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.
My dear friend Nancy is currently living in Korea teaching students English at a one-year program. Last month, however, I was quite happily surprised to receive a phone call from her one afternoon to discover that she had come back home to California for her winter break! It was so wonderful having her back for a little while. We shared so many photos, videos, and stories of our time out of the country, she shared about her students in Korea and I shared about the children in Nepal/India. She taught me and Clay how to make a delicious vegetarian lasagna (she's quite gifted in the kitchen!). And we even found a day to make a trip up to San Francisco to walk through Mount Sutro, which was absolutely gorgeous. The air was so amazingly fresh and the floors were covered with lush (even fluorescent) greens that also wrapped around the trees. We were definitely dazed and very much so refreshed to be surrounded by this SF forest scene.
My friend Dennis thought that it'd be a good idea to celebrate his sister's birthday this year by giving her a photo shoot and I was glad to help! Emma came down to the South Bay early on a cloudy Saturday morning and luckily, there was no rain at that hour. We all decided to head over to the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga which was close by and had a variety of different spots including a hiking trail (with a running creek!), a historic villa, and a garden theatre. It was a morning well spent shooting these two siblings!
This Thanksgiving morning my sister and I went outside on a walk around our neighborhood to catch up. We ended up returning home with an assortment of different leaves - it's truly amazing the range of colors you can collect just up and down your street! Thought I'd lay them out to appreciate the these beautiful fall colors a little more.
Just capturing as I go.