Category Archives: California

San Francisco’s Chinatown

Chinatown, and the area surrounding it, in San Francisco is a wealth of colorful contradiction.  I had the pleasure of walking San Francisco on foot, on two different days during my trip to the Bay Area and the day that I spent in Chinatown and the FInancial District was a feast for the eyes.  It was a day where sensory overload was a sort of job hazard.  I was so overwhelmed by all there was to see and photograph, I forgot.  Forgot to buy the silk kimono I’d been dying to get, forgot to photograph whole windows I was enthralled by because I just stood staring at the displays of colorful wares and forgot to stop and eat at one of the little noodle cafes that made my mouth water on every block!  I just walked…

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FriFotos: Countryside

This week’s FriFotos theme is “Countryside” and as with most themes chosen, this may mean different things to different people. The first thing that comes to mind for me is a place without cell phone reception, without strip malls, where miles pass between homes.

While Big Sur, California is not inland it is a place that immediately comes to mind when I think of being in the country. When you’re in Big Sur at night, the stars feel so close it causes a sort of claustrophobia. The good kind. There is definitely no cell phone reception. It does have wild, natural beauty – in abundance. This is another qualification I think of when the word countryside is tossed around. It’s a must for me and can be subtle or dramatic.

This week, for FriFotos, I present to you: Big Sur, California. It’s all about the dramatic and wild in this part of Northern California. If you haven’t yet been, I highly recommend visiting. Soon.

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Friday Five for 3.4.11

Bonjour from Paris! While here, my only real aim is to wander the city and photograph all the sights. I am sure I’ll do many other things like eat my way through town … but it is photography that is my ultimate “to do”. What do you enjoy doing when you’re traveling to a new place? My activities depend greatly on the destination but there are a few things I really love to do in certain towns. This week, here are a few of my favorites and a few I’d like to do when I am able to visit the destinations I’ve not yet conquered.

1) In Savannah, Georgia – Take an architectural walking tour with Jonathan Stalcup. Architecture is such a part of what makes Savannah a unique and beautiful place and no person I have met in Savannah is as knowledgeable and as passionate about the history and significance of architecture in Savannah. His tour goes beyond facts to make the city come alive in a fascinating way. You could also take a Hauntings Tour with Robert Edgerly. Another unique aspect of Savannah is their ghost and hauntings legends. Robert knows them all and tells the tales in such an entertaining way! My tour with Robert was one of the most fun evenings I’ve had in Savannah. Just remember, take advantage of the ToGo cup policy and arm yourself with a stiff drink to calm your nerves along the walk.

2) In northern California – I’ve been to Napa Valley and Sonoma, while there I enjoyed wine tastings and unique culinary offerings. None disappointed! What I did fail to do while there was take in the views. Should I get to chance to return, I plan on taking the Wine Train. Sit back, soak in the scenery and be ferried from one end of the California wine region to the other? Yes, please! Bonus: following in the footsteps of Top Chef Season 6 finalists but not having to slave through a quickfire challenge!

3) In New York City – Continuing the ghostly theme, don’t pass up the chance to take a tour of lower Manhattan with Dead Apple Tours! Drew will drive you around town in a classic hearse sharing tales of New York City’s residents who are no longer with us and the visitors that expired in the Big Apple during their stays. Beware if you mind being stared at however, it’s amusing the looks you receive being carted around in a hearse during the middle of the day in a place like New York City.

4) In Ireland – What could be better than a pub crawl, isn’t this the place they were invented? If not, it probably should have been. See if you can hit all 13 of these pubs and still make your flight home. Certainly, it’s what I intend to do should I find myself on the Emerald Isle with nothing else on my agenda but time!

5) In Michigan – Detroit may have a bad rap, but beyond the surface you’ll find a wealth of culture and history in Michigan that’s worth examining. Should you find yourself in the SE portion of the Great Lakes State I recommend heading to Dearborn and entrenching yourself at The Henry Ford. During the winter months, this indoor playground boats a IMAX theater as well as the largest and most interesting collection of historical artifacts I’ve ever come across in America outside the Smithsonian. In the summer months, Greenfield Village is a playground of a different sort for kids and adults alike. As if those weren’t enough, step inside the auto industry and take a Ford Rouge Factory Tour – it’s a peek into the auto industry that will open your eyes and definitely entertain if you have any interest in cars or automotive history!

This week’s header image is of Luchador Masks for sale in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

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Finding Balance Through Travel

Thanks to Crystal Light for sponsoring this post. To learn more about how Crystal Light can flavor your day with 30 refreshing flavors, visit http://www.facebook.com/crystallight.

I’m definitely that person who has trouble achieving balance in all areas of life. One of the things I’ve had to own in my post-divorce world is that I had a fault in the breakdown of my marriage. Probably my greatest fault was not adequately balancing how much time I worked with how much time I spent working on my marriage and one of the last things I ever did was leave enough time to figure out who I was and what I wanted. I let myself be carried with the tide and it wasn’t a tide I was in control of. I was desperately unhappy. I wouldn’t be surprised if you had met me 3 years ago and hated me. I’m sure my loved ones outside my marriage noticed how unbalanced I was. I know our relationships suffered in those years.

The day after my divorce was finalized, I packed a suitcase and took off for California. I spent a long time on the west coast thinking about priorities, doing yoga on the roof of my building, exploring Northern California. What I realized was that travel would have to be an even larger part of my life than it had ever been previously if I was going to walk forward into a life that had any kind of balance and happiness in it.

When travel is a visible and consistent thread in my life it’s then, happy and fulfilled – that I can pour out love and positive energy into the lives of the people I care about and even into the lives of people I have never met. Since that trip, and the many that have followed – I’ve noticed my relationships with my best friends and my family members improving. I’ve noticed my own physical and mental health improving. As a photographer, I’ve scaled back from the projects that made me unhappy and I’ve begun to pursue the work that does fulfill me. Robert Louis Stevenson once said “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” It’s that movement which has brought a renewed energy and vitality into my life and helped orient me so that I can achieve balance in all areas of my life. I’m by no means perfect and still make mistakes every day but there is a positivity and optimism present now that was missing for so long.

I also try to do these things every day no matter where I am, traveling or not, that help me achieve greater balance in my life:
1) Pray – Even if you’re not a religious person, think of praying as the way to voice your concerns, questions and even things you’re thankful for because there’s power in releasing those things to “someone” and letting them go.
2) Yoga – This is still new for me! In fact, I only went to my first class last week. Prior to that I’d just been doing yoga in my room by watching videos online. However, it’s been a great calming tool for me and a great way to get in shape that doesn’t require awkwardly comparing myself to every woman thinner than me at a gym! This helps my mental health too!
3) Write – If you keep a journal, write in it. If you blog, publish posts consistently. This is similar to praying for me, in that it releases the things I keep pent up inside and frees me to be more positive.
4) Talk – I try to talk to a family member or close friend every day. I don’t mean on twitter and facebook. I mean talk on the phone, email, write a physical letter. You’d be surprised at how many days can go by where the only talking you do is through social media … if you’re not careful to stop that habit. 140 characters can become meaningless if it’s the only communication you have with the world outside your door.
5) Eat Healthy – Those who know me best just love to lament the fact that I am a picky eater. BUT – the older I get the harder I work at broadening my horizons and I have found that the more healthy food I eat, the better I feel not just physically – but emotionally and spiritually as well!
6) Dream – By this I mean dream of all the places you still want to go and of the things you will do on the trips you already have planned. Research potential trips. Read other travel blogs. Scour travel magazines picking out the destinations which most inspire you. If you’re like me and travel is a large motivator for happiness, this is a great way to keep the “buzz” going even when you are not actually on the road.
7) Pay if Forward – This can be as small as taking the time to give someone directions in the subway when you’re running late yourself, it can be as large as committing to a year long volunteer experience in the desert of Africa. However you do it, take some time every day to do something good for someone else or for a group of people. It’s no secret that helping others, actually ends up helping you more. (Just don’t do it for that reason alone!)

Remember, visit http://www.facebook.com/crystallight to learn more about how Crystal Light can flavor your day with 30 refreshing flavors. I was selected and paid for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

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California Highway 1 Daytrip

Sitting in snowy Michigan, here for a week for photography jobs, I can’t help but think of warmer weather. First on my mind is the trip I have to Mexico in February, second I had flashbacks to the weeks I spent in California last year. I decided to relive one of the days where we, my god-father and I, drove down Highway 1 from San Francisco to Carmel. The scenery is just breathtaking and I think I will continue to post more photographs this year from that trip, since I just discovered hundreds I had never even edited!

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We drove south along the famed Highway 1, passing Teslas and Smart Cars, rolling green hills and glaringly-yellow-Acacias in full bloom.  Blue sky overhead and bright sunshine guided our way, and our mood; the smell of the sea never ceasing to waft in from the sunroof of the car.

The goal: take in Monterey, Pebble Beach, Carmel and Big Sur in one day.  We accomplished all except the full Big Sur experience…though we did make it to the lighthouse just outside Big Sur and compared it to a a less exotic version of Mont Saint-Michel.

We had a private tour of the wine cellar at Casanovas in Carmel (amazing atmosphere, highly recommend), we marveled at the work of our favorite architects on the coast just outside Carmel (Frank Lloyd Wright of course), we gazed with wonder at the lone Cypress which has stood for soo many years along the Pacific between Pebble Beach and Carmel and we were amazed at the crashing waves and spindrift up and down the rugged coast.  Blue skies cheered us even as we ran into stretches of road closed to us by recent storms and the magic of California seemed to bless us in big and small ways no matter what diversion we chose.  All smiles, we headed home, a night out in San Francisco waiting.  A day of adventure behind us.  A day of savoring creation and man’s invention accomplished.  California did not disappoint!

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