Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Six Counties...


Marco and Gypsy at San Simeon

…13 days and 2500 Miles in the Raven Van.

Our longest camping trip yet, in California, was a whirlwind of weather, great light, friends, food, and beer & wine.  Now I’m wondering when we can hit the road again.

 San Bernadino County

Haboob from a distance, Death Valley

We thought that 5-6 hours of driving each day was a civilized maximum, so Mojave Desert camps were great first and last night stops.  We started in the southern part of Death Valley National Park at a lesser-known sand dune field.  The evening light was forgettable, but the wind kicked up overnight and I decided not to walk the mile or so onto the dunes pre-dawn and get my eardrums and camera gear sand blasted.  Rather, I climbed the alluvial fan in the other direction and was treated to sunrise backlighting the haboob.

Rainbow Basin Sunrise

On the night before heading home, we choose Owl Canyon/Rainbow Basin, north of Barstow.  I’d never been there.  Sunrise was lovely and this trip was enough to whet my appetite to shoot there again, though the BLM campground is neglected, especially the pit toilets.  Enough said.

Gypsy’s favorite thing: Sand

 San Luis Obispo County

In trip planning, we’d thought to drive up through Nevada and down the coast.  In practice, that plan would have put us in snow and required some difficult driving.  Instead, we took the western route both ways, and landed in SLO County for one night in each direction. 

Impossible reflections, Pismo Beach

After a stop at Mosby Winery, a favorite for 20 years which, sadly, is closing for good soon, Pismo Beach was the camp on the way up.  The dunes are striking.  Gypsy loved running on the beach, too.  The pink light and reflections at sunrise were not quite believable.

Moonset, San Simeon

On the way home we stayed at San Simeon.  This place was nice and dry (which we sorely needed by then) and comfortable, but not so dog friendly.  We would, of course, never let her run off-leash on the trails.  In the morning I braved the coating of frost on the boardwalk (really) and caught the full moon set.

Gypsy’s favorite thing: Sand

 Lake County

Sycamores in the campground, Clear Lake

I’d never heard of Clear Lake but choose it from the map during trip planning.  There were just two other families at the camp, and the fog off the lake was striking. 

Gypsy’s favorite thing: Squirrels

 Humboldt County

Backlighted mushroom bombshell, Humboldt County

After three nights of waypoint camping, it was nice to settle down for a few in Arcata. Our friends had rented a house for a month and graciously invited us to stay a while.  Showers and laundry are always a great gift during road trips, as are cooking in a kitchen and a grocery restock.  They took me to two locations to shoot; a forest full of mushrooms (I had fun with my LED panel light in the very dark glade) and stormy Trinidad Beach. 

Drury Chaney Grove Trail

Marco and Gypsy and I also had a chance to hike a couple of redwood forests.  We especially liked walking the Drury Chaney Grove on the way back south.

Gypsy’s favorite thing: Running atop the wet, downed trees.

 Sonoma County

Sunrise near Bodega Bay

Jerry Dodrill (check out his fabulous work) has been a friend and mentor since we met at his photo workshop with Justin Black on the Sonoma Coast in 2011.  He’s got a delightful way of looking at things and is so much fun to be around.  This time we camped behind his house for four nights and combined running around this beautiful area with beer, wine, and great food.  There seems to have been a different bakery stop every day as well.

Sonoma County ephemeral waterfall

A couple of highlights were some gorgeous sunrises and an ephemeral coastal waterfall. I was almost glad for the rain because it gave us the opportunity to shoot this beauty.  Almost.

Gypsy’s favorite thing: Jerry’s cat.  Well, maybe not.  Actually, beach sand.

Marin County

Cypress tunnel, Marin County

Though we didn’t stay in Marin County (we are likely not posh enough), we did sightsee and shoot.  It was great to scout Point Reyes for the first time.  I’m already plotting my return. Then there was the cypress tree tunnel (how I love them!) in the fog.  Fog creates a lovely sense of mystery as well as depth (critical in 2D art) and is so rare where I live that it’s a bit of a thrill to experience.

Gypsy’s favorite thing:  National parks are not so dog-friendly, so she hung out at the beach with Marco.  So, Sand.

More images from this trip are in the Northern California Gallery on the website.

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