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Crescent City

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The Beauty of Highway 101 in Del Norte County

The beauty of Highway 101 in Del Norte County, California

There's something pretty magical about returning to a place you once lived, especially when that place is as beautiful as the north coast of California. Old haunts and favorite spots look similar, yet different. At night it's easy to get turned around when old landmarks are shuttered and replaced (or simply grown-over with shrubs and vines). In the light of day, however, it becomes clear that not much has changed at all.

Sunset along Highway 101, just south of Crescent City, California.

Sunset along Highway 101, just south of Crescent City, California.

Sunset along Highway 101, just south of Crescent City, California.

Sunset along Highway 101, just south of Crescent City, California.

Just before the holidays, I had another chance to head back to Del Norte County to visit with my family still living in the area. As you can see from these photos shot a few days apart – one day at sunset and another as the sun came over the hills – along a favorite stretch of Highway 101, the drive was spectacular. The weather was beautiful, the ocean was a deep turquoise and the trees stood as tall and commanding as ever. 

A foggy morning from the turnout at the bottom of Wilson Creek Grade between Crescent City and Klamath, California. 

A foggy morning from the turnout at the bottom of Wilson Creek Grade between Crescent City and Klamath, California. 

A foggy morning from just above Wilson Creek Grade between Crescent City and Klamath, California. 

A foggy morning from just above Wilson Creek Grade between Crescent City and Klamath, California. 

The moon setting over the Pacific along Highway 101 in Del Norte County. 

The moon setting over the Pacific along Highway 101 in Del Norte County. 

The bridge over Wilson Creek in Del Norte County.

The bridge over Wilson Creek in Del Norte County.

Every time I go back, it occurs to me that I may not have fully appreciated the area's natural beauty when I was younger. As a child, Crescent City and the surrounding area seemed safe. We walked to school and played until sundown without giving it much thought. As a teenager, the small town felt well-known and, yes, a bit claustrophobic. Nature was secondary to high school crushes and prepping for the big game. Moving from the area was inevitable as I chased a college education and various dreams but, in returning, I feel more capable than ever to truly understand just how special a place it is. 

When it comes to towns and cities, sometimes change is good. And sometimes — when referring to the (somewhat) untouched splendor of towering redwoods and salty seas — change is a dirty word. That said, roads crumble and fall into the sea and majestic old growth trees are threatened in the name of "progress" and "improvement." I hope the beauty of this place remains for generations to come, but I suppose nothing is certain.

In the spirit of seizing the day, I say go. Go now, go often and see everything you can. You won't regret it, my friends.



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North Coast Road Trip: Taking the Time

I'm back this week after another trip to visit family in Crescent City, California. You may remember a few photo-heavy posts (here, here and here) about the lovely little town in which I used to live.This time around I decided to mix work and play by taking the time to really appreciate the already long drive. I stopped often to capture fun places to explore along Highway 101 (which I hope to share eventually), had to take a detour along a road I've never traveled and spent some much-needed time with family.

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If you're heading from the Sacramento area to the north coast, I recommend taking I-5 to Highway 20 to Highway 101. That was my plan, but was turned back due to an accident that closed Highway 20. The nice Caltrans worker suggested I take CA 175 to get to Highway 101 instead. The road is pretty dicey in places and goes up (then down) a very steep grade, but the views made the detour totally worth the extra effort:

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Taking the time to stop at some of the beautiful areas along the way was also well worth it. I'm sad to say that I usually just cruise on by, too preoccupied with getting to where I'm going. I hope to stop more often in the future. Here's why:

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I spent some time tooling around Crescent City visiting tourist sites I haven't paid much attention to in years past. Here's a view of Battery Point Lighthouse from Crescent City's harbor (mermaid included):

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On the driest day (it seems we only get one or two whenever we visit), we decided to head to the nearest trail head in the Redwood National and State Park system to spend a few hours appreciating both old growth...

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...and new growth:

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Beautiful, right?

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I look forward to sharing more about the places I know and love in the coming months. So many Californians haven't experienced much of the north coast and I'm hoping to inspire at least a few people to keep on trucking once they get through wine country. I promise it's worth the drive.

What about you? Any north coast adventures you'd care to share? Let's chat about them in the comment section, shall we?

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California, I Love You

My love for this great state shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Though I often think about what it would be like to call someplace else home, I would sure have trouble leaving California's beauty behind.Today I'm offering up a simple photo essay of some of my favorite places. If you're planning a trip here anytime soon, may I suggest beginning your adventure in Northern California?

She's a stunner:

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{Alcatraz from the Presidio in San Francisco.}

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{Upper Sacramento River}

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{Taft Point in Yosemite National Park}

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{Blue Ridge Loop, overlooking Lake Berryessa}

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{View of Rodeo Beach & Lagoon, Marin Headlands}

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{Castle Crags State Park near Dunsmuir, California}

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{Sunrise over the American River in Sacramento}

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{Views of the Napa Valley}

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{Pigeon Point Lighthouse near Pescadero}

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{Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park}

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{Pebble Beach in Crescent City}

See what I mean? B-E-A-utiful.

If you’re planning to spend time in Northern California this summer, be sure to check out a mobile collection of my favorite outdoor spots here.

Now tell me: which places and spaces make you love California? Any spots on the "must see" list for Southern California? I'm always looking for recommendations!

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A Very NorCal Holiday

I hope you all had (or are still having) a wonderful holiday season surrounded loved ones. This is such a festive time of year and I can't help but feel grateful and full of love. For the holiday, we visited family in Crescent City, had a chance to see some old friends, ate and drank waaaaay too much (p.s. I'm totally making this soup to bring on the veggies) and enjoyed our time on the road. We're feeling pretty fulfilled at the moment and we still have a few family gatherings to attend!Here's a little photo snippet from our trip:

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{If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen a few of these. In case you're wondering after reading this post, I've decided to keep using the app for two reasons: 1.) the founders appear to have listened to their users (at least for now) and 2.) Instagram really does have the most user-friendly platform and the best filters (at least for now). :) }

The past week has been filled with good times and the peace and quiet I had been looking for. I hope to take a few more days off from this blog and return to bring you fun, helpful and engaging content in 2013.

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Happy Friday, all!

Looking for recommendations for a trip to Northern California? There's an app for that! I've collected all of my favorite places to explore the great outdoors in Northern California into one app, which you can download from iTunes right here.

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Crescent City in Pictures...Again

I know, I know...haven't we already seen a post just like this? In a word? Yup. It's just that Crescent City is so pretty. As I mentioned in my last post, I took another trip up north and when the sun came out, so did the cameras.

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