Monday, March 24, 2014

Road tripping through The Golden State

 I've got one more wrap-up post from the last year that I need to share; photos from our California road trip! Granted, I am a little behind on this one *ahem* but in all fairness, I went kind of crazy with travel photos and I literally had thousands of these to go through. I love seeing new places and I love photography, so any time I can mesh the two together is an awesome time for me. This was also our first trip together as a married couple (we actually got hitched mid-vacation) so double bonus on that!


After landing in L.A. and getting our gourmet mac n' cheese fix, we headed off to a Victorian inn in Santa Ynez. Santa Ynez is a peaceful yet very pastoral area... for a minute it kind of felt like we hadn't left good ol' Pennsylvania. The landscape along Highway 1 heading up to Big Sur was another story entirely. On one hand you are anxiously hoping that your car doesn't veer off the narrow winding roads that carve through steep coastal cliffs and mountains; on the other hand it is so beautiful you find yourself stupidly hanging out of the car over said dangerous cliffs just to get a better look at the vast landscape.


Let me start by saying that Carmel is quite possibly the cutest town I have ever been to. Most of the time we were there, I felt like I was on a set to some kind of fairy tale movie. There were so many cottages, gardens, and adorable store fronts... not to mention some great shopping opportunities and a fantastic beach. Monterey is one town over and their aquarium is one of the most interesting that I've visited so far. The aviary and the numerous types of jellyfish made for some great points of interest.


San Francisco was such a diverse city. Even though we had a number of days here, I wish we could have had a few more; there was just so much to explore. We often enjoy more off the beaten path activities and wandering off on our own, but we couldn't pass up riding around on the cable cars, checking out the character-filled houses, and appreciating the splendor of the Golden Gate Bridge. Also, if you are a fan of crepes, Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery will not leave you disappointed. We ate brunch there more times than I'd like to admit.


We spent time in the Muir Beach/Muir Woods area in the days surrounding our wedding (for photos of that, check out the previous post). This area was the land of mist, rocky coves, and tall trees. Of all the places we saw, this one was our favorite. Not only does the beauty of the mountains and ocean really come together here, but there is so much wildlife. At night you could see many stars in the sky, and if you peeked far into the distance, you could even see the small red light from the Golden Gate Bridge (check the night photo below). As we began to head south, our intentions became hunger-based and we decided to check out the food and sights around the San Jose area.


Sadly, our boat ride out to the Channel Islands got canceled due to dangerous waters after we had already headed pretty far south, so we had to figure out something else to do ASAP. We ended up driving to the Vasquez Rocks. It is a beautiful and dramatic-looking natural park that has been used throughout the years to depict western and outer space scenes in various films. Climbing the rocks and exploring the desert was a great way to spend the afternoon. After a while, the heat started getting to us and we decided to go to the nearby Los Angeles. Having been there multiple times before, we wanted to make sure we did something new, so we decided to check out both the Page Museum and The Getty Center. The Page Museum includes the excavated findings from the La Brea Tar Pits, which are literally right outside of the museum. There are many fossils and reconstructed skeletons to check out; I would recommend this place if you want to take your children to something educational. The Getty Center was an ethereal place and seriously the most beautiful art museum I've visited to date. Not only were their exhibits something to behold, but so was the scenery and the hilltop views.


Our final leg of the trip involved a surreal balloon ride over Temecula and surrounding areas. Despite the great heights and wind, it was actually a very relaxing journey (complete with emergency landing at the end - whoa!) We also explored the literally pitch-black desert at night in Borrego Springs. It was great for star gazing, but not so good for the imagination.  All of the wild animal sounds you hear around you at night in the complete darkness will certainly keep you on edge! We spent the end of the trip being surrounded by a ridiculous amount of birds in La Jolla and going to a 1980s themed diner.


Of course I can't resist posting some of these as well:

 So far, we are planning on doing two more road trips for 2014 (this time on the east coast) so keep your eyes peeled for more travel photos!