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.

Studio updates …Location shoots coming up!

Hey, I’m glad to say that the new studio is coming together and we’ve completed our first couple of shoots here. It’s been a bit of a “rat race” for me. Moving is always a pain but to add to the fun, I’m also gearing up to be out of town shooting on location for the next week or so. Because of that, I’ve been trying to wrap up and deliver all of my current assignments and get things put together on the home-front too.  Then there are the last minute details of the trip to deal with! This project has been a couple of months in the making and I’m anxious for it to go well.

I’m excited to be going to California. We are mixing business with pleasure and making a mini-vacation out of it. We are going to be shooting at some awesome locations then spending a few days in San Francisco. I’ve never been to SF before so it should be an adventure.

stock photo from Pexels.com
stock photo from Pexels.com

The office will be closed October 24 – November 3, 2016.

Wish me luck and if you have any suggestions of what to do in San Francisco PLEASE COMMENT!  Yes, we are going to Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and riding a cable car while we are there. BTW….I’m a “wanna be foodie”, so give me ideas folks.

Mono Lake & Yosemite

I attended a workshop in Mono Lake, CA last week.  It was held by Moose Peterson. I have admired his nature work since I was a teenager. I think he was a great influence on my choice of becoming a photographer. In his book “Captured” he gives an honest account of how hard it can be to make a living as a photographer, especially a nature photographer. At the same time he shows his tender heart and his love of nature that compelled him, against the odds, to follow his dreams. I was so happy to attend his workshop and spend time with one of my “idols”.  It was a small group and lots of fun to get to spend time in a casual atmosphere with other people passionate about photography. Even if you are highly skilled as a photographer you will find it handy to attend a workshop. The locals know the area! They know the weather, they know the light, and they have a “plan b” when its not working at one location. I also am creatively inspired when I spend time with people who do photography because its what they love!

 

 

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Mono Lake moon set
Mono Lake moon set

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I took my daughter and son with me ( they did not attend the workshop) so we decided to go the long way home and drive through Yosemite. We had a great time. The fall colors were lovely. I would love to go back when we have some more time.

 

Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley
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Half Dome – Yosemite National Park

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