Sequoia National Park & Malibu

(April 16th-21st 2015)

I found my way back out in California this past week to see one of my best friends & bandmate Nick Fradiani compete in the Top 7 on American Idol along with our guitarist Nick Abraham. After we checked out the live Idol taping we made our way around Hollywood for a late dinner at In-N-Out Burger and then some adult beverages while bar hopping.  We even ran into the infamous Ron Jeremy after last call and then walked to Mel’s Diner in the morning for a bit of a hangover cure.  Always good to stay with my buddy Eric too when I’m in town, he’s got a great spot right around the corner from the Dolby Theatre in the heart of Hollywood. A trip to LA is never complete without a hike through Runyon Canyon in the Hollywood Hills and views of the famous Hollywood sign.

I had taken Nick Abraham on his first National Park adventure to Joshua Tree last year and we decided to check out Sequoia National Park this time out there. I had heard how big these Sequoia trees were, but seeing just how massive they really are in person was pretty unreal. Inside the parl sits the largest living tree in the world dubbed “The General Sherman”.  The tree is 275ft tall, over 100ft in circumference and started growing roughly around the time Rome was being built. Really was a challenge to even get the whole tree in one picture and even then you still can’t appreciate it’s size. If you’ve never been I definitely recommend visiting the park to see just how breathtaking this forest is. The park is also far enough inland from any bigger cities so there is very little light pollution, allowing for some amazing night sky viewing. Only previously attempting astrophotography once, I really enjoyed the opportunity of trying to capture the night sky. The only real opening in the park is at Moro Rock, where you’re at an elevation of over 6,700ft, so you get a great view of the sky. This was such an incredible spot to end our first day is the park taking in a breathtaking sunset over the Sierra Nevada mountains. We stayed in lodging inside the park so was easy to get around at any time of day or night, including heading back to this spot in the middle of the night when the Milky Way was in perfect view. This was the first time I was able to capture the core of the Milky Way and was pumped to come home with some good images of it. After staying here until sunrise we were greeted by a raven that had been roosting there right near us throughout the night. Naps were needed before more adventuring around the park could happen for the day and the drive back to LA.

Our last full day in California was spent enjoying one of my favorite roads anywhere in the country, the Pacific Coast Highway, from Santa Monica to Malibu. One of the highlights was hiking up to Point Dume Overlook at Zuma Beach and taking in the amazing views of the Pacific Ocean from up there. Watching Brown Pelicans cruise by me at eye level as they worked their way up and down the coastline. Had to walk down to the water to get my feet in the sand and feel the water crash on me as I snapped some close up shots of the waves. We decided on dinner at Neptune’s Net for the second year in a row for some amazing seafood with a view and made the right decision once again. After dinner we headed across the road to soak in a spectacular sunset for the perfect ending to a badass trip out to the West Coast.