Saturday, March 26, 2022

Location of Windows XP "Bliss" & Napa Valley, CA

On 16 January 2022, my parents and I took a trip into California wine country, Napa County, also know as the Napa Valley wine region. We visited Sonoma, Rutherford, Oakville, and Napa. I took photos with my mirrorless camera. I hope you enjoy viewing my photos.

Full Resolution Photos: If you want to see full resolution photos of any of the photos you see here, use the following links. If you wish to purchase prints of any of the photos, please contact me here. To view my best Napa Valley photos, use this link. To see all of my photos from this trip, use this link.

My first stop was on the side of Fremont Drive in Sonoma, CA. I ended up photographing this vineyard on the side of the busy country road. The approximate GPS coordinates (type into Google) of the photos are 38° 14' 58 N, 122° 24' 36" W. You might be wondering what is so special about this location? If you read the title of the blog post, or if you typed the coordinates into Google Maps, you might already know. If you haven't, let me tell you and give you a short history lesson!

A scenery photo of a vineyard shot on the side of Fremont Drive in Sonoma, CA. The photo was shot close to the location of the world famous default Windows XP wallpaper "Bliss".

Remember the default wallpaper "Bliss" that came with Windows XP back in the day? The location I stopped at was close to the same spot Charles O'Rear was when he took his photo back in January 1996. The rights to the photo, "Bucolic Green Hills" taken by Charles O'Rear in 1996, was bought by Microsoft in 2000 which was when Microsoft renamed the image "Bliss". The exact amount Microsoft paid Charles O'Rear for the exclusive rights to the photo was never disclosed due to a non-disclosure agreement between the 2 parties. A clue of the value comes from the fact that none of the US couriers and delivery services were willing to ship the original film to Microsoft in Seattle from Napa Valley, CA as none of them can insure the shipment for such high amounts. In the end Microsoft bought Charles O'Rear a plane ticket to Seattle so he can make the delivery in person. 

A scenery photo of a vineyard shot on the side of Fremont Drive in Sonoma, CA. The photo was shot close to the location of the world famous default Windows XP wallpaper "Bliss".

A scenery photo of a vineyard shot on the side of Fremont Drive in Sonoma, CA. The photo was shot close to the location of the world famous default Windows XP wallpaper "Bliss".

You can see a vineyard in my photos while "Bliss" didn't have them. I'm pretty sure you all remember "Bliss" being a photo of a green grass covered hill, a blue sky, and some white clouds floating around in the sky. So why is that? A few years earlier before Charles O'Rear took the photo, a phylloxera infestation wiped out the crop so all the crop was pulled out leaving behind an empty hill. Winter rains leading up to when "Bliss" was taken left the area especially green as plants were growing. Charles O'Rear was driving from St. Helena, CA to San Francisco to visit his girlfriend. He said he was on high alert for photo opportunities that day since a storm just passed. Charles O'Rear was quoted to have said, "I didn't "create" this. I just happened to be there at the right moment and documented it." The reason you see a vineyard in my photo is because at some point the vineyard owner started growing grapes again.

I think this is enough history for my blog post. 😁 My blog is so you can view my photos, I am a photographer, not a historian. If you want to get more information and read about the history of the world famous Windows XP wallpaper, "Bliss", you can read this Wikipedia article here. If you want to travel to this spot to take photos yourself, keep reading, I have some tips for you.


A scenery photo of a vineyard shot on the side of Fremont Drive in Sonoma, CA. The photo was shot close to the location of the world famous default Windows XP wallpaper "Bliss".

Please note that there is nowhere to park on the side of Fremont Drive near this location. The location isn't even labeled and there are no signs anywhere pointing to this spot. The closest parking my parents and I found was on Ramal Road which is a short distance away from the photo location. Ramal Road is a country road that intersects Fremont Drive, and once you're on Ramal Road you can just pull off to side. There is plenty of room to park a car on the sides of Ramal Road, but not on Fremont Drive near the photo location. Please note that you will be walking a short distance on the side of Fremont Drive, which is a busy road. There is quite some room on the side of Fremont Drive for a pedestrian, but you will be faced with uneven ground and weeds. The approximate GPS coordinates (type into Google) where I took my photos is at 38° 14' 58 N, 122° 24' 36" W. The approximate GPS coordinates (type into Google) where my parents and I parked is at 38° 14' 47 N, 122° 24' 45" W. 

A scenery photo of a vineyard shot on the side of Fremont Drive in Sonoma, CA. The photo was shot close to the location of the world famous default Windows XP wallpaper "Bliss".

I think most of the drivers on the road was wondering what this crazy girl is doing carrying a tripod, camera, and a camera backpack down the side of a busy country road. 😂 Some cars even honked at me. I think most people drive by this location without realizing the historical significance of the spot. There are no signs pointing to this location, and to many people it probably just looks like another unassuming and unremarkable vineyard in the middle of California's wine country. Maybe the only people that take photos at this spot these days are computer geeks like me.

A scenery photo of a vineyard shot on the side of Fremont Drive in Sonoma, CA. The photo was shot close to the location of the world famous default Windows XP wallpaper "Bliss".


After I was done photographing "the famous vineyard", my parents and I went further into Napa Valley to do some sightseeing.

A photo of a historic railroad car near State Route 128 shot in Rutherford, CA. 
Approximate GPS location (type into Google): 38° 27' 35" N 122° 25' 27" W

It seems to be a historic railroad car that used to operate as a United States Mail Railway Post Office car. I think it was owned by the American Railway Express, and then purchased by Napa Valley Railroad. I tried to find more history on this historic railroad car, but I was not able to find much information except for this. I do not fully understand the history behind it so I can't write much more than this. Also the information I have provided may not be accurate as I don't fully understand the history.

Black and white process of the photo above.

A scenery photo of wild mustard flowers and a vineyard. The photo was shot near State Route 29 in Oakville, CA.
Approximate GPS location (type into Google): 38° 26' 03" N 122° 24' 00" W


Our last stop of the day was Downtown Napa.

A dusk scenery photo shot at China Point Park in Napa, CA.
In the photo are Downtown Napa, Napa River, and 3rd Street (bridge).
Approximate GPS location (type into Google): 38° 17' 59" N 122° 17' 01" W

Black and white process of the photo above.

A dusk scenery photo shot on 1st Street in Napa, CA.
In the photo are Napa River (in the foreground flowing into the distance), Historical Borreo Building (left), 3rd Street (bridge in center), and Downtown Napa (right).
Approximate GPS location (type into Google): 38° 17' 59" N 122° 17' 04" W

Black and white process of the photo above.

This is all the photos for today. I hope you have enjoyed the photos! Please don't forget to share the blog post with your friends and family members! Also, if you want to get notifications when I post up more photos, "Like" us on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Instagram. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Calla Lily Valley & Garrapata Beach (Cellphone Photos) - Monterey County, CA

Yesterday, on 11 March 2022, my parents and I took a trip to Calla Lily Valley in Garrapata State Park in Monterey County, CA. I took 8 photos with my cellphone while I was there. I hope you enjoy viewing my photos! 

A scenery photo of Calla Lily Valley. In the foreground are calla lily flowers and in the background is the Pacific Ocean.

A close up photo of calla lily flowers shot at Calla Lily Valley.

A scenery photo of calla lily flowers at Calla Lily Valley.

A scenery photo of Calla Lily Valley. In the foreground are calla lily flowers and in the background is the Pacific Ocean.


A scenery photo of Garrapata Beach shot near Calla Lily Valley. At the bottom of the photo, you can see Doud Creek, which is the creek that flows out of Calla Lily Valley.

A scenery photo from Garrapata State Park shot near Calla Lily Valley. The valley you see in the middle of the photo is Calla Lily Valley. The flowers are mostly hidden from view in this photo. If you look very closely, you might see some white flowers below the center of the photo. Those are the calla lily flowers.

A sunset scenery photo from Garrapata Beach.

A sunset scenery photo of Calla Lily Valley. The white flowers in the distance are calla lily flowers.

Travel Tips: If you want to visit the area, the GPS coordinates are at 36° 25' 19" N, 121° 54' 47" W. The valley isn't far from State Route 1 (you park on the side of the highway). You have to walk around 10 minutes tops. The trail down is relatively easy, my dad managed on crutches (he accidentally injured himself a few weeks back), and I navigated it just fine with my partial blindness due to visual snow syndrome (there were a few things I weren't able to do due to the vision loss). The trail to the valley can be a bit narrow at times, and it is a little bit muddy around the calla lily flowers (the flowers are fed by a creek). The trail is definitely not wheelchair accessible due to stairs and how narrow some sections are. My parents and I went on a Friday, and there were a lot of people. If you go on the weekends, it will be crowded. The area where you park is not going to be too safe. My parents and I saw shattered glass on the side of the road, so burglars are definitely breaking into parked vehicles.

This is all the photos for today. I hope you have enjoyed the photos! Please don't forget to share the blog post with your friends and family members! Also, if you want to get notifications when I post up more photos, "Like" us on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Instagram. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Point Reyes National Seashore & Shipwreck - California

On 31 December 2021, my parents and I visited the Point Reyes Shipwreck in Inverness, CA and the Point Reyes VORTAC transmitter on top of Mt. Vision in Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, CA. I took photos with my mirrorless camera. I hope you enjoy viewing my photos.

Full Resolution Photos: If you want to see full resolution photos of any of the photos you see here, use the following links. If you wish to purchase prints of any of the photos, please contact me here. To view my best Point Reyes National Seashore photos, use this link. To see all of my photos from this trip, use this link.

The first stop of my trip is the Point Reyes Shipwreck in Inverness, CA. The approximate GPS coordinates (type into Google) of the photos are 38° 05' 52" N, 122° 51' 03" W. I went to check on the shipwreck as I haven't seen it in almost 6 years. You can see my photos from 2016 here.

A close up photo of the Point Reyes Shipwreck. Photo from Inverness, CA.

Black and white process of the photo above.

A close up photo of the Point Reyes Shipwreck. Photo from Inverness, CA.

Black and white process of the photo above.

A close up photo of the Point Reyes Shipwreck. Photo from Inverness, CA.

Black and white process of the photo above.


A scenery photo of the Point Reyes Shipwreck and Tomales Bay. Photo from Inverness, CA.

Black and white process of the photo above.

A scenery photo of the Point Reyes Shipwreck and Tomales Bay. Photo from Inverness, CA.

Black and white process of the photo above.

A scenery photo of the Point Reyes Shipwreck and Tomales Bay. Photo from Inverness, CA.


My next stop was the top of Mt. Vision in Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, CA. I am a bit of an aviation enthusiast so I wanted to see the VOR antennas on top of the mountain. The next 2 photos are of the Point Reyes VORTAC PYE 113.7 Transmitter. You can see the antennas from Bucklin Trail. Please note that you can not enter the facility as this is an active air traffic control facility used in aviation. The approximate GPS coordinates (type into Google) of the photos are 38° 04' 49" N, 122° 52' 05" W.

A scenery photo of the Point Reyes VORTAC PYE 113.7 Transmitter antennas on top of Mt. Vision. Photo from Bucklin Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, CA.

A scenery photo of the Point Reyes VORTAC PYE 113.7 Transmitter antennas on top of Mt. Vision shot on Bucklin TrailPhoto from Bucklin Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, CA.

After I was done looking at the VOR antennas, I decided to walk along Bucklin Trail for a tiny bit and get some photos of the scenery from Mt. Vision.

A scenery photo of Drakes Estero & Drakes Bay (in the distance in the center). Photo from Bucklin Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, CA.
Approximate GPS location (type into Google): 38° 04' 42" N 122° 52' 13" W

A scenery photo of Drakes Estero & Drakes Bay (in the distance on the right). Photo from Bucklin Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, CA.
Approximate GPS location (type into Google): 38° 04' 45" N 122° 52' 07" W

A scenery photo from Bucklin Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, CA.
Photo shot near the same position as above.

This is all the photos for today. I hope you have enjoyed the photos! Please don't forget to share the blog post with your friends and family members! Also, if you want to get notifications when I post up more photos, "Like" us on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Instagram. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Round Valley Regional Preserve & Los Vaqueros Reservoir (Cellphone Photos)

Yesterday, on 2 March 2022, my mom and I took a walk and hike in Round Valley Regional Preserve in Brentwood, CA and Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County, CA. I took 4 photos with my cellphone while I was there. I hope you enjoy viewing my photos! Surprising story at the end, so make sure you keep reading until the very last photo.

A scenery photo from Miwok Trail in Round Valley Regional Preserve in Brentwood, CA.

A scenery photo from Miwok Trail in Round Valley Regional Preserve in Brentwood, CA. In the distance is Los Vaqueros Reservoir.


A scenery photo from Adobe Trail in Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County, CA.

A scenery photo from Adobe Trail in Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County, CA. The photo was shot near the intersection of Adobe Trail and Oak Savannah Trail. In the photo are cows and Los Vaqueros Reservoir (in the distance).

You are probably wondering where is the surprising story? See those cows in the last photo I took? My mom and I were quite some distance away from them, and we've been hiking for many years now. We are usually very careful around cows, keeping our distance, checking for calves, and talking and making noise so they know we are there. We usually wait a while for them to clear the trail, and if they don't, we'll keep our distance by walking around them. We are always on guard because we're scared the cows might charge at us. We didn't do anything to aggravate the cows, we waited for them to clear the trail, but they made us U-turn on Adobe Trail by aggressively chasing us for around a third of a mile. The entire herd of cows closed in on us from 3 sides and began chasing us. They were clearly not happy people were there. Out of the years we've hiked, this was the first time we've been aggressively attacked by a herd of cows.

This is all the photos for today. I hope you have enjoyed the photos! Please don't forget to share the blog post with your friends and family members! Also, if you want to get notifications when I post up more photos, "Like" us on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Instagram. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.