California

Alcatraz Is Not Azkaban And Other Lessons I Learned In California by Rachel Abrahams

Lone Cypress - Pebble Beach, California

Lone Cypress - Pebble Beach, California

It’s a pretty common thing (I’d say an average of twice a week) for me to say or do something totally random and my husband to just shake his head and (kindly) say to me “You’re SO weird”. When he does, I always remind him he’s the one who picked me and also that he is stuck with me.

When we recently visited California, I had a tendency to say a lot of really dumb things which then I would pre-empt his response and say “Yeah, I know. I’m weird”.  Admittedly, I wasn’t helping my case. I seriously said some really dumb things.

Let me enlighten you on what I said and my own lessons learned so you can be a savvy California traveler. Sharing is caring and I have no shame. Just don’t judge me, please. Well, at least not too much.

Pebble Beach, California

Pebble Beach, California

“Wait, is that a whale? Nope, it's a rock. I need glasses.”

Yup, in my eagerness to try and see a whale while looking at the Pacific Ocean I repeatedly would see things hoping it was a whale but alas, it wasn’t. It was a rock. Lesson Learned: Wear glasses while whale watching.

“Those are the cutest sea otters. Oh, those are sea lions? Whoops.”

There was a definite trend where I didn’t seem to have the capacity to learn the differences between otters vs. sea lions and whales vs. rocks. Lesson Learned: When in doubt, just say things like “Oh my goodness, how cute” and DON’T attempt to identify the animal. Be smooth about it. Attempt casual coolness.

I kept calling Pebble Beach, Pebble CREEK. Repeatedly. To which my husband said "If you call it Pebble Creek one more time, I'm kicking you out of this car."

If you’re not a golf person, you won’t see what the big deal is about this. If you ARE a golf person, I’m sorry. That’s all I can say. Also, it was super gorgeous there even for this (obviously) non-golfer. 

Alcatraz and Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, California

Alcatraz and Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, California

On our way to Alcatraz, I said “I am so excited to see Azkaban”. Later, my husband said "Stop calling it Azkaban, weirdo" because I did it 2 more times.

Yup, card carrying Harry Potter fan here. Admittedly I really didn’t mean to call it Azkaban. 3 times. Without realizing it until my husband pointed it out. Completely oblivious. Which makes it very obvious how much my subconscious wishes receiving a letter saying I was selected for Hogwarts was a real thing. Lesson Learned: I never realized how badly I wished Harry Potter was real. There, I said it out loud so everyone will know. No more shame.

“Good lord, those seals smell terrible.” (Phil reminds me they are sea lions). “Dammit, why can't I get this otter, sea lion, seal thing straight?”

Me + nature = not friends. Lesson Learned: Refer back to #2. Be cool. Pretend and just say “Ooh”.

“Oh look, a real live California Pizza Kitchen. I've only seen them in the freezer section.”  

What can I say, this Florida gal has never actually seen a California Pizza Kitchen in real life. I honestly didn’t even know it WAS a restaurant. I just thought it was yet another brand of pizza temptation in the freezer section which calls to me in its siren song “You are tiiirreeed. Coooook meee instead. Piiiizzzaaaaaa is gooooood” every time I pass by. Lesson Learned: CPK is real. The freezer pizzas are pretty delicious. As to whether the real ones in the actual restaurant taste good, I wouldn’t know. We rushed off to somewhere else that day.

These are Sea Lions! Pier 39 - San Francisco, California

These are Sea Lions! Pier 39 - San Francisco, California

“I don't feel like shoveling shit at the elephant show but somebody's gotta do it. Just not me.”

I honest to goodness have absolutely no idea what prompted me to say this. I do remember finding it hilarious at the time I said it and again when I opened my travel log I kept about this trip. I do have some deep thoughts sometimes, I tell ya. Lesson Learned: Keeping travel logs on your phone or in a notebook is awesome. My memory sucks, hence the travel log.

“Whew, smells like a lot of people are taking their ‘medicine’ around here.”

We decided to walk around Venice Beach Boardwalk, see the sites, do some people watching, and even swing by the famous gym. What I wasn’t prepared for was how many vendors would be hawking their “glaucoma medication” in dirty lab coats trying to convince every passerby to stop in and get a prescription for weed. It looked totally legitimate (eyes rolling so hard they nearly fall out of my head). I kept walking through some hardcore “medicinal” areas (or maybe the wind was blowing just right). Lesson Learned: Venice Beach Boardwalk was really not worth the time. The people watching was amazing. The crush of humanity and shop vendors accosting you was not cool. We left within 20 mins.

“We're going to Beverly Hills? Maybe I'll see some Kardashians.”

So, if you haven’t judged me too much so far about being a complete nincompoop sometimes, you’re awesome BUT I do realize after admitting this next thing I may be asking too much. Ok, here goes. I am a big fan of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” (huuuuuuge exhale). Oh my goodness. I know. I have no idea why. I am not a fan of reality TV (I’ve never seen Survivor, The Bachelor/ette, Big Brother, or Dancing With The Stars) and yet I am completely sucked into their vacuum. Lesson Learned: Maybe it’s because I’m an only child? That’s all I’ve got to explain it.

Pebble Beach, California

Pebble Beach, California

Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and take these lessons learned to travel around California like an expert. Maybe you’ve decided traveling with me deserves an award and my husband is a superstar. I like to think I make the experience more awesome and unusual. Either way, my inability to stop saying dumb things is here for your pleasure/pain. Just call me Captain Generosity.


Standing On The Edge Of The World | San Diego, California by Rachel Abrahams

I have been incredibly lucky to live near the ocean for most of my life. My entire world has been shaped by the ocean lifestyle of seeing people run across A1A with their surfboards in hand, skipping school to hang at the beach (which was half a mile from my high school), and everyone having their favorite beach to surf/swim/sunbathe at (because depending on what you were doing there was a beach that was better for it).

I recently moved to where I can actually see the ocean from our 2nd floor deck. I can hear the waves at night and smell the salt air when the wind is moving in the right direction. It is home and I am reminded on a daily basis how amazing it is to be here, especially after living many other places throughout my life. This is where I want to be.

Growing up, whenever I visited the beach I would stand at the water's edge with Florida behind me, the Atlantic Ocean ahead of me with Africa in the far far distance, and just stare out thinking about how I was on the edge of the continent and straight across from where I was standing was the other side of the world. It has always fascinated me.

When we visited California, I was super stoked to now be on the other side of the United States and get my toes into the sands connected to the Pacific Ocean. The beach was similar to Florida and yet so different. The preferences of different beaches was the talk of the locals (just like at home). It amazed me how far it was from the sandy beach to the ocean (Florida's is so small). Now here I was standing at the edge of the continent but I was staring at the other side of the world from a completely new direction. It was now California behind me with Asia in the far far distance. 

That may be my favorite thing about the beach. It reminds me I am a small part of this amazing world and yet with my toes touching the water I am physically connected to so much more than the tiny spot I am standing on. It has always fascinated me and I assure you it will never ever get old. 

Working Smarter - Not Harder - To Be Creative by Rachel Abrahams

It's been awhile! I've missed all you amazing people and WELCOME to all the new people who signed up during my canvas wrap giveaway. Lots of new faces around here.So, where have I been? After Christmas I decided I was doing things the hard way when it came to my photography (and life in general). It was making me not want to sit down and do one of my favorite parts - edit photos - and I ended up with photos just sitting on my memory card, in my camera, forgotten.

I challenged myself to try something new and STREAMLINE my process. It meant signing up for tutorials and classes, taking time to learn new things, and unlearn my old habits. It wasn't easy because it meant I had to sloooowwww waaaayyyy down (while thinking in my whiny voice "noooo, I don't wannnnaaa, I wanna do the longer way that is ingrained in meeeeee") and keep looking up my notes and tutorials on how to achieve what I was imagining.

That is not an easy thing to do and I know many of us face that same challenge. We create habits and, even though we know there could be a better way, we keep going with those habits because steering the ship in a new direction can be so darn hard.

In the end, it was absolutely worth it. You know that saying "Work smarter, not harder"? That's my goal is this year. I also came up with a new tagline:

Photographer - Traveler - Dreamer

I feel between working smarter and following my new tagline I am more in line with what's a great creative process for me. I've also been taking care of a work-life balance by working out with a trainer, taking this free 30 Day Push Challenge to be more organized (http://www.30daypush.com/), and learning how to just chillax about all that small stuff so I won't feel overwhelmed.

And you know what I've learned? If it's not enjoyable - it's not worth it.

Confession: I never learned the proper way to type and now I type using 2 fingers on my left hand and 3 on my right. I can see your brain twisting trying to imagine what that looks like. It's not quite monkey at a keyboard but it's definitely close. I type super fast this way but get crazy looks when people watch me. I know that typing with all 10 fingers would make my life easier but the idea of trying to unlearn years of wacky typing makes me wanna sweat.

Maybe next year?

**Note: The 30 Day Push Challenge is not an ad or affiliate link. Just truly something I've been enjoying and wanted to share.

P.S. Are you on Snapchat?

I'm having fun sharing the random daily things of my life (including videos of my visits to the beach!) and interacting with fellow SnapChatters! Just open up your Snapchat, snap the ghost to the left, and it will automatically follow.

Search by username: rach.abrahams

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?