Heaven is Here: Pacific Coast Highway

2 05 2010

A pictorial journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco.


So long, city of Angels


…and then we passed by a wiener truck.



Crane City


And the pretty pictures start now…



The 7 hour drive turned 12 hour drive is well worth it in the end.
I mean, how can’t it be when this is what is waiting for you on the side of the road?
Breathtaking…

All photos taken by me.





CAPTURE: What in the world?!

18 04 2009

Exhausted we were from parasailing and being deeply disappointed with the submarine tour, my friends and I decided to explore the rest of Catalina Island more on foot. We passed by quirky shoppes, other touristy activities and a casino that turned out to be a museum (and worse, closed for the day), eventually we decided to just keep walking and relax for the remainder of the day before we had back to the port and get on the Catalina Flyer to take us back to Newport Beach.

Along the coastline, we noticed something peculiar with the palm trees. From below and afar, they looked just as fine but when we walked by a tree about our height we noticed there was something queer about the way it was trimmed. We laughed, and joked and thought whoever was their landscaper had a great sense (and dirty) of humour. The display was way too phallyc to be just a coincidence and a real close resemblance to…well, take a look at the photo and you decide.

Phallyc” photo taken by me. Catalina Island, California





Video: San Francisco

1 04 2009


Thought I’d like to share my video of my trip to San Francisco =) Taken Nov. 2008





The Fog Rolls in San Francisco

26 03 2009

“As it swallowed up every light on its path, stars from afar too were shutting off their twinkles. In about ten minutes or so, the entity swallowed the entire city’s nightlight and started creeping in towards us.”

                 
I placed my arms on the window ledge and rested my chin on them and took a big breath, after a long day of walking around and sightseeing the city of San Francisco all I needed was a rest. It would be a long day again the next day as we – Kristine, Jimmy and I, had to wake up early the next day to take a tour on the Napa Valley wine train and drive in the afternoon through the night to Las Vegas. The hotel may not have had the best view but wasn’t less impressive to me, it faced none of the city’s icons but mostly low rise buildings. From afar lights flickered as they turned on and off on buildings and down the street people walked in and out of restaurants, pubs and even at Hotel Adagio where we stayed. November’s breeze in San Francisco was less harsh than back home in Toronto where winter breeze can bite into your skin, if there was anything that stood out for me in California was their beautiful weather. However, unlike the cities in South California, San Francisco was not gifted with warm weather all year round so what stood out the most would have been the fog that seemed to creep in anywhere at anytime. As the breeze blew through the window, across the city few of the lights seemed to have gone hazy and flickered not as bright as they were before, one after another lights went from bright to translucent.

Fog is a cloud that that has come in contact with the ground (wikepedia.org) and can be form in many and different ways. Warm air from the coastal valleys of the Bay Area and the Central Valley of California heats up during the day and when the air cools down in the afternoon, clouds form low on the ground of San Francisco giving the city its famous spectacle just after the Golden Gate Bridge. Fog is written in forms of literature as something mysterious, breathtaking, or even sometimes creepy, and whatever feel it gives you the fog is a natural wonder.

Walking along the city was beyond our expectations, we had forgotten the factor that San Francisco’s geogropahy was hilly and made trekking more difficult than what we had anticipated. Sometimes a street would be on a 70 degree angle where climbing uphill was a challenge, and going downhill -well, I dare you to ride your bicycle if you like danger. Cars and streetcars struggle their way up the steep streets on either direction. Lombard Street was the only hill I did not mind trekking though going up took a lot energy and a lot of effort for a good price of being in San Francisco’s most famous and hippest street (arguably also had the most expensive houses). Lombard’s winding and crooked street was created to help the cars navigate from plummeting straight down to the bottom of the road, and it wasn’t far fetched to imagine such things can happen in a hilly terrain.

At one point, we were walking towards San Francisco’s gay neighbourhood known as Castro District when at a turn on a street a hill appeared before us where houses on the top of the hill were covered in fog. Roofs went missing beneath the cloud, a spectacular and unusual view something you didn’t see everyday. The cotton-like cloud with dark hue sat only a few feet from the ground and not any higher acting like a soft blanket over the houses. There was something eerie and creepy with the spectacle, I wondered how were the people living up there coping up? Other spectators took snaphots of the unusual sighting (for anyone who is not from San Francisco)too. If I knew the way up there, I would have taken the courage to go to that street along those houses.

The following day was no different, the sky was covered with light-greyish clouds that will eventually conjure up to be fog later on. We hopped on the bus that would take us to the Japanese Tea Garden where we spent about an hour walking around the impressive Eden. After our exploration we hit the cafe to enjoy a pot of tea split between the three of us (free refills on the tea) and a bowl of Japanese snacks. Drinking tea in the garden was the real spectacle of the visit, especially on a cool day like this. The three of us sat there sipping our cups of tea (while each getting a handful of the snacks in between) looming our eyes on every corner to enjoy the beauty of this crafted area where pagodas peek out of random across the garden. At some point, I thought, how would the garden look like if mist and clouds bobbled around the surface of the pond, perhaps through dry ice – perhaps not, but just like how in movies where they make a lake mystifying. That would be so cool.

                

“There was something eerie and creepy with the spectacle, I wondered how were the people living up there coping up?”

                  

We rushed our way out to catch the bus that would take us to the Golden Gate Bridge – rushing because it was our last day in the city and we still had a few places to see. It was a little disappointing to see only half of the bridge because the other half was hidden behind a low cloud, I had thought that whatever photos I would take would be less impressive than a picture taken on a clear day, but what else can I do? I was there, the icon was there, it was then or never. But as soon as took a couple of shots, I was actually impressed with what I had. Fog was always something I had liked even when I was a kid – to me it was beautiful, and so I put down my camera and watched the cloud mist its way through the red band of steel. I couldn’t stop myself from looking up even as I struggled my way walking along Golden Gate. It was cold, windy, cars and trucks passed by honking and making noises, the ground was shaky, and after a few meters I was starting to feel miserable of the weather. Yet I couldn’t keep myself from looking up. I actually started to like the weather permission, how many travellers get to be mesmerized by the fog that rolls in San Francisco? Most people probably prefered had it been a clear day, but this was different. The fog was what San Francisco was about.

Back at the hotel, I sat there mesmerized by this entity that was blanketing the city inch by inch. Light after light, they became luminescent to hazy from west to east. I could hear Jimmy and Kristine laugh in unison on the background while they watch the show, their attention stuck to the laptop while my attention was stuck to something I didn’t even realize what was. I looked down below on the street to find shops closing down and a few people making their way back to wherever they were heading. Halfway through the city, a vertical horizon was visible, the east still bright while the west became unclear. As it swallowed up every light on its path, stars from afar too were shutting off their twinkles. In about ten minutes or so, the entity swallowed the entire city’s nightlight and started creeping in towards us. I sat in awe as the street got flooded by the cloud, it wasn’t as thick as I thought but cool enough to know that a low cloud was making its way up my window. The air became cool and as I drew a breath, cold air came out of my mouth. I heard a few more laughter from my friends and they finally withdrew their attention from the laptop screen. They turned towards me. “We should go to bed now, we have a long day tomorrow – and I have to drive!” Kristine said. I nodded, turned around and took a last glimpse of the fog covered city and closed the window. Adios, San Francisco.

All photos taken by me.





Flying Over Catalina Island

4 02 2009

“It was half terrifying and half exciting as Kristine and I screamed and giggled at the same time. And when we finally got settled from the shock that was when we noticed what was around us. The view was mesmerizing. The experience, exhilirating. From a bird’s eyeview, the island was gorgeous and the water below, deep!”

                

                 Main photo by Kristine Flores

As soon as I surfaced down below to the deck of the Catalina Flyer, I saw Kristine dash to the starboard side of the ship with the camera in her hand. Unfortunately, she wasn’t fast enough to catch the dolphins surface again in hopes of getting a photo of the cute mammals. I felt disappointed, too, since I didn’t get to see the dolphins come up to the water. I cautiously handed her a cup of hot chocolate I bought her from the ship’s lobby, hoping neither one of us would drop it.

It had been an early morning for us. The Catalina Flyer was to leave the port at 9 am where it would take us about 22 miles (or half an hour) to the island east of California mainland from Newport Beach. It was hard to believe that the island was part of California: right at the shoulder of the Pacific Ocean I felt like the ship was taking us to Hawai’i instead. From a distance, Catalina Island looked like a place you’d want to get away to but close enough to reach. We arrived on time but while waiting for the ship to dock and let the passengers off, I had a generous amount of time to take snapshots of the island.

By noon we had picked a place to eat at Armstrong’s Seafood Restaurant and Fish Market – patio, please – and braced ourselves for a delicious lunch. The beauty of eating on the island was that the fish will always be the cath of the day. Jimmy ordered calamari ($8.95) as an apettizer while I tried the smoked albacore ($8.95) something I have never heard nor tried before, while Kristine ordered oysters (she loves oysters, $14.99). Scrumptuous. Soaking myself in the sun while having a fabulous meal was my ideal patio dining. And the view, exquisite.

 

 

 
“Our eager faces were showing until he said ‘ – and whatever you do keep your legs in, and DON’T KICK’ -“.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Over lunch we had talked about activities we could do while on the island: scuba diving, snorkelling, hiking, renting a scooter, jet ski, fishing, golfing – then our eyes were distracted by a parachute from a distance. Parasailing! Watching the glider in the sky kept us in awe. He (or she, or they) swooped, dipped, and hovered before our eyes. Unanimously, we all agreed to challenge our adrenalines to do something as wild. An hour and $75 dollars later, we found ourselves standing at the pier where the boat that would send us flying in the sky docked. Quite small – won’t sink, but big enough to pull us like a human kite. Jimmy went first (2 people can go parasail at a time and Kristine and I decided to stick together – just in case). We put on our life vests and straddled on a strap-on that would be attached to the shute and hold us up in the air. He instructed that the grasps (handles) attached to a strap were for us to maneuver the glide to the direction we wanted. If we wish to go left pull the left strap, pull the right strap and it would send us flying to the right. Our eager faces were showing until he said ” – and whatever you do keep your legs in, and DON’T KICK”. He immediately instructed Jimmy to stand on the riser and hooked his vest to a rope attached to a wheel. Before getting ready he had given Kristine his camera to take vidoes and photos of him up in the air, she and I sat back across from each other and started taking photos of ourselves. Finally, the instructor gave the captain of the boat a “go” and Jimmy zipped away up to the sky. He went really high. In a matter of 30 seconds he was possibly fifteen stories above the water gliding and whooshing his way on the backdrop of a clear blue sky.

Everything was captured on his videocamera. About five minutes up in the air and he was on his descent back to the boat with a big smile on his face and expressing “That was awesome!” as he greeted us.

As the instructor released Jimmy from the rope, I tried my best to stealthy hide my camera in my pocket. I succeeded. Waiting for the instructor’s “go” signal for the driver I clumsily checked my camera to get it ready to record – then zip! We flew. It was half terrifying and half exciting as Kristine and I screamed and giggled at the same time. And when we finally got settled from the shock that was when we noticed what was around us. The view was mesmerizing. The experience, exhilirating. From a bird’s eyeview, the island was gorgeous and the water below, deep! Instant panic came over me fearing the worst case scenario that I would either drop my camera or worse, the chute fails plummeting us both into the deep water. I paused to relax thinking about taking photos. I carefully handled the camera in my hands, zoomed the lense over the horizon, across the ocean, to the island, and on the boat.

And then we went on a dip.

Frightened, she and I cursed and screamed at the top of our lungs for our dear life and when it was over we laughed.

“That was scary,” Kristine said to which I agreed. And the unexepected happened, we went for another dip and another. Plunging the chute for our dear lives, I thought the captain was playing a trick on us because I had no recollection of Jimmy dipping like we did. It went on for a couple more and we finally got used to it. I decided to play a little bit with the handle and swayed us to the right. The shute took us along with it heading east. Then I played with it again catapulting us to the other direction.

Eventually, the parasail just cruised on high altutitude- where I refrained from catapulting us on either sides and the chute going on unexpected dips – the sense of what it must have felt like to fly sunk in. It had been a hot day at the island but the air was cooler above the ground. Even from up above, the smell of sea water was aromatic. Due to distance, waves could be seen crashing and foam up but the echos would not be heard. The islands’ houses seemed that they were carved out caves on the side of the hills and mountains that made up the island, stack up on each other, while its windows glistened. Patches of green reflected through the water as signs of marine plantlife which mostly consisted of giant seaweeds as tall as the palm trees scattered all over Catalina – their natural ‘skyscrapers’. A few yachts haunted the open sea and a local plane aparitioned from afar. I gazed to the horizon looking for mainland California and found no signs of the mainland, an isolation at its best.

Looking down, the instructor waved at us where I waved back at him. I was quite enjoying my time flying though it was hard to enjoy a thrill while getting the thrill-er out of it. Then we went for another dip and we were finally getting pulled back to the boat, and that was my cue to hide the camera. As soon as we touched down Jimmy whispered in my ear, “He was waving his hand telling you to stop kicking,” then I blurted out an Oh? (Honestly, I do not remember kicking).

The whole experience exhausted us but having a view like that from above was well worth the price we paid. The rest of the day was spent scouting the rest of the island along the shore. We went on a submarine where we saw absolutely one of the most pathetic marine life we’ve seen (what they showed on the brochure looked better, whatever happened to the colourful fishes?). Nontheless, Kristine and I had a blast playing around pretending the submarine was sinking(1). Along the shore we found the palm trees groomed pretty phallyic – er, I won’t deny it, it REALLY looked like a penis(2). Then to the casino for Jimmy only to find out it was closed(3). By 4 pm we were back on the dock waiting for the ship to take us back to the mainland.

(1)

(2)

(3)

As soon as we boarded the ship, I quickly found an outlet to recharge my camera’s battery, but before doing so I was eager to see what I have captured during my flight on the parasail. And it went like this: you see my feet, you hear a scream, you see my feet levetate, and then cut. Nothing was captured but six seconds of the before scenes from the adventure. Greatly disappointed, I told Kristine the bad news that the experience is now only captured in our memories.

I had been exhausted for that day that like the rest of the passengers I found a spot to lay myself down for a quick nap. The ship swayed to my lullaby and then I passed out. About fifteen minutes later the captain announced:

Attention all passengers, this is the captain speaking. I would just like to point out that on the starboard side of the ship – which is to the right of the ship – are whales saying hello to all of you

All the passengers instantly got up, took their cameras out and tried to get a snapshot of the giant mammals. I hestitated to take mine out. Like Kristine’s missed opportunity of the dolphines and our six second captured parasailing adventure, I decided to just keep this moment in memory.

All photos taken by me with the exception of the Main photo, by Kristine Flores