Shannon Across America: The Central Coast of California

Twists and turns, castles to coasts

This is part of a series of posts chronicling my travels across the western United States over the course of several weeks, living on the road and randomly visiting places along the way. You can start reading about the journey from the beginning.

Pismo Beach

7V1B1079-Edit

7V1B1062-Edit

If it weren’t for the amount of people and lack of zombie nurses, I swear I would have pulled into Silent Hill. A large amount of fog had moved into the area and blanketed everything, at times it was tricky to see in front of you while driving. But not all beach photos need be sunsets and color, so the weather conditions offered me a unique opportunity to switch things up.

I had arrived at Pismo Beach around noon when the area was lively with tourists, beachgoers and a surfing competition in progress. So I had to contend with a lot of people in the shots; one trick around this is to use a ND filter and take long exposures. Provided the people keep moving around, often times most of them won’t even show up in the shot.

 

Avila Beach

7V1B1263

I woke up early in the morning and arrived at Avila Beach before sunrise hoping the sky would break up and do something spectacular, but the fogged skies wouldn’t have it. So instead I spent the time exploring the sleepy little town and it’s little shops and cafes.

After leaving Avila Beach, I continued north and followed State Route 1 towards the north which would follow right along the scenic Pacific Coast.

Hearst Castle

7V1B1329

After spending time on the beaches of San Simeon, I decided to switch it up a bit and visit Hearst Castle, once the grounds of famous publisher / newspaper kingpin William Randolph Hearst. Hearst Castle isn’t really a castle as the name would suggest, but rather a collection of buildings, mansions and properties. As you travel up the hills to the domain, you can see packs of zebra which are the descendents of Hurst’s original zoo animals who were left to roam free. The mansion is well above the coast and over the fog, so I was able to see the sunshine again.

The afternoon was spent taking the castle tour and walking the property. Fun fact: the dining area was used as inspiration for the dining hall at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies. My photographs were strictly handheld as I don’t think tripods are allowed and the tour moves incredibly fast at that. Most guided tours tend to not allow you enough time to stay in one spot and explore the possibilities, so there is that old trick of dawdling behind the entire group when the tour guide is out of sight, at least until a security guard walks into the area and shoos you ahead to rejoin the group.

Big Sur

7V1B1469-Edit

There was a lot of twists and turns as I drove around the cliffs of Big Sur, and there were so many times when I wanted to stop the car to take a photograph but couldn’t due to the narrow roads. But the opportunities were there, and the cloudy environment offered a unique contrast against the rich autumn colors of the scenery.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

 

7V1B1517

The business district of Carmel-by-the-Sea – or just Carmel – reminded me a bit of Main Street St. Charles with it’s little stores, art community, classic architecture and historic vibe. Only it was at least well over five times the size of Main Street and bolstered a far larger arts community. Carmel is absolutely filled with creative galleries and shops. Amongst others, the town is famously known for being the haven of Clint Eastwood, who was mayor during the late 80s.

I can easily see why Mr. Eastwood likes the town, and Carmel-by-the-Sea would be high on my list if I could choose to settle down anywhere in California I wished.

Next time: Bytes of Silicon Valley, Sounds of San Francisco

Patrick Shannon

About Patrick Shannon

A creative professional, photographer and design+technology advocate based in St. Louis, I have worked with a number of businesses, agencies and clients on design, production and marketing for everyday brands. In my spare time, I enjoy woodworking and am still attempting to build a life-sized replica of Optimus Prime out of wood.