As I discussed in a recent post, February proved to be especially challenging and emotionally draining. Last week, I had an opportunity to visit the sunny state of California for a full seven days; savoring moments basking in the sun and enjoying nature, spending quality time with friends and family, and most of all unwinding and de-stressing. A week to break away and focus on myself which proved to be much needed and successful.
The first portion of my trip consisted of a few days spent with one of my closest friends and her adorable 2-month-old baby boy. We went on a stunning nature walk on some lush trails through a preserved area near her house, had a lovely picnic at Folsom Lake, sampled a few delicious local eateries, had a girls afternoon with a mutual friend, wandered around Old Town Sacramento, and most importantly had an opportunity to catch up and just chat. A perfect way to start my trip and chill before the more active second half of my vacation, I thoroughly enjoyed relaxing, reading, baby snuggles, and great conversation.
Mid-week, I traveled south to the Bay area where my sister-in-law and nieces were waiting for some adventure and sight seeing! Our first full day was absolutely amazing. None of them had been hiking in the area between Monterey and Big Sur, so we ended up hiking a stunning loop through Point Lobos State Natural Reserve near Carmel-by-the-Sea.
There are no words to adequately express how absolutely breathtaking this stretch of coastline was. The rocky bluffs and vistas, crashing waves, ridiculously clear water, and abundance of sea life made for an experience I will never forget. Bonus, I was able to check off a bucket list item: seeing my favorite animal, sea otters, in the wild!!!!
The next day consisted of a beautiful, albeit humid, hike through Muir Woods. We explored the boardwalk area that was a tad touristy for my taste, but was home to the largest redwoods this park had to offer. We ended up taking a side trail that wound up the ridge line, a pretty but steep ascent that ended up being the wrong trail all together. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the stunning views of the Pacific that the correct trail boasted, but it was still a gorgeous, scenic hike and best of all, spent with my lovely family.
On our way into San Francisco later that day, we were surprisingly met by the towering and majestic Golden Gate Bridge. My family had only driven into San Francisco this way once, and the heavy fog hid the bridge from view. Right off the 101 was a small vista point which we stopped at, allowing us to get a number of fantastic pictures of this iconic monument. I had been to San Francisco with my family as a child, and a fleeting visual of the bridge was one of the only memories I have from that trip. It was fantastic to see this again as an adult, the image of the Golden Gate’s majesty forever ingrained.
My final day in California was spent in downtown San Francisco. We started the day taking a ferry across the bay and under the Bay Bridge. The salty air and cool breeze felt phenomenal on this record breaking hot day (84 degrees!!).
We wandered around Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, walking in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds to take in the classic San Fran tourist must sees. While it was certainly one of those things everyone should experience once, and one I will remember forever, crowds are just not my thing and I much preferred the amazing hikes we had gone on during the previous two days. After having dinner at the Boudin Bakery, we went on a steep hike up the San Francisco hills to the Masonic Theater for a concert of Walk the Moon. A perfect way to end my week-long California vacation!
It was bittersweet leaving California. I love my extended family with all my heart and had such an amazing time with them, but I was aching for some Oregon rain and the company of my husband (a week was the longest we had been apart so far, and I was missing him just a tad!). After safely landing in windy Portland after a bumpy descent, a short walk along the river followed by a cozy night in was just the ticket to cool down from my action packed week!
Now that I am getting back into a regular routine, both in my professional and personal life, I’m gearing up for the “Blogging from A to Z Challenge” in April. I did the challenge last year and it was such a great experience! I loved the “forced” routine of daily writing, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting other writers along the way, further building my little writing community. More on the Challenge in another post…
Between now and then, I look forward to more regular blogging on a variety of topics, further working on my novel, enjoying being home, and finding peace in the beauty that surrounds me daily. 🙂