Saturday, July 14, 2012

Summer Adventures Part 1

Well, I meant to post all the pictures from our traveling up north this summer as we went along... clearly that didn't happen, as I'm now sitting back home in Cali. As a result, I will be posting a few of my favorite pictures from our drive up the coast to begin, and in the next couple weeks, update with pics from our time in Redmond with my mom and dad, and from our time in Bellingham with Curt's family! :) All in all, we've had a wonderful summer filled with travels and time sooo well spent with family. Thankfully we still have a few weeks left before school starts - but it'll go by fast! At any rate, here's a look at our trip up the California coast in mid-June:
The scenery on the drive up Hwy. 1 was AMAZING. The constant hair-pin turns and narrow roads with steep drop offs that take FOREVER to get anywhere? Let's put it this way, we would never drive the entire California coastline again. Gorgeous, none-the-less, and glad we did it.
Ella loved, I mean LOVED the beach.
Family beach shot :)
These Elephant Seals were hideous. Seriously ugly (sorry guys!) and did not smell great either. My face pretty much sums up my feelings towards them below:
We had lunch in Carmel our second day on the road at this delicious cafe - and the gardens around the place were beautiful! This flower, as you can see, was HUGE! Very cool.
Can you see it?
So we accidentally drove past our campsite on day 2 - or evening 2 I should say - (in our defense, between 3 maps and our GPS, the campground existed in 4, that's right, 4 different spots), and ended up at this cute motel right on the ocean. Not a bad view to wake up to! And I did enjoy having access to a hot shower.
Checking out a beach area - any time the window came down even a crack, Ella would leap over us to stick whatever she could fit of herself out of it. What is it with dogs and hanging out car windows do you suppose? Sights and smells I guess. :)
The Golden Gate Bridge
A beautiful sunset as we were driving - the sky seemed painted! (thank you Lord! :) Love.
Our last night on the road was spent at a campground in the Redwood National Forest right on the beach. We had to drive a curvy, narrow, 6 mile dirt road down through the trees to get to the camp site - which was amazing and made  it really peaceful as the access was tricky. The sunset that night was incredible too! Especially since the sky was totally gray until the sun broke through a strip of blue at the horizon line.
Because the campgrounds were so secluded, there was no one on the beach - so Ella got to explore and run around without the dreaded leash! (which she STILL hates with a passion, by the way). We've never seen anything quite as funny as Ella running around like a crazy person, digging in the sand, trying to eat shells and seaweed, all the while getting soaking wet and completely sandy! She was super cute :) Can you tell we are dog "parents"? haha.
These Elk walked right through our beach campground - they were impressive with those racks of antlers! Sheesh! And no fear of humans, that's for sure. Ella, on the other hand, wasn't too sure about them. 
Checking out some of the old growth Redwood Trees. They were ENORMOUS!! Seriously spectacular.
Clearly not getting his arms around the thing! haha.
Pretty large tree huh? ;)
And like a bunch of other poor saps, we too paid $5 to drive through the "famous" Chandelier Tree... and we would be darned if we didn't get our money's worth! (see below): 
I don't know, worth $5? I'm still leaning towards no. But they take you down a narrow road before the pay station, and then you feel like an idiot if you don't go through with it after the drive in! They've got a great gig going, that's for sure.
More updates to come! :) 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer Begins! Minnesota and Other Fun Happenings...

Well, Curt and I are officially on break! Yay! :) Curt finished up school the Friday before Memorial Day, and I finished up the 31st. Starting the summer off with a bang, I flew out to Minnesota for my cousin Rosina's high school graduation (I am freaking old). It was so wonderful to see my family back there and spend some quality time on the farm. Minnesota has always felt like home - thanks to all those cherished summers my sister and I enjoyed venturing cross-country with my mom in the van. (The van is still around, by the way, and trucking along! I actually took several rides in it this past week as it now helps out on my aunt and uncle's farm). I even got in on a thunderstorm - which I LOVE. They are not the same (or as frequent) in SoCal, that's for sure. Here's some pics documenting the trip:
Rosina (cousin), me, Lance (cousin), Uncle Mark & Aunt Elaine :)
View out from the front of my aunt and uncle's house. It is so lush and green!
Gardens :)
The back of their house... not a great shot of the fountain (left side) - but it is AMAZING - and my aunt made it herself!
another shot of the back of their house and yard... just gorgeous and green (I think I forget how green it is outside of the desert!)
Oscar  :)
Lily and Petunia :)
Chilling outside - (there's the van! Proof she's still running) ;)
checking out the old farm house (this is where my grandpa was born in 1918) - it was a beautiful home in its time & my mom loves spending time here - despite outward appearances. :) It's about 2 miles from my aunt and uncle's place and only a mile from my cousin Lance's farm (which used to be my grandpa and grandma's farm place)
We always walk around the Hazel Run Cemetery, which may seem weird or depressing to some, but it is actually really beautiful and peaceful. Most of my Minnesota relatives are buried here, including my grandpa and grandma Wilson. Hazel Run Church, where my parents were married 45 years ago, stands in the background. :)
Me and Rosina :) 
Our last night in MN we got to spend at my cousins house outside of Minneapolis -Here's Lisa and Scott, and their two boys, Jacob (far left) and Joshua :) We had a wonderful time!
While I was gone, Curt was busy doing some hiking, among other things. :) Here's a shot of the San Gabriel Mts. as he climbs Mt. Baldy with a friend.
A waterfall encountered on the way up...
Getting close to the top...
Sign at the top! They had sweeping views, but being that it was dark when they reached the top, Curt didn't get any clear pics outside of the city lights below - which the camera did not do justice to :)
Curt also ran a 10k race in Thousand Oaks while I was gone, and got 2nd place overall and first in his division! He was super stoked, as he set a post collegiate personal record, running it in 34:40. He has been putting in an insane amount of miles - over 70 this past week!! (I don't run that in a year people). We're both currently training for a 7 mile race in Bellingham - and I am proud to say I put in 4 miles this past week training for it. haha...
This coming Friday we take off for our yearly trek up North to see our families - and we are really excited this year to be traveling up the coast and camping along the way! More posts to follow as we start that adventure. :) Happy start of summer everyone!
Ella saying "hi!"
A parting shot of the gorgeous flowers a certain someone had waiting for me at home when I got back to California yesterday :) Thanks honey!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hiking Baden-Powell

Well, it's Monday of Memorial Day weekend - so I want to start by saying a huge THANK YOU! to all those who have served, are serving, and to those that will serve our armed forces in the future. :) 
Originally, Curt and I were going to go camping up at Mammoth this weekend - one of our most favorite places in all of California. Unfortunately, the rain and chance of snow Friday and Saturday deterred us a bit - as I didn't really feel like tent camping in freezing, wet weather. Been there, done that, and it wasn't pretty. That said, we cancelled our reservations (losing our $30 deposit - rats!!), and made other plans for the weekend - namely, hiking Baden-Powell in the San Gabrielle Mts. We can see Baden-Powell from where we live - it's pretty big standing at around 9,500 feet. We had gorgeous weather, and it was a beautiful 8 mile climb (you'd barely know the high desert was right out the backdoor as soon as you drive up into the San Gabrielle foot hills). Here's some pics from our weekend adventure:
At the trailhead with Ella - praying she walks! (her leash skills are still a major work in progress)
Success! Ella blazing a trail with Curt
A view of the Mojave Desert as we hiked up
Getting closer to the top - thank goodness, as Ella had long since decided being carried beat walking by a mile. I agreed with Ella of course, as did most hikers we encountered on the trail - who wouldn't want to be carried when they got tired for a mile or two?! :)
Another shot of the desert below - you could see for miles 
Curt and Ella by the 1,500 year old tree. It was seriously amazing.
At the top! We had a 360 degree view - from the desert, to the rest of the San Gabrielle's, to Upland.
Ella relaxing on the Boy Scout monument/plaque at the top. Needless to say, she started the descent being carried.
Overall, we rated the day an A, and Ella's hiking skills a B-. :) She walked two up, and two down - and was carried the other 4... not too bad for a 7 pound, 8 month old puppy. She just might turn into a champion hiker/walker yet! (fingers crossed)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kelli's Visit & OC 1/2 Marathon

Well, it's been a little longer than I wanted to post some pics of Curt's sister Kelli's visit down to So Cal. I can't seem to stay caught up with this blog and our happenings in a timely manner! We had the BEST time when Kelli came down a couple weeks ago to see us and run the OC half marathon with her big brother. :) They ran awesome! (Ella and I served as cheerleaders). We also had a great time just relaxing and spending time together - whether in the car, overlooking the beach, sitting outside at a cafe, doing a little shopping, or eating takeout at home. Curt and I have got to get better at taking pictures - but here are a few to document our fun weekend with Kelli. :)

Curt nearing the finish line!
Curt's time for 13.1 miles... He got his goal- breaking 1:20! (reminder - I ran my half marathon in 2:15 last Oct., and I felt like I was going fast! haha...)
Curt and Kelli showing off their medals after the big race - Kelli did AMAZING too - and ran 13.1 in 1:50!
We ate lunch at this delicious Mediterranean/Italian restaurant in Manhattan Beach - it was glorious just sitting outside soaking up the beautiful weather.
We wandered down to the beach to sit and enjoy some ocean views before having to take Kel back to the airport :( Ella seemed to enjoy the sea breezes - and def the meet and greets with other dogs!