This year’s unusually rainy winter in California brought the state out of a five-year drought and as a result, we saw “super blooms” of desert flowers across the state. My buddy Curtis and I jumped at the chance for an off-the-grid camping trip to one of the hot spots. The pictures below were taken at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with my Canon DSLR and my 120 format Rolleiflex loaded with Fuji Velvia reversal film.
This past weekend, I took a drive through one of the most beautiful areas on the West coast. The trip to California's Big Sur was spurred by the fact that Victoria, my girlfriend, was going to be wrapping up a week-long writing seminar at the famed Esalen Institute. We decided to take advantage of her location and spend a few extra days camping and hiking among the redwoods before heading back home to the big city bustle of Los Angeles.
The stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, starting in the small town of Cambria and heading north to Carmel-by-the-Sea, winds 100 miles along rugged, mountainous coastline. The road begins as a meandering, sea level cruise in Cambria and then starts to climb. Before long, it becomes a series of sharp, precarious turns clinging to the cliff hundreds of feet above the rocky surf. Around every bend is a view somehow more breathtaking than the last, and there are plenty of places to pull off and take pictures.
Vicky and I opted for an easy hike this time, so we settled on the trails at Limekiln State Park, named for the ruins of gigantic furnaces used to process lime back in the late 1800s. The park's 3 miles of trails wind along small creeks and pass through groves of giant redwoods. At the end of one of the trails is a waterfall that feeds a stream that flows down across a rocky beach into the ocean.
Back in March, I took a quick day trip to Death Valley National Park to see what was left of the rare "super bloom." This year's El Niño made conditions just right for a variety of desert flowers, normally dormant, to bloom in a spectacular explosion of color. I arrived towards the end of the rare event, which last happened in 2005, so the flowers had started to thin out, but in some areas, a wispy carpet of yellow still covered the rocky landscape.
Death Valley is an incredible place to visit during the springtime when temperatures are more tolerable. At sea level, it was a warm 85*F, but at higher altitude spots, like Dante's View at 5,476 ft., it was easily 20 degrees cooler. I ended my day there, perched on the edge of the mountain, shooting a gorgeous sunset as I looked down on the Badwater Basin, the lowest point in America, at 282 ft. below sea level.
Here are some highlights from my recent trip to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. Enjoy.