My first full day in California was a little inclement, in fact it poured with rain morning to evening only allowing a little light relief to get this shot of the iconic bridge. However it’s hard to be despondent in one of the most beautiful and stunningly situated cities on Earth. The following day the sun came out and didn’t stop blazing down for the following three weeks, as further pictures will testify.
This had long been a dream destination for me on so many levels, a buddy road trip with my best and oldest friend Neil, we were to enjoy the pure wilderness of Yosemite and travel the Pacific Coast Highway to the bright lights of L.A. Although only a month ago it feels like a glorious dream, one I will treasure all my life.
Long before you see the sea lions on the famous Pier 39 in San Francisco Bay you can hear them. A cross between barking and car horns honking. The sea lions aren’t forced to come to the pier or put on such an amazing free spectacle but they do, its a non stop riot of preening, arguing, play-fighting and flirting on a grand scale. There is nothing more beguiling than seeing close at hand such a dramatic and characterful species unconstrained by the artificial boundaries of a zoo or aquarium.
The shapes the sea lions create as they play and bicker can be mesmerising, as fluid as the waves they leap out of onto the pier. They lend themselves to a sort of rolling endless symmetry. I had to be dragged away from them as the rain had closed in again, the last rain I would see for a fair few weeks.
Waking up to sunshine and in a street off the Castro some vintage car enthusiasts show off their gleaming and glamorous vehicles from a mythic era in American culture.
From Twin Peaks, two towering mounds in the middle of the city you get glorious panoramic views, I was king of the mountain!
Golden Gate is just visible in the distance.
The Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park is one of the most celebrated outside of Japan. From now on my trip has glorious blue skies all the way.
Mystical light seemed very appropriate.
On to the Redwoods, suddenly I am in the land of the giants.
How can this be possible?!
The famous Faithful Couple.
A camera shy tiny native squirrel, quite unlike our reds or their grey cousins.
Nothing can prepare you for seeing Yosemite Valley for the first time, coming through a granite tunnel hewn deep in the mountain and then, bang! There it is, I had no words, I was just so thankful to be there in the presence of such majesty.
Awesome monolith of El Capitan.
Half Dome, immortalised by Ansel Adams.
And when you are almost bursting with too much beauty, Glacier Point high in the mountains almost literally pushes you over the edge!
High with the eagles.
Almost like a great stone bird looking out into the valley.
The stunning beach at Carmel, now we have hit the Pacific Coast Highway.
The Mission at Carmel is the oldest in the United States, dating back to around 1770.
Hummingbirds in the Mission gardens, accompanied by celestial singing drifting from a Mass in the Mission house.
Mesmerising jelly fish at Monterey Aquarium, best viewed with sound off.
Likewise eels & co. at Monterey Aquarium.
The stunning section of the Pacific Coast called Big Sur, every twist and turn of the road reveals new breathtaking vistas.
Shooting into the light to try and capture the celebrated bridge.
Mystical morning, Big Sur.
Magical hidden coves with glistening warm turquoise water.
Elephant seals basking in a bay on Big Sur.
The obscene opulence of Hearst Castle.
The famous Neptune pool, didn’t spot Clarke Gable anywhere!
Wonderful Art Deco observatory overlooking LA, where James Dean filmed Rebel Without A Cause.
My little bit of Hollywood.
Iconic Venice Beach.
Goodbye sun soaked mind blowing California, I won’t be away too long!