Pacific Coast ~ Unframed Photography
This past winter (2010-2011), I had both the good fortune of missing the great blizzards of New England and experiencing the extraordinary Pacific coast of Northern California. While people back east were daily posting reports about the horrors of one of the worst winters on record in the Northeast, I was taking in the pristine glory of the California coast. From January 5th until about the end of February, there was only one or two days of clouds and rain, with each day offering blue skies and midday temperatures in the 60's! It was not too hard to take!
On my very first day in California I headed out to Half Moon Bay with my brother Mark, where I first dipped my hand in the Pacific Ocean, smelled her salt-water air and walked along Miramar Beach. Then we headed north up Route 1, past Devil's Slide and on into San Francisco where we hiked a trail in Lincoln Park, crossed the Golden Gate, sauntered down into Sausalito and stopped for Irish Coffees and Calamari at a waterfront restaurant there. It was quite a first day in San Francisco.
On Sunday, December 26th, I hiked Bayfront Park in Menlo Park with my brother Paul then on Monday, December 27th, met and old friend (Joe Oster) at Sunol Regional Wilderness an hiked all over those hillsides, both of which afforded me unique picture-taking opportunities right in the San Francisco Bay Area. Later that same week, my family and I headed down to the Monterey peninsula where we toured the beautiful Point Lobos State Reserve. Despite dark clouds and intermittent raindrops, I was still able to capture many spectacular images of the landscape, shore and surf!
The following week, the first of the New Year, trips back to San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, provided additional opportunities to photograph these areas. Then it wasn't until the middle of February when I really got the chance to take off on my own for a couple of trips out of the Bay Area and to really experience the Pacific Coast shoreline. For my first big trip, I headed out on one early Saturday morning, crossed the Golden Gate, drove up through Marin and out to the coast near Point Reyes. I followed Route 1 north all the way up past Fort Bragg and Rockport, stopping in places like Bodega Bay, Mendocino, Point Arena and Gualala, along the way. The sky was perfect, clear and blue and the ocean was cool and a myriad of blues. There were places I stopped to explore and take pictures where I was the only person, alone with the ocean and sensing its power and seeming desire to suck me right from the spot where I stood on the land. What a powerful, wonderful, natural force the Pacific Ocean is! Hopefully my photographs capture that power and beauty and take you to that place where I stood alone with the constant thunderous crash of the waves and the awesome spectacle I couldn't stop marveling, which so many others drive right by!
Another trip took me into the Santa Cruz Mountains to the foot of giant, regal redwood trees in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Next, I headed through numerous backwater towns with names such as Bonnie Doon, Ben Lomand, Felton, and Boulder Creek, whose charm and simple main streets, cluttered with small family-owned grocery stores, hardware stores, as well as antique and gift shops, made them a breath of fresh air compared to the endless sea of humanity and commercial strips just over the hill to the east in the San Francisco Bay Area. Eventually, I found my way out to the coast and once again headed north on coastal Route 1. I turned right and headed back home by going through the sleepy little town of Pescadero, a place I visited some thirty years ago while on a marijuana smoking binge with some friends and family. All those years ago, while on a wet/damp camping trip at nearby Butano State Park, we stopped in for some warmth and sustenance one evening at the only tavern in town called Duarte's. I distinctly remember being as high as a kite and having the munchies beyond all conception! I think I consumed each of their main entrees, washing each plateful down with their house drink specialty - bloody margaritas! That was a long time ago when I was a very young and foolish man, a mere distant memory. Duarte's is still there and doesn't seem to have changed much. I pulled up in front of the place and looked inside without even getting out of my vehicle. I reflected for a short bit, then pulled my car back into the lane and drove away.
On my final weekend in California, my brother Mark and I headed back to Monterey and Carmel, except this time the sun was shining! We toured the infamous 17-Mile Drive, which winds it way through the Monterey peninsula, passing Pebble Beach Golf Course and ends at Carmel-By-The-Sea. It sounds magical but it's really a bit of a disappointment as the road and way is clogged with tourists and passes by far too many Mac-mansions and the decadent lifestyle that is the golfing world's ultimate destination. You're much better off paying the entrance fee at Point Lobos State Preserve, parking your car and hiking the wonderful trails that hug the shoreline and high cliffs of that wonderful place! We ate lunch in Carmel, hiked along the picturesque beach there, then headed south by car along Route 1 for a sunset drive in the northern section of Big Sur.
It was too late in the day to capture any good images of Big Sur, but it holds much promise for someone such as me - I hope to head back there one day to fully explore and photograph that region! Meanwhile, we turned around as the sun set into the Pacific and returned to Carmel for a bite to eat and a few glasses of wine at the Mission Ranch Jazz Bar. We headed back to the Bay Area late that evening and on the following Saturday, I returned to Massachusetts. It was a bittersweet journey home, but definitely time to go. All in all, it was an extremely fortuitous venture; getting me out of the snowy northeast for a few months and allowing me to experience California and capture the images you see below. California is a beautiful place in more ways than one and there is much always happening there. The Pacific, well there are no words to properly describe it, hopefully some of the images I captured give you a glimpse of its beauty, power and majesty!