vacation

Pull Over And Have An Adventure | California Photography by Rachel Abrahams

Before going to California, the number one question I was asked was "Are you planning on driving the Pacific Coastal Highway?". I was told repeatedly how it is beautiful and definitely worth taking the extra time to drive it. We decided to drive it from Los Angeles to San Francisco and it was absolutely worth every minute of it. Some parts were isolated, other parts were nerve wracking (high cliffs and teeny weeny ledges for the car), and almost all of it was gorgeous. We didn't have a detailed plan other than wanting to be at a certain point before sunset so we took full advantage of stopping wherever we saw beautiful sights. My husband was fantastic and kept scouting great photography locations to explore.

Not too long into the drive, we came upon this beach. It was isolated and there was only one other car there so we pulled over to explore. There was a large drop off from the road down to the sand and without my husband's assistance (both down and up the drop off), I never would have been able to get down onto the beach to explore. It had everything you expect from a beach on the Pacific Ocean - rocks, huge piles of seaweed, driftwood, and the water was so COLD. Not like Florida ocean water - this was wet suit required cold water. Plus, I'm a big (Floridian) wuss when it comes to cold water.

I am proud of the fact I was running around in capris and flip-flops while it was 50 degrees on the beach. That didn't bother me. Swimming in it would.

It was so lovely to be on this beach, scouring for treasures, with no one really around. The wind was blustery and the sun was strong. This situation was an example of something I read once that said to take pictures no matter what the light is like. As photographers, it is repeated over and over to us to always take photos in the best light - which is typically around sunrise and sunset. Well, I didn't have that option and had to work with the sun light directly over the water and the ocean reflecting it like a huge mirror onto my camera. The article was right - just take the photos. Don't miss out just because the light isn't perfect.

My favorite aspect of traveling is seeing how different things are where you visit and I could not get over how FLUFFY the seagulls were in California. Are they seeing some specialty bird hairdresser we don't have in Florida? Maybe it's all the celebrity beauty treatments and some weird seagull keratin feather treatment? These guys actually looked cuddly. Of course, I still can't stand birds so they didn't look cuddly enough to actually try to get near one. The day that happens, the people close to me know it's time to check me in for old-timer's disease or senility. I've tried but birds and I don't mix. Trust me.

Although it felt really isolated in this nook of a beach there were two houses within view. I cannot even imagine what a gorgeous vantage point they have every day. I waved in their direction in case anyone happened to see this little redheaded hobbit climbing around the rocks like an idiot. If someone did see me, I guarantee they were placing bets on me falling. FYI - I didn't. Well, I nearly did trying to climb back up the drop-off to the road. Hubby saved me though so it doesn't count.

What's the best place you discovered while meandering off the beaten path? Would you (or have you) dare(d) to swim in the arctic cold of the Pacific Ocean waters without a wet suit? Am I the only one who isn't a fan of birds?

Beautimous Florida Sunset On The Beach |Beach Photography by Rachel Abrahams

I live on the East Coast of Florida which means we have sunRISES over the beach - not sunsets. In other words, to see the beautiful light on the water I need to get up early and, well, that's really hard for me. I always promise myself I will get up really early on the weekend (cough), especially since I am up that early anyways during the week (cough cough), and go down to the beach for some sunrise photos (cough cough cough). I'm sorry - I keep coughing at my own good intentions (that I keep sleeping through). When I was invited to visit the West Coast of Florida, which meant I would finally see the sun set OVER the ocean, I was a happy little camper.

I do admit almost every time I visit the beach and see the sun setting, I think of my friend Justin who visited us "east coasters" when I was in college. We all went to the beach and to maximize our sun bathing time, we turned our towels toward the sun (away from the water) and Justin just laughed at us. He wanted to know why we would waste a perfectly good beach visit by not facing the actual ocean. Then he plopped down his chair into the sand, facing the water, and continued to make fun of and cracked up at us. I had to remind him our sun doesn't set over the ocean. When he pointed out he's from the west coast of Florida and they get the joy every day of seeing the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico, I was quite green with the jelly monster.

Ever since having that conversation, I craved seeing the sun set over the ocean and wasn't going to miss my photographic chance when I finally got to see it.

Getting back to my west coast visit; A storm passed through prior and its remnants hung around during sunset. The colors were intense and began as pastels, deepening into amazing blues, and then ending the light show in purples. Each time I'd think I saw the best the sunset had to offer it would shift into a new color level. I stayed down on the beach for close to an hour - which did result in getting eaten alive by the sand fleas. I didn't care and called the bites my badge of honor.

Looking at these photos, it was definitely worth it.

That Time I Broke My Tailbone In Central Park | NYC Photography by Rachel Abrahams

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Full disclosure: You have my full permission to laugh. I would (and do!) laugh at this story.

Approximately 3 months ago, I went on an amazing trip to New York City, NY and Paris, France. My husband and I visited Paris once before but it was for only one day and the majority of our time was spent on a bus traveling to/from the city. For this visit, we wanted to do everything on our wish list, and then some.

We started off in New York City for a couple days because despite having gone multiple times, there were still many things we had not seen or done. It was amazing. We visited the Statue of Liberty, the top of the Rockefeller Center building at sunset (so crowded!), and multiple locations that were all memorable. We topped off our last day in NYC with a bike ride through Central Park and this is where things went downhill for me.

After renting the bikes and getting them “fitted” to our height, we circled most of Central Park and stopped at specific locations. I am so short I had to make a choice, either have my seat 1) low enough so my feet could touch the ground when stopped but my knees in my chest while pedaling or 2) too high off the ground but more comfortable while pedaling. I went with the 2nd choice. It was a fantastic way to see Central Park because it is so large and we were lucky, on that day, there was no traffic within the park.  As we pedaled up a small hill to our last stop, to visit Strawberry Fields (John Lennon) memorial, everyone was ahead of me and I stood up on my pedals to get some extra push going and that’s when it all fell apart.

My flip flop slipped off the pedal, I fell downward, my tailbone slammed the seat edge, and I was stuck dangling there mid-air because my feet couldn't touch the ground. I was in so much pain and was trying to stay conscious and not vomit over the side, all while angling myself and the bike downward so I could touch the ground. No one else saw it happen and when they turned to see where I was, rather than admit I was hurt I lost my mind like a crazy person.

My husband asked me if I was OK and I proceeded to ramble / yell / froth at the mouth about how I hated riding bikes, where could I return the bike, when would this be over, this was the worst idea known to mankind, and told him I was taking the bike back and didn't care about stupid Central Park. Mind you, this was filled with some super salty language. Quite a few f-bombs and other creative unsavory words that would make my grandmother blush scarlet. I was like a pirate after a bottle of rum who had just stubbed his toe and forgotten to take his meds that day.

As I went on my crazy lady rant, my husband looked at me with such confusion. He’s known I've always wanted to see the Strawberry Fields memorial, especially since I had the poster of the memorial hanging in my room starting at 15 years old.  He looked at me like I had lost my mind (I had) and said “What is wrong with you? Just get off the bike and walk up the hill. It’s RIGHT THERE” as he pointed to a distance of less than 50 feet away.

Still not admitting I was hurt, I heaved my leg off the bike so I could walk it up the hill. Once I got to the top and started turning a normal shade of coloring from purple to semi-red, I then explained to my husband what happened and finished with “I think I broke my tailbone”. All he could do was shake his head because, if you know me well, this isn't surprising news. I am always hurting myself.

By the way, our flight to Paris was scheduled to leave in several hours.

We visited the memorial and I walked the bike back to return it (the location was literally at the bottom of the hill we were on). As we got closer to the flight departure time, I knew and feared the pain was going to be tremendous on the flight and I wasn't wrong. I couldn't sit, stood instead, had the flight attendants ask me multiple times if everything was OK (Yes, everything is fine. No, I’m not planning on doing something terrible). It was 8 very very long hours.

The good news is, I toughed it out (the worst was trying to stand up from sitting and sitting in the taxi cabs), slept on my stomach, took tons of pictures, visited every single thing I had on my list, and was teased about my “broken butt” constantly. I had to laugh because yes, this is EXACTLY a story I could add to my “Rachel’s List of Stories”. I've been told I could write a book – like the time this guy asked me for directions while he was in his car and it took me several (far too long) seconds to realize he was stark naked behind the wheel. To be honest, I was distracted by how sweaty and red he was. I’ll save that story for another day though…..

P.S. It’s 3 months later and it STILL HURTS. It’s definitely improved but I still can’t sit too long, sit in cushy seats (like the couch or movie theater), sit comfortably in a car, or exercise extensively. I've read it takes forever to heal. They weren't wrong.

P.P.S. (or is it P.S.S.?) I will be posting more Paris photos in my next several posts. Sorry for the tease photo above :-)

Ghosts In Grand Central Station | NYC PHOTOGRAPHY by Rachel Abrahams

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I have been sick with a cold, so I have no energy for wittiness or descriptive writing. I've been working my way through the 7 Cold Dwarfs: Sniffy, Drippy, Coughy, Sneezy (a classic), Achy, Chilly, and Sweaty (the twins). Loads of fun, I tell ya. My husband even declared wherever I am to be the "No Fun Zone".

As to the photo, this was a happy accident. Sometimes, those can be the best things to happen to you. I had my settings for a darker location before and the shutter was open for longer than I intended. It worked out better, in my opinion.

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