2016-01-03 18.46.41

Beautiful – even somewhere in the middle

After spending the winter break in Michigan with my in-laws (without snow! In December! I felt kind of ripped off), the husband and I headed back home in a new-to-us car. That’s right; we DROVE from Michigan to California.

3 days, 2,363 miles and 8 states later, we made it home in one piece AND still married. It was quite the feat.

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While this wasn’t my first cross-country trip (that occurred way earlier in life when my family moved from Georgia to California), I had a lot more appreciation for the views along I-80, especially coupled with the small portion of the Oregon Trail we travelled along (why else would anyone be excited (or even know about) stopping in Laramie? Or seeing a roadside sign for Chimney Rock?

There were ‘fording the river’ jokes a plenty.

America is beautiful. From the farm lands in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska to the snowy mountains of Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Northern California, there was so much to see and enjoy; views that I normally fly over so it was a joy to be able to actually see them this time. While I took a lot of photos (follow me on Instagram to check them out at #thehalifeCATrail) there were so many more sights I didn’t capture and instead, just enjoyed in the moment.

We were blessed with clear weather after waiting out Winter Storm Goliath the entire way through, which was a major concern given the time of year. While it was interesting to sleep in a different state each night of the trip, boy are we glad to be home in our own bed without the threat of another 6-9 hour drive ahead of us.

That said, I’d totally be up for another road trip; the husband…not so much. But maybe I can start small and work things up. There’s always a mini roadtrip up (or down) the PCH!

That one time in the woods

So remember way back when when I talked about being a tourist in my own state? I finally was able to cross off one of those places!

This past August, my company held its annual retreat in Oakhurst, which is in the middle of nowhere California but also a mere hour and a half from…dun dun dun…Yosemite National Park!

The house was lovely and we had a great time (even after I abandoned the mister with my coworkers for half a day so I could play golf with a few other coworkers). But I was so excited to take a side trip to Yosemite and I was only slightly disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong; the park is absolutely gorgeous. I just couldn’t get around how beautiful everything was and I kept remarking about how I just wanted to take pictures of everything. The entire park is postcard-worthy. But you can’t live behind the view finder so I eventually packed the camera away so I could actually enjoy the park.

We walked around for a bit and then rented bikes and rode from one end of the park to the other. I made jokes about the bears, we saw a mountain lion run across our path a safe distance away from us, I marveled at how the wild squirrels were so much smaller than their Ann Arbor cousins, and I tried to lobby the mister into trusting the general public to not steal our rental bikes so we could hike towards Mirror Lake and get a peek at Half Dome. It didn’t work.

So what could possibly be so disappointing? There were no waterfalls. When we got to the park, we found a ranger who informed us that due to the dry winter, the waterfalls were not falling. And if there were any water, it would only be a trickle.

Cue sad panda.

So instead of seeing this:

Source: National Park Services

We had this:

Beautiful but still, no waterfall. Granted, Yosemite Falls is usually dry during the summer anyway, but the others were supposed to be somewhat active but were not due to the dry winter. While I did not get to see the waterfalls I always wanted to see, I’m very glad we still made the trip out to the park just for the sake of being at the park. Definitely an experience I am grateful to have had.

Besides, now I have the perfect excuse for a return trip!

WEverb11: #7 Travel


Where did you travel this year? What was your favorite part? If you didn’t get to travel, where do you want to go next year?

When I first read this prompt, I thought I would skip it, seeing how I didn’t travel anywhere. But then I realized that I did go places. While they were modest trips, they were still trips that required packing.

First, I had an overnight trip to Monterey with the bf in January. It was his first time there and I was more than happy to show him around. The weather was absolutely beautiful, sunny and in the 60s, which made for perfect walking around and sitting outside enjoying the ocean moments. My favorite part was our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is quite possibly one of my favorite places in this entire world. Since we went during the off-season, we were able to take our time and really explore the aquarium without dealing with the massive crowds that are typical during the warmer summer months. We got some face time with the sea otters, played “Is it dead or sleeping?” with the seahorses, touched the rays in the tide pool, and watched some penguins get it on. Very awkward for all involved.

In June, I roadtripped with my mom, older sister, nephew and aunt to Los Angeles to see my younger sister graduate from UCLA. The trip started out bumpy (I forgot the clothes we were going to wear to her graduation and didn’t realize until we had gotten to the airport to pick up the rental car. We debated heading to LA without them or going back home to pick them up. We went back home and added another hour to our trip) but it was a lot of fun. My favorite moment was hanging out with my older sister at the hotel lounge sipping on drinks and chatting like we were old girlfriends. Especially the part where we giggled at the couple we suspected to be swingers looking to pick up a partner.

July brought me back to the Pacific Northwest. My first trip to Seattle was a whirlwind filled with food, delicious food. This one was for a wedding, and while I had a fantastic time celebrating with the couple and being included with the family (seeing how I’ve known them since Junior High, that should be a given by now) my favorite moment came the Sunday morning following the wedding. I woke up early and decided to head out to Pike’s Market on my own to get my hands on a piroshky from Piroshky Piroshky. After munching on my potato and cheese piroshky, I settled down on a bench at the middle of a hill overlooking the market and water. It was a quiet morning and after spending my entire weekend surrounded by people, it was a joy having a moment to myself. I took my time enjoying my breakfast dessert (a cinnamon cardamon braid – yum!) and simply relished the moment.

My last trip of the year saw me flying back to Michigan to spend time with the bf. Trips to visit him are always special since they don’t happen nearly as often as we’d like. We didn’t do anything special, this time opting to hang out around town and took a side trip to Ann Arbor, but my favorite moment actually spawned from a sad one. We were discussing my job search and my subsequent frustration with it, and the questioning turned tense and I broke from the pressure I had been feeling but never spoke up until that moment. And as I cried and hiccuped my way through rambling claims of being a failure at life and how I’m not even marriage material (yeah, it was a rough moment), he held me and let me cry, listening to everything I was saying and reassuring me that I wasn’t a failure and that it would all work out. This is why I love him.

I have a list of places I want to go and hope I can cross at some of them of them off the list next year, but if I can cross off only one of them, then I hope it’s Jamaica. It’s where we plan on honeymooning.

Want to know what this #WEverb11 thing is all about? Are you interested in participating? Find out more here!

Local tourism is not an oxymoron

A lot of my friends have been able to travel as of late, from the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Europe, Japan, the Galapagos Island [I KNOW! How awesome is that?!] and reading about their adventures really, really, REALLY aggravates my travel bug. And watching trailers for Eat, Love, Pray does not help the situation.

There are so many places I want to visit in my lifetime that I have no idea where to begin really. Well, I know where to begin: get a valid passport. I know I’ve been saying that for at least two years now, but I’m really going to get a passport. Seriously. For real.

Shut up and leave me alone!

While it may be a little bit before I’m able to pack my bags and gallivant across the globe, I forget that there are a ton of different places I can travel to within the great state of California. As much as I love this state, I don’t really get out and explore it the way I should; the way tourists come to the state and wander around. I need to get in touch with my inner tourist and get out and explore.

Here are just a few of the places I’d love to visit:

1) Yosemite National Park

I live like, 4-5 hours or so away from this place and have never set foot anywhere near the park. There’s plenty to do there, from hiking [yes, I’d hike. Maybe] to horseback riding [heck yeah I’d ride a horse!], or just enjoy the beautiful sights that inspired Ansel Adams.

I would also completely splurge and book a room at the famous Ahwahnee Hotel.

2) San Diego

I have an aunt who lives in San Diego but I haven’t gone to visit her. I also have a former boss and college buddy there too and, yep, I haven’t gone to visit them either. Sensing a trend? You should. Anywho, San Diego is a beautiful city with some awesome beaches and probably one of the best zoos in the nation. Plus they have Shamu! Oh, well, maybe not anymore but they had Shamu.

I’d love to wander around the Gas Lamp District and definitely catch a game at Petco Park. Gotta knock off another MLB stadium off my list.

3) Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a small island off the coast from Long Beach. I actually had planned a mini trip with the bf to visit here a few years ago but had to abandon the plan but I am still determined to visit it sometime soon. There’s plenty to do: parasailing, snorkeling, kayaking, biking, eating and general wandering around.

It looks deliciously quaint and any town that utilizes golf carts as a method of transportation gets my attention all the way.

4) Drive the PCH

The PCH, or Pacific Coast Highway, hugs the coast of California and runs from Washington to about San Diego. Thankfully its easy to pick up along the way so I can easily start at Monterey and follow it along down to Los Angeles. There are plenty of places to stop off at along the way that are also places I’d love to visit like Carmel-by-the-Sea,
Big Sur, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve [where I can see the sea otters and sea lions], San Simeon, home of Hearst Castle, and eventually ending in Morro Bay.

And with killer postcard views like this:

Who wouldn’t want to make this drive?

Packing it all in

I’m excited for the weekend but man I still have a lot of stuff to do. Along with needed to do my hair, I still need to pack. Granted, it’ll be simple since it’s only a weekend trip but knowing me, I’ll be spending too much time contemplating what to pack. I hate trying to choose what outfit I’m going to wear ahead of time. What if I change my mind? What if I get up there and decide that I don’t want to wear that shirt anymore? It has happened more than thrice.

Or the weather changes? This is why I almost always overpack.

Ask the bf. Even when I use a small suitcase, you’d be amazed at what I manage to cram in there. Think Wakko and his bottomless bag.

Though I’m making much more out of this than necessary. So I’ll just move right along now.

The reunion planning is slowly going. There aren’t many cool places in town to hold the reunion and I do want something that looks nice and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg [goodbye, Kenyon Estate]. Of course, I need to edit down my initial vision…but I really don’t want to hold the thing at the Moose/Elk/whatever antlered animal lodge. But then, if those are the most affordable in terms of site fees, maybe we can use the extra money to splurge on food.

But we need something on the smaller side. I don’t suspect there’d be more than 100 people coming to this thing [last year’s had about 80 folks in attendance] so we don’t need some kind of large cavernous place [which is one of my hesitations with one of the proposed venues – the place fits 500 banquet style!]. I do have a price range that I want to stay within when it comes to charging folks [because these things are not free] and it’s fairly reasonable. It’s just, how do I figure out how much to budget?

The planning committee is supposed to meet next weekend so hopefully we’ll be able to formalize some of these ideas and start getting out there to actively look for venues.