Friday, December 28, 2012
As I sit down to write this, I can see the ocean from my window, and I can hear the waves roar as they roll in. We are still at a cabin in Gualala, where we came to spend a week and to celebrate the holidays together.
The word Gualala means “water coming down place.” And once you visit the town and the area, you see why it was called that. All over the coast, every beach sees one or more streams drain their water into the Pacific Ocean. With the rain over the past few days, all those streams have grown, making some beach inaccessible to the public, carving new courses, and even knocking down paths and stairs.
Cooks beach is only a mile away from our cabin, and we have been going there pretty much every day. The beach is dog friendly and we can get there in no time. On Sunday or Monday, I can’t remember, we went down to Cooks beach to play frisbee with Bomber and ended up encountering one of the ocean’s biggest creatures: An elephant seal!
When we lived in Santa Barbara, we took several trips to Piedras Blancas, a beach these seals have claimed as their habitat. At Piedras Blancas there is a board walk and you can get pretty close to the seals, without risking getting too close to them. But, despite having seen these animals several times before, we had never been on the same beach as one of them!
At some point, the seal made a move towards us, and we immediately started running towards the path to go back up to the road. Shortly after, the seal stopped moving and got back to its sun tanning ritual, resting before mating and fighting seasons begin soon.
As I mentioned before, one day we headed 16 miles north to Point Arena, a small town where we bought amazing pastries at Franny (http://www.frannyscupandsaucer.com), a fabulous coffee shop in town. Here we also visited a light house, which has apparently become an obsession of mine. Well, let’s put it this way, if there is a lighthouse in the area, within driving distance, I really make an effort to go see it or, in this case, I really express my desire to go see it and ask Joe to do the drive there! He is the best!!!
I hope you enjoyed the photos on this post. I sure had fun trying to capture the beauty of this part of the Mendocino coast, but there is still so much more to see here! For more fun photos, visit my Etsy store at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/WorldPhotosByPaola
Happy holidays to everyone who reads this blog. I hope 2013 is a wonderful year for all of you and your loved ones! I know that 2013 is looking pretty good in many ways. Hopefully next year will bring many trips to faraway places where I can try to capture some images with my camera!
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
This year will mark my third Christmas in California, making it an official tie with the number of times I actually spent the holidays in Minnesota.
Every place we’ve been to had a very different Christmas spirit. Some places feel like they came out of a movie about Christmas. One such place is San Francisco, where the streets are nicely decorated, the sound of carols come out of every store, the cable cars are covered in lights and other decorations, and the streets are buzzing with amazing energy as December 25th gets closer and closer.
Around mid and late December, everybody seems excited about the end of the year, and the cheer of the holiday season. I personally love the energy that emanates from people around this time of the year!
In San Francisco, I have really enjoyed admiring the larger-than-life decorations that adorn most buildings downtown. I also love the ginormous tree in the middle of Union Square, right next to the large Menorah, right next to one of the ice skating rinks that open for the holidays. The other rink is on the Embarcadero. At the entrance oft eh Golden Gate Park, one of the large trees has been covered with lights and a sled pulled by reindeer adorns the grassy area underneath it.
We visited London for a couple of days on our way to Tanzania, and we ended up spending half of Christmas day there, before flying out. The days leading to Christmas, we walked around London and loved the spirit of the season there!
Because most things we closed, we visited a church in Dar Es Salaam that was nicely decorated for the holidays. Because Tanzania is a religiously diverse country, Christmas decorations were not something we saw. This sure was a different Christmas, but we still loved being somewhere else, celebrating in different ways!
The Christmases we have spent in Peru have been with my family. The one thing that is unusual for U.S. people about Christmas in Peru is that it happens during summer time. To me, having Christmas during winter was very strange at first too, which shows how we simply get used to what’s around us!
Our Christmas in China was also the result of a month long trip during winter break. After spending a few days in Hong Kong, on December 24th, we took a train to Guanzhuo in China, and then took a bus to Yangshuo. It was on this bus that we welcomed Christmas.
We arrived at Yangshuo around 4 in the morning on Christmas day. The town was very quite, everything was closed, even our hostel. We walked around for an hour or so and found a bakery where we saw two women making bread, both of them wearing Santa hats!
There were some Christmas decorations in Yangshuo, however, the day went on as any other travel day. At random times, we would look at each other and remind ourselves that it was Christmas!
This brings me to the last random place where we have celebrated the holidays: Santa Barbara. Like San Francisco, Santa Barbara goes all out for Christmas. They cover all their palm trees with lights, they put up a giant tree, and all the stores do their part in adding to the holiday spirit.
While in Santa Barbara, we learned of a hidden street that gets all decorated for Christmas and we decided to drive there one night to take a look at it. The street was so much fun! Most of the houses were fully decorated from their yards all the way to their roofs! What an incredible oasis of holiday cheer!
I’m very excited about the down time up in the cabin, but I’m also really looking forward to some good photo taking!
I hope you enjoyed my photos of the holidays. For more fun photos, visit my Etsy store at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/WorldPhotosByPaola.
Check out my blog next week for fun photos of Gualala! In the meantime, happy holidays to all of you!!! And may all your dreams come true on 2013!