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Travel: Sequoia with Mom, pt 1

A couple weeks ago I had the awesome privilege of having just my mom come out and visit for a full week. Life had been really busy with so many people visiting and tight deadlines at work so I hadn't really planned what we would do. This was the second time my mom had been here so she wanted to get more of an everyday sense of living here rather than doing all the touristy SF stuff she did last time she was here. Talking to her on the phone a couple days before she came we only had the High Line show on our schedule when she said, "You know I've always wanted to see the sequoias, one of them is named the 'General'" Well then, plan made, we will see the sequoias.

The first day she was here though she went on a day long tour bus to keep herself occupied while i had an 8-hour meeting (THE WORSE THING EVER). So she got her fill of touristy stuff. The next day we went to the Legion of Honor to see the show "High Line" which is a show of the Met's clothing collection. My mom being a seamstress loved it... And I'll post those pics later.

Then the next couple days we were going to go to Sequoia and Yosemite but a storm was passing through so we pushed back the plans and just hung around the house and drove/walked around Oakland. It was nice just having her hang out at my house.

Central Valley
Sequoia NP
Sequoia NP

Then Sunday came around and we got up early, packed our stuff, and headed to Sequoia National Park. We drove for 3 hours through dry grassy hills, and almond tree fields before coming up to the mountains. Driving along a little windy river we came up to the park. It at first just was dry deserty looking plants and I was a little confused, this looks nothing like what I expected. And then we just started driving up a mountain, and kept going up and up and up. What I didn't realize that sequoias grow really really high up, like 7000ft elevation.

Sequoia NP
Sequoia NP
Sequoia NP

I also learned at the park headquarters that Sequoia is the second National Park right after Yellowstone. So on every park ranger in the US they have sequoia cones on their hat and belts, and the NPS badge has a sequoia on it, right behind the bison. Sequoia cones are also like redwoods, they're much smaller than expected. Redwood cones are like a pistachio to cherry size, and sequoia cones are the size of a small egg.

Back to the climbing up a mountain side... My car is a hybrid, and one thing about them is they're really heavy cause of the batteries. So you can imagine they don't have much power for climbing 7000ft in just a few miles. So to our surprise (but shouldn't have been) my mom and I watched our gas milage drop faster and faster until it said we only had about 30 miles left in our tank, in a park with no gas stations. Being a bit worried and embarrassed we drove up to the park museum and confessed our gas shortage to a ranger. He was nice and told us there was a gas station right outside the park in the direction we were going and it was only about 20 miles away... and the best part, we were at the top of the hill, all down hill from there. Phew.

After the worry about gas we started enjoying the change in environment. As we climbed up the mountainside we went from dry grass to pines to SEQUOIAS. Having just been in the redwoods a week prior I was ready to see giant trees. But me oh my, these trees were way bigger than I imagined. Although not as tall as the coastal redwoods, they are massive around. They didn't evenly taper to the top like pines just went straight up and then stopped at the top with a few arm like branches at the top. And the giant sequoias were fewer and far between compared to the redwoods. There would be regular pines and smaller sequoias the BAM a huge giant. It was incredible.

Sequoia NP
Sequoia NP
Sequoia NP

Our second stop after the museum was to the General Sherman tree. This is the largest tree by volume in the WORLD. This tree is dead on top but is still growing wider. I'm not sure how that's possible but it is. It's largest branch was 7ft in diameter before falling off. The base of the tree has a diameter of 36.5" and a circumference of 102.6"... yeah it's big. And photos do it no justice. It is also a young 2,300–2,700 years and 275 ft tall.

Sequoia NP
Sequoia NP
Sequoia NP

Eventually we made our way then to General Grant grove actually located in Kings Canyon NP (the two parks join together). The Grant tree is the second largest tree in the world. Surprisingly I learned visiting that tree that the sizes are not indicative of the trees age. The size is based more on the conditions they live in. Grant tree is only 1,650 years old, I also learned the sequoias can stay relatively small for long periods of time as well if the growing conditions aren't perfect. The Grant tree is the "National Christmas Tree" and decorated with a wreath every year. It has a larger circumference, 107.6", then the Sherman tree so for a long time it was thought to be larger.

Sequoia NP
Sequoia NP
Sequoia NP
Sequoia NP

After lots of tree photos we then drove down the mountain side back into the central valley chasing the sun. We drove for another hour or so before ending up in Oakhurst a small tourist town directly south of Yosemite, and got some rest before our big adventure the next day in... YOSEMITE.

Sequoia NP

Have you been to Sequoia?

Huggles,
Lauren
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Travel: Avenue of the Giants

In the past couple weeks I've actually been able to cross a couple things off my 30 before 30 list. So here's the first I did, I ran a 10k!

The Avenue of the Giants marathon is one of the most sought after marathons in the state, and now I know why. I've driven the Avenue before but we stayed the entire weekend up there and got to do all the fun kitschy touristy stuff before running on Sunday. And man oh man it was THE MOST beautiful run I've ever done.

We drove up on Friday afternoon getting to the campground late in the evening, thanks traffic. Our tent spot was amazing and right on the river which was lovely to wake up to. First we stopped in Garberville and had breakfast at a great little greasy spoon. It was a teeny town, but had a lot of charm and cute store signs.

Garberville

In the morning we woke up bright and early and got started on all the fun 1950's kitschy touristy stuff! We first stopped by the One Log House and the Grandfather Tree. Unfortunately the grandfather tree but you could see it from the road! It's a redwood that has a circumference of 55ft and 245ft tall, and it's over 1800 years old!

Grandfather Tree

Then we walked over to the One-Log House! It's so cute, is was made from a hallowed out log in 1947 which is sad to know it was from a super old tree... hopefully it was a fallen tree :( Anyway inside the Log house it had a kitchen area, a bedroom area with two twin beds, and a living room. I wish you could rent it, it reminded me of a little log house we had for my calico critter toys I played with as a kid!

One Log House
One Log House Interior

Next was Confusion Hill which is a good ole' mystery spot and roadside attraction! I know there's lot's of mystery spots all over in Kentucky, Oregon, Santa Cruz, and lotsa places. There were little kid things, a train ride, a shoe house, and other fun stuff. Their main attraction was the defying gravity house! Water and balls go up hill, and you swing to the side... one can't even standup straight!

Confusion Hill
Confusion Hill
Confusion Hill

In actuality it's just a crooked house. The weird thing is that actually all the weird angles and such made me feel a little sick and lightheaded. The floors were all at an angle and it was a little dizzying.

Confusion Hill

After we drove back towards our campsite and to the Shrine Drive-thru Tree! It's of course like any drive-thru tree, EXCEPT it's a naturally split tree. It was cheap to get in and even though it's really only a loop you drive thru, stop and get your picture, it still was really fun. Driving through the tree was a little worrisome though! Next now I need to go through the Chandelier Tree!! Around the little park was a little walk-thru house, a group of trees and two little houses carved from stumps. It was pretty cute!

Shrine Tree
Shrine Tree
Shrine Cathedral Tree

We spent the rest of our Saturday we hung around and walked around. There were so many grove that I'd love to explore, but we only walked around a couple. The most amazing one was Founder's Grove. It was a small looped walk where the founders tree is, an albino tree, and tons of gigantic fallen trees. I swear the fallen trees were larger then the ones standing, they were incredibly huge and beautiful, the patterns the root systems looked like beautiful flowers.

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We went to bed early so we got lot's of rest before Sunday's race. We got up extra early on Sunday so we could park by this grove near the race. Then we napped a bit before walking to the starting line. I'm really glad we did cause there were cars parked beyond ours when we walked down. When we got to the start there were quite a lot of people but no where near as many people as big city marathons, which is how this marathon tries to be, more small and intimate. The marathoners had already started so we all had to just wait for the half marathon to start then the 10k. I hope that maybe next year I can do the half marathon! I was so proud of myself running this 10k. And I think it was actually an easier run because of how amazingly gorgeous it was. Whenever you got tired or mad at running, all you had to do was look up and see the beautiful trees surrounding you. I was able to run two miles without stopping which doesn't sound like much I know, but I'm more of a run walk kind of gal. After that I only stopped for 10 seconds after every mile. Mike only took one walk I think, but he is a runner, so he of course didn't need as much walking as me :) But it wasn't bad cause look I'm kinda smiling in my pictures! I finished in 1:07 and Mike finished in :59, I'm really proud of my time, I beat my goal and Mike made his, YAY!


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Before and After the run!


Running with other people really helped, I soon started pacing with a few women and that kept me pushing myself. With all my rowing I found that it helped me so much with breathing, I didn't have any breathing issues. The only thing that hurt was my middle toe and my knees were a little sore. Overall I can't wait for my next race! And I hope to make the Avenue of the Giants a yearly endeavor!

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If you ever have the chance to visit Northern California, you have to stop and drive the Avenue of the Giants. It really is the most beautiful drive I've experienced (and I've driven lots of places!) and has the best redwoods. Better that Redwood National Park, John Muir, anywhere, it's absolutely breathtaking.


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Life: What's up?

So what's up with you? My life has just been puting along. My 30 before 30 goals are still going strong.

1. Go to Europe- Instead of my goal going to Europe we decided to go to Alaska to visit family and explore a bunch. I still need to go to Europe soon hopefully.

2. Get Invisalign: Got a good deal through my old dentist but unfortunately tax season (having worked as a contractor) derailed me but I think I'm still on track for the end of the year.

3. Double my savings: Saving every paycheck!

4. Build another plant box: I haven't built a third planter box but my green thumb has been going crazy, we have so many peaches coming in, and I'm growing a potato bucket which has been doing well.

5. Go to Yosemite: Mike and I have a reservation to camp in Yosemite, and I'm taking my mom there too.

6. Row 3x a week and get on the water: I row twice a week and will bump it up to three times once my race is over, my arms are getting quite muscle-y. I've also got all the info to join the rowing club on Lake Merritt near my house!

7. Paint 6 paintings: I'm slow to start on this

8. Submit to a gallery: I need paintings to do this :(

9. Sew a complete outfit: I have the fabric and patterns!

10. Reupholster my awesome chair: I am reupholstering a smaller chair first!

11. Go skiing again in the Sierras (not on the smallest bunny hill): I don't think I'll be going skiing this year with the drought and all, but I'm ok with missing that goal. It's crazy how dry it's been here.

12. Take an art class: I start a still life painting class next month which is major cause I hate still life painting. I think then I'm signing up for a wheel throwing class then :)

13. Learn to cure meats: I'll get there.

14. Go to Mt. Shasta: In the plans!

15. Expand my illustration business: Not sure where to start here.

16. Go back country camping: I've talked to a few friends and I think there will be something!

17. Learn to do a handstand: Luckily my circus training coworker said she'd help me!

18. Run a half marathon: I run a 10k through the Avenue of the Giants in Redwood next weekend, it's no half marathon but it's a start of course with one of the most beautiful runs in the US.

19. Get another tattoo: Trying to book with my favorite artists now!

20. Go to Alcatraz: still lame and haven't gone

21. Learn to really ride a motorcycle: Dad's in town, sooooo....

22. Record a song: Mike started writing a song for us!

23. Bike part of the Bay Trail: Although I bike to work everyday I have not done this.

24. Hike at least twice a month: I've gotten like three hikes in, soooo not succeeding.

25. Have another craft party: I haven't hosted a craft party but I've gone to many already! My friend stephanie has now hosted two shibori dyeing parties which have been amazing!

26. Learn Archery: I think we're going next month!

27. Explore the Bay area more: Although we haven't done this extensively I am getting to know more of my neighbors and exploring my neighborhood a lot more.

28. Make Wine: Wine stomping starts in August and I've already got a group of friends interested in getting a group reservation.

29. Go Kayaking: Kayaking we plan on kayaking and camping in Kenai Fjords in AK.

30. BE HAPPY! The past few months have been up and down. I'm really proud of the work I'm doing for Weather Underground, I did a round of the Whole 30 and lost 15lbs, my best friend Jen visited me and we had a staycation in SF (more on that later), At work we launch this awesome poster campaign, Tripp is doing training again and doing well, my dad fixed my kitchen light and is visiting, Mike's sister visited, I managed our Earth Day project and did artwork for it (I'm going to share some later), I got Mike to watch anime with me... So I think things are going pretty well.

On that last note here is the song that's been inspiring me and making me the most happiest.



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Life: 2014 Favorites & 2015 Goals

2015 Goals

Well let's start with the goals... well my 30 before 30 covers most all of my big goals, but other than that I want to grow more of my own food, and cut out as much food with preservatives as possible as told to me by my doc.
What else... hmmm, actually get up and dress nice for work, my work is alright with jeans and hoodies but that doesn't make me feel good about myself, so let's get dressed nicer again!
- Walk my dog more, duh.
- Finish projects.
- And this song "Thirteen" by Big Star is more inspiration for the 2015; lovely, simple and oh so heartfelt.



2014 Favorites

Lets just do something real simple... a top ten list.

10. Managed some great projects at work
9. Went to my 10 year high school reunion.
8. Grew an edible garden.
7. Furnished my flat with mainly thrift store or free antiques.
6. Started really giving into my old nerdiness, um hello Anime Conventions, maker fairs, comics, and toys.
5. Went on a few big & mini roadtrips and camped; Steep cliff ravine, Tahoe, Henry Coe State Park, Big Basin, Pebble Beach/Carmel, Portland/Southern Oregon.
4. Went home to Ohio twice.
3. Allyson and Brandon visited.
2. Went to Philly and TURKS & CAICOS.

And drumroll please... number 1 is...
1. Lived through a pretty good year.

Hope your year was great, and I'm sure 2015 will be even better. Happy New Year!
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Work: Just another Pet Portrait

Over the holidays I always end up doing custom watercolor pet portraits, and this year I was featured in House Beautiful so I got even more orders! I had to say no to people, that was saddening... But here's a quick look at the pets this season!

Holiday 2014 Pet Portraits

Happy Howl-idays!