6 Days, 1500 Miles

Road Tripping on the West Coast

Ben and I first met shortly after I spontaneously let his younger brother shave my head in their backyard after school one day. Their mom peered out from the kitchen window as I felt electric buzzers on my scalp for the first time; she was worried that she was going to get an angry call from my mom. Little did she know, my own mother is the one who goaded me for years about shaving my head. :)

10 years later and we’ve gone through all the ups-and-downs you can imagine. To celebrate our friendship’s longevity we planned a week-long road trip to revisit old haunts — some we shared, some that were our own — including the houses we grew up in.

In just under a week we visited Crater Lake, Ashland, Redding, Red Bluff, Los Molinos, Chico, Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, Humboldt, Bandon and all the little towns along the way.

The first and last legs of the trip were 12+ hour days. We visited our families, our friends, and made new friends, too. I got to hang out with 12 different cats for a spec-cat-ular average of 2 cats a day. We didn’t sleep in the same beds (or couches or floors!) for more than one night, and were treated to the full spectrum of weather — everything from arctic breezes at Crater Lake, to dripping with sweat in Central California, to getting cozy under the hazy fog of Humboldt County.

Add to that all the smiling faces and gorgeous landscapes we were greeted with, and I’d say it was a trip for the books.

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Crater Lake National Park
Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Crater Lake National Park - Rim Village

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Bird on Pole at Crater Lake National Park

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Crater Lake, Oregon

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Danskos at Crater Lake, Oregon
Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Tourists at Crater Lake National Park

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Mt. Shasta

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Sea Gulls at Shasta Rest Area
Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Ben sleeping at Mt. Shasta Rest Area

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Panaderia La Competidora in Los Molinos, CA

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - The House I grew up in, Los Molinos, CA

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Boys drinking beer at the swimming hole in Chico, CA

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Telephone poles driving into the Bay Area

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - The Bay Bridge in San Francisco, CA

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Coit Tower in San Francisco, CA
Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Sunset over San Francisco, CA - view from Coit Tower

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Picnic tables at Patrick's Point, CA

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Banana slugs at Patrick's Point, CA

Ben at the top of a hill in Patrick's Point, CA

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Self in front of the ocean at Patrick's Point, CA

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Bear claw scratches on food storage cabinet - Patrick's Point, CA

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Driving through Humboldt County on the US 101 North Highway
Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Redwood forests and the morning fog - Humboldt County, CA

Morning sunlight shining through the fog and redwood forest - Humboldt County

Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Battle Rock, OR
Portland Lifestyle Photographer - View of the beach from Battle Rock, OR
Portland Lifestyle Photographer - Self-portrait in car mirror during road trip

A big thanks to all our gracious hosts and wonderful friends we met up with along the way, and to Ben for happily manning the wheel.

26 notes + Add comment
  • Nora

    on July 30, 2012  11:42 am

    These photos are absolutely breathtaking. Looks like an amazing adventure!

  • Anni

    on July 30, 2012  12:01 pm

    These are mind-blowingly awesome - I've always wanted to drive the west coast, and you've convinced me it's completely worth it.

  • kristin

    on July 30, 2012  12:08 pm

    normally i get annoyed when people post a bajillion photos, but not yours! i did not want this post to end. what a wonderful week. i just visited crater lake last month and man, what a beautiful place to see.

  • minimodi

    on July 30, 2012  1:08 pm

    wow! can't choose anyone to mention in a comment - so many stunning photos. very inspiring!

  • nick

    on July 30, 2012  2:28 pm

    these are awesome. You're raising the bar for my vacation photos. nice work!

  • Bria

    on July 30, 2012  3:08 pm

    What an adventure! So glad we had the chance to meet up while you were in Chico. Now I want to go on a road trip even more.... haha

  • Anne

    on July 30, 2012  3:13 pm

    Fuck, Kim, do you want to add landscape photographer to your title too? I have way too much love for all your beach and forest photos to comment on a couple of them. All of them are so goddamn good. Can I borrow your talent next time I take a trip, please?
    That little white and gray cat is so adorable I really wish you'd kidnapped him.

  • stacey

    on July 30, 2012  4:58 pm

    wow so beautiful. I wish I was on this roadtrip...you know how to do it right.

  • Brittany

    on July 30, 2012  6:22 pm

    A trip beautifully documented in so many regards. Lovely.

  • Kandise

    on July 30, 2012  7:37 pm

    These are all so gorgeous.

  • Matt

    on July 30, 2012  9:47 pm

    looked like you had fun! some really cool shots here

  • Brian Kraft

    on July 30, 2012  10:50 pm

    That looks like some crazy good times right there! So amazingly documented. And that inchworm shot is just too damn funny.

  • Vickie

    on July 31, 2012  6:04 am

    sounds like an awesome trip & your photos are gorgeous. Love the light through the tree trunks & the one below it & the grey & white kitty...all of them basically :)

  • AdonyeJaja

    on July 31, 2012  6:15 am

    seriously beautiful, great art work.

  • Mirka

    on July 31, 2012  10:40 am

    I wanted to write that I really love the one with the bird on the solitary branch, but as I was scrolling down, there were so many pictures that I particularly fell in love with.. The one with the wee caterpillar, those with trees, mist and clouds, well, all of them, really.

    I'm glad that you enjoyed the trip!

  • Amber Hughes

    on July 31, 2012  1:15 pm

    Awesome! I love travel photos and these are just fantastic. My husband and I are planning on doing a road trip from BC down to San Francisco in the fall - I can't wait to see the coast highway and take some photos of my own! :)

  • Wayne Smith

    on July 31, 2012  2:28 pm

    These are lovely, Kim. I can't wait to see more (there's gotta be more, right?)

  • Jade Sheldon

    on August 1, 2012  9:54 am

    So much loveliness Kim. It makes me dream about going on a road trip of my own! I feel so blessed to live in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by all this beauty.

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  • Jasmine

    on August 6, 2012  10:27 am

    YOU ARE INSPIRING ME SO HARD RIGHT NOW. I've just gone through these twice and they make me ache to hit the road. Such freaking magic.

  • Rowan

    on August 7, 2012  9:30 am

    Kim, this post has left me awestruck. The ocean bokeh!! The worm on his shoulder!!! These are incredible.

  • cara

    on August 9, 2012  5:31 pm

    i know you must tire of me telling you how amazing you are, but these shots and the couple blog posts of late have my mind blown. this one especially: http://www.kimsmithmiller.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/portland-lifestyle-photographer-northern-california-road-trip-09.jpg

    amazing settings for sure, but you take even the most basic cliche shots and make them the best version of that cliche i've ever seen, photographically (and maybe processing-wise), like the last one of you in the mirror.

    • Kim

      on August 9, 2012  6:32 pm

      Cara, thank you so much! Your kindness means the world to me.

  • Jonathan Fleming

    on August 14, 2012  12:28 pm

    Hey, that bridge looks familiar! ;)
    Great series. Nothing ignites inspiration quite like a long road trip.

  • Bronwyn

    on December 3, 2012  11:29 am

    What amazing captures of what looks like an amazing trip! I love that shot looking down into the water. Can't beat that ~*sparkle!*~