Relationships with Alcohol

**This post was inspired by a text I sent to one of my best friends on 6.8.21**

Tonight I’m thankful I took control of my alcohol consumption patterns in college and basically cut it out for a while early on in my 20’s. Not only did it make me feel physically ill (not drunk or hungover, legitimate adverse impacts on my health), but the behaviors associated were enough to raise an eyebrow for me internally.

Part of my homework from my therapist the past two weeks has been to be deliberate about self care, and I took it a step further by setting the expectation that I keep a daily self care journal of sorts to go with it. Friendly reminder to the reader that self care is about the intent, not the activity.

Today felt like some next level bullsh*t. Even though it was very non-catastrophic it was still very emotionally taxing, and I knew exactly what would feed my soul and give me the level of self care I needed. I opted to eat a sizable homemade burrito and sip on Jameson.

Whiskey has always been my happy beverage. I genuinely enjoy sipping on it (also Bourbon and Scotch). However, I fully recognize that if I didn’t check my levels of consumption and intent behind consumption in college, I would probably be in a present day situation where I am forced to live completely dry. I am thankful I paid attention to my own patterns early on. I am thankful I have been very aware of all of my pattern based behavioral tendencies for a long time. I am even more thankful to be aware of what patterns can lead to. I fully recognize that I have a degree of OCD that heavily manifests in patterned behavior, and that could quickly lead to an addiction.

I am thankful for the self-awareness I had years ago, and I am thankful for the relationship I’m able to hold with alcohol today. I’m thankful that I’m able to truly drink whiskey (yes, straight whiskey) with my partner and not worry about patterned consumption. I’m thankful that I’m able to keep shelves fully stocked with various alcohols and have the distinct thought of “I wonder how long it will take me to get through that all?” that lands on the side of “hopefully before it goes bad.” I’m thankful I know and respect my limits. I’m thankful to be able to enjoy specific types of alcohol because I genuinely enjoy specific types of alcohol.

I know that I’m not alone in a potential struggle.

I know that I am human.

I know I am thankful.

Disclaimers Moving Forward

When I started this blog I intended it to be a longer form of sharing my sewing projects, fun events and trips, as well as what might now be considered “hot takes.” It has taken a few different forms since 2016 when I posted for the first time, and after all that time, I finally feel comfortable in my direction for this personal project. I will continue to share my life, my trips, and what makes me happy. Along the way, that will also include some informative pieces. 

I will be writing a bit on relationships, though this will mostly be on relationship structure, rather than my actual interpersonal relationships. I will be writing about trips as I slowly start to go places again (spoiler, one will be on a trip to Disney World this year). I will write as I move into a home and develop that aesthetic for myself. I will be sharing my truths and, as necessary, about events that have shaped me hoping someone who might be going through something similar silently finds peace knowing they aren’t alone. An example of that is when I posted Boudoir & Boob-iversary – I met my exact goal with that post and I’m so proud of that.

If I choose to post about a more personal topic, please know that I am not doing so seeking advice. I have a therapist, as do almost all of the people closest to me. My therapist is a trained and experienced professional in the type of life I am living. I am also not interested in advice if you are not privy to the deeper details of my life and have no experience (or at least attempted education) in the topics that relate to me.

I have spent too much time concerning myself with the opinions of others and living my life in fear of being on the receiving end of backlash for not fitting in someone else’s box. I refuse to live the rest of my life in fear of someone else’s parameters for their own life. I will be filtering blog comments for that and tightening my social media platforms because of it. 

Please do not misunderstand – if you have a differing opinion, I welcome that. It is the unsolicited advice, bigotry, and willfully ignorant commentary that I am referring to. If the way I relate to the people & world around me does not *directly* impact your life or the ability to live your life the way you want to, I do not need criticisms on how I’m living mine. If it does directly impact your life, then I’m all ears.

If you have a question, ask respectfully and I will give you a respectful answer in return. If you want to ask something but don’t know how, please preface your question with that and we will work through fleshing out what you’re wanting to know more about together. I am more than happy to do that, and welcome it because it also helps strengthen our communication.

That being said, if you do know me personally and don’t feel comfortable asking me about aspects of my life, I ask that you take a moment to reflect on why that might be. If your lack of comfort stems from it being a new or uncomfortable topic for you, I would hope I have created an open enough dialogue with you in other places that you would feel comfortable expressing discomfort that is not for a lack of compassion. If your lack of comfort is because we aren’t close anymore and the thoughts behind it tie back to a variation of “do I even know her?” in response to something you’re reading, please contemplate conversations we have had that may have resulted in my withholding personal information. This is meant in no malicious way, it is something I evaluate myself with different relationships in my life and I feel it’s something too many people don’t take time to consider. If that is something you wish to change, that is another conversation I’m more than willing to have – all I ask is that you keep in mind why I might not have been comfortable initiating it myself.

All I want in this life is to be happy and fulfilled, and see the people around me experiencing happiness and fulfillment in whatever way best fits them and does not infringe on some else’s ability to pursue the same for themself. What works for me does not work for everyone, but it’s also important to note that what works for many of my friends does not work for me. To be transparent, what works for most of my friends is outright unhealthy for me. My goal here is to share positivity, reality, happiness, and in some cases to share different ways to achieve that happiness, while also hearing and respecting others.

I have fought for myself, my happiness, and my life as I currently know it. It has been hard, but it has been worth it. Happiness is not worth sacrificing.

The White Picket Fence

**This is a re-post, updated to better articulate my feelings in some areas. Original post date 8/2/17**

**re-post to the re-post date is 1/2/2021, updates are either a strikethrough or written in this lovely shade of navy. I love the original premise of this, but it needs some updating**

Normally I don’t do “rant” posts, but this is one. I don’t know if there will be enough of these to technically have a “series” of rants, and they will only appear when I see fit. In this and all cases of rant posts by me, they are not meant to be political, there will be generalizations made for the sake of the underlying frustration fueling the post, and I’m not writing these as any kind of attack on anyone in particular. This (and any rant post that may come in the future) is a topic that has been weighing heavily on me and that I felt compelled to share my honest opinions about. Now that I’ve gotten through the disclaimer, it’s time for the rant..

Society as we know it is ever-changing and has come a long way (relatively) from where it was even 100 years ago. Among other things, women can vote, LGBTQ (and others I’m missing) persons are increasingly free to live their lives openly, and self expression via tattoos, piercings, and unnatural hair colors is becoming more commonplace. Despite that, there is still this expectation of what I call the “white picket fence.”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been put in boxes by strangers and those that know me alike because of my natural blonde hair, demeanor that seems to exude “sunshine,” and God given intelligence. I grew up going to church, and from an early age it was instilled (*not* at the fault of my parents) in me that my future would look something like the following scenario: I would get a college education of at least a Bachelor’s degree, meet a good Christian man, likely a business man or engineer, have a wedding featuring a Pinterest worthy church ceremony, and have a few kids. It’s likely I could work part time, so long as I was able to be a “good little wife” and I would spend most of my time keeping up our house with the “white picket fence.”

For some people, that works. For them, that’s great. Where my issue lies is with the expectation for myself and other girls like me to have ambition and be educated, free-thinkers, but that we’re also expected to “fall in line.” To me, it’s all too Stepford-y (yes, that’s a link to a Wikipedia page).

I’ll go ahead and start with religion. Religion can be great, but it can also be the cause of literal war. I believe what I believe, and I choose to carry out my faith/beliefs in a way that make sense to me. Through the course of my dating life, I have learned that religion is not something I need in a relationship. I know that some of my readers will need a moment to digest that, but it’s my truth and I have want to be honest about it. I have been in religiously based relationships that have been severely dysfunctional, not to mention very awkward and forced. I have been in relationships lacking religion entirely that have been very open and rational. I prefer my romantic relationships not be based in religion, and I even encourage they lack religion. I like knowing where the other person stands, and how they got to that point. That tells me more about their character, personality, and integrity than how many Sundays they attend a year. The only common ground I require in this topic is respect in each other’s views and respect for the journey to that place.

Revered occupations come next. I’m all for educating yourself, following through with school, and doing what you can do to move up. However, education, schooling, and progress can be seen in any field (albeit to differing degrees), and I would much rather my partner be successful while doing something that makes them happy and feel fulfilled than have some high paying desk job that literally sucks their soul. Yes, high paying desk job and fulfillment can come together, but that is not the norm.

Pinterest worthy wedding time – I’m all for pretty and photo worthy, but there are a few issues with this. Marriage should first and foremost be about the commitment, not the aesthetic. In reality, I’m pretty close to sold on the idea of a courthouse wedding. Despite how many I’ve attended or been in, weddings are strange to me. I support marriage between two people who wholly care for and are committed to one another, but large weddings make me uncomfortable because of how intimate and significant a marriage is; in this day and age, I feel we invite far too many people to witness this intimacy and almost expect inappropriate comments to be sprinkled throughout in regards to “wifely duties.” No thank you. Not for me.

Marriage is about respect and partnership, and I feel that many weddings tend to gloss over that in favor of highlighting the “shackling” commitment being made and the newfound expectations of sex to please the husband.

Through the last few years, I have realized a lot about myself, and that includes extreme codependence that is exacerbated in cohabitation situations, and toxicity around money/co-mingling of funds specifically. I do not see myself cohabitating with anyone for more than a few weeks (so vacationing) or remarrying. That’s not to say I will not have significant partnerships, but they absolutely will not be “traditional” in the sense society praises. In the coming months, I am going to do a whole separate blog post about my personal realizations on marriage & relationships as they apply to me. 

Children. As long as I can remember, I felt like I was expected to have kids (after getting married, of course). I cannot wait for my friends to start having kids, but I am in no rush to do so myself, and am certain that my life is not hinging on whether or not I’m a biological mother to other humans. Never say never, but kids don’t make my short list (unless they’re goats) of things to do.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time explaining what I don’t want, so I think it’s only fair that I share what I do want. My idea of a fulfilling life more closely resembles the following: owning a bunch of land with a modest house, having a husband who works hard for what he wants partners who work hard for what they want and support me working towards my goals, spending nearly all my free time traveling, and caring for a small zoo’s worth of animals. I’m sure a fence will be involved, but that’s to corral the animals.

My life goals include seeing and doing as many things as I can in my life, and none of them are conducive to coming second to someone else’s whims or being reliant on someone else for financial allowances.

The world is filled with different ideas and expectations for the “right” way to live your life, and I’ve only covered one niche (middle-class, cis-, heterosexual, Christian, in America). At the end of the day, if you’re happy, not infringing on someone else’s ability to live their life the way they want to, and you’re being a generally good person, does it really matter what “right” looks like?

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Lots of big changes in my life lately.. As such, things have been busy as ever! I’ve been spending a lot of time in the mountains, and there have been a lot of unexpected trips. This phase of my life is something I’m very grateful for; I’m learning that spontaneity is good, being busy is good, and I’m being reminded of just how strong my support system is.

Much of my down time recently has been giving me a “reset” of sorts – revisiting my past interests and trying new things that interest me. One of my short term goals (which I’ve been making good on) is to spend more time outdoors. I mentioned recently on Instagram that Ryan & I invested in an “America the Beautiful” pass while visiting Yosemite following the fires, and it’s already more than paid for itself in our travels.

Another of my goals is to be more diligent with writing. Despite that, this post isn’t very word-intensive. In my opinion, my blog posts about nature-y trips don’t need a bunch of words detracting from the quiet beauty of these locations.

In short, Ryan and I stayed at the Montecito-Sequoia Lodge. We spent one day of our trip exploring further along 198 through Sequoia National Park, and the next day up 180 into a small portion of Kings Canyon National Park. This trip was seen as a way to get a feel for the area, and we plan to go back and explore further!

Montecito Lake – on property at the Montecito-Sequoia Lodge where we stayed

General Sherman in the background

General Sherman

Downed tree along the General Grant Trail

Fire scar on General Grant tree

Disneyland for Grandma’s 80th Birthday

When I moved back to California, I wanted to have more time for Disney trips, so I made it. The more I shared my adventures with my grandma, supplemented by my mom’s experiences in the park, the more vocal grandma got about wanting to go to Disneyland herself. In 2017 we decided that we would take her for her 80th birthday that was in August of that year.

Unfortunately, that fall stayed too hot, and by the time it cooled down enough for us to be comfortable taking her, the holiday madness in the parks started. With that, we decided to make the trip in the spring. We opted for the period of time after spring breaks ended and before Grad Nite season started. This meant our trip would have to take place in the last two weeks of April.

In planning this trip, we decided that we would dedicate Monday to driving down, Tuesday and Wednesday to being in the parks, and that Thursday would be for driving home. We also went into the trip with a list of pictures we knew we wanted, food we wanted to try, and rides that were important. We are proud to say we accomplished everything on our lists!

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Everybody loaded in the Subaru ready to go to Disneyland

My mom and I picked up grandma at her house just before 10 a.m. on Monday, April 23rd. From there, we made our trek down to Anaheim. Quite a few stops were made along the way, and we finally made it down to the hotel just before 3 p.m.

For this trip with grandma, we decided to really splurge and stay at the Grand Californian – proximity to the parks, bell/valet services, room service, and amenities played a big role in our decision here. Of the Disneyland Resort hotels, this one truly is my favorite.. since the room renovations, the showers are to die for!

Once we got settled in the room, the three of us went into Downtown Disney for dinner. We made our own “family style” experience at La Brea Bakery, and it was just the right amount for each of us.

From dinner, we made our way through Downtown, pausing to go into some of the shops. We made it to the other end and found our next destination: Trader Sam’s.

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Despite it being around 6:30 or so, we lucked into a table inside! This meant grandma got to experience the activities that accompany some of the drinks (for those who are unfamiliar, this includes brief changes in lighting, yelling by the bartenders, and other special effects).

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Teacup chair by registration for the Disneyland Hotel.

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When we left Trader Sam’s, my mom wanted to go into the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel to see their teacup chairs. This was a brief detour because by this point we were all very tired from the traveling of the day. We made it to the room and called it a night shortly after.

In the Parks – Day 1:

The next morning we all got up early and started getting ready while we waited for room service to arrive. During our trip the parks closed a little earlier and opened a little later – this kept us from having to rush ourselves and grandma first thing in the morning, and kept us from staying in the parks too late.

We were at the entrance to Disneyland about a half an hour before the park officially opened. After getting through the gates, we took advantage of the fact that the park wasn’t technically open yet and wandered through the Emporium that sits on the corner near the City Hall at the start of Main Street.

After stopping to look in the shop, we made our way down Main Street to get castle pictures before it got crowded.

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We crossed the bridge into Fantasyland and went to Snow White’s Scary Adventures. When we finished there, we decided to move on to the Mad Tea Party, which grandma got a kick out of!

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When we finished our spin on the teacups, grandma expressed interest in the Matterhorn, and after mom and I weighed the pros and cons (i.e. how jerky it is, the lack of real padding, etc.) we decided to get in line.

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She ended up liking that one too!

When we were done there, mom wanted one of the chocolate churros that are a limited feature for Pixar Fest inspired by Coco (which I still haven’t seen), so we stopped at the churro cart in Frontierland. Once the churros were consumed, we went to Adventureland to do the Jungle Cruise.

Following the cruise, we made our way through New Orleans Square. While walking through the square, we witnessed a proposal at one of the caricature stands, which was adorable! Once we had passed through, grandma and I made our way to Haunted Mansion while mom waited elsewhere. When the ride was done, we met with mom where I waited in line for one of those Toy Story Alien popcorn buckets.

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I kept referring to him as my child, since he is about the size of an infant

That day we had reservations at Carnation Cafe for lunch, which was phenomenal! From there, we headed across Main Street to the silhouette shop.

The silhouettes at Disneyland have to be one of my favorite souvenirs, and I’m so glad my mom brought up wanting to do one while we were in the parks with grandma.

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Left to right: me, mom, grandma

It had been a long day already, so we started our trek to the hotel so that at the very least, grandma could have some down time. On our way back to our hotel, we stopped in World of Disney, followed by the Starbucks Reserve in Downtown.

Once we got grandma back into the hotel room, I decided to look at ride wait times for some of the more intense rides that were not a particularly great idea to try and take grandma on. At that point in time, the wait time for Guardians of the Galaxy was allegedly only 45 minutes. I decided I was going to go, and I knew mom wanted to as well, so we left grandma to rest and wandered into the park (which was particularly convenient coming from the Grand Californian).

Turns out the wait time was closer to 90 minutes, which was okay overall because grandma got to really rest. When we finally got through the ride, we made our way back to the hotel room to pick up grandma so we could head back into California Adventure with her.

Our first ride stop when we were back into the park was the Little Mermaid ride. After that, we decided to take grandma on the Silly Symphony Swings. She LOVED those – they would end up being the only repeat ride with grandma the whole trip.

From the swings, we moved on to Cars Land as it was nearing dusk. The only ride we did in Cars Land that day was Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters. After our ride, mom wanted a Neapolitan shake from Flo’s V8 Cafe. We walked through Cars Land with the lights on, and I made sure we walked around the back side of Flo’s toward the wharf so that grandma could see they way that the Cadillac Range gets lit up at night (a personal favorite of mine).

We got back to the hotel relatively early that night, which was good because it was a long day. According to my phone, we had walked just over 5 miles that day.

In the Parks – Day 2

Day 2 of fun in the parks started similarly to day 1 in that we got room service and went to Disneyland first. We only had one objective for that park when they opened at 9 a.m. – get a picture with the Mickey flowers in front of the train station.

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After we got our picture, we hit California Adventure. Once through the park gates, I took our park tickets and got FastPasses for Radiator Springs Racers while mom and grandma took their time walking up Buena Vista Street. From there, they met me at the entrance to Cars Land so we could get a picture with the Buzz and Woody cars by the “Welcome” sign.

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With our picture taken care of we made our way to Toy Story Midway Mania, which only had a 5 minute wait time. Once that ride was marked off the list, we made our way back around the pier the long way (construction is still heavily underway) to the swings so grandma could ride them again.

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Mom and grandma went on their way to do Soarin’ and I made my way to the Starbucks location in the park. When we met back up, we headed towards Hollywood Land. On our way to our next destination, we took a little detour to take a picture by a mosaic wall near Schmoozies, ride Mike and Sulley to the Rescue (a ride mom and I had never been on) because grandma likes Monsters Inc, and to grab a hot dog.

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Around that time was our return time for our Radiator Springs Racers FastPasses, so we made our way there through Bug’s Land so that grandma could experience that. Mom and I also paused to get FastPasses for a second round of Guardians later that afternoon. Following our race, I wandered to the Cozy Cone for a bacon mac & cheese cone and my mom went back to Flo’s for another Neapolitan shake which grandma had a little bit of.

At that point, we had finished most of what we wanted to do in California Adventure, so we headed back across the plaza to Disneyland. Our first order of business in the park was to take the railroad on a round trip. Once we made it back, we walked up main street and got pictures in our Minnie ears with the “Partners” statue.

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That day was particularly warm, so we made our way towards Adventureland to get some Dole Whip and sit through a Tiki Room show. After the show we walked across the park to the Monorail. We rode the Monorail to Downtown Disney, and made a stop in the new Disney Home Store as we made our way from the station to the hotel.

With grandma at the hotel to rest once more, mom and I made our way back to California Adventure for our Guardians FastPass return. After the ride we got back to the hotel (much faster than the day before) and gathered grandma to get dinner.

We walked back to the park entrance of Disneyland and jumped on the train for a 3/4 trip to Tomorrowland. Dinner was at Pizza Planet (which is fantastic rebranding in my opinion) where mom got pasta and grandma and I got slices of pizza. Mom also got one of the Alien macaroons. After dinner, we got back on the train to go to Main Street and head back to the hotel.

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Based on my phone’s tracker, we walked just over 6 miles the second in-park day of our trip.

We had room service delivered Thursday morning before we left and were thankful for bell services to help us get our stuff back down to the car. As might be anticipated with typical LA traffic, it took us an hour and a half to get the 30 miles from Anaheim to Downtown LA. We ended up making it home in just about 5 hours.

We all had a great trip to Disneyland, and I’m so grateful that I have those memories with my mom and grandma!

My Revolt Story

Ink Master has been among my favorite competition shows since it’s inception, and in 2014 it introduced me to a few tattoo artists I have dreamed of being tattooed by. One of these artists is Season 4’s runner-up Walter “Sausage” Frank. Since Ink Master, he relocated to Las Vegas and opened a shop, Revolt Tattoos, with Season 3 winner Joey Hamilton (another truly gifted artist). I have driven through the area numerous times since the shop opened, but I had yet to find a design nor actually set foot in the shop. His tattoos are striking, bold, and legible photorealistic designs, and I knew someday I would find myself wanting something sizable, detailed, and meaningful enough to contact him. I also knew my Revolt story would happen organically, when it should, but I never could have guessed what the price of that inspiration would be.

After Colin died, I knew I was going to get something tattooed on my body in remembrance of him, and initially I was decided on red roman numerals on my side of his date of death. Later, after his mom found a zoo worth of owls in his room, my plan changed. I started my artist search around Fresno, but realized that anyone who could accomplish the photorealism that I wanted would be expensive and I would have to wait. It then dawned on me that if I was going to be paying as much as I was and waiting as long as I would be, I might as well go to one of my “dream” artists.

I first contacted the shop in December 2016. I filled out the basic contact form, explaining my flexibility in timeline and in design so long as there was a photorealistic owl. Additionally, I was open to color so long as it was mostly neutral toned. For how much I like to be in control, I was pretty open about what the tattoo would look like.

Through our communication, an appointment was booked for me to come in on October 3, 2017 at 10 a.m.

From the inception of the idea, I decided I was going to make a small trip out of this appointment. I chose to not fly for a number of reasons, but fortunately for me, I have made the drive between Fresno and Vegas half a dozen times and find it relatively easy.

As it turned out, Emily’s bridal shower was the Saturday before near Pasadena, so it made sense for me to go down then, stay in the LA area, and then head to Las Vegas from there (my last post, “SoCal Adventures,” details that part of the trip). As it turned out, I made my way to Las Vegas on October 2nd.

October 2nd in Las Vegas turned out to be a dramatically different day than I had planned. The original itinerary I had included going to the Luxor to see the Bodies Exhibit, and possibly walking The Strip. With the shooting the night before, everything was closed and eerie, so I loitered in LA a little while longer than intended. I took myself to breakfast at Twisted Sage, a place my darling Sarynna had showed me on my trip with her to Azusa nearly a month before. From there, I headed into Vegas, drove past the Strip on I-15 before getting off the freeway, after which I checked into and sat in my hotel room for awhile before heading to a Yard House that was south of The Strip right off the freeway.

The following day, I had my appointment which was far and away the most well documented tattooing experience I have ever had.

My mom and aunt drove into Vegas that morning from Fresno, arriving at the hotel around 9 a.m. They ate breakfast, took their stuff to the room, and then we made our way to Revolt.

I met Walter Frank for the first time just after 10 a.m. as we discussed in more detail what I was looking for. Through our talks and looking at pictures, we decided moving the image to my hip from my side would be a better decision as far as fit, size, and longevity were concerned. This move required me to change out of the yoga pants and athletic shirt I had originally worn to the shop and into a dress which would allow easier access to my hip.

Almost 2 hours later, we had a sketch, he prepped his station, and we were ready to apply the stencil.

Checking fit/size vs. my body

Walter’s Station

The shop offers live streams of their tattoos, so I took this opportunity to share the link to Walter’s station so that friends and family not present could watch the process unfold.

The course of the next 5 1/2 hours consisted of lots of tattooing, lots of jokes about ass, and walking breaks. I’ve included the “progression” pictures below:

**BLOOD WARNING**

I wanted the owl’s eyes to be Colin’s eyes. For those of you who are unfamiliar, his eyes were a dark brown that became a vibrant green in direct light. The group present acted as voting committee of how to best do them in the likeness of his eyes as to not get too muddy with the black of the outline and the pupils. We opted for a green color toward the center, becoming brown at the edges.

Applying the wrap that would cover it for the next 4 days

Walter was such a great artist to sit for. He humored our questions, sass, and the emotions associated with what we were there for for nearly 6 hours that day.

Whole gang post-tattoo

We ended up leaving the shop around 6 p.m., heading to Yard House for dinner. That evening was highly emotional, and we were all spent by the time we got to dinner. We all were asleep by 9 p.m.

The day following my appointment, we all made the drive back to Fresno.

I am so happy with my experience and the end result. This trip helped create a small light in an otherwise grim situation. As much as I don’t like the fact that my reason for going to Walter was to memorialize Colin, there is no one I would have rather had as my artist.

3 1/2 weeks later

SoCal Adventures

What was originally going to be a short trip to Las Vegas for my newest tattoo turned into a 5 day trip that started Saturday, September 30, in La Cañada, California for my darling Emily’s bridal shower!

Emily has been a close friend of mine since she moved to Fresno and started playing for the same volleyball club as I did between 7th and 8th grade. A few months back I visited her and her fiancé Bobby in Santa Barbara. Since then, more wedding plans have come to pass, and we are now a few weeks away from their big day! The shower was brunch in a family member’s backyard. I’m proud to say I won the game that was guessing Em’s age in a collection of 16 pictures!

One of my favorite features of the shower was the video Emily’s sister-in-law Amanda made with Bobby that consisted of Amanda prompting 20 questions to Bobby and him guessing Emily’s response. His answers were so genuine and honest, and Emily’s reaction to some of his answers was priceless.

I ended up staying with Emily’s mom that night near Anaheim. Being the Disney addict that I am (and knowing I was going to bite the bullet and get an annual pass again), I decided to take a quick detour on my way to her home. I was hellbent on seeing Disneyland in all of it’s Halloween glory, so I reinstated my annual pass (I went with the signature pass, I previously had a signature plus pass.. I’ll go more into this on a later post), and went into Disneyland with the intent of walking up Main Street, looking at all the decorations, and riding Haunted Mansion. Yes, that is all that I did in the park that day.

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The next morning, I got up and drove to North Hollywood where another dear friend of mine lives: Catriona. We planned to spend a portion of our Sunday at Universal Studios exploring the Harry Potter section before her show that evening.

While there, we ended up seeing a friend from high school who is currently in the frog choir, and went on a studio tour tram narrated by another cast member of the show she was in that night.

Overall, I thought the Harry Potter section was very well done, and the food was fantastic! The “big” ride that part of the park features, though, is not one that sat well with me because I cannot do 3D or copious amounts of movement in rides (for comparison, I can’t do Star Tours at Disneyland because it gives me motion sickness).

The show Cat was in that night was called The Scarlet Pimpernel, one I wasn’t familiar with. It was a very small production, but the actors were all talented, so it was enjoyable.

The next morning, October 2nd, I started my drive to Las Vegas.

 

..to be continued.

Tuolumne Meadows

Since our trip to Yosemite last September, Lela and I have both been determined to make it to Tuolumne Meadows in a timely manner. We knew going into it that in order to properly do Tuolumne Meadows and surrounding area hikes, we would need more time than we had. Nonetheless, we both wanted to get up there to see what it was about. It took us nearly a year, but on Saturday, August 5th, we finally made it.

As with most Yosemite trips, we left around 6 a.m. to head up the hill. Weather was forecasted to be a reasonable temperature, but there was a good chance of thunderstorms, especially in the afternoon – we planned outfits accordingly. The drive was a relatively easy 3 hours up, and the direction we came from required we go through part of the valley before getting onto 120 for Tioga Road.

Along the way, there were many places to pull off. One was Olmsted Point, which gave us a gorgeous view of Half Dome from the opposite side of the usual Valley view.

Broke out the big lens on my Olympus Camera for this one. It was taken from the same spot the selfie above was.

After that, we approached Tenaya Lake, which was breathtaking. The reflection of the mountains off the lake left us both speechless.

Excitedly running to the end of the log

We reached Tuolumne Meadows midmorning, and as expected, we were met with slightly overcast weather.

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Little Blue handled the drive like a dream

Due to our time constraints, we decided that wandering around the meadows would be the best course of action for this trip. On a map of Tuolumne Meadows, we found a point of interest that we wanted to have as a true “destination” on our walk, so we headed to the east end of the meadows. We parked the car on the dirt road by Lembert Dome that leads to Tuolumne Stables and walked up the road to where the true path to the meadows starts.

Our “set” destination for that day was going to be Soda Springs and the adjacent Parsons Lodge. The path toward the heart of the meadows offered stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges, including Cathedral Peak (which Lela was rather taken with).

Lela with Cathedral Peak in the background

The paths through Tuolumne Meadows (that we experienced) were roughly car width, and were very well maintained. Altitude was the only thing not on our side, but overall, the weather was lovely, so we didn’t notice it much on our hike/walk.

*Disclaimer: this sign is actually on the part of the path between the springs and Parsons Lodge*

A short while later, we made it to Soda Springs. The springs were small but fascinating:

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From there we continued up the trail to Parsons Lodge, a gorgeous stone structure built in 1915 that is still used for events by the Yosemite Conservancy.

Meadows from the Lodge

When we left the lodge, we headed towards the Tuolumne Meadows Footbridge, which allowed us to cross the Tuolumne River.

View of the bridge and river from Parsons Lodge

Lela and I sitting on the Tuolumne Footbridge (note the Davis Farmers Market hat making a reappearance in our Yosemite trips)

From the bridge, we continued along the path that lead toward the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, though the visitor center was busy, so we opted to not go that far. Walking through this part of the trail made me feel like I was wandering through the set of Lord of the Rings, which made me even happier than I already was.

Looking back at Lembert Dome

Perhaps my favorite part of the walk led us to a weird rock/embankment on the edge of the river. Water is probably my favorite element, and there were so few people that you could hear everything happening in Tuolumne Meadows. Lela and I sat on the water’s edge for a little while listening to the birds in the nearby trees and the water running down the river.

Some time later we headed back to the car. We decided we would go back by Tenaya Lake to eat lunch; Lela had gone to Subway the night before and picked up sandwiches for our lunch that day. We took our food and made our way down to the edge of the lake. There weren’t many people in this area, so lunch was very peaceful.

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When we were done there, we started to head back toward the valley (Yosemite Valley because we have to pass through it to get back to the 41, and more broadly the Central Valley). By the time we made it back to Yosemite Valley, traffic was getting a little ridiculous, and until that moment we both had forgotten that it was the last real weekend before school was back in session.

We were both very impressed with Tuolumne Meadows, and our only regret is that we didn’t have time for any of the other hikes with true destinations at points of interest like lakes or peaks. I cannot wait to make it back up there, though that will likely have to wait until next year.

Lewis Creek Trail Hike

My dear friend Abigail’s 23rd birthday falls at the beginning of July, and for part of the celebration she wanted to go on a hike somewhere out of town but relatively close by. After browsing the internet and getting suggestions from friends, we decided to do the Lewis Creek Trail just north of Oakhurst the Saturday before her birthday. Earlier in that week over Taco Tuesday at my home, we decided on the more concrete details of our trip, including that we would leave town around 7 a.m. and we would make sure to bring food with us.

The trailhead is just off the 41 a couple miles outside of Oakhurst and is marked by brown signs saying “Lewis Creek Trail.” The term “trailhead” could seem misleading because the parking area looks like a large pull-off; when we got there, only one other car was parked there. We chose a spot, put on sunscreen and bug spray (both are very necessary this summer), and started our trek through the wilderness.

About 100 yards after walking through the main gate, we met a fork in the path. The sign we came across at the fork said the Lewis Creek Trail was to the right, so that’s the direction we started in. Just over 1/2 a mile from that point, we reached Corlieu Falls.

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Corlieu Falls can best be seen from a platform on the path (where the above photos were taken). After a brief stop there, we continued down the trail.

Abigail just downstream of Corlieu Falls

Farther downstream from Corlieu Falls

After the smaller falls farther downstream, the path continues for another ~0.8 miles before you reach a house (and we learned from others on the trail that there is another parking area farther that direction). We turned back when we reached the house (after consulting the internet via our limited cell phone reception) because the other waterfall featured on the hike was off of the path to the left of the fork we encountered at the start of our hike.

It didn’t take us very long to make it back the 1.5 miles we had traveled to the original fork in the path; from there we started on the left path (technically now it was on the right from where we were). This path is much flatter and much more scenic, though it requires a lot more of what I like to refer to as “off roading.” Typically, there is a bridge to cross the river, but that was washed out. Now, there is a decently sized log across the creek and a precarious rope attached to trees on either side of the creek designated (not marked) for hikers to cross.

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Log for crossing the creek

The trail varied between wide and narrow, and was mostly level with some areas that were steep. Areas were also washed out from the recent increase in water coming down the creek, so some places required slightly more creative methods to continue. After about 1.5 miles, we came to a junction where we were met by this sign:

Sign at the fork for the top of Red Rock Falls

From here, we turned right and headed down toward the sound of rushing water to find we were at the top of Red Rock Falls. Above the falls was a lovely spot to stop and sit for awhile. Also while there, we decided to break out the food we brought with us.

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Once we finished eating, we tried to find a way to the bottom of the falls, but didn’t have much luck with what we were able to see. The best we could get was this view off the side of the landing we ate on:

Top/side view of Red Rock Falls

We made our way back toward the car from there. The way back was easy, but we stopped frequently to take advantage of the areas of the path that opened into clearings where we could get close to the creek.

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Overall, this hike was relatively quick (we spent about 3.5 hours up there) and could fall in the easy/moderate category. Most of the featured portions of the trail are shaded by the gorgeous, towering trees of the Sierra National Forest. It’s also worth noting that we were met with quite a few bugs, but got no real bites to speak of (thanks to the bug spray).

I would, and likely will, do this trail again in the future. Come to find out, this was Abigail’s second time doing parts of this hike, and she thoroughly enjoyed the second pass through. If you are looking for a good half day hike in the forest featuring waterfalls, I highly recommend this trail!