Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I've been to Cambria a whole bunch of times over the past seven or eight years. It's long been a favourite little getaway from the Bay Area. J and I are wont to go down there a few weekends a year. Door to door, our house to any of our 'preferred' hotels is about 3hrs. It's become quite a chic little place too with art galleries, antique stores, nick-nacks and boutiques.

Someone in one of the stores told us that this summer had been a disastrous one for them, 'one of the worst in memory' she said. I was trying to figure out why that would be so. The US dollar is so bad against just about every other country on the planet, a lot of Americans are staying closer to home than usual because it's just cheaper. But, I realised, that Cambria is no longer an inexpensive 'ride out'. Gas might be slightly down on what it was a couple of months ago but it's still high. Out on the central coast it's always more expensive than in the major cities - higher cost of delivery, I guess. The restaurants are not so cheap. The stores offer no bargains. It feels like the town priced itself up during the good times, rising ever higher upmarket and, now, now that rainy times are upon us and the economy, the place is just too expensive. 200 miles in a car that does nearly 28 to the gallon is still over 7 gallons. At local prices that is around 30 bucks. So that's 60, round trip. Two nights in a hotel, and you're not looking at much change from 300. Two dinners, without alcohol at about 30 each. Couple of lunches at 20 each. Other incidentals 'n' stuff and you're looking at about 500 bucks for a short weekend getaway. No wonder people are staying home.

Anyway. Aside from that. It's still a great town. Get a good coffee at Cambria Coffee. Great fudge from Erica at Cambria Fudge. Decent pasta at Lombardi's and great Thai at Wild Ginger. Not going to say where we stay, it's already hard enough to get a room there...

Around and about in town. Interesting bumper sticker. "George W. Bush is saving your ass, whether you like it or not". I still don't have a clue what that means.

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We often get feathered visitors on our hotel balcony. Especially when tempted by health bar goodness. This is a fine looking Stellar's Jay.

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Just down the coast, on the way to San Simeon, are beaches teeming with wildlife. One particularly beach has hundreds of snowy plovers. They sit on the beach in little depressions they make in the sand. Occasionally rising as one into the air to hang on the winds coming in from the sea.

Sitting atop a trash can in the turnout

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All rise and take air

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A turkey vulture comes to join the party

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Further along the coast there are elephant seals. I first photographed them there about 8 years ago on one of my first trips along Highway 1. I remember pulling into a turnout late at night, in the dark, just to stop and look at the stars. I got out of the car and there was the most unearthly sounds coming from the darkness. I found out later, when I got to my hotel, that the noises were made by elephant seals. Back in those days they beached in a little cove near a turnout. Now, the Friends of the Elephant Seals have built a walkway and protection barriers for the seals. Saving the public from the occasional encounter and, of course, the seals from the marauding masses. It's hard to get anywhere near them anymore. These were all shot with the D3 attached to the William Optics Zenithstar II telescope with a camera adaptor.

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Of course, one of the nice things about being down on the coast is that there is a lot less light pollution from towns. I took this shot with the D3 and a 24mm lens. Exposure wasn't too long at 15s at ISO 4000 and f/2.8. The dark lanes of the Milky Way and, toward the lower left, Jupiter, shining bright.

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From the balcony of the hotel, I shot this with the D3 and an 85mm f/1.4. 5 seconds, wide open at ISO 1600. The long smudge, towards the upper left is our nearest galactic neighbour - The Andromeda Galaxy.

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The next morning, as we were leaving, the moon rode high and dreamlike in the morning blue sky. Shot with the telescope.

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Mavis said...

the astro shots are breathtaking!

Mavis said...

the astro shots are breathtaking!