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.

 

 

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!

Panguitch, Utah Balloon Rally 2014

I took my children to the Panguitch Valley Balloon Rally last weekend. It was a nice change of pace.  We had a great time watching all of the hot air balloons and of course taking lots of pictures.

After we the launch, we had coffee at the Little L’s Bakery in Panguitch. After a much needed triple shot latte and fresh donuts (balloon launches are EARLY) then we went exploring.

First we went to Panguitch Lake, then to Mammoth Creek where the children played in the water and did some hiking. Next we went to Cedar Breaks and hiked the Alpine Pond loop. The Alpine Pond area is about 2 weeks from peak bloom. So if you want some great wildflower photos plan accordingly! We saw lots of wildflowers of about every color. I would have been more impressed if I hadn’t been there for the peak bloom last year 🙂 .  The Alpine Pond is in Cedar Breaks National Monument. So plan to pay park fees. I invest in a National Parks Pass each year, if you visit a National Park or Monument more than a couple of times a year its well worth it. For individuals over 62 can get a lifetime pass for only $10!

After that we went and hiked to Cascade Falls near Navajo Lake. It was a short hike, less than a mile. We were there in the middle of the day so it was a bad time to photograph it. Half of the fall was in deep shade while the rest of it was in harsh sunlight. It is difficult to get a decent photo of it without risking life and limb by doing some rock scrambling on the steep slope covered with loose rocks. It’s all barricaded off so I’m pretty sure it’s not allowed. We decided to just be happy with the view we had 🙂  Safety first! (The nicer photos on the link are not possible without leaving the trail…which is prohibited.)

Next we had a picnic at Duck Creek, then headed home. It was a long day!

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My 10 yr old son took this photo of his sister enjoying the balloon launch
My 10 yr old son took this photo of his sister enjoying the balloon launch

 

North Coyote Buttes – The “wave”

As a last minute birthday celebration we lucked out and got hiking permits for the “wave”. It was great.

The day started out foggy and blocked in with clouds…we were disappointed but not about to turn back. As we hiked in the clouds began to clear and it ended up being a beautiful yet chilly day.

If you have the chance to hike the wave, take it! Its very beautiful! When we were there, it had rained the day before so the colors were saturated and vibrant. The area is covered with beautiful sand stone formations sculpted by wind and time. It’s definitely a photographer or nature lovers paradise.

The "wave" north coyote buttes copyright carolejeffs2013
The “wave” north coyote buttes
copyright carolejeffs2013

The “wave” north coyote buttes
copyright carolejeffs2013

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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Surprises on Canaan Mountain – Photo Safari

My friend Heber took me and a group of friends including my 9 yr. old son and 17 yr old daughter,  to a place on Canaan Mountain that he thought we would enjoy photographing.  It was beautiful and amazing!!! It ended up being a 12 mile hike. First he took us to a spot known to locals as “white wave” (probably because of it’s similarity to the  “wave” in the North Coyote Buttes Wilderness Area, a world famous destination for landscape photographers.

Well, our local version was stunning!  I think the Canaan “white wave” gets less visitors per year than the Coyote Buttes Wave gets in a day.

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Next, we hiked south toward an area known as Tumarru Towers. On the way we went to an area where there was a big aspen grove and ferns every where. I was amazed at all of the wild flowers and lush vegetation in areas on top of Canaan.   It can be hard to remember that we are  in a hostile desert environment.

Then we headed to “Tear Drop”,  which is an outlook that looks over the entire area. It’s a beautiful view of the Hildale/Colorado City area.  Just as we reached Tear Drop, it started to rain! Within minutes there was a big waterfall going right off the mountain next to us! It was amazing…then as fast as it came it was gone. We hiked back to the water canyon in a drizzle. We were cold & wet in JULY in the desert. As we neared the canyon to descend we could hear a distant sound that sounded like wind blowing through the trees…as we got closer to the edge it became a roar. It was an amazing site..there was a flash flood tearing down the canyon. We watched and waited for awhile for it to recede. After it slowed, we hiked down the canyon. It was suprising how much the trail had changed. Rocks & boulders were washed down and at one point a big pine tree had dropped down the canyon about 50 feet or so tearing out a big section of the trail. Not once on our adventure did I feel unsafe. I was hiking with an experienced guide who knew the area well and was prepared for almost any emergency.

It was a long, tiring day but it was definitely worth it!

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