Friday, January 24, 2014

Route 1 (aka... Pacific Coast Highway... or maybe also called one of the most beautiful places on the earth!)

The night before I had driven from the airport to Stanford (beautiful campus) and then to Santa Cruz where I spent the night. Then, in the morning I drove down to Monterey and started my drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. Yet again, a GORGEOUS day!

I started at 17 mile drive, which is also known as Pebble Beach. Wow. Wow. People actually live in there. I could handle that! I would stop at basically every turnoff and just get out and take pictures. So pretty!
These aren't all in order of how I took them, but it gives the gist.
 One gorgeous view after another!
I went from 17 mile drive to Carmel-by-the-Sea and walked around the cute, historic town. Definitely a beach town, but the shops were fun to browse.

Form there I drove down an area called "The Big Sur". Not sure exactly where it starts or where it specifically ends. But, there some really pretty places to stop and take pictures. One place had a little hike you could take to see a view. There were tiny, tiny towns to stop (literally just one of two buildings and places to camp). Mostly you just followed the winding road!

The two below are some of my favorites. 
The bright colors were captured so well!

One of my favorite sounds is hearing the waves crash against the shore and I definitely got to hear plenty of that on my trip!
The one below was a picture from one of the "short hikes" I went on from the road. The waterfall made it worth it!
It was a fantastic drive and I would recommend it to anyone. It would be a romantic drive too... if you could do it with someone special. :) A great way to end my trip and left me with a strong desire to return soon!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

And another BEAUTIFUL day :)

SF was so wonderful!!! And, the fun just continued :)

Saturday we had a slow morning since we were out late on Friday at the game. We walked up to see the view from our roof. Pretty nice! So many places have these rooftop views from SF. It's so hilly that almost everyone has a view in one direction or another.
We headed downtown to walk the Piers. There were lots of fun places to stop and look around. One of them was Pier 39, I believe, where we saw the Sea Lions. If I remember correctly, they all just started to appear after the earthquake in October 1989 and haven't really left! The Bay provides plenty of food and is a protected area, so they are quite happy to stay. They started with around 300 sea lions, but grew to an all-time high of 1701 in 2009. Some do migrate, but most stay there. AND, they are SUPER loud. Crazy loud. Barking at each other and protecting their spots on the K-Docks they live on.
They were SO loud!
It was fun to watch them "fight" each other!
We did a lot of walking around. We went to this arcade where they had vintage arcade games and had fun playing! We also went to Boudin Bread Factory and watched them make HUGE batches of bread! We even got to taste some too and tour the little museum they had on the history of sourdough.
They had this class earlier in the morning where people had made unique creations with the dough. Pretty awesome! Not sure what this one is supposed to be, but it was really cute!
We walked over to Giardhelli Square and were SO sad to find out they didn't have a factory you could tour. We then did MORE walking UP and Down streets to get back to where we boarded the boat for our evening tour of Alcatraz. On the way back we made our way to the famous "Crooked Street". So many tourists and so many cars. I couldn't believe people actually lived on the street. I would HATE to have to wait in a traffic line to access my street!
A view from the top... and then from the bottom
Becca and the boys being silly... but some of the streets were really super steep you truly could fall over if you didn't watch yourself.
I love their smiles
We made our way to the boat that would take us to Alcatraz. 
It was a beautiful sunset!

Once there we were given a short lecture/explanation of its history, etc. Then we had an audio tour of it. WOWZERS. Truly an experience in the dark and they do a fantastic job! I would HATE to be on that island by myself at night! But, I found it really interesting that many family members of the guards actually LIVED on the island as well! They had their own community there! It wasn't that big of an island... and I don't know how I would feel being SO secluded from the main land and being stuck there with some of our nations WORST and most deadly criminals!
This is the view from the prison to SF
and below is the main entrance. 
Eek... even touring a prison is enough to have me have NO desire to EVER commit a crime that would possibly get me to spend even a night in such a place!

The next morning we had most of the day before I had to drop them off at the airport, so we went back to Golden Gate Park and let the boys go to the actual "park" in the park! I saw the sign below and understand why its there (no child predators, etc) but I also thought it was kind of funny! What if I was a child at heart and just wanted to swing! But, how sad that out country has to post things like this and the innocence of just playing and having fun is gone.
After the park we walked over to this arboretum and I was LOVING it because outside there were beautiful palm trees.... something I rarely get to see. Picture time for sure!
Jace and I loved watching the fish swim in the pond inside.
I LOVE palm trees :)
And this was one of the many pretty flowers we saw inside. 
It was so peaceful!
We then headed back over to the Piers to find a place to get a late lunch. We ended up eating at this fantastic Thai/Asian cuisine place and walked around a bit more before heading to the airport. It was SO sad for me to say goodbye to them. I had such a great time and it was just one more reminder for me... or two really... I need to move closer to family... and I need to get married so I don't have to do everything ALONE. :( 

BUT, I was so grateful for the time I had with them and it just makes me look forward to our next time together!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Friday - GAME day!

So, one of the major reasons why we chose to meet up in SF was because BYU was playing in a bowl game at AT&T park! We didn't even know who they were playing when we got the tickets. We just wanted to go to the game!

The game was in the evening, so in the morning we went to the Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate park! If you've never been to SF before, or this park, it's truly hard to imagine the size. Actually - it is 20% LARGER than central park in NYC! It's HUGE, but it is awesome. And, right in the heart of SF. So, we went to one area of the park that has this garden and two museums (a science and an art museum). We took a walking tour of the tea gardens, but the boys got bored (understandably so as it was geared towards adults). But, we did get some cool pictures there.
It was really pretty and peaceful

After leaving the tea garden, we walked over to the art museum. They had some great pieces of art and I enjoyed walking around. This one truly caught my eye as I love George Washington and this was ALL made out of bills! Pretty cool!
I also loved the number of people we saw walking around wearing some sort of BYU apparel. Made us very excited for the game later that evening!

Like I had mentioned, our apartment had a piano in and Riley played a bit for us! 
He's getting pretty good!
We all took a nap before the game. I usually can never sleep in the daytime, but I was OUT for more than an hour. My body needed it!

We were only about a 25 minute walk from the stadium, but were happy that the train was a few blocks from our apartment and took it in to the city. It was a double decker train. First time I had ever been on something like that! We noticed the sea of BYU clothing on the train. Kind of cool!
BYU v. Univ of Washington
Game TIME!
It was a baseball park converted in to a football field. Kind of interesting! We got there early so we got to see both bands perform/warm up on the field. We also HAD amazing seats! 3 in the 2nd row and 2 in the 11th row. The 11th row was actually a bit better because they weren't blocked by all the people on the teams lining the sides. But, still great seats!
Another one of my FAVORITE pictures. 
My fabulous sister-in-law and I!
Becca & Riley
Rise & Shout the Cougars are OUT!
I thought this was hilarious. Given BYU was playing... and most fans are probably Mormon, alcohol was not going to be a big seller at the game. Hot chocolate was a MUCH better choice!
Somewhere in the 3rd quarter Cosmo came our direction! 
We made sure to get pictures!!
I LOVE this picture!
BYU ended up loosing, but I was OK with that. I had so much fun being there, cheering them on, reliving my days as a student watching BYU play and spending time with Justin, Becca, Riley and Jace. It was fantastic!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Off to SF!

On Christmas day, I woke up in my own apartment and had a nice relaxing morning going through holiday cards and opening some more gifts from family and friends. I also packed because in the late afternoon I boarded a flight to San Fransisco!! By the way - I flew Virgin Airways and if I EVER get the chance to fly them again, I will in a heartbeat. Such a GREAT airline!

I arrived in SF late at night (esp since I was on East Coast time). I went to get our rental car, navigated my way to the apartment we were renting, and then drove around for a bit more before going back to pick up Justin, Becca and the boys from the airport! A happy reunion, but it was like 1 AM for me, so I was exhausted! We drove back to the apartment and I crashed!

I wanted to do my best to stay on East Coast time as much as possible, so I would try and wake myself up around 5 AM (which was 8 AM east coast time). I just didn't want to have major jet lag when I got back because I know I'd have early mornings with work. So, I usually had time to read/exercise before Justin and family were up. It was nice!

Our apartment was really nice. It felt very homey and comfortable. We had two bedrooms/two bathrooms and it also had a balcony up top where we could go too!

Thursday we decided to see the Golden Gate Bridge and then head north to Muir Woods... and then see where the road took us :) It was a BEAUTIFUL day every day we were there. Never about 65 or so. It did get a bit chilly at night, but better than cold, cold CO and DC!

Golden Gate park was really nice. We enjoyed walking around and snapping some pictures.  It was right on the water and the views were so pretty!
This is the view from the bridge to Alcatraz
The boys climbing one of the rocks in the park by the bridge
Then we drove across the famous bridge and headed up to Muir Woods. They said parking was crazy up there so we parked a few miles away and took a shuttle. Wow - I don't get motion sick, but even I was a bit queasy after getting off the bus. It was a lot of switchbacks. Sadly, my nephew does get really motion sick, so this was not fun for him at all. It was a pretty drive though!

Muir Woods was INCREDIBLE!! It was prob a 3 mile loop we walked and it just got better and better. It was incredible how big the Redwood trees were! I love this picture because it makes me look really skinny and tiny compared to the big redwoods!
The sun shining through the trees was awesome. It reminded me a lot of the Sacred Grove... the times I've walked through there and it's been so peaceful and then you see these streaks of light shine through from above. LOVE it!

One of my favorite pictures from the trip. 
Me & Justin. 
Such a great brother!
And, I am lucky to have two cute nephews... one pictured below :)
We were so hungry after our time in the woods! But, we had trouble locating anything on YELP that wasn't back over the bridge in San Fran! Luckily, Justin found this GEM of a place in one of the tiny towns. It really was kind of hidden! Fred's Place. A local diner only open for breakfast and lunch. We got there at 2 PM and I think it closed at 2:30, but we didn't realize that until we were getting ready to leave at close to 3 PM. YUMMY food. And they have THE best sweet potato fries. I was in heaven!!
After lunch, we crossed over the bridge and headed to the ocean/beach. The boys loved playing in the sand. I, however, laid down on this ledge/rock thing and just took the best nap in the sun. So great!
I was exhausted when we went home. I was SUPER happy to volunteer to watch Riley and Jace and let Becca/Justin go out for dinner. It was a great day!!!