USA

California Road Trip - Hollywood to Home by Philip Swallow

(Originally posted to Facebook on June 21, 2019)

Well, what a trip! Sue and I have loved every minute of it. We achieved what we set out to achieve, recorded it in stills and video and had a barrel of laughs along the way.

With a trip of this size it is inevitable that there are places we would have loved to spend a bit longer at - but we class them as a reason to make us come back again one day!

We visited Hollywood today and didn't spend too long there, it was more to tick it off the list than anything else - but we headed back to Santa Monica for a second meal at the restaurant we ate at yesterday and had a great meal again and a good chat with various staff including the Manager - and the dessert on the house, went down very nicely - yum yum.

After breakfast tomorrow we hand the car back to Alamo then take their shuttle to LAX for the afternoon flight back to London Heathrow.

Whilst here I have already pushed back on any holiday blues by booking a trip to Las Vegas in February for "Headshot Mania" run by Peter Hurley's Headshot Crew - it's always good to have another trip in the calendar even if this is about professional training.

Thank you for reading/following - it means a lot!

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California Road Trip - Santa Monica by Philip Swallow

(Originally posted to Facebook on June 19, 2019)

Ok, so this is kinda obvious but the resorts, towns, cities -pretty much everything over here are huge! The seaside resorts near San Clemente were all large, certainly by UK and European standards. 

We had so much fun catching up with my buddy Andy and his wife, Laura. The banter was flying and it was a shame to say goodbye on Monday evening. We will keep in touch thanks to modern technology, and look forward to our next get-together.

We are now in our 8th and final stay, at a B&B in Santa Monica. We drove up “the 1” (Highway One/The Pacific Coast Highway) rather than use the Interstates as we wanted to see things a bit closer. We travelled through some nice resort towns (think Bognor Regis on steroids!) and at Long Beach the huge port area was like a city in its own right. And arriving at Santa Monica this is also a large city rather than another LA borough - huge!!

On the way up we stopped at Costa Mesa to visit photographer John Glover at his studio. John is a fellow member and Mentor on Peter Hurley’s Headshot Crew and it broke up the journey nicely. John is a top guy and it was great of him to give up some time for Sue and I. 

We had a bracing walk to Santa Monica Pier this evening and a nice meal of fish & chips US-style. A cab back was required, indeed recommended.

We have two more full days of being holidaymakers then it is back home via an overnight flight on Friday to Saturday. We have enjoyed every minute of this trip!

California Road Trip - Joshua Tree to Beach Cities by Philip Swallow

(Originally posted to Facebook on June 17, 2019)

We are currently relaxing and unwinding in San Clemente, back on the coastline that we last visited when we stayed in San Francisco.

The journey through Joshua Tree National Park was amazing. We joined at the north-western entrance and meandered our way through until leaving at the Cottonwood Visitor Center exit. The road layout is such that there are many stopping points and small parking lots that you can get nice photo opportunities from. The temperature reached 105°F in the southern section (Pinto Basin) so photos were taken very quickly with the engine and aircon left running!

The route from the park to San Clemente saw a return of the bigger highways and much more built-up areas. We went past Palm Springs and it is huge, lots of casinos and resorts for those who like to partake.

Andy has been a great guide to us here, showing us around the local Beach Cities and also his home town of San Juan Capistrano, that has a lot of history including a Mission dating back to 1776.

We are taking the train to San Diego today to pay a quick visit whilst we are in these parts. Tomorrow we head up the coast to our final stop in Santa Monica which has close proximity to return the car (thanks Alamo) and then head to LAX for our flight home on Friday afternoon.

California Road Trip - Sequoia by Philip Swallow

(Originally posted to Facebook on June 14, 2019)

Sequoia was amazing!! The journey from Mariposa to our base in Three Rivers was enjoyable and scenic - they all tend to be on this trip! Sue has been very busy capturing video snippets on all of our travels so please stay tuned for when our YouTube vlogs are released as you will be able to get a real feel for what we experienced on the road. 

Our Sequoia base was close to the park entrance but that means nothing with a USA National Park! - It was around an hour of twisting, turning climbs to get to the main attractions (the ones on our list, anyway). 

The atmosphere was so calming and pleasant in Sequoia. There was good shade from the warm sun and the smell produced by the warm pine needles and plants was wonderful. I posted a range of shots to give you an idea of what you can see in one day - it was a simply stunning experience. 

Today was our big drive day, lots of very straight roads (thanks cruise control 👍🏻) and a change of scenery from mountain to desert. We are now in Yucca Valley where we will stay for one night and then travel through the Joshua Tree National Park tomorrow before checking in to our next multi-day stay in San Clemente where we are really looking forward to seeing our friends. 

We are expecting some hot, dry heat in the park but it will cool down when we get to the coast, hopefully still sunny though.

California Road Trip - Yosemite by Philip Swallow

(Originally posted to Facebook on June 11, 2019)

The heat here in Mariposa is very strong right now, highs of 38°C expected today. Yosemite was slightly lower than here over the last two days and the shaded areas were really comfortable as were any areas near the base of waterfalls - melted snow spray is very refreshing indeed 😁. 

We travel again today, off to Three Rivers which will be our base for two nights to allow us to take in Sequoia National Park and see the huge trees there. A bit milder there too if the weather apps are correct. 

We bought an Annual Pass for all National Parks for $80, admission is $30 at each one and we will visit three so making a saving. They can also be counter-signed by a second person (anyone you know, not limited to family etc.) so “shared”, which is a great feature.

Yosemite was all we expected it to be and more. In some ways it’s like a natural equivalent of New York City - you can’t take a bad photo there! If opportunity presents itself we will return, it would be interesting to visit in other seasons too. 

From a photography perspective there was probably one compromise we made. We got there early to get parked and beat the crowds and it worked really well but I preferred the fuller light later in the day. But later in the day would have meant parking issues, queues/lines and possibly not even getting to where you want to make your chosen composition. But don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with what I captured and the summer sky on our first day was something else. 

We are capturing lots of video as we go. The current plan is for a general overview video with snippets of our visited places and then short, separate videos of the places themselves. All to be sorted out when we get home and then published on my YouTube Channel.

California Road Trip - San Francisco by Philip Swallow

(Originally posted to Facebook on June 8, 2019)

Sue and I have really connected to San Francisco. It has character, history, charm, friendly people, loads to see, a nice climate - I could go on . . . 

It has been a good reboot to leave the car parked for a few days although yesterday we did 20,000 steps, covering 10 miles and the equivalent of 40 flights of stairs! 

We love the fact that there are few chains here, certainly ones we know in the UK anyway, so local businesses get the chance to thrive. Many of those have been established for a long time (thank you Swensen’s Ice Cream Parlour!!)

The weather has been kind and we really enjoyed our pre-booked trip to Alcatraz. Please make it part of your trip if you plan to come here. 

My photo shoot rate has increased as you will have noticed, and the video content is building up - many hours in the edit suite to come. 

We will eat locally this evening and then head off first thing to our next stop on our “loop” of California.

California Road Trip - PCH to Carmel by Philip Swallow

(Originally posted to Facebook on June 5, 2019)

The first day was very much a driving day as we weaved out of Los Angeles and up the coast to Morro Bay, passing through Santa Monica, Malibu, Santa Barbara and many other names you get to know over the years though TV & movies. Not many photographic opportunities on the way or at Morro Bay but a lot more yesterday. 

Yesterday we set off from Morro Bay on a more classic section of Highway One. We saw an Elephant Seal Colony, stopped at many viewpoints and the “June Gloom” fog lifted just as we approached our overnight stop at Carmel. 

Carmel is a beautiful town. Doris Day lived here and Clint Eastwood was former Mayor. If you get the chance, pay a visit!

Yesterday evening we toured 17 Mile Drive which takes in the Pebble Beach Golf Links and is a very picturesque piece of land indeed - lifestyles of the rich and famous! They are currently putting the structure together to host the 119th US Open Golf Championship that starts on Thursday June 13th. We saw the Australian golfer Adam Scott in Carmel with his family - probably here for early practise. 

It has been busy but very enjoyable. We have been taking photos and video and need a bit of downtime to process it, hopefully we will get some at our next two stops which are more than one night stopovers.

California Road Trip - Overview by Philip Swallow

In June 2019 Sue and I travelled to California for a Road Trip. I made a series of Travel Updates to my Travel Photography Facebook Page as we were travelling and thought these would mage good diary/blog material so have copied them across to my website and they will provide a way of following our trip as it happened.

This is a map showing our loop - the only addition to this was a train trip we took from location #9 to San Diego for the day.

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To bring this to life there is a podcast episode that Sue and I recorded dedicated to this trip, please have a listen and it will help to tell the story.