Tiffany Luong’s work has a soft, sunny, SoCal vibe that makes you think of road trips and laying on the beach with a boombox blasting Jack Johnson. Eric Van Eyke, the creative director at Westways Magazine, thought Tiffany’s work would pair perfectly with an article highlighting four scenic road trips.
Westways is a magazine produced by the Automobile Club of Southern California for AAA members that covers travel, food, and lifestyle. When Eric requested Tiffany’s services, he pulled images from her website that included a family venturing through the forest in a campervan, a family on vacation together, and, generally, anything of hers that had an on-the-road feel.
She was contacted on August 7 with the article scheduled to run in the Nov./Dec. issue. The images were due September 1 and would include four different trips, all approximately 1-2 hours away from her. With her family in tow (a husband, a five-year-old, and a 21-month-old) she started shooting in the third week of August, traveling through Orange County and Anza Borrego, working around the fires and COVID-19 precautions and praying for clear skies.
We’ll let Tiffany take you the rest of the way.
Drive 1: Malibu
We started our trip with reluctant little hikers but made the five-year-old happy with a small pinecone he got to hold as we climbed around to the scenic vista. If you’re planning to do the Inspiration Point hike at King Gillette Ranch, here’s some insider info: the hike is unmarked and we had to flag down a ranger to help us out because we ended up on the opposite side of the mansion. From the visitor center parking lot, walk toward the mansion. There’s a sign that says “access vehicles only” and is the most direct route to the trailhead.
We were so glad to cool off at El Matador State Beach and bask in that golden California glow. We weren’t able to access the sea caves because the tide was too high, but had fun walking along the shoreline and taking in the views.
Drive 2: Santa Barbara
Coming from Los Angeles, we started the day at La Purisima Mission, where we’d see the occasional biker, hiker, or family on a stroll. The kids enjoyed peeking into the windows of this historic mission and watching two giant pigs roll in the mud. We then headed to the most hospitable and tranquil Babcock Winery, where owner Brian Babcock walked us through the tasting room describing it as “part retail, part museum, part living organism.”
Much of what was in the boutique has been sourced by Brian’s wife, Lisa, who curated the pieces from flea markets (Brian had to drive two huge hand-shaped chairs back up from Long Beach) and estate sales all over California. Each piece of furniture had its own unique story.
We made a quick stop at Quicksilver Ranch to see the miniature horses who were out in the pasture. Then onto our favorite stop: Ostrichland!
The ostriches and emus were all too eager to peck away at our dustpans full of pellets. We stayed far too long at Ostrichland.
We ended the trip with a quick jaunt through the park across Old Mission Santa Barbara, with groups of people gathered six feet apart and enjoying the cool coastal eve.
Drive 3: Anza Borrego
It was 111 degrees the day we took this trip! We started early to catch a glorious sunrise at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and walked up to the observation bridge and down into the desert floor a little bit to learn.
We got to Ricardo Breceda’s Sea Serpent at 9 a.m. in the cool 95 degrees. My husband kept the kids in the car with the A/C blasting as I studied the 350-foot-long Serpent stretching across the road. It felt almost disrespectful to look him in the eye — and a tiny bit terrifying — but majestic, for sure.
We went on to visit others of Mr. Breceda’s prolific sculptures scattered across the desert in Borrego Springs; as we drove, we’d find more pockets of sculptures dotting the landscape.
On our way back home, we stopped at Ricardo Breceda’s headquarters to see the sculptures up close. We put in our donation for our visit, as we always like to do for folk artists, and hiked up a short hill to see more colorful metalwork, including giant Transformers.
Drive 4: Orange County
We started our afternoon at Irvine Regional Park and promised the kids two rides — they chose the Irvine Park Railroad and the ponies. The socially-distanced train ride brought us through a forested park, a lake speckled with boats for rent, and back to the train depot set up next to a Western town.
Each kid got to ride the ponies three times around the loop and, although fidgety at first, both warmed up to the gentle creatures easily. We could have spent another couple of hours exploring but had to promise our son we’d return someday for the surrey bike and pedal boat!
Being from L.A., we were fascinated during our drive through Silverado Canyon; it had the nostalgic feel of Route 66 with a western twist in the mountains. We stopped at the Silverado Canyon Market, the very embodiment of an old-timey neighborhood mart, where we were greeted by owners Deanna and Jeff. Regular shoppers on their grocery runs continued the friendly chat and told me that, ‘this place is special. There aren’t many places like this that exist anymore. This is a real country mart.’
Creative Director: Eric Van Eyke
See more of Tiffany’s work at tiffanyluong.com.
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