In September of 2013, I began a journey in my trusty Honda Civic that took me up the entirety of Highway 101 up the West Coast. The trip began as an addition to a necessary drive up to Santa Cruz to shoot a wedding. Knowing I had friends in San Francisco, I decided to keep it going to the city before heading back to San Diego. Once I got to San Francisco though, something in my gut told me to keep going. So I did.
Finding myself at the Oregon border a few days later, I knew I'd soon have to return to my life (and cat!) down in San Diego, but not before spending a few days catching up on rest and laundry with some family in Roseburg and seeing the beautiful Crater Lake.
Before heading south, my family in Oregon suggested that I just go get my belongings in San Diego, turn around and come back up. So I did.
A few weeks later, after dropping my belongings (and cat) off with the family, I headed back to the Oregon coast to pick up where I'd left off. From there, I continued my journey all the way up to Vancouver, British Columbia.
The following is the entire collection of photos and my blog entries from the trip.
8.29.13 : Sunrise in Malibu.
As some of you know, I recently drove up the entirety of the West Coast, starting in San Diego. Spurred by a wedding I was shooting on September 1st in Santa Cruz, I left August 29th and had planned to take a week to travel up to San Francisco and back. Somewhere along the way, a spark was ignited within me, and I made the decision to keep going. By the morning of September 8th, I'd crossed over into Oregon. Conveniently, I had family in the area, so after making it up to Coos Bay, I headed inland to my aunt and uncle's house in Roseburg, OR to do some much needed laundry and consider my next move. I made my way over to Crater Lake on September 11th, but had started to feel the nagging of responsibilities calling me back to San Diego.
Before I left Roseburg, it was suggested that I simply go back to pack my stuff (and sell what wouldn't fit), then come back up with the intentions of finishing the coast. So I did.
On October 2nd, I moved to Roseburg. My poor little Honda Civic was packed to the gills with everything I owned, including my dear cat Loulou. Once here, I took a few days to settle in before hitting the road again on October 9th.
Making my way back to Coos Bay to pick up where I left off, I drove the remainder of the coast all the way up to Vancouver, BC, where I spent a long weekend during their Thanksgiving holiday. I had some detours inland in Washington to see some friends, but headed back to the coast to complete what I hadn't gotten to on the way back.
By the morning of October 18th, I'd successfully finished the coast.
So now, I am faithfully parked on the couch in my temporary home in Roseburg, editing through the thousands of photos I managed to snap on this great adventure of mine. My goal is to post a blog every single day representing the entire trip. I'm certain that will be easier said than done, but I plan to stick to that resolve as diligently as possible.
So, today, you get to see day one…my very first stop to watch the sunrise in Malibu, CA.
8.29/30.13 : morrow bay and big sur.
After the sunrise in Malibu, I swiftly made my way up to the Big Sur area after stopping for a beachside breakfast in Santa Barbara.
The California coast is something to be seen in person, but I tried my darndest to somehow capture with my camera. This post covers Morrow Bay up to just below the Monterey Bay/Santa Cruz area and spans my first and second day.
My first night camping was nearly a disaster. Armed with only a hammock and hoping against hope to find a place to hang it the night before Labor Day weekend, I lucked upon a packed campground with only three spots left and was able to rig it up using one decent tree and my car. It wasn't ideal, but being my first night camping alone, I wasn't too bothered by the fact that I was surrounded by fellow campers in their much more sophisticated setup. I had the place to myself in the morning when I woke up with the sun (one of the many joys of hammock camping) and was able to make and enjoy my breakfast and coffee before the other folks even began to stir.
The coastal drive that morning was beautiful and the landscape varied incredibly from one curve to the next. Each stop seemed to be better than the last and I wondered how I'd ever make it to my planned destination. My last stop in the Big Sur area was a pull-off that was absolutely packed with cars. I saw the direction everyone was walking in and went the other way, up a hill to a path that was a bit less trodden. Following the path towards the ocean, I didn't come across a single person as I ventured further from the road. Eventually, I was led to a tiny hidden cove and beach with not a soul in sight. Cliche as it may sound, taking the road less travelled really did prove fruitful.
9.4.13 : san francisco day 1.
San Francisco spanned multiple days and was a rare portion of the trip in which I stayed with friends and was able to enjoy some company throughout my explorations of the area.
David and Brooke Condolora are friends of mine from college and also happen to be former clients of mine (I shot their wedding). They're an incredible artistic couple (he works for Pixar and she works independently as an illustrator and designer) and as such, were a great inspiration to get to spend some quality time with on my travels. I highly recommend checking out some of their work:
Brooke's physical goodies shop: http://idlemouse.org
Brain & Brain (their husband and wife venture into game design): http://brain-and-brain.com
Brooke's personal site: http://www.brookecondolora.com
My first evening took me on a laid-back stroll around the island of Alameda, where they live, but the second day there was basically spent finding every angle of the Golden Gate Bridge to photograph.
Brooke and I happened upon a handful of interesting little finds throughout the day, including a creepy old bunker and a nude beach full of very active nudies (nudites?) climbing rocks and playing beach volleyball.
I couldn't have asked for better weather, as the city was not covered in the deep layer of fog I'd heard it often is. They must've known I was coming.
This was before I’d begun to tote my tripod around with me for self-portraits, so it was nice to have Brooke along for the day to get a photo or two of me as proof I’d been present.
And now, I shall inundate you with photos of the Golden Gate Bridge.
9.5.13 : san francisco day 2.
You can probably assume from the content of my photos that my focus was not on exploring cities on this trip up the coast. With that being the case, I sought out a popularly Instagrammed spot (somehow I ended up following a bunch of folks in the San Fran area on there) called Mount Davidson. I'd seen some pretty beautiful shots done in the area and wanted to avoid the city as much as possible (a shame, but I know I'll be back at some point).
I had to wind around through a maze of streets with some impressive looking houses and incredibly steep hills before I came across an entrance to the path up one side of the mountain park. It was a perfect foggy morning when I got there, which made for some great photos and a nice contrast to the blue skies from the day before. Surprisingly, I had the place to myself that morning, so I got to explore without interruption.
As I hiked up through the chilly fog, I rounded a corner to see a giant white cross rising up in front of me. The way it seemed to disappear into the white of the fog was enchanting to me and it was all I could do to pull myself away from taking a hundred photos of the same thing.
9.6.13 : lighthouses and coastline.
On my way out of San Francisco, I took a detour that pointed me towards Point Reyes Lighthouse. Following the winding road ended up costing me about two hours of my time, but seeing it fog free (a rarity) made the trip well worth the loss. Passing only a few people on my way down the long staircase, I had the place to myself. A deafening foghorn sounded every few minutes, which rendered my hearing useless for a few seconds afterward each time it went off. It was a beautiful place that really did feel like it was at the ends of the earth. I can only imagine what a lonely existence living out there might have been at times.
The coastline varied greatly across the 200+ miles I drove that day, but it was as beautiful as ever. I arrived at Point Arena Lighthouse after it'd already closed, but as luck would have it, that granted me the ability to explore without any other people around. The coastline at that particular viewpoint would have been incredible to watch the sunset from, but alas, I needed to make camp before sundown and my destination for the night was another hour away.
9.6.13 : russian gulch state park.
I'd set my sights on Russian Gulch State Park after seeing photos online of a beautiful beach and bridge adjacent to the campground. I always made it a goal to get to wherever I was camping before sundown to have sufficient time to set up my hammock and cook my dinner before it got too dark, but this time I had gotten it into my head that I'd walk down to the beach to watch the sunset while enjoying my dinner, so it was of the utmost importance that I met my goal on this particular evening.
I made it to the park just in the nick of time to pick a spot that would work with my hammock and then walk down to the beach. As I walked down the trail towards the ocean, I envisioned a perfect sunset dinner on the beach. I got exactly opposite that. A stream ran down the beach into the ocean that let off the faint but apparent smell of sewage. In addition to the less-than-ideal stench, the beach itself was covered in horrid little jumping bugs (think about half the size of grasshoppers) that got everywhere (seriously…in my clothes, shoes, hair…it was a mess). I tried to stay positive and walked down to the water and over to some rocks only to find myself even more swarmed by the pesky little insects. Defeated, I went back to my camp and emptied my shoes of the now squished critters before eating my dinner by my fire.
The evening was quickly redeemed when the clear night sky revealed one of the most spectacular stargazing opportunities I'd had on the trip so far. Since my sunset photo plans had been dashed to pieces, I set up my tripod to experiment with the stars. None of the photos were perfect (if you zoom in you can see some blur in the stars), but they definitely capture the beauty of the evening. I even did some experimenting with the red light of my headlamp, which I thought made for a cool effect.
9.7.13 : avenue of the giants.
The morning after my star-filled night, I hit the road fairly early after the unwelcome sounds of a screaming kid nearby stirred me from my cozy hammock cocoon. One of the first pull-offs on the coastline had an incredible lineup of cairns, which I ended up seeing quite a lot of on my trip.
After a few more stops along the way to capture the ever-changing coastal views and a detour to drive through the Chandelier Tree , I entered the Avenue of the Giants, which is a famous scenic stretch of the 101 that runs through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. I was warned to be careful that I don't accidentally spend all day in there, as it's fairly easy to get caught up in exploring. Those warnings were on point, because I absolutely could have spent several days among those majestic trees.
I stopped for a hitchhiker at one point, but resisted the urge to give him a lift knowing I like to go my own pace and explore (and because my mom might kill me if he didn't turn out to be a serial killer and get to me first). Instead, I passed on some cold drinks and jerky and wished him well as I continued my way north. At one point it was so pretty that I just wanted to sit on the trunk of my car and enjoy the surroundings, so I stopped and brewed a French press to enjoy in the cool air.
It was by far one of my favorite portions of my trip and I look forward to future trips to more see more redwoods. Those suckers really are breathtakingly impressive.
(You'll see more of me in these photos, but it's mostly for scale purposes!)
9.8.13 : venturing into oregon.
On the morning of September 8th, I quickly made my coffee at the campsite and hit the road without dillydallying in anticipation of crossing into Oregon. I stopped for a photo by the sign and then crossed a bridge, descending into the most magical fog. I pulled off immediately, lucking into a empty state park right on the border that served as a perfect spot for a second cup of a coffee and some reflection on my trip so far.
Knowing my destination was inland at my aunt and uncle's house (where I'm now temporarily residing), I made quick work of the coast, only turning the 4 hour drive into a mere 9 1/2 hours (a feat with how much exploring I do).
The Oregon coast is something to behold. The scenery changes drastically within just a few miles, so it's hard to not pull off at every sign pointing you to a lookout. I made it up to Coos Bay before angling inland and was just blown away by the beauty I saw on the way.
9.11.13 : chasing waterfalls.
Sorry for the delay folks. I've unexpectedly found myself in Arkansas for a few days, so the last minute traveling and prep threw me off my schedule a bit.
On the morning of September 11th, I headed towards Crater Lake for the day. Unbeknownst to me, there are several trails leading to waterfalls on the way, so I began pulling off to hike them each time I saw one. After consulting with my uncle, I was informed that there were so many along the way that I'd likely never make it if I took the time to stop and hike to each one. So I stopped at three and forced myself to drive to the lake only a few hours behind schedule.
9.11.13 : crater lake.
What can I say about Crater Lake that wouldn’t be better expressed through photos? Not much. If I hadn’t spent the first part of the day chasing waterfalls on the way up, I still wouldn’t have left Crater Lake until after dark. There were so many different things to see and explore along the shore and I would’ve loved to have planned ahead to camp there for a night, but you need a permit and the spots are only hike-in, which I wasn’t prepared for.
I got there right at lunchtime, so I found a shady nook with a great view and enjoyed my packed lunch while basking in the immensity of the lake before slowly making my way around it. It really is an impressive sight, and even with the wide-angle lens my uncle lent me for the day, I still feel I was barely able to do it justice.
10.9.13 : back to the coast.
Sorry again for the delay between posts. Today was my recovery day from a 2500 mile drive over the course of 3 1/2 days from Arkansas back to Oregon. Unfortunately, little time is left for editing and blogging when you're driving 10+ hours a day.
I suppose it wasn't the worst time to take a break, seeing as Crater Lake was the end of the first portion of my trip up the coast.
So, after a brief hiatus, we begin Leg Two of my trip up the coast.
In an attempt to stay true to my goal of completing the entire coast, I headed back to Coos Bay, Oregon, where I'd left off during the first part. I was mildly concerned that my break in between the legs of the trip would somehow change the vibe of the second half, but the moment I saw the Pacific Ocean stretched out before me again, I knew I had nothing to worry about.
10.10.13 : the light at the end of the tunnel.
Hitting the road the morning of October 10th, I stumbled onto a beach on my way down a detour to a lighthouse. It was still early, which meant I had the place to myself to explore and take photos. Carved into the rock on the north side of the beach was a tunnel. As creepy as it was, I could see a light at the other side, so of course I had to explore. I'm glad I did, because the other side was just beautiful.
10.10.13 : misty cape meares.
After my exploration of the beach tunnel, I moved on to Cape Meares Lighthouse, where it had started to mist lightly. After all the fantastic weather I'd had on my trip, I honestly couldn't complain about a day of overcast skies and light mist. I actually enjoyed the change in weather, which meant I could bundle up (I'm a sucker for knit hats and sweatshirts).
10.10.13 : hug beach.
I'm still stuck on the same day's worth of photos. There was a lot to see, what can I say?
10.11.13 : shipwrecks and goonies.
Since I took so long to go up the Oregon coast, I was unable to hit my goal of making it into Washington in time to camp on the 10th of October. I wasn't bummed to stay overnight near Astoria, as there was plenty to explore the next morning before heading north.
After waking up to a giant slug on one of the trees used as my hammock anchor for the night, I made my way down to the beach nearby to check out a shipwreck I'd seen there about four years earlier. The morning sun was just glorious as it shined through the rusted out skeleton of the ship.
Astoria is also well-known for it's role in the movie The Goonies. I love that the house used in the movie has made a point to welcome visitors to politely come check it out from the outside. Sorry folks, but I didn't do the truffle shuffle, as I saw there were some people home and didn't want to scar them for life.
10.12.13 : cascade falls.
I skipped Washington. Don't worry, I definitely did the Washington coast, but I had a goal to be in British Columbia for their holiday weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving!) and my plan just didn't leave enough time to do the Washington coast on the way up.
Having visited the greater Vancouver area three times in the last few years, I'd have thought I'd exhausted the local waterfalls, but in fact, there was at least one I hadn't seen yet, so my friend Jeff and I headed that way on my first day there.
It was a perfectly beautiful fall day, only tainted by some unfortunate graffiti on the rocks surrounding the falls…left for us by the class of 2014. I'll try to avoid a soapbox rant, but seriously people…if there's one thing that should be left untouched by the hands of miscreant youths, it's nature. Go graffiti something manmade and leave my waterfalls alone!
Ok. Rant over.
I also have to give some photo credit to Jeff, whose hand is pictured in the photo of him taking a photo of me on my iPhone (a gal's gotta Instagram). He came up with that one all on his own.
10.13.13 : granville island.
If you ever find yourself in the Vancouver, BC area, I highly recommend that you make every effort to visit Granville Island for a day or even just an afternoon. I first went there two years ago and it’s become an essential stop on my trips above the border ever since.
Beyond the fact that it holds a favorite brewery of mine that brews one of my all-time favorite [seasonal] beers, it also grants a pretty spectacular view of the city. Oh…and a magical indoor market with every kind of mouthwatering delicacy you could possibly want to procure for yourself. Seriously. There’s this bakery there that does a salted caramel apple focaccia that will have you licking the bag it came in. Or maybe that’s just me.
Regardless. Go there. If my words don’t convince you, maybe my photos will.
10.14.13 : stanley park.
Apologies for yet another brief hiatus. I moved to Avon, Colorado this week and found myself neck-deep in all the the chores that come with a move. More on that later.
For now, I've reached my day spent in Vancouver's Stanley Park…a beautiful 1,001-acre park that borders the downtown area. While we didn't have enough time to walk around the entire park, we did spend a good portion of the sunny afternoon on its paths, enjoying the sights, which ranged from fall colored trees to fearless raccoons.