California

Sea Dogs

Continuing on from our drive down the PCH, we stumbled upon a small viewing area by the beach where lies hordes of elephant seals. They’re pretty much like the typical California sea lions, except they looked funny (and smelled funny) with their big snout of a nose, hence their name.

They laid around most of the time in tightly packed groups like sardines in a can. They moved like them too, which is not much.

Yet despite their lack of movements (and the smell), I was pretty excited. Nothing is more exciting to me than wild animals. Really fat, ungraceful, wild animals, who, by the way, would occasionally sing the song of their people when it suited them. Or yawn… really loudly. I could’ve stayed there for hours, but alas, it was already late in the afternoon and we still had what? Five hours of driving to go?

And so our journey continues…

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Big Sur

We stopped so many times, I lost track. We see a pretty house, we stopped. We see a pretty bridge, we stopped. We see a pretty forest, we stopped. You get the the picture.

Anyway, I don’t recall which of these pictures were actually part of Big Sur and which were not. It may just be the one with the trees, but at this point, who cares. Anywhere in NorCal next to the ocean is Big Sur to me.

Enjoy.

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The other obvious reason why it took us so long to drive down PCH

State Route 1, known more for its famous moniker, Pacific Coast Highway or PCH for short, is one of the must-see places in California and one that I have taken for granted. I’ve lived in California for God knows how long and have never driven through it. Probably because it’s about 500 miles long from San Francisco to Orange County. That’s approximately 11 hours of driving.

But I’ve made time. Just a shame it wasn’t enough. We left the hotel in Marina around 8 AM, but didn’t actually started driving down PCH until 10 AM, thanks to that abandoned military facility. We stopped at every single viewpoint that I deemed photo-worthy enough (which was practically every single stop). Granted, we started driving at 10 AM, we had about 8-9 hours of non-stop driving left before home, but as it was, we were again, stopping at practically every single stop, so you can imagine what time we got home.

Yeah, very late.

Gotta plan this trip again, this time with more days off.

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One of the many reasons why we took so long to drive down PCH

Just after a short trip to San Francisco and before a long drive down PCH, we came across this abandoned military housing area in Marina. At least that’s what I think it is. It was hard to say whether I preferred to be alone or have someone around when taking these shots. Alone meant heightened creepy factor. Having someone around meant having strangers around which equals to a whole lotta stuff that my wild imagination can conjure, homicide being one them.

The first night when we first explored the area, it was close to twilight. There, we found a beaten up SUV with a buncha stuff packed on the top and at the back, as if the driver was some kind of vagabond. It was sitting right in the middle of the road in between abandoned buildings, the driver nowhere in sight. There was also a lady walking about in an old-fashioned veiled hat. Yeah, I wasn’t having any of that.

The second day, we got there early and wandered as far as our extremely cautious selves would allow us. We were alone which meant we only had to deal with the heightened creepy factor. Took about an hour to shoot these and then we were off as soon as a group of young people, possibly potheads or just curious kids, drove in. We meant to leave earlier, but the place was too fascinating to pass up. And that was the beginning of a whole lotta regret (but not really) on my part. I’ll talk about that later.

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More touristy stuff in San Francisco

 

Fun fact! As stated from my last post, the first time I ever set foot in San Francisco was on the same year when I first moved to the country. It was on the way back from a road trip to Canada and it involved nine people and a van with a dead deer inside. Fun times!

Anyway, I’ve forgotten how difficult it is to play tourist in San Francisco, until I had to be one. Walking was painful and driving was absolutely terrifying.

Those hills… those really, really painful hills.

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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.