Welcome to On Location - a new series on The Mill focusing on the behind-the-scenes happenings at Blue Owl Workshop. In our first entry, we document the process behind our Summer cover series, and our trek to the fabled Ancient Lakes of Quincy, WA.
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July 27, 2016 / I-90E towards Snoqualmie
It’s the day of the shoot. The bags are packed, the shop is closed. Early mornings are easy when there’s adventure on the horizon. We hit the road by 7AM, doing our best to weave in and out of early morning traffic as we make our way out of the city. As we drive east, we’re treated to the bevy of landscapes Washington has to offer. In the spirit of adventure, we take a quick detour down one of our favorite forest service roads through the Snoqualmie National Forest - the same location we shot our “Guide to Surviving Snow” in. After a heavy dose of crisp morning air, we make our way back onto the road we’ll call home for the next 3 hours. Upon exiting the forest, our view of mountains and trees is replaced by staple central Washington plains, until we’re surrounded by a mixture of wheat farms, Trump signs, and the signature Yakima Valley hops. It’s safe to say we’re not in Seattle anymore.
We arrive to the town of George, WA - a small farming town with a population of just over 500. It’s about what you’d expect from a town who’s claim to fame is the only town in the United States to bear the full name of a US President. A gas station, a post office, a diner and a tavern - the latter of which promising to serve the coldest drinks this side of the mountains. We head down the aptly named “Road 1,” avoiding potholes and boulders until we’re met with the entrance to our journey. The road is bleak. The dirt, rocks, and shell casings are a far cry from the typical scenery found on a #PNW Instagram account. With temperatures in the triple digits, we lather up the SPF70, grab our bags, and start our 4.7 mile trek towards the Ancient Lakes - the location of our August photo series.
Formed over 13,000 years ago, the Ancient Lakes were once submerged underwater thanks to floods from the last glacial period. Today, the location serves as one of central Washington’s best hikes, featuring intimidating basalt cliffs and a seemingly never-ending horizon. As we make our way along remnants of the path, we’re greeted by rock formations and ponds that set the stage for the larger vistas further down the trail. Slowly but surely, we make our way towards the horizon, occasionally catching a glimpse of the massive crater we’re marching towards. While the hike is mostly flat, it’s certainly one worthy of a good backpack, lots of water, and a strong pair of boots. As we reach the end of cliffs, we’re met with our first glimpse of the turquoise blue oasis of the Ancient Lakes. Upon our descent to the lake we’re surprised with surrounding waterfalls and flowers, a very welcome sight after hours of red rock. Without hesitation, we hit the inviting water of Dusty Lake - the largest of the Ancient Lakes. After a swim and some much needed rest, we make our way back onto the trail and start the long trek home.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to central Washington without a stop at some of the local gems along the way - including the breathtaking Columbia River viewpoints in Vantage, WA. It was here that Alex, our Showroom Manager, fully realized the magnitude of his Left Hand Twill Overalls Challenge accomplishment. After some well-deserved reflection, we made our way back to the college town of Ellensburg. In dire need of food, we hit the all-American classic Rossow’s U-Tote-Em - a beloved drive-in famous for their 1950s aesthetic and menu, complete with a ready-made GALLON of potato salad. As tempting as mayonnaise, eggs, and relish sounded on a 100 degree day, the team elected to go with the American classic deluxe cheeseburgers and milkshakes. It’s here that we shot images for the Naked & Famous Fall 2016 collection. After shaking off our collective food coma, we make one final stop at the famous Thorp Fruit & Antique Mall - a massive three-story building filled with local produce and trinkets from all across the world. Authentic World War II uniforms, vintage jukeboxes, sealed Mountain Dew from 1984, and a collection of comic books rivaling Stan Lee’s personal archives were only the beginning of the wares found at Thorp. After digging through piles of silverware, we were lucky enough to spot a number of vintage postal service crates you may have seen in recent photo spreads. With crates, produce, and saltwater taffy in hand, we grab one last coffee and hit I-90W towards Seattle.
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The following are a collection of behind-the-scenes photos taken with disposable cameras.