There's a part of me that will always long for Coastal California. Maybe it's the smell of salt in the air or the warm weather or the fact that I spent my first five years of life there. Either way, a piece of my heart will always be in California. Before I left, my sister said with every bit of sincerity in her heart, "The ocean has a sort of healing power, doesn't it?" I couldn't have agreed more. I caught myself more than once just staring off into the sea, daydreaming. I was thrown back to the years I would stare into the thousands of surfing photos I had cut out of magazines and pasted onto my wall in a giant collage. Looking back it's a wonder why I eventually became a photographer. It was either that or a surf bum. Who knows, maybe someday I will combine the two and have a noteworthy surfer portfolio.
Central California Road Trip Tips:
1. Get to Battery Spencer early to catch sunset on the Golden Gate Bridge. Especially if you are planning to be there on a weekend night. You may have to fight your way in to get a space, but it'll be worth it. If planning would've allowed I may have opted for sunrise, honestly. I think you can get great photos either way.
2. If you don't mind sleeping in your car or in a tent without the regular "facilities" there are plenty of places around Big Sur to pull off and get a few Zzz's. Check out this website for free camping areas: freecampsites.net
. Otherwise, you're gonna pay a pretty penny in any campground. Just make sure to leave the area as you found it and obey fire regulations.
3. Watch out for poison oak. It's everywhere.
4. If your car doesn't break down right before sunset (like the poor GP) then make it to Pfeiffer Beach. All I can say is I was swearing up a storm knowing I was missing a light show. During this time of year a shaft of light beams through a hole in a rock, to which photographers flock. At least the good people at Natale's Auto Shop
in Monterey were extremely helpful and nursed the GP back to health and back on the road. Other notable locations I was actually able to see: McWay Falls, Bixby Bridge, Jade Cove, Sand Dollar Beach, secret location near mile 16. I would recommend all of them.
5. Don't miss sunrise. Even though the west coast is known for it's amazing sunsets (and rightly so), sunrises offer softer light and can often times be just as good with fewer crowds.
6. If you're headed to Pinnacles National Park know that there are two entrances and the road does not connect. If you want to get to the other side in a timely manner the best way is to walk the 3 miles across. Bear Gulch Reservoir (two photos up) is easiest to access from the east entrance and the Machete (last photo) is easiest to access from the west entrance. Both sides offer caves to explore, and if you're into rock climbing don't forget your gear!
7. Never stop exploring! There is so much to discover, you just need to be willing to put in the footwork.
Published: January 9, 2014