I got a last-minute chance to go the Bay Area last week. Laura was teaching a day-long class in Richmond and I decided to tag along, drop her off at her class and then take a ferry ride over to San Francisco for a few hours. This also gave me a chance to try out a recent used camera purchase. Combined with sunny weather, it was a great day.
The ferry leaves Larkspur and crosses San Francisco Bay to the San Francisco Ferry Building along the Embarcadero. I was lucky enough to catch the high-speed ferry (30 minute ride vs. 45 minutes on the slower one). It really flew along the water. I’m guessing we were moving about 50 mph land speed, based on how hard the wind hit me in the face.
These guys were playing “I’m King of the World” with the wind on the ferry.
This was my first time on a ferry on the Bay and it really gives a nice vantage point along the way. We passed San Quentin Prison, Angel Island, got a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, and the approach to the SF city from bayside was terrific.
San Quentin Prison – Home Sweet Home for some…
Once I landed in the City, I walked around the Embarcadero area. I ventured into the Hyatt Regency Hotel with its famous atrium interior. I took a photo from this vantage point around 1980, it may be on my website.
I had lunch with my son, Ken, who works about a block away. It’s always fun to see my grown kids out in their own world – I realize Ken has lived more than 1/3 of his life in San Francisco. We had a great visit and it was, as always, way too short. I bopped around a little more, bought a baseball cap from the SF Giants Dugout Store (naturally), and headed back to the ferry landing for the return ride back across the bay.
I took a quiet drive along the Sacramento River toward the delta region last week. It’s mostly farmland in this area…pear orchards, new vineyards, grain fields.
Locke is a small historic riverfront town about 20 miles south of Sacramento. In fact, it is very small. The main street (above) runs about one block, and it looks like there are a couple of streets with small houses on them. Locke has an interesting history. It was formed in the early 1900’s by a group of Chinese residents who wanted to form their own community in the farming region. It has the unique status as the only town in the United States built exclusively by the Chinese for the Chinese. A few small businesses still operate along the main street: a bar called Al the Wop’s, some gift shops and a small market. There is also a small Chinese memorial park monument.
It’s always a dilemma when I think about selecting a camera (or two) when leaving for a vacation. How much gear do I want to pack? How much gear will I want to carry with me while I’m at my vacation destination? (If you’re not going to take the camera out with you, then it doesn’t matter what you bring.)
As I prepared to pack for a recent trip to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, I decided to travel as minimally as possible. The purpose of this trip was to relax, take in the sights and experience Mexico to the fullest. Since we were planning to not check any luggage and just do carry-on, I knew I was going with no more than one camera and one lens. My usual “go-to vacation setup” is a Canon Rebel XTi with a Sigma 18-200 zoom lens. This is a pretty compact, lightweight, yet good all-around rig. The zoom range of 18-200mm is the 35mm equivalent of 28-320mm on the crop sensor, so that works out well as a vacation camera. Wide enough for most vistas and interiors, yet the strong zoom would really pull in detail shots and candids. But I had recently purchased a Canon G11 point and shoot camera and I really wanted to give it a whirl. So I left the DSLR home and put my faith in the G11. That was it, just the camera. And fortunately, as I’ll explain later, lens cleaning materials.
Laura and I spent a week camping at Jackson Meadows Reservoir. It’s a beautiful area with an elevation of about 6,500 feet.
A couple of bald eagles, a male and a female, were pretty active in the area. These birds are very graceful in flight and I was able to get close enough with a long lens to take a few photos.
On one of the days, a strong storm moved slowly through the area. At one point, it hailed constantly for about 30 minutes. The hailstones were the size of grapes and it was pretty impressive to see that much weather activity.
As if the hailstorm wasn’t wild enough, the most amazing moment came on the last morning – we were awakened by the sound of a gas-powered LEAF BLOWER. The camp host, of all people, was using it to blow the pine needles off the campground road. When I asked him to turn it off, he was shocked by my request. I told him that the leaf blower was an offensive noise and that pine needles and dirt were a normal part of a campground. This was the final straw after listening to his generator run most of every day we were there. After I had calmed down, I realized I had missed my chance to take a short video of his efforts. It was the most unbelievable thing I had ever witnessed in a campground.
This is the view from Trinidad’s Turtle Rocks Oceanfront Inn along the North Coast of California. The most significant thing about this photograph is that it was taken by moonlight. It was a full moon on the night of this shot and a 30 second time exposure was all it took to capture this image. The tell-tale signs that this is a time exposure at night:
Small amount of star trails in the sky. At 30 seconds, the trails don’t show up much, but they are there.
The light of a fishing boat along the horizon.
The blur of the waves – there is plenty of ocean movement in 30 seconds.
The Turtle Rocks Oceanfront Bed & Breakfast Inn is a treat. The rooms are spacious, comfortable with great views of the ocean. The owners, Francine and Roger, are very friendly and accommodating, making sure that your stay is the best possible.
When camping, every night ends with a warm campfire and s’mores. It’s the law.
(In case you’re wondering how this photo was taken, I placed a small flash unit on the opposite side of the fire ring, near my foot. It has a CTO (orange) gel on it to simulate the warm light from a campfire.)