Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Sun Sets on the Fog, not the Ocean

These are some photos from this past weekend. There is not a big story to tell this time, just some good photos for you to see.

The photos of the sunset and the colorful sky are from Friday, when we set out to go for a walk to the park on top of Russian Hill. There is an awesome park there, where we’ve been very successfully playing fetch with Bomber.

On our way to the park, the sky looked incredible! In fact, as you can see in the photos, as we were walking to the park, we crossed a street, looked up, and saw what looked like a ball of fire going across the sky. Simply beautiful!

Because we knew that we could potentially catch the sunset from the park on Russian Hill, we rushed there. When we reached the park, as it happens often in the city, the fog was sitting low on the ocean, so we knew we were not going to get the stereotypical sunset where you can actually see the sun setting on the ocean.

Even though we didn’t see the sun set on the ocean, we saw the sky turn many different colors: pink, orange, yellow, etc., making for a wonderful spectacle.  We sat there, and watched the colors change until the sky turned back to a solid color, the sun was gone, and the early night hours had arrived.

As if the natural scenery and light show were not enough, the Golden Gate Bridge laid in the distance, faintly lit by the setting sun.

On Saturday we met some good friends and headed to the Eat Real food festival in Oakland. I had never been to this festival. In fact, I had never been to this part of Oakland! And I’m happy to say that I loved it all!

The festival was taking place at Jack London Square in Downtown Oakland. We really loved the gorgeous waterfront, and we especially loved the food we ate there. With over 50 food trucks, it was hard to decide which food to eat first, or second!. So many choices, so little stomach room!

After several hours of eating, and by the time we left the festival, we had tried the following: Peruvian anticuchos, Filipino tacos, Shawarma, churros, home made ice cream, and a few kinds of locally brewed beers! Our first time at the festival had been a huge success!

On Sunday we had to work from home, but we still managed to head out for a walk. Nothing too fancy, just a walk around the neighborhood, with our dog, to get some exercise.

Over the past week, another thing that has been in my mind are the memories of the Camino de Santiago. We started the Camino about a year ago, on September 20 last year, and walked it for about 10 days.

Inspired by memories of a great time in our lives, I started going through the photos I took during the Camino, trying to find one good photo from each of the days we walked. I wanted to create a visual image of the 300 kilometers we had walked across Northern Spain last year. But, while working on it, I got distracted and, instead, I selected some photos that caught my attention, photos that I just liked.

As I was editing some the photos, I tried hard to remember each and every town we walked by. Sometimes our memories can betray us, so it’s important to keep memories fresh in our minds, especially when those memories take us back to a place where the only worry in the world was to get to the next town, and to keep walking the next day.

The Camino makes me think a bit about life in general. Each town is like a different place and moment in life. Each day you meet new people, see new things. Like life, the Camino was full of surprises and unexpected obstacles. At the end of the day, however, despite the difficulties, the journey was totally worth it and I would do it again any day!

I hope you enjoy this week’s photos. I have also included some of the photos I choose from the Camino in this blog. For more fun photos, check my Etsy store at:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

From Santa Cruz to San Francisco via Highway 1

I am a bit too late this week, but I have a great reason for the delay. Remember I had mentioned I was going to be working on a sign for the store downstairs? Well, about two weeks ago, I realized that I was not going to work on it outside, while the board was still on the storefront. Because of that, I asked Tony, the store owner, to please take it down. When he did, Joe brought it upstairs to our apartment.

Immediately after, my living room was transformed into an art studio. Floors were covered with a drop cloth, paint was everywhere, brushes were soaking in water, and a piece of wood of about 3 by 8 feet was sitting down there, waiting to come to life.

After 3 days of work, which didn’t all come on a row, I finished the sign (which is more like a mural) and, yesterday, I brought it downstairs. Tony was very happy with it, which made me happy as well!

With Joe’s help, we hung it up on the wall and enjoyed hearing the comments made by the customers and the people walking by the store. If you are ever in San Francisco, make sure you come to the corner of Pine and Taylor streets to check out my first mural! I think it looks great, and I’m incredibly happy to have volunteered my time to work on it!

But, this post is not going to be about the sign/mural, but about a lovely day we had on Saturday when we drove to Santa Cruz, and then took the slow way home on Highway 1, one of the most beautiful roads in this country!

We chose Santa Cruz for a daytrip because we have been craving sunshine and warmth. Don’t get me wrong, I love San Francisco’s mild weather, but I also love beach days, playing in the sand and feeling the sun on my skin. We haven’t had barely any of that this summer and, when we headed out to the beaches in the Bay Area, many times it turned out to be colder there than it was on the city.

Fortunately, Santa Cruz was waiting for us with temperatures well into the mid 70s, clear skies, and lots of beach fun!

The beaches in Santa Cruz were full of people. Families were out playing, kids were swimming and running around, and young couples were snuggling together in the sun. It was fun in the sun for everyone!

One of the things I love the most about California is that, no matter where you go, there is always diversity, and people from different backgrounds, different races, different nationalities, seem to be coexisting peacefully and happily. I’m sure there are disagreements and fights here too, but the overall feel is that of a tolerant place where it is not a big deal to be different.

We walked along the shore, absorbing every ray of sun, and enjoying watching the people around us. But people watching was not all we did. We also discovered that there is a lighthouse in Santa Cruz. Yes, it is located in the beach were, technically, dogs are allowed—in practice, dogs were allowed everywhere, but we just didn’t know—and it is absolutely beautiful! You can walk up to it on the beach.

It is funny but this year seems to be the lighthouse year for me. After we arrived from traveling abroad, we stayed at Point Montara Hostel, which is in the same premises as the very small Point Montara Lighthouse. Then, we went to Maine and saw many lighthouses adorning the gorgeous Maine coast. And, while walking in Santa Cruz, we encountered another one!

I went from having seen one or two lighthouses in my life, to about 8 over a period of less than a year. And one thing is for sure, lighthouses make great photos. Especially on gorgeous days like the one we had on Saturday!

After hours in the sun, we decided to start making our way back to San Francisco.

Normally, when we rent a car for the day (we do not own a car- like many San Franciscans, we find it easier to walk places!), we tend to return it before the rental place closes, but this time we decided to keep it until the next day and deal with the hazards of having to find a parking spot in the city later in the evening.

First we thought about driving to a trailhead and going hiking. Then, Joe suggested that we drive on Highway 1 and take our time going back home. The idea sounded lovely, heavenly, fabulous, so I agreed, and off we went, heading north on Hwy 1, one of our favorite roads in the entire world!
We stopped in several places along the way, but two were special.

The first place we stopped at was Scott Creek, or so I think after looking at a map. We parked our car, bundled up, dressed Bomber up in warm clothes, as the temperatures had started to drop, and we headed out towards a trail that led all the way down to the beach.

As we started walking down on the trail, some people warned us of a “crazy pelican” that was on the path, preventing people from going down or coming back up. We asked ourselves “how dangerous can a pelican be?” As it turns out, pelicans can be quite scary, as we found out when he came up in front of us on the trail and started flapping its wings and walking towards us. I mean, think about it, that beak is like a dagger that could stab you, right?

We backed away, up the trail, back to the road, and took a minute to contemplate our options. We really wanted to go down to the beach to check it out. Shortly after, a couple came up on the path. Surprised to see them, we asked them if they had seen the pelican. They told us the bird was just calmly sitting on a bench (!!!) and that it didn’t move when they went by. We decided to give it a second try and down the path we went, this time moving quickly and telling each other to avoid making any eye contact with the bird. After a bit of tension, we passed the pelican and reached the beach. All the hassle was totally worth it!

After playing in the beach for a while, we continued our way up north.  The sun was starting to go down, and a wall of fog was starting to appear in the horizon. We were definitely approaching the Bay Area.

In the distance, we could see a lighthouse. It was Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Our next stops all had to do with the gorgeous views of the lighthouse and the stunning skies that served as a backdrop. I got awesome photos of all of it. Our last stop was the definition of being in the right place at the right time. The sky was lit up with the sun setting behind the fog. The lighthouse was also lit up and the rays of sun were reflecting on the ocean. It was magical.

The three of us spent some time watching the sun disappear behind the fog, while trying to catch the moment.

When the sun was gone, it was time for us to drive home.

After about an hour, we got back to San Francisco. It took us no time to find a parking spot close to our apartment. And, by close, I mean about 6 or 7 blocks away. It’s all about context, right?

Completely satisfied with our day, we headed out to get some Chinese food and to talk about all the wonderful and beautiful things we had seen and experienced during the day. What a daytrip! What a sunset! What a beach day! All in one day! If you take the time to explore, you never know what the world will treat you with!

I hope you enjoy this week’s photos. I know I had a great time taking them. I truly love nature, exploring, and taking photos of the precious moments in life!

For more photos, visit my Etsy store at:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rainbow Colors

San Francisco's sky on fire!

Last week went by quickly. The weather has been gorgeous and I’ve been enjoying every bit of it. I guess it’s true that San Francisco’s summer starts late. I had been promised that September and October would bring warm sunny days and that seems to be true. Even though I’m not a hot weather kind of person, I sure appreciate sunny summery days, followed by cool, fresh evenings.

In addition to the sunny days, Mother Nature decided to treat San Francisco to an amazing rainbow last week.

Mesa Verde, CO
Last Wednesday, as we set out on our evening walk, we felt some raindrops falling from the sky. We looked up and the clouds didn’t look too menacing so we decided to keep walking. It didn’t look like the rain was going to get worse or last long. We walked about another block and looked at the sky again. Up there, on the pink sky, surrounded by fiery clouds, was one of the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen in my life, and I have seen many of them!

Santa Barbara

The rainbow was perfect. It was like the ones kids draw in school. It was so bright, you could see every single color on it. Every. Single. Color!

Togian Islands, Indonesia

Above this colorful treat, was a second less bright rainbow. Yes, we were being treated to a beautiful double rainbow without having had to endure the heavy rain that usually precedes it. No, we only felt a few drops fall on us, enough to keep us looking up to sky to catch the rainbow.

The sky was adorned with this multicolor gift for about a half hour!

Santa Barbara
Biarritz, France

One reason I was very excited about this rainbow was that I thought I had left weather-related events behind when I moved out of Minnesota. Since moving to California over 2 years ago, I have only experienced one thunderstorm and a total of less than 3 weeks of rain! No rain equals no rainbows. That sure was a change compared to the stormy Midwest.

Togian Islands, Indonesia

Santa Barbara

So, this unusual appearance inspired me to go over my photos to put together a colorful collection of rainbows from around the world. Well, at least from those places where I’ve been lucky enough to see rainbows and to capture them with my camera!

Santa Barbara
Two of my favorite rainbow photos are from Mesa Verde, CO and from Bangkok, Thailand. The reason why I like them so much is not because the photos are spectacular, but because they both happened on my birthday! It is pretty exciting to get a rainbow on your birthday. Makes you feel special in so many ways.

Santa Barbara

Talking about rainbows on special occasions. The day Joe and I got married, rain was forecasted for the day. We decided to stick to our outdoor plans and, minutes after our ceremony was over and we headed inside, the downpour started! It rained for a while and, when the rain clouds started to pass, two beautiful rainbows appeared on the sky! I haven’t really looked into the symbolism of it, but I’m pretty sure it was a good omen for our future life as a couple! I did not take the photo of our wedding rainbow. Our photographer Molly did and I'm grateful to her for capturing that beautiful moment on our wedding day!

Leaving Santa Barbara

There is a tie between the two places where I have seen (and photographed) the most rainbows over the past few years: Santa Barbara in California, and the Togian Islands in Indonesia.

As I mentioned before, since moving to California we have only had about 3 weeks of rain in total over more than two years. The funny thing is that, when we lived in Santa Barbara, our two weeks of rain came in doses of 1 week each time. At the end of one of those weeks, as we were driving home, in front of us was a beautiful rainbow! It was so pretty that it made us forget the 7 days of rain we had just endured prior to this colorful appearance.

Bangkok, Thailand

Two other rainbows I remember from the Santa Barbara area include: one we got on our way to Death Valley National Park when we were heading there to camp during the winter holidays; and one I saw while walking downtown SB with my mom when she was visiting. The one with my mom was more like a halo around the sun, but it had all the colors of a rainbow.

In the Togian Islands, rainbows were a frequent occurrence. I think we saw about five or six rainbows over the two weeks we were there! In fact, we sort our first rainbow shortly after we got off the boat that took us to the island of our dreams.

Saint Paul, MN - Our wedding rainbow!

Because of their location, these small islands see lots of storms go by them. Sometimes, the storms hit them, and other they simply appear in the horizon, hitting surrounding islands with rain. No matter where the storms were, we were almost always guaranteed to see a rainbow after they passed. Storms, rain and rainbows sure made us feel like we were on an island in the middle of the sea.

Togian Islands, Indonesia

I guess the bottom line is, I love rainbows! They are such a reminder of the beauty that only Mother Nature can create. They are a reminder of how wonderful our planet is, how perfect nature is, and how lucky we are to be able to enjoy wonderful natural events like rain and the rainbows that sometimes follow it.

Just remember, next time you feel raindrops falling on you, make sure you look up. You never know what will follow!

Santa Barbara
I hope you enjoyed this week’s photos. For more fun photos from all over the world, check my Etsy page at:

On our way to Death Valley