Photo Girl Travels

Taking the Road Less Traveled

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.

Escape to Walton Lighthouse

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Photogirltravels_lighthouse7

This morning is quite overcast and I’m sitting at my desk wondering how I’m going to spend my Saturday. I know I should be working on my taxes (ugh) but I think I may drive over to the coast and walk out to one of my favorite lighthouses.  A few quick facts on lighthouses (You may need one of them at your next dinner party):

  • First lighthouse in America –  Boston Harbor (1716)
  • Oldest original lighthouse in service – Sandy Hook, NJ (1764)
  • Newest shore-side lighthouse – Charleston, SC (1962)
  • First lighthouse to use electricity – Statue of Liberty (1886)

If you didn’t get a chance to see my original blog when I drove over did a sunrise walk out to the Walton Lighthouse, I hope you’ll check it out:  https://photogirltravels.com/2012/11/12/sunrise-walk-to-a-lighthouse/  Happy Saturday!

Also, if you’d like to purchase a print 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 / 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.

Fake-a-Book (FAB) Cover!

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Did you know there’s an iPhone app called “Fake-a-Call”? That’s right, the ultimate solution to a date-gone-bad. If you’re not sure how the date will go, fear no more. Prior to your date, program your phone to call you. Be sure to customize the caller ID (“Mom” is always a good choice). Thirty minutes into the date your phone will ring. If it’s going well just ignore it. If you’re in a downward spiral then answer. The call is from “Mom” for gosh sakes. Show your date the caller ID to gain their approval. Who doesn’t take a call from Mom? And then lay it on thick. Here’s a sample of what you could say. (Feel free to customize as needed) “Hey Mom! (smile) What? You’re stuck on the highway? (frown) I’m sorry, you’re breaking up! A flat tire. Oh no! I’ll be right there!”

And who says technology complicates life.

Well, today I’m going to disclose a secret for the solo traveler. Good for anyone but particularly important if you’re heading off on an adventure alone and want to take that juicy novel with you. I always have people ask, what do you do when you’re traveling alone? One of my favorite things is to sit outside at a cafe and read a good book. Now, you can read anything. That’s right, the long awaited guide on how to “Fake-a-Book (FAB) Cover” is here! You no longer need to secretly read those romance novels, the ones with the amazing guy on the front (Why is he always a cowboy?) Or for you men, maybe you REALLY would like to read The Notebook – to see what your girlfriend/wife finds so fascinating about it. (Ok, that may be stretching it) If you follow this easy guide you’ll be reading whatever you want – while the world thinks you’re a genius. Here are the simple instructions.

 

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Sunrise Walk to a Lighthouse

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When I woke at 4:30am on Saturday morning (and couldn’t get back to sleep), I never imagined that in less than 2 hours I would hear the waves crashing against the rocks as I walked under the light of the moon to a lighthouse. I knew it was a bit crazy, but once I was on the road my car just guided me down highway 17 toward Santa Cruz. At that early hour, I was surprised at how many people were actually out. Heading to the gym? Taking the “drive of shame”? Either way, I was on an adventure. I wanted that sweet smell of the ocean and lolling sound of the waves.

So before I tell you about this adventure I will preface it by saying that this is an especially perfect trip if you are wanting to try a trip alone. You don’t need to hit the road that early, even if you sleep in will be just as remarkable. Take notes because this could be your next trip!

Ok, as I mentioned, I was on highway 17 heading toward Santa Cruz, California. It’s a beautiful drive, the darkened roads carve into the Santa Cruz mountains and you sway back and forth as you take each corner. A Starbucks “grande in a vente” was cradled in my cup holder and with each sip I knew this was going to be a fun morning. I had the GPS location dialed in, so my car led the way. I was getting closer to the water’s edge in the heart of Santa Cruz when I took a corner and saw the Boardwalk with its tangled roller coaster lit up. It was quite breath-taking. I pulled over and snapped this pic.

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About 10 minutes later, I turned down a narrow road where I could hear the clanging of the sailboats as they bobbed in the water. Another sound chimed and it was the one I was listening for. The sound of a fog horn, off in the distance. A harbor light calling out to sea captains. “Beware, beware!” I had arrived.

The lighthouse I was looking for is the Walton Lighthouse and it has been lighting the way for over 40 years. I have always loved lighthouses. I’m not sure why, but I’m certain some psychologist would have a theory. For now, let’s say it’s associated with my addiction to the ocean which I mentioned earlier. Anyway, it’s an elegant, classic structure and according to my research can withstand a quarter million pounds of wave energy! Whow.

I parked by a quaint restaurant called “Aldo’s” where I would later have breakfast. When you’re looking at Aldo’s there is a path off to the right that leads out to the lighthouse. The sun was just barely lighting the sky. That mere light mixed with the glow of the moon created magical hues of purple, orange, blues.

I followed the path along the jetty where I could see Seabright Beach off to my right. There, I saw a man, jogging, a silhouette on the sand, moving rhythmically, his stride matching the movement of the waves…

The jetty is fairly long. At first it’s just large rocks that line the path. And then the rocks disappear and there are huge concrete structures, carefully laid to protect the path from the crashing waves. The ocean was fairly calm but every once in a while a wave would crash against those huge cement structures making me catch my breath. During my time on the jetty a few boats left the harbor. Their wakes cut into the smooth glossy water creating elegant slices.

I spent quite a bit of time out there. I snapped pics, took a number of deep, relaxing breaths and watched the sun crest the horizon and creep up into the sky. I also froze! It was beautiful, but very cold. By 6:50am I was starving and headed back along the path toward Aldo’s.

Truth be told, I had never heard of Aldo’s until a good friend recommended it when my Father (aka Papa Stan) came into town. You pass it on your way to the lighthouse and on the way back. If you go on a cool fall morning, you’ll get the added bonus of the smell of bacon and fresh brewed coffee which floats all the way to the lighthouse.

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Aldo’s is a cozy place where a lot of locals spend their mornings. No worries, they will welcome you with a warm hospitality, even if you’re stopping by for the first time. If you’re traveling solo, you’ll feel very comfortable. There is an old, cast iron stove in the dining area which brings additional warmth into the room. I was the first through the door so secured a seat right next to it. I ordered my favorite – poached eggs, medium to medium well – whites cooked, yokes runny. (The whites can not be runny) This always seems like a science project for most cooks but they arrived, cooked to perfection. Along with my eggs, I had hash browns and bacon – everything was delish.

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After breakfast, I walked over to the harbor. It’s right next to Aldo’s and in fact, surrounds the restaurant. It’s a lovely and I strolled along the docks, the sun creating perfect reflections in the morning light. Around 9am, the sun was up and people were out and about. It was time to take off and head up Highway 1.

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Photo Girl FAV: Great place in Santa Cruz for breakfast. Aldo’s Restaurant: (831)-426-3736 / 616 Atlantic Ave Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Monday-Thursday 8:AM-3PM,Friday 8:00AM-4:00PM, Sat-Sun 7:00AM-4:00PM.

Thanks for the great service and wonderful food that morning!

Click “FOLLOW” on this blog and you’ll be the first to head up the coast with me!

PS – I truly hope you take this short trip. Watching the tip of the sun peak over the horizon while standing next to the lighthouse was breathtaking. I decided that if I did nothing else that day, my day would be perfect.

PPS – Note on the weather, regardless of when you go, bring a coat. Santa Cruz can get really cold, even in the summer.

Also, if you’d like to purchase a print 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 / 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.

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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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