Archive for November, 2011

When I’m traveling, I always end up taking shots like this one of a Morro Bay beach cottage:

"Of all the cottages in all the towns in all the world, you had to photograph mine."

Was it the box-of-crayons color scheme, or the way the light hit the faded rose walls, or the zigzag effect of the clapboard lines?  I don’t know; I just like it.  I like offbeat signage, too:

The cartoony old-school style made me look twice (where are Bullwinkle and Rocky?)

I wouldn’t have parked there myself, because I appreciate “please!!!”  🙂

And of course, the random bits of prettiness where land meets water catch my eye as well:

Pretty as a picture...

…not to mention light reflecting on water, or the way a shoreline curves:

A peaceful night in Morro Bay

I feel lucky when I have my camera with me, so I can capture, remember and share some of the things that have caught my eye.

Next time — Mission San Juan Capistrano…



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While looking for springtime photos of Morro Bay, I ran across a lovely lady’s portrait I took just outside of Solvang:

She just looks at peace with the world, doesn't she?

We had stopped in Solvang for Danish pastries (but of course!) because you need that kind of fuel when traveling.  🙂

Meandering past Santa Barbara up the 101, we made a random stop at what I believe was Shell Beach:

California poppies blooming in May

One nice thing about a truck and camper is, nothing has to be a big deal.  You don’t need to worry about campground reservations or finding parking places.  You go where you want to, stop when you feel like it, take sidetracks if the mood strikes, and just…roll.  Eventually, we did get to Morro Bay:

Morro Rock at Morro Bay -- a pleasant place to hang out

There’s a walkway that curves around toward the back of Morro Rock; there are tidepools with starfish and pretty views all around.  Not to mention the Li’l Hut for great fish and chips just a short walk away!  (We have our priorities).

Kayaking......erm.........rocks! 🙂

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Just a quick little post about the Pacific Coast.  We drove up the 101/Pacific Coast Highway past the Malibu houses, apartments, condos and businesses that block the ocean view and stopped at a beach campground:

The rocky shoreline north of Malibu

We had some lunch, drank some wine, and watched these funny little birds who had figured out how to drink fresh water from the leaky outdoor shower head:

Clever little guys -- not birdbrains at all!

There were some friendly groups of RV folks camping there for the night.  We drank some more wine with some Texans, and yet more wine around a campfire with some wonderful Aussies from Perth, and ended up staying the night on the beach ourselves.  Funny how that works!

When it comes to oceans and sunsets, it's all good

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La Jolla

Why does one of the wealthiest enclaves in southern California have third-world quality roads?

La Jolla is home to the sprawling Scripps collection of world-class research and educational institutions; upscale restaurants and elegant shops; golf courses; parks; well, the list of wonderful things goes on.  However, instead of cruising along and drinking in the glorious ocean views, a prudent driver maneuvers among the teeth-chattering asphalt chunks La Jolla laughingly calls roads, dodging potholes that could swallow a tire up to the axle.  From a vehicle, La Jolla looks like heaven and feels like Tijuana.  🙂

Of course, that’s all the more reason to get out and walk in the sunshine.  How else would you see the detail in the posts and fence that line the ocean walkway?

Doesn't it look like these stone-and-shell posts were fun to assemble?

People who live by the ocean often have cool, beautiful things on their property for plebs like me to photograph:

Let's drink our morning coffee here, shall we?

I love photographing quirky details that I’d love to use myself some day:

I like the little stone creek meandering up the walkway to the house

One more, just one more:


This gate insisted on being noticed (sadly, so did the alarm sign) 🙂


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When we’re heading south and it’s time for an old-school happy hour, we head for Oceanside Harbor.  One of the last Jolly Roger restaurants, a living relic of a bygone era, overlooks the marina and has half price appetizers and drink specials in the upstairs bar.  (It also has easy parking for a truck and camper).  A marina is a nice place to go for a walk after a margarita or three:

Oceanside Harbor

If you head further down the 101, the Self-Actualization Fellowship Temple in Encinitas has an incredible garden that’s open to the public.  (You can’t miss the  temple’s golden dome; it’s just north of Swami Beach).

The garden's meandering streams, tiny waterfalls and koi ponds

There are benches tucked in here and there where you can meditate or just relax and watch the fish:


I like detouring off Pacific Coast Highway, driving down any street I think will get us close to the sight and sound of the ocean, and looking at places that don’t take themselves too seriously.  I actually did laugh out loud when we passed a tiny street named Little Orphan Alley!  🙂

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“Sunshine!”  I snarled.  “South on the 101, east on the 20, south on the 5, and I’m not stopping until it’s sunny and dry!”

Don’t get me wrong.  I love Oregon.  I love Washington.  But after almost a month of travel, I did not love the weather that kept Steve coughing in his sleep for three solid weeks and left me staring at the camper ceiling in the dark thinking, “Sleep deprivation is prohibited by the Geneva Convention, isn’t it?” and “I wonder if he’ll stop coughing if I smoosh this pillow over his face?”

We all lived through the night.  🙂  South we went, and in Depoe Bay the storm-wracked Pacific Ocean was putting on quite a show:

Up to the walkway the Pacific exploded...yee-hah!... and RUN! 🙂

I took one last shot of the Oregon coast before we turned inland at Newport:

The Oregon coast, stunningly beautiful in any weather

The 20 was such a lovely drive that we enjoyed our detour to the 5.  True to my word, I stopped when I found sunshine:

Mt. Shasta shining under its own little cloud

That night, we all slept in blissful silence and woke up refreshed, ready for the banzai run down the 5.  Now we’re back in southern California:

This flock of Birds of Paradise look like they want to fly

Let’s cue up an old song in our heads:  “Everything is beautiful, in its own way…”

More to come…   🙂

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A gale-force storm was on its way to Astoria, so we started heading south.  We stopped at Fort Stevens State Park to view the remains of one of the casualties of the Graveyard of the Pacific:

A Columbia River entry attempt destroyed the Peter Iredale in 1906

View from inside Peter Iredale's rusty ribcage

We headed south and made it to Seaside as night fell.  Should I gloss over the ensuing misery?  The howling winds rocking the camper, the wrong-way turn as we sought a sheltered spot in the blinding, pounding rain, the sleepless night parked behind a Hollywood Video?  Nah, no gloss.  🙂  But the next day things improved as we headed further south.  Look at this beautiful roadway bridge, looking as if it rose of its own free will out of a cleft in the mountain:

A beautiful feat of engineering design by Glenn S. Paxson

The 101 wraps around Neahkahnie Mountain thanks to an amazing bridge/road designed by Oregon state bridge engineer Glenn S. Paxson and built during the Great Depression by men who obviously knew what they were doing and had pride in their work.  The stone masonry that covers the reinforced concrete bridge in this picture extends along the railings around the mountain, and is so harmonious with the mountain itself and the ocean below as you drive.  How often is a road so beautiful it rocks you back?

A little closer look at the sort of work they did in 1937. (See the car headlights?)

The view from the road ain't bad either... 🙂

One last bit of prettiness before I sign off — many of the little towns along the 101 have welcome signs that are works of art.  This one is carved, painted, gold-leafed, and has a cutout with a 3-D ship made of metal inserted (sorry about the power pole, but I’m not going to photoshop that bit of reality):

A good first impression of the town

My city has a welcome sign made of recycled plastic.  The less said, the better…

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After spending the night in Cape Disappointment State Park, we crossed the Astoria-Megler bridge over the mouth of the Columbia River into Astoria, Oregon.  I like the visual rhythm of the bridge trusses and rocks in this photo:

Astoria-Megler Bridge -- over four miles long

But I like this shot of the bridge as well:

View from the Astoria Column

The 125-foot-tall Astoria Column was built in 1926 by the Great Northern Railway.  Its purpose was to attract suckers  tourists like me (it worked!).  I climbed its interior spiral staircase (164 steps!) and stumbled out gasping onto the viewing platform for a panorama of mountains, river, ocean and city.  There were gorgeous vistas, spitting rain, and sporadic gusting winds trying to blast the camera out of my hands:

Astoria Column viewing platform (hang on to your camera!)

The column has Pacific Northwest historical scenes carved and painted, spiraling, into its concrete exterior.  I don’t know how many sinking ships are depicted, but we learned that the Columbia River Bar is still the most treacherous in the world when we visited the Columbia River Maritime Museum.  A Columbia River Bar Pilot has to take the helm of every ship that needs to make it through the perilous collision of river and ocean.  (The videos of this are incredible, BTW).

At the museum, my inner nerd finally had free rein, fell in love with ancient technology, and grabbed the camera:

Oil lamp mounted on a gimbal to keep it level regardless of ship movement

I’m starting to understand the steampunk fascination with old technology applied in a beautiful way.  Ship compasses, candles, lamps and so forth have been gimbal-mounted for over 2000 years (thank you, ancient Greeks), and sailors reading this would be amused at my admiration for something they take for granted, but hey!  How cool is that lamp?  🙂  Bear with me — just one more photo out of many:

This combination skylight, air vent and bench seat came from the deck of a paddlewheel ship that plied the Columbia.  I admire the problem-solving ingenuity, the craftsmanship, and the desire to make a thing beautiful as well as functional.

Speaking of which — wait until you see the road we drove down later!…

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As you drive through the rainy side of the Olympic Peninsula to the west and south, Highway 101 meanders through Olympic National Park, Olympic National Forest, and Indian land.  The landscape varies from breathtakingly beautiful primeval rain forest to befuddling ugliness.  There are long stretches of chopped-down forest where it seems the tree trash logging leftovers have been shoved into gigantic rubbish piles and left by the highway to bleach with age.  It’s the stumpy, jagged, arboreal equivalent of meth mouth.

Think I’ll show you a bit of pretty rain forest that looks like it should contain velociraptors, but has this little guy showing off his lunch instead:

"Be afraid. Be very afraid," squeaked the mutant velociraptor

The other bit of ugliness we encountered was Sweet Pea’s joyful foray into a field where she rolled in cow poop.  This resulted in a scolding, an unheated outdoor shower (no colder than the rain, though), and another (with shampoo) a few miles down the road when we realized we could still smell her.

Naughty (cold, wet, shivering) Sweet Pea wrapped in my parka

Sweet Pea resting after her ordeal 🙂

We eventually headed back to the coast, and visited Cape Disappointment, where the Lewis and Clark expedition finally saw the Pacific Ocean.  The vicious Columbia River bar, destroyer of ships, eventually needed lighthouses:

Cape Disappointment lighthouse

The lighthouse is still in use. There’s a narrow, pretty walking trail that climbs from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center parking lot (it splits — right to the Center, ahead to the lighthouse).  It passes Dead Man’s Cove trail, a Coast Guard station, and an abandoned bunker used from 1906 to  World War II:

Battery Harvey Allen is abandoned, but not closed off

The last bit of trail is a wide, steep concrete road that the lighthouse keepers use.  It takes you to views like this:

Roaring, crashing waves and view from the lighthouse headlands

Pretty, but ominous -- storm on the way

Next stop:  Astoria, Oregon…

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Sweet Pea The Traveling Dog and I went for a walk at dusk down a dirt country road near Sequim that was blocked to traffic.  I was glad I had her on a leash when a herd of deer bounded across the road in front of us.  She finds my photography annoying — why stop to take this photo when we could be chasing deer?

The next day, Steve and I awoke to yet more drizzly gray skies and headed west on the 101 with a little trepidation.  If this was the sunny, Sequim-y side of the Olympic Peninsula, would we need an ark ?  🙂  No worries. The sun came out, and there were plenty of beautiful places to stop and walk:

The Elwha River

The Madison Falls Trail off Olympic Hot Springs Road leads you to this:

We followed the easy trail along Madison Creek to Madison Falls

Olympic National Park is lush and green

Further west on the 101 is Lake Crescent and the surrounding forest.  This trail winds past the Storm King Ranger Station:

Hiking trail in the Lake Crescent region

You can still see the raindrops on this mushroom

This image looks almost Japanese to me. The bridge leads to...

...Marymere Falls

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