SAN-2-SEA day 2 – Monterey to Ukiah

On the second day of our travels we drove back south from Monterey on Highway 101 for a little bit, just past Carmel By The Sea, to have a look at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. The entrance was pretty jammed on this Saturday morning, so we parked on the street and hiked on the “Lace Lichen Trail” to the more scenic spots. The trees along that trail are covered with what is called – you guessed it – “lace lichen”. Those are pretty long strands of pale green lichen that grow from almost every tree’s branches and twigs. Unfortunately, it was mostly sunny again, but that stuff must sure look very pretty and ghostish in dense fog (which is required to bring the moisture to the lichen and enable this kind of growth).

The short trail led us to a parking area (bonus for hiking in: we saved the $10 fee by parking outside;-) where a loop trail leads through a stand of the characteristic Cypress trees – the “Cypress Grove Trail”. And boy, these gnarly trees sure are pretty, and the little loop is very peaceful – we even saw some small and cute deer, grazing only a couple of yards away from the trail.

We spent a lot of time in the area trying our luck photographing the beautiful trees and surrounding landscape. Near the end of the Cypress Grove Trail loop we continued on the North Shore Trail, curious to explore more. Doug was switching from his telezoom to a wide angle lens, and accidentally dropped his camera with the heavy 17-35/2.8 lens onto the rather soft forest trail – it made a dampened “thud” sound and we both didn’t expect that any harm would have been done to camera or lens from that drop, but when he picked it up and removed the dust, the entire lens mount had come off on one side, and removing the lens revealed that the lens mount inside was cracked. It must’ve hit the ground at just the right angle for the heavy lens to put maximum strain on the mount. :-/

The camera seemed functional otherwise, but our attempts to push the lens mount back into the camera body where it had come out were futile. Now we had a mighty big problem. It was only the second day of a trip that was totally aimed at scouting and photographing, and without a camera for Doug, that was a major bummer. The most viable option seemed to be a rental camera and thankfully, BorrowLenses has a store in the northwestern Bay Area, so we hit the road and veered inland, again on Highway 101 (instead of following Highway 1 along the coast), to San Carlos, hoping to make it in time before the store closed (which turned out to be no problem at all).

After renting a D800 (they didn’t have a D600) for a week, Doug created a repair job for his D600 online and shipped the camera to Nikon in El Segundo for repair right away. Then it was time for a late lunch. Choices were a bit limited because the restaurants in the area closed at 2pm, but we found a nice Chinese place that was open, and they even had my favorite noodle dish – Zha Jiang Mian! 🙂

After burning the extra money for the camera rental and repair, it was time to burn some fuel again, and since we were directly en route, there was no way of course that I would want to miss driving over the Golden Gate Bridge! 🙂 Unfortunately though, in all of the staring and excitement, I missed the exit that would take us back to the more scenic Highway 1, so we had to drive some suburban areas for quite a while towards our next destination: Point Reyes National Seashore.

I found it quite astonishing that even all the way up to the Bay Area, the typical Southern California landscape with pale and dry grass on rolling hills that are dotted with oak trees prevailed. There’s a greater variety of trees, and patches of forest, but otherwise, the general theme of the landscape still appeared to be the same than in the LA/SD area.

That of course changed when we entered Point Reyes, which is just incredibly different from everything we had seen so far along the coast (which might have to do with the fact that we “lost” a part of Highway 1 due to the camera drop accident). The area is VAST, the beaches seem to be endless, and so do the grasslands. We briefly stopped at the visitor center to find our bearings, noted that there’s an incredible amount of hiking trails available, and then decided to do “the American thing” and just explore by car. 😉 We drove out on the long and winding road towards Drake’s Beach and the lighthouse, it was extremely windy, but what a beautiful landscape! This is definitely on my list of places to re-visit now.

After getting sandblasted on Drake’s Beach, and almost blown away by the gale force winds up near the lighthouse (video) it was time to grab dinner, and find a place to stay for the night.

At this point, our happy-go-lucky approach (read: lack of planning;-) for the trip bit us back a bit, because it was getting dark and we had no clue if there’d be lodging available up north directly along the coast on Highway 1 (probably would have been, but at which price?). Since we really wanted to get closer to Northern California anyway, we drove back inland to Highway 101 and began to search for hotels – which turned out to be quite difficult, because there apparently were multiple festivals and events on that weekend. It was impossible to find a room anywhere!

We wolfed down burgers at a Denny’s in Santa Rosa and then drove another hour up on Highway 101, to Ukiah, where we paid $150 for a room with two beds in what felt like the middle of nowhere (that may sound like a bit of unjustice to Ukiah but hey, it was the middle of the night), unloaded the car, and dropped into bed. The good thing is that the coastline between Monterey and Eureka is still unexplored and begs for scouting of course – but what a day! 😉

2 thoughts on “SAN-2-SEA day 2 – Monterey to Ukiah

  1. What a great trip this is. I’ve done it up to San Francisco but not with photography as the aim.

    1. Well, actually it was a lot about scouting, since this was the first time driving up there. I do have to say though that it was way more interesting way north of San Francisco. 🙂

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