Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic.

I’d like to highlight another one of my favorite places today. In the midst of all of the chaos and upset going on right now, this also seems like a good time to focus on what’s good and beautiful in the world.  The lovely scenery abundant to the area where I live is a wonderful example of this, as I’ve shown in previous photography posts.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I drove to Pacific Beach for a walk and to photograph the sunset.  It’s just a twenty minute drive from where we live, but it can feel like a world away.   We took quite a few photographs on that mild autumn evening, the best of which are featured below.

Pacific Beach

These kids were enjoying a beautiful October evening in Pacific Beach. 

Some Background on These Posts…

For those who are new to this blog, let me give a bit of background on these “photography interlude” posts and why I do them.  For years, shopping was my default hobby.  Whenever I had any free time, I couldn’t wait to run to the mall or local shops.   This obsessive behavior not only led to a depleted bank account and an overly stuffed closet, but I also became somewhat one-dimensional as a person.  I didn’t have a whole lot going on in my life beyond clothes, shoes, and accessories.   Since the tagline for this Recovering Shopaholic is “trade your full closet for a full life,” I knew that had to change.

I fell into photography fairly effortlessly, as I endeavored to share Southern California with a sick friend who had always wanted to visit but may never be able to do so.  As I took photos of all of my favorite places, I realized how much I enjoyed the process – and a new hobby was born!   If you’d like to learn more about how it all unfolded, check out this April 2015 post in which I introduced my new passion to readers.

Enjoying my photography hobby

Enjoying my photography hobby in Imperial Beach in Summer 2015. 

About Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach is a gorgeous beachside neighborhood that borders the famous community of La Jolla in the north and Mission Beach and Mission Bay to the south.  Known as “P.B.” to locals, it is one of the busiest beach areas in San Diego and draws large crowds of tourists every summer.  Pacific Beach is home to a booming night scene year round and its main street of Garnet Avenue boasts many popular bars, eateries, and boutiques.

One of the key features of Pacific Beach is the 3.2 mile Ocean Boulevard walkway that is usually crowded with pedestrians, cyclists, and rollerbladers.  Adjacent to this boardwalk is the historic Crystal Pier, which I featured in my pictorial of San Diego Area Piers last year and is also highlighted in the photos below.  While Pacific Beach used to be populated mostly by twenty-somethings and surfers, its popularity and rising property and rental costs have led the age range to now skew older (but still not nearly as old as the Point Loma area where I live).

The Beach and Boardwalk

When we arrived in Pacific Beach last month, it was getting close to sunset and the colors in the sky were already starting to change.  Clouds are one of my favorite photography subjects because they are always different.  Even if I take photos in the same location a hundred times, the clouds will never be quite the same, which means that variety is always possible in my images.

In this first photo, I was looking north toward La Jolla and the Crystal Pier is evident in the distance.

Pacific Beach

As you can see, there weren’t many people at the beach that evening.  Quite likely, most of them had already gone home.  I’ve always been one to swim against the tide, however, and my favorite time to visit any beach is from just before sunset until the time when all of the colors have faded from the sky.  I love the way the clouds look in this southward viewing image, as well as how the light is reflecting upon the sand.

Pacific Beach

There are a number of hotels and apartment/condo complexes along the water in Pacific Beach.  You can see a few of them here with the fluffy pink clouds overhead.

Pacific Beach

Below you can get a glimpse of the boardwalk I mentioned above.  The “23” on one of the buildings shown is a reference to Tower 23, a luxury boutique beachfront hotel which includes a popular restaurant and bar with outdoor seating and picturesque views.

Pacific Beach Boardwalk and Tower 23

Pacific Beach Boardwalk and Tower 23

Crystal Pier

A key feature of Pacific Beach is the famous Crystal Pier, which is open from sunrise to sunset daily.  Crystal Pier is an 872 foot long wooden structure which has been a popular vacation destination since 1927.  It houses the unique Crystal Pier Hotel, which is a set of Cape Cod style cottages that allow guests to sleep above the surf.   The cottages, which vary in size, all include kitchens and decks and sleep between two and six people.  I’ve always wanted to stay in this hotel, but as you might imagine, it’s not cheap.  Plus, there are two to four night minimums depending upon the time of year. Still, my husband and I will find a way to have a “staycation” there one of these days!

In this first photo, you can see most of the pier and if you focus in on the middle of the image, you’ll notice a small plane flying overhead.  If you hang out in Pacific Beach for an hour or two around sunset, you’ll likely spy a few small planes in the sky, as you really can’t beat the view.  Seeing the sunset from the sky is definitely something to experience at least once in your lifetime.

Crystal Pier

The next two images give you a good look at some of the cottages on the pier.  The cottages have all recently been refurbished and upgraded but still offer the feel of stepping back in time.  If you’re interested in getting a better look at the cottages, including some inside views, check out this page.

Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach

Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach

Here are some additional photos of Crystal Pier taken as the sun went down, including a nice shot of my husband Mike with the pier in the background and some lovely pink and yellow hues in the sky.  As you can see from the first photo below, we weren’t the only ones who went to take photos by the pier that night.  I’m sure some of my photos would have been better had I used a tripod as well, but I like to walk around when I go to the beach.  Having a lot of photography equipment with me inhibits my mobility too much for most of my outings.

Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach

Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach

Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach

Mike Roes at Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach

Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach

Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach

The Sunset

I will close out this “photography interlude” with a few images of the gorgeous sunset we saw on that magical night back in October.  I don’t always love photos of myself, but in the last image below, I look so happy and “in my element” that I wanted to share it with you.  I get far more joy from taking photos on the beach at sunset than I ever did shopping in even the most amazing stores.  Shopping can never feed my soul the way nature and exercising my creativity does.  I need to remember this the next time I’m tempted to shop for things I don’t need and likely won’t even want tomorrow!

Pacific Beach Sunset

Pacific Beach Sunset

Debbie Roes during a Pacific Beach Sunset

In Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this look at Pacific Beach.   If you liked this post and want to see more of my photos, check out the rest of my “photography interlude” posts and the photos I’ve posted on Instagram.   I’m glad I decided to explore photography as a hobby and I need to make an effort to do it more often. When I first started taking photos, I did it at least a few times per week, but it’s fallen a bit by the wayside in recent months.  Putting this post together helped to reconnect me with the power of this wonderful hobby, however, and I vow to do it more often moving forward.

Last year, I took a great online photography course that helped me to realize that there is beauty to be captured even in our seemingly mundane day-to-day experiences.  We don’t always have to visit a picturesque locale in order to shoot images we can be proud of.  I need to keep this in mind and make sure I celebrate beauty and life each and every day.  This is especially important when we’re experiencing turmoil both within ourselves and around us.  Hobbies and passions can help to keep us sane.  If you’re looking to cultivate some new interests besides shopping, I invite you to check out the comprehensive list of hobbies and pastimes that I put together with the help of readers last year.

16 thoughts on “Photography Interlude – Pacific Beach

  1. Mo says:

    Thanks for sharing some pics of your world. I had a breathtaking view of Tahoe coming home from Reno last night at sunset coming over Spooner Summit. Decided to just take it in instead of fire up the camera phone. BF was driving, so I could just gaze and let myself soak it all in. I think we need to commune with nature to reset at some base level.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I know that lovely view well, Mo, and I miss seeing it regularly. I’m glad you got to experience it and decided to fully take it all in. I agree that communing with nature is important for our well-being and it definitely helps us to reset. We both live in such beautiful places – we need to make sure to take advantage of it!

  2. Dori says:

    The die is cast but … not just for USA.
    We have to be sometimes like the kids running on the beach : enjoy simple things, have fun, and no matter future.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I totally agree, Dori! Kids are so in the moment and they enjoy life to the fullest. Animals are like that, too, but we adults often allow our upset to get in the way of experiencing the good in life. I know I will probably still struggle with worry, but I’m going to do my best to take joy in the little things and embrace my childlike sense of beauty and wonder.

  3. Murphy says:

    Beautiful photos, and I love the last photo of you!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much, Murphy! I like that photo of me, too, and the backdrop certainly doesn’t hurt 🙂

  4. Terra says:

    Thank you. I love this peaceful glimpse. Beautiful photography.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you liked this photography interlude, Terra. I had planned to post these photos for a while and this just felt like the right time…

  5. JaneN says:

    What wonderful photos Debbie. The sunsets are beautiful and I love the photo of you crouching down taking a photo. You really are talented.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much, Jane! I like that my husband takes candid photos of me sometimes. I often like those better than the posed ones 🙂

  6. cm says:

    Always enjoy your photos. Love the “photographer Debbie” photo!! Seeing the camera I wondered what kind of lens you were using?

    Light is really spectacular in many; especially the 2nd La Jolla / Crystal Pier shot. Not sure what (if any) post production you do; if it’s your thing, maybe pop the cloud reflections on the sand more- they are so beautiful but subtle because the sand is dark.

    Noticed that many heads are lining up with the wave break lines of the ocean. Wondering if either shooting from a different height or adjusting the angle of the camera would help?

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      The lens is the one that came with the camera, CM. The camera is a Nikon D3300 and the lens is AF-S Nikkor 18-55 mm. I would like to get a longer lens, too, so I can better take photos of the birds I see on my walks, but of course that will make the camera heavier… I don’t do a whole lot of post-production on my photos, but would like to learn how to do more on some select images. I mostly just crop and do some color adjustments at this point. Thank you for the suggestion regarding the heads lining up with the wave break lines. I hadn’t noticed that before, but I will try adjusting the angle next time to see if I get a better effect. Always learning…

  7. Lisa says:

    Beautiful photos and good luck with your upcoming classes!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you, Lisa! The photography class was from last year, but I would like to take another one. I’m looking forward to “A Simple Year” and hope it will be a positive experience.

  8. Lynn says:

    You clearly have a real feel for landscape photography and I love the sound of your photography course. Whenever I have done a visual arts course it has really enriched my life, I notice and appreciate so much more in the world. I love taking photos, particularly architecture, but also interesting texture and shapes, and anything unexpected or quirky. I have some super photos from the San Diego botanical gardens and the wildlife park which I treasure. You live in a beautiful place and it’s a great way to appreciate it.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I appreciate your kind words, Lynn. I will have to visit the botanical gardens and wildlife park to take photos! I have been to both places before, but not since I started my photography hobby, so it will be a whole new experience! Yes, I am grateful to live in such a beautiful place, but I feel there is beauty everywhere and photography is a great way for us to embrace it more fully.

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