2013 trip, friends, West Coast

Las Vegas, Nevada (with a peek of Death Valley National Park)

State Route 190 goes through Death Valley National Park in California, so luckily Clyde and I got a quick glimpse of it on the way to Vegas.

Not to choose favorites, but I’m pretty sure Kevin Frye is the most awesome former co-worker a gal could ask for. (Except Laura. She wins.) Kevin gave Clyde and I the grand tour of Vegas — we explored the city that never sleeps until the wee hours of the morning. The people-watching was unforgettable. We saw some stuff. And heard some stuff.

The reason we met Kevin in Vegas: he was there for a baking industry trade show in which Chiquita participated. Luckily for Clyde and I, Kevin shared some spare badges for us to tour the trade show. (Hooray for international bakery samples!) From the looks of things, Chiquita had a very successful booth — Kevin had a non-stop flow of potential customers. It’s safe to say he rocked Vegas.

Thanks for an unforgettable introduction to Las Vegas, Kevin! We had the best time with you!

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2013 trip, family, West Coast

Los Angeles and San Diego, California

First of all, I made a major faux pas by not getting a picture with Uncle Paul and Jason. I just didn’t take many photos in general, but we had lots of fun relaxing in Southern California for a few days.

After a delicious Italian dinner with Uncle Paul, he let us stay in a gigantic Hollywood Hills house he and Jason are flipping. I’d love to know what the neighbors thought if they saw us dragging our sleeping pads, sleeping bags, and backpacks into the house late at night. :) After cruising around LA for a day, we got to enjoy one last beautiful ride on Suladan before she’s sold.

San Diego was the first big city we’ve hit that I’d be happy to call “home.” It has a small city feel with all-the-time gorgeous weather and ocean view! We found ourselves spending two days at the beach since we had to delay our arrival to Las Vegas in order to meet a friend. (San Diego also kicked off my daily temper tantrums about the government shutdown locking us out of parks. The first of many places we missed was Joshua Tree National Park just outside LA.) I pulled myself together at the beach — life still can’t get much better on our awesome adventure!

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2013 trip, West Coast

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

I love giant Sequoias! We learned the difference between coastal Redwoods (that we’d already seen) and the more rare giant Sequoias: while Redwoods are much taller than Sequoias, I love the unique organic shapes that Sequoias take on at the top—it makes them completely recognizable from miles away.

Muir Grove is my new favorite hike! We encountered TWO bears and zero people on the 2 mile hike to the grove. This is how the first bear encounter went:

Halfway to the grove, we come across a spectacular view off of a rocky cliff. Clyde says “Let’s go check out the view” and starts walking out on the big rock. I’m about 50 feet behind him when I spot a black bear come around a blind corner to eat some berries on the trail—the bear was 50 feet away and scared the heck out of me just as much as I scared the heck out of it. Apparently I “nonchalantly” said “Clyde there’s a bear.” He didn’t believe me—he thought I was crying wolf and he just said “okay.” I cringe as I take my eyes off the bear staring at me from 50 feet away to look at Clyde and say “Why aren’t you getting the bear spray out of your bag?” Clyde shrugs and says “I don’t even see a bear.” Then I started walking towards Clyde as the bear sort of scampered away in the woods. The bear then stopped in a small clearing and stared both of us down for awhile, but he was at a much more comfortable distance by now. Clyde calmly says “Oh, there’s the bear.”

Needless to say, we made a LOT of noise on the rest of the hike. It was still early-ish in the morning when bears are more active, and we were definitely the first (and only) ones out on the semi-remote trail. We saw a second bear as we reached the grove, but he was far away, we didn’t scare him, and he just ran away. Seeing bears on trails is pretty cool, but it’s not fun to scare them so close.

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2013 trip, West Coast

Yosemite National Park, California

Wow.

Yosemite blew our minds. Besides the famous Half Dome, Clyde and I really didn’t know what to expect from Yosemite—the indescribably beautiful scenery exceeded expectations!

For those keeping track, the Tetons are still Clyde’s favorite park, but Yosemite has overtaken Glacier for second favorite. Also, it’s around this time we caught ourselves saying this daily “I can see why people move to California.” The weather, views, and climate extremes are pretty awesome.

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2013 trip, West Coast

San Francisco, California

What an awesome city! We did a super quick 5 hour tour, but saw a lot as we just walked aimlessly around the bay! It was a bummer not to see San Francisco friends, but with an uncertain schedule, it was hard to give better notice. I definitely want to revisit to see the real gems of San Francisco!

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2013 trip, West Coast

Redwood National Park, California

Redwood National Park is actually comprised of a few state parks. In Clyde’s words, it’s a “unique and diverse part of the country.” Who knew that the Redwood National Park had great beaches and a beautiful Fern Canyon?

We love the Redwoods!

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2013 trip, friends, West Coast

Olympic National Park, Washington

It was so great to camp and hike with Leslie and Pam! After all, their inspiration is sort of the reason we’re on this trip. They’ve now inspired us to invest in more backpacking supplies so we can camp with them in the back country next time.

We camped for a night in the Hoh Rainforest—one of the largest temperate rainforests in the US. It was hard for my brain to process fall + leaves on the ground + Rainforest. Not the typical tropical rainforest, but it definitely rains a lot. We hiked in a thunderstorm. Then we headed to Third Beach after Snow White, I mean Clyde, fed some birds from his palm. Some older ladies really had to talk him into it—he was pretty skittish at first. :)

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