12 Days in California: Days 10-12

With the workshop over, I had 3 days of making my way back to San Francisco. Time to retrace my journey north on Hiway 1 with a stop at Big Sur. Wouldn't you know they closed Pfeiffer State Park for the rest of the season because of the fires and road repair. This is the big area directly around Big Sur...major disappointment. I decided to stay at the Big Sur Lodge which is at the entrance to the park and figured I would find something interesting on the 2 trails that were still open.

Montana de Oro gallery.

From Los Osos I woke up early (hooray!) to head up to Montana de Oro and Morro Bay State Parks. The wind was blowing hard and it was cold (well cold for me) but I was determined to finally get some morning light. Montana de Oro had a eucalyptus grove and a great coastal area but honestly the weather was pretty bad. After some shots here I headed out of town through Morro Bay SP which was very small. Got lost finding gas and finally got onto Hiway 1. Stopped at a few turnouts for some pics. The coast is incredible. I also saw in the light what I drove through in pitch blackness. You know why they put a 25 mph limit on those curves...because it you run off the road you literally go off a cliff into the sea. Yes, has-ta la vista, you are a gonner.

The rain started up and by 4:30 I checked into the Big Sur Lodge and got a nice cabin for $135. Most of Big Sur is a major tourist trap because it is in the middle of nowhere and the choices are slim. Dinner plans? Got a burrito and apple at the local gas station...cost me $12, ouch, but I was good for the night. Rain meant no sunset so I was relieved not to have to chase a location for that. From the weather report it looked like the front was locked onto the coast with crummy weather all weekend, so the plans for the morning were in the air. I think I'll sleep in. The next morning the rain let up and I rushed to the window to make sure that I didn't miss a gorgeous sunrise. Why can't we let it go? So we miss the most fantastic sunrise ever to happen at Big Sur...what's the big deal? It was a late breakfast at the lodge restaurant and then onto the Buzzard's Roost Trail right across the street. How convenient. The rain had let up, it was cloudy, and the wind died down, lovely conditions for a hike and some pictures. I had a great time and ended up taking 4 hours covering 1/3 of the trail (never did the portion that climbed to the top of the ridge).


Big Sur gallery.

From Big Sur I drove to Monterey and stayed again at the Best Western. Best $65 deal in town. The rain came down in sheets and I settled in. My thoughts surely were continued rain throughout the next day. Sleep in!! The next morning I was awakened by the pink sky of a gorgeous sunrise...OMG, the rain stopped. So what is the plan for the day? I happened to glance at one of those hotel books on Monterey and noticed that Michael Kenna was exhibiting at the Monterey Museum of Art...keep reading...exhibition Feb 9 - July 13...missed it. The title: The Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing. I remembered that Moss Landing was a city nearby. Hmmm, good enough for Michael Kenna, good enough for me. Onwards to Moss Landing.

As I started driving north the sun was going in and out and to my surprise a huge rainbow appeared on the ocean. I was approaching Sand City (appropriately named) and wanted to find an exit that would take me to the shore. I got off but found myself in the wrong lane to loop to the shore, and ended up back on 1 going north. I was driving like mad to get to the next exit and then backtrack. All this was happening while I had the rainbow in clear sight. Finally when I found the backroad to get to the ocean the rainbow had all but disappeared. So much for that. Moss Landing was ahead and I could not wait to see what Michael Kenna found there.

As I approached the main entrance I could see a car stopped near the gate. A closed gate? What was this? There seemed to be cars in the parking lot, but the gate was locked. I read the sign: Parked closed on Mondays. WTF? Of all the stupid things...who decided this? There was only 1 other location open, a boat ramp. What a disappointment. Just couldn't believe it. I wasted my morning shoot for a boat ramp? Well, I headed for the boat ramp hoping for a happy ending. By this time all traces of any clouds had disappeared, the sun was in full force in a blue sky. Just a lovely time for landscape photography. Well the boat ramp confirmed my complete and utter disappointment. After now seeing Kenna's portfolio, I should have made the best of it to photograph the fence posts, sea gull droppings, and power plant smokestacks, but I just called it a day and decided to move on to San Francisco. I had a great 12 days, lots of great shooting, and some days you just enjoy driving around in Castroville - the artichoke capital of the world!