At the end of July/beginning of August, we went on a much anticipated trip to California. This trip had been in the works since early 2021 and had been a lot of fun to plan and dream about. It was slightly stressful to be flying again (especially since we’d never in all our years of travel seen the Denver airport so busy), but things went pretty smoothly.
One of the things we’d decided to do for this trip was rent a camper van. You can read about the van experience here. We picked up the van in Oakland and then drove through San Francisco and across the Golden Gate bridge to head North to the Redwoods.
We met up with my parents, my two brothers, and their wives for this portion of the trip. We spent a lot of time hiking and wandering through Redwood forests. The pictures below are from Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
We also went to Redwoods National Park where we had reserved permits to hike in the Tall Trees Grove.
While in the Redwoods, Noel and I also did some running. A shorter run on the beach and a longer run along the Coastal trail. It was so, so nice to run in cooler weather and the lower elevation was pretty sweet too.
We spent an afternoon stand-up paddle boarding at Society Hole. (Such a great name.)
And also enjoyed some quality family time at the vacation rental my parents stayed at and at the beach.
Our last day in the Redwoods, we all went to Fern Canyon.
We said our goodbyes as we headed South and everyone else returned to Crescent City. We’d got a later start than we’d planned and ended up cooking dinner on the side of the road (one of the pluses of a van) and pulling into our campsite after midnight.
The next day, we continued on to Yosemite. Our first full day there, we hiked Vernal and Nevada Falls. There was a lot of vertical climbing involved in this, but the views were worth it. Getting up early helped us beat both the crowds and the heat.
In the afternoon, we cooled off at Tenaya Lake. Then we headed back to the Yosemite valley for some stunning evening views of Half Dome.
Our final day there, we hiked to Upper Yosemite Falls. I was really the only person that wanted to take this on, but Noel did it because he loves me and the kids aren’t really voting members – ha, ha. Upper Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America, so this was another hike with a lot of vertical. Noel and Cooper didn’t go to the lower overlook at the falls because of agoraphobia. It was maybe smart.
We continued on to Yosemite point for some amazing views before heading back down.
We left Yosemite and drove through the smoky Central Valley. We spent the night at Anthony Chabot Park so we could be close to the van rental company for our return in the morning.
After returning the van, we took an Uber into San Francisco. We rode the cable car to the Exploratorium. Visiting the Exploratorium has been a life long dream of Noel’s and he was very excited to share the experience with the kids. The whole place is one big hands-on science experiment. We were going to do more that evening, but Noel seemed to be struck with some food poisoning, so we hung out in the hotel and watched the Olympics. It was actually kind of nice to just be still.
The next day Noel was feeling much better and we were able to say a proper goodbye to San Francisco. We rode a trolley, went through China town, ate incredible french toast, saw Lombard street, Ghiradelli, and the wharf. Then it was back home.
Back at home, we had tickets to the Van Gogh Alive exhibit. It was an interesting take on displaying his art.
A few other random things.
We celebrated the last day of summer break by taking our kayaks out to a local reservoir.
We were all excited and nervous for the kids to be back in school. Our district is requiring masks right now, which I’m personally grateful for.
Noel and I continued to run long runs on the weekends in preparation for a big rim to rim to rim experience at Grand Canyon.
Our church had a mother and son event. It was Survivor themed.
Cooper is doing cross country. The middle school program is just two months long and they only practice twice a week so it’s a nice introduction to the sport. I volunteered to be a coach and am the only woman out of four coaches.
We took a weekend trip to Granby so Noel and I could go on another difficult long run. This was one was a near disaster. It was 22 miles, gained 5,000 feet and crossed the continental divide twice. We ran out of food and water which made the last several miles a little rough. We freaked the kids out because we were later getting back than we said we would be. Everyone was fine though and some lessons were learned.
We managed to have some family fun on the trip too. We ate at a pizza restaurant (on the patio) and went kayaking at Monarch lake. Minor disasters aside, it was a great way to finish out the month of August.