Big Bend National Park – November 2020

Before we officially made the move across country, our good pals Jen and Ian (who also moved from SF to Austin about 6 months before us) asked us if we would join them in Big Bend National Park for a week in November. I never visited before so of course we said YES PLEASE and let them do all the planning. You know how it goes, things book up 6-8 months in advance and especially during COVID everyone wants their fair share of exploring the outdoors, so they jumped on an awesome campsite for part of our travels, and also successfully secured us a two night stay at the newly finished Basecamp Terlingua bubbles 🙂 . Read along to hear how this group of new Texans navigated West Texas!

To break up the trip we decided to spend about 5 hours driving on our first day and stayed in a hotel in Fort Stockton. There wasn’t anything particularly special about this except that we had some of the most bomb dot com Mexican food since we moved. After a fresh night of rest we drove through Marathon down to our campsite at the Rio Grande Village, where we met up with another couple friends. This campsite is the closest one to the actual bend in the Rio Grande river and was definitely a different experience than California camping. Like for example, the wild javalinas (otherwise known as wild hogs), roadrunners and endless amounts of spiders present. One would never hear 2 wild hogs mating in the wild in the redwood forest!

After checking out the visitor center, talking to the rangers and seeing dinosaur fossils on display, we explored the quick trail at the river and were practically in Mexico! There were lots of local folks along the way selling cute art and cold coke-a-colas. I totally got both on our way back as the roadrunner figurine was adorable and as it was hot AF in mid-November, I needed a cold refreshing Mexican coke (which are the best cokes out there IMO).

We also experienced the most breathtaking sunset hike just a short walk from our campsite. It was so nice, John and I did it TWICE.

It was a bit strange to not be able to have a camp fire as we’ve pretty much always done so in California, but we still had a blast and saw the stars like never before! I was actually surprised at how chilly it got because it was very hot earlier. How do people camp here in the spring or summer? I have no idea – but if I were you I would book a fall/winter trip.

The next day we hiked the famous Lost Mine Trail, which is just under 5 miles roundtrip and one of the few moderate options in the park. There are tons of hard and easy hikes, but not a lot of middle of the road options, so this trail has a lot of traffic. We went after breakfast and completed the trail in about 3 hours. I had no idea we were basically hiking to the tip top of the viewing point, so the first 75% of the hike seemed totally normal to me but the top was very steep and a bit nerve wrecking, but once I made it all the way it was so awesome! I am getting better about handling my anxiety around heights and “falling off a mountain top” but each and every hike like this where I push myself outside of my comfort zone only makes me stronger. And like Miley Cyrus sings, “it’s the climb” – both literally and figuratively.

After dinner, we drove off road to see Ernst Tinaja, a geological formation and walk that a Park Ranger told us was a must see for geology lovers. After taking about an hour to actually drive there off road (it was only 6 miles!) John and I ran out to see it RIGHT before the sun went down and man we are so glad we made it happen! We were able to spend about 20 minutes before it was total darkness and another 45 minutes to an hour drive back. If you have a great car for off roading, do it!

It was an incredible day of seeing new things and exploring a whole new side of Texas with our best friends.

After our last night camping we packed up and drove across the park to the famous divide. We had planned to do some light hiking but we got a late start and we didn’t have a lot of food on hand so we opted to save our energy. We still explored tons of rocks and found boundless quartz and rock crystals without having to venture too far out. It was so cool to see upclose and personal.

And after we left the park we drove to Terlingua and made it to our famous bubble!

It was incredible to be able to see the stars and actually capture them with a camera. We used our Canon DSLR via long exposure and had a few great selects.

The town of Terlingua is so cute and small but just the perfect vibe to spend a few night glamping after tent camping in the park. The bubble was interesting, it had a small room outside of the bubble with two doors and a whole system of opening one door and closing the other because if both doors closed, the bubble would deflate. And yep it happened on accident! However, once we figured it out the bubble quickly filled up with air again. It was quite comical but amazing the time we live in.

Our last day was spent exploring Terlingua and Lajitas where we had more delish Mexican food and did some boutique shopping and graveyard exploring before spending the last night in the HOT TUB, drinking wine and watching the stars.

I was a bit sad when we came to the end of our trip out West. I had never experienced West Texas before in my previous life as a Texan. I think it was just so far away from everything at the time, my family didn’t plan trips that way since our relatives were always east of us (being in San Antonio). But I would definitely go back and want to explore more parts of Texas that I’ve never been!

We drove off back towards Austin through Alpine where we got one of the last photos of the Alpine Target. It was demolished a few weeks after our visit because it was found structurally unsafe (eeee!) but at least we got to see it. We decided not to go to Marfa because it was out of the way and our trip was already so long, plus we heard that it’s not much different than Alpine or surrounding areas – it just has this hipster art label and a fake Prada. Maybe one day we will go back and see it, but unless it’s along the way of something else we are doing I don’t think I would go out of my way.

Next on our list is Palo Duro, Sam Houston State Park, Garner State Park and Guadalupe Mountains (and hoping for Carlsbad Caverns if we’re out there). Hoping we can get 1-2 of those off our list by end of year!

I hope you get the chance to explore Big Bend National Park and West Texas at some point in your life, it’s such a unique place and charming vibe. I also threw up some shots into my store so if you’re interested in having a little piece of West Texas in your home ❤

It’s the Lands End Of the World as We Know It

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As January comes to a close I reflect over the past 31 days with fondness. January felt really awesome in a lot of ways! Did you feel that too, or was it just me? From slowing down and being more available “with myself” to incorporating more yoga into my routine to FINALLY getting a DSLR and embarking on a new hobby (and goal) –  I feel very pleased with how 2018 has blasted off. Nope, I didn’t watch the State of the Union Address either because I am focusing on things that make me happy at this time in my life, but I heard about the crazy drinking games surrounding it and I think that WOULD be the only way I could have watched it tbh… but let’s move on to the BEAUTIFUL LEFT COAST!

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Just creepin’ around….INTO YOUR SOUL.

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Lands End is one of my favorite places for a nice trail walk in the city. It’s at the edge of the city (hence the name Lands End…DUH) right where the cliffs meet the ocean and the thick fog meets the gorgeous forest. It’s not super close to our house but also not too far either. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors without having to drive away from the city or embark on a strenuous 8 mile hike. Or as I would say, lazy nature. ❤

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I am really getting into this photography thing and I’m also pleasantly surprised that John is taking a liking to it too, maybe even more so than me! But that’s all good news because #instagramhusband and all. (Who else is going to take my picture to prove that I’m a #realblogger? 😉 )

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Look at the surfers from way up top! They look like ants. The ocean is like a center for ants….

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This view is so gorgeous. The west coastline takes my breath away for real. When I get overstimulated, I take a walk outside, find a park, breathe in the fresh crisp air, and think about all of the things that I am grateful for, like THIS CITY OMFG Y’ALL!!!!!

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And what a perfect flower to stumble upon at the end of our walk, SPRING IS COMING and I’m taking it all in! But right now, let’s live for today and focus on what is in front of us…like BIRTH MONTH FEBRUARY – HOLLA! ❤

GUALALAAAAA LOVE

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Last month John and I had a little getaway up north to Gualala, just right off the coast. It very much felt like the vibe from the AMC series of Bates Motel, if that means anything to you (not gonna lie, if it’s creepy I’ve probably seen it). We found a badass Airbnb on a private property in the redwood forest WITH A PRIVATE HOT TUB!!!!!

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It was so nice to get off the grid for a little bit. Working in tech and living in SF can make one lost in touch with nature and the outside world of not being on your phone all the time, which is why we always make an effort to get outside and hike and remove ourselves from technology. We were blessed with great weather that allowed us to kayak for a few hours, and it was a ton of fun just the two of us, the river, kayak, and sunshine.

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Northern California is just SO DAMN BEAUTIFUL, I tell you what (any King of the Hill fans here?). While mid-kayak we stumbled into this campsite off the river that was in off-season. It felt strange walking around this abandoned campsite, exploring the space alone. Although this particular campsite was super awesome and beautiful, I would totally go camping there in the future.

IMG_8014.jpgHello 1983? Can you bring back 80’s camping movie vibes into current modern day media? K, thanks~

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The water was pretty low since it was in fall season. John had to drag us through a couple low points barefoot which was funny to experience. But if you happen to make a trip to Gualala, I highly suggest kayaking or camping as it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen!

IMG_7987.jpgHOT TUB TIME MACHINE HAPPY HOUR FOR THE WIN!

Relaxing in the woods was just what we needed. It could have been a scary movie at any point, as most start usually with a cabin in the woods or a hike gone wrong. But luckily we didn’t fall victim to any weirdos out there lurkin’. (#murderino #stayoutoftheforest)

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One night we ate out at St. Orres, this enchanting old timey parlor house that serves delicious fancy cocktails. We definitely knew we were in a small town as we were asked frequent questions about who we were, where we were from, what were we doing in Gualala, WHAT WERE OUR RISING SIGNS?!, etc. It was a completely different vibe from the city, that’s for sure 🙂

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We took one last hike from the back of our Airbnb to this glorious viewpoint before heading out on our next adventure up the road at Hearn Gulch Cove.

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We found the enchanting pathway that lead from the top of the cliff down into the cove, and felt like we were the only people on earth!

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IMG_8083.jpgGoonies vibes, anyone? #ourtimedownhere

After saying goodbye to Gualala we drove down the beautiful PCH and ended up at Fort Ross, an old Russian fort from the mid-1800’s, because #history.

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What a much needed refreshing weekend with my boo in a gorgeous and relaxing environment! Happy to share our experiences with you. ❤

 

 

A Hidden Gem Within The Santa Cruz Mountains

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A few weeks ago John and I made our way down to Loch Lomand, a hidden recreation center located in the middle of the Santa Cruz mountains. I had been before with a friend in the past but wanted to show him how cool I thought the area was and knew he would love it. Turns out, I was right! #duh

I navigated him about an hour and a half south of the city, and many twists and turns later, we found ourselves in a hidden mountain neighborhood area loaded with a lot of “keep out!” signs. He was convinced we were not in the right place, and I kept reassuring him by saying “Patience, young grasshopper.”

Once we found the entrance and paid the $6 fee, we made our way to the glorious nature escape we were hunting for. This lake is SO GORGEOUS! You can rent paddle boats, go fishing, and picnic along the water to get some glorious sun. #vitamindplease

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We must have picked a crazy busy day to explore because there were children EVERYWHERE waiting for a paddle boat.  While it was cute, being around a bunch of screaming kids wasn’t exactly the nature get away we were looking for, so we opted for a hike around the water and up into the mountains.

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My goal was to take John to the top for the vista point, but there was just too much poison oak that it deterred us from going up higher. I mean, it COVERED the entire trail, even several feet out from the sides. This picture was about as high up that we got, but it was still really fun and cute, and all in all we hiked 3 miles.

Once we left Loch Lomand we headed to the Cremer House for a delicious bite accompanied by a tremendous beer selection. This place is SO FRICKING GOOD. I loved every part of it and I would gladly go again. Then we proceeded to do some vintage store thrifting, which is like John’s favorite thing on the planet. See I like the more curated vintage shops, the kinds that have everything organized by color and it’s clean and cute and doesn’t smell like mothballs. John will straight up dig through boxes of “goods” that people leave put out on the street. And sometimes he finds something good. Most of the time he tends to find things like a casserole book from the 70’s. It’s hit or miss. BUT Felton does have a good amount of random mountain town thrift stores, if that’s your thing!

I’m bummed we didn’t get to the top of the mountain, as I did per my previous trip (pic below) but I am glad we had a good time and got to explore! California is full of so many great day-cations and I want to explore them all.

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Until next time!

Bodega Bay With My Bae

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In case you didn’t know, Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Birds in Bodega Bay, which is about an hour and a half drive north of the city. We recently re-watched The Birds and since we had an amazing change of weather, decided to make a day trip just to see if could spot any of those crazy birds…

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While this movie makes no sense to me (the relationship storyline at least, not the bird plot. That makes the most sense of all! What woman meets a man and instantly takes a trip hours away to secretly drop off birds in his house while he is gone?! SOMEONE PSYCHO…) it was still fun to watch and hang around Bodega Bay and find where certain scenes were filmed. We ate at The Tides restaurant which has a scene in the movie too, and the food wasn’t the best and was super touristy, but now I can say that I ate there so I don’t ever have to again… <laugh crying>

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The California coast truly is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, so the fact that we were able to hike the Kortum Trail right off the coastline was a breathtaking experience.

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We easily made our way down to Shell Beach, where ironically there were no shells, just a bunch of rocks but still really chill.

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We hiked about 4 miles total with the loop, and ended up on top of the hill which was super steep but worth it. Driving around the Bay Area will always be something that brings me joy, everything about this part of the world is absolutely beautiful inside and out, from the diverse and open minded people, to the coastal views, to the vineyards, and everything in-between, (northern) Cali is where it’s at. ❤ ❤ ❤

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El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve

A few weeks ago, John and I pleased our inner trail bunnies by hiking the El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve trail in the South Bay. We had a VERY long San Francisco wet winter (yay we are FINALLY out of the drought!) so it felt amazing to have gorgeous weather and be outside in nature. With how busy things were for us in February on top of my crazy work schedule, we decided to hike this spot and relax right before I made my way to Vegas.

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The trail was a 6.2 mile loop in the very removed forest. For a long time we were the only people and I wondered if some creepo would pop out of the woods to abduct us into their underground lair, but I’m a weirdo who has seen too many creepy things… #dontabductme

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I never hiked much in Texas because of the damn heat and the fact that I sweat profusely. But ever since I’ve moved to California, hiking has really become one of my favorite things to do on the weekend. It’s just so gorgeous along the coast! I can’t get over it and am always telling myself how lucky I am to live here.

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This tree was pushed over, at the roots, due to a crazy storm we had the weekend before! WHAT THE HELL KIND OF STORM DOES THIS TO A REDWOOD?!

Apparently a plane crashed in the middle of this forest way back in the 50’s, so there is a memorial at the top of the view point. I was hoping to see any sort of debris but it just didn’t exist anymore. I would totally come back and hike this trail again, as it was a nice remote spot and there was THEE CUTEST little mountain tavern a couple miles down the road. We had a celebratory drink there after we ended our journey.

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GET OUTSIDE PEOPLE AND ENJOY NATURE!

The End.