Tag Archives: Pacific Ocean

O Brother, Where Art Thou?


These are my brothers.

We hang out.  We have a good time.  We look alike.  Our favorite pastime is sending awkwardly close-up selfies to each other in group texts.

The one on the left is older.  The one on the right is younger.  I’m the oldest.  The youngest just turned 21.  So they came to visit me, and we explored San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Here is what we did.

Lands End with the Brothers.  A Photo Essay.




Traveling with my brothers, while exhausting, is a rare pleasure.  They both live in Maryland still, where our parents are, and I don’t see them often.  Even though technology allows us to communicate easily and frequently, it isn’t the same as seeing them in person.  They’re both still in school (graduate and undergraduate), so traveling out to California to see me is difficult.

But when they’re in town, I love being able to show them all my favorite places– from my favorite photo opportunities to the best cafes and bars.

And it’s also good to get to know my brothers better.  I’ve known them both their entire lives, but little things that occur in day-to-day living are missed when you only see each other once in a blue moon or through the lens of a text, snapchat, or post on Instagram.  So when we’re face to face, especially after it’s been a long time, it’s like I’m hanging out with a completely new set of people.

Plus, being the older sister, I am still sometimes astonished that these younger brothers of mine, long thought of as babies, are actually thoughtful, deliberate human beings with ideas, beliefs, and opinions of their own.  It’s like they’re adults.  Or something.

We have a good time.

This is the first of a couple posts I have in mind for documenting their visit to see me in August 2016 and celebrate Baby Brother’s birthday.  We spent part of the trip in San Francisco just eating and wandering and enjoying the life of a San Francisco tourist.  This part of the trip included wandering the cold edge of San Francisco: Lands End and Sutro Baths.

For those of you who have never been to Lands End and Sutro Baths in San Francisco, you need to do it.  It’s a beautiful park, with paths to walk and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.  Where ocean waves create lace on the grey sands of Ocean Beach.


// All photos taken with my Canon AE-1 on 35mm film (Portra 400, if I recall correctly).

Rings and Things


There was great internal debate as to whether I would post about this online.  I’m not wont to share much of my personal life online, especially in highly exposed fora of arenas such as Facebook.  (I won’t go into it too much here, but I’m highly averse to the voyeuristic nature of Facebook and other social media.)

But my Blog is a different matter.  Plus, I’m rather pleased with how these photos came out, and I don’t know where else I could share these photos other than Instagram.  And sometimes, some things are too important and too special to be relegated to Facebook.

So, after the phone calls were made, after the dinners and lunches and happy hours and visits were had . . .


I’m happy to announce that I am engaged!

The questions that a person encounters as soon as her friends/family/coworkers discover that she is engaged are listed below:

  1. When’s the wedding?

. . . and that’s it.

Taiwan-2First things first: I am not going to turn this blog into a wedding blog.

Secondly: I didn’t know the answer to that question the day after I got engaged.

Thirdly: I still do not know the answer to that question, nearly two months later.


But I do like taking photos.  So while I and my new fiancé figure out what we want to do, I’m going to keep shooting.

These are 35mm film photos taken of my new, bright, and shiny engagement ring nestled among my favorite succulents.  I haven’t had an opportunity to shoot rings and jewelry before, so perfect chance, right?


If you’ve read this far, you’re probably looking for our engagement story.  Here’s the short version (email me if you want the long winded version):

We have a yearly tradition of seeing the Nutcracker every Christmastime at the S.F. Ballet. This year, he sent me a bouquet of flowers and then picked me up from work.  We stopped by the Marin Headlands despite the rain and being late to our dinner reservation because of lame traffic, and, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, he proposed.  (There was some debate as to whether we’d actually stop in the Marin Headlands because of the rain, but he had a semi-panicked, puppy-dog look in his eyes, and, well, let’s just say that it’s very easy to persuade me to take a detour to take photos in the Marin Headlands.)

The photo above was taken right before we engaged.


Santa Cruz Life – Summer Living

Down to Earth

It’s been a while.  Hello, Internet!  Hello, summer!

A couple posts back, I announced that I had received a job offer.  Then I promptly fell off the face of the planet.  My Instagram account has remained fairly active, but the number of posts subsided, and my online presence at home took a deep dive.

Carnival Life

Let me tell you what’s happened since then:  I took the job.  I went to San Diego for a family reunion (future post!).  I started the job.  I began the long process of learning everything I could about this field in order to catch up on what I should know.  My roommates and I decided to move out of our house in San Francisco.  I flew to Texas for a good friend’s wedding where we spent a day lounging on a boat and I rediscovered my childhood (posts will be forthcoming).  Immediately flew from Texas to New Jersey for work training.  I flew to Chicago for work event.  I moved out of my house in San Francisco.

In short, my life has been nonstop since I accepted my job. 


I’m finally settling down enough to post some photos from previous adventures.  With luck (and a good old kick in the pants), I’ll be back to posting here regularly.  That also means I need to take that box full of finished rolls in for development. 

In the meantime, these are photos from our last trip to Santa Cruz, CA. In light of the approaching Fourth of July holiday, I figured– what’s more American than a Boardwalk and carnival fun at the beach with beer and good friends?


Santa Cruz BoardwalkSanta Cruz Collage

Pacific Ocean

Summer Living

// 35mm film shot with my Canon AE-1 in Santa Cruz in April 2015 of this year.  Top photo is of Down to Earth beer by 21st Amendment Brewery.

Dreaming of the Summer; Big Sur, California


No, those are not ants struggling in the water. Although I definitely thought they were when I first looked down the side of the cliff and saw little dots floating on the clear, crystalline blue Pacific Ocean.

No, not ants at all.

Surfers Surfing

They’re surfers!

As I clutch at my rapidly cooling coffee, my mind has been drifting away from the cold winter days and back to last summer. What better things are there to do on a chilly, Tuesday morning than dream about the summer?

I posted about our trip down the coast earlier in a two part series (part one and part two), but then I discovered some photos on my digital SLR that I thought would be fun to share. Hopefully, you guys can do with some nice, warm photos of the summer.  Am I right?

These photos were taken with my 55-250mm lens on my Canon Rebel T1i during our trip through Big Sur last October. The 55-250mm lens is not a lens I use often because I tend to be very close to my subjects or am in a setting where I prefer to have a wide angle lens that can capture a broader swath of what I see. I reserve this lens for when times when I know I am looking for something specific, such as birds I know will be out of my range, people who are far away, and some landscape shots where I am trying to focus on a specific point of interest. I rarely need to take sniper shots. But when I discover ants swimming in the ocean, having the lens helps to clarify that they were, indeed, surfers enjoying the water.

Surfers in Big Sur, CA Billowing Sand, Big Sur, CA

What I love about these photos is the fact that you can see clouds of sand billowing like smoke in the water. Up close, we might not see anything but water, but from up high—it’s beautiful and mesmerizing.

Cliffs of Big Sur, CA

I don’t actually know how they got down there. The cliffs are high, and there was no clear path down to the water.  And a brief search on the internet has revealed that this surf spot is at a prime location. And it’s private land. Out of respect for the landowners, I don’t plan to reveal where these photos were taken. Not that it’s difficult to figure out where this is . . .


Before you do try to find access to this or other beaches in California for your surfing needs, please note that a lot of beaches are privateThe ocean may be free access, as is the strip of sand between low and high tide, but many of the beaches are not.  This means that, without prior permission from the landowner, the public does not have access to those beaches. People, of course, are not particularly happy about this.  Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to force a billionaire to provide beach access from his property.  The controversy continues.

The exception to this is, of course, if the general public has been using land for a very long time and have acquired a prescriptive right to use the beach.  I won’t go into the more complicated legal issues that come up surrounding this issue here.  But just know that there has been a lot of litigation surrounding this issue.

People get tetchy about beaches, apparently.

(For more information about the beaches in California, California’s government provides an access guide that, unfortunately, costs money to purchase.)

As for me, I just want to enjoy the view!

Big Sur, CA

It’s a Beachin’ Life at Stinson Beach

Child in the sand

Something about writing in the deep of the night elicits emotions and thoughts from the far recesses of my brain. It’s at these time that I feel most alone. When it’s just me and my words competing in a staring contest, and the words are winning. When the clock strikes midnight, my mind suddenly transports me to another world, and everything else melts away. This is also this time when my mind wanders off, quietly and carefully unearthing strange thoughts and weird ideas for me to ponder. The clock ticks on, but time has a different quality, moving both slower and quicker.

Do you know what I’m talking about?

Last night, my mind wandered over to my mother. At that point in time, she was flying overhead at 600 mph towards Narita, en route to Taiwan, to attend a banquet being thrown in honor of my grandfather’s birthday. The perks of having a somewhat famous novelist grandfather means birthday banquets every year, I suppose, now that he’s passed the 90 year mark.  (More on him later, I promise; he has his own Wikipedia page in Chinese, but there’s a shorter, English version.)

My relationship with my mother has developed over my lifetime into a deep, close friendship. We talk on the phone nearly every day, and she’s my go-to person for most of my life questions and problems. It was disconcerting to be unable to call her yesterday while she was flying overhead.  So it wasn’t completely surprising that my inability to reach her while she was in the air yesterday resulted in my late-night mind browsing through the ephemeral nature of life.

My friends and I are beginning to reach a stage in our lives where we are realizing that our Baby Boomer parents are, in fact, aging. That they won’t live forever, and that they will one day be gone. Perhaps it’s a recognition of our own mortality that triggers it. We have begun discussing what our parents’ plans are for their future, inevitable departure.

Dark thoughts. For a dark night.

Child in the Sand (Glitched film?)

I’m not really sure what happened to the film here. I don’t recall any light leaks happening, and no other photo turned out like this. Kind of an interesting effect, though.

But today, as the sun climbs high into the sky, the darker thoughts are banished, and I realize that it is important to take the time to enjoy life. I am no longer as naïve as a child playing in the outgoing tide on a beach, but I’m still young enough to be optimistic about what the future holds for me.

Life is too short not to enjoy it.

So the beach. I was going to write about the beach.

Dancing reflectionsPathway to hiking Valley towards the Beach

We went to Stinson Beach last week to walk around and shoot some photos. It was a beautiful, January day, and the beach was actually filled with quite a few people. The usual road we took was closed, so we took a different route to the beach—one that echoed the hiking trail we once followed on a hike from the Muir Woods down to Stinson Beach.

Mirage Reflections

When we arrived, we saw children playing in the sand and people strolling with their bare feet with their dogs and yogis enjoying the sun. It was so peaceful. The tide was on its way out, leaving shallow pools in its wake. It felt like we were seeing a mirage, but the water was real and reflected the bright sun light a mirror.

I was excited to discover a couple out making beautiful designs in the sand. I think it was Andres Amador (I don’t know anyone else who does beach painting other than him). A google image search of his work reveals geometric designs of gigantic proportions.

Andres Amador

With a baby strapped to his back and his wife/girlfriend helping, the artist first made guidelines, then used a rake to create the actual design. These designs, of course, aren’t permanent. As soon as the tide comes in, they’re washed away. Reflecting, I suppose, my own thoughts about the impermanent beauty of life.

I wish we had stayed until he finished—probably hours later—but we had dinner plans and couldn’t stay. I hope I run into him again.

Road Trip Down the California Coast; Birthday Shenanigans (Pt. II)

Life of Luxury at the Neptune Pool, Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA

How does the saying go?  Something about how it’s all about the travel and not the destination, right? Well sometimes, the destination is also ridiculously fabulous and worth just as much time enjoying. Especially if you can pretend that you’re living in the lap of 1800’s luxury.

Ah, to spend a day in the shoes of William Randolph Hearst . . .

Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA

So my birthday trip included an extra surprise—a trip to a castle. And not just any castle—Hearst Castle. La Cuesta Encantada. A gorgeous and massive edifice built by shipping individual pieces of European castles across the Atlantic Ocean, transporting them to the California coast, and then lugging them, piece by piece, up the winding, uphill path to the castle location.

Hearst CastleHearst CastleHearst Castle Sculpture

Epic. And crazy, once you see the sheer magnitude of the 165 room, 4-building, 2-pool location.

Land of Hearst Castle

On the grounds, looking down towards the Pacific Ocean, I felt like Simba, being shown his lands. “As far as the eye can see!”

Oh, but I dream.

Mr. Hearst apparently was a great collector of art, sculpture, and tapestries (he and I would get along, clearly). There are sculptures littering the gardens, and there was no uncovered surface within the house.  Everything had a tapestry or some ancient piece of art.

He even had his own theatre! And two pools! One of which had solid. Gold. Tile.

My heart, be still.

Fabulous, fabulous. If anyone wants to give me a house—scratch that, castle—like Hearst Castle, I gladly accept!

*cricket, cricket*

Hearst Castle

Ah well. After our tour of the rooms, we wandered the grounds a little more, and then made our way back to Rt. 1/PCH, where we managed to capture a gorgeous sunset near Morro Bay.

Sunset Dancing Sunset on GrassMorrow Bay Sunset

And so ended an amazing trip down the coast for my birthday.  We spent the next day slowly driving back up, stopping first in Paso Robles to do some wine tasting, and then enduring the remaining 104+ degree weather of Central California as we made our way back to chilly San Francisco.  I look forward to what this year will bring!

Road Trip Down the California Coast; Birthday Shenanigans (Pt. I)

Big Sur

If you ask my friends, they would tell you that I have a tendency to over-celebrate my birthday.  Celebrations can last a week, with food and libations, of course.  From the end of September to the days leading up to Halloween, I call my friends out to have dinner and lunch and coffee. Narcissistic much? Yes, perhaps. But, any excuse to hang out with friends and eat good food is a good excuse, I say! 

PCH Cliffs

Alas, in October last year, I somehow managed to forget my birthday, mainly due to my mess of a professional life. Luckily, my boyfriend made plans to take me on a weekend adventure as a surprise birthday gift. Hurrah!

I had no idea where we were going. He showed up at my door on that early October morning, and told me to grab my keys and bags. Turns out that my surprise birthday present was a weekend trip down Pacific Coast Highway! 

Pacific OceanPCH - Pacific OceanPCH - Pacific OceanExploring the Pacific OceanThat's Cool

It was glorious.  The weather, unseasonably warm for early October, hovered in the upper 80s deg F as we cruised along.  The views were phenomenal.  Turquoise water swirled below sunbleached cliffs, the sun glittered off the water and rocks, and we sailed above them all!

It was still early in the morning when we left San Francisco. The morning drive down Rt. 1/PCH is misty and bright, with pampas grass waving travelers along. Pampas grass is sadly invasive, but I still thought the fronds were beautiful when backlit by the morning sun; I was driving, so didn’t get any shots of the grass.

Looking at a map of California shows that PCH hugs the coast, skirting edges of various county, state, and national parks, and going through cities such as Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, and Monterey.

We stopped in Santa Cruz first, taking coffee at Verve Coffee. There was quite a wait, and while waiting, we counted 1, 2, . . . 12 Macbooks/Macbook Airs surrounding us. Mostly students, I think.  (How much money is just sitting here, Chris asked. What if a thief just came in and stole everyone’s laptops in thirty seconds and ran out? The lady waiting in line in front of us chuckled. Good question, Chris.  What if a robber came in?  Lucky for them, we aren’t robbers.  But the number of Apple products meant: Hipster checkpoint!)

Looking at the Pacific Ocean

The great thing about this road trip was that we got to stop whenever we wanted. Every turnout point offered an amazing view of the ocean below. There was even a bridge, the Bixby Bridge, which Chris’ company had worked on. The bridge itself is already an incredible feat of engineering, but when Chris described what his company had to do in order to suspend machinery under an old bridge built in 1932 above a nearly 300 ft drop, I was floored.  Engineering is incredible, folks.

Bixby Bridge

We continued along Rt. 1 with the windows down, happily enjoying the sun, the ocean, and good company.

Cruising past Monterey, we meandered through Carmel-by-the-Sea, and into Big Sur, ending up at Nepenthe for a late lunch.

Let me stop here for a moment.

Big Sur is ridiculous. Fantastic. Gorgeous. There aren’t enough words to describe its beauty. The cliffs, hundreds of feet in the air, overlook the aqua blue Pacific Ocean, which spreads as wide and far as the eyes can see. It feels like the place where giants can come to rest and enjoy a view of the rest of the world. (And people apparently get married in droves in Big Sur.)

Anyway. Nepenthe. Gorgeous views. I would recommend stopping by for the view. And maybe a drink while you view the ocean. There’s a café.  If you go to Nepenthe, you should probably stop by the café.

We headed back to Monterey after that. There would be more to see the next day, but that night, we settled in to a stunning sunset and too much clam chowder samples and delicious seafood.

Sunset in Monterey Sunset in Monterey

Part 2 of our trip will come in the next post.  Look forward to it!

Sunset in Monterey

[Photos in the first half taken with film SLR, Canon AE-1; Photos in the second half, starting with the photo of me looking out at the Pacific Ocean, taken with digital SLR, Canon Rebel T1i.]