Travels with Charley

A Very “Moving” Weekend. Lots of Fun in Monterey and Central California.

Rochelle and I love our Roadtrek Agile, because we can pick up and go at little notice, with only the barest preparations.  The last two weekends we threw our cameras, a change of clothes and a bag of groceries into Charley and headed off to some of our favorite California shooting locations.

Egret Reflection
A Snowy Egret, Standing Still Thank Goodness

If you’ve driven up or down California, you have surely seen our major highways, and you probably stopped at one of the numerous rest stops that show up every hundred miles or so.  But what you might not know is California is home to another, completely different highway.  One that offers some of the most picturesque rest stops you’ve ever seen.  Of course, this highway is for the birds.

And no, I don’t mean it’s full of potholes and run-down truck stops.  I mean it is “literally” for the birds.  It’s called the Pacific Flyway, and every year hundreds of thousands of birds make their winter migration up and down it through the State of California.  And being welcoming hosts, we’ve set aside vast tracks of land in the middle of the State for our feathered friends to sit back, rest up and grab a bite to eat. Continue reading

I Left My Heart, Just North of San Francisco

Rochelle and I have two things that get us out of the house on a regular basis.  One is our Roadtrek Agile Motorhome “Charley” and the other is our love for photography.  It’s a pretty cool combination.  Charley takes us wherever we want to go, without giving up any of our much-cherished creature comforts.  And our passion for photography gets us out of bed, and off to visit some amazing scenes that many folks might skip in favor of an extended breakfast.

Fog Covered Hills color
Early Morning Fog

Lately, we’ve been spending some of our long weekends north of San Francisco in what I’m going to call the “Great Photography Triangle”.  Our triangle starts at a point just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.  From there, we travel in a northwesterly fashion through the Point Reyes National Seashore to the second point on the Sonoma Coast.  From there, our travels take us directly west to the picturesque town of Petaluma.  And finally, we travel south to reach our starting point, which we merrily pass by on the way home.

Of course, no photography outing consists of straight lines.  In fact, our “Great Photography Triangle” looks more like a drawing from a two-year old, with lots of crisscrossed lines, smudges, hand prints, cereal spills and, well, you get the picture.  Photography isn’t so much about finding an exact spot as it is about finding the light.  And if the light isn’t there, maybe you can find a nice bakery instead which, by the way, is always my number one backup plan. Continue reading

It’s Fall Color Time in the Eastern Sierras!

We just got back from the Eastern Sierras and the Fall Colors are out in full.  You probably only have a few days left to enjoy one of California’s most popular photography events.

Charley on Aspen Road
Charley reflects the yellow aspen trees.

We began our journey by loading up Charley, our Roadtrek camper van, and heading over Yosemite’s Tioga Pass.  The pass tops out at 11,000 ft., but it’s a good road, and they’ve kept the really steep parts to a minimum.  The only problem with traveling through the Yosemite high county is how much will power you’ll need to avoid stopping at every turnout.  There are vistas that will simply stun your eyeballs with their size and grandeur, and then there are those lush Tuolumne meadows that might just beckon you to spend an afternoon lazily wondering about, or enjoying a secluded picnic.  But fall happens but once a year, so try to keep your eyes on the road and your mission in mind.  I know it’s tough, but nobody ever said photography was easy!

Continue reading

10 Podcasts that Make the Drive Go By

Sometimes the quickest way from point A to point B isn’t all that quick.  There are just some stretches of road that are so long, and so boring, they test your ability to keep your sanity.  Roadtrek Agile That’s why Rochelle and I load up our iPhones with a wealth of podcasts before we hit the road.  With a nearly unlimited number of subjects, produced by some incredibly bright and creative minds, podcasts can entertain you, help you learn new things and keep that mind of yours occupied as you barrel down the highway. Continue reading

Yellowstone Wildlife Photography

On our recent trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, Rochelle and I learned some hard lessons in mastering the art of wildlife photography, and while neither of us claims to be anything close to a master at it now, we did pick up some valuable, hard-earned knowledge.  And I’d like to pass on some of our experiences to you, in the hopes that you can avoid some of our trials and most of our errors.

Before we get into the whole “photographiness” of the story, I have to remind you, as I reminded myself over and over again, it really doesn’t matter all that much if you get a perfect photograph of a bear, a moose or an elk.  What is much more important is taking the time to see and experience these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.

Yellowstone-
A Bison Calf having Breakfast.

We visited the two parks in late June, and there were animal babies all over the place.  Watching the interaction between the mothers and the babies was a priceless experience and when I think of the time I spent looking at them through my viewfinder, I remember how personal each of those experiences was, not only for them, but for me too.  So, my advice is to be patient, enjoy the experience, and if you happen to get a couple of good photographs, just consider them to be icing on the big cake you already have sitting in front of you. Continue reading

A Yellowstone Adventure, Part 1

There are a few National Parks that are on nearly everyone’s “Gotta Go” list.  I’m sure Yosemite, Glacier and Denali National Parks make it on an awful lot of those lists.  But I’d bet Yellowstone is on practically everybody’s.   And if you own a Class B motorhome, like our Roadtrek Agile Charley, Yellowstone isn’t written on the list in pencil.  It’s written in ink!  And it never gets crossed out, no matter how many times you go.

We recently returned from a wonderful couple of weeks in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks (you can check out my previous post for info on GTNP) and we’re already planning a return trip.  Why?  Because there just isn’t anywhere else in the lower 48 that offers so much to see, and so much to photograph. Continue reading