'Tis the season for family photos (and of course, those holiday cards)! Had a wonderful time shooting these family portraits with Christine and Andy, their 3-month-old baby Caleb, and their dog Marlowe over at Crissy Field and the Warming Hut Park Store & Cafe in San Francisco! Always down for an outdoor family portrait session during the holiday season :)
Just a little over two years ago, I was studying abroad in Paris and remember being very excited for these two to come visit, so that I could show them some of my favorite spots in the city. On a warm summer afternoon, the three of us shared colorful Pierre Hermé macarons, walked through the cobblestone streets of Paris, and spent an evening sitting & talking on the steps in front of Sacré-Cœur. It feels like not too long ago, I was taking photos of them at the lovely Jardin du Luxembourg and fast forward to this past weekend, I had the opportunity of taking their engagement photos at the lovely San Jose Municipal Rose Garden. It was a delightful afternoon walking through the garden with Jack and Jasmine while capturing their joyful, silly, fun-loving relationship. One of my favorite memories of these two actually happened about a year ago, when our church was organizing a Pastor's Appreciation Night. Jasmine choreographed a dance and body worship to "God's Great Dance Floor" and was open to teaching anybody who wanted to learn. Jack and I both decided to be a part of it. I remember seeing Jack put in a lot of effort to learn the dance during the practices and seeing Jasmine give him constant encouragement. Through those practices, I not only saw their love for each other, but also their dedication to showing appreciation to the pastors at our church. Over the years, I'm glad to have witnessed how these two have loved and supported each other as well as the ways they've become so involved at our church. So excited for what's in store for them as they get married and start this new season of life together!
This month, I've been realizing how much of a blessing all these camping trips have been for me this year. There definitely have been many moments where I've found myself thinking, "Clay and I are way too crazy for wanting to go camping once a month for a whole entire year...this seems like a bit much...we are ridiculous...how are we going to make each trip happen?!" But each time as we leave for a weekend trip, I am reminded that there is so much to be thankful for.
I'm so thankful for Clay and his infectious love for the outdoors - for coming up with this delightfully crazy idea and making it all happen month by month. I'm thankful for the initiative he took to research and book all the 12 camping sites, rescheduling when conflicts would arise (usually because of my classes), planning and coordinating each trip, staying stress-free and flexible, always showing himself to be caring towards his fellow campers, and being a responsible, reliable, fun and adventurous camping leader.
I'm thankful for all the different people that we have been able to share our camping trips with so far. It's been amazing being able to spend time with so many of our friends from our church, Breakaway, as well as our college friends from Berkeley, and sometimes even both mixed together on some trips! Spending time with old friends and finding chances to make new ones is always enjoyable. I'm also thankful that we managed to spend more time with our families on some of these weekends camping trips too :) when we planned a trip for my family at Butano and had Clay's brother fly over and join us out in Yosemite!
I'm thankful for the rest that comes with each camping trip. My professor from my Spiritual Development and Assessment class this fall semester made a point to talk to our class about the importance of relaxation and play, which I know may sound so basic...but I oftentimes forget. This past year, camping has been an activity that has given me so much rest and renewal amidst busy weeks and hectic months. I'm so glad we blocked off time on our calendar and reserved weekends to allow time for that. (Also, rest that comes with exercise and that helps us to stay fit is a big PLUS.)
I'm thankful for the opportunity camping has given me to continue practicing my photography. I know on all of these camping trips I only have been using my iPhone, but I love just being able to take pictures for my own enjoyment. And especially pictures of nature! There's always a different scene to capture and I always appreciate the challenge of trying to keep each photo as natural and true to what I was able to see and experience in person. I'm grateful that camping gives me a casual and relaxed environment to pursue photography as my creative outlet.
I'm thankful for the time I get to spend outside with God's creation - such a gift this one is! Sometimes it's overwhelming for me to think that God has created a world with so much to see, but it helps to remember that there is so much to discover just around here back at home in the state of California! So many different landscapes from the deserts of Joshua Tree to the granite cliffs of Yosemite to the giant redwoods of Henry Cowell to the magnificent coasts of Big Sur to the waterfalls at Uvas Canyon. I absolutely love California and the many sights of creation that it has to offer. Each county/state/national park is so unique and special with its own quirks and I truly I hope that I was able to show that through my photos.
Anyway, I'll close with a quick recap of our trip this past weekend to Uvas Canyon County Park, which was just 35 minutes away from my house (so close!). After stopping by Trail Dust BBQ in Morgan Hill for some ribs and pulled pork, our group headed right over to campsite #15. Our afternoon consisted of a hike along the Waterfall Loop Trail, where we were able to see Granuja Falls, Little Falls, Upper Falls, Basin Falls, and many other smaller waterfalls. After finishing that loop, we hiked down the Swanson Creek Trail to Lower Falls. There were so many fall leaves, acorns, and tiny twigs on the ground and the autumn air was so fresh! It was also nice to constantly hear water gently running/falling, even from back at our campsite.
Overall, I think that Uvas Canyon is a great county park to visit with several family-friendly hiking trails and waterfalls to find during rainy season. It is very well-maintained with clean restrooms, shower accommodations, food lockers, campfire pits, and picnic areas. It's nearby location makes a short day trip or camping trip easy and convenient...I'll just say, even waking up at 4am to find that it had rained through our tent was alright, since we could just pack up and drive home within an hour! Also, yay for instant hot ramen.
Our camping destination for the month of October was Joshua Tree National Park, located in Southern California, just east of Palm Springs. This was the furthest we had to drive for our camping trip so far! Luckily, Clay and I had a couple of our wonderful college friends/awesome camping buddies, Justin and Shira, join us along for the road trip : ) Below is a quick recap of the places visited during our weekend camping in the desert with the Joshua Trees:
1. Hemingway Buttress & Banana Cracks: This was our first stop to get a closer look at some Joshua Trees before heading over to our campsite. This was also when I realized that Joshua Tree was an ideal location for people looking to go rock climbing and bouldering. There were so many rock formations everywhere and it was common to see climbers walking around with their gear & crash pads.
2. Hall of Horrors: Our second stop was another popular rock climbing destination located directly across the road from Saddle Rock (part of Ryan Mountain, also one of the largest single rock formations in the park) and nearby Skull Rock (formation that resembles a skull). Here, we did some climbing around on the East Wall on some friendlier formations.
3. Indian Cove Campgrounds: After making a loop through the park and stopping by the Oasis Visitor Center, we finally arrived at our home for the weekend, campsite #88! The nice thing about this campground was that the sites were pretty spread out from each other. Each site included with a picnic table and fire pit; toilets were interspersed in between sites. The campsites were spread along one main road that was tucked in between towering sand-colored rock formations that were dotted with shrubs and desert plants. It was amazing being surrounded by such a unique and natural landscape - it felt like we were on another planet/in another world! Two of my favorite moments at Indian Cove were (1) climbing around the rock formations that were part of our campsite and (2) leaving our tent rainfly off during the last night so that we could sleep right underneath the stars.
4. Cholla Cactus Garden: In between the Hexie and Pinto Mountains, near the Pinto Basin is the Cholla Cactus Garden (pronounced choy-a). This is also near where the Mojave and Colorado deserts merge. The garden contains a short quarter-mile loop that brings visitors through a small densely populated area filled with cholla cacti. Most of the cholla we saw displayed a range of colors, from dark brown to light green to bright yellow.
5. Barker Dam: A 1.3 mile loop trail that takes visitors through a variety of landscapes to an area that was once used by cowboys to water their cattle. The dam was originally built in a basin by the Barker & Shay Cattle Company. Today it has become a small rain-filled pool, a tiny lake habitat in the desert.
6. Hidden Valley: A 1 mile loop trail that takes visitors through a valley between tall, giant rock formations. This used to be a location where stolen herds of cattle would be concealed! For us, it was a great place to eat a picnic lunch, take an afternoon nap up on the rocks above the valley, and go on a short & leisurely hike.
7. Keys View: A panoramic view of Coachella Valley located on the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Here, visitors can see the Salton Sea, Santa Rosa Mountains, San Jacinto Peak, Palm Springs, and San Gorgonio Mountain. This location even offers a viewpoint of the San Andreas Fault running through the valley.
8. Jumbo Rocks Campground & Sunset: The last point of interest of the weekend was a quick drive through the Jumbo Rocks Campground. We saw many people reading and relaxing on their camping chairs, which they had perched on top of the rock formations around the site. After that, we got to see one last desert sunset against the landscape of the Joshua Trees! Here's a moment from that below:
Here's a video that Clay made from our trip that weekend!
Just capturing as I go.