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.
I have some really exciting news…my parents are moving to Florida! Let me clarify – not just to Florida, but to my little city, only 2.4 miles away! Only for a short period of time a few years ago have I even lived in the same state as my parents since moving out of our family home to go to college. We’ve all moved several times since then and until today have been 1000 miles apart. To say that I am delighted that they are moving here would be an understatement!
My parents are under the impression that they will get to relax and enjoy the “Florida Lifestyle” when they get settled here. I don’t know if they realize how much my husband and I have planned for them when they arrive. My husband is looking forward to having my Dad as a fishing buddy every weekend until the fall. While the boys are busy, I plan to take my Mom with me to all of my favorite photography spots and we will surely see many sunsets like this one from Honeymoon Island State Park. However we all end up spending our time, it will be fantastic to be spending it together and I can’t wait! Now if I can just get my brother and sister-in-law down here..
While looking for a photo for today’s blog post, I ran across this one from the Outer Banks and knew it was the one I wanted to share. The setting may look familiar as I previously posted a photo with the historic US Coast Guard Oregon Inlet Lifesaving Station and the Bonner Bridge from a different location. Although the shots are similar, I love that this one incorporates the beautiful ripples in the sand that seem to be everywhere on Pea Island. Thanks to some naturally black sand and the low angle of the sun, the ripples in the sand added great texture to the foreground. That January afternoon was a cold and windy one, but it was worth the numb fingers and wind-chapped lips to capture this image.
Since I mentioned the beautiful light at sunset at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge in my last post, it didn’t seem fair not to share a photo of it. Those familiar with the area will immediately recognize the historic US Coast Guard Oregon Inlet Life Saving Station and the Bonner Bridge in the background. The Herbert C. Bonner bridge connects Hatteras Island to the mainland and spans Oregon Inlet, a major waterway allowing access to the Atlantic Ocean for scores of fishermen. One of the first sights you see as you travel south on the Bonner Bridge towards Pea Island is the Life Saving Station. Built in 1888, the building was abandoned by the Coast Guard for a location on the north side of Oregon Inlet along the sound in 1988. The historic building sat vacant and in disrepair for twenty years before it was renovated in 2008 in spectacular fashion restoring it’s former beauty.
If you’ve been a reader of this PhotoBlog for long, you’ll know that Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, Florida, is one of my favorite places. After moving to the Tampa Bay area several years ago, my family frequented local tourist beaches until we eventually stumbled upon Honeymoon Island. We have been hooked ever since, and it appears we aren’t the only ones. According to the Florida Audubon Society, Honeymoon Island was the most popular park in the state of Florida for 2010 with 1,043,336 visitors. To give you some perspective, this is nearly 300,000 visitors more than the second most popular park in the state. With it’s pristine beaches and natural setting, I have a feeling that Honeymoon Island will continue to rise in popularity.
When I started looking through my coastal photos this week, I realized just how many sunset photos I have. Sunsets of the Gulf of Mexico in the winter are beautiful, but often cloudless. While the sky still lights up with an array of colors, I find that clouds are what really reflect the light and show even more amazing colors. Daily thunderstorms in the summer certainly bring the clouds, but it’s no guarantee of a pretty sunset. Some evenings those clouds make the sunset simply stunning, while other times they prevent you from ever seeing the sun set. This sunset was photographed a few hours after a large line of afternoon thunderstorms rolled through several years ago. We had friends in town for the weekend, so we ventured back out to Honeymoon Island State Park after the storms died down and were treated to this beautiful sunset.
What a difference a year or two can make. Today is a blustery day in the Tampa Bay area with highs only expected in the low 50’s with 20+ mph winds, making it feel even colder than it is. While this is certainly much warmer than much of the nation, it is pretty cold for Florida considering the average high here at the end of December is 72 degrees. This is the second year in a row with cooler than average temperatures around the holidays, which left me missing warmer days of years past. This photo was taken at my favorite sunset destination, Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, FL at the end of December in 2008. The two kayakers were taking advantage of the above average temperatures that year where we enjoyed sunny days in the low 80’s.