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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.