Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Jon and I celebrate one year of wedded bliss today. It's weird how on the one hand it feels like the past year has flown by, but on the other hand it's hard to imagine life any other way (and it's only been one year!). It has been an amazing, full, and happy year with my darling sweetheart. I look forward to many, many more. 

We had an adventure this past weekend as part of our celebrations. We went to California. It all started when we began looking for grown-up furniture. Right now our bedroom is a mash-up of both of our past lives. We decided it was high time to actually go for a look rather than look overly eclectic without a purpose. I have always loved mid-century pieces and once we got looking, we quickly found a really great solid wood dresser for a super awesome price. The only problem? It was in California. Wait, did I say that was a problem? Okay, it was more like an opportunity. The wonderful Carrie that we bought our dresser from was happy to hold onto it until we could come get it, and so our planning began. And our thoughts quickly went like this-- well, our anniversary is coming up, and we don't have kids yet so we can take a trip, and we love beaches and nature and we have this dresser in California. . . so it was decided that we would make a whole road-trip out of it.

We were fascinated by all the wind turbines.

Friday we drove out to Visalia, California where we met up with the lovely Amanda Morgan and her fiancee Addison. This was our first time meeting Addison, and we were so happy to see how happy these two are together. We had fun eating dinner at Panera and dessert at a local frozen yogurt shop.

That was it for our first day--- driving, visiting, eating, and then sleeping.

Day two was much more eventful. In the first place, we had a nice easy-going morning with a pretty nice complimentary breakfast, and then we met up with Amanda again for lunch. We had amazing sandwiches at this cute local joint, and then we took a few pictures. We were all full after half of a sandwich that we saved the rest for later. The sandwiches were HUGE! And oh so very tasty.

From there, we took Amanda's advice and stopped at Reimer's. I can happily recommend this place to anyone remotely near by. This place had some of the best ice cream that I've ever tried. They even had a cookies and cream in a chocolate base. That's what Jon got. I tried their almond toffee in vanilla. So delicious!

Look at the cute Swiss-inspired detailing!
Happy and full of tasty ice cream.
And then we got to Sequoia National Park. First we hit up the Giant Forest. We walked around a meadow and experienced huge sequoias, read some informational plaques, and saw two brown bears! Jon got within fifteen feet of one. They were just chillin' in the grass, rooting around for food. They didn't even seem to notice the people all around. One lady we talked to had one walk right in front her to go munch on berries in the glade.

Cute baby bear.

Huge trees!

Root base of a fallen giant. I'm in there for scale.
Giant sequoia hugging a boulder. 
Can you spot Jon in the photo above? Another scale photo. This probably would just look like a normal tree and a rock otherwise. (Click on the photo to see it larger.)

In contrast to the huge trees all around, I found these darling tiny pink and yellow flowers growing here and there along the trail. Does anyone know what they are?

Second bear siting.
I can see why the teddy bear has become a symbol of all things cuddly and sweet. The huge bear cubs did indeed look sweet and cuddly, and in a perfect world, we could go snuggle them. But alas, we had to keep our distance. So sad.

My cute Jon.
From there we decided to check out the General Sherman tree. While it is the biggest thing alive (by mass), we were more impressed by other trees and by our walk along part of the Congress Trail. There we not only saw other massive trees, but also gigantic burnt out tree trunks. They were haunting, sad, and beautiful all at once.

My one regret is that we didn't make it to a Visitor's Center early enough for me to get my National Parks Passport stamped. But Jon reminded me that we'll be in that part of California for Amanda's wedding in a couple of months, so we'll attend to that then. :) But while we were there, we had an quick impromptu picnic consisting of some of our snack food and the rest of our sandwiches from earlier. Thank goodness for high elevation and cooler temperatures. Our food still tasted great hours later.

Then we made our way to look over the valleys and so that Jon could take some more of his amazing 360 degree panoramic photos. It was a quick little hike up stairs to the top of Moro Rock and we got a few fun photos up there as the sun was setting and twilight was coming on. We were the last to come off the mountain. It was nice and quiet up there once all the other tourists left.

Here's Jon setting up for one of his photos.
I think we made quite a few people nervous setting up for our photos. We really don't take risks, I promise. We just don't always stay on the trail or within the bounds of the handrails. We really do make sure to only stick to places we feel comfortable on, though. So that makes it O.K. Right?

The second place that Jon set up to take panoramic photos. 
Jon's view of me from his vantage point.
In the next photo, if you click on it, you can see layers of mountains and valleys, the road that we drove up, and the moon in the sky.
I love the pastel colors!
Even though Jon forgot to smile because he was busy concentrating on the taking the picture,
this is a happy memory for me, so I'm including it!
Sunset on Moro Rock
The path illuminated by moonlight.
(Best seen large.)
And then it was time to head back to our car. Jon was helped me along the last part of the trail where it was totally dark. When we got to the bottom I saw something huge in front of us. "Uh, Jon?" was all I managed to say. Jon looked up and nearly jumped out of his skin. When our eyes fully adjusted, we saw that there was a buck licking something up off of a rock, and he was soon joined by a doe. This was RIGHT by us and next to our car. We just watched them for a moment and kept quietly talking to one another, and the deer would look up every once in a while, but they weren't scared of us. So of course, we had to take a few pictures.

Jon, our car, and a big deer.
And then, even though it was dark, because we were so close to it, we had to go see the Log Tunnel. It is a big tree that has fallen over with an arch carved through it making an 8' high tunnel you could drive through. I took a few photos of Jon driving through it.

Right after taking that second photo, I heard some rustling in the bushes next to me. Jon and I have been watching the X-files, and I've just plain seen too many scary/creepy movies in my life. I knew better than to stop and look at what was making that noise. I just firmly grabbed my camera and ran for the car. Jon heard the rustling from inside the running car, so I can't imagine it was a small woodland creature. More than likely it was another friendly deer, but I didn't want to take any chances. It was a pretty funny way to end our day at Sequoia National Park.

From there we drove back into town and shared a late dinner before getting back to our hotel room and crashing. And that is that for our second day of our anniversary adventures in California. More to come really soon!

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