Stunning America As Seen Only From The Air

Travelling by air always reveals amazing sights that tell a story about the world below. I confess to being a window seat addict. My favorite time of travel is mid afternoon in the wintertime as the sun is setting low in the horizon creating long shadows and stunning vibrant and painterly coloration.

Aerial Newberry Springs, CA
Aerial above Newberry Springs, CA: desert with traces of highways and irrigation

Sunny days are a treat, but even cloudy days provide amazing photo opportunities through the fluffy beautiful clouds and patches of land below.

In just 1 1/2 hours of travel time from Newport Beach in California en route to Salt lake City in Utah you can explore poetic coastlines, dense suburban urban areas, mountain ranges, dramatic desert landscapes and snow clad mountain ranges.

Aerial Newport Beach towards Huntington Beach
Aerial at Newport Beach towards Huntington Beach: endless white beaches and stunning coast line

Flying from John Wayne Airport in Newport Beach is always thrilling as the planes take off at a dramatic roar to quickly reach a high cruising altitude, then almost stilling the engines while flying above the stunning Back Bay areas and the charming Newport Marina, then quickly turning around above the ocean rendering stunning views of endless wide white beaches.

Cruising above seemingly endless suburban areas and packed freeways for 5 minutes to reach Riverside and the green hilly mountain ranges of Lake Arrowhead; suddenly the desert landscape takes over, a reminder of the dependency of irrigation in Southern California. Western America is so vast and empty, with only traces of life below.

Aerial at Ludlow, CA: sand dunes stretching seemingly endless
Aerial at Ludlow, CA: sand dunes stretching seemingly endless without a trace of life

Traces of roads crossing sand dunes with amazing windblown formations and bluish purple colors merging the yellow and red sand formations. Solar farms with their reflecting mirrors, dry lakes and old mining areas pop into view for just seconds.

Aerial at Mesquite Wilderness area: solar farms amid sandy valleys

Flying past Las Vegas and Lake Mead, the Mohave Desert is stunning and spectacular, its long shadows emphasizing the unruly geology. Valley of Fire with the intense red coloration quickly transitions into the lower Grand Canyon plateau, with its table mountains and jagged lines carved by rivers for thousands of years.

Aerial above dramatic arroyos tracing through the desert feeding Lake Mead National Park and Valley of Fire National Park
Sunset aerial above Eureka, CA: long shadows render an almost surreal landscape

Slowly the snow clad mountain ranges of Southern Utah appear with light fluffy layers of clouds, painted orange and pink by the setting sun. The Greater Salt Lake and Salton Sea are different geological sights, while the plane is preparing for landing, with the white mountain ranges as a backdrop.

Aerial approaching Salt Lake City with snow clad mountains as a stunning backdrop

Relax, enjoy and explore during your travel time being airborne.

Written by Zia Hansen. Photos by Zia Hansen

Rainy Weather Adventures in Sunny California

It never rains in Sunny California, or rather, almost never. We are taken by surprise by a late November storm with horizontal rain, strong winds and dramatic black, purple and grey clouds intersected by short sporadic bouts of sunshine. Driving in rainy weather is one of those extremely rare sensations. In California we are about as challenged by slick wet asphalt and worn out window wipers as the East Coast is challenged by snow and sleet.  We are so blessed by sunny warm weather most of the year, that we felt like creeping under a warm cover, but the day – and life – is just too short for such selfish miserable pity feelings.

Windy weather embraces Newport beach, CA
Windy weather embraces Newport beach, CA

I remembered how the Germans love to encounter severe weather, whether rainy, windy and bitterly cold beaches in Denmark during winter storms – or the hottest sweltering days in the desert of Death Valley, Nevada during August (so hot venturing outside your air conditioned car can be deadly.  

Dressed for the wind and weather

Today we chose to embrace the weather, found weather proof sailing jackets and baseball caps and took a walk on the windy beach at the long, wide and sandy Newport Beach to let the wind and sand sweep into our faces. Powerful waves were beating the sandy beaches, foam was gathering along the edge of the water.

Whisking cold waves

The seagulls were all facing into the wind, in strange, seemingly non-sociable large formations, to keep their feathers straight. No day for ruffled feathers. Wonderful unique photo opportunities of rare weather phenomena were everywhere. A kite surfer was whisking back and forth creating a great daring spectacle with his bright orange kite for the less daring and adventurous of us.

The seaguls are facing the wind to keep their feathers unruffled
The seagulls are facing the wind to keep their feathers unruffled

The pier was standing strong and somber against the sinister looking waves, and a walk into the ocean was a stronger, more challenging sensation of wind power. This was not a perfect day for surfing or fishing. A different day in otherwise sunny California. The skinny palms were bending dangerously in the wind.

Kite boarding on a glorious windy weather day

Written by Zia Hansen. Photography by Zia Hansen

A Temporary Place Where Light, Geometry And Reflections Capture The Poetic Beauty Of Ocean And Place

Some of the best, most memorable experiences are temporary. In a fleeting moment, time comes and goes, as a reflection of what was, is, or could be.

Beacons of light
Beacons of light

For 3 days only, a quarter mile arc of seemingly ephemeral reflection poles embrace the ocean while reflecting it day and night. During day reflecting the white sand, the blue sky, clouds and ocean. At sunset they capture the beauty of the ocean and become beacons of light, changing colors minute by minute; at night they capture the glow of the city, traffic lights and moving cars. It is a truly engaging, captivating and moving art encounter. Tall square polished chrome poles are carefully measured, engineered and installed to all be emanating from the same vantage point in the ocean.

Reflecting time, space and light
Reflecting time, space and light
Seemingly a wall of reflection during sunset time at a certain vantage point
Seemingly a wall of reflection during sunset time at a certain vantage point

The ¼ Mile Arc art installation by artist Phillip K. Smith III embraces Laguna Beach for 3 days only, from November 4-6 as a commissioned installation of the Art & Nature Festival sponsored by Laguna Beach Art Museum. What a wonderful eye opening installation. Watching peoples surprising encounters, wonderment and photo explorations was mesmerizing. How I wish it could remain much longer than just 3 days. How I wish I could camp out on the beach day and night to capture each fleeting changing moment of time.  Sometimes the fleeting memories of passion and love enrich life forever, lights a tiny flickering candle of magic memory in your soul forever.

How fortunate we are to be able to experience this mesmerizing fleeting moment in time – and to have the opportunity to reflect, wonder and capture some of the moments for eternity.

During the sunset hour the markers become beacons of light, reflection the changing colors of the setting sun and ocean reflections
During the sunset hour the markers become beacons of light, reflection the changing colors of the setting sun and ocean reflections

 A temporary marker of changing light and reflections in Laguna Beach, a permanent marker in the soul of everyone who has experienced an hour of sunset with sandy toes – or a foggy morning embraced by a veil of mysterious beach fog.

A temporary spectacular seemingly ephemeral installation merges with the ocean – hurry up, grab your best friend and a camera and head to Laguna Beach at the Boardwalk, California. Open day and night for free for 3 days only, from November 4-6, 2016. Sponsored by Laguna beach Art Museum. Best time to watch the sunset is 5:45PM to 6:45PM.

Written by Zia Hansen. Photography by Zia Hansen