Day 6 of our California coast road trip

Today was an early day for myself and my daughter/assistant, Kira. We had a 7:30 meeting with one of the guys who run the ECO farm. It had been raining all night and we were concerned about working in the rain but due to our tight schedule we pushed on through. (I’m glad we pack umbrellas in our photography equipment.) We had a tour of the garden and the farm in the rain. The rain slowed up for a bit so we took advantage of that and quickly got our photos of the gardens and composting system on the farm. It was cold, wet and heavily overcast which isn’t great for photography, but it ended up working out well. I was also fun learning about the plants and how they are doing research and to change how the land is handled to grow our food. I love to see the diverse things people do and how a lot of small businesses are innovative and pushing to make the world a better place. I love to work with people who are passionate about a cause. I also got a lot of good ideas I’d like to implement in my own gardening practices at home.

We were finished and back to the farmhouse in time to wake up the rest of the crew and get on the road…. it’s a long way home!


Day 5 of our California coast road trip

When I woke up this morning I could see why there were no curtains on the windows. The views were amazing! I laid in bed and watched the fog slowly lift from the valley floor, exposing a view of beautiful vineyards drenched with moisture and saturated with color. It was breathtaking. I had to share what I was seeing so I woke everyone up. From the farmhouse, we could only see one other house, a farmhouse nestled near the bottom of the hill that we were on. There was also a large pond near at the bottom of the hill. There is a road that runs up the middle of Potter Valley but there was very little traffic, making it feel quite isolated.


We had coffee at the house but drove to Ukiah for a late breakfast. We went to a local coffee shop that roasts its’ own beans. The coffee was good. I had a latte with no sweetener. The food selection was very limited but it was good also. We ate on the patio to get a sense of the local vibe.

After our late breakfast, we drove north to Redwood Valley. A week ago I called and arranged for us to have a Saturday wine tasting at Frey Vineyards. We have been drinking Frey wines for the past 15+ years. They are one of the very few vineyards that make their wines with no added sulfites, which is important to me because several people in my family have bad reactions to sulfites.


When we got there, Caroline met us for a leisurely tasting. We had a great time trying some of the wines from Frey that aren’t available at home. It was nice to have a chance to taste the organic and the biodynamic lines side by side. I learned a lot about how they grow and make their wines. As a hobby gardener myself, it was fun to see the vineyards and learn more about how they grow their grapes. We tasted a lot and bought a couple of cases to take home with us. I would definitely like to return to Frey again. It’s a small family owned and operated business. The people there were very friendly and hospitable. It was a highlight of the trip for me.

Day 4 of our California coast road trip

It was a downpour when I woke up. I couldn’t sleep in so I made coffee and watched the morning news until daylight. I decided to get ready before everyone else was up. Just as I finished the sun came out! It was beautiful! My daughter and I decided to walk a block south to a little bakery I’d seen in some of the travel blogs. The “Cinderella Bakery” is a german bakery. The shop was quaint and the food was amazing! I wanted to try one of everything. Kira chose one thing and I chose another so we could share. We ate on the patio (on the street). It was so relaxing, just sitting back and people watching. THIS was the real SanFrancisco! A real neighborhood…people going about their everyday lives…not some tourist attraction. My favorite things we did in San Francisco ended up being in the local neighborhood, the small local businesses, mom & pop owned places, that were “real”. I am so glad we stayed at a AirBnB! It was a totally different experience than we would have had in a hotel!


On our way north we stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge to get the typical tourist photos. The sun was shining and the fog lifted just enough to see the bridge, but it was short lived …by the time we drove around to the lighthouse point to view it from there the fog had rolled back in and we couldn’t see much.


We drove north to Muir woods and walked one of the main trails. It was beautiful, so green and moist, definitely a shock for us kids from the desert. From there we drove to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. We got there 10 minutes after it closed!!! We didn’t know it closed at 4:30! So darn frustrating…it was a long drive for nothing! We couldn’t even see the lighthouse through the fog!


We drove on up the coast and east to Ukiah for dinner, then drove another 20 minutes to the AirBnB we rented in Potter Valley. It was late when we got there so we couldn’t really see the surrounding area. The house was clean and nicely furnished. It was odd that there were no curtains or blinds on the windows, it kind of felt like we were in a fish bowl! We tried to figure out how to hang something up on our bedroom windows but couldn’t find anything so we decided we’d figure it out in the morning.

Day 3 of our California coast road trip

We got up early and it was already raining lightly. We weren’t surprised because the forecast said there would be rain for the rest of the trip. We had an early tour scheduled for Alcatraz Island so we got down to the docks just before daylight. The rain let up just as we found a parking spot. We went for a stroll and looked around while we waited for our tour. I was dying for a second cup of coffee but none of the shops in the area were opened yet.


The tour to Alcatraz was interesting. It was a cold, damp, dreary and depressing place. It was so odd to see all of these tourists smiling and laughing as they took selfies behind the bars and in the cells, in this place that was filled with such pain and negative energy. It seemed so wrong, it was unsettling, it definitely bothered me to be there. It was a relief to get out of the buildings for a breath of fresh air and explore the grounds and the views of the bay. The fog was lifting and we could just get a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge as we boarded the ferry for a ride back to the city.

We walked north to Fisherman’s Wharf where we had lunch. I can’t even remember what I had to eat but I do remember the Moscow Mules 😉 . After exploring the Fisherman’s Wharf and buying some souvenirs we walked to Ghirardelli Square to check it out. We sampled some chocolate which was pretty good. Next, we walked to Lombard Street. It was a hell of a workout! The road was so steep that my calves were burning after about a block…it was a darn long walk!!!! We watched the cars winding down Lombard Street for a couple of minutes then we walked down it looking for a good vantage point for pictures. I didn’t really like what I got. I needed a higher viewpoint but my feet were so tired I wasn’t about to go find it! Besides, that photo has been taken a million times and I don’t need a duplicate. 

From there we walked all the way down to China Town and then over the hill through the financial district back to the Pier where we parked this morning. It was a fun day but my feet were sooooo tired! We drove by the “Painted Ladies” on our way back to the AirBnB we rented. After we got back to the rental, I went down the street and got the stuff for Moscow Mules and kicked back and relaxed for awhile before dinner. For dinner, we walked a couple of blocks to a local Vietnamese place. The food was really good and inexpensive. The kids decided to go find some “nightlife” but my feet were telling me I was too old for that stuff …at least I am tonight… so my daughter and I went back to the rental to kick back and watch some tv.

Day 2 of our California coast road trip

We grabbed a quick breakfast at our hotel then headed to San Simeon this morning. We did one of the tours at Hearst Castle. It was fun to see the Hearst estate in real life. Unfortunately, the big outdoor pool was closed for construction. We had really hoped to see it. It was fun learning about the architecture and all of the unique building materials they used in its construction. Although it was late in the season, many plants were in bloom and the gardens were beautiful. By the time we were done with the tour it was afternoon so we stopped for lunch before we headed up the coast.

 

We spent the entire day driving up the coast. We stopped at countless scenic outlooks and took tons of photos. We went for a short hike to the waterfall in the Limekiln State Park. It was beautiful and misty in the redwood trees. I missed the turn off to one of the beaches I really wanted to see but otherwise, it was a great day. I will say that the “1” is a very curvy road so it was pretty slow going. I wouldn’t suggest this road for someone who gets motion sickness easily.


 

We arrived at our AirBnB in San Francisco at about 8:30 pm. Parking is a challenge in San Francisco! We had to double park while we unloaded and ended up parking a block away from our house. We walked a couple of blocks to a little Korean restaurant for dinner. The food was good and not too expensive. It rained lightly on us on the way back to the rental.

 

 

Day 1 of our road trip to California 

I’ve been busy catching up on everything since the trip so I didn’t find time to post this…I guess better late than never. 😉

I’ve always wanted to explore the coast via Interstate 1 and I finally got the chance. Our first stop on our trip was Santa Barbara, CA. We visited the Old Mission and the Santa Barbara county courthouse. The views from the top of the courthouse were amazing. Next, we went for a stroll out on the pier  and had fish & chips for lunch. It was delicious. Usually, I can only eat a few bites of fish and chips because they are so greasy, but these weren’t greasy at all and the fish was flaky and perfect.

Next, we drove about an hour and a half to Solvang, CA. It was originally settled by people from Denmark and Holland. It was basically a tourist trap, but it was fun walking down the cute little streets with the unique looking architecture. My daughter, Kira was determined to find a certain Danish pastry so we went to every bakery in Solvang and no one had it! She was very disappointed. We stopped and tried some wine in one of the tasting rooms and found a delicious red that was very affordable so we picked some up for dinner.

 

After that, we traveled on to Cambria, CA. We checked into a nice little motel on Moonstone beach and enjoyed the sunset and had a glass of wine our patio. After we were settled, we walked down the boardwalk to dinner at the Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill. It was my daughter, Shauna’s 21st birthday so we had a nice dinner to celebrate. The food was delicious. We walked back to our rooms and some of the crew went hot tubbing while I relaxed in my room, in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine….listening to the ocean waves ….. a perfect end to the first day of our trip.

Nothing is ever perfect….

I was talking to my daughter today . She was having a rough time because she had planned a fishing trip with her husband and little boys this past weekend and nothing went as planned. She was wondering if she’s ever going to have a good time “like we did when she was little”. I found myself repeating what my grandma had told me a long time ago.

In my teens, my grandma told me “Nothing is ever perfect, so make the best of what you’ve got”. As an all knowing 16 yr old, I rolled my eyes and thought I’d prove her wrong some day. My life, my career, my husband, my kids… It was all going to be perfect.

Years later I know she’s right. I’ve only had one moment in my life when I looked around myself and truly thought “this is perfect“. What’s ironic is that at the time I had absolutely no control of the situation. (I am kind of a control freak, I like to plan every little detail.) I had been hiking since before day break, had spent a couple of hours photographing the Subway, which I’d been dreaming about since I was a kid. I was tired, hungry and trying to stave off a headache. I was feeling old…It doesn’t help that I was about 20+ years older than everyone on the hike and not in great shape. My son had hiked back to prod me up the trail faster. Then I walk around the bend to see this:


Our friends on the hike had prepared a surprise for us! Three of them had hiked in early hauling over 200 lbs of equipment… Plus a full size picnic table! The table was next to the stream and a small waterfall. It was set with cloth tablecloths, cloth napkins, candles and glass dishes. It was amazing! Like a mirage …I couldn’t believe it was real. A complete sushi dinner!

When we sat down to eat we just looked at each other…everyone grinning from ear to ear… This moment was epic…I knew I would never experience anything like this again in my life. There was a quiet connection ..a unity…a shared feeling of complete gratitude. No one spoke a word, but we all felt it. Gratitude for each other, for the moment we were living in, for where we were and who we were. Senses were heightened, a clarity, a feeling of peace.  I’ve never felt this before.

The silence was broken with a bout of laughter.  For some it was the surprise, for others it was anticipation of seeing the surprised faces of their friends. There was relief and triumph of pulling this off without us finding out. The amazement, how could they have possibly carried all of this stuff this far down a trail that I could barely navigate with a 10 lb pack?

We had a delicious sushi dinner.  The hikers coming by all wanted to know what the special occasion was? Proposal? Anniversary? It had to be something big! It was actually my daughter’s birthday and the birthday of one of the guys who hauled it all in ….but it was just meant to be a surprise for friends, and it was.

So how was grandma right?

NO-THING is perfect. (Moments, however fleeting…are!)

To others it might not have been viewed as perfect. If we thought about the 2+ mile hike – uphill – that we’d be carrying all of this stuff out (which ended up in the dark) it might have dampened the mood. It could be considered less than ideal, but our group was determined to continue the evening as EPIC! And it was … We hiked out in the dark. We didn’t have enough flashlights so we had the little tea candles from the table. It was slow going, lots of tripping and falling in the water and on obstacles on the trail. There was music (until our batteries died), singing and laughing and working together to get all of that stuff and each other up the hill.  When it was all said and done… Bruises, cactus, sore muscles and all, I wouldn’t change a thing! The circumstances were not “perfect” but the EXPERIENCE was!  (I still have the candle by my desk now as a reminder of that special day.)

“Make the best of what you’ve got.”

  
  I am :

Grateful for the good people who consider me a friend.

Amazed at what friends will do for each other.

Stunned that people are so generous.

Blessed to live in such a beautiful area.

Happy to be able to follow my dreams.
***special thanks to Johnny at Sakura for loaning the plates, serving dishes and napkins from his restaurant, and for preparing an amazing feast for us!

Moab Easter Jeep Safari

I went to Moab last week to shoot some jeeps for Flog Industries. It was the 49 th year or the annual Easter Jeep Safari. It was a good time. I’ve never seen so many jeeps in one place! (It made me miss mine!)

We spent the first day checking out the vendor show and scouting locations. I even made a quick trip to Arches NP to check it out. I had my son/photographer in training with me on this trip. Off roading, races, rockcrawling and jeeps….an 11 yr old boy’s version of paradise.

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iPhone pic – Skyview Arch
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My jr. photographer – iphone pic

 

 

 

 

 

The second day we went to watch the races at BFE. There was a lot of action! This event is one of the qualifiers for King Of The Hammers so it was intense. I will post photos soon.

We spent the rest of the day on the trails rockcrawling with Bryce from Dixie Four Wheel Drive and Cash from Bryce Christensen Excavating. They have some really sweet jeeps (with Flog bumpers). The photo shoot was great but the rockcrawling was even better!

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Cash’s jeep – Moab, Utah
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Bryce’s Jeep – Moab, Utah – Flog bumper

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2015 Mesquite Off-road Weekend

I had a great time watching and photographing Mesquite Off-road Weekend events yesterday. It was beautiful weather. The riders put on an awesome show for us.
The event was hosted by Eureka Casino and they did a nice job. There were lots of vendors at the entrance. We had some fantastic tacos from Irmita’s …they tasted just like “tacos on the street” in Mexico.

All the rooms in Mesquite were sold out so we had to drive home afterward.

Here’s a few pics from the day:

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There’s always someone better than you.

A wise man once told me, ” There is always someone better than you. Find him and make him your mentor. If you are always learning, you are always growing. This keeps you humble and keeps your work fresh.” The longer I pursue my photographic education, I find those words are true! With my journey I find mentors in the untraditional sources. I think it’s good to look outside your industry for mentors. I find inspiration in painters, dancers, designers, musicians….anyone who is really talented at what they do can be a great mentor.

This week I attended SEMA in Las Vegas with one of my favorite clients, Flog Industries .  It was fun to see all of the new toys and technology of the automotive industry. But most fun was seeing all of the work and love that people put into their vehicle rebuilds. So much care, attention to detail, hard work and craftsmanship goes into those vehicles. It was impossible for me to choose a favorite. It is interesting to see shifts in the trends too. Last year was lots of skulls and tattoo inspired paint/wrap jobs and a HUGE amount of matte finishes. This year very few skulls and chrome and shiny are coming back a little more. There were a bunch of foil looking paint/wrap jobs. I didn’t like the foil ones. I didn’t see one that had a perfect wrap application. Most showed scuff marks.
Anyway, I spent the week talking to people who are passionate about what they do. I feel energized ( except for my sore feet 😉 ) with a desire to do something completely new to me. Let’s see what I come up with!
So learn something new today and share it here. Tell us about it!

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