Friday, July 22, 2016

Life Update: Vacation Pictures Part 1


When I first got back from vacation a couple of weeks ago, I promised to share some vacation pictures when I got everything in order.  Well, that day has come!  First, I'll share some of those and talk about what I got to see and at the end, I'll update you guys with what's coming up book-wise for me!  Because the trip was so long and there are so many different places, I'm going to split this post into two and Part 2 will go up tomorrow!

First off, for those who didn't catch that original update post, I was on vacation for 3 weeks starting June 6th until June 25th.  I took a road trip out to California with my parents!  I also had the privilege of planning the entire trip which was a little stressful but still fun.

The Drive Out
My family drives everywhere so, of course we drove out to California (I'm in the eastern Midwest)!  This is the road entering the Rocky Mountains, the true passage into the West.

We stopped at several outlooks while we were driving through the mountains.  This is one of those outlooks.  It was just so gorgeous, being up so high above the greenery, trees, and lakes all the while experiencing snow on the side of the road!

This is one of the last cliffs we passed before exiting the mountain range!  Driving through the mountains isn't my favorite thing to do so it was a welcome sight.

Four Corners
The four corners monument was the first real thing that we stopped to see.  The four corners monument marks the spot where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet (the way the states are shaped, it's literally four corners meeting at one spot).  It's the only place in the US where four states meet at a single point.  It was really hot that day: around 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) and the air was so dry!

Sedona ft. Desert




The next stop was Sedona, Arizona.  I've been to the Grand Canyon before which is just north of Sedona so we decided to go to Sedona instead which was supposed to have just as cool rock formations.  It turned out to be pretty true!  Everything was so cool!  I ended up getting food poisoning the first night which wasn't so fun but it cleared up over night!  We spent a full day here and on the last night, we went up on Airport Road and watched the sun set over the whole town and the surrounding rock formations which was really quite exquisite (the last picture).  We also saw the first cacti on the drive to Sedona so I just had to take a picture (2nd picture)!

Desert and San Diego

The drive to San Diego was next!  The route took us really close to the US-Mexican border (I've been to Mexico twice) and there were a LOT of big sand dunes and solar panels!  It was really cool to see that renewable energy is actually taking hold, especially in places that get so much sun so it'd be really useful.

When we arrived in San Diego, we ate at a restaurant on a pier which was really cool.  I also had my first bread bowl with clam chowder inside!  The first order of business when we arrived at the coast, though, was to put my feet in the water!  This picture shows the exact moment when I touched the last of the four borders of the continental US and the last of the three coasts of the continental US!  I've already been to Canada, Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf Coast!  And I've now officially touched 2 out of the 5 oceans!










We spent 2 full days in San Diego!  The first day, we walked around Balboa Park (1st picture) and went to the USS Midway (2nd and 3rd pictures).  Balboa Park is basically a gigantic (I think it's 100 acres) park with over 10 museums!  They also house the San Diego Zoo and food.  Honestly, it made me think of The World's Fair back in the 1800s!  The USS Midway is an aircraft carrier that was retired a while back and is now docked in the bay.  We got to walk around all of the decks and see a bunch of cool fighter planes from back in the day.  The second day, we spent the entire day at the San Diego Zoo.  It was seriously the coolest zoo that I've ever been to (and I've been to quite a few).  The enclosures replicated the animal's natural environments so well and the whole atmosphere was wonderful.  They had an arctic section, a rainforest section, etc etc.  And in those sections, they have different plants and color schemes that make you think that you're actually there!

Santa Monica and LA

After San Diego, we drove up the coast to LA.  Our first stop was Santa Monica (a bit south and west of LA) which sits on the coast.  We went to the Santa Monica Pier which had a carnival, restaurants, and gift shops.  We also walked down the beach for a little bit.  The sand was so white and soft and it was just a gorgeous day!

We had two full days in LA (after spending the third day in Santa Monica).  We started off by visiting the Chinese Theater in downtown LA so we could see all of the concrete castings that had a bunch of different movie casts and famous actors.  I found the Harry Potter one which has the hand prints and shoe prints of the Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson as well as their wand imprints!  I also found the Star Trek block (which isn't pictured)!



I booked a tour for us which took us all around LA (downtown, Beverly Hills, Universal Studios, etc) so we got to see a bunch of different things!  The top picture is the famous Beverly Hills sign that marks your entrance into Beverly Hills.  The second picture is what's considered 'light traffic' in LA with their many overlapping highways and roads.  The third picture is the Chinatown gate that marks your entrance into the Chinatown of LA.

We also got to walk down the entire Hollywood Walk of Fame and I took SO many pictures of the stars!




The next day, we started off at The Getty Center which is located a little north of LA and sits on the same mountains that the Hollywood Sign does.  It's basically a campus with 5 buildings full of art exhibits.  They also have a gorgeous garden.  It was such a nice way to get away from the city for a little bit and enjoy nature and be above the smog (ft in the third picture!).



Next was the Griffith Observatory which sits pretty much adjacent to the Hollywood Sign (pictured in the first picture) on the same mountains overlooking the city.  LA definitely sprawls!  Overall, LA was cool although I don't think I'd ever go back.  It's one of those things you see once.  I just didn't like the giantness of it and all of the pollution and the crowds.

Driving up Coastal Hwy 1 and Carmel-by-the-Sea




To get to San Francisco, we had a bigger drive up the coast.  We decided to take coastal hwy 1 which runs right along the Pacific coast (it literally sits on a cliff and if you look down, there's water).  It was so gorgeous and such a cool feeling to be on the edge of the world!  The seagulls were also really docile!  We also stopped at the giant redwoods in Big Sur State Park.  They aren't as large as the giant sequoias which they've actually tunneled through so there could be a road but they are pretty big!  That's my mom standing in front of a tree to give it a little scale!

We stayed in Carmel for the night which is a fancy little town that sits on the coast and has amazing white sand beaches.  The water was really cold but you can't beat the view!


So there's the first half!  The second half will be going up tomorrow!

In bookish news, here are some things that are coming up in the next few weeks!
The last 15 days of 30 Days of Books
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski review
Envious Obsession by Katie Keller-Nieman review
Alice Through the Looking Glass movie review
Meritorium by Joel Ohman review
Movie update: what have I seen?
Match the character to the quote: Fantasy Favorites post for the Throne of Glass series
Which character are you?: Fantasy Favorites post for the Throne of Glass series

Until tomorrow!  Happy reading!

14 comments:

  1. Wow, you took quite a tour!! I love Sedona, Arizona!! I haven't been there in a few years... But think it's beautiful... I've also been to the Grand Canyon as well and had fun taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.

    I grew up in San Diego and love Balboa Park. I live near the SF Bay area now and miss SoCal pretty badly. I'd move back to Santa Barbara in a heartbeat (I lived there for 16 years before moving to Northern California).

    The drive up Highway 1 is awesome and I find Carmel to be charming!! It's so walkable and dog friendly. I'd love to live there or move back to Santa Barbara, CA to live.

    The Getty Center is nice to visit in LA. Did you make it to the Getty Villa in Malibu?? I liked the Getty Villa better than the Getty Center. I'm with you in that I wouldn't want to live in LA the traffic is horrific among other things.

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    1. For sure! We were all quite exhausted at the end :) You got to ride in a helicopter above the Grand Canyon? That's so cool!! It must have been gorgeous.

      It seems like the perfect place to go and just relax. I wish I had something like it where I live!

      It is! It was really cool how, throughout our entire tour of California, we saw water bowls everywhere for dogs.

      No we didn't! I read about it but there just wasn't enough time in LA! It's such a big city and there's so much to see.

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  2. Wow! It looks like you guys had so much fun. I look forward to seeing the rest of your pictures.

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  3. Looks and sounds like you had an amazing vacation!

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    1. I did! Thanks for stopping by, Stacy!

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  4. I love your pictures! They're beautiful. Do you not like driving in the mountains because of the windy roads? I'm the same way because I get car sick very easily. But, I do love the mountains. I think they're just so majestic and beautiful. I love being in a state surrounded by them. And, I can understand not liking the dry air, lol. But, I have to admit that I HATE humidity. I guess we like what we're used to.

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    1. PS--speaking of windy roads, Hwy 1 on the Pacific Coast is my nemesis, lol. My parents and I once drove from San Francisco down to Thousand Oaks by way of Hwy 1. I was so sick. It was awful. (But, it was very beautiful.)

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    2. Thank you, Jenni :) That and how the road just drops off on one side (and the rock and mudslides that can happen!). It's a little nerve-wracking. I do as well! It's so strange driving towards them after you've been in the flat plains and seeing them just rise out of the earth. Ugh I'm with on humidity! Once I went to New Orleans... NEVER again! It felt like I was drinking water whenever I breathed. Haha I can see how you wouldn't like Hwy 1! It's crazy looking out one window and seeing the land just drop off into the ocean! And thinking that if you don't have a good grip on the wheel, you could pitch right off the edge. But it's totally worth it!

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  5. I love that you stopped throughout California to take in the sights! I think I'm used to it, but when you really take a moment to think about it, it's sort of mind boggling how huge California is. Glad you had a great time!

    Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

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    1. It was a really great vacation! It is really strange! The state just keeps on going when you drive it vertically (N to S or the other way around). Thanks for stopping by, Cristina!

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  6. That's quite the trip! I'm glad you got to experience both snow and sand on the same vacation. ;) I think that's the charm of visiting the mountains, though- even if it's warm, you can usually find a snow pile the sun forgot to melt at some point.
    ~Litha Nelle

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    1. It was really strange to see them in such close proximity to each other! Haha exactly! Thanks for stopping by, Litha!

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  7. So cool! I've never been that far west, but I would definitely like to visit some of those locations!

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