My wife and I met in San Diego back in 2007 and although we lived there for 4 years, we never drove the California coast before we moved home to New York. Friends, family – basically everyone we’ve ever spoken to – has told us to do the drive. After nearly 3 years back in New York, we headed back to check the item off our bucket list.
Our flight was scheduled to leave Newark Airport at 7pm. For those that live in Manhattan, this is pretty valuable information, so listen up. A cab to Newark Airport is roughly $70. Accounting for rush hour traffic, you’d need to leave around 4pm. As a much more efficient and cheaper alternative, take NJ Transit – it cost $12.50 per person and took 1 hour, door to door. You’ll have to transfer once but it’s well worth it.
We arrived in San Diego around 10pm and after a small wait for the airport shuttle, we were off to pick up our rental car. At the time of booking, FOX Rental car wanted an additional $1,000 for a convertible for 5 days.
As much as we wanted one, I decided a convertible in January wasn’t worth that kind of money. But as luck would have it, the lady at the ticket counter was having a good day (she was adopting a baby girl) and decided to offer us a convertible for $10/day – HELL YES. This turned out to be a blessing b/c if you’re going to make this trip, GET A CONVERTIBLE, it’s well worth it (even in January).
Our first two days we spent in San Diego visiting friends, reminiscing about the past, and eating the foods we crave daily yet can’t get anywhere but in southern california.
Pacific Beach was home to us for 2 and a half years – it’s very easy to see why so many people migrate to San Diego.
Sometimes to get the shot you need to get into some strange places – can you spot me?
But the resulting shot is well worth it.
Riding beach cruisers along the boardwalk was probably our favorite thing to do – a MUST HAVE if you haven’t done it!
Our ride for the trip. Again, it’s well worth the money for a convertible. Even in the colder months, the weather was around 65 and sunny. To counter the wind, we blasted our feet with heat.
Chronic Smoothies – yum.
After PB, we headed north.
Homage to Thelma & Louise.
First stop, La Jolla. I used to surf Windnsea a bunch. It’s a local break that gets pretty aggressive, but if you can handle it, it’s one of the better breaks in San Diego.
The local judges.
My favorite meal in San Diego is by far the Acai Bowl at Swami’s Cafe in Encinitas. Before you leave, this is a MUST.
Goodbye San Diego. Next Stop, Santa Barbara.
We spent the night in San Luis Obispo. Here’s another tip for all you budget travelers – use Priceline to book your hotels. By not booking in advance, we saved as much as 60% on hotel accommodations. Here’s what you do – around 5pm, load up the Priceline app on your iPhone. Select the location you’d like to stay in and then hit “NAME YOUR OWN PRICE.” Priceline will tell you what the lowest price was paid within a few hours. That’s a good starting point. Most of the time, that price is still higher than what you’ll end up paying. Reason is, at 5pm, most hotels figure they’ve sold the rooms they’re going to sell for the day – now it’s time to start discounting rooms to get whatever they can. They’d rather have someone in there than have it sit empty. I usually go for the highest star hotel they offer and then offer around $50 less than the last price paid. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The thing to note about priceline is, once you submit your bid, you’re locked in and you HAVE to stay there (if the hotel accepts your offer). Anyway, we saved a good amount of money when doing this.
The hotel front desk person saw I was carrying cameras and we started chatting. He told me about a local spot that most tourists don’t know about. He gave me general directions and then it was on us to find it. We took this windy road about 20 miles to a parking spot in the middle of nowhere. Since it was raining slightly, no one was around – just Jackie and I. We hiked through this small trail about 15 minutes and when we arrived on the other side it was an awesome sight. Cliffs, ocean, animals.
After taking in the breathtaking scenery, we were back on the road to our next destination: Morrow Bay. The town was quaint with not much to do. We decided to grab a bite to eat at the Coastal Cafe – and my GOD was it good. Jackie got some lobster bisque in a bread bowl (which you can see she enjoyed very much), while I went for some spicy veggie sandwich (to die for) – I wish I remembered the name of the sandwich, oh well.
The next part of the trip was probably our favorite. It was filled with those picturesque views of the California cliffs meeting the Pacific Ocean. This is really where the convertible came in handy. The wind in our hair, the sun on our faces, and the beautiful California coast…doesn’t get much better than that.
We stopped again, this time to grab a drink and some appetizers at Orsen Wells’ old home (that’s now a restaurant). Amazing views again.
These cows have the life.
Our next stopover was Monterey where we had dinner and then went to the Aquarium the next day.
Our final stop in our journey was San Francisco. Since we spent most of the previous day stopping and taking photos, we packed the cameras away and just enjoyed the ride. Our goal was to make it to SF by sunset so we could see the Golden Gate bridge under the setting sun.
That night we went to dinner at Gary Danko’s – apparently THE best restaurant in San Francisco. We’re not big on ‘hype’ but we figured ‘when in Rome’ and booked a table. Almost $300 later, we rolled out of there with our bellies full and our ego’s stroked. Gary Danko’s lives up to every expectation. The service is bar none and the food was fantastic.
Our next and final day in California was spent exploring the Red Wood trees in the Miur Woods National Park. Really hard to take bad photos in this natural beauty.
Overall this was one of our favorite trips we’ve ever taken. Anyone looking for a relatively cheap vacation in our own country, this should be your next one!
Since Jackie was out of town this weekend, I had no real reason to head home after my wedding on Saturday night. Normally I try to bust out of there as quickly as possible but tonight I decided to take some photos of the Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridge. The storm that passed earlier in the day (which I was unfortunate enough to get caught in), provided that great shimmer on the dock – the one good thing that came out of the storm!
Jackie and I headed to Villanova University to take photos of Alyssa and Ed for their engagement book that guests will sign at their wedding. Jackie, being the great sport that she is, decided to take some time away from studying to help me out. The ironic part is, some of Jackie’s photos were the best!
Alyssa and Ed met while attending Villanova University – she a freshman, he a sophomore. Fast forward 8 years, and here we were, back on campus to take engagement photos. I’ve known Alyssa literally all my life…well, since I was two, so maybe not all my life. Growing up with a little sister has been great and as we’ve grown older, we’ve become closer. I was so happy I was able to shoot her engagement photos and capture the love she and Ed have for one another. Since they are both insanely good looking, it made my job much much easier.
The sunflowers added a great prop to the shoot and the color coordination was spot on – good job Alyssa! Next up was Ed’s finance building where he spent the majority of his time while getting his degree. I wanted a more hardcore look for this photo so I had Alyssa and Ed give me some sass and blasted them with a Canon 600 EXRT flash with a small soft box. Very happy with the way this photo came out.
After shooting outside we headed indoors to take some photos in a classroom and then one of the coffee stands Alyssa used to get coffee from pretty regularly.
Ed’s a huge basketball fan and still plays today – one of the shots he wanted was on the court he used to play on for hours. I like these photos b/c it was the only time during our shoot that the sun peaked out from behind the clouds – made for some nice dramatic shots!
The rest of the shoot was spent around Villanova’s beautiful Chapel and lawn area.
These are my three favorite shots of the day.
We had them roll around in the grass which ended up producing some really fun images!
This photo is very “Twilight” – or so I’ve been told.
Took a few takes to get the lighting just right, but I’m very happy with this image!!
Coming home from dinner with my sister and a friend we haven’t seen in a really long time, I captured these two images while waiting for the E train. I really like the texture from the wall photo and I tried to capture the subway terminal a little differently in the second photo.
Went up to my parents house in Westchester to see my father for Father’s Day. It’s been over a month since we’ve seen my side of the family so it was a very welcomed visit. We hadn’t seen Molly in almost two months so naturally I took way too many photos of her
It was a special day for a great man. I’m so happy that we live closer now and can spend these days with him and the rest of my family.
I’ve been working on a pretty big project with a few other people for the last few weeks – unfortunately I can’t mention much more than that for another few days. On my way to film the rehearsal, the sunset was a just over the horizon and casting a beautiful orange glow. I snapped this picture crossing the street at 56th and 8th avenue. I call it “hair.”
Hello and welcome to our blog - a personal site for friends and family to stay up to date with our busy lives.
About Michael - Cinematographer, Editor, Photographer at Michael Justin Films who also has a full time day job.
About Jackie - Full time nurse anesthesia student and wine lover.