One of the things I had to do on my first day in LA was driving up on Mulholland Drive to the Hollywood Bowl Overlook. I’m not a big fan of these landscape photographs where you see everything and nothing, but I guess with that gorgeous view you just have to do it.
Note to my photographer followers: I used the de-haze feature in Lightroom pretty much for the first time and am fairly pleased with the results.
Being a tourist you also have to do the touristy stuff at some point right? Naturally, on my first night in LA I had to do the Walk of Fame. After dinner at “The Hungry Cat” (consequently they served primarily fish and seafood) I strolled down Hollywood Blvd. from Vine St. to La Brea Ave. Was a quick walk. It’s one of those “Seen it, done it” checkmark items. It was really difficult to see the interesting things among a gazillion tourists. One of which was this sculptor.
Next stop: Los Angeles. Fortunately a friend of mine lives in LA. So I got a plethora of great tips what to see and where to go. If I had done everything he recommended I would probably still be there.
On my first day in LA I arrived only in the afternoon, so there wasn’t too much time left in daylight. One of the things I was able to check off my list though was the “Le Brea Tar Pits” – basically a hole filled with natural asphalt and an exhibition with fossils of primal lifeforms like mammoths and saber-toothed cats (German: Säbelzahntiger) attached to it. Directly adjacent to the pits is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). I didn’t go into the museum itself, but I thought the architecture was fascinating. If you have more time to spend in LA it’s probably worth doing a tour in the actual museum though.
Coachella Valley is a really interesting place. To the Northeast, towards Joshua Tree National Park, it’s a desert-like landscape. Very dry and rocky. To the Southwest there are huge mountains rising, on top of which there is actual vegetation. You wonder where these trees get their water from when down in the valley there is hardly any flora growing on its own without sprinklers. But you quickly forget that head-scratching action once you are stunned by the gorgeous view over the valley down below from atop Mt. San Jacinto.
I had never really used the video feature of my Leica M Monochrom other than for a quick test. But on this particular day in Coachella Valley I must have thought that it might be a good idea to capture some moving images as well. And it turned out that the still images I had taken were not really cutting it. So I decided to cut a video instead. Enjoy.
Next stop on my way down South: Joshua Tree National Park. Heard a lot of it, but have never been there before. Some education upfront: I didn’t really know that the namesake Joshua Tree was actually a cactus. Once you see one, however, it becomes very obvious. And you see lots of them.
Kudos by the way to the Park Rangers who are running the visitor center, recommend hikes for every taste and agility and maintain the numerous trails. Very friendly and well organized. What may have helped though is that at this time of the year the park was fairly empty. Which was great – so I even got to see a rattle snake that otherwise probably would have hidden under a stone. Speaking of stones – what looks like gravel are actually really big stones.
I believe I had already mentioned that we went for lunch to the Santa Cruz Pier? And it turned out to be the place to have a proper feast. Although the whole pier felt like time-warped from the 1950s into nowadays the food selection was certainly superb. No matter where you turned you saw fresh seafood and fish everywhere. Not sure if they also served the seals that were resting peacefully under the pier :).
We are still on the Pier in Santa Cruz. Considering it was end of April it was unusually warm already. But fortunately in particular Northern California had seen considerably more rain than in recent years. So chances are high that we might not see a drought as bad as in previous years. Would be a great relief to the region.
I have been to Northern California a couple of times. This time I wanted to head down south. Some had warned me about L.A. It’s a dump compared to San Francisco, many said. Turned out: not so much. Quite the opposite is true. And it also turned out that there seems to be a competition going on between the two cities, quite like between Cologne and Düsseldorf in Germany. And equally on mainly friendly terms, taking the competition very lightly. A couple I met in Malibu went as far as saying that L.A.ers don’t even really care about S.F. (and the alleged competition).
But enough said. Over the coming days and weeks I will be posting some of the photos I took on my trip. So make sure you check back from time to time :).
I started off my trip in the Bay Area (actually attending a business meeting). On a quick side trip from Los Gatos we went for lunch to the Santa Cruz Pier where this photo was taken. Lunch was great too. Although I don’t really fancy deep-fried seafood, these were probably about the best fried oysters, clams and crabs I had ever eaten :).