Photo Girl Travels

Taking the Road Less Traveled

Cat’s Hill Race – Los Gatos

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Cat's Hill Race held in Los Gatos

Cat’s Hill Race held in Los Gatos

I know I’ve mentioned a little bit about my bike riding skills but here’s a quick recap. First my bike – Carefully parked in my garage sits my sweet cruiser donning a seat the size of a couch. There’s a cup holder that’s perfect for a chilled Coke Zero and a basket that’s large enough to hold a good book and a blanket. My riding skills: I prefer flat, tree and flower lined pavements. Hills are nice if they are one-way and I’m heading in a downward direction.

So, with that said, the one thing I won’t be doing this week is registering for one of the toughest races on the NorCal circuit which is held in my town – Los Gatos. The event is called the Cat’s Hill Race and it leaves no margin for error or tactical lapse. You don’t dare miss a gear shift or shift your gaze. If you do, you most likely will find yourself in the back of the pack, or skidding along a hot tarmac.

Nicholson Avenue hill is the most impressive part of the race, and where it gets its name – this hill is also called Cat’s Hill or, “Sweet Mother of…” if you’re trying to walk / ride up it. How hard could it be you ask…well, it’s a gut-wrenching 23% climb. But it doesn’t stop there. Riding or walking up this hill once would be a real effort, but during the Cat’s Hill race the riders typically have to do it 12, 15 or 35 times!

Cat's Hill Race, coming around the corner before Cat's Hill

Cat’s Hill Race, coming around the corner before Cat’s Hill

Cat's Hill Race

Cat’s Hill Race

Now I don’t ride in this race but I do like to photograph it. During this race the riders go around the same circuit, over and over again. So even though they just road past you, you’ll see them again in about 5 minutes. It’s a photographer’s dream – versus most races where they fly by once and you have to drive miles ahead to catch up with them again. (Shaking your head as you peruse the many photos you shot that are all blurry) How could you not get at least one great shot if you have hundreds of times to photograph the riders? I have just a few photo tips if you decide to head over to the race.

  • First, just shoot a bunch of photos, I mean why not?
  • If you are shooting with your iPhone try an app called Fast Camera which takes tons of photos automatically.
  • If you have a digital camera check the owner’s manual to if it has this capability.
  • Pan when you shoot. Look out at the riders as they are approaching you, pick one, lock on that rider and then move 180 degrees with them as they pass from the left to the right, all the while shooting photos.
  • Find a place to stand about half way up Cat’s Hill. That’s where you’ll catch the agony in the rider’s eyes – along with a few good swear words.
  • And mostly, just have fun!
Cat's Hill Race

Cat’s Hill Race

Cat's Hil Race

Cat’s Hill Race, panning with the riders

Movement photo taken while panning

Movement photo taken while panning

Cat's Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos

Cat’s Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos

Cat's Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos, California

Cat’s Hill Classic Race in Los Gatos, California

If you’re in Los Gatos this Saturday, May 4, 2013, mark your calendar. You can’t miss it as there will be a ton of people around town. Note – The first race starts at 9:20am. The pros start racing at 5:00.

Here’s the link to the Cat’s Hill Classic website: http://www.catshill.org/

Here’s the map where they race: Maybe I’ll see you there!

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If you’d like to purchase a print to remind you of this beautiful area, please click on “Contact”. My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors and saturation are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.

©2013 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.

Sunset at Vasona Lake, Los Gatos CA

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Vasona Lake View at Sunset

Vasona Lake View at Sunset

A few nights ago I was walking at Vasona Lake and shot this photo. I love framing images and I must say, I generally would not frame three trees smack in the middle of a photo.  But these trees seemed to work well together, and I loved the contrast of the different types of bark. I also like the tiny curling twig at the very top of the middle tree – it looks like my hair in the morning, if you put a bunch together, you’d have a tangled mess.

Also, I have people tell me they have gone to this lake and they are not seeing the reflections.  I have a simple answer for that one. If you want to see reflections – you need to go early or late.  I’m not a real expert on this, but once the sun gets to a certain point, all of the reflections disappear.  The water becomes rippled, and the mystery seems to disappear.  I generally try to walk before 8am or after 6pm.  (But I have to admit – nothing beats the morning reflections.)  Most important is to actually stop and look. I pass so many people walking, running, talking (on their cell phones – ugh!) and I think “You’re missing this incredible beauty!”  Another quick note on Vasona Lake – all of the new spring leaves and flowers are starting to pop so it is absolutely gorgeous. If you don’t live nearby, find a local lake and pay it a morning visit.

If you’d like to see more images I’ll be posting them over the next few weeks. Please click to FOLLOW and I’ll send you the link by email. Cheers!

If you’d like to purchase a print, please click on “Contact”. My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors / saturation are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.

©2013 Shelley D Spray – No content  on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.

Saratoga Farmers Market

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Saratoga Farmers' MarketEvery Saturday from 9am to 1pm.

Saratoga Farmers’ Market
Every Saturday from 9am to 1pm.

First, I didn’t even know that you could eat a purple carrot. Or a white beet. I may have seen them in the past but I felt like a kid when I saw them again. There are many Farmers’ Markets but one of my favorite is the Saratoga Farmers’ Market which is held in the West Valley College parking lot every Saturday from 9am – 1pm. As you can see above, I went a bit crazy a few weeks ago. (Also note my kitchen spring garden!) I have a Nutribullet so generally try to schedule my Saturday mornings, purchasing organic vegetables to make my special V9 drink (I’ll give you the recipe in an upcoming blog, the +1=9 is a secret ingredient which I’ll share).

Seasonal fruits and vegetables for Saratoga and Santa Clara County

I’m amazed at the huge assortment of seasonal fruits and vegetables!

What I really like about this Farmers’ Market are the reasonable prices. But even more important, you’re helping the local farmers. I stroll around the entire market once before I hand over the “dough”. See what I like, and then start bagging my goods. Some of the other items you’ll find include roasted chicken (which you’ll smell from the parking lot), fresh fish, eggs, flowers, and some of the best tamales you’ll ever eat. (Being that I’m from New Mexico I feel that I speak with some level of authority) 😉 I wanted to post this on Friday so you can hopefully have a chance to check it out. I’m heading there tomorrow so I’ll post more photos in the hopes to tempt you for a visit. Happy Friday!

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A Stroll By the Lake

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Nestled by the Santa Cruz Mountains in California is a beautiful, storybook town called Los Gatos. This is a town where the downtown, tree-lined streets are iced with white lights year round. And although “Gatos” means “cats” there are more dogs in this town ready to cozy up to you, regardless of whether they know you or not. Just outside the center of town is a hidden lake located in Vasona Park. This is a secret place for me to escape, either in the morning, at lunch or as the sun quietly sets.

In the summer you’ll see children playing and the sound of their laugher is contagious. The water splashes with families loaded into paddle boats, exploring the shoreline under the heat of the sun. I’ve ridden my bike along the trails a few times, my basket loaded with books, water, snacks, in search of the perfect, remote bench along the way. In the fall and winter the lake becomes quieter, almost thoughtful. The trees slowly change and like large snowflakes, the yellow and red leaves quietly float to the ground. If you are wanting to travel alone, then first do some outings by yourself. A day trip, walk in the park, or overnight trip. Visiting a beautiful lake is a wonderful place to start. Grab a book, bottle of water… you’re about to travel with an amazing person. You.

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As you approach the lake stop and breathe deep. Next, take a look around and just listen to the sounds. The water fascinates me as it takes on the color of the sky and although we have a lot of sun, the fall does bring clouds and rain. In the summer, the sun beats down and on those days the water looks like melted sapphires. When the clouds come in, the sapphires transform to the color of liquid emeralds and orange quartz. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there when the rain and sun mix, making the water look as if it is a thick oil, dark and glossy. Along with the color of the water, I love the reflections. It’s as if there are trees and clouds that are floating under the water. In a secret world where angels float like birds. Peaceful and lovely.

The lake has two sides and one unfortunate fact is you can’t walk “around” it. The trail is more U-shaped. Each side of the U is a bit different. As you wonder up the left side there is a huge park, picnic tables and benches. You’ll also find the launch site for paddle boots and paddle boards. As head further up the trail, it narrows and becomes wooded, with views of the lake off to one side. You’ll see men (and some women) at the shoreline fishing. Just the other day someone pulled in a fish about 2 feet long! Big enough to make me think twice about balancing on a paddle board in the middle of the lake.

There is a beautiful bridge that connects the two shorelines. As you cross to the right side you’ll find more eucalypts trees and the air becomes pungent with the smell. If you are close to Los Gatos I hope you take a walk along the shoreline of this beautiful lake. Bring a book and a cup of coffee and take some time for yourself.

HOLIDAY EVENT: If you are around during the holidays you can enjoy the Fantasy of Lights, which is a 1.5 mile drive through Vasona Park. Perfect for kids (and adults), you’ll slowly drive along winding roads lined with thousands of twinkling lights. Stop at Starbucks before you go and pick up hot chocolate, eggnog lattes or another favorite holiday drink and enjoy! The Fantasy of Lights starts Friday, November 23 and goes through December 31 / 6pm – 10pm nightly including holidays. (Closed November 28)

©2012 Shelley D Spray – No content  on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.


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