Saturday, June 6, 2020

Highlights of San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge


San Francisco has a variety of places to explore. There are places for those wanting to experience different cultures, those who are foodies (had the best burger ever at Artisan Burgers), if you like seeing art and incredible structures, or simply want to enjoy the beauty of nature. It is four hours from Yosemite if you want to be blown away by the majesty of God's creation. 

The iconic symbol of San Francisco, The Golden Gate bridge, is a must see. It might take some patience to get the perfect view though. My husband and I went in March and when we went to view it from the Mainlands, it was completed encompassed by clouds. Our willingness to wait was worth it and though I didn't get the perfect shot, I loved the photo effect that occurred from the Golden Gate Bridge emerging from the clouds. I recommend viewing it from different locations. There is no toll fees leaving San Francisco, but you have to pay to come back via the bridge. If you have a rental, make sure you either pay online or get a pass otherwise you will be responsible for some pretty hefty fees from the rental company on top of the tolls. 
China Town


Chinatown is another popular destination. Honestly, it was more touristy than I was expecting. Lots of restaurant choices, but a lot of souvenir shops that were pretty much the same. It is more fun to just walk through and see the culture. Of course, I did grab some souvenirs at really great prices. 


Japan Town


Then there is Japan town which was one of my favorite destinations and rightfully so since my husband and I are nearing going through the process to be missionaries in Japan. It was extremely organized and I would expect no less from hearing about Japan's culture. I loved seeing all the different shops, but most of all the food! They have a several restaurants inside the Japan Center and then when you are done, you can choose from ice cream, mochi, and pastries. Get a little taste of a different culture. 

Lombard Street


If you want to drive along or walk down a really super windy road, this is your destination. Now I can say that I've walked along Lombard Street. 

Japanese Tea Garden


For those that love looking at nature, The Golden Gate State Park is your location. Even if you don't consider yourself a nature person, it is a place to add to your travel list. And yes, I had a complete itinerary of places to go from food to tourist attractions. Wouldn't you if you've been dreaming of going for the last decade? It was serene with the koi pond laced with elegant plants and Japanese structures. If you arrive before 10 am, it is free. We got there 3 minutes prior and got in for free! There is free parking along the park if you can find a spot. 






Palace of Fine Arts

Next is the Palace of Fine Arts. It was a quick walk through, but interesting nether the less. It was constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition to display fine arts. Hmmm, I wonder why they named it Palace of Fine Arts? 

Fisherman's Wharf  and Pier 31


If you want to see seals fight, flop around, and make lots of noise, check out Pier 31. Well, seriously, it was entertaining!


This is a view from Alioto's Restaurant. It was good food, a great view, and romantic setting. The lunch menu was really reasonable. It was $20 a dish which for the area is great! You can get validated free parking at the restaurant before 6 pm for 2 hours and if you go 6 pm to midnight, you can get 3 hours of free parking. 

Ghirardelli Square


Don't leave the Fisherman's Wharf without stopping at the Ghirardelli Square! There is an option where you get to choose 3 different chocolate squares and they make a milkshake with them. Warning, if you are lactose intolerant like me, you will suffer greatly. Is it worth it? Hard to say, but I did it so I could say I did it. Pretty valid reason, right?


Golden Gate Park Windmill and Tulips


And I will end with the dutch windmill and tulips. This is also in the Golden Gate State Park along with the Japanese Tea Garden. There are several places you can tour within the park so do a bit of googling if you plan on going. As a final traveling tip, when it comes to parking which is a huge factor, be sure to have a hefty parking budget. Parking can get pricey in San Francisco. We went right before the lock down for COVID-19 so we were able to locate free parking most of the trip. An additional tip, DO NOT use parking aps that have you pay in advance. They are scams and I'll leave it at that. I hope you enjoyed seeing the highlights of San Francisco and I hope you will get the chance to go some day. Like I said in the beginning, there are so many destinations that appeal to a variety of different preferences for what is a fun time. I tend to lean towards nature and food. I had a hefty list of places to go! Happy traveling. 






Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Walk Through Yosemite




Bright and early began a journey that my husband and I would take. A journey that would take us deep into the woods of Yosemite. Here we were after taking a plane to the other side of the country quite literally and then taking a four hour journey from San Francisco to Yosemite in the little fiesta we rented. It was quite something. With the windy roads and this little car taking us up mountain roads. As I peered out the windows, I saw breathtaking views. Views right out of a movie. We passed through little mountain towns of only a few thousand people. Forests that appeared to have been toasted by flames that ravished through. We stopped at some view points along the way. The images are forever
imprinted in my memory.

                                                                                                                                                      

There was something freeing about being deep in the forest. The coolness washing over my skin. The sound of birds echoing in my ears. The wild beauty. And to view that beauty came with choices. I wanted to see everything, but with four hours to drive back home in one day, there had to be limits. The first hike of choice to see the lower and upper falls was advanced, but after accessing the level of my husband and my capabilities (me wearing an ankle brace after spraining my ankle), we opted for Mirror Lake. We did take a short loop for the light hearted just to see the waterfalls from afar which you can see below.  

                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                    



And this is how the journey to Mirror Lake began. The sky was starting to darken. The rain fell on my face and my heart sank. I waited ten years to be here. We drove four hours to get here. This can't happen! I said a prayer and we didn't turn back. To Chronicle this journey is the picture above that shows the darkened sky. When the rain lifted, the realization hit that we weren't exactly sure if we were headed in the right direction. There were no signs in sight. The suspense of possibly ending up no where made the hour drag on, but then other hikers confirmed that Mirror Lake was indeed within grasp. As the sky cleared up, continue on to see what we saw along the way. 






And a couple hours later, this is what we witnessed. The sky was now a beautiful blue and even more beautiful was the mountain scene and the greenish hue of the water. I simply couldn't get enough of the view. 


Just as we got back to the car and started to head off to eat, the rain began. I thanked the Lord for answering my prayers. To bring this journey to completion, a rainbow spanned across the mountain range. My husband turned around the car just so I could get a picture to share with everyone of what we saw that day. I hope that one day you will get the chance to see this wonder and if you have, please share a comment about your adventure.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Japanese Tea Garden San Francisco


Peaceful, tranquil, serene...these are the words that describe the Japanese Tea Garden in the Golden Gate State Park, San Francisco. Popping with color and a vibrancy that is pleasing to the eye, it was an experience I will always remember. It was well attended most clearly and I breathed in with wonder as my husband and I crossed over the bridge, viewed the pagodas, and threaded upon the stone paths. 

I quote from the Japanese Tea Garden's website: "Today, the Japanese Tea Garden endures as one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco, featuring classic elements such as an arched drum bridge, pagodas, stone lanterns, stepping stone paths, native Japanese plants, serene koi ponds and a zen garden."



Check it out: https://www.japaneseteagardensf.com 


So how did this garden get its start you may ask? Well, it began as part of the World Fair. The California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. It was originally called the Japanese Village and Tea Garden. Mr. Hagiwara, a Japanese landscape architect, took the initial one acre and poured his heart into creating 5 acres of beauty which makes up what we see today. And there he stayed with his family til 1942. It was then with great sadness that they were forced to move into internment camps along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans. 

 A traveling tip is that if you arrive before 10 am every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you get free admission. My husband and I literally entered three minutes before 10! (It is closed until further notice due to COV 19. Hope you enjoy these photos from my visit in March).

Enjoy a walk through the gardens....




Check back in a week or two to see flashbacks from me and my husband's adventures in California!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Muir Woods, A Walk Among the Giants


Meet giants of the natural world, The Redwood tree. My dream for over a decade has been to witness the grandness of these trees. Their thick, rugged, red bark. Their looming height and circumference. And the habitat in which these enormous trees dwell. I’ve climbed waterfalls of Costa Rica and hiked the mountains of the Appalachians, but nothing has compared to what I witnessed at Muir Woods. A testament to God’s incredible creation!

It was ever so peaceful. My husband, Matt, and I went this month and the trail we hiked was a path less traveled. It was so quiet that we took moments and just stood still to hear the calls of various birds. The trail we hiked took us through bare meadows and up the mountainside that held these giant trees. As soon as you enter the forest, there is an immediate change of temperature. It is cool, breezy, and moist. It is peaceful and tranquil. In less than 5 minutes, we went from short sleeves and getting sunburned, to jackets and chilly weather. How good it did feel! It is cool and moist year round with an average temperature of between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainfall is heavy during winter, while summer is almost completely dry. It is the proximity to the Pacific Ocean that leaves a coastal fog that carries the trees though droughty seasons. This climate is vital to the  growth of these amazing trees.




Let’s look at the facts. The tallest tree in Muir Woods is 258 feet (79 m). The average age of the trees here are between 500 and 800. The oldest tree is a whopping 1,200 years old! Now that is something to brag about.





Most of these amazing trees unfortunately succumbed to the logging industry. Tree by tree fell until an estimated 96% of the redwoods were logged. It is also estimated that there were 2 million acres of old growth forest that contained redwoods which grew along a strip along the coast. What a sight it must have been. I wish more had been preserved for us to enjoy today.



President Theodore Roosevelt announced that Muir Woods be a national monument on January 9, 1908. The land was purchased from the Tamalapias Land and Water Company in an effort to protect the redwoods and mountains on which they reside. If you plan on visiting, make sure to reserve a parking spot way in advance. Parking is very limited and reservations are required. Also, make sure to have it up and ready because there is no access to internet in the park. We printed ours as a precaution. We also could not get the gps to work so it took extra time. Make sure to leave early!






I hoped you enjoyed these pictures from our trip. I also hope you get to go one day!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Journey to Lancaster

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About seven years ago, I had a dream. A dream to go to Lancaster County and see the Amish Community. My mom and I cherished the novels that were set in the country side of the Amish community. After being on my bucket list for all these years, the opportunity presented itself to go and better still to serve there. We volunteered with an organization call GAIN or Global Aid Network. They ship supplies such as food, clothing, shoes, blankets, and school supplies over seas and then CRU distributes it and after meeting those needs, they have the opportunity to touch lives with the Gospel of Jesus.

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We made quilts to give away! https://www.gainusa.org 

Pictures of Lancaster Countryside

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In the distance is a teenage boy plowing the field the old fashioned way with horses.

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Carriage tour going down the road.

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The local Cemetery.

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Tips for Eating Out:

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The first big tourist place to stop would be the Central Market. You can walk through an entire indoor market of local farmers and artisans. There were Amish people selling quilted items and best of all the warm homemade pretzel I am holding below.

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The second place I would highly recommend is the Bird-in-Hand restaurant and getting their buffet. I would suggest to go at lunch as the price is lower. What I really loved was that the local Amish had their food in the buffet along with little signs by the food telling you which farm produced the food.

https://bird-in-hand.com/dining/bird-in-hand-family-restaurant-smorgasbord/ 

I hope you enjoyed this article and get the chance to go yourself!