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].
Surviving Death Valley...
Took my first trip into the Death Valley National Park with a few other Revel owners this past weekend. Lucky for us, the temperature reach a nice sweltering 105F just for us. In the dry heat, 85F felt cool. I could really understand where the name came from after seeing how unfriendly to life this place was, and it wasn't even summer yet!
Before entering the park from the west side, we visited some interesting places just outside of the park. Father Crowley Overlook, also known as Star Wars Canyon, is known for watching fighter jets flying through the canyon. We weren't so lucky to see that, but we did spot a fighter jet snaking high in the sky. The road to Wildrose Charcoal Kilns gave us the first taste of off-road driving. We didn't feel the heat until we entered the park proper and stopped at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. The heat came from the sun above, as well as the sand below, prompting us to make this a very brief stop.
Continuing our tour of the park, we reach the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin, which was -282 feet below sea level. Someone was nice enough to put a sign halfway up the cliff to mark where the sea level actually was, so we can fully appreciate just how low we were. The Artist Drive which took us to the Artists Palette Overlook was worth the small detour. The view from Zabriskie Point showed us two different types of badlands, one was just plain gold sand, and the other had layers of different sediments drawing lines on the walls.
Second day, driving through Titus Canyon was what everyone was waiting for. It's one-way only, so we didn't have to worry about oncoming traffic as we snake our way up the narrow mountain passes and between the tight canyon walls. I will post a short drone video below of the final stretch of the drive. Ending the day at Dante's View was just the perfect way to cap off our adventures in Death Valley National Park.
Checking Off Some Bucket List...
Just got back from my longest solo excursion to date, spending about a week driving up and down California. Doing it by myself means I can stop the car whenever I see something I want to photograph, visiting places in my photo bucket list for a while now. Took about 400 shots, all with the WATE, and processed about 50 of them, you see the full set [HERE].
I spent one whole day just driving around Point Reyes National Seashore, and of course, I visited the Cypress Trees Tunnel. In fact, I drove by it 3 times on purpose, to try to capture it in various time of day. I especially love the misty morning, it brings so much more interest and mystique.
Point Reyes has various terrains and wildlife which made it quite interesting to just explore each dead-end road, also the surrounding areas like Tomales Bay State Park and the quiet town of Inverness are not to be missed. I did quite a few 2-mile short hikes, but if you want to take on some of the longer hikes, you might need to plan to visitor the area for multiple days.
After boondocking on the side of PCH for a night of listening to crashing waves, I headed into Muir Woods. From my research, there is a backdoor way of exploring the trails via Mt. Tamalpais State Park so you don't have to deal with the parking reservation system of Muir Woods. If I let my imagination run a bit, I can still see some traces of Endor from Star Wars in my pictures.
Last stop was Pinnacles National Park. Strangely, I've never even heard about this place until it was made into a national park in 2013. It's not a very large park, nor does it has the grand views of Yosemite or Grand Canyons. I went on the Bear Gulch Cave Trail, where the "cave" is formed by lots of fallen boulders, and the trail take you through and boulders and up to a reservoir of calm waters. The campground is very nice and spacious, will have to come back again with the family.
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.