Friday, August 31, 2012

Natural bridges

On a sunny Saturday evening, we did a leisure trip to Natural bridges state beach in Santa Cruz and below are the photographs.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Point Reyes and Stinson Beach

A long pending task to hike the Bear Valley Trail with my son was finally fulfilled over the last weekend.  Traffic in San Francisco and road construction on Sir Francis Drake Blvd greatly slowed our journey to Point Reyes.   We were at the trail head by 1 in the afternoon, after collecting the map and buying a small souvenir, we started out hike along 4.5  miles long Bear Valley Trail.  Despite scorching sun, the hike was pleasant due to profuse canopy all along the trail and the sound of the flowing brook was very soothing.  We stopped over for a picnic lunch at Divide Meadows under the shade of a big tree.  Divide Meadows has a restroom and couple of trails start from there, however there is no source of water.  After lunch we continued our hike to Arch Rock, which took us about an hour and a half with Chinthan hiking at times and maneuvering the stroller along the narrow trail in the last stretch.  

The feeling that one usually gets when they reach Arch Rock, after 4.5 miles of hike is a complete awe and ours was no different.  A high rise rock overlooking the mighty blue Pacific, with warm sun and cool breeze, Arch Rock definitely offers a beautiful panoramic treat to the eyes.  My wife and I took turns to get down the Arch Rock to actually see the arch and the beach.  We had to cross a small rivulet to get to the arch and eventually to beach.  To cross the arch one has to wait for the waves to recede and run across, else it may get dangerous.  The beach in Arch Rock is a bit rough and abyssal, you hardly see too many people entering the beach unlike Stinson or Santa Cruz.  Chinthan enjoyed seeing gophers just popping out of their burrows on the Arch Rock.  We started our return hike which was faster than onward.

After a short stop at Bolinas lagoon for few clicks, we got stuck badly in the traffic before we could reach Stinson beach.  It was golden hour when we reached Stinson beach and the beach just looked lovely basking in the golden sunlight with the backdrop of misty mountains.  It was a bit less crowded since it was already late, Chinthan had ball time kick off the waves.  I didn't bathe in the beach for I would have missed the golden hour, I kept clicking.  We spent about half hour in the beach before we started our drive back home among the foggy, winding CA1. 

Photographs from the previous hike in Point Reyes is here.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Misson Peak

Thanks to Hao Chen for the invitation for Thursday morning Mission Peak hike, the event page here.  Roberto and I started the hike at 5:15AM and reached the summit by 6:25AM.  The trail is easy and dusty, with no trees/shadows.  It's pretty much stroller friendly except for the last stony stretch.  We met some Chinese hikers from Bay Area Hikers Club at the summit.  The view from the summit was breath taking - auriferous sunrise at one side, pale sky with the full moon shining over the bed of fleecy clouds on the other side.  The best time to go to Mission Peak is definitely early morning, or probably late evening for there is absolutely no shade along the trail.  We waited for Hao for about 20 minutes and started descending and we met him enroute.   He invited us for the breakfast but since we had already started the descent, we skipped it and reached the parking by 7:30AM.  It felt great to wake up so early and get some exercise, I hope I could join the event every Thursday.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Carmel, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo and Solvang

This one is the first official family vacation in the US, just the three of us in our very own car with our very own pace.   To me it was a repeat, my first visit photos are here and here, but the feel of the trip was completely different this time - more relaxed, slow paced, lesser importance on photography and more on Chinthan.  After I missed all the deals for Las Vegas for the 4th of July vacations, we decided to drive on CA1.

We started off at 9 on Thursday morning, 5th of July, since 4th of July was spent at San Francisco.   The weather was quite disheartening for photography all the way upto Carmel - overcast, as a result of which the Pacific looked very dull.  We stopped and walked around in the most beautiful "Ocean avenue" at Carmel.  The beach didn't look that great due to overcast, the street, nevertheless, was crowded and look very pretty with aesthetic cafes, galleries, restaurants, souvenir shops.  We had a quick lunch of breakfast burrito and soup bowl at Carmel Coffee house, before we continued further south on CA1.  

After Carmel, the clouds scattered and the sun shone on the Pacific which magically turned from a dull grey to multiple shades of blue.  The wild yellow flowers on the shore made the drive even more pleasant.  We stopped at almost all major vista points before we stopped for a snack just before Gorda by the sea.  We encountered Mr. Lonnie Campbell playing country songs with the rabbit on his head there, which Chinthan greatly enjoyed.  An expensive coffee at Gorda by the sea did a lot good till our next break at Piedras Negras for the famous elephant seals.  They were a lot more energetic and active this time than I had seen them in winter. 

We stopped at Hearst state beach and took a walk on the pier, after which we stopped for one last time on some unnamed beach about 35 miles before San Luis Obispo (SLO) for sunset and we head straight to SLO.  Dined at one of the Mexican restaurants, checked into the motel, showered and crashed. 

The next morning, we had a yummy breakfast of pancakes and breakfast burrito at Frank's Famous Hot Dogs at the junction of Monterrey St. and California Blvd. after which we head straight to CalPoly (California Polytechnic) and ambled around in the trail that leads to the Poly Canyon to see the architectural structures created by the students.  There were structures of different size and shape with horses grazing around, a good sight for my camera.  We then walked around the historic downtown of SLO - around Higuera, Monterrey, Santa Rosa,  Marsh and Broad streets.  We stopped by "Bubble Gum" alley where a zillion chewed bubble gums have been stuck to the wall.   After having a heavy Mediterranean food at Jaffa restaurant on Higuera and Toro St. we started our journey to Solvang.

Solvang is a smll touristy town with a Danish feel to it - windmills, bakeries, cafes.  We walked around the town, shopped few souvenirs, had a cup of coffee, bought some Danish pastries and returned back to Sunnyvale.