Well, there it is, the highlight of the trip. I tried stacking ND filters, but the easiest way was just to slap my solar eclipse glasses over the lens and take a shot. However, the journey actually started a few days prior to White Pocket. It's usually considered a consolation prize for people not winning the Wave Lottery, but I do think it really stand on its own for its beauty and the freedom of access and exploration.
We wanted to watch the eclipse from Muley Point, just up the Moki Dugway, which was packed with campers. We were able to find ourselves a little open area to park up for the night. I had an idea to setup a timelapse video of the moon's shadow moving across the land as the eclipse progressed, but that didn't work out at all. Not only there's no shadow moving, the auto-exposure of the phone camera didn't even capture the dimming of the lights.
After the eclipse, we waited a little to give other people a chance to clear out before driving down the Moki Dugway ourselves. From there, we visited Valley of the Gods. There, we could see people camping in every nook and cranny of any available pull-outs. Not much photos taken there because a lot of the pull-outs were still occupied by campers and there was a lot of car traffic for both directions.
Throughout the trip, I had "In Search of Sunrise" by DJ Tiesto playing at the back of my mine. While the annular eclipse was cool, I feel it's only a pre-show for the total eclipse next year. Even at its peak, everything was still brightly lit with only 20% of the sun, so I'm really looking forward to see what it'll be like with a total eclipse. I guess I'll find out next April. Here are all the photos from this trip [CLICK HERE].
I was fortunate enough to link a few events together which resulted in a trip to NorCal. I had a lot of time to just explore, so I decided to take Highway 130 to cross from Interstate 5 to San Jose, instead of the normal Highway 152 through Gilroy. The eastern side of the drive took me through some canyons with great sceneries, the San Antonio Valley which is in the middle had great flower blooms in the plains. The road also passes through the Lick Observatory which had around 10 different telescopes.
The goal for the first day is to reach Muir Beach and boondock in a viewpoint. Woke up the next day and headed towards my happy place: the Cypress Tree Tunnel in Point Reyes National Seashore. Then, I wanted to drive up to the Glass Beach at Fort Bragg. However, after driving an hour on the PCH, I turned around because I didn't want to drive the full 6 hours on the twisty, up and down, and windy path when the scenery doesn't change that much. Instead, I drove back down and explore many things that I've marked on my map.
Monday, after the van got its much needed maintenance, I continued the drive down PCH from Pacifica. I rode my bike around the Devil's Slide area and ended up in an incredible boondocks site that I found by pure luck. It was so awesome that I decided to stay an extra day just to soak it all in. Since I had some extra time on my hands, I took some drone shots and made a video.
Since large portions of PCH was closed due to the recent rain storms, I started making my way inland from Santa Cruz. Rode my bike in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, which was beautiful and reminded me of Muir Woods. Following the Carmel Valley Road, I visited the Chews Ridge Fire Lookout, then ended the day camping at Williams Hill Campground.
Finally, I drove towards Montana De Oro State Park near Morro Bay where I met up with 20+ Winnebago Revel Owners and had a blast. The park offered many biking and hiking trails, but it was pretty foggy the whole time we were there. A ride on the Bluff Trail offered many great viewpoints.
After years of drought, California has received more rains than I can remember in the past few months. The conditions are ripe for a superbloom in the Carrizo Plains National Monument. I drove up Friday night and camped along Shell Creek Road in a pullout in a gloomy night, hoping the weather will turn better the next day.
Next day morning, it was still foggy and overcast, but the sun will peek through at times. We got a tip from another fellow photographer to check out Bitterwater Road and it did not disappoint. The rolling hills were covered with bright yellow flowers with some oranges mixed in between, and we're not even in the Carrizo Plain proper yet!
Once we drove into the plain and saw how crowded it was, we decided to take the Elkhorn Road and explore the foothills first. It was a mild off-road adventure, but very relaxing, definitely beats sucking on someone else's dust trails down in Soda Lake Road.
However, it was unavoidable. In order to see some of those purple patches, we had to drive down into the plain and check it out up close. Eventually, we had to drive high up the Cliente Mountain to find a spot to camp for the night. The roads up the mountains were kind of rutted, but the views on top was quite spectacular. I still got the feelings that we were there a bit too early for the full bloom, so maybe we'll come back to revisit in a few weeks. See the full set of photos [HERE].
For the past week, we retraced our Oregon Roadtrip from a couple of years ago. And, of course, we added a few new stops along the way, too. Burney Falls in the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park was something that we missed last time. I'm so glad to catch it this time around as it was just amazing.
The waterfall is very accessible. From the parking lot, you simply walk down a winding paved path and you'll start to get some glimpse of the waterfall through the trees. Once you get down, the evaporative cooling took the temperature from high 90's to a cool 70+, it's like a natural air conditioning! Besides the main streams that falls from the top, there are lots of water seeping through the moss-covered rocks on the sides, and that's the real beauty of the waterfall, to me.
From the photos, you can see the clear blue pool of water, but you don't see a lot of people swimming in it. That's because by the time you get down there, the air temperature drops significantly, and the water felt like freezing cold. It was too cold for us, even in the peak of summer season. I'm super glad that we were able to visit this amazing waterfall this time around.
Covid-lockdowns has given me riches of vacation hours. There's no reason why they should go to waste. Two years ago, I took my first solo trip to the Trona Pinnacles, and I've been wanting to do something similar again. So I decided to take a few days off work and visit a few places that's 2-3 hours away from home that's been on my map for quite a while.
Fossil Falls was the first stop. I've driven past this place many times, but because it was always in the summer, and it just seemed too hot to visit. As soon as I reached the campsite that's right next to the trailhead, my neighbor, Fred, came over and chatted with me. Fred, who I guess was in his 70's, grew up in the area and had a wealth of information to share with me. He told me about the Little Lake Overlook, which I'm very glad to have visited. To thank him for his knowledge and company, I shared my dinner and breakfast with him.
Next day, after promising to see Fred "down the road", I headed west towards Lake Isabella. The original plan was to camp at this place called Rabbit Island that's close to the lake, but in researching for backup camp spots, I found this secluded spot that's next to the Kern River, and I had to check it out. Since it was Friday, I got in early, and expected to see a bunch of disappointed campers that this spot was taken. To my surprise, for the entire time I was there, no one came by. So I had a lot of alone time and did my best to find things to do to take my mind off the 90 degree heat.
Next morning, I woke up early to drive to Miracle Hot Springs for a good soak. Then it's time for the next attraction: Tehachapi Loop. You probably have not heard about this place if you're not a train enthusiast. It was built in the 1800's. Due to the train back then did not have enough power to climb the steep grades of these mountains, they designed a loop so the train can pull itself up over the Tehachapi Pass. It's great fun to watch the train loop over itself if that interests you, but alas this was my last stop before I'm heading back to reality. For the full set of images on this trip, [CLICK HERE]
As an attempt of a "last hurrah" before the summer vacation ends, we packed up the van and headed up the Interstate 395 to the Eastern Sierras. It's sparsely populated with a diverse terrains of mountains, deserts, lakes, rivers, and forests if you climb high enough in elevation. And, that's the key, stay high up enough during the summer so the nights will cool you down.
First we visited the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest at over 10,000 feet above sea level. The thinner air at that elevation really put a damper on the desire to hike more.
We had high hopes of finding a camp spot near a natural hot springs, but there were just way too much people out this weekend during the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems that people are tired of being cooped up at home, but many campground are closed, so they flock to the BLM lands. It was our family's first time at trying kayaking at Convict Lake. It was a lot of relaxing fun, and I can see it being a regular part of our future adventures.
For the last night, we travelled up higher for a nice camp spot in the pine forest. It was too bad that we couldn't have a campfire due to the fire restrictions, but we had a nice meal and a lively fire-side chat, without the fire. The summer of 2020 certainly has been different than the past summers, but we've made the best of it, and again, the Revel was a key contributor.
The Prewitt Ridge dispersed camping area overlooking Big Sur has been on my bucket list for a while now. With the offroad-capable Winnebago Revel, I finally got the chance to visit this place. The views were spectacular, although we did not get to witness the sea of clouds due to hot weather. The whole area was super crowded during this weekend, but it was the amount of bugs and flies that may detract us from coming back for another visit in the summer months.
To avoid making the 6+ hours drive all at once from LA, we spent Friday night on the ridges above Santa Barbara, which also had beautiful views of the city, night lights, and we did see the sea of clouds in the early morning from there.
What a great weekend filled with memories, amid this COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Here's a time lapse video of the sunset over Prewitt Ridge.
While California is shut down due to the COVID-19 Corona virus, we escaped out to the desert. The legendary Mojave Road is somewhere I've heard a lot about but never had a capable vehicle to experience. I thought I might push my luck and take the Winnebago Revel on it, but after this trip, I think that's probably not feasiable.
A must-visit place on the Mojave Road is Fort Piute. After a very rocky ascend into the mountain, we see the ruins of a fort that used to guard the spring waters in the 1850s.
We continued on from Fort Piute and reached Lanfair Valley. That marked the end our trip, but I do plan to come back and continue the Mojave Road from here in the future.
A bunch Winnebago Revel owners met up at the San Simeon Washburn Campground this weekend. It was nice meeting up with people who shares the same passions and interests. A lot has been talked about the down side to social media, but I think it's simply a tool, and it's about how you use it. There is quite a large group of folks on Facebook, and we all help each other by sharing mods, troubleshoot problems, and just share adventures. A meet up like this highlights the fact that sometimes it's just more fun seeing each other face to face and have a conversation in real life. On Sunday, once we departed from the group, we head into Cambria to get some deserts and visited the Moonstone Beach Park to have our breakfast.
I was pretty excited that SpaceX was going to have a rocket launch in Vandenberg Air Force Base this time. Drove up in the middle of the night to a spot that I scoped out that should allow me to watch it above the low morning fog and waited. When the sun rose, things looked good, and looks like I may be able to see the rocket pierce through the fog, but just 30 minutes before launch, it completely fogged up.
Although the captured video is just white fog, I was able to capture the sonic booms in audio...
My Journey into Leica...
A path not to be taken lightly, not without reservations, and not without dedication, but the results can be sweet, OH SO SWEET! This is a documentation of my trials and tribulations into the world of Leica Rangefinder Photography, and I hope you'll enjoy coming along with me.