Since retiring I have been fortunate to reunite with old friends and build upon the relationships we had earlier. God has shined down on me. One of the nicest feelings a person can have is knowing that your friends feel the same way about you as you feel about them. To my son Brian I say "If a friend asks you to do something for them, do it as it may be a life changing experience".
The following is a continuation on my previous blog titles "A Trip to California - Part One
After leaving Paso Robles, John and I headed east on Hwy 246. Our plan was to intersect with Hwy 1 North. As we climbed the coastal hills we found them to be covered with fog. At one point we stopped to shoot them and also an old abandoned house down the hill from the highway. After reaching Hwy 1, we visited Harmony, CA - just off Hwy 101. Harmony has a post office, an artist's building and a few residences. The road north out of Harmony was gated so there was no access other than the one block in "town". If I recall correctly, John thought that Harmony was owned by one person.
Anyway, after leaving Harmony going north on Hwy 1, we stopped at a California state park where elephant seals were lounging around the beach. Most of the seals were juveniles and adult females. We only saw a few males. They were not very active - most movement was to use their fins to scatter sand on their backs to prevent themselves from getting sunburned. It was hilarious to watch them move. Once in awhile one of the seals would head for the ocean. They would move their enormous bodies and you could see the layers of fat rippling across their backs. They would only move about 15 or 20 feet until they had to rest. As John said, "they were full of personality".
Later, we headed north on Hwy 1 as it hugged the coastline and gained in altitude as we approached Big Sur. There were not many parking opportunities but we stopped a couple of times to snap some shots. Passing through Big Sur we started to lose altitude as the road approaches Carmel and Monterey. Back in 1972 I hitchhiked across the United States with Steve, a friend of mine since 1964. We stopped in Big Sur to get a cup of coffee and I remember it costing fifty cents. That was a lot of money for coffee in those days and put a big chunk in our daily food budget.
When John and I arrived in Carmel, we checked into the Motel 6 and later had supper at the local Denny's. Forget what I had but I think it was chicken fried steak. With Denny's, you know what you are getting so no surprise there.
The next morning we headed out to Mission Ranch in Carmel, a resort developed by Clint Eastwood, who was once the Mayor of Carmel. It is a really nice setting. I peeked into one of the dining rooms. The tables were adorned with white tablecloths and three different sized drinking glasses - don't exactly know why but am guessing that they are for water, wine and something else.
We also visited the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo. It is situated in a crowded residential area. The mission was closed when we got there, so we took a few pictures of the outside and over the walls.
Point Lobos, south of Carmel was a far more interesting place. It is on some sort of reserve and has some good hiking trails along the coast and also into some wooded areas. We spent quite a bit of time there shooting trees and seascapes. Most of the fog had burned off and the skies were pretty clear. It was a beautiful day for hiking and shooting. On some rocks far off-shore we could hear some seals but they were difficult to see with the naked eye.
A few hours later, we hit the road for the trip back to Palo Alto. Gina was there to meet us and I stayed awhile to visit with her before I left for my motel north of Palo Alto. Before leaving Gina gave me a signed picture of her when she was just a young'un. That cracked me up. Later, after checking into the hotel - a Motel 6, John brought my tripod that had been left in his car.
The next day I was on the road to the Sebastopol, CA area, namely a town called Rohnert Park to visit with my friend Marke and go on a couple of jaunts together. On my way to Rohnert Park, I came upon the exit for Mission San Rafael Archangel. Exiting the highway, I made my way to the mission. After taking a few images, I went into the visitor center and asked them if the building they were in was part of the original mission. The lady behind he counter told me that none of the buildings at the San Rafael Mission are original. There were only ruins (none of which are left) and the present mission was erected in 1949.
Back onto 101 North to visit with my friend Marke. He met me at my motel (another Motel6) shortly after my arrival. We hopped in his car and went toward the coast headed for the foothills above the Russian River. We had a nice hike into the hills and Marke captured an image of a thistle that is fantastic. After some time we noticed the sunlight was fading rapidly and decided to get out of the hills and back to his car where we sat for quite sometime talking about our past and present lives. Although Marke and I have been emailing for quite a few years, we had not seen one another since the early 1990's. It was nice to catch up. We had supper at the Black Bear Diner in Rohnert Park. I ordered the meat loaf. It was good but the portions were too big so I had to leave most of it on my plate. Later, the waitress told me I should have ordered the other meat loaf supper geared for seniors and those with a smaller appetite.
The next day Marke again met me at the motel. We got in my truck and drove to the foothills east of Rohnert Park where we went for another short hike. It was fun hiking with Marke as he is very familiar with the area and knows all the mountain ranges and peaks. Later we went to the mission in Sonoma, called the San Francisco de Solano Mission. It is another urban mission but not cramped in as is the mission at Carmel. There is a nice barracks next to the mission. Our next stop was the Petaluma Adobe, the headquarters for Mariano Vallejos' huge ranch, granted to him by the Spanish government. There was supposed to be a Fandango going on, but it was not much. The adobe and redwood structure is fantastic. After shooting some more images I have since lost, we headed to Rohnert Park and had a late lunch, early supper at a Mexican restaurant.
Marke and I then said our good-byes and promised it would not be another twenty years or so before seeing one another again, and that is the truth.