Monterey Bay Aquarium; not a fish market

On a short weekend trip to San Francisco, I decided to go down memory lane back to the days when I was a fresh out of school grad and still couldn’t afford a short flight to NorCal. And thus I had to travel by car, aka road trip.

One of the places my friends and I used to drop by was the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a nice, little spot from which the setting of Finding Dory was based from.

I remember back then, there was this gigantic aquarium where they had tons of humongous tunas, the size of a small Asian girl (me) swimming around in circles in a huge tank, along with a variety of sharks (hammerheads, tigers and an occasional baby great white), giant rays, a sea turtle and a single, happy-looking sunfish. It was like looking through a glorious fish tank in a seafood restaurant. I always left the place hungry.

Along with that delicious-looking Open Sea exhibit, they also have a lovely Kelp Forest (mmmm… nori), sea otters, cuttlefish (mmmm… cuttlefish) jellyfishes, penguins, etc.

Nowadays however, due to the declining population of tunas worldwide (thanks to over-fishing because of its deliciousness), the Open Sea exhibit wasn’t as full as it used to be.  Everything else was the same, but sadly Open Sea was lacking. Le sigh.

I should mention, it was so difficult to get these shots. These suckers move around too fast in such a dark environment. So pardon the occasional blur.

Some things are bigger and much greater

The last stop in our trip was the Redwood Nation and State Parks, specifically the Avenue of the Giants. The last time I set foot in these parts, I was just a ten-year old immigrant girl, fresh from the city of a less developed country. After a long road trip of nothing but forests and more forests, I thought nothing could surprise me anymore. What’s another forest, right?

Daaaayum, was I surprised. I fell asleep along the way and woke up, delirious as if I was still in a dream. It was beautiful and dark.

Years and years later, I returned and it was just as beautiful, dark and dreamlike as I remembered.

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These are ancient giants, centuries old, some even thousands of years old. And while the world around them changed, people came and gone, they continued to grow and stood tall. I recalled standing by the petrified forest, wondering how this desert was once was a magnificent forest, now a rocky, dry land. And yet the Redwood Forest remained steadfast. While I know nothing lasts forever, I do hope it stays this way for a long time.

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In troubled times, in those moments when I wonder if I’ll be next, I remember this forest of giants, I look at the stars and always think that there are bigger and much greater things than the world before me, things that withstands the test of time, lasting longer than wars, than the human life and the consequences of a bad decision. And while everything about me is in turmoil, as Carl Sagan once said, we are nothing but a pale blue dot in the universe and I know this too shall pass, whether or not I will be there in the end. It’s just a phase.

This old world will still be spinning ’round. James Taylor said that.

 

That pretty spot in Crescent City

First stop after a long drive from Oregon was Crescent City. Not gonna lie, but the place where we stayed was pretty ghetto. Not that I mind. I’m fine with ghetto as long as my life isn’t endangered (a rarity). Anyway, the place was right next to the sea, so that made up for it.

We skipped the caverns in Oregon since a fellow photographer didn’t wanna miss sunset here, and that’s alright. Apparently we needed advanced notice to see the caverns anyway. Plus the sunset was pretty awesome. Windy and cold as eff, but awesome nonetheless. It was almost like being back at Big Sur. Pretty, pretty.

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Crater Lake

This was the final destination for our trip before heading back down to Cali. We would’ve gone further up and I would’ve loved to stop by Portland just to see my buddy, Pedro and his lovely fiance, Miss Ash,  but alas, a three day weekend wasn’t long enough for us. So we had to settle for Crater Lake.

We crashed at a nearby motel an hour away, the only one left in the area that still had a room available (luckily, a firefighter conference was cancelled). The drive up was gorgeous and I do love the forests and mountains of Oregon. Crater Lake was breathtaking. The air was so clear and free of haze, the water so blue, it was every bit of the cliche about not knowing where the sky and the water meets, except, of course, for those pesky crater mountains separating the two.

Unfortunately, it was the only thing to see around the area. We could’ve gone hiking, but that was more for a long term stay.

So here it is… Crater Lake, everyone.

 

 

Waterfalls everywhere

Continuing from the last post…

So the original plan was to drive all the way to Portland. But as we researched some more, the thought of visiting Portland on a three day weekend road trip began to appear a little too far-fetched, considering it would’ve been an 18 hour drive just heading there and then another 18 hours heading back, all without stopping anywhere. And that would’ve been a waste. That only left us a day to really explore the city and the area around it. So we decided to make only as far as Crater Lake. We’ll get to that in a jiffy.

For now, since we decided we won’t be able to see Multnomah Falls, might as well make up for it by checking out three different waterfalls around Mt. Shasta. It was definitely worth stopping by.

The first waterfall was a hidden one. Probably my favorite and you’ll see why. You had to follow an active railroad by the river and then stumble down a hill, following the sound of crashing water. Yeah, technically it was illegal to get there and local authorities discourage it, but c’mon now. It was dark place covered in shade, so definitely recommend a tripod for this one. It was peaceful and barely anyone else was around. So pretty.

Mossbrae Falls

The next waterfall was a tourist trap. Bigger, louder and lots and lots of tourists here. It was also very rocky and unstable, so trying to get close to the waterfall while carrying heavy camera equipment and a tripod on a hot and sunny day was no easy feat. And if you don’t want to capture any tourists loitering around in your pictures, you do have to get closer. Unless you’re like me and carry around a heavy telephoto lens, then you wouldn’t have to. Yay.

But I did, anyway… yay again.

McCloud Middle Falls

The third waterfall was also just as crowded as McCloud Middle Falls, but since this one was larger and more powerful, not too many tourists got too close to it… except for this one annoying, suicidal guy who kept swimming close to it. But other than that, taking shots of this one using my telephoto lens was pretty simple. Just sat back on a corner and started shooting.  The hike to this waterfall was a bit tough, though. Lots uphill and downhill trails. But still worth it.

MacArthur-Burney Falls

And that’s it for now!

Labor Day Weekend

One strange morning, my boss and a couple of co-workers of mine came up with a wild idea that did not quite make any sense, but hey, we’re all for it anyway.

So on a warm Friday afternoon, Labor Day weekend, we took a half a day off, rented a minivan, packed up and took a road trip to Oregon. We didn’t quite know where to spend the first night after a 9 hour drive to Shasta Lake. Motels were too far from the lake and we didn’t want to spend the next morning driving some more just to get to the lake, especially when we still had long ways to go to get to Oregon. The campgrounds were too expensive just to spend a few hours in, so we made the decision to just rough it up and sleep in the minivan. But did we actually sleep in the minivan? No, not really. Instead, we stayed up all night taking pictures of the Milky Way Galaxy. Of course, we did. Pictures now, regret later.

We found a nice, extremely dark parking lot to take these shots.

Two hours of uncomfortable sleep later, I drove the group not too far next to the lake. From there, we watched the sun rise up against Mt. Shasta and with my  bleary, dead eyes and half-asleep brain, I took more pictures… somehow.

So here they are. Yay.

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