Hollywood's Dirty Secret

26th June 2011
In: News
California is famous for all the wrong things.

My wife Liza takes to the celebrity lifestyle

Hollywood doesn’t glitter – the sign doesn’t even light up. Beverley Hills and Malibu are quiet and sleepy and Santa Monica’s Baywatch beach isn’t oozing with bikini clad babes. Sunset Boulevard isn’t wide and straight; it slowly snakes its way across northern Los Angeles. The Golden Gate Bridge is a VERY long walk from downtown and Yosemite Park has the biggest traffic jams (although that may have been due to Memorial Day…). Death Valley may be flat, but it’s surrounded by soaring mountains. Palm Springs has a cosy, small-town, retirement feel – and once again there are very few bikini clad babes (it’s two hours from LA and the Pacific). Even the weather’s misleading - the west coast is actually a bit chilly in May.

California is cleverly marketed as a dazzling playground of excess and desire to enhance the glamour of celebrity.

You know what, it’s actually much better than that!

Gorgeous landscapes beat tinseltown anyday.

The people of California
The people are as warm and welcoming as homemade apple pie. While strolling through Santa Monica we asked a local for directions. He didn’t know the place we wanted but he wouldn’t be defeated. He logged onto the internet through his mobile and found what we wanted and then walked several hundred metres with us to ensure we got there ok. Try getting directions like that in central London!

A little while later I drove our shiny new hire car into a jeep. The loud hip hop music and large group of menacing males lurking inside the vehicle didn’t help my heart rate. I lowered my wife’s window! “Hi maam, are you ok? Your car’s all scratched up, but we’re ok so you’re good to go”. I thought that where there’s blame there’s a claim. Even the rental company couldn’t have been more relaxed about me scraping up their brand new Volvo with 100 miles on the clock.

Even the homeless people help you park in Venice Beach.

Californians don’t deserve the ‘shallow’ tag - they’re just happy. And so they should be; it’s a stunning part of the world.

The landscape of California
America is rightly famous for its road trips. In the morning you can set off through the lofty peaks of Yosemite, swollen with snow and by dinner you’ll be surging across the searing heat of Death Valley.

The Pacific Coast Highway is a spectacular drive. It clings to the rocky coastline as the Pacific pummels the coves and cliffs below. The cities are no less enthralling. Far from being oppressive metropolises LA and San Francisco are spacious, open cities and surprisingly laid back.

The Wildlife of California
The creatures of the west coast have the personality to match their celebrated human neighbours in Hollywood. Sea otters and Pelicans are a regular sight along the Pacific Coast Highway. Humpback whales and huge dolphin pods patrol the shores and racoons and coyotes scamper across your headlights in the desert night. Even in San Francisco you can enjoy the antics of Californian sea lions sunbathing on pier 39, as you tuck into a colossal crab lunch.

Yep, it’s no surprise that California is world famous, I’m just not sure it’s for the right reasons.

My photos of California are now on my photolibrary here:

Feel free to leave comments against the photos you like / dislike and in return I'll be uploading videos to this blog to show how some of the photos were taken.

Always here to help.

Dan Waters - The World's Most Helpful Photographer

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