It’s called vacation. Jamie and I try to head somewhere fun, and exciting once or twice a year. This trip, we had free southwest tickets that needed to be used up this Spring, and we wanted to go as far as we could on those tickets. We chose California, and decided to start in San Diego, make our way North to Yosemite (where I grew up) and then end back in San Diego. A lot of driving, but we were up for it, and wanted to see as much as possible in our 8 days of vacation.
When we arrived in San Diego (late at night), we immediately drove north, halfway to Yosemite and spent the night. I think by the time we fell into bed, exhausted, it was 6am NC time! After sleeping in a little, we hit the road and headed towards Yosemite. Once we hit Fresno, familiar landmarks started to slip by. Growing up, we drove the road from home (Sugar Pine) to Fresno and back on a regular basis. I memorized almost every part of that drive, and whenever I drive it, happy childhood memories come spilling into my mind…it was a fun drive, and telling Jamie all about it made it even more fun.
The drive into Yosemite turned out to be a little on the soggy side. It was definitely a dreary day, once we reached the first overlook of the valley. I was so bummed! You want your vacation to be perfect, sunny skies and perfect conditions for exploring and capturing one of your favorite locations on earth. Ahh….when life gives you rain, just splash in the puddles. It all turned out well in the end though, because once we got settled into our tent cabin (crazy experience!) we drove around a little to explore. The rain had stopped, and a velvety, thick fog had rolled in, obstructing most views…except the ones I captured below. What a welcome to Yosemite, and great start to our vacation.
After our first night in Curry Village, we sat eating breakfast at the lodge and I moaned about the rain. It had poured all night long, and while the rain sounded lovely in our canvas tent (we stayed dry!) it was making everything outside soggy. Jamie, ever my personal optimist, saw the sunshine behind the clouds and insisted we make the most of the day. So, we decided to hike up the Yosemite Falls Trail, until we reached a great view of the valley. By the time we started our trip, it was sunny and gorgeous out! To my embarrassment, I packed my hiking pack with two camera bodies, all of my lenses, snacks, first aid kit, and one nalgene bottle of water…and Jamie carried that heavy pack all day long. I felt terrible! Especially since we decided to continue the trek up to the very top of Yosemite Falls, and not just the original plan. Not smart to have a very heavy pack, and only one bottle of water. But it was the best hike!
I leaned out as far over the edge as I dared to snap this photo (below). That water rushes over the top of the falls at an incredible speed and thunders to the bottom of the top falls, then crashes over the second falls before it makes its way into the merced river. The little ledge (bottom right of the photo), required more nerve than I had to hike down there for another view. A tiny little foot ledge with one railing anchored to the rocks, nothing in between you and falling from a great height. Yeah, no thanks, I liked the view I had ;)
After 4.5 hours of hiking, up 3 1/2 miles steep, snowy and treacherous trails, we were pretty proud of ourselves for making it to the top! There were several points that I was ready to turn back, but Jamie kept insisting that we could make it a little further. I am so glad he did. I would have regretted giving up and not making it all the way to the top. We had some great views! But quickly had to start our descent. It was 3:30pm when we left the top, and we knew we had a good 2 hour hike down ahead of us. And, no water left in the Nalgene…
The view of Half Dome on our descent was incredible, the sun was hitting it just right and we even had a rainbow coming off of the waterfall! Our hike down took 1.5 hours, and we were booking it. No way did we want to be stuck trying to find our way down in the dark. We each took a nasty fall on our way down, but thankfully no damage done but a few bruises that showed up later.
We ended our great hike in a heap of exhaustion in our rental car, drinking all of the bottled water we could find! We decided to make reservations at the Ahwahnee hotel for dinner, so we had a quick change to look presentable and up to their dress code. Hard to do when you have to walk 200 yards to the bathroom, and another 400 yards to a separate shower house. Oh the joys of camping! We clean up very well though, and made a smashing couple as we dined at the Ahwahnee. Such fun memories.
On our last morning in Yosemite, it was a beautiful, clear day to start off. But by the time my Mom (who flew in to visit my aunt for a few days!) and Aunt Lori drove into the Valley, we were back to a drizzly, rainy day. I was glad we got up early to take pictures that morning…otherwise it would have been a dreary way to end our stay in Yosemite.
For Easter weekend, we spent it with family in Fresno and also family in Kings Canyon. It was so good to catch up with Aunts, Uncles and cousins that I had not seen in years. Jamie had not met most of them either, so it was fun to introduce him to everyone. I did little photo sessions for my cousins…but those pictures will come at a later date.
We were happy to make it to the coast, it was fairly warm, and very sunny! We stopped to stay with friends in Oceanside, it was great to catch up and I did a little maternity session for them as they are expecting their first baby the end of July.
Jamie and I enjoyed wandering down Highway 1, taking in the sights and enjoying the West Coast. It is so vastly different from the NC beaches, and I have missed the coastline of California. I have great memories of camping at the beach growing up, tenting it, in our 5th wheel…getting lost on the sand dunes with my siblings. I could watch the crashing waves all day, and stare at the blue depths from dawn until dusk every day, it is mesmerizing.
We found the “Children’s Pool” in La Jolla, only there were no children swimming, just seals. Apparently it is a highly controversial subject, and since you need to stay a good distance away from the seals, there are no children swimming in the “children’s pool”. So the seals have taken over, and the tourists flock in to watch. They are rather entertaining, the seals that is. They make silly faces, and they look like they are smiling when sleeping!
We enjoyed relaxing at Point Loma on our second to last day in San Diego. Again, the whole waves crashing, never ending depth of blue…we just didn’t want to leave! It felt good to do nothing but lay in the sun and enjoy the flocks of Pelican flying overhead. Jamie captured the picture of them in formation (below). Our sunburned faces, and legs told us the next day, that we had definitely had a good sunny San Diego day.
After dinner with good friends, overlooking the skyline of San Diego, they took us out to Coronado Island for a walk through of the Hotel Del Mar. It was fun to see the sun set there, and the festivities taking place at the hotel. What a perfect way to end our vacation.
One last parting shot…the hazy coastline on Point Loma.
To all of our family and friends who made this trip so memorable (Aunt Lori, my Mom who flew in, Brandon, Keisha, Kaydence, Nathan, Aiden, Uncle Joe, Tina, Aunt Wendy, Chuck, Brack, Kristen, Maddie, Breann, Kris, Emry, Ashley, Uncle Tony, Vernonica & Joel (and family!) Tonya, the Pellascio’s, Brandon, Jordan & Rebecca, Jeff & Gabrielle) thank you so much! It was great to visit with you and catch up on your lives. Hope to see you all again soon!