Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

One man’s pain is another man’s pleasure

Many parts of the US continue to be hammered by Winter storms. The UK is saturated by rain. Meanwhile, here in California we are facing the worst drought that we’ve seen in recent times, and we’d happily take all the snow and rain from those that have had enough if there were some easy way to do so.

We do have some relief on the horizon – there was some limited rain over the past weekend, which fell as snow at higher elevations, and more is falling now, but will it be enough? Only time will tell.

I have to wonder though that given all of our efforts to pipe other liquids around the country and beyond, why can’t we do the same for water?

“Hello, is Mommy there?”

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Yesterday was a fun day… my daughter (mother of these two adorable monkeys) had to work, and my wife was helping as a volunteer at a Girl Scout weekend camp, so I did my grandfatherly duties by looking after these two for the day. As the weather has been unusually warm and sunny (California – drought – all that fun climate change stuff), I decided to keep them happy and busy by taking them to the beach.

After an hour’s drive we arrived in Half Moon Bay where we parked up and spent a few hours on Poplar Beach. You have to pay for parking there, but it’s not that expensive, and the parking fee has the advantage of serving to keep the numbers of visitors down, so while we didn’t have the beach to ourselves there was a lot of room to run around and play.

Poplar Beach is long and sandy, and the sand is good for making sandcastles too, so both little monkeys set to the task of sand construction with their sand toys…

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It wasn’t long before the lure of the waves became more interesting than the sand, and so after a few rounds of wave-tag, I had two rather wet little monkeys.

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After a change and a short drive down the coast-hugging Highway 1, we stopped at Pescadero State Beach. This beach has a nice mix of rock-pools and sand, and has some nice sheltered rocky coves for when the wind is blowing. In the summer this beach can get very fog-bound and cold, but on this mid-winter day it was warm and sunny, so in their swim costumes the little monkeys took to the beach for round two of some beach fun.

Both having been unexpectedly soaked in the waves at Poplar Beach, neither of them was interested in the water, so instead they made more sand castles, and also explored (climbed over) some of the rocky terrain.

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The day was getting long, and so after a couple of hours here we bundled back into the car for a little drive further down the coast to Pigeon Point Lighthouse where we stretched our legs and explored the area around the lighthouse. We even saw a couple of spouts from migrating whales out in the Pacific Ocean.

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It was here we found the telephone box. One of the things about California’s Highway 1 is that a lot of it’s run has no cellphone coverage because of the surrounding terrain and the remoteness… so at various stops along the route you can find working phone boxes. Watching the two monkeys explore the booth made me think that their generation will likely be the last one that really knows what a ‘traditional’ phone looks like. These curiosities will likely disappear for good, resigned to history like the VCR, cassette tape, and other pieces of tech that we have left behind in our never ending drive to improve the devices we live with.

Anyway… after exploring the lighthouse we headed for home, but first a stop for some food, and for that we stopped at Cameron’s Inn Pub and Restaurant in Half Moon Bay. This California-ized British Pub is the perfect place to stop and enjoy a drink and some food, while immersing yourself in all of the best parts of a British Pub. It’s kid-friendly too, which with a 2 and 4 year old pair in tow was a blessing! After a lovely meal (they do some wonderful English food, which for an ex-pat like me is a real treat), we explored an old London double-decker bus before getting in our car for the hour long drive home.

Accompanied by music from Disney’s Frozen, played from the internet on my smartphone, through the speakers of my car, we sat in the expected queues leaving Half Moon Bay along route 92, and got home just as both little monkeys were ready for bed… after a quick bath to wash off the sea water and sand that had accumulated through the day, both were in bed and snoring within minutes – the sure sign of a fun day with Granddad.

Mission accomplished.

A place to sit and reflect…

We tend to fill our lives with “busy stuff” just to keep ourselves occupied. I am as guilty of that as the next person, but every now and again I force myself to get away from all that “stuff” so I can make time to enjoy the wonderful things around me.

On one such escape I found myself at the beach by Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a few miles south of Pescadero on California’s Highway 1. On this unusually warm sunny winter’s day I left my car at the side of the road and started walking along the trails that weave through the vegetation. Sprinkled along the trails are benches such as this one where you can sit and enjoy the scenery.

The view from the bench is perfect for reflecting on what is important – the ocean, the rocks, the beach, the wildlife, and the lighthouse – all metaphors for how we should all be living our lives. I could have sat there for hours enjoying the view, but then I would be missing out on much more beauty that the Pacific coastline has to offer.

As much as anything else, this little excursion taught me that I need to do this more often. Rather than just doing “busy stuff” I need to get out more and enjoy the beauty that this wonderful planet we all call home has to offer.

Stepping back in time

For the past 7 years my wife and I have been repeat visitors to this place. We’ve now stayed at Howard Creek Ranch Inn (HCR) 15 times and we will be back there for more visits this year. Why? Because it’s at the north end of Highway 1 on the Pacific coast, so easy access to everything that Mendocino County has to offer, but more importantly it oozes rustic charm, and with no cellphone or (reliable) internet service it gives you that much-needed occasional break from our hectic connected lives. Oh, and the breakfasts are wonderful too, as are the hosts (Sally and Sunny Griggs).

I took this photo of the farmhouse at HCR on January 1, 2014, but the timeless look of the place on a slightly foggy afternoon made me want to have a little post-processing play… Click through and view this full screen for best effect.

If you do happen to visit Howard Creek Ranch, please mention me to Sally. 🙂

Out with the old, in with the new…

As we have done for the last few years, my wife and I stayed at Howard Creek Ranch in Westport, CA, for New Year. It’s a wonderful place for getting away from things and reflecting on what is truly important. One of the things we were reminded of during this trip is the importance of clear communication, as without clarity the best of intentions can be seen as something other than what was intended. Even after 33 years it is possible to make incorrect assumptions, and that old saying of “familiarity breeds contempt” becomes shockingly true.

The old me would make assumptions about what was meant when something was said to me. That needs to change… along with many other things about me, and as I work my way into my second half century the time has come to do something to turn the old me into something better… not that the old me was bad, but there is certainly room for improvement, and I intend to start making changes for the better.

Along with that will (hopefully) come some more attention to my presence here on the Internet, and perhaps some changes in how I treat my hobby, with a view to making something more of my photography. Wile I don’t necessarily want to change careers, it’d be nice if what I did at least became self-funding, and to help that along I’m going to have to become more comfortable about putting my thoughts and creations out here on the world wide web.

I’m not sure what will come of all of this, but hopefully some of it will be good!

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