Thursday, April 3, 2014

Travel: Pacific Coast Highway Weekend Road Trip - Central California Coast - Day 2, Part 1 (Morro Bay, Cambria, San Simeon, Elephant Seal Beach)

Day 1

The Drive Begins
Morro Rock - Morro Bay, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
We spent the night in a hotel in Santa Maria to save money. The place we chose was a disappointment. In retrospect, we should have spent an extra $40-$50 and stayed in San Luis Obispo. That way we would have had a head start on the day. Oh, well.

After breakfast, we headed north up U.S. 101 (also known as El Camino Real) until San Luis Obispo, where we picked up the Pacific Coast Highway. The first stop of the day was Morro Bay.

It had rained pretty hard overnight, but the day was clear and sunny. The weather started off cool, but became warm enough later that jackets weren't required.

Morro Bay
Rock Behind Ice Plant - Morro Bay, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
Beach Girl - Morro Bay, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
Morro Wave Crash - Morro Bay, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
We arrived at Morro Bay in the morning. A really great beach to play and see Morro Rock is on the north side of town (we knew this from a previous visit). The kids enjoyed finding sea shells and sea life. It was a good visit, but we did not stay long.

A challenge when photographing places like Morro Rock is that they have been captured so many times, it is nearly impossible to make any sort of original art from it. Whatever creative way you can think of has been done a thousand times over. It takes vision, creativity and the decisive moment to even begin making interesting images of these places.

Cambria
Cambria West - Cambria, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
Orange Flower - Cambria, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
Flower - Cambria, California
I captured this using a Sigma DP2 Merrill.
We pulled into Cambria in time for lunch. This is a neat little coastal town. Only a small section of the town is on the beach--most of it is nestled among tall trees, separated from the beach by a hill. It's quite beautiful, really.

Cambria has a quaint downtown area with restaurants and unique shops. It has a certain charm that is rare. This was a good place to stretch our legs and fill our bellies.

San Simeon
Ocean Splash - San Simeon, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
Zebras Below The Castle - San Simeon
I captured this using a Samsung NX200. I gave it a "vintage" look in post-processing to differentiate it from the many other photos that others snapped of the exact same scene.
After lunch we continued north on the Pacific Coast Highway to San Simeon, which is most famous for Hearst Castle. We did not visit Hearst Castle because our young kids would not have appreciated it. However, we were fortunate enough to see the zebras that roam the property (a highlight for our daughter).

When we spotted the zebras they were pretty far away, but they soon moved closer to the highway. Our car was the first to pull over and stop. By the time we left there were ten or so other cars stopped and a whole bunch of people snapping photographs. 

Elephant Seal Beach
Elephant Seal Beach - San Simeon, California
I captured this using a Nokia Lumia 1020.
A Look - San Simeon, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
Moving Sand - San Simeon, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
Buddies - San Simeon, California
I captured this using a Samsung NX200.
Not far up the road from Hearst Castle is Elephant Seal Beach. We almost skipped this stop because it was crowded. I'm glad we didn't skip it because it was one of the most interesting things we saw on our trip.

Literally hundreds, if not thousands, of huge elephant seals were soaking up the sun on the sandy beach. Initially it seemed like there was no action, but soon we noticed a seal throwing dirt on itself, two seals fighting, a seal going into the ocean, a seal coming out of the ocean, and so forth. 

There is a pathway above the beach for viewing. Access to the beach is off limits (and for good reason), but the viewing areas are close enough to see the show.

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