Updated: Feb 18
The Central Coast of California is a vivid reminder to both Southern and Northern California of what each could have been if they learned restraint. As you travel up California State Route 1, there comes a point when the firm grasp of civilization can no longer hold you. A point when cities disappear in the rear-view and the only reminder of human presence is the road you're travelling on.
Route 1 presents the driver with sweeping panoramas of a wild California and offers the opportunity for adventure at every exit. The only bad decision is not taking a moment to appreciate the beauty. For me, taking a moment means to physically stop, exit the car, and stand still. To smell the vegetation wet with morning dew. To watch the birds fly. To hear the waves crash. To taste the salt in the air.
While I'll never be able to fully capture the feeling of being there, I hope my words and images paint a picture of the wonder which is the Central Coast.
There are cars and theaters which time has forgotten---but people haven't. Their beautiful muted tones embody nostalgia and remind the viewer the past undoubtedly has a place in the present.
There is architecture which, in additional to being functional, is pleasing to look at. The buildings, the signage---everything a beautiful contrast to the blue skies. Each line, pillar, shingle, and molding is purposeful.
There are homes and silos. Flanked by trees, hills, dunes, and grass. Equally out of place. Equally beautiful in their own way.
Driving through Los Osos, the morning rays cut through the sparse foliage of Eucalyptus trees. As the light filters, its strength diminishes to soft translucent fingers.
A walk on the beach presents a lesson in strange geology. There are rocks of every shape and color. Dry and wet. Rough and smooth. Sharp and blunt. As you walk across the wet stones barefoot, they click together creating a unique oceanic soundtrack.
Mist from breaking waves hangs heavy on the trail, as if a veil. Like a lantern, it takes in light, redistributing it across the flowered morro creating a low-contrast golden glow. Hills become dreams. Pedestrians become majestic.
There's an old fishing boat in Cayucos that ran aground just off Estero Bluffs. In low tide, the boat is almost fully exposed. At high tide it becomes submerged in the icy cool waters of the Pacific. With each wave, the ship gently rocks. A healthy imagination can create countless scenarios of how this wreck came to be.
Every cove is different.
In one cove a fine sand covers the beach. The ground is scattered with seaweed, dead crustaceans, and broken seashells. Offshore rocks raise from the water like looming ships preparing for attack.
In another cove sand is absent, replaced by boulders. As the surf comes in and recedes, it deposits a thick coat of foam. Without context, it looks like snow. Only remembering where you are and feeling the sun on your skin confirms it cannot be.
In one place there are rolling hills and jagged cliffs. Miles off the coast spouts of water shoot past the horizon as whales breach for air. It's a golden opportunity to explore. The salt in the air is thick. You taste it with every breath and quickly feel its absence as you trek inland.
In December the sun sets earlier but the sunsets are no less spectacular. As the sun plummets towards the horizon, there comes a time when the sand turns to glass. Cool blues and soft oranges begin to appear. The orange mixes with reds and pinks, strengthening in intensity until the light disappears altogether. Only the blue remains.
And yes, there comes a time when you must leave---to catch a plane back to wherever you're from and count the days until you return.
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel
Film: Kodak Portra 160
When: December 2019
Where: Central Coast of California
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