Saturday, October 23, 2010

We put the fun in dys"fun"ctional at Yosemite National Park

Okay okay, the trip was absolutely amazing and we're really not that dysfunctional, but we did have a few slight hiccups along the way.  Our trip began on Friday, October 1 after Brian got off from work.  Our accommodations for the night were supposed to be in a "rough" cabin setting, so we made sure to pack the car to the brim as if we were preparing for the apocalypse...I'm pretty sure the kitchen sink was in there somewhere.  Even with all that stuff in the car, Brian and I still had plenty of room since we were riding first class in a parents lucked out and were able to get a minivan for their rental car that had a dvd player in the back which Brian thoroughly enjoyed!  Our drive was was about 3.5 hours long and about 1.5 hours of the drive was on curvy mountain roads...not really my favorite type of driving but oh well.

Everything was going just dandy until we stopped for some dinner and snacks.  Now I'm not going to mention who bought the caramel apple suckers (ahem Brian), you know the green kind covered in caramel, but it didn't take more that 5 minutes after we opened them for my mom to say "Guys, you're never going to believe this..."  In my mind I'm thinking, well this is just great, did she book the wrong night?, are we going the wrong way? blahblahblah..."my crown just fell out!"  By now she has Brian's full attention and he's asking all kinds of questions and she's asking all kinds of questions and no one has a solid answer as to how to fix the tooth.  Suddenly, a light bulb goes off in Brian's head and he remembers that some stores sell temporary bonding stuff, so we went and got some, and my mom had to put her tooth back on!

Finally, we make it to Yosemite around 11pm.  We're all getting tired and the last thing we want to do is to decipher the road signs that our GPS can't seem to get right.  Mind you, it's a National Park, so the use of street lights is very limited to try to keep the 'natural ambiance,' which I totally respect, but they could at least have drawn their maps better.  Either way, we finally find the check in place, and there, they gave us another map with our cabin circled on it.  It might as well have been directions to find a needle in a haystack, because we were convinced that our cabin didn't exist.  We parked and walked around, then parked and walked around again, then we went back to the check-in place, and finally, we parked and walked around until one of us stumbled upon our cute little cabin.  There was definitely nothing fancy about the cabin, but we weren't planning on spending much time in there anyway.  We all quickly unpacked, got ready for bed, and hit the hay.

The next morning, we all managed to get up and get ready for our adventures!  My mom had booked a tram tour through the valley of the park and we still needed to find out how to get to the departure site...we all know how following a map goes, so we tried to leave early.  As I was walking away from the cabin to go and get something out of the car, I turned around to see if Brian was behind me, only to see a HUGE granite wall, towering thousands of feet over my head.  We were right in the middle of a the Yosemite Valley and we had no idea the night before!  It was incredible!!  I just couldn't get enough!  I was taking pictures as if it was all going to disappear if I didn't hurry up!  Once everyone was ready, we headed to Yosemite Lodge to find our tram tour.

Now for anyone who goes to visit Yosemite, the tram tour is well worth your money!  They drive you around the valley, show you all the beautiful scenery that Yosemite is famous for, teach you all about the history of the park, all while you just sit there and soak in the awesomeness of this place!  The tour took about 2 hours, after which we got some lunch.  Sadly, during lunch, it started to rain.  Believe it or not, rain storms/thunderstorms are a force to be reckoned with in Yosemite since there are so many high points and tons of granite, particularly if you are a rock climber or hiker.  Therefore, we decided to hang out for a little bit to see if the storms passed.

So far, I haven't really mentioned anything about the pain my mom had been having in her lower ribcage/abdomen area.  The pain had been going on for at least a week but she just had a thorough physical so she ruled anything serious out, but it was still bothering her.  As we were sitting there waiting out the rain, she decided that she wanted to go to the urgent care clinic to see if they could tell her what's wrong.  While she and my dad went to the clinic, Brian and I put on our rain jackets and walked around the park a little bit.  We got to see some bucks in a meadow and some beautiful waterfalls!  It quickly began to get dark so we headed back to our cabin to hear the verdict on my mom's pain.  When we finally met up with them, she told us she had shingles (which quickly became her nickname for the rest of the trip!).  Shingles is supposed to be seriously painful, so we are glad she was a trooper and participated in everything!

That night, we ate a little pizza place and met up with one of Brian's co-workers and his friend.  We ate a ton of pizza and played some cards, then called it a night and crashed.  We were exhausted!  The next day, we took a climb...I mean a hike, pretty much straight up hill the entire way, to Vernal Falls.  Once we got to the falls, there were tons of stairs carved into the rock.  I get a little shaky in the knees when it comes to heights so I was a little nervous climbing up those stairs...especially since it was still raining and wet.  It was still gorgeous though and the views were pretty amazing.  The clouds were really low which made for some neat pictures!  All in all, we had a great trip to Yosemite and I am dying to go back when the snow is melting which would make the rivers more full and the waterfalls more beautiful:)

 Face of El you see the heart in it?  By the way, people rock climb up El Capitan which is over 2000 feet high (over 2 Empire State buildings).  People who were rock climbing were sooo tiny against the huge rock that you had to use binoculars to see them! 

 beautiful scenery...

 El Capitan again.

 View of the whole valley.  Our cabin was down in there somewhere.

 They are super serious about this...a bear will tear up your car if you leave food in there!

 Hiking in the rain.

 Hiking in the rain.

 Vernal doesn't look like much but after the snowmelt it's supposed to be beautiful!

 Cool clouds after the rain.

Our little cabin.

Crazy staircase.
 Buck just hanging out...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Biking the Golden Gate Bridge

I know this is the second post of the day, but being that it's our first official rainy day since we've moved here, I have nothing better to do than to blog about my super exciting crazy life that I know thousands are itching to read about.  So to continue where my parents vacation left off...

We went to the Jelly Belly factory on Wednesday, Sept. 28, and decided that we needed to work off all of those Jelly Bellies that we ate the next day by biking the Golden Gate Bridge.  Now many people have a misconception as to what it means to bike the bridge.  It's not just like you get a bike on one side of the bridge, bike across, and then turn it in on the other side.  This is a serious's 8 miles one way from Pier 39 to Sausalito and it's not a flat 8 miles by any means.  It's flat for part of the way, and then it's straight up part of the way, and then it's straight down part of the way.  Either way, we didn't really know what we were getting into when we rented our bikes.  I know, I know, I just bought a new bike but bringing my bike down to San Francisco on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit - like MARTA) was more of a hassle than it was worth.  Anyway, we rented 21 speed comfort hybrid bikes, as opposed to the triple tandem that we were thinking about, to get us from one side of the bay to the other.  The bike rental guy lied to us and said that the whole thing was easy...I beg to differ.  Our journey begins at Pier 39...we had to weave in and out of oblivious tourists for about a mile before the bike trail officially started.  Once the bike trail started, there was immediately a huge hill that caused us some problems.  I managed to make it up the hill without having to walk up but someone else decided to abandon ship early and walked the entire way up the hill...needless to say, I got a nice little breather when I made it to the top!  After a short break we continued our trek to the Golden Gate...hoping that we just conquered the only hill on our journey.

For the next 2 miles or so, the trail paralleled the beach and was really nice.  We were enjoying looking at the scenery in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area when our trip took another giant hill decided to sneak up on us.  Looking back, I should have known that these hills were there...If you look at the Golden Gate Bridge from sea level, it is soaring about your head!  That means, that where the bridge attached to the land is wayyyyyy about the ocean right?  Right!  And that means huge hills to get up there!  This time, there was no bike path to follow up the hill...instead it was just a skinny road without any shoulder or bike lane and blind curves...great.  The only good motivator behind making it up this hill was that we knew the entrance to the bridge wasn't far.  Eventually, we made it up the hill and to the bridge...a little more than half way on our 8 mile trek. 

The bridge wasn't a bad bike ride at all...aside from weaving in and out of tourists and the 100 mile per hour wind...ok not really 100mph but it was strong!  The views from the bridge were beautiful - we got lucky it was a clear day.  Once over the bridge, everything went down hill...literally.  The road that we had to take to get to Sausalito was downhill for 2 miles, which was nice, but there was no bike lane and no real shoulder.  Not to mention, the wind was crazy and I seriously almost got blown off my bike into the ditch - at least it was blowing me into the ditch and not into the cars.  Anyway, my dad and I made it down the hill into the cute little town of Sausalito.  We both stop and wait...and wait......and wait for my mom but she just wasn't coming.  Finally, she made it down!  She said she got scared and had to stop and walk because she was afraid of getting hit by a car which I don't blame her!  Either way, we made it down safe and sound.  We managed to find the ferry that would take us back to San Francisco, but not before we stopped to get something to eat at a cute little Italian restaurant.  After a long day of biking, we were on the ferry heading back to return our bikes...there was no way we were going to bike back...considering the first two miles of our trip would be uphill if we decided to go back.  All in all, we had a great time and we were exhausted!

 After the first hill, heading toward the bridge.

 Kinda foggy, still heading towards the bridge.

 Made it to the bridge.

 Slightly windy...

Jelly Belly

As many of you who have talked to me since we moved out here may know, the Jelly Belly factory is literally less than 5 miles from my house.  Now this isn't some small, rinky dink factory where they only make some of the Jelly Bellies, this is the one and only Jelly Belly factory in the world!  At least some things are still made in the U.S.!  Anyway, my parents came into town to visit on Sept. 28 and were planning on staying for about 2 weeks.  We didn't have plans for everyday that they were here, so we decided that going to the Jelly Belly factory would be a fun little excursion.  I didn't really know what to expect, but let me tell you, I loved it!  We took a free tour of the entire factory and had a great time!  Who knew so much went into making such a small little jelly bean!  After the tour of the factory, they give everyone a free bag of Jelly Bellies which I proceeded to eat immediately!  I was just glad that some of their odd flavors weren't in the free barf, babywipe, or booger.  Yuck!  I wasn't brave enough to try any of those nasty flavors either but we did buy a bag of belly flops!  Belly flops are the reject Jelly Bellies...the ones that don't look right!  There is actually a person sitting next to a conveyor belt sorting out the good jelly beans from the bad ones and the bad ones (aka the belly flops) are a lot cheaper than the normal ones, but they taste the same.  At one point on the tour, we went into this huge room where they were making tangerine flavored Jelly Bellies.  The entire room smelled like tangerines...I would hate to be in there when they were making the barf flavored one.  Nasty!  Here are some fun pictures from our little adventure...Brian didn't get to go because he was working hard but don't you worry...He'll go before we leave here!

 They made us wear these funny hats...

Mom and the Jelly Belly bug.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Labor Day in San Fran

This is kind of out of order, but I wanted to put these pictures up too!  Brian and I went to San Francisco on Labor Day after our trip to Lake Tahoe and we bought a bike for me!  Everything is so bike friendly out  here so we figured I needed to get a bike!  We bought the bike in downtown San Fran and then rode all over the city...up and down the CRAZY hills and along the coast line.  It was beautiful and we got to experience the city in a whole new way!  Not to mention, the weather was awesome!  Generally, San Francisco can be cold, year round, and cloudy...but on Labor Day it was about 75 and sunny without any fog or clouds!  Here are some of the pics...

I look like a complete dork but at least I'm a safe dork with my helmet on:)

Golden Gate in the background

Brian's Mom and Dad came to visit!

A few weeks ago, Brian's mom and dad flew out here to check out our new home!  Their trip started off a little rough, as those of you know who fly standby, by after 20 long hours of traveling they finally made it here.  Needless to say, Friday night they were pretty exhausted from the long day of traveling along with the time change, so we just hung out for a little bit and showed them the house.  Saturday, we made our way up to Napa and stopped at a few wineries.  Our favorites so far, V. Sattui and Castello di amorosa, were both pretty busy as they were preparing for their harvest parties.  Luckily, Castello di amorosa (aka Castle Winery) was able to fit us in for a tour...which was absolutely amazing!!  It is such a neat place and the tour was so informative!  The castle has something like 112, including a dungeon, chapel, and a gigantic wine cellar.  All in all, there are 8 stories of castle to explore and we got to see a lot of it!  We also learned that this was the setting for one of the dates on Jake's season of The Bachelor for those of you who watch it!  After a day of driving around Napa, we decided to go to dinner at Mustards, which was fabulous as well!  We actually saw Evan Lysacek, the figure skater and Dancing with the Stars guy, at the restaurant  which was kind of neat!  The next day was kind of cloudy and actually drizzled in the morning, so we went to church and then to brunch at the officer's club on base.  Afterwards, Bobbie and I spent the afternoon just hanging out on our back patio chatting away while the boys watched every single football game.  It was such a nice relaxing day:)  Sadly, on Monday, Bobbie and Tim had to leave to get back home.  To add to the jet lag and crazy weekend, their flight was at 7 a.m. so we had to leave the house around 4 to get them to the airport on was definitely an early morning but it all worked out in the end since they were able to get on the flight.  I know they didn't want to have to go through another crazy 20 hour traveling fiasco again!  

 Brian, his mom and his dad at V. Sattui winery

 Castle winery's cellar...each of those barrels cost $1000 and there were tons of them in there!

 Kind of dark, but Brian and his mom in the cellars

All of us at the Napa Valley sign!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Labor Day Weekend - Lake Tahoe

For Labor Day weekend, Brian and I decided to take a trip to Lake Tahoe kind of last we decided on Wednesday that we wanted to leave on Friday.  Needless to say, finding a hotel room was kind of hard, and finding a dog kennel was even to solve the problem, I found a B&B that took dogs!  We stayed at the cutest little B&B called Fireside Lodge where Vida made great friends with all the people and the dog that lives there named Kona.  At one point, we left our room door open and realized that Vida was gone.  I kind of panicked because there was a busy road near by...I frantically looked everywhere outside and finally made my way to the lodge check-in area, where I found Vida hanging out with other guests and Kona...who was super friendly and shared all her toys with Vida.  

Enough about dogs, our trip was super fun and the scenery was beautiful!!  Lake Tahoe is beautiful and I can't wait to go back in the winter and ski!  We hiked around and saw some awesome waterfalls and lakes up in the mountains...not to mention the weather was a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!  After a few days in South Lake Tahoe, we drove up to North Lake Tahoe and went to NorthStar Ski Resort and took the gondola up to the top of the mountain and hiked around.  Get this...they let Vida on the gondola too!  She was soo good and just jumped right on!  

Our cute little room in the Fireside Lodge 

 Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe

 Snow patches on the top of the mountain

Brian and Vida on the gondola