I have been super busy since our trip out west and I have a ton of other things to write about, but I wanted to put first type up a blog about thre rest of our wonderful vacation out west. (I will have to put up the pictures later. I haven't gone thru Kev's yet, but I can upload the pic's from my camera!)
We started our REAL vacation on Thursday morning, after seminar. We all (Tim, Anna, Kev & I) flew up to San Fran and got a rental car. Yes, I said car. We are cheap, and after working like crazy to get all of our suitcases (4 big ones, 1 carry-on size one, Kevin's backpack with his lap-top and camera, my overnight bag, and both Anna & my purses) along with ourselves packed into a small car (Sadly, I don't have a picture. It was hilarious how packed we were in there. We seriously were ready to get an SUV once we saw how much STUFF we were going to have to cram into that tiny vehicle-but they were out of SUV's and we were ready to hit the road!) we headed out to our first destination. After a short detour to stop at Whole Foods, (where we someone managed to make room for me to cram some food in the car also) and me helping with directions from the back, (Yes, I am a back seat driver, but this was actually WANTED help. Tim is not a map reader and he was in the map reader's spot-therefore whenever Kevin was frustrated, he would look at me and I would take over. Thanks Dad for teaching us the importance of knowing how to read a map!) we made our way to Yosemite! The trip was really beautiful. We saw such a variaty of landscape and I got to see the Happy California Cows they talk about in commercials. There was some landscape that was so amazing, I have never been to Ireland, but there were beautiful, green rolling hills with sheep and it was what I imagine Ireland looking like and I really enjoyed it. I actually spent most my time reading until we got to the super twisty-turny roads going up into the mountains. I was making up stories about the Vampires/Zombies/Wild Animals that live up there and were going to eat us to keep Anna and I entertained since we couldn't read anymore!
We ended up with a LOT of time in the CRAM-PACKED car the entire trip so thankfully I had 3 books and my Nintendo that Kev got me for my birthday last year. (I actually ended up reading Kevin's book also and we got addicted to a new series. It is a childrens series call "The Ranger's Apprentice" written by John Flanagan, an Australian author who wanted an adventure book that was clean for his kid. We went by a B&N on our last day in San Fran and bought books 2-4, Kevin found book #5 when we got home, but I guess there are 8 or 9 total and I think there are more to come. I love following a series. Two of the other books I read & loved were by Elizabeth Asten (it might be Astin-I can't remember) who writes books that continue the story from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice characters. They are so wonderful!)
In Yosemite we stayed at a hotel right outside the gate to the park. We got in after dark the first day so we just hung out at the hotel/lodge for dinner and watched some t.v. and chilled. Since we were so close to the park we were able to spend all day there the first day (well, we slept in a little since we had to get up early all week for meetings/flights/etc.) and a good part of the next day there before we drove to the Lake Tahoe area. There was several feet of snow on the ground so we all dressed warm and after visiting the visiter center we decided to hike up to see Upper Yosemite Falls-because of the snow you couldn't get to the top, but it was still a really long hike-I don't think I would have wanted to do the full thing. It was tiring enough just with what we did! We were soaked thru-and-thru when we were finished and frozen so we went back to our hotel and got warmed up with some hot cocoa and hot tea and a nice dinner. (I had really wanted to see the big trees while we were there, but you had to drive a ways, and then rent snow shoes and hike another hour or so to get to them, so we will have to do it another time!) The next morning we bought some cool covers that went over our boots and pants to protect our lower legs from getting wet in the snow and made hike to Mirror Lake. This was a flat hike and was WAY easier than the day before when I felt like I was going straight up at times and sliding around in the snow and ice!! Overall, I would most deffinately recommend a trip to Yosemite. It is beautiful and I think it would be amazing & different in every season.
Our time near Lake Tahoe was our most stressfull time. Everyone seemed to be taking turns being in a bad mood, and it rained/snowed/iced nearly the whole time we were there. I was so excited about snow tubing or ice skating in the mountains, but we didn't end up being able to do anything but drive around the top of Lake Tahoe (we were on the north side of the lake) and then wander around Squaw Valley (where there winter Olympics were in 1960). Tim was not in feeling well, and really wasn't in the best of moods, then we were not able to ride the cable up to the peak and ice skate because of the rain (which was a blizzard at the peak). So we basically spent the day wet and cold for nothing but the opportunity to shop at some ski shops in Squaw Valley. (But we couldn't buy anything because it was SUPER EXPENSIVE and we didn't have any more space in our suitcases-period!!!) The next morning we made our way back to San Fran. This is what put my DH in a bad mood because Tahoe was the part of the trip he was actually excited about. I felt so bad that I put him in a bad mood when I greeted him in the morning with "we decided we are ready to go to San Fran." Tim and I had been up for a couple hours hanging out down by the fireplace (and free breakfast) in the lobby, and when Anna got up and it was still raining, as it had been all morning, we didn't want to spend another day cold and wet. Looking back I realize I should have approached the relaying of this message differently so that Kevin didn't feel out-voted. He had read the weather report online and saw that it was passing over and heading toward San Fran-I would have stayed if I thought we could have done anything, but we had to check out of our hotel and I really didn't want to make the long drive in wet clothes! When Kevin is in a bad mood, EVERYONE knows and feels the effects of it, so that put Anna in a bad mood and I don't think any group of people was more ready to be out of a little car then us once we got to San Fran! The Lake Tahoe area is so beautiful, so I was sad that our time there wasn't the best. We will just have to try again another time. The weekend after we got home I was listening to the weather channel and they were talking about all the snow the area had received and how great the skiing was! I guess we were just a little too early!
In San Fransico we got settled into our hotel which was in a great location near Fisherman's Wharf and started out with some sightseeing. We did a ton of walking (hiking more like on all those San Fran streets) and saw Fisherman's wharf, Pier 39, China Town, Coit Tower, the curvy part of Lombard Street, and more. It started raining again that evening and we so we still ended up cold and wet that night as we went out for dinner at a fancy place at Pier 39 (where Keivn ate lobster, and I have a great pic of him with his lobster bib!) and then over to Ghrardelli for dessert. We split up the next day, Tim and Anna did a city tour of San Fran and a trip to Alcatrez Island while Kev & I drove over the Golden Gate bridge to Muir Woods. Kev & I had done Alcatrez Island & all the city stuff before on past trips to San Fran-Coit Tower is where we got engaged! It was a bit chilly and muddy at Muir Woods, but Kev and I took a hike and enjoyed the beauty of the outdoors (and kinda got lost and so met up with this other couple on the trail and spent a good part of the rest of our time at the park with visiting with them. (We pretty much hiked every other day or so while we were on this trip-so I guess that made up for all the time we spent sitting in the car and plane!) I was a little disappointed because I thought these were going to be the Giant Sequoias, but these were the Redwoods. They are super TALL like the Sequoia, but not as wide. (Kels, it totally reminded me of when we saw "big tree" in S.A.) After getting back to San Fran, Kev and I drove around the city some to see some more sites on our own and then walked to the B&N near our hotel, which is where Kev bought the books. We went to Bubba Gumps at Pier 39 for dinner tonight and back up to Ghirardelli Square for dessert again. It is such a fun place, I can't believe we didn't go there on our other trips out to San Fran!
Wednesday morning we were up fairly early to be sure we could get back to the rental car place (by this time I was just totally in charge of the map and we made it in plenty of time!) and flew back home. We sat next to a lady with a baby on the way back, but he was wonderful and hardly made a sound so that was nice. Losing those three hours flying back really messed me up, it was really hard to make it into work on Thursday morning. I still don't think I have recovered-but I have also flown to Dallas and back and we had Daylight Savings Time since then as well!!)
Well, I guess that sums up my trip, in a long-novel-like way-sorry!! I will try to get those pictures up soon and a note (or another novel) about what's been happening since I've been back from California!