Category Archives: Photos

Exploring the Central Coast: Pismo Beach and Ontario Ridge

Today I headed to the coast in the early afternoon. My first destination was Pismo Beach. Thanks to Bugs Bunny I’ve been aware of Pismo Beach for a long time.

The famous clams at Pismo Beach are now very difficult to find due to over-harvesting and a large sea otter population. I heard that the chamber of commerce had a Pismo Beach clam shell on display, and the town also has three large concrete clam statues, so I thought I’d stop by and see them.

The authentic clam shell at the chamber of commerce is covered in a lacquer. It sat on a shelf near tourism brochures. It looked like a clam shell.

The Pismo Beach clam shell on display at the chamber of commerce.

The Pismo Beach clam shell on display at the chamber of commerce.

One of the concrete clam statues is located right outside the chamber of commerce. At times the concrete clams in town are painted or decorated. Depending when you visit they might look like an Easter bunny, a reindeer, or a turkey. On this day the clam in town was feeling patriotic.

A Pismo Beach concrete clam painted in patriotic colors.

A Pismo Beach concrete clam painted in patriotic colors.

I drove north along to the coast to Shell Beach. I walked along the bluffs and took in the coastal views.

Looking back at Pismo Beach from the Shell Beach bluffs.

Looking back at Pismo Beach from the Shell Beach bluffs.

I continued north to the far end of Shell Beach, where I parked my car in a neighborhood containing homes worth more money than I’ll make in my lifetime. I hiked the Ontario Ridge Trail, which I’ve heard referred to as the Avila Ridge Trail. The trail quickly goes up the ridge, then moves along the crest of the ridge, providing excellent views of the coast and inland valleys. It’s very cool how the view unfolds below as the climb commences. Here is a photo from early in the climb.

A view of Shell Beach from early on the Ontario Ridge Trail.

A view of Shell Beach from early on the Ontario Ridge Trail.

I took a few panoramic photos during the hike, but they fail to capture the grandeur of the scene. These were views that prompted exclamations.

The view of Shell Beach while ascending the Ontario Ridge Trail.

The view of Shell Beach while ascending the Ontario Ridge Trail.

When I got to the top of the ridge I was impressed by the inland view as well.

The inland view from the Ontario Ridge Trail.

The inland view from the Ontario Ridge Trail.

The great thing about hiking along the top of a ridge is that the sightlines are spectacular.

Another panorama, this time from higher up.

Another panorama of Shell Beach, this time from higher up.

The highest point of the ridge there is a radio tower complex (elevation: 735 feet). Some of the towers are camouflaged by fake trees and foliage, while others are exposed. The picture below only shows part of the complex.

The radio tower complex at the peak.

The radio tower complex at the peak.

After passing the radio tower complex the view of points farther north on the coast, like Pirate’s Cove and Avila Beach, became very good.

Pirate's Cove and Avila Beach viewed from the Ontario Ridge Trail.

Avila Beach viewed from the Ontario Ridge Trail.

Just as the trail begins to descend there is an opportunity to make one last climb. A small offset trail leads to a neighboring peak (elevation: 704 feet). Of course I hiked it. As I was returning to the main trail I enjoyed the view of green and blue.

View from near the Sycamore Trail junction.

View from near the Sycamore Trail junction, from the offset peak trail.

The most difficult part of the hike was the descent to Cave Landing Road. It’s a very steep trail with few rocks and a smooth topography. If it ever snowed it would be a dream sledding hill, aside from the fact you’s be doing 150 mph by the time you got to the bottom, and then you would fly off a cliff and free fall into the Pacific Ocean. Okay, it’s not an ideal sledding hill.

Cave Landing is a very cool outcropping of rocks on the coast. Right by that site I picked up the Shell Beach Bluffs Coastal Trail and headed back toward my car. Right as I got to the trail I realized I had an open view of Pirate’s Cove. For those of you not from the Central Coast, Pirate’s Cove happens to be a clothing optional beach. I felt like a major creep taking a picture with my 300mm lens of people playing volleyball in their most formal birthday suits, but hey, how often does that opportunity arise? (And I was far away, the people looked like little naked ants.)

Pirate's Cove recreation.

Pirate’s Cove recreation.

As I continued to walk along the Shell Beach Bluffs Coastal Trail the views of Shell Beach and the ocean continued to impress me.

Shell Beach viewed from the Shell Beach Coastal Bluffs Trail.

Shell Beach viewed from the Shell Beach Coastal Bluffs Trail.

Snowy egrets were fishing in the shallow water near the coast. In the picture below the white speck is a fishing bird, do you see it?

Another view from the trail.

Another view from the trail.

The Ontario Ridge Trail is a short (~2.8 miles), rather low intensity (elevation gain of ~650 feet) hike. The coastal and inland views are spectacular. I’ll be back.

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San Luis Obispo in the Dark

I’ve been wanting to photograph San Luis Obispo after dark. This evening I took a walk with my camera and a tripod and found a vantage point from which to shoot. The stars were bright and dramatic. I programmed several different long exposure settings. Here are some of the pictures.

San Luis Obispo at night.

San Luis Obispo at night.

Downtown San Luis Obispo at night (with a longer exposure than the previous picture).

Downtown San Luis Obispo at night (with a longer exposure than the previous picture).

This one was with a very long exposure. A light was moving slowly on the peak across the valley, which is visible in the center of the photo.

sanluisobispo_night1

San Luis Obispo at night, with a light in the distance.

From where I was standing I could sense the ridge behind me as I was photographing the city. It was looming in the shadows, barely perceptible. But I knew it was there. So I opened the aperture all the way on my camera, set the shutter speed around 60 seconds, and shot the darkness. The picture surprised me. The ridge is very visible.

The ridge behind me, shot with about a one minute exposure.

The ridge behind me, shot with about a one minute exposure.

When I looked south toward the outskirts of town a tree was in my field of vision. This area was also pretty dark. I decided to try another long exposure shot.

San Luis Obispo lights in the distance.

Southern San Luis Obispo lights in the distance.

Now I need to get back to work.

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Last Moments in Avalon

Today I packed up and left Avalon after spending a glorious long weekend there with family. It was a good weekend to listen, talk, and think. After loading up my car to leave I took one last walk on the beach. The path to the beach leads through a buffer forest and sand dunes.

Walking through the dunes.

When the tide went out it left creatures behind on the sand. This weekend was prime horseshoe crab beaching season. I’ve never seen so many of the armored curiosities before. Thankfully they died a rather scentless death (I’ve been at the beach when other creatures washed up and died en mass and the smell was staggering).

A deceased horseshoe crab.

Another departed horseshoe crab.

I saw clusters of aggregated shells that made me curious. They contained many shells stuck on other shells.

The curious shells.

Seagulls on the beach watched me with concern. Their paranoia was unfounded unless they were hesitant to be photographed. I never noticed how well many seagulls blend into marked sand before.

A bird matching the landscape.

I walked to a pier. Near the pier small birds fished in exhausted waves. I watched them for a moment, then suddenly sprinted toward them. I took this picture on the dead run (I had to straighten and crop it).

Birds by the pier at low tide.

During my walk I saw some people in the distance, but I did not pass anyone in close proximity. In the fall Avalon is quiet and beautiful. I love the slight chill in the air, brightness of the sun, crashing of the waves, and feel of the sand. The beach in the fall is calming to me.

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Coast to Coast

October has been crazy. Crazy in a mostly good kind of way. I’ve been very busy.

I spent part of last week on the central coast of California for a job interview. After a few days by the Pacific Ocean I flew east, arriving in Avalon, NJ to spend a long weekend at a beach house with family. It has been a weekend full of great conversations, food, and fun. Here are a few pictures I took recently by the sand dunes and buffer forest beside the ocean.

Grasses on the sand dunes.

Sassafras celebrating the fall.

Euonymus americanus capsules, mixing pink and orange.

Beautiful poison ivy.

More poison ivy, looking exceptional.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. The Jersey Shore is wonderful in the fall.

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Every Day is a Winding Road

I’m still in a season of waiting. I think active waiting is far more bearable than passive waiting, so I’m staying busy. Right now I’m working part time at Behmerwald Nursery, writing and editing manuscripts, preparing for interviews, and compiling job application documents. Yes, every day is a winding road.

I’ve been savoring this autumn. Today after work I photographed a few of the plants at the nursery in all their fall glory.

A Northern red oak (Quercus rubra).

A hirsute oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).

A vibrant hybrid witchazel (Hamamelis x ‘Diane’).

A dapper Dart’s Duke viburnum (Viburnum x rhytidophylloides ‘Interduke’).

A Quickfire panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bulk’).

A very red shasta doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Shasta’).

And I took a low resolution self portrait with a Japanese stewartia. The stewartia will look amazing in a few weeks; it is one of my favorite fall plants.

Green stewartia leaves–soon to be red and orange.

 

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