Some photos taken while playing around with my new iPhone X during a hike at Mount Sutro in San Francisco! I couldn't help but portrait mode all of the flora and fauna we came across. After our hike, we decided to pick up one of Clay's favorites: chicken wings! These gochujang and honey salty pepper wings from Hot Sauce and Panko were so tasty and hit the spot. Nearby Lafayette Park was the perfect place to enjoy this mid-afternoon snack!
I truly could not have imagined a more wonderful afternoon with the most dearest girls that God has placed in my life. I have so much gratitude for my amazing bridesmaids and lovely girl friends for throwing me the ultimate alice in wonderland shower! Everything was more than I could ever have dreamed of: all the crazily creative decorations, the extraordinary wonderland-themed table centerpiece, the homemade photo booth props + backdrop, the delightful afternoon tea party, the fun and fitting bites to eat (those purple cupcakes!), the games with just the right amount of silly (Alice Coop!), the once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing backyard croquet with flamingos, the generous gifts and cards, the much-needed prayer in the form of a beautiful fabric bunting, and most of all...just being surrounded by so many of my favorite faces. I was so tremendously blessed by the presence of each and every one of my lady friends who have done so well to encourage me in my relationship with Clay the past 3+ years and to share in all my excitement for this next stage of married life with him.
Also, a BIG thank you to my talented photographer friend, Ronnie, for helping me capture my experience in wonderland! You can see more of her wonderful photography work here! :)
Over Memorial Weekend back in May, Clay and I took a road trip up north to visit Redwood National Park, our third national park of the year. This park pretty much borders the Pacific coast and actually includes two state parks, Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Here are some highlights of the trip:
1) Wild Flowers: We were amazed to see so many colorful wild flowers growing everywhere! At Lady Bird Johnson Grove, a 1.5 hour loop hike, we saw Redwood Sorrel growing along the paths of the trail. Over on Bald Hills Road, we were given many scenic views of a large green prairie full of daisies in bloom. I guess we were lucky to go during the springtime!
2) Roosevelt Elk: We experienced several Roosevelt Elk sightings whether it was on the rolling hills of the prairie, at Gold Bluffs Beach, or crossing the main road of the park. They were always grouped together in herds. I especially liked seeing the male elk with their giant antlers, as well as hearing the funny squeaky noises they made. It was neat to learn that even though in 1925, there were only as few as 15 elk left in the park, Redwood National Park has been working to protect their critical habitats, which has allowed the elk population to rebound since then.
3) Ferns: We also saw a ton of ferns, including fiver-fingered ferns, dark green sword ferns, and lady ferns. Pretty much every hiking trail would allow hikers to see lush ferns along the paths. One of our favorite parts of the trip was definitely going to Fern Canyon. The drive there was was like none other - it seriously felt like we were driving through scenes in Jurassic Park. Fun fact that we found out later: The Lost World: Jurassic Park actually filmed some scenes over at Fern Canyon! Walking through the canyon was absolutely breathtaking. So many ferns covering both sides of the walls, giants logs everywhere, and a small little running on the grounds of the canyon.
Anyway, here is a complete list of all the places we visited from the south end of the park to the north end up to Crescent City (we pretty much just followed the park brochure, stopping at spots we were interested in hiking/seeing): Kuchel Visitor Center, Lady Bird Johnson Grove (1 mile loop), Redwood Creek Overlook, Bald Hills Road, Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Elk Prairie, High Bluff Overlook, Klamath River, Klamath River Overlook, Crescent Beach Overlook, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Howland Hill Road, Stout Grove Loop Trail (0.5 mile), Fern Canyon, Gold Bluffs Beach, Prairie Creek Trail, Big Tree, Cathedral Trail, and Corkscrew Tree. On the way back home, we stopped by Humboldt State Park and Avenue of the Giants.
I'll leave you with a minute-long video that Clay made using his phone - love it when he makes videos! :)
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Earlier this year, Clay and I decided that we wanted to try and visit all 59 U.S. National Parks together (or as many as we can in this lifetime together haha). So a couple of weeks ago during my spring break, Clay and I went to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park to celebrate our 3 year anniversary! It was our first time in the area and it was super easy to visit both of the parks since they were right next to each other.
Here's a list of some of the places we got to visit at Sequoia:
1. General Sherman Tree Trail: We took a short 15 minute walk to go see General Sherman, the largest tree in the world by volume! It's over 2,000 years old and even though the top of the tree is dead, each year it still continues to grow wider!
2. Congress Trail: This was probably my favorite trail of the weekend. Leading us through the Giant Forest Grove, the trail allowed us to see some famous sequoias, including The President, Chief Sequoyah, and the McKinley Tree. It also brought us to the House and Senate, a couple sequoia groves. It was quite awe-inspiring standing next to these magnificent trees that made us feel so tiny.
3. Moro Rock Trail: This trail involved climbing 400 steps up to the top of a large granite dome called Moro Rock. I'm normally not afraid of heights, but I'll admit some spots were kinda scary to look down from. But overall, the different views you can get climbing up are pretty amazing. On one side of the rock, we could see a beautiful landscape of trees covering the mountain - that backdrop definitely made us feel like we were in the fall season.
4. Tunnel Log: We got to drive through a giant fallen sequoia (picture above).
5. Crescent Meadow Loop Trail: Our last stop in the park was a loop trail around crescent meadow, where we also got to see Tharp's Log (the park's oldest cabin), Chimney Tree, and more sequoias. The meadow was so green and still had some snow melting on the edges.
[Places to visit next time: Big Trees Trail, Giant Forest Museum, Crystal Cave, Tokopah Falls, Eagle Lake Trail]
Overall, Sequoia National Park was truly memorable, especially with its giant, massive sequoia trees. We loved identifying them as we walked on the trails or as we drove along the park roads. These trees are definitely one of a kind in the world and unique to this part of California. We are glad to have stood next to them. :)
And here's what we were able to visit at Kings Canyon:
1. General Grant Trail: This trail is located in Grant Grove and allows you to see the General Grant Tree, which is known to be the world's second largest tree by volume. It also has a ton of other neat sights, including the Fallen Monarch, The Gamlin Cabin, The Lincoln Tree, The Twin Sisters, and other sequoias named after different states.
2. Panoramic Point: A scenic viewpoint also located in Grant Grove, where you can see the mountains of the Sierra Nevada stretch before you. From here, you can see Hume Lake.
3. Hume Lake: A recreational lake where we saw a ton of people fishing and canoeing. This area has campsites, a chapel, and serves as a Christian retreat site. We drove around the lake and stopped at Sandy Cove for a nice walk near the water.
4. Junction View: A scenic view point on the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. This was a great spot for us to stop for lunch on our way to the bottom of the canyon. There were a ton of colorful wild flowers growing everywhere during this time!
5. Grizzly Falls: This 80-foot waterfall is just off the road and really easy to see. It even has a small picnic area, bathrooms, and makes for a nice quick stop if you're driving down to Cedar Grove.
6. Roaring River Falls: This super loud and powerful waterfall is also pretty much off the road and only takes a short walk to see. It's definitely worth stopping by to see the Roaring River pour over the rocky gorge and collect into a green pool.
7. Zumwalt Meadow Trail Loop: Our last stop at Kings Canyon was a hike around the lovely Zumwalt Meadow. Even though it started raining a little bit, Clay and I were determined to walk the loop and we were so glad we did, because we ended up seeing two bears eating in the middle of the meadow! So cool!
[Note to self - places to visit next time: Big Stump Trail, Boyden Cave, Mist Falls Trail to Paradise Valley]
Kings Canyon was also quite memorable for us, especially because the bottom of the canyon reminded us of Yosemite. It is surrounded by tall granite rock, just like Yosemite Valley. Zumwalt Meadow reminded us of Yosemite's Tuolomne Meadows as we walked on its wooden paths. There's even a North Dome in Cedar Grove, which is said to resemble Yosemite's Half Dome. However, I appreciated that Kings Canyon was smaller and easier to explore, with barely any people while we were there!
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!
Just capturing as I go.