Clay and I had the opportunity to explore Sacramento while on a trip to attend DK & Lauren's wedding in nearby Clarksburg. We arrived in Sac right at noon and headed straight to Tower Cafe, where I got to try their famous custard-soaked French toast per Lauren's recommendation! Clay ordered the Eggs Tower, their version of eggs benedict, his usual brunch choice. Afterwards, we got to check out some cool downtown murals and pick up some flavorful coffee at Temple, Sacramento's local coffee roaster. Since it was a pretty warm day, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon staying cool at the trendy and modern Kimpton Sawyer Hotel until it was time to head over to the Old Sugar Mill for the wedding celebration. We were so happy to witness DK & Lauren seal the deal after 8+ years of dating! Their wedding was so sweet, beautiful, and full of thoughtful details that characterized the both of them (i.e., a farmers market wedding favor stand, a shaved ice food truck that catered dole whip popsicles, and a first dance to "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"). After the wedding, we spent the night back at our hotel hanging out with Jeff & Kirstie, who we had booked the room with to share. The next morning, we had a lot of fun playing darts with them at Punch Bowl Social on the Kimpton's second floor, before we headed up to the third floor for a chill poolside hangout with the newlyweds! Our last stop in Sac before heading home was Gunther's, where the boys got ice cream cones and the girls got refreshing 50/50 fruit freezes.
Clay planned a weekend getaway for us to Safari West in Santa Rosa (which I never knew existed before). Our weekend consisted of a one-night stay in one of their giant African safari tents, as well as an in-room massage and an afternoon safari tour. I must admit, this glamping experience was quite pricy. Clay and I also had mixed feelings seeing some of the animals being kept in cages when we first arrived. However, we ended up really enjoying the safari tour, which helped us to change our minds about our initial reservations. Our 4-hour tour was extremely informative and allowed us to learn so much about each animal that we saw. We learned about how Safari West cares for its animals by practicing enrichment, which involves changing the animal's physical environment on a daily basis. We were able to see how the animals (whether it be monkey, rhino, or ostrich) really did have a good relationship with their caretakers. Some benefits the animals at Safari West get are: ample food and shelter, safety from predators, and breeding opportunities. Overall, it was neat to see how Safari West promotes wildlife conservation, research, and public education. It also gives those who love animals the opportunity to work closely with them. Pretty much all the employees we met there were genuinely excited and passionate about their work with the wildlife.
During our trip, we were also able to visit downtown Santa Rosa for a couple of meals, and were surprised by how hip the restaurants and coffee shops there were! Bird & the Bottle, where we went for brunch, served us a delicious Asian fusion dish. We also found out that Santa Rosa is the home of Charles Schulz! We saw several statues of different Peanuts characters scattered throughout downtown -- apparently, there are 70 statues in public view that one could spend an entire weekend looking for in Santa Rosa!
An evening fishing excursion at Hamilton Branch, a creek that flows into the northeast corner of Lake Almanor:
01 - A view of Hamilton Branch Creek from the bridge
02 - Peering down at our fishing spot, where we had to make our way down the trail to
03 - My happy angler fishing during the last hour of daylight
04 - Calling it a day at 8:28pm
Over Memorial Day Weekend, Clay and I finally made the trip out to Lassen, checking off our last national park in California! From Friday-Monday, we stayed at St. Bernard Lodge, a friendly Bed & Breakfast located about 20 minutes from the main park entrance. Each morning, we enjoyed a nice breakfast buffet prepared for us by the B&B's owner.
On the first day, we visited the Kohm Yah-mah-nee (Snow Mountain) Visitor Center, where we watched a short film and learned that Lassen is one of the few places on earth where you can find all 4 types of volcanoes: shield, cinder cone, dome plug, and composite! Then we drove out to Sulfur Works, an easily accessible hydrothermal area where we were able to get a good look at some bubbling mudpots and steam vents. Since the main road of the park was still closed (we were very lucky it opened the day after), we decided to drive to the Warner Valley trailhead and hike 1.2 miles to Boiling Springs Lake. The hike was beautiful and the trail took us through a lush green meadow and across a bridge, leading us to a bubbling lake! I was quite mesmerized by all the different colors that the lake displayed and by the sight of the steam rising up from the water. Boiling Springs Lake was probably my favorite from the weekend! After the hike, Clay and I spent the rest of the day in the small town of Chester at the Lassen Gift Company & Soda Fountain (where we got an ice cream sundae) and The Locker Room (where we ate dinner and watched the NBA finals).
On the second day, we were able to drive through the main road of the park. We stopped by Emerald Lake and Lake Helen, which were both frozen and just starting to melt. At Lake Helen, we could see people hiking the snowcapped Lassen Peak. Other spots we stopped to see or drove by were: Kings Creek, Summit Lake, and Chaos Crags. We ended our drive at the northwest end of the park, where we visited the Loomis Museum and hiked the self-guided Lily Pond Trail (0.6 mile loop trail). We also hiked Reflection Lake (0.5 mile loop trail) and Manzanita Lake (1.8 mile loop trail). Clay ended up bringing his fishing pole so that he could stop and fish during our hike around the two lakes. Though we didn't have enough time to actually wait long enough for any fish to catch, all of the fishing spots we found around the lake provided beautiful views of Lassen Peak. Reflection and Manzanita Lake pretty much wrapped up our time at Lassen, but we did end up visiting another fishing spot at Hamilton Branch, which I'll cover in a separate post.
Next time we return to Lassen, hopefully we will be able to check out Bumpass Hell (closed this time) and hike Cinder Cone! For now, I feel very content with what we were able to see and will consider it a good preview to Yellowstone.
One of my favorite activities to do with my husband is road tripping, especially if they are spontaneous or semi-spontaneous. The past few years out of college, I've slowly grown to become a pretty big planner (and a very detail-oriented one when it came to my wedding / comes to traveling). So to be able to just throw some clothes and toiletries together in a duffle bag, hop in the car, and drive away on a semi-spontaneous trip (decided just a few days before) to Travertine Hot Springs in Bridgeport, CA at the end of 2017 was quite great. Other than wanting to seeing the natural hot springs, we had nothing else planned.
Another reason why I love going on road trips with Clay is because it gives us time to just talk with no distractions - no phones (Reddit for him / Instagram for me), laptops (work, e-mails to respond to, etc.), or TV shows running in the background - just us and the scenery outside our car windows. I remember back in 2013, the very first road trip we went on together was to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, which involved a 12+ hour drive. Later, another 12+ hour road trip we went on together was to Crater Lake and Portland. These days, we've come to accept that we just don't have as much energy for such long road trips anymore, so this 6 hour one to Bridgeport was just right. Just enough time to reflect on the past year and share our resolutions and hopes for the upcoming new year. Time to have some serious conversations about things that have been on our minds and time to just be silly/goofy/weird together in the car. Just for these talks that we get to have while driving, I am thankful for these road trips!
Anyway, we stayed two nights at Walker River Lodge, one of two main hotels in Bridgeport...which is really just one main street with the Mono County Court House and some other small restaurants and shops. Almost all of them were closed for the holiday weekend (or for the entire winter haha). Some personal highlights of our weekend included: waking up at 6:30am to catch the sunrise at Travertine Hot Springs, eating cheesy chicken alfredo pizza at the Virginia Creek Settlement Restaurant, walking through Bodie State Historic Park (a historic gold mining town turned ghost town), and watching Will Smith movies together in our little hotel room. Couldn't have asked for a more chill, low-key getaway to end the year with.
Just capturing as I go.