California Highlights 2019

It’s Easter 2020 and we’re currently living in harrowing times with much of the world engaged in attempts to manage the spread of Covid-19. Like many countries, the UK is in a state of semi lockdown with large sections of the population confined to their homes or at best a short distance from same. So, like many others I’m currently filling my days with various chores around the house and garden. I’ve even managed to spend some time editing photos from my trip to California in November 2019. These are now on-line and can be viewed here.

California Highlights Diary

It was originally my intention to post a small selection of images during the trip so that friends and family could keep up with progress. Alas, long days and nights of photography meant that my plans never came to fruition. Nevertheless, I did manage to write down a few notes each day as a reminder of the locations we’d been too.

Day 1

We arrived in the city of South San Francisco mid afternoon, and having left our baggage at the motel we headed to a location called the Wind Harp. This 92-foot tall sculpture is located on the side of a hill known as Point San Bruno Knoll that overlooks the San Francisco Bay.

Wind Harp, South San Francisco

Day 2 was a travel day as we made our way to Yosemite National Park. We made numerous stops along the way. A highlight was the visit to the St Joseph’s Catholic church in Mariposa. We even managed a guided tour of Mariposa County Courthouse.

Mariposa County Courthouse

Days 3 to 5

We spent 3 days in Yosemite with early starts each morning as we wanted to visit as many locations within the park as possible. On my previous trip in 2013 we were blessed with snow on one of the days. Unfortunately, whilst snow provided lots of photographic opportunities around the valley floor it prevented us getting to some of the more iconic locations high above the valley. This time weather was more suited to driving to the higher viewpoints, and we even managed to photograph Half Dome at sunset from Glacier Point.

Half Dome at Sunset, Glacier Point

Days 5 – 7

We spent the morning of day 5 in Yosemite before making our way to Mono Lake. Our route took us over the Tioga Pass with short stops at Olmsted Point and Tenya Lake.

Mono Lake is a saline soda lake formed around 760,000 years ago. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salts to accumulate in the lake. Our first evening at went well with  beautiful sunset followed by a long period of afterglow.

Sunset Afterglow, Mono Lake

On the second evening  a few of use drove to Lake Mary near Mammoth Lakes. It was a clear night with the Milky Way plain to see with the naked eye.

Milky Way, Lake Mary, Mammoth Lakes

Days 7-9

We left Mono Lake and began the long journey to the town of Lone Pine. This was to be our base for visits to the Alabama Hills and Bristlecone Pine Forest near Bishop.

The Alabama Hills, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada just west of Lone Pine, is one of Hollywood’s favourite filming locations. The beautiful rock formations and natural arches of the hills bordered by a vast open plain rising majestically to the mountains beyond has been a prime filming location since the early 1900s.

Lathe Arch and Mount Whitney, Alabama Hills

After sunrise on day 9 we began the drive to Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley.

Days 9-12

Our time in Death Valley followed the usual pattern of rising before dawn to capture sunrise in the Mesquite Sand Dunes then breakfast. After breakfast we’d head off to photograph locations such as the Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater, Zabriskie Point and many others in between.

Fan Clouds at Sunset, Zabriskie Point

We left Death Valley and headed westward to the town of Ridgecrest for an overnight stop before travelling to Morro Bay. We had chosen Ridgecrest because it gave us good access to the Trona Pinnacles National Natural Landmark. The Trona Pinnacles are an unusual geological feature in the California Desert National Conservation Area. The landscape consists of more than 500 tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, rising from the bed of the Searles Lake basin.

Unfortunately, we mistimed our arrival with the result that the sun had already set. Nevertheless, we did manage to capture some afterglow photos 😉

Sunset at Trona Pinnacles

Day 13

We left Ridgecrest on our way to Morro Bay where we spent the late evening photographing sunset over the bay. It’s known for Morro Rock, an ancient volcanic mound at the end of Morro Rock Beach.

Morro Rock at Sunset, Morro Bay

Day 14

On day 14 we travelled northward stopping along the way to capture as many photo opportunities as we could.

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur

Day 15

Day 15 began with a visit to the Carmel Mission Basilica Museum. The Carmel Mission as it’s more commonly named was first built in 1797, and is one of the most authentically restored Roman Catholic mission churches in California. The Basilica Church, a registered National Historic Landmark, is the centerpiece of the Mission.

Carmel Basilica, Carmel

Day 16

Our final full day in California was spent in San Francisco with a short trip across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sea Fret, Golden Gate Bridge

Images were GPS tagged and edited in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC

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