Sunday, July 30, 2023

Desert Botanical Garden and Chihuly Exhibit in Arizona


The Desert Botanical Garden was the highlight of my trip. I had never seen Saguaro cactus or experienced what I call the "Wild West." I also went at one of the best times to visit which is March to May. At this current point in time, the gardens must close at 2 pm because of the heat so be prepared to either shorten your time at the gardens or go at a different date. One of the incredible details of this journey is that the garden has around 50,000 plants showcased! Also, the park is 140 acres. You could easily spend most of the day here so it is worth dedicating a large portion of the day to exploring. Another highlight of the visit was seeing the Chihuly exhibit which was a nice bonus. I was amazed by what can be done with glass. They had an outside and inside special exhibit at the time of visiting. I hope you enjoy all the pictures from my visit and get a chance to go in the future.  

Butterfly Conservatory

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Tips and Tricks for Hiking into the Ooh Aah Point at the Grand Canyon


The skies were ocean blue and no haze cascaded into the canyon. The snow was slowly melting and a layer of ice was still present. These were the hiking conditions when going to the South Rim in March. When hiking to Ooh Aah Point in mid March, you will want a jacket handy is tip one. As my friend and I descended into the canyon the melting ice made the trails slippery. We had to take it very slowly at certain patches. We were certainly glad that we started the hike after lunch as the conditions would have been certainly worse. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks. I'd estimate it was about 1.5 hours to hike down if not more, but the views were worth it. A pleasant breeze swept across. 

Here is a good view of the trail from the top. You can go all the way down into the Canyon from here, but the sun was starting to set so we decided to make our way back up. Also, we were tired from all that hiking! Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen regardless of the season. Also, have plenty of water and snacks especially during the summer. There are warning signs to use caution when hiking whether it be from being too daring on the edge of the cliff or staying hydrated. The way back up was the hardest part. We had to take it in increments and take a break frequently. We are both in good shape and exercise regularly so make sure you are up to the challenge before starting the journey down. Also, be careful where you walk as donkeys do use this trail. 

Here is a good view from Ooh Aah Point. I was thankful that there were clear skies on the day that my friend and I visited Grand Canyon. 

This is the view of the South Rim near where we parked when entering. You can just take the trail all around the Grand Canyon if you do not want to hike down. 

There were several Elk licking up the snow from the ground. They were very calm and were only a few feet away from everyone. 

Tips for planning your trip out; when we arrived at noon, there was an extremely long line. It took an hour to travel less than a mile. I'm going to assume that the earlier you arrive the better. Just be prepared for a long wait and I suggest packing your lunch. There is a shuttle that can take you to various points. Unfortunately though, it was about 3 buses later that we could finally board. I would estimate it was about 10 minutes in between each bus. 

Hope these tips were helpful and you get to visit the Grand Canyon sometime! 

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.