Our Honeymoon, Part 2: Ojai

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Our second leg of our honeymoon was a short one, less than 24 hours, but a magical one for sure. We decided we’d try to get to Ojai from Big Sur going a way we’d never driven before since we’d done the drive on the 1 many times, so I looked over the map and chose the 166 to the 33. I knew nothing about this route, it just looked the most convenient and possibly beautiful as it went through a bit of the Los Padres National Forest. When we drove back from SF in the summer we cut across on a highway that was the most boring drive on earth, so I didn’t know what to expect. Well, immediately I knew this was different. The entire drive across the 166 was beautiful and interesting, and when we got to the 33 it got even better. Gorgeous wineries and then some serious switchbacks (common honeymoon theme) up through the national forest. There were intense Autumn colors, a particular yellow I’d only seen in upstate New York. The 33 was a little intense, but worth it as we were the only car on the road and took our time. I’d love to go camping up there some day!

Then we got into Ojai, which is a great little town we’d been to before but only briefly. We stayed at the much talked about Ojai Rancho Inn, which lived up to the chatter. It was super affordable, really well designed, comfortable and homey, the staff is super duper nice, and the location is really convenient. My only complaint is that it’s right on the main road so it’s not super quiet, but again that makes the location convenient and everything else is so great it’s no big deal. Again, white noise app (I’m a crazy person about sleep, I know this). The best part is you can borrow bikes and then ride the bike path that’s directly behind them into town. It was so much fun and convenient! I want to go back when it’s warm enough for a swim. We also stopped by Summer Camp on our way out but they weren’t open yet, but the windows were huge it looked like such a great store! I daydreamed about a hammock they had for our new patio quite a lot on the drive home.

That concludes our tour, but I took a roll of purple film throughout the trip that turned out nuts I’ll share soon!

All photos by Kate Miss, taken on a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic with Kodak Portra 160 film.

Recent work: Crooks On Tape

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I recently shot the band Crooks On Tape in Chinatown, mostly using purple film with my Mamiya and Ikoflex.

The band’s debut album, Fingerprint, is out, really fantastic, and you can stream it here. They were recently written up on AV Club and it was cool to see my photo there, albeit uncredited and awkwardly cropped (though probably not their fault). Ha.

Our Honeymoon, Part 1: Big Sur

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Big Sur was very wonderful, but there’s so much hype and die-hard fans that I felt at times I was just tracing the steps of other vacations Instagrammed before us (ha!) because there isn’t a huge amount of ground to cover there. I almost wanted to not share the photo of the famous waterfall because of how over-saturated the internet is with that same image lately. But it’s so beautiful. Like, breath taking and aw-inspiring and I couldn’t believe it was right there in front of me. All of Big Sur is breath taking and I felt like I was in The Hobbit half the time, in fact. We stayed at Deetjen’s and I kept expecting gnomes to pop out everywhere. The only downsides are that everything is ridiculously expensive and the winding drive up the 1 is wonderful the first time but the pits the millionth time you drive on it, wondering if you will careen off of the side of the cliff this time, since everything is pretty spread out. Will isn’t huge on hiking and that’s the best thing to do there, we only did two very easy ones, so there was a lot of down time and I read many New Yorkers cover to cover (I was really behind on my subscription after the wedding). If I went back I’d go with someone who was into hiking and hike my heart out. Like everything, you have to do it twice to find the better way of doing it. The coast was so great, I’d love to go back and stay somewhere not so far up the winding 1.

The very best thing we did was kind of surreal and was something nearly every Big Sur-loving person ever told me to do – the hot springs at Esalen. They open up their hot springs for a very low rate (normally this place ain’t cheap) from 1am to 3am to 20 people every night. The hot springs sit on the edge of a cliff and overlook the ocean and you can see every single star in the sky. It was surreal because Will and I normally are in bed by 10 and always asleep by 11, unless we are out drinking, which is pretty rare. We went to bed at 9 (sort of) and woke up at 12 to prepare, and drove the scary windy drive in the dark and waited in the parking lot with strangers for someone from Esalen to meet us and walk us down a very long path through the grounds to the hot springs. It’s clothing optional, and the changing rooms are co-ed and you have to take a shower before hand. I had been psyching myself up all day to go nude, but I think the shower is what made me chicken out. I was delirious from the weird sleeping schedule and had no idea what to expect, so we kept our bathing suits on at first. But after a while we realized everyone was naked so we took our suits off in one of the hot springs. It felt incredibly freeing (not to mention more comfortable in hot water) but also so strange, I’ve never been naked in front of strangers before besides briefly in changing rooms at gyms or for doctors. At the end we got out and showered in front of strangers and inside my head I was screaming THIS IS HAPPENING WHOAAA! If I ever went again I’d go naked from the get-go as I don’t have a lot of opportunities to do something like that in an environment that I feel comfortable doing it in.

Besides the whole naked thing, the experience is surreal as it’s very quiet and a lot of just sitting back, staring at the stars and having time to be alone with your thoughts. Maybe it was because I was tired, but I had a sudden head spinning moment thinking about how we were on a rotating planet hurling through space and how crazy the stars were (so many shooting stars!) and how everything was just lit by moonlight and how the sound of the waves crashing into the rocks was real and not my white noise app I sleep with every night (true story). The fog rolled in and we watched it rise up and eventually cover most of the stars, and by that time it was time to go. We went back to our cabin and slept til the morning, and it all felt like it was just a dream. I can’t recommend this enough, please go someday.

We stayed in Big Sur for two nights and then we were off to Ojai, more on that later!

All photos by Kate Miss, taken on a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic with Kodak Portra 160 film.