California

Story Behind the Photo: Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach, San Francisco

When I made plans to travel to San Francisco for the first time, Baker Beach was at the top of my list for places to visit. As a huge fan of Ansel Adams, I had long admired his photos from Baker Beach of the Golden Gate Bridge. After a long day of traveling cross country with layovers in every time zone in between, my husband and I landed in San Francisco about two hours before sunset and made to Baker Beach just in time for this shot.  As one of the most internationally recognizable symbols of San Francisco, this photo of the Golden Gate Bridge is one of my favorites from that trip. We are planning to head back to the area this fall, and I might just have to visit Baker Beach again!

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Story Behind the Photo: Pacific Sunset

Pacific Sunset, La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, CA

My family and I just returned from a fabulous vacation in the San Diego area and are still talking about what a great trip it was! My husband and I have been to California several times, but this was the first trip for our daughter and she finally saw what we’ve been raving about.

The weather was positively refreshing with highs around 70 degrees and far less humidity than we are used to at home in the Tampa Bay area. By far, our favorite spot was La Jolla Cove, just north of San Diego. The coastline is beautiful with miles of rocky cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There are a few sandy beaches tucked here and there, and plenty of tide pools to explore at low tide. In addition to all of the beautiful views, there are harbor seals and sea lions that seemed to be at every turn which totally delighted my daughter. It will come as no surprise to most of you that  I just loved seeing the stunning sunsets each night.

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Story Behind the Photo: Monterey Peninsula

Monterey Peninsula along the 17-mile Drive, Monterey, CA

The 17-Mile Drive along the Monterey Peninsula winds through Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, California. Touted as one of the most scenic drives in the country, the views absolutely lived up to their reputation. The rocky coastline hints at the uneven rocky surface below that help make the sea look especially restless here. Every now and then between the crashing waves I was able to catch a glimpse of a few sea otters  bobbing up and down and marveled at how adept they were at navigating those rocks. In addition to the treacherous shoreline, it was an extremely windy day when this photo was taken, making the waves seem particularly spectacular.

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Story Behind the Photo: Pigeon Point Light Station

Pigeon Point Light Station, Pescadero, CA

On a trip to explore the coast of California, my husband and I took our time driving south along the Pacific Coast Highway taking in the scenery. While I expected Big Sur to be beautiful, I was just as taken with the beautiful rocky shoreline between San Francisco and Monterey. Pescadero especially was beautiful, with Bean Hollow State Beach as a stand out thanks to its “pebble beach“. Another beautiful spot in Pescadero is at the Pigeon Point Light Station. When we turned towards the light station from the highway, the parking area was full, so we drove a little further along the coastal road looking for a place to turn around. While we meandered along the winding road, a huge mass of Ice Plants appeared that seemed to go right up to the Pacific Ocean itself. I decided to get out and snap a few photos, and then turned to see this beautiful view of the light station. As it turns out, this view from our remote stop in the road was much better than anything I could have had from the parking lot at the light station itself. Every now and then a detour is a good thing!

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Story Behind the Photo: Spotted Jelly

Spotted Jelly, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, CA

In my previous post this week I highlighted a favorite image from the jelly exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Along with the enormous Pacific Sea Nettles and striking crimson Sea Nettles, there are several smaller displays that offer lots of character. This Spotted Jelly was going against the flow allowing the light from above to highlight the intricate detail in it’s tentacles. While crowds were gathered around the larger tanks, I enjoyed my time watching these little guys for a while uninterrupted.

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Story Behind the Photo: Sea Nettle

Sea Nettle, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, CA

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has one of the largest live jelly displays in the country, and it is simply stunning. The entire aquarium is fantastic, but something about that exhibit made it one of my favorite parts of my trip to the west coast last year. While the huge Pacific Sea Nettle display is one of the most photographed and recognizable in the exhibit, I found this lone sea nettle to be striking against the blue background of the display and was captivated.

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Story Behind the Photo: Stellar Jay

Stellar's Jay, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, CA

One of the things I’m looking forward to in Arizona and Utah this weekend is the opportunity to see all kinds of different flora and fauna.For me, air travel has made it easy to lose perspective about how large the United States is and how diverse the climates are. In just the 8 hour drive from my old home north of Atlanta to my new one in the Tampa Bay area, an entire new tropical world opened up with exotic plants, animals and birds. As I travel through some of the nations most beautiful national parks over the next few days, I hope to see a few new birds and would love to see some of the wildlife indigenous to the area.

As I try to study up on what birds and animals I may see, I was reminded about my surprise and fascination with the new plants and birds I saw in California a few years ago. My husband and I kept seeing beautiful blue birds, but they weren’t the Blue Jays we have on the East coast. After much research, I discovered it was a Stellar’s Jay, pictured here at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur, CA.

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