Coffee & Crema was a little hole in the wall in a building in Greenville, South Carolina

I had an espresso there before they closed.  It was a little hole in the wall at the entrance of a building in downtown Greenville on Main St.

coffee and crema greenville sc

I wonder why they closed – they had another location in a mall that they closed a number of months earlier.

coffee and crema greenville sc

According to GreenvilleOnline, they closed because of the weather and additional competition.  It’s a bit of a sad end for a place that “helped create a true coffee culture in Greenville”, but former owner Shannon Hudgens leaves a glimmer of hope: “I may not come back as Coffee & Crema in the same form that people are used to, but it doesn’t mean that I’m dead either.”

Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert

Visiting the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park was one of the most profoundly beautiful experiences of my life, and especially so because I didn’t have big expectations for the park.  Lower Antelope Canyon was amazing, but I had seen many pictures before, so I expected it to be amazing.  I didn’t have any for the Petrified Forest or Painted Desert.

This was despite what I’d heard growing up at home – my Dad talked about the place a lot.  He had gone on a trip in the Southwest with coworkers more than 20 years ago.. but he went to Arches National Park.  I remember that he purchased the VHS tape from the gift shop and had us watch it a few times after he got back.  Over the years, he talked about the Petrified Forest it enough that somehow I got the impression that he’d been there before.  But it wasn’t until we went on the trip that I found out that he had never been.

It was mid-afternoon when we arrived, and it was still hot.  Like in the mid-90s maybe.  But luckily, it was also pretty breezy, which made the heat more tolerable.

We pulled up to a fairly empty visitors center.  We learned that the painted desert was named by an expedition of Spanish explorers who called it “El Desierto Pintado.”

One could see for miles and miles, and the hills were full of different colors.  We picked up a map from the NPS and started driving to the different scenic viewpoints.  You enter along Route 66, and can drive about 25 miles south through the park along the designated road.  We stopped for views at Kachina and Chinde point.

There’s a cool part of the park where you drive over Route 66 as you head south.  The landscape changes over a bit, revealing striated badlands with some pretty amazing topography that stands in stark contrast to the blue sky.


There is a short, paved and gravel hiking loop around the Blue Mesa area, where the hills are covered with a “bluish bentonite clay”.  Walking around there felt particularly … lunar to me.  There were only 2-4 other people in the entire area other than my dad and myself, which made it even easier to imagine that you were on the surface of a different world.


This is where I was first able to see the petrified wood of the national park up close.  Little pieces were littered across the flat areas, as if the trunks had rolled down the hills and shattered.  It’s interesting to think about the unique circumstances that cause wood to become petrified.  There had to have been a forest here so many years ago.  It’s hard enough to imagine the area covered in a dense forest.  Then the area needs to be covered with silt and volcanic ash and cut off from oxygen by some large-scale event.  Then groundwater would seep in to allow the silica to diffuse into the wood.  And then, through lifetimes of erosion, the logs are finally revealed.


It was getting to the late afternoon as we continued along the drive.  The Agate Bridge (not pictured) is a well preserved log that formed a bridge across a small ravine.  In 1911, supports were added underneath to prevent it from falling apart.  The National Park Service has adopted a different philosophy now; today, the bridge would be allowed to continue to crumble and left in its natural state.

As we headed further south, we ventured into areas of the park that had bigger and bigger logs.  We walked a loop through the Crystal Forest and enjoyed a silty-white landscape littered with logs and an expansive sky that was deep blue and orange because of the setting sun.  I feel the need to reiterate how profoundly beautiful this experience was.  The air was still warm, there was a strong breeze flowing, the sun was low in the sky and getting lower.  The ground was white and littered with petrified logs and chunks thereof.  You could see for miles and miles in each direction.  And there was nobody else around other than my Dad and I.

Walking along the loop, we could get a close-up look at the petrified logs.


As the sun set further, the whitish logs became a deep golden color.



This scene was particularly beautiful and amusing to me.  It reminded me of those idyllic scenes with a tractor and hay bales – except the bales in this case were petrified logs weighing hundreds of pounds.


Somehow, impossibly, the scenes continued to get better.  The sun continued to set, and the sky lit up with pink, wispy clouds, and the landscape lost its long, harsh shadows.


We pulled over to the side of the road where two other cars and groups of people stood to catch the sunset.  We watched this one cloud hover and change for a long time.




On the way out of the park, we passed by a few touristy gift shops that were selling petrified wood.  They were closed due to the time of the day.

We got dinner at a steakhouse in Holbrook, Arizona.  When’s the last time I ate from a salad bar like this?


After dinner, we headed west on 40 to our next destination: Flagstaff.


left coast right coast: week 11


Left coast / Right coast is a photo collaboration between Phil in California and Dave in Maryland.

donner lake moss

We took a road trip to Truckee to visit friends and spend some time in the snow.  We did a short walk by Donner Lake where we encountered this tree covered with snow and bright green moss.


This is a still from a video I took of me playing tennis.  I like the colors and that it was a warm day in February.


Coffee at Betterday in Santa Fe and then a trip to Albuquerque

I had only one chance to get coffee the morning we left Santa Fe.   I narrowed my choices to The Betterday Coffee Shop or Iconik and opted to go with Betterday.

Interestingly, according to yelp, their rating has been dropping since 2014, sadly.  I wonder what happened?  Digging through the reviews, it seems that more people have been unhappy with their customer service.  It had a neighborhood vibe when I was there, and I didn’t have any problems.  But this was back in June, 2014.

The decor at Betterday was a mix of wood and old rustic highway signs:


.. with a couple of bicycle frames hanging from the wall.


They do indeed serve Stumptown, and my espresso was fine.


We didn’t stay too long, because the rest of the day’s itinerary required us to stop in Albuquerque, Petrified Forest, and then end in Flagstaff.

It was really hot that day in Albuquerque.  We didn’t explore as much as I’d like since it was such a short stop, but we checked out the historic old town plaza and its shops.  We saw some really neat images in one of the photo galleries, which seemed to be run sort of as a co-op.  I stopped in the San Felipe de Neri Parish for a moment to see the interior:



and then ended up eating a quick lunch at the Albuquerque Museum.

Then we drove for a while along the train tracks and ended up taking a break in Gallup, NM.  It was a fun stop. My dad really really wanted to stop on Route 66.  We checked out the Rex Museum and talked at length to the guy working there, who wore a bright neon orange shirt, striped tie, black vest, and cowboy hat.  It was full of items from Gallup’s history, including these city directories dating back to about 1923.


we didn’t stay too long though, because we still needed to visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park and then make it to Flagstaff at a decent hour.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe with my Dad – we arrived in the afternoon but luckily it was the time of the year when the days were long.  Our hotel was a little south of downtown, so we drove a few miles north and found parking near Santa Fe Plaza.   We didn’t have anywhere specific to go, so we just wandered around.  We walked by plenty of little shops and art galleries, and poked our heads into some of them.

We walked by the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi:


and a whole bunch of other art galleries.  We walked by the (closed) Georgia O’Keefe museum and my dad admired the adobe architecture.

I didn’t get any coffee partly because it was getting later in the day, and partly because Holy Spirit was closed:


We wandered down to the State Capitol building.  It was impressive and round.


And eventually made our way to Santa Fe Railyard Park to see some greenery.


There was a Railyard Piano project installation, and we checked out a few of the pianos.  I tried playing one, but it was in pretty bad shape.  Nicely colored, though.

santa fe

For dinner, we got some Green Chile at Tomasita’s, as recommended by a friend.  My dad’s first time.  He said it was “fine”.


Visiting Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah

monument valley

We stopped through Kayenta, Arizona, to refuel on our way up to Monument Valley.  We got gasoline at a gravely station and we used the bathroom at a hotel.

kayenta az

kayenta az

And stopped into the grocery store, Bashas’, to get some snacks for the road.  Somehow, we ended up talking to a woman in line for a long time – I had written a note to self, a year and a half ago, when I was drafting this blog post, to write about that little anecdote.  But now, too much time has passed and I just don’t remember.  I recall speaking to her for a while near the checkout.  She lived fairly far away but this was the closest supermarket.  There were some family issues that I cannot remember.  Something about her husband who had a work-related disability?


I do still remember pondering her situation of living so far away from a grocery store.  It was a 45 minute, maybe an hour drive?  And it was the type of store with their own store-brand Bashas’ soda machine outside and walls made of identical cans of Golden Sweet Whole Kernel Corn.  What a different way of life compared to our complaint-worthy 15-minute walk from the nearest grocery store here.

Once on the road again to Monument valley, we stopped by a little dreamcatcher stand on the side of highway 163.  It was hot, and dreamcatchers shifted in the breeze.  Other little items of jewelry rested on the table.


It was a quiet stand. The whole time we were there, only two other people stopped by.  There were other cars in the lot, but they appeared to below to the people who staffed the stands.  I wonder how many people stop by over the course of a day?

The turn onto Monument Valley is pretty easy to spot.  Just a right turn off of 163.  We parked in the parking lot of The View hotel, looked through the gift shop/trading post.  I peeked my head into the restaurant.  There’s a lot of nice seating outside of the restaurant and a large viewing area.  The hotel rooms looked like they suited they suited the hotel’s namesake.  What a sight to look out to.

monument valley

We wanted to get a move on and drive the Monument Valley loop before the sun went down, so we decided to come back and check out the rest of the hotel later.

It’s a pretty mellow drive.  Some parts are quite sandy, so be aware of that.  Our car nearly got stuck a few times, and then actually did get stuck about 2/3 of the way through the loop.  After a few minutes of amusement that turned to minor panic, a group of people who were stuck behind us helped give our car enough of a push to help us get out.

But before that, there are plenty of mesas and sand to look at.  The main driving loop surrounds Rain God Mesa, and there are a number of points on the map where you can stop.  We stopped at all of them.  One stop had a pink food truck:

monument valley

That stop was probably John Ford’s Point.  Also there is a cowboy and a horse stationed for a photo-op.  It looked hot and uncomfortable to spend much time out there in full garb.  But it does make for quite a scene.

It was great driving around the mesas and buttes, but honestly, I think the best view is from the hotel.  I think the North Window Overlook was my favorite part of the loop.

We returned to the hotel, and sat outside in the shade to watch the sun set.

I noticed this carved into the wall of the viewing area.  I don’t know what it means.  But I can see the attempted “translation”: “I like Chow Miene”.  I don’t think that is what it says.


monument valley

While we watched the sunset, we ate our snacks and ate some dinner from the restaurant.  The combination of wide open space and tall rock formations makes for looooooooooooooooong shadows.

monument valley

It was incredibly peaceful to watch the mittens despite being surrounded by a number of other people.  Some were chatting with one another, there were a fair number of kids, and there were also a bunch of photographers, with and without tripods, taking photos of the unfolding sunset.  Some kids even had brought a football to toss around.

monument valley monument valley monument valley

It was such a profoundly peaceful and beautiful place.  It felt uncomfortable to be there in the harsh afternoon heat and direct sun, but at the same time, you could look around and be in awe of the vast expanse surrounding you.  I had hyped it up to myself a lot, and it was a strange combination of being underwhelming (I had wished for more clouds?) and more beautiful than I expected all at once.


Hasselblad prism finder disassembly

I tried taking apart the NC-2 prism finder for my Hasselblad 500c. It’s dark and covered with fungus or haze, and I wanted to clean it.


I was ultimately unsuccessful, but if anyone else is attempting this, I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far so that you are not starting from scratch.  You can learn from my mistakes and hopefully help me figure out if it’s possible to get in there and clean it.


Here’s what I found:

  • 2 screws on eyecup side (IMPORTANT!)
  • 2 screws on the opposite side (front of camera, probably not as important)
  • A ton of screws on the bottom, 8, I think?
  • 2 screws under the leatherette (VERY IMPORTANT)

Getting the prism out

The front of the viewfinder is really only attached by 4 screws. Remove the bottom two under the eyecup.

I suspected that there were some under the leatherette (there are) but I didn’t want to peel it off. Not knowing any better, I removed all other screws that I could find.  This includes the 2 on the side opposite the eyecup and the 8 or so screws on the bottom.

The bottom

I don’t think it was necessary to remove the steel plate.  You need to be careful when disassembling, because there are 2 ball bearings and 2 springs that can pop out if you’re not careful once you remove the plate.

Back to the eyecup side

After I removed the bottom two screws on the eyecup side, I saw that a gap had opened, so I tried to pry the piece off.  There is a little bit of glue holding it in place and I figured that the top part had a tab to hold it in place.  It turns out there are 2 screws under the leatherette, and by mistake I sheared one of the screws while trying to pry the piece off.

If you’re trying to do what I did, just peel off the leatherette to get access to the two screws on top.  I had feared that the leatherette would fall apart, but it stayed completely intact.


Both the eyecup-piece and the rest of the finder had “x13” marked or etched by hand.  There are cork pieces to ensure a tight fit.


The prism appears to be marked “11.11.69”.  I didn’t take a photo, but the finder body appeared to be marked “17 Dez 1969” (or was it just “Dec”?)


Here’s a photo of the prism that was removed and the haze in all its glory:


I couldn’t get the prism apart.  The underside of the prism has 2 pieces of tape on the edges.  I removed the tape.  Then I tried to put a suction cup onto it and pull out that piece, but it didn’t budge.  I guess it’s glued in there pretty well?

As for the body..

I had also taken apart the 500C body a little while back because it was jammed and things didn’t appear to be moving the way they should.

I had a bit of help, luckily this guy appears to have successfully done the job.  His instructions are good, so I’ll just add my comments:

  • Definitely watch out for the Teflon lens piece behind the lens release button
  • That spiral torsion spring that closes the auxiliary shutter is REALLY HARD to put back in.  That thing still gives me nightmares.  And my fingertips hurt.
  • Watch out for the mirror pre-release button when you’re sliding the assembly back into the body shell.  You may need to lift up one of the brass levers before you push the assembly back in all the way.


Hasselblad 500c disassembly