SANTA CRUZ – CALIFORNIA

Santa Cruz County is located on California’s Central Coast, 65 miles south of San Francisco and 35 miles north of Monterey. Situated on the northern side of the Monterey Bay and rimmed by redwood forested mountains, Santa Cruz County has 29 miles of beaches and 14 state parks.

“In Santa Cruz everything is a little bit different. To start with, the town is near the San Andreas Fault, which the locals will tell you at the first opportunity. This surely explains why everything here is a little bit topsy-turvy, right? San Jose, half an hour’s drive away on the mainland, is full of average Joes preoccupied with everyday problems like mortgages, traffic, the price of petrol and the San Francisco Giants’ umpteenth defeat. Hop over the mountain ridge and you’re in an enclave, a sanctuary for the weird and wonderful. It even has its own special “Mediterranean” climate.”

  • Kolia Sulima,  A new beginning in Santa Cruz, America’s Last Hippie Holdout

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Santa Cruz is one of America’s surfing capitals, complete with its own museum devoted to the sport, and a beach whose waves are known all over the world.

“I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, and the whole lifestyle revolves around the beach. My parents met surfing, and the beach was a major part of our daily lives.”

– Marisa Miller

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“I went to UC Santa Cruz, overlooking the Bay of Monterey and Santa Cruz, in 1969. Back then, the city was part-hippie, part-surfer, but mostly retired chicken farmer.”

– Clive Sinclair

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“The weekly farmers’ market is also quite the scene. An amateur orchestra of 15 drummers have installed themselves under a giant sycamore tree and play an assortment of bongos, barrels, plastic buckets and maracas. There isn’t a sober face among them. They drum away from 3pm till 8pm, a smog of marijuana hanging over them like a cloud of cotton wool. A young woman, stark naked, weaves her way through the fruit stalls. Her gaze is out of focus but her nimble feet carry her beautifully.”

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“Santa Cruz is arguably the last hippie stronghold in the US. It’s almost impossible to earn any money and so, paradoxically, in Santa Cruz it’s fashionable to be poor. The city’s full of hobos but no-one moves them on. The tramps I’m accustomed to are dirty, covered in scabs and usually not long for this world. Those in Santa Cruz are of a different breed entirely. They hover in lines along Pacific Avenue, one of the main downtown drags, and sit around the libraries frightening the readers. They wash themselves and their clothes in the public toilets, and they busk with guitars and laugh their booming laughs like out-of-tune organs. The polite Santa Cruz police put on latex gloves and engage them in leisurely conversation.”

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“I think you’re kind of seeing the real me as far as seeing what I post on social media, because I am very much into cooking, and my dogs, and obviously my son, and my lifestyle in Santa Cruz is very laid-back.”

– Marisa Miller

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“My own zigzag path through life led me back to Santa Cruz in the early Eighties, and I have revisited regularly since. The place hasn’t changed: head in the clouds, backside on the hills and feet in the ocean – one of the most decent and beautiful places on earth.”

– Clive Sinclair

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Flea market, Santa Cruz. Photograph: Nicole Corpuz under a CC licence

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“I live in Santa Cruz. I moved here in 1974 and couldn’t leave.”

– Ellen Bass

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“Santa Cruz is blessed not only with natural wonders, but also with gifted souls who can fashion nature’s bounty into man-made treasures.”

– Clive Sinclair

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“When I wander through the city, I search in vain for its secret. Finding a place to rent here is a Herculean labour. With the money it would cost to rent a kennel or a birdhouse in Santa Cruz you could rent a house with a pool in North Carolina. People wear tattered Converse trainers held together with sticky tape but ride bikes with $500-frames. There are as many organic food stores for the 60,000 inhabitants as for the 10 million residents of New York. It is as if no one thinks about the future at all. Budget? Savings? No, haven’t heard of either of those things. For the first time in my life I have met people capable of discussing nutrition, metabolism and digestion for hours at a time.”

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“Of course, if we were lucky, we wouldn’t be getting chased by an army of zombies through the quarantine area that used to be downtown Santa Cruz. We’d be somewhere safer, like Bikini Atoll just before the bomb testing kicked off.”
Author: Mira Grant

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“There are no jobs here, especially for immigrants. The main hives of industry are old people’s homes, cafes and a theme park full of candyfloss and holidaymakers with clothes smeared in ketchup. The staff at these theme parks — hunched over and exhausted in their synthetic trousers and shirts — make the prospect of working at an old people’s home seem positively appealing.”

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Just up the coast from Santa Cruz lies Half Moon Bay, a coastal city in San Mateo County, California. It’s an idyllic enclave and truly the perfect place to spend some time away from the big city.

 

“Growing up in northern California has had a big influence on my love and respect for the outdoors. When I lived in Oakland, we would think nothing of driving to Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz one day and then driving to the foothills of the Sierras the next day.”

– Tom Hanks

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Just off the Half Moon Bay coast of California, winter storms and underwater geography combine to create some the world’s biggest and most dangerous waves. The Mavericks Surf Contest gives the world’s best surfers a chance to pit their skills against the big ones that can rise over 50 feet high, but this contest has an interesting twist.  No one knows when it will be held until just 24 hours before it starts.

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The big waves come in winter, and around the end of each year, the official waiting period for the Mavericks Surf Contest begins. When conditions are right, organizers call a field of 24 surfers (who have been pre-selected) to tell them when the Mavericks Surf Contest will begin.

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“I like to go for a little drive up the California coast.”
Author: Colin Farrell

“In California in the early Spring, There are pale yellow mornings, when the mist burns slowly into day, The air stings like Autumn, clarifies like pain – Well, I have dreamed this coast myself.”
Author: Robert Hass

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If you are looking to surf in North America then head on out to California – there is great surf all the way down the coast. It is worth the trip to catch the big wave surfers riding the mountains of Maverick’s during the huge winter swells.

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“Soon it got dusk, a grapey dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

“The setting sun burned the sky pink and orange in the same bright hues as surfers’ bathing suits. It was beautiful deception, Bosch thought, as he drove north on the Hollywood Freeway to home. Sunsets did that here. Made you forget it was the smog that made their colors so brilliant, that behind every pretty picture there could be an ugly story.”
― Michael Connelly, The Black Echo

With written excerpts by Kolia Sulima taken from: https://www.calvertjournal.com/articles/show/2987/letter-from-santa-cruz-usa-last-hippie-holdout

 

 

San Diego Sunsets

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“…time can be slowed if you live deliberately. If you stop and watch sunsets. If you spend time sitting on porches listening to the woods. If you give in to the reality of the seasons.”

― Thomas Christopher Greene, I’ll Never Be Long Gone

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“One day,” you said to me, “I saw the sunset forty-four times!”

And a little later you added:

“You know– one loves the sunset, when one is so sad…”

“Were you so sad, then?” I asked, “on the day of the forty-four sunsets?”

But the little prince made no reply.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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“Because I can count on my fingers the number of sunsets I have left, and I don’t want to miss any of them.”

― Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire

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“Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting.”

― Richard Paul Evans, The Gift

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Ahhh, the ocean…the waves….the sunset!! An awesome, must see location. You will not be disappointed. Beautiful views. People out walking, running and bike riding. Enjoyable and relaxing.

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“A sunset is the sun’s fiery kiss to the night.”

― Crystal Woods, Write Like No One is Reading 

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“And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered.”

― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

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“Oscar Wilde said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets. But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde.”

― G.K. Chesterton

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“The setting sun burned the sky pink and orange in the same bright hues as surfers’ bathing suits. It was beautiful deception, Bosch thought, as he drove north on the Hollywood Freeway to home. Sunsets did that here. Made you forget it was the smog that made their colors so brilliant, that behind every pretty picture there could be an ugly story.”

― Michael Connelly, The Black Echo

Southern California Coast

California is a road-tripper’s dream destination. If there’s one place in North America to live the Dharma Bum life, it’s California. Undeniably, it has the best weather in the western hemisphere, along with the greatest range of topography, scenery, recreational activity, culture, and lifestyle options of anywhere on the planet! I love California. It is my “go-to” place year after year. Man, I just can’t get enough of it.
I love those transcendent moments on my motorcycle that money can’t buy: the smell of the Pacific coming through the Golden Gate, the rich scent in forests of giant sequoias, and the sweetness of strawberries picked fresh. I’m just constantly in awe of how beautiful it is. The unique cities and towns, the ocean, the forests, the Pacific Coast Highway, the sunsets, the food, the people, the mountains, the desert….I just can’t get enough of it!
So, for the next while, I’ll be re-positing some recent adventures of past California road trips that I’ve taken – a little “California Series”, if you will.

Road Trip Photographs

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“To me, everything outside of Los Angeles is the ‘south,’ including places like San Diego. It’s sort of like the saying, ‘Everything is God.’ Indeed it is.”

– Buzz Osborne

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“Well, when I was a kid, I grew up in San Diego next to the ocean. The ocean was my friend – my best friend.”

– Robert Ballard

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“The San Diego region in many ways is defined by our relationship with the ocean. It’s our front yard and a beautiful playground for families and visitors. It should be clean, safe, and inviting.”

– Scott Peters

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“People actually enjoy it when it rains in San Diego because we never get it. It’s a nice change of pace. When you live in Southern California, everybody says, ‘It’s so expensive there.’ I tell them, ‘It’s just a very expensive weather tax.'”

– Steve Finley

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Last thing I remember, I was
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Alaska – America’s Final Frontier

ALASKA – The Way of Nature

“Driving in the last frontier can be quite a doozy. The stunning landscapes make it hard to concentrate while the random junk on the side of the road keeps that whole “wild Alaska” thing in crystal-clear perspective. From crazy tourists, abundant wildlife, odd hauls, extreme hazards and harsh winter weather conditions – driving in the great 49th state is filled with “OMG” moments that will genuinely make your jaw drop and make you shake your head in disbelief. Check out these 25 undeniable thoughts that everyone has had while driving in Alaska”:

http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/alaska/wild-driving-thoughts-ak/

Road Trip Photographs

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“Historically, Alaska is a place that has attracted those fed up with conventionality.”

-Bill O’Reilly

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“This was one of the places people told me to go, it was one the big trips that you should see: Alaska.”

-Jeff Goldblum

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“For sheer majestic geography and sublime scale, nothing beats Alaska and the Yukon”

-Sam Abell

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“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.”

-John Muir

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“Nature is man’s teacher. She unfolds her treasures to his search, unseals his eye, illumes his mind, and purifies his heart; an influence breathes from all the sights and sounds of her existence.”

-Alfred Bernhard Nobel

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“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”

-Henry David Thoreau

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“Motorcycling in the lower 48 states seems relatively easy in comparison to riding to Alaska. I always knew…

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California – Death Valley

Death Valley – California

The National Park Service is warning visitors about the dangers of remote travel in extreme heat after a string of recent emergencies, one of them fatal, in Death Valley National Park.

On Thursday, park visitors found a man dead on Harry Wade Road, a remote, 30-mile dirt track that runs into the south end of Death Valley from California Route 127.

The man’s name and age were not released. His motorcycle was parked nearby, upright and in working condition.

His death is under investigation by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, though heat may have been a factor. Thursday’s high was 118 degrees at the park’s official weather station in Furnace Creek, California, about 125 miles west of Las Vegas.

Welcome to DEATH VALLEY.

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The very name evokes all that is harsh, hot and hellish – a punishing, barren and lifeless place of Old Testament severity. Yet closer inspection reveals that in Death Valley nature is putting on a truly spectacular show: singing sand dunes, water-sculpted canyons, boulders moving across the desert floor, extinct volcanic craters, palm-shaded oases and plenty of endemic wildlife. This is a land of superlatives, holding the US records for hottest temperature (134°F/57°C), lowest point (Badwater, 282ft below sea level) and largest national park outside Alaska (over 5000 sq miles).

-Lonely Planet

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Death Valley is a contradiction of the natural world. Its deadly heat is contrasted by snow capped mountains. It’s dry and below sea level, yet the occasional rain causes wildflowers to bloom. Even its name is a contradiction as plenty of life and beauty exist here.

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Death Valley National Park comprises more than 3.3 million acres of spectacular…

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Yosemite, California

Yosemite became the first wildland in the nation protected for all-time 150 years ago when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, protecting the Valley and Mariposa grove. Later, in 1890, it became a national park. Over the last 150 years the park has played host to a number of dignitaries and celebrities – as well as about 4 million regular visitors a year.

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“Yosemite Park is a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust and weary, nervous, wasting work of the lowlands, in which one gains the advantages of both solitude and society. Nowhere will you find more company of a soothing peace-be-still kind. Your animal fellow beings, so seldom regarded in civilization, and every rock-brow and mountain, stream, and lake, and every plant soon come to be regarded as brothers; even one learns to like the storms and clouds and tireless winds. This one noble park is big enough and rich enough for a whole life of study and aesthetic enjoyment. It is good for everybody, no matter how benumbed with care, encrusted with a mail of business habits like a tree with bark. None can escape its charms. Its natural beauty cleans and warms like a fire, and you will be willing to stay forever in one place like a tree.“

– John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938) page 350. Find more of his quotes, from The Sierra Club.

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“There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods…and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred. It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man.”

– President Theodore Roosevelt, 1905

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Over eons, rivers and glaciers somehow carved 3,000 feet into solid granite to create Yosemite Valley. The nuances of the Valley form spectacular rock formations, for which Yosemite Valley is famous.

“It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.”

-John Muir

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“A lot of people think that when you have grand scenery, such as you have in Yosemite, that photography must be easy.”

Galen Rowell

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“I went to Yosemite as an homage to Ansel Adams. I could never be Ansel Adams, but to know that’s there for us – there’s so much for us in this country.”

– Annie Leibovitz

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Prominent as you enter Yosemite Valley, it’s hard not to notice the beauty of Bridalveil Fall.  The native people of Yosemite Valley, the Ahwahneechee Indians, called the fall “Pohono” meaning “spirit of the puffing wind.”  Early Yosemite pioneers named it Bridalveil Fall because of the flow’s resemblance to a bride’s veil swaying in the wind.

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The Gates of Yosemite scene where this fall stands opposite the mouth of Yosemite Valley to El Capitan is often what comes to mind when I think about Yosemite National Park. Ever since the landscape photographer Ansel Adams captured and immortalized the “Gates of Yosemite,” it was probably instrumental in making Bridalveil Fall one of the most photographed waterfalls in the park.

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El Capitan is a favorite for experienced rock climbers. Rising more than 3,000 feet above the Valley floor, it is the largest monolith of granite in the world. El Capitan is opposite Bridalveil Fall.

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Along with Half Dome, Yosemite Falls is the iconic symbol of the grandeur and beauty of Yosemite National Park. I think the falls are practically synonymous with the incomparable Yosemite Valley.Yosemite Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in North America, with a total drop of 2,425 feet.

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“When I think of the overwhelming majesty of Yosemite National Park, I cannot help but agree with Carl Sharsmith, a longtime Yosemite ranger.  When a park visitor asked what Carl would do if he only had one day in Yosemite, Carl replied, “I’d go sit by the Merced River and cry!”  And he was right:  There may never be enough time to see all the grandeur of the Yosemite, in all its wonder.  But however much time you have to spend, Yosemite National Park is worth the trip.  It does not matter what season.  Every experience—taking a sunrise walk with a ranger, strolling through the rain on a chilly fall afternoon, picnicking along the Merced in the summer, being surprised by the mist coming off Bridalveil Fall, noticing deer or coyote across a field, or marvelling at wildflowers as they come to life after a spring shower—adds to the tapestry that is Yosemite.  Each experience is its own unique treasure.”

-From the Blog: “Learn More Everyday”

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Half Dome is perhaps the most recognized symbol of Yosemite. Rising nearly 5,000 feet above the Valley floor, it is one of the most sought-after landmarks in Yosemite.

Rising nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level, Half Dome is a Yosemite icon and a great challenge to many hikers. Despite an 1865 report declaring that it was “perfectly inaccessible, being probably the only one of the prominent points about the Yosemite which never has been, and never will be, trodden by human foot,” George Anderson reached the summit in 1875, in the process laying the predecessor to today’s cable route.

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“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”

-Ansel Adams – Photographer

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“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

~ John Muir

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“The making of gardens and parks goes on with civilization all over the world, and they increase both in size and number as their value is recognized. Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike. This natural beauty-hunger is made manifest in the little windowsill gardens of the poor, though perhaps only a geranium slip in a broken cup, as well as in the carefully tended rose and lily gardens of the rich, the thousands of spacious city parks and botanical gardens, and in our magnificent National Parks—the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc.—Nature’s sublime wonderlands, the admiration and joy of the world. Nevertheless, like anything else worth while, from the very beginning, however well guarded, they have always been subject to attack by despoiling gain-seekers and mischief-makers of every degree from Satan to Senators, eagerly trying to make everything immediately and selfishly commercial, with schemes disguised in smug-smiling philanthropy, industriously, sham-piously crying, ‘Conservation, conservation,’ that man and beast may be fed and the dear Nation made great. Ever since the establishment of the Yosemite National Park, strife has been going on around its borders and I suppose this will go on as part of the universal battle between right and wrong, however much of its boundaries may be shorn, or its wild beauty destroyed.”

― John Muir, The Yosemite

 

Dharma Bum Philosophy

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I am essentially a talentless average Joe. I have no special skills. I have tried my hand at different sports, music, and various other endeavours as outlets for a pent up urge of some semblance of creative expression that I feel exists within me. I have found it in photography, travel, hiking, skiing, yoga, motorcycle riding, and ultimately, a simultaneous blend of all of these pursuits through extended road trips, treks, and wanderings. Learning about Zen while consuming red wine also helps to put life in perspective.

I have spent the better part of my life following a predetermined linear path as it had been mapped out for me by society. Preschool. Elementary school. High school. University. Marriage. Job. Children. Mortgage. Endless work. Endless consumption. Endless responsibility. Endless obligation. The Rat Race.

As Oscar Wilde stated so simply: “I don’t want to earn a living. I want to live.”

For me, travel and photography provide a departure from the stressful repetitiveness of everyday existence. We travel not simply to escape life, but so that life does not escape us. Photography provides the means both by which to attempt to capture the essence of the beauty that we encounter in nature, and to express our vision and interpretation of that beauty to others.

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels is being photographed in the deepest sense and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”

– Ansel Adams – Photographer

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Live to Ride. Ride to Live.