Exploring California 2017 Part 4: The Pacific Coast

After leaving San Francisco we finally hit the the starch that I had been dreaming of ever since I've been old enough to venture out on my own, the Pacific Coast Highway. We knew before hand that we wouldn't be able to travel the entire way down because of landslides from a particularly wet winter. All the same we set out to experience as much of the coastline as possible. 

We left San Francisco early in the morning. I knew it would be a long journey and we only had 3 days in total allocated to this leg, so I wanted to squeeze as much time as possible out of it. Our first stop was Monterey. It took longer than expected to arrive there and by the time we had settled into to the hotel room we were both too exhausted to go shooting. We explored the down town area and ate at a couple of nice restaurants for dinner and breakfast, but for the most part it was a very last stay.

We got up the next morning to make our way down the coast. We were off to the next leg of our vacation.


Santa Cruz

When we were planning this trip I knew I wanted to find a way to collaborate with some California based yogis. I reached out to a few, didn't hear back from a lot, but thankfully the people I truly wanted to work with were more than happy to team up. 

The first person we met was someone we have both been a fan of since we began on this social media journey, Kristen Provench√© (@kristenpro). Anyone whose seen her account knows how photogenic and  beautiful her practice is. I knew this had the potential to be special. 

We met her at a randomly selected state park right off of the PCH. I didn't have any point of reference as far a potential backgrounds, so it was really anybodies guess as to how it would look. Luckily, we hit the jackpot with Wilder Ranch in Santa Cruz. 

It was an overcast day and a light mist was in the air. We had a nice even flow of light that saturated everything as far as the eye could see. 

Oh, lets not forget about the super-bloom...

 The tip of the iceberg. 

The tip of the iceberg. 

When we met Kristen we had a good idea of what type of person she was. She let off an air of positivity that made us both want to meet her given the opportunity. I've had a fairly positive experience meeting with people I've met on Instagram, with a couple of notable exceptions. Social Media is a tricky thing. For as much positivity as it can cultivate, it can also lead otherwise normal people to cultivate strange personality complexes. But, just as we thought, none of that was true of Kristen. She was just as kind and authentic as we believed her to be.

We hit it off immediately. The chemistry become apparent as soon as we began to shoot. 

It took all of 15 minutes after meeting that we all knew the was going to be a memorable shoot. We weren't going to waste such a perfect opportunity, so a few different wardrobe changes were in order. 

It was impossible to take a bad picture.

 A perfect pair.

A perfect pair.

In a perfect world I would never leave.

We were so wrapped up in enjoying our company and joking about the first world problems that we didn't really appreciate just how beautiful the shoot was. And we were just beginning. 

We wanted to explore the area a bit more. We walked about 5 minutes down the trial leading through the park and happened upon a dreamscape of purple wildflowers and rolling hills. 

Since I derive a good deal of my artistic inspiration from light and color, I had them change into something that would compliment the landscape. 

In the 2-3 hours we stayed in the park, we must have shot close to 500 photos, all of which I will treasure for some time to come. We got into a rhythm and didn't want the shoot to end even though we had all but exhausted the landscape and ourselves. 

We decided that it would be unforgivable for us to not get at least some beach shots with such perfect conditions. Kristen mentioned a local beach that was close to us that was fairly private and perfect for our yoga shenanigans.

We packed it up and went to our next spot. The photo gods were smiling on us that day because it was equally as beautiful. 

I may have taken some of the best pictures I've ever captured that day. For that reason I'll always be grateful to Kristen for allowing me to photograph her practice. 

It was so beautiful on the beach that I couldn't help but take a few for myself. They were worn out from a good 4-5 hours straight of some pretty intense asanas so I took the opportunity to get snapping. 

We sat around a while longer to chill and unwind, but the time came for us to move on. We said our goodbye to Kristen and made our way down the PCH. The second stop was supposed to be Big Sur, but with the record breaking rain of 2016 came record braking landslides. We were determined to go down as far as we could. Even if we couldn't go the whole way, it was a big reason for me even wanting to go on this trip, so I didn't care how long we got, I just wanted the experience. 


Big Sur

From Monterey we were able to travel about 25 miles down the PCH, luckily that was just far enough to make it to Big Sur...

 Look famliar?

Look famliar?

This experience, though brief, was the realization of a life's dream. Every romanticized idea I've ever had of California has centered around my desire to travel to Big Sur along the PCH. I was truly lucky to experience as much of the area as I did. Despite the closures on the road, it remained open up until Big Sur and the famed Bixby Creek Bridge.

 The world famous Bixby

The world famous Bixby

I was torn. Normally I justify photographing my experiences while traveling by th rationalization that I like experiencing my life through a literal lens. But, sometimes the moment is just too precious. Sometimes you just have to stop, fight the impulse to snap away, and live in the moment...

I took about 5 minutes to do that and got shooting again. I can't help myself.

For me, the trip could've ended here and I would've considered this the trip of a lifetime. Luckily, we still had a good deal more to explore on our California odyssey. 

The next and final installation will cover our time in the heart of Southern California. Stay tuned for the conclusion of the Exploring California series when I take you with us to L.A, Santa Monica, and Venice California!