh guy,” Devon said last night. Though he’s said that several times and we’ve always just missed him.

But we did leave early, getting to the bridge at 5:00. Like us, Mr. Singh used to use the Virginia Street Bridge and like us he was forced over to Sierra, when they tore the bridge down. But unlike us, he wasn’t out early this morning.

In fact, we waited a half hour and the only people who came by were people who we’d already shot. So at least we had somebody, besides ourselves, to talk to.

Then, at a quarter to six, as we were about to give up and head on over to the Reno sign to find somebody willing to have their picture taken, here comes Mr. Singh on a brand new, shiny, Darth Vader black motor scooter.

We were on the far side of the street, so it looked like we were gonna miss him again, but we all shouted at once, “WAIT!”

And we all ran into the street after him.

And he pulled over with a smile as wide as could be and he put his hands together, as if in prayer, and introduced himself. We did the same and introduced ourselves back.

“You want to take a picture?” He looked at my camera and smiled wider.

I said I did and I took this shot. Then we all shook his hand and he motor scootered away.

“He came later today,” Vesta said.

“That’s cuz he upgraded,” Devon said. “What do you mean?” I said.

“He doesn’t have to peddle his bike anymore, so he goes faster. That means he can sleep in.” Devon said. “Not like me. I don’t get to sleep in.”

“Yeah, but think of all the interesting people you get to meet every morning.”

“Like Sikhs on motor scooters,” Devon said.

“Yeah, Like that.”

Day 63, The Mancast Guys.

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Here are Kevin and Jon, The Mancast NV guys. They do youtube videos which are funny as all get out. Plus, they do stuff for good causes and good reasons. So if you get a chance, check ‘em out on YouTube.

I especially liked the one where the Whiskey Sirens teach them how to tassel.

And speaking of tasseling, if you’re into that sort of thing, it turns out the Mistress of the Dark is also the Mistress of the Tassel. You can google it and find Elvira really making ‘em twirl.

And Reno’s own Whisky Sirens can really make ‘em twirl too. So if you get a chance to catch their act, you should. I know Vesta and I are going to, so maybe we’ll see you there the next time they perform.

And, if you find yourself with nothing to do at 5:30 in the morning, come on out to the Sierra Street Bridge. Vesta and I will be there, cameras slung over our shoulders, waiting to meet you and photograph you and we’ll even friend you on Facebook, cuz we’re friendly people.

Day 62, Victoria.

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Here is Victoria out on the Sierra Street Bridge at 5:30 in the morning. She told us she sees us every morning as we walk past the place where she does her early morning Yoga and I suppose she was curious about us.

She also teaches, wait, not teaches, but guides people as they learn meditation.

I was going to process her photo in black and white, cuz I really like black and white by natural light, but some people’s personalities just scream color and though Victoria speaks softly and she moves with grace, her personality shouts out louder than most, color, color, color, so color it is.

And now a short word about these By the Dawn’s Early Light photos I’m doing. I had planed on being out on the Virginia Street Bridge every morning for a year. But they took my bridge away. Then we moved on over to the Sierra Street Bridge. Then we tried downtown. And now we’re back on Sierra Street.

But I’m going to be running into a bit of a snag. We’re wedding photographers, but that hasn’t stopped us so far. It just means on a wedding day, we work a bit longer. But we have one at Wente Vineyards in Livermore coming up and that’s three hours away and we’re gonna be there for a couple days.

Then we’re going to shoot down to Huntington Beach for a couple days, cuz we gotta work or we don’t get paid and if we don’t get paid, we can’t eat and if we can’t eat, we die.

Also, next weekend, Vesta, Devon and I are gonna be on the road for three days as well, visiting Tiffany and touring off in the Great Northwest.

So how do I keep magic going. Do I shoot some people in advance and post them on the days we’re gone. Or do I find someone where we are at 5:30 in the morning. Or do I skip the days we’re gone.

I think I’m voting for shooting faces on the road, cuz I hate to miss a post. And there just is something exciting about meeting a new person every morning.

Day 61, Mimi.

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This is Mimi, out under the Reno Sign in the Dawn’s Early Light.

So we got something going on lightwise that I don’t know if I like quite yet and that’s the sorta pinkish glow coming off the sign.

With the sunrise in the background, it kinda works, maybe. We’re going to have to think about if we wanna stay here or go back to the river, where we have only natural light.

I suppose, if I keep developing these photographs in black and white, it wouldn’t make any difference, but you know, even though it’s harder to find someone to photograph by the river, I think I like it better.

There’s just something about the rushing water in the early morning, even if the river is so bloody low.

Anyway, after we took this photo, we walked Mimi back to her car then we went to Cal Neva for breakfast. We all had something that came with two eggs and we all ordered them over easy and both Vesta and Devon dumped theirs onto my plate.

So I had six eggs, biscuits and gravy and pancakes for breakfast. I’ve never eaten six eggs in one go before and you know what? I’m never gonna do it again.

In fact, I think I just developed an egg allergy.

Day 60, Nate.

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This is Nate, who lives in Reno and Vesta, Devon and I caught him wearing a giant smile out by the Reno sign this morning.

But just before I clicked the shutter, he went all movie star on me. And not once, but four times. It’s like he’s got an instinct for when a photographer’s gonna do it. I mean, he was wearing that smile every second we were with him, till the shutter clicked, then this, the classic, good looking guy, move star pose.

As for why we were at the Reno sign and not the Sierra Street Bridge. Well, we started out at the bridge, but as people approached, they’d move to the other side of the street. Or else they just approached the bridge from over there.

It’s like we had lice or ebola. “I think the word’s gotten out,” Vesta said, “and the people who don’t want their picture taken are avoiding us.”

“Or they don’t like us,” Devon said.

“Oh, everybody likes us, Devon.” I said. “We’re very likable people.”

“Then how come they’re on the other side?”

“Did you take a shower this morning?” I said. “That could explain it.”

But I could joke about it all I wanted, the fact still was, we stayed out there for a half hour and no bodies on our side of the road, except for people we’d already photographed.

So, we decided to take our show on over to the Reno sign. Lots more people there. And on our way there, me met Nate.

Day 59, George.

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This is George, who fishes the Truckee River on an almost daily basis. Oftentimes, he can be found in the early morning, fishing next to Pappy.

They usually fish in front of the movie theater, but most people don’t get to see them, cuz they’re gone by 9:00 or so. Either fishing somewhere else on the river or on their way home with their catch.

George told me he’s learned a lot by fishing with Pappy. He said he used to have anger issues, but Pappy taught him patience.

“If you’re patient, your anger just fades away,” he told me. “Plus, more opportunities open up for you that will make you’re life better.”

“I can’t disagree with that,” I and I couldn’t, cuz he was right.

Day 58, Alex.

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This is Alex. Vesta, Devon and I met him out on the Sierra Street Bridge, just as the sun was coming up. He was walking like a guy who had nothing on his mind but happy. His five o’clock shadow said he wasn’t on his way to work. And his flip flops said he wasn’t out for an early morning walk.

When I asked, could I take his picture, he was more than happy to oblige and I took this shot.

Then I asked what he was doing out, cuz I’m naturally curious.

“Just left my girlfriend’s.”

“Ah,” I said and that explained the smile, the attitude, the lack of a shave and the flip flops.

“It looks like it’s gonna be a great day,” he said and we agreed.

It’s gonna be a great day for us, this I know, cuz we’re gonna buy "Live Die Repeat:Edge of Tomorrow," starring Tom Cruise in a couple hours, make snacks and watch it on the computer, cuz Devon’s been dying to see it and since he’s a kid on summer vacation, he should get his wish once in a while. And we get a nice break from work, to boot.

And obviously, it started out better than great for Alex. Yeah, that’s more than obvious.

I hope it’s a great day for you too.

Day 57, Ken, Megan and Baxter.

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Here are Ken, Megan and Baxter, who were walking on the bridge as Vesta, Devon and I showed up at 5:25 this morning.

Baxter is looking at me and licking his chops and I’m thinking he knows I have not been able to hold anything down for the last three days, so he might be thinking I’m kinda weak. But,I’m better now and I woke up hungry.

Very hungry.

Hungry enough to eat him.

After these nice people said good by, we saw Pappy, who has fished this river every day for the last forty years, on the other side of the street throwing his line into the water, so we went over and talked a bit.

He told me how broken hearted he is about how low the river is and because it’s so hot now and the river is so shallow that the bigger fish can actually get cooked right in the river, so they go to the deep holes to try and stay cool.

And then he told us about the dirty, rotten scoundrels, who know that and net them, then take off. Cuz netting them is against the law.

If Pappy had his way, he’d be bringing a noose along with him in the mornings.

Then he smiled and showed us his brand new Stetson. “A friend found it in the river,” he said, “and lucky for me he wasn’t a hat guy.”

With that hat, he’d look like the Wrath of God if he showed up with a noose for those slimy eating netters and I told him so.

And he just smiled.

Day 56, Jim.

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This is Jim, who Vesta, Devon and I met out on the Sierra Street Bridge at 5:30 this morning, as he was on his way home from Starbucks, where he has coffee every morning.

He was happy to let me take his picture and afterward I asked him how he likes the new Starbucks, cuz I hate it. Vesta and I used to go to the one they closed just two blocks south on Virginia everyday. It was comfy and cozy and a great place to meet people.

The new one has a drive thru, looks like it was imported from Geneva, has sterile chairs and tables and it just plain sucks.

“I didn’t like it at first,” Jim said, “so I started taking my business to the one on Fifth, but it’s a little farther to walk. I wrote a letter to their CEO and told him why I didn’t like it, but he never got back to me.”

“So why do you go to the new one now?” I wanted to know.

“Because they have a clover press.”

“What’s that?” Devon said.

“It’s an eleven thousand dollar coffee making machine that can brew up coffee from all over the world.” He smiled. “They only have three of these machines in Reno. It makes perfect coffee.”

“How much for a cup,” Vesta said.

“Only four bucks. It sorta makes going there worth it for me.”

“I’ll check it out on our way home,” I said.

And on the way home, I went in, while Vesta and Devon waited at one of their outside tables. I knew there was nothing in there I was gonna like. But I was wrong. A friendly guy inside showed me the clover press and explained how it works. Then he showed me the array of foreign coffees they had.

And I felt the hook.

Day 55, Megan, Dan and Jeremy.

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Here are Megan, Dan and Jeremy. They are Truckeeites. I don’t know if that’s a word, Truckeeites, but as you can probably guess, it means they’re from Truckee. And they’re in Reno, cuz it’s a fun place.

They wanted me to say that, “They are new roommates and that they are not usually like this.” Well, I don’t know what they’re usually like, but guys, if you’re reading this, you might want to consider being usually like you were this morning, cuz you were great.

These three were friendly, engaging, got on great with Devon and were just fun to be around. And I think we need a lot more of that in this world, people who are fun to be around.

I mean, let’s face it, there are downer people out there, we all know some. Actually, I think all downer people are closet serial killers and Vesta and I try not to let ‘em into our lives and if somehow, one does sneak in, we work like the devil to get ’em out, cuz we don’t wanna get killed in our sleep.

Day 54, Christine and Jennifer.

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This is Christine and Jennifer, who were out by the Dawn’s Early Light this morning. I don’t know anything about them, other than their names, because I am very sick right now. Vesta is too.

We drove out, cuz we didn’t have the energy to walk.

It seems we were poisoned by the marinated flat iron steak and the cream cheese salsa Trader Joe’s had on sample yesterday.

After we tried it—and it was delicious, by the way—we finished our shopping. Then we went to Becky and John’s wedding rehearsal at Our Lady of the Snows, as we’re shooting their wedding there today.

After that we went to the Day of Decision, Marriage Equality Rally at the Reno Court house.

Then we came home and about an hour later, Vesta vomited. Then me. Five times each we tossed our cookies during the night. I hadn’t had anything to eat all day, except scrambled eggs and toast in the morning. The rest of the day, I only drank water, cuz we were too busy to eat.

Vesta didn’t even have eggs, like me and Devon. She only had toast. So the only thing we had in common was that Trader Joe’s free sample. Devon had it too, but he’d eaten a lot during the day, cuz he’s a kid and they always find time for food, so we’re thinking all that yogurt (his new craze) must have buffered him from the bad food.

We have a long day today and we’re both very weak. All we want to do is curl up and sleep. But we can’t, Becky and John paid us a lotta money. So somehow, I don’t how, we’re gonna pull this off.

And to make matters worse, it’s gonna be a hundred and five today.

Oh yeah, even if you’ve only got mostly H20 in your belly, you can vomited it up, again and again and again. Then the dry heaves come. It wasn’t very pretty at our house last night.

Oh Lord, I just wanna crash and die.

Day 53, Jim.

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This is Jim, who is in Reno to visit his grandson, who is in his last year at UNR. Jim’s from Southern California and he taught Psych at UNLV, but not any more, cuz he’s retired now. He says his main job these days is taking care of his grandchildren and that’s a good job, Vesta and I know that first hand.

Devon does too.

Well, Devon’s not taking care of his grandkids, cuz he’s only a kid himself, but he knows how much fun we have taking care of him.

Oh my, I just heard on the radio that this girl didn’t get her dad a father’s present, so at the last minute she bought him a scratch-off-lottery ticket, cuz she felt bad. Turns out that ticket turned dad into a millionaire.

I wonder if he’s gonna share the wealth with his daughter.

Tiffany, if you’re reading this and you buy me a winning lottery ticket, I’ll share. Really, I will.

Day 52, Bill and Crash.

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This is Bill and Crash, who used to be named Splash, but Bill changed his name, cuz, well cuz he crashes a lot. He’s a big dog and if he collides with something, I’m betting something loses.

We had a pretty eventful morning—Vesta, Devon and me—before we ran into Bill and Crash. As we were on our way, by the Dawn’s Early Light, to the Sierra Street Bridge, we heard a woman shouting.

And she wasn’t just shouting, like a normal person shouts. She was bellowing. She was a little incoherent, but we got the gist of what she was all about. She didn’t like government. She didn’t like cops. She didn’t like judges. And that last one kinda made sense, I suppose, if you were her, cuz she was doing her mad woman shouting from the court house steps.

Vesta and Devon thought maybe we should give crazy, shouting lady a wide birth, but I wanted to check her out, cuz she had a pair of lungs on her that would make Mick Jagger proud.

And when we got close, I was kinda surprised. I thought she’d be a loony bag lady, who hadn’t seen a bath or a shower in a couple years or so. But this girl was maybe thirty or thirty-five and she was hot. She had Farah Fawcett blonde hair. And if you don’t remember Farah, well, she had a lotta gorgeous hair.

And remember, I was talking about her Mick Jagger lungs, actually, looking at her, I’d change that to Dolly Parton lungs, cuz she was chesty just like Dolly.

And she didn’t look wacko, but she sure sounded wacko.

Anyway, we moved on and when we got to the bridge, we met this interesting as all heck guy in a Hawaiian shirt. I asked could I take his picture and he said no. But he talked to us for about fifteen minutes about everything under the sun, including Hillary, the bridge that was gone, how TV sucks, Donald Trump and what a fine and wonderful morning it was and how wonderful it was to be alive.

After we were pals, I told him about our project and again I asked, could I take his picture and again he said no. Then he shook all our hands and left. We decided he must’ve been on the lam. It’s the only thing that made sense, cuz if that wasn’t it, he’d’ve let us nice people take his photo.

Than along came Bill and Crash. They were in a hurry, but they gave us a few seconds to make this picture.

And then we headed home.

We can take several different ways back and we’re always looking for new routes, cuz we like to explore and see what’s up and who’s about so early in the day, but today we decided to go back the way we came, cuz we wanted to check out the hot, crazy lady with the Farrah Fawcett hair and the Dolly Parton breasts.

“I hope she leaves before the court people come to work,” Devon said.

“Me too,” I said, “cuz if she doesn’t, I’m guessing they got a room in there for her.”

“Yeah,” Devon said, “And I bet it’s got bars on it.”

We heard her before we saw her. She was still on the steps, but now she was ranting and moaning without words and there was fire in her eyes as we walked past.

“That’s amazing,” Devon said. “She’s speaking Wookie.”

“That would explain the hair,” Vesta said.

Day 51, Lola.

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This is Lola, who stopped by to take a photo of the place where the Virginia Street Bridge used to be. She parked at the end of the Sierra Street Bridge, hopped out of her car, held her phone up and took a picture just as I said, “Can I take your picture?”

She turned to me, smiled and said, “Sure.”

And I did.

Then I asked her, her name and she told me, and I sang low, “Lola, L O L A, Lola. She walks like a woman, but she talks like a man.” I stopped, said, “I bet you’ve heard that before.”

She said she had. Then she said she’s been seeing us out on the bridge every morning and I told her about our project and that I’d be putting her up on Facebook today.

Vesta asked her what she did for a living and she said said she was a seamstress, but that she’d just opened up her own business.

“What kind of business? Devon wanted to know. “Equine Massage?” she said.

“What’s that?” Devon said.

“I massage horses.” She smiled again and I took a couple more photos, including one of her taking a picture of the bridge that is no more with her iPhone.

Then we shook hands, she got in her car and was gone.

Too bad you weren’t wearing your new jacket.” Devon poked me. “You know, so you could have given her some of that hay for the horses she massages.”

“Smart ass.” I turned to swat him, but he jumped back, laughing.

About that hay, yesterday we were at the Goodwill and I spied this Levi jacket. I didn’t need it, I have plenty of jackets, but I tried it on anyway. And once it was on, I put my hand in the pockets and discovered the right one was stuffed full of marijuana. Yep, the good old Devil’s weed.

“Look at this!” I showed Vesta and Devon. “Looks like I scored.” And I bought the jacket for a cool five dollars and eighty-eight cents.

But out in the car, Devon took the jacket out of the bag, checked out the pocket and laughed and laughed and laughed. “It’s just hay.” Then he laughed some more.

“Hay?” I said.

“Actually,” Vesta said. “I knew it all along.”

“Me too,” Devon said.

“I just wanted to see if you were gonna go home and smoke it.” Vesta smiled.

“That woulda been something.” Devon laughed.

“I wasn’t getting if for me.” I laughed too. “I was getting it for YeVonne.”

“Sure you were,“ Devon said. “Besides, I don’t think she wants to smoke hay.”

Day 50, Gary.

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This is Gary, who fishes the river. We see him out by the Dawn’s Early Light most mornings. He can barely walk and he leans heavily on his cane when he does. And because of that, it takes him a couple trips to get his fishing gear from his car to his fishing spot, about thirty feet from where he parks on the bridge.

I asked if he knew George, who’d been fishing the river for forty years and he said George was his neighbor and that he’d been fishing the Truckee for longer than that.

“Do you catch a lot of fish here?” Devon said.

“I caught two hundred and eighty last year and I’ll beat that this year.”

“What kind?” Vesta said.

“Mostly trout and almost all over five pounds.”

“ Wow,” was all I could think of saying. These fishermen, they got a hobby that feeds them and feeds them well.

Vesta and I have spent a lot of time around fishermen and you gotta respect them. When we lived on a sailboat, we had fishing gear, but Vesta doesn’t like taking the skin off or the guts out, so we mostly traded cigarettes or rum for fish and we learned from three guys we met, that you could have the fishermen fillet the fish for you too.

If you were nice and we were nice.

We used to spend a lot of time back then, anchored off the Five Mile Island group, which are five really small islands about a mile and a half of the Western Coast of Trinidad in the Gulf of Paria.

One day, I was about to go down below to freshen my drink when Vesta pointed out a pirogue—which is a tiny boat with an outboard not much bigger than a canoe—headed our way.

They pulled up alongside. Three East Indian guys, all in their mid-thirties. They introduced themselves as Gopey, Mopey and Dominique, but Vesta and I referred to them from then after as Gopey, Mopey and Dopey, much to Dominique’s chagrin.

“Hey, Skip (every guy on a sailboat is called Skip by the locals), you wanna buy some fish?” Gopey said.

“No, but I’ll trade you a bottle of Venezuelan rum.”

“For that we’ll filet it,” he said.

“And sprinkle it with lemon,, if you have a lemon.” Dopey said.

“The deal done, they filleted the fish and Vesta went below and got them a bottle of our best eighty cent South American rum. They said if we threw in some Coke, they’d share their new bottle. We agreed and wound up tossing a second bottle into the bargain just before they motored away.

The next evening, they were back. Again we talked and drank. I told them I was a writer and that someday I’d like to go out with them and see what their workday was like and write about it. "Maybe I could use it as background for a story," I said.

That’s a fine idea,” Dopey said, “we’ll have to do that sometime.” And they were back every night around sundown for three or four weeks.

Then one night, we were jarred awake by a loud pounding on the hull.

Earthquake, fire, hurricane, what?

“Someone’s outside,” Vesta said.

“What time is it?”

“Midnight. Go see who it is!”

And it was our three friends and they were obviously feeling no pain. No DUI cops on the water, though.

“Morning, Skip,” Gopey said when I got on deck.

“No, it’s not,” I said.

“Come on, get dressed,” Mopey said.

“Time’s a wasting,” Dopey said.

“What are you taking about?” I said.

“You said you wanted to see what it was like going out with us, so you can write about it. Well, we’re gonna take you.”

“It’s the middle of the night.”

“So?” Dopey said.

“Where we going?” I said.

“Tobago,” Mopey said.

“Tobago,” I repeated.

Somehow, going out in the big ocean, to an island twenty or thirty miles away, in a small boat in the middle of the night, with three inebriated castoffs from a Snow White movie wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind when I said I like to go out with them for some background for a story.

“Yeah, Tobago,” Dopey said. “Fishing is supposed to be good there right now.” Though, how he knew, I hadn’t a clue.

“Where do you go to the bathroom in that thing?” I said, surprised the thought had never occurred to me before.

“You saying you don’t wanna go?” Mopey said.

Then all three of them stood up, curled their fingers, tucked them into their armpits and started flapping their elbows like drunken birds. “Pluck, pluck, pluckaty “pluck,” they sang out.

“I’m not chicken,” I said. “I’ll go get dressed.”

“No you won’t!” Vesta said.

“I wanna go,” I said. “Really.” But I didn’t wanna go, not really, I’m not stupid. But I didn’t wanna look like a big fat chicken either. “We understand, Skip,” Dopey said. “The wife says you gotta stay, you gotta stay. So how about you break out a bottle of rum and we’ll have a couple glasses instead.” He smiled wider then any fisherman should be allowed to.

Vesta went below and got a bottle of rum, a bottle of coke, five glasses and some ice too.

Maybe Dopey wasn’t so Dopey after all.

Day 49, Bob.

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This is Bob. He just got to Reno in his big rig and he brought a couple pieces of gigantic tubing from Redding, which are apparently going into the river. Vesta, Devon and I met him just as he shut his engine off in front of where the Virginia Street Bridge used to be.

He climbed out of his cab, smiling at us as I was taking a picture of his truck. “Can I take a shot of you?”

“Sure,” he said and I told him about my project.

“So what’s your real job?” he said.

“We’re wedding photographers,” Vesta said.

“Well, I’m not getting married anytime soon, so I don’t guess I’ll be needing your services.” Then he went on to tell us that he owns his truck, but he’s only had this one for six months, cuz his last one burnt up. “An unfortunate electrical short,” he said.

“Were you in it?” Devon said.

“Fortunately, no.”

“I read the other day that truckers who own their rigs, barely make any more than the one’s who don’t,” I said.

“That’s true,” he said. “But they don’t have Wilma.”


“She does my bookings and no one beats her price down. We get top dollar,” he said. Then he added that Wilma was his best friend’s wife, but that he’d been living with her for the last thirty-nine years. And he and her husband are still best friends. “They stayed married for tax reasons.” he said.

“How far do you drive in a day?” Devon said.

“Not far, I gotta be home every night.” He laughed. “I like my own bed.” He winked. “Hey, you know, Wilma and her friend Tammy, have a business called ‘Tents and Events’.”

“I bet they do weddings,” Vesta said.

“They do and you know what? They often recommend photographers?”

“We travel,” I said.

“Well, if you don’t mind driving to Redding and if you have a card, I’ll give it to Tammy. She takes care of that part of the business. And I handed him my card.

And that is why a photographer should never, never ever leave home without a card in his pocket.

PS. And this is Bob’s truck, out where the Virginia Street Bridge used to be.

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