Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Mom came out to California to keep Gray for a weekend while I went to Vegas for my birthday. After I got back, we hit the road together to see the state of California via Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park, Napa Valley, San Francisco, and the Pacific Coast Highway. We also went a little further north to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. We started our drive north through the middle of the state up to Sequoia National Park. On the way there we passed tons of orchards with strawberries, olives, limes, lemons, oranges, and pomegranates. It was pretty neat to see all of the things that are grown in California within a fairly small area. We also enjoyed stopping to figure out what everything was along the way. 

Enjoying his new computer on the road. 
I loved Sequoia National Park. It reminded me of Muri Woods (which we would visit again later in this trip) in that it was so peaceful and serene. I would really love to go camping in this national park... These old growth forests are so amazing to walk around in for several reasons. One big one is that these trees only grow in certain places and they are HUGE. Literally the biggest trees in the world. The sheer size and age of these trees make you realize how truly small you are in the world. I can't help but see God's hand in places like this. 

Gray is in the footprint of the General Sherman tree.
This picture doesn't really do it justice, as the General Sherman is the largest tree in the world with a 25 foot diameter.  
Sequoia NP is connected to Kings Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park, so we visited all three. Yosemite has some amazing views and would also be a great place to camp or use some of the walking trails to get better views of the waterfalls, etc. We drove through basically the entire park, with plenty of stops for photos. 

Our next stop was Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. We got there just before the sun set, so we had some pretty amazing views as we drove around the lake. The lake itself if pretty big (much bigger than I thought it was) and the drive around the rim is breathtaking. I have always wanted to see Crater Lake, so this was a pretty great national park as far as I was concerned. It was so much colder up there, there was still snow on the ground from the last snowfall over 6 months before our visit. This national park gets some crazy amounts of snow every year (averaging around 500 inches each year), so I would not recommend going in the winter months! Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States (9th deepest in the world) at 1,943 feet deep. 

The view from the rim drive. 
Next stop? Napa Valley! We stopped at a winery and shared a fruit and cheese tray with a flight of sparkling wine. With Gray, many places are limited in tours or samples so we drove through for more scenery than wine tasting. 

We stopped at Muri Woods National Park before going into San Francisco. The park was a little cooler than when Josh and I visited in the summer but still as amazing. I really love all of this clover in the park! Since I already told you about many of the things we did in San Francisco a few months back, I won't do that again since I'm bound to repeat myself. 

We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and headed to the Palace of Fine Arts. I've decided that it may be my favorite spot in San Francisco. 

While in San Francisco on this trip, we drove down Lombard Street, rode a few street cars, had ice cream from Ghirardelli Square, visited Alcatraz, and saw lots of other sights and sounds of the city. 

Lombard Street. 
We actually got to ride the street cars!  
Gray loved the 'trains'! 
Ghirardelli Square. 
Mom in a cell during the tour. 
This part of Alcatraz can be seen in The Rock.
I only know that because I recently saw the movie on TV. :)

We left San Francisco and headed south toward Carmel. We decided to drive the 17-Mile Drive and see Pebble Beach. I'm not sure that I was all that impressed, especially with a $10 fee just to drive around the loop. 
Pebble Beach. 
We stopped in Big Sur at Nepenthe and had an amazing lunch with an amazing view. If you ever drive up the PCH, I recommend stopping in for a meal and the fantastic shop below. I'm sorry that Josh and I missed this place on our trip! 

We also stopped at Seal Beach near Hurst Castle. Gray needed to get out and stretch his legs, so this was a great place. It just so happened that he loved the seals anyway so that made it the perfect spot! We watched the seals for a few minutes and got back in the car. 

Our final stop for this trip was in Solvang, California. Josh and I also stopped here and Mom really wanted to see it. It's such a quaint little town and I love stopping there! We stopped in and got Gray some more Dutch chocolates and did some shopping. 

Stolling around Solvang with his duck. 
Overall, I would say this was a great trip! I loved the national parks and Mom saw a lot of things she has been wanting to see! 

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