Richard Uzelac’s Guide to Big Sur, CA

The small town of Big Sur, nestled on the rugged coastline of California, is unlike any other place in the world. With its towering cliffs, winding roads, and mysterious forests, it has a magical quality that draws people from far and wide.

As I walked down the main street, lined with quaint shops and charming cafes, Richard Uzelac was dazzled at the beauty that surrounded him. Something else about Big Sur set it apart from other coastal towns. It is something beneath the surface, a world of magic and wonders that few had ever seen.

The Wonders of Big Sur Ca by Richard Uzelac

1. Carmel By The Sea

This small village, nestled among the rocky cliffs and crashing waves of Big Sur, California, is a place of enchantment and wonder.

The town is full of quaint shops and restaurants, each one more charming than the last. The smells of freshly baked bread and roasted coffee waft through the streets, drawing you in like a siren’s song. It’s hard to resist the temptation of a warm croissant from the Carmel Bakery or a cup of steaming hot chocolate from The Chocolate House.

But it’s not just the food that makes Carmel By The Sea so special. There’s a magic in the air that can’t be explained, a feeling that anything is possible. The rugged coastline and the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean are enough to take your breath away.

2. Garrapata State Park & Beach

Garrapata State Park, nestled along the Big Sur coastline, is a place that inspires wonder and awe. The natural beauty of the park is nothing short of mystical, transporting visitors to a world beyond their imagination.

Flora and fauna within its borders are nothing short of magnificent, each one more fascinating than the last. Redwoods tower over the landscape while wildflowers bloom in a vibrant display. And what is impressive is that the place is free to visit for all. 

As one follows the winding trails, one can’t help but feel as though they’ve entered a fairy tale. The sounds of streams and birds fill the air, while the scent of pine and cedar awakens the senses. And with the Pacific Ocean stretching out before them, “The views are nothing short of breathtaking”- Richard Uzelac

3. Point Lobos State Natural Preserve

The Point Lobos State Natural Preserve is a place of raw beauty, where the land meets the sea in a fierce and unrelenting embrace. Here, one can find solace in the simplicity of nature, in the quiet moments between the thundering waves and the rustling leaves. For those seeking adventure, there are trails to be hiked and creatures like seals or sea birds you can find here. And for those seeking peace, there is nothing but the sound of the sea and the wind in the trees. Point Lobos is a place that demands respect, and it is important to keep in mind that there is a parking fee, so be sure to take note of this before entering

4. Bixby Creek Bridge

The Bixby Creek Bridge, a masterpiece of engineering, spans the rugged coastline of California with graceful ease. The arch of its towering pillars mirrors the arc of the distant cliffs while its cables stretch out like sinews across the chasm below. It is a work of art that stands as a testament to the ingenuity and vision of man.

As one traverses its length, the sound of the sea rises up to meet them, mingling with the hum of passing cars. The misty air swirls around the bridge, casting a hazy veil over the ocean below. And at that moment, one is transported to a world beyond words, where the beauty of nature and the power of human creation collide in a breathtaking display.

5. Pfeiffer Beach

The waves crashed against the shore with a steady rhythm as the sun began to dip below the horizon. Pfeiffer Beach is a hidden gem of the California coastline- for it entails a two-mile drive before you reach this place of solitude and wonder. The sand, unlike any other, glowed with purple and pink hues in the fading light. It is a place where one could feel the weight of the world lift off their shoulders and simply be. The sound of the surf and the salty air filled Richard Uzelac’s senses, and that helped him feel alive. Pfeiffer Beach was a sanctuary, a place where one could escape the chaos of life and find peace in the simple beauty of nature.

6. McWay Falls

The mist from the waterfall lingered in the air, creating a mystical ambiance at McWay Falls. The water cascaded down the cliffside, gracefully falling into the turquoise waters below. It was a sight that left me speechless, a natural wonder that could only be appreciated in person. Even though accessing the beach or falls is currently restricted, the view from above is utterly sublime.

Richard Uzelac’s Oahu Hawaiian North Shore Hurricane Adventure

Richard Uzelac, Haleiwa Hawaii, coast of Island

Richard Uzelac and Alexandra’s Beachfront AirBNB Condo was a Bullseye for Alaskan Hurricane

The Hurricane caught Richard Uzelac and Alexandra Uzelac off guard during their Experience on the North shore of Oahu in February of 2019.

Richard Uzelac view of Oahu with Airplane
Richard Uzelac view of Oahu with Airplane

Richard Uzelac’s Hawaiian Hurricane experience was a first! We were thrilled as usual to revisit the Hawaiian Islands. Alexandra and I had never gone to Oahu together and this trip was going to correct that discrepancy in our travels.

Landing in Honolulu brought back memories of my very first airplane ride in 1982. I had won a free trip to Oahu for being the top real estate agent on our dominating office in southern New Jersey. How could I forget the smell of the beautiful flowers after we climbed down the staircase of the L-1011 onto the tarmac. As I left the terminal with my bags I saw a guy at the light on a Harley, with no helmet smiling and gave me the ‘hang loose’ sign with his hand. I thought to myself, “How cool is that! Riding around Hawaii on a Harley with no helmet enjoying the smells and views of paradise every day.” I wanted to throw it all away and move to Hawaii and live that life. I didn’t. Maybe I should have… But I seriously digress.

We were thrilled as usual to revisit the Hawaiian Islands. Alexandra and I had never gone to Oahu together and this trip was going to correct that discrepancy in our travels.

An Auspicious Start for Richard Uzelac on Oahu in 2019.

No Harley’s or Palmyra blossom smells almost forty years later. I stupidly ordered a rental car from a no-name rental place. The ride out to the lot was very long. We arrived at a dingy used car lot/repair shop/car rental place. Our first car was a Certified Piece of S**t, seriously. It was old and the tires didn’t look that great. After I pulled out with it (after waiting at least an hour for the car), I turned around and came back it. The feeling of the car was unsteady. I went into full ‘Rich’ mode and got them to give us a much better car at no extra cost. I think they were still breathing when we left. The new car was actually quite nice and we headed out to the condo.

Haleiwa Hurricane Condo

Richard Uzelac, Haleiwa Hawaii, coast of Island Cliffs and Surf
Richard Uzelac,Hawaii, coast of Island Cliffs and Surf

Haleiwa is a cute, yet grungy little seaside town in the North Shore of Oahu. We has fun lunches and dinners at just about all the restaurants in town over the course of a week. Just north of Haleiwa is the surfer, dropout, druggie Sunset Beach. We were warned several times online and off to no leave valuables in your car in that area. We had no issue and the waves were huge, up to 60 feet!
Our condo was ocean front, I mean, really really ocean front. Our sliding glass door looked right upon the ocean about 30 feet away and 12 feet down below our ground floor unit. The first day was awesome and sunny, the second day was awesome and Hurricaney? Hurricanesque? We had a hurricane on the second day.

Richard Uzelac Mans the Sand Bags and Plywood.

Richard Uzelac and wife, Alexandra at Hawaiian Waterfall in the rain
Richard Uzelac and wife, Alexandra at Hawaiian Waterfal in the rain

Second morning clouds gave way to second morning howling winds and whipped up waves. The Alaskan Hurricane hit us head on. The slider was bending but it didn’t break. We helped to carry sandbags and plywood to bolster the slider of our unit and those of those less physically able. It was all for one and one for all and we all rallied in any way we could. Some could only provide beer, but they were very respected helpers.

Remember the ‘ocean was 12 feet down below our ground floor unit part’? Nawww. Our patio became part of the ocean. Hats off to the quality of that slider though! At times it looked, on the inside that we were looking at an aquarium with the waves crawling up the glass a few inches, but she didn’t break! That was cool. our sandbags slowed most of the water down and repelled some and the door didn’t even leak a drop! Damn impressive.

Richard Uzelac and Alexandra’s Fun Night

Richard Uzelac, Haleiwa Hawaii, coast after the storm
Richard Uzelac, Haleiwa Hawaii, coast after the storm

Well it wasn’t the fun Hawaiian night that was expected, but it was still exciting. We lay in our bed on the far side away from the slider about 20 feet back. We figured if we got up in the night and our feet were under water, we should leave. Buy all accounts from the sounds of the hurricane winds, it should have been wet and deep. The less robust side windows, with the little panes of glass you can open and close were not water tight and the areas around the window were wet but not something a couple of towels couldn’t handle below each window.

The Aftermath of Richard Uzelac’s Hawaiian Hurricane Adventure on Oahu

After two days of hard rain and winds the hurricane decided to identify as a tropical storm and we could go out and enjoy the wet wet island. My wife even swam in the ocean in the cold waters and air. She’s a Polar Bear, a tiny fit latin Polar Bear. We forgot the umbrellas as they only break in those winds and we just drove and hiked in the wet. Breakfasts and Lunches were warmer and tastier. All the patrons were kindred spirets and we recalled the Hurricane and how awesome it was.

Richard Uzelac’s Hawaiian Hurricane note: Sorry for the general low quality of the images. I will upgrade my camera soon.

Richard Uzelac’s Mount Shasta, California Experience


We Enjoyed Visiting Mount Shasta!

Recently my Wife and I decided to go to Mount Shasta for a few days. I gotta say, it was a fantastic experience full of natural beauty, fresh air and alkaline water! The little town of Mt Shasta was charming and a great walk around full of Shops and eclectic restaurants. – Richard Uzelac

Lodging Notes

Inn at Mount Shasta:

This was a nicely modernized and updated Motel located just before arriving to the main street of the town of Mt. Shasta. The people there were relaxed and helpful. The outside is rather plain but clean. The room was well above average with a designer feel to it. Nice big bed and furniture looked proper and planned. It overall had a hip clean upscale feel. Pricing was VERY reasonable.

We often walked to the town from the Inn and it was very pleasant. Overall we gave it 3.5 Stars for a nice safe clean place with style, at a great price.

Inn at Shasta Lake:

This was literally a Mom and Pop Inn with lovely grounds, a charming gathering place for the included breakfast and happy hour drinks and snacks every day. This place was three minutes to HWY 5 and five minutes to Shasta Lake and a short boatride to the Shasta Lake Caverns ( a must see).

The place reminded me of Pennsylvania with lush mountain flora and groups of deer in the woods. Much of the breakfast food is grown right on site in their large garden. We walked through there and saw a very nice selection of fruits and vegetables they use for the breakfast.

Food Notes:

Too bad they didn’t offer food because finding a good place to have dinner was not so easy. We decided to go north on the 5 Hwy and ended up eating at a dive bar on Taco Tuesday night. It was a dive but the people were fun and we actually enjoyed the evening. If you want a better plate of food, you MUST go SOUTH on the 5 freeway to Redding, California for Dinner.

Back up in the town of Mt Shasta we had some great meals. One place was the little hippy market just a short walk from our hotel. The breakfast and lunch food was great and the people, mountain people, hippies, Van-lifers, hikers, bikers and other edgy people were quite interesting to watch while enjoying a healthy meal.

We also ate at the only Indian Food restaurant in the town. The owner lives upstairs with his family and serves food in his living/dining rooms. The food was good and a nice walk to and from the hotel.

The Sights:

Loved Mt. Shasta, the monolithic white pyramid sitting on the flat lands around it like a spaceship that landed in a corn field. It feels surprising and unexpected when you first see it. We were used to the long High Sierras that tended to go on forever. But Mt. Shasta is like the pyramids of Egypt: Monoliths surrounded by relatively flat lands around it.

Mt Shasta is beautiful upon first Site. While we fought our way up to the town in a long downpour at night, we were rewarded by a beautiful snowy mountain peak the next morning, just breathtaking. Mt. Shasta reminds me how truly beautiful California is.

Fresh Snow!

We drove our car up as far as we could to the highest car park available which was about 8,000 ft above sea level. And that spot is just the base of Mt. Shasta proper. The mountain top is over 14,000 feet, almost that of Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental United States. We did a short hike to about 9,000 feet and stopped to meditate on boulders after removing some of the fresh perfect snow that sat on top of them like icing.

Peaceful Meditation

We sat in our meditation positions and listened to …nothing. I mean, NOTHING, it was sooo very quiet that I actually heard my own brain slightly humming. My ears heard the inside of my brain, it was amazing.

If you plan to hike Mt. Shasta in the snow, be fully prepared and in great shape, especially with new snow. New snow can hide dangerous drop offs and cliffs.

Overall this was a must see hike and part of my bucket-list.

Old Resort Ruins:
With a bit of work you can find the old resort from the early 1900’s where people went to take in the ‘the waters’ near Shasta. The waters happen to be a very alkaline ground water that to this day bubble up out of the ground and find their way to an old small brass pipe, and just flow right on to the ground. The water has a PH of over 11! As an Alkaline water drinker, this was heaven for me to get natural alkaline spring water. The area has some old stone walls and even an old stone soaking tub for the Resort visitors from 100 years ago. Beside the ruins is an active creek and two sets of waterfalls, one of which was quite big.

Lake Shasta Caverns:
Beautiful rock formations after a short boat ride, bus ride and steep climb.

Lake Shasta Dam:
Great museum and history behind this dam that buried three towns under 400 feet of water!

Hope you go some day! -Richard Uzelac

Welcome to Richard Uzelac’s Photography and Travel Blog

Santa Cruz Ocean Blow Hole by Richard Uzelac

Richard Uzelac’s Photography and Travel Blog Introduction

“Hi There Everyone! I’d like to welcome you to my travel and photography blog! The goal here is to offer something meaningful, insightful, beautiful, fun and thought provoking. I agree that it may just end up self-serving and trivial, so we are both going to have to take that risk! Ha ha!” – Richard Uzelac

Blog Goals by Richard Uzelac

For those that got this far… 🙂 Maybe this is why I’ve never wrote a book by now; I don’t exactly know where to begin. This travel and photography blog can be enclosed and trivial or it could be much more, it could be meaningful. It is easy to be meaningful for me. I get to pick the images, stories and adventures I present and I guess there is something wonderful, cathartic and meaningful for ME in that but how does that benefit YOU?

My goal is to make this meaningful for you as well as me, then I’ve done something ‘good’ and positive in the world. Ad Dr. Jordan Peterson says, (and I paraphrase) ” Do something meaningful with your life. It is a way to deal with the Chaos and Suffering we all experience in this world. Start by taking care of yourself, then your family and friends, and then your community, your country and the world.”

So that is my grand goal for this blog, to make it meaningful and positive in the world and provide this to the people that take the time to read it. Whether or not anyone outside of a handful of family and friends ever read this is certainly debatable. And if more read it, it is even more debatable, or better yet, improbable that they will find meaning in my writings and images.

The Photos

The photos are a key to all of this. They are a symbolic representation of my travels and life. Picking the correct ones and presenting them here is the key to this blog. Just describing the travels without photos would make the experience all the less impactful for readers. But having photos will stimulate the visual cognition of the story as it is revealed in the written word. “A photo is worth a thousand words” is certainly true here and maybe quite a bit understated. I believe the correct picture is worth a hundred thousand words of nuance and information.

Ah, but picking the correct image is turning out to be quite nerve wracking for me. I am obsessing with the decision for each and every story I am planning on. Hopefully my brain will rewire to the point where my decisions on images is light speed fast and quite accurate to a great degrees. Quality in, quality out. At least this is my photos goal.

The Stories and Observations

“Every picture tells a story,” as the saying goes. Some of those stories are mundane, but some can be truly profound, insightful, thoughtful, exciting, dynamic, and life changing. I’m going to endevour to do the later, duh.

How much time I put into each will be variable as some stories are short and targeted and others may be general and project a flood lamp on my life.

I’m so excited to be working on this little blog and seeing how this goes!


Richard Uzelac