Friday, May 30, 2008

A Visit from Friends

Our dear friends Michael and Carolyn Simpson and their son Josiah came to visit earlier this month. We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with just ended too soon. We felt like a little bit of Kingsport came to visit. Now if we could just get some more friends to come visit... (hint, hint)!

On Saturday night we took them to Laguna Beach to watch the sunset. This is one of our favorite things to do with guests, as we only get to see the sun rise on the east coast.




We all enjoyed a day at Disneyland on Monday. It was very hot, but otherwise we had a great time. Josiah and Kathryn (both 2 and 1/2 years old) did well and even met up with some favorite characters. We also saw Tigger, but he wouldn't stop bouncing long enough for me to get a good picture.

Pacific Coast Highway

If you ever have the opportunity to drive US 1 from Morrow Bay to Monterey, I highly recommend it. The coastal views are breathtaking. It took a lot longer to get home, but it was well worth it. I was afraid the children would soon tire of the view, (especially since we spent about 30 hours in the car together on this trip) but they didn't. The ocean was a brilliant deep blue, unlike the grey-blue I usually see on the east coast. Enjoy the beauty of our Lord's creation!

I told Brian I was going to title this picture "The Old Man and the Sea". :-)

17-Mile Drive

17-Mile Drive is located near Monterey, CA. It is a scenic drive near several exclusive golf courses including the famed Pebble Beach. It was overcast while we were there, so the scenery wasn't as nice as it might have been on a sunny day. Several of the viewpoints were closed due to the sea lions pupping. I read on-line that the scenery at 17-mile drive pales in comparison to views further down the Pacific Coast Highway. Now that I've seen both, I would agree.

Point Joe is an area where the water is very turbulent due to submerged rocks. The picture doesn't' show it well but there were waves breaking in all directions. The area is named for a Chinese man who once sold wares in the area.

Can you tell this rock is covered with sea lions and sea otters? We could also see them frolicking in the water at the base of the rock.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Muir Woods

Muir Woods, a Giant Redwood forest, is located 15 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge. This stop was not a part of our original itinerary. Brian's project manager suggested it to us. We are thankful he did as it was our favorite stop in San Francisco.

Brian is at the base of this tree.

I had to take this picture. During our entire trip this is the only time Kathryn wanted Brian to hold her hand. It lasted for about 2 minutes.

Standing inside the trunk of a Giant Redwood

San Francisco

We spent the third day of our vacation driving to and touring San Francisco. As we crossed the Oakland Bay, Bridge Brian told the children the cars headed the other direction were underneath us. As we drove out of the city later that evening, I couldn't help thinking about the earthquake that caused the upper level to partially collapse onto the lower level.

Our first destination was Lombard Street. It is referred to as "the crookedest street in the world" with its 8 switchbacks. The picture I took as we drove down didn't give an accurate portrayal, so instead I'm posting a hilly street. We learned cable cars were invented after Andrew Smith Hallidie witnessed horses stumbling while trying to pull horsecars up the hilly streets.

We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and then went to Muir Woods. We enjoyed Muir Woods so much that I'm going to give it a separate post.

We spent Thursday at Fisherman's Wharf. There we took a boat tour of San Francisco Bay. We had the option of wearing headphones for a narrated tour. I was impressed that the boys listened intently the whole time. Among the sites we saw were Alcatraz Island and Angel Island (the Ellis Island of the west coast). The picture above is of Alcatraz.

After our tour we stopped by Boudin's for some San Francisco-style sourdough bread. Most of the children liked it. We then ate lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. We heard elephants stampede and saw gorillas thump their chests. We even experienced a thunderstorm without getting wet. After lunch we walked down Pier 39 to see the sea lions. They were loud and quite smelly!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Yosemite National Park Part III

After leaving Glacier Point, we drove to the southern most part of the park to visit the Giant Sequoias at Mariposa Grove. Giant Sequoias are the largest living thing. Coastal Redwoods are taller but due to the width of the Giant Sequoia's trunk and branches their bulk is greater.

Here the children are standing in front of the remaining root structure of a Giant Sequoia that fell over 300 years ago.

Will standing inside the remains of a Giant Sequoia stump.

This is the Grizzly Giant. Can you see the people at the base? It is 210 feet tall and believed to be around 2,000 years old. It is the oldest tree in the Mariposa Grove.

The Joyner clan tries to encircle a Giant Sequoia. They were only able to reach about 2/3 of the way around.

Yosemite National Park Part II

One our second day in Yosemite we drove to Glacier Point. The road to Glacier Point is closed during the winter and early spring. While planning our trip, I read it often doesn't open until the end of May. This year the road opened on May 2nd, three days before our arrival! We are so thankful it did as the view from Glacier Point is breathtaking. It has been called "The Best View in All the West". From the Glacier Point overlook we could see Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, the Merced River and the Awhanee Hotel.

Half Dome

The Royal Arches

Both sections of Yosemite Falls

A close-up of the lower section
The Ahawnee Hotel

The Merced River and the Royal Arches

Vernal and Nevada Falls

Monday, May 26, 2008

Yosemite National Park Part I

For our family vacation we decided to visit Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, 17 Mile Drive and the Pacific Coast Highway. We spent the first 2 days at Yosemite. Before coming to California our pastor, a CA native, told us we should visit Yosemite. He said it was one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen. We agree. Words, and even pictures, can not accurately portray Yosemite's beauty. It must be experienced to be fully appreciated, however I hope you can get an idea of how beautiful it was from our pictures.

Our first stop was Bridalveil Falls. We were able to walk a short distance to the base of the falls. May is peak waterfall season in the park. (By mid July the waterfalls are almost dry. ) We were not able to stand at the base very long. The water pounding onto the rocks created an incredible amount of spray.

This is the view of Bridalveil from the parking area. This was actually the best view. Standing at the base of the fall you lose perspective of how high it is.

This picture was taken the second day of our trip. You can see Emily is catching Bridalveil in the palm of her hand!

After leaving Bridalveil we passed El Capitan. It is the tallest granite monolith in the world and a popular rock climbing site. It takes several days for climbers to reach the top. I read that climbers sleep in sleeping bags suspended from the side of the rock. Unfortunately, we did not see any climbers while we were there.

Yosemite Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world. It consists of an upper and lower falls. While walking the path to Yosemite Falls, we could hear the roar of the water. As we approached the base, the temperature dropped twenty degrees and the wind almost blew Brian's hat off his head. This was one of our favorite places in Yosemite.

The upper falls

The lower falls

We were unable to take advantage of most of the hiking trails due to the ages of our children, however we did hike to mirror lake. The hike was a little over a mile, one way. Unfortunately it was cloudy when we arrived, therefore the lake did not reflect a "mirror" image. The trail followed a stream though, so we enjoyed the journey more than the destination. (Except for the fact that I was carrying Andrew. We later realized we could have used the stroller!)

Mirror Lake

I am a North Carolina native. North Carolina's state tree is the dogwood. I have missed seeing the dogwoods bloom this spring. I was surprised to see them in Yosemite. The blooms on the trees there seemed much larger to me than the ones back in NC. I've read dogwoods do best under tall evergreens in filtered sunlight. Perhaps that is why they seem to thrive in Yosemite.