February was a very productive month. My friends and I drove from Los Angeles to Washington in a 25ft RV. We stopped at some of the most iconic spots on the west coast for photography. Our adventure began in Malibu where we camped one night on a bluff along coast highway. At daybreak on the second day, we headed north up the coast to the famous Big Sur coast. After driving 250 miles, we found a nice bay to shoot during sunset. We woke up the next morning at our camp spot along the Big Sur River continuing north to Yosemite National Park.
We spent most of the day driving the scenic coast occasionally stopping to take some photos; the entire drive is full of "ooh ah" moments. Eventually, our route lead us more inland towards Yosemite. The drive into Yosemite Valley at night in a 25ft RV is no easy task. That night we pulled into our campsite eager to wake up at first light the next morning. The alarm went off around 6:00 AM, then we started our morning ritual, getting the coffee started, warming up the RV and prepping photo gear. When time rolls around to head out we lost the keys! As minutes roll by and light starts to peak over the granite, my heart sank a little. Is this really happening? We all asked ourselves. We looked for the keys for what seemed like hours, completely destroying the RV during the process. Finally, where did we find them? The cupholder.
With our blood pressure boiling, we set out to Cathedral Beach, one of the best spots for sunrise. The tip of El Capitan will catch the first rays of sunlight, casting a reflection on Merced River. After a short walk, we made it just in time to catch the sunrise. Unfortunately due to the drought, the river levels were less than impressive, we did get a nice pocket of reflections though. With our first location in the bag, we did some scouting after breakfast. One thing we had to consider in Yosemite Valley was some parts of the valley would never see sunlight due to the angle of the sun (for the time of the year). After discussing options for sunset, we decided on Tunnel View, made famous by Ansel Adams.
The view was magical. Sometimes tour buses pulling up every 10 minutes and tourist screaming in your ear can take the serenity out of locations. But Tunnel View has a way of grabbing your full attention, blocking any distractions around you. I can only imagine what the first photographers said to themselves when they discovered this place. We patiently waited for two hours for the sun to go down, gradually Half Dome and El Capitan disappeared into the shadows. It was a perfect bluebird day. That night was the only night we didn't have to drive far to camp, so we got back early, made a fire and called it a night.
The next morning we didn't have any problems finding the keys, but the sunrise was lackluster. The lack of clouds and storms made for very dull views, even from Sentinel Bridge. We were all satisfied though, being our first time in Yosemite just being there was enough. Our next stop was Redwood National Park in Eureka California, around 400 miles away.
Our campsite in Eureka was interesting, to say the least. Up until this point, our sites were in the woods. Our campsite in Eureka was behind a gas station and what looked like an abandoned Home Depot parking lot. But with our RV water tank running low and the grey tank getting full we had no choice but to book a site with full hookups. It turned out to be a nice refresher though; the facilities were clean, and we were able to catch up on dirty dishes. The next morning we left the lot before sunrise and headed up the coast to the Redwoods. We decided to do a short hike in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, which is essentially a coliseum of redwoods. The short hike proved to be exactly what we needed after more than 1,500 miles logged so far. Continuing north to Tillamook we were finally starting to see glimpses of the Oregon Coast. I envisioned the coast to be dreary, foggy and grey. Well it turned out to be the complete opposite. It was a beautiful blue day, 70 degrees, and the water was crystal clear. Our excitement got the best of us, so we pulled off at the nearest beach to climb sea stacks.
Surprisingly we were ahead of schedule, so we took our time driving, stopping at some old thrift stores and grabbed a bite to eat. Face Rock Beach was our location for the sunset. The beach is huge, with dozens of sea stacks offshore. The tide was slowly receding giving us nice reflections in the hard sand. Sunset that night was one to remember, it lasted for hours and the colors were amazing.
Our last leg of the trip was the Olympic Peninsula, specifically the Hoh Rainforest. The Hoh is one of my favorite places in the world. Even in "dry" months the place is so vibrant and green. Walking through the forest is such a fresh feeling. The forest is also a great place to birdwatch or occasionally spot wildlife. After a few hours photographing the forest we drove along Crescent Lake scouting locations for sunrise the next day. Passing small gas stations, foggy lakes, and cafes, you feel like you're driving through a novel. Maymere Falls was the next location on the list. With only a 2 mile hike, we had plenty of time to shoot and find unique images; this is when a photographer produces their best work.
Marymere was our last location; Hurricane Ridge was closed, so we took our last day to relax and casually cross Port Angeles into Edmonds. Six RV parks, 2,200 miles and four national parks later we successfully concluded the road trip.
I would like to thank David Mchowell for donating the RV for the trip, and, of course, my friends Jody Kamisato, Rylen Yamamoto and Andrew Agcaoili for helping document the trip.
Thank you for the continued support.