Monday, April 20, 2015

Instagram Explained Pt.1

As most of you know, one week ago, I was still in California. We were there for 9 days and as soon as we came home, it was right back into real life for me. Homework due, test dates set, etc. I ended up taking the SAT and the ACT in the same week and the close proximity of AP exams is starting to hit me. My past two weeks have been insane, and because of it, I have neglected this lovely little blog. As I have a free minute, I figured that I would recap my trip for you all using the photos I took and posted on Instagram. Considering that I only said a few words about each, I'll elaborate now and use them to jog my memory. 

We woke up at 4 am for our flight that departed at 6:05. My dad, brother, and I had pre-check for the airport, but my mom got stuck in the line which caused us to almost miss our flight. Literally, we were the last ones on the plane and the people at the gate were going "Last call for flight to San Francisco! Is the Bauer family around?". We JUST made it, but thankfully we did. We landed at 9:20 am California time which gave me a good six hours of air time to take AP US History notes for 2 chapters out of our book...we had a lot of homework...

A rather iconic sign, we immediately stopped at an In-N-Out burger when we landed because it was lunchtime back in Baltimore and we were super hungry. I was already excited to see colorful naighborhoods filled with hispanic influence.
We also expected to be the only people in the restaurant because it was 10:30 or so, but IT WAS FULL!! There were plenty of people in there which was absolutely shocking to me...burgers for breakfast anyone?
Ps If you haven't been to one of these bad boys, run don't walk. Their burgers are heavenly and there's a whole secret menu...I could eat it all the time.

Next, we ventured into the heart of the city to these mosaic steps. My mom found out about these on Pinterest and we figured that we might as well go since we don't really know when we'll be on the west coast next...
Anyways, they were GORGEOUS! There were luscious gardens full of flowers and succulents on either side and when you stood at the bottom and looked at the entire staircase, it formed a cohesive picture. It was such a lovely start to all the sights we would see.

We refer to these gorgeous Victorians as the "Full House houses" because Full House was filmed in one of them. In reality, I believe they're known as the painted ladies and, while we only saw glimpses of them, their beauty was obvious. The coolest part was seeing the photos of San Fran before and after the 1906 earthquake and these houses were in both! It's incredible! 

From there, we made our way to one of the most iconic bridges in the United States. I can't say enough good about this bridge or this's actually funny because we were learning about the Great Depression in AP US and one of the concepts applied to when the bridge was constructed.
We walked the entire thing back and forth (about 6 miles total), resulting in our sheer exhaustion. Even so, we drove up to Muir woods and marveled at the tallest and some of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen. By then we had been awake for over 12 hours and we were jet lagged and our legs were numb from bridge walking and forest hiking. After hitting up an insanely good Thai restaurant, we retired to our hotel and passed out.

The next morning was Easter! My brother and I woke up to chocolate bunnies and jelly beans: the "Easter Bunny" managed to visit us in California!
We went to this beautiful and modern Cathedral for a 7 am mass (it felt like 10 am to us), and I got to wear my Lilly Pulitzer shift! Actually though, the church was amazing. It was super tall and had windows overlooking both the city and the neighborhoods. 

By the time church was over, it was pouring. We drove around the city to look at a few cafes my dad had researched beforehand, but they were all pack. We took a quick drive through Chinatown and found this quaint little bakery with the yummiest pastries. After that, it was off to Yosemite!!

On the way to Yosemite, we started driving by groves and groves of trees...for and hour or so it was just trees and farmhouses. We assumed they were orange trees, but they were mostly almond trees (we found out later). There were also these fresh produce shacks everywhere and the one we stopped at was perfection. They had like 5 types of oranges alone (the ones in my hand are pixie tangerines) and their strawberries literally tasted like summertime. Needless to say, it was a worthwhile stop.

This, my friends, is El Capitan: the largest slab of granite in the world.
Yosemite was not stylish: I wore men's convertible shorts and men's tee shirts (my brother told me I looked like a sketchy lesbian), I had zero phone service the entire time, and it was joke. However, it was one of the best places I've ever been. We stayed at a 1927 hotel called the Awahnee. It was beyond luxurious: every morning they had complementary hot cocoa/coffee/tea, there were multiple common spaces for you to just sit down by the fire and relax. Everything was decorated to celebrate the Native American culture, and honestly the entire experience was like staying in someone's mansion. While extremely pricey, I'd stay again in a heartbeat. My family and I actually made plans to go again in 12 years for the 100 year anniversary ;)
While there, we did a few hikes: we hiked to bridal veil falls (well my brother and I climbed some rocks and my parents watched), we hiked a scenic and quiet trail from our hotel to Yosemite falls (the main double-decker waterfall), and we hiked this trail called the Mist trail. Usually, the waterfall you hike next to is constantly spraying you with mist but that was not the case for us. No, no. Instead, we were treated to 33 degrees and a blizzard as we climbed 600 steep granite steps. By the time we were at the top of the falls, the ground was covered and I was cranky from the climb. However, the steps were now too treacherous to climb down so we had to follow a different trail that had us climb the mountain resulting in another 500 foot elevation increase. I was frightened: my hands were numb, we were the only ones on the trail, and our visibility was super limited. 
At one point, we heard a rustling in the bushes and when we looked over, we saw a huge coyote about 10 feet away!!! It was bigger than my 65 pound labradoodles!! After that incident, we were a bit more wary, but we eventually started descending and made our way back down the mountain. Overall, it was a 5+ mile and 4 hour hike. 
What was really lovely was that we were able to see the park in spring and as it would be in winter: completely snow covered. As annoyed as I was that it was snowing in California and 70 degrees in Baltimore, it was a super fun experience.
One more story, I promise!
One of the last things we saw were the sequoia groves. These trees are nearly 3000 years old and, while not as tall as the redwoods, the diameter of their trunks are probably 3-5 times as thick. One tree, the Grizzly Giant, a 2700 year old sequoia has a trunk diameter of 29 feet (roughly the size of the three story building). Seeing these monstrous living creatures as well as the insanely huge and dramatic rock formations really puts everything in perspective. 

Sorry for all the crazy stories, but if you wanna hear more, keep an eye out for the second half of our adventures!!

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