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North America

Exploring the Coastal Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument

“From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me.”

We finally got to see the redwood forest from the Woody Guthrie song! If you’re visiting the San Francisco area, you should not miss visiting the coastal redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument. I’m from East Texas, with big, beautiful pine trees, but these redwoods put them to shame. They are tall, lush, and just beautiful. Ferns cover the ground to make a magical looking forest floor. Jonathan kept asking if the trees are real because they’re so impressive!

We rented a car and drove about 45 minutes from SF through the curvy, hilly roads along the coast to get to Muir Woods. There are lots of tour busses that can take you, but we already had a car from our time exploring Napa Valley. Admission is $10 for adults, and their hours vary but are 8 am-8 pm during most of the year. We arrived midday and spent 2-3 hours walking around and exploring. The main path is a smooth, wooden boardwalk. We saw several older visitors and people in wheelchairs. There are tons of hiking trails that veer off from the main boardwalk that you can explore (and we did!). Even though we went in June, and it was pretty chilly. I had a medium weight North Face jacket to keep me warm in the woods, and it was perfect for exploring.

LL Bean rucksack (similar) // North Face jacket (similar) // striped top (similar) // shoes

See What I Did There

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We absolutely love photography. We love trying new things with a camera, pushing the settings to the very max and then bringing them all the way back down. We love learning from photographers who inspire us, and we are so flattered when people say that we’ve inspired them. Photography is a journey, an evolution even. Where you start is not where you’ll end, but the stops you make along the way piece together the mosaic that is your unique style.

This marriage of travel and art is the root of our passions around travel photography.

“What camera did you guys use? Do you use photo editing software? How do I get a picture to have THAT look?” These are some of the questions that we often get from readers and friends alike. It’s so fun for us to talk about this that we figured we should write a whole post on it.

Throughout the years, we’ve used different editing tools to create different looks. These days, we rely heavily on the entire Adobe Creative Cloud but mainly Lightroom and Photoshop. In Photoshop, we like to use the content aware tool to remove many distracting elements from a photo. In travel photography this often includes items like light poles, fences, clouds, or anything else that distracts from the natural beauty of the image that we’re trying to capture.

In partnership with Adobe, we decided to select one of the images that brings to life our love of traveling and take a deeper dive into how we got there.

CCPp_SeeWhat_-TFL_TW FINAL

Before the shoot

The day started with a lot of coffee. We were determined to make it up Pacific Coast Highway to our Airbnb in Carmel Valley before sunset and had several hours of driving ahead of us. We shot with a Canon 5d Mark III, and we always bring my 24-70mm L II lens. In my opinion, it’s the best lens money can buy. While we knew PCH had a lot to offer, we didn’t select this location specifically. Sometimes you have to let the road dictate what you should see and go with the flow!

During

We discovered this beautiful cove along the coast with the fog rolling in. The idea was to capture the vastness and cruelty of the sea, mixed with the ominous fog. To do so, we made sure to use a fast shutter speed. We wanted to catch the waves in motion. We wanted to show how crisp and sharp they were and how rocky the landscape was.

Post Processing

We used Lightroom and Photoshop to edit this photo, starting off in Photoshop to remove any distracting elements in the photo. We wanted to emphasize the sky and the fog, so we removed any variation of color in the sky. In Lightroom, we desaturated all of the colors except teal. We wanted the colors of the ocean to capture what we felt looking at the landscape in real life. The goal was to capture the wind and the waves and how unrelenting the sea can be. We increased the clarity on the mountains and sharpened the waves.

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 5.42.56 PM

For us, editing is more about transporting the viewer to a feeling, rather than a place. We want the viewer to understand what it felt like in that moment. We like to capture a memory and romanticize the photo through the editing process.

This post was developed in partnership with Adobe.

Learn More: Here

Perini Ranch Steakhouse

You know you’re good when you invent a new genre of food. That new genre, thanks to Tom Perini, has become known as “cowboy gourmet”. We recently travelled to the legendary Perini Ranch Steakhouse to delight our tastebuds and overwhelm our senses with the infamous steak that has fed presidents and heads of state since 1983. Arriving at the ranch involves driving across a cattle guard, down a dirt path, passed the iron armadillo and parking underneath Mequite trees. Stepping inside the building is like stepping inside of an old bunk house from the 1800s. Everything is weathered the natural way. This is no ordinary steakhouse.

We started with the jalapeño poppers, a bacon wrapped slice of jalapeño filled with cream cheese. The steaks, however, are the main attraction. There isn’t a bad one on the list. You’ll pay top dollar for a filet, but it’s worth every penny. The peppered strip is highly touted and as delicious as it is plentiful. Good luck finishing the whole thing. Wash it down with a Texas-brewed Shiner Bock and maybe some jalapeño cheesecake or bread pudding for dessert. You can’t go wrong!

Tom Perini’s love for ranch life began as a young boy, growing up and working on his family’s ranch. In 1973 he turned that passion into a career and has since become America’s quintessential cowboy gourmet. After perfecting the traditional cowboy cuisine and creating a few recipes of his own, Perini moved from the back of the chuck wagon into his own restaurant on the family’s working ranch. Since 1983, Perini Ranch Steakhouse has served as home to the best chuck wagon style food in America. Perini Ranch Steakhouse is proudly located on the Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap, Texas (population 463).

Learn More: Here

Drowsy Water Ranch Colorado

The Drowsy Water Ranch has been providing visitors from around the world with authentic, western ranch vacations for over 90 years. This 700 acre family guest ranch is nestled in it’s own private mountain valley and has as much charm as it does family friendly activities. We visited the Drowsy Water Ranch in June of 2015 and loved everything about it.

The stay starts with getting your bunk house assigned to you. All of the cabins are made from local trees and perfectly pair historical flair with modern amenities. From the moment you arrive you’re greeted with authentic, down-home hospitality framed by an unforgettable mountain backdrop.

Activities are the main attraction at Drowsy Water Ranch, and include horseback riding, rafting, guided hikes, mountain biking, a ranch zip line and lots more. Their herd of over 100 horses and expert instruction provide an enjoyable experience for all experience levels.

After a day of Rocky Mountain activities, kick back and enjoy the sunset and wait for that dinner bell to ring. The dinner bell is a near-sacred activity that only the most daring kid gets to participate in. Once the bell is sounded, it’s family style eating on picnic tables and paper plates.

A week spent at the ranch will prove to be full of unforgettable memories. The word has gotten out, too! Drowsy Water Ranch was voted the 2010 #1 All Inclusive Resort in the world by tripadvisor.com, voted #4 for 2011 and recently again made to top 25 for 2012. The ranch was also named the #1 Best Dude Ranch for Families by the familyvacationcritic.com in 2011.

See their full rate and 2015 pricing schedule, here.

Learn More: Here

California Road Trip: Pacific Coast Highway

One of our favorite road trips ever was driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway. We pretty much just drove until we saw a scenic lookout sign, pulled over, and took pictures of the gorgeous scenery along the coast. One minute, it can be bright and sunny, and the next, your view is filled with billowing fog. We loved the rugged coastline and natural beauty of this part of the country. Take a look!

 

Solvang – adorable Danish town with the best Danish pancakes at Paula’s Pancake House. Pro tip: get ice cream with your pancake!

Hearst Castle – huge, ornate estate of William Randolph Hearst

Elephant Seal Beach – Piedras Blancas Beach is home to thousands of elephant seals just lounging on the beach. It’s worth a stop!

McWay Falls – right off PCH, this waterfall flows right into the aqua blue ocean. It is beautiful and well worth the stop and short hike.

Big Sur – a lovely area along PCH with some of the most picturesque and iconic views of the California coastline

Bixby Bridge – a famous bridge in Big Sur and one of the most photographed areas of PCH

Carmel Valley – a beautiful little town nestled in a valley about 12 miles inland from PCH. Have a meal on the patio at The Corkscrew Cafe.

Muir Woods National Monument – north of San Francisco, this is a great place to see towering Redwoods, go hiking, and enjoy flourishing green ferns.

Napa/Sonoma/Russian River/Alexander Valleys – take your pick, and visit some of the most gorgeous wine country there is to see. There are stunning wineries and vineyards all around these areas and cute little wine towns to match.

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe

We love to ski and will go any chance we get. We’ve been to a lot of mountains throughout Colorado and New Mexico, but one of our favorites is Ski Santa Fe in New Mexico. We went there again this year and fell in love with the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe. From soaring mountain views, to fresh produce grown on site used by the chef, Rancho Encantado is one of the most exclusive and rejuvenating resorts you can find.

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Hilton Anatole

Dallas,TX, is a unique place. Situated in middle America, it’s a hub of thriving business and an emerging culture that recognizes it’s cowboy past as it prepares for the high-tech future. At the center of it all is the Hilton Anatole, a local icon and destination within itself. We kicked off our boots for a few nights while touring the city.
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Photo Essay: Napa Valley California

Napa Valley, CA, is one of those places that you visit and then leave scratching your head, wondering why you don’t live there. The Mediterranean climate, sunshine 300 days a year, and some of the most premier vineyards in the world make this place a quasi paradise.

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