Thursday, October 21, 2010

Graffiti in the Mission District

After exploring Fisherman's wharf we picked up Dallas from work (yes he was working on a Saturday...I don't know how he does it!)  We drove up to Union Square which was saturated with swarms of women signed up to run the Nike Woman's Marathon.  After a very chaotic couple hours of shopping, Dallas took us to an incredibly cool building on Howard and sixth streets.  The bottom level is covered in graffiti which made the perfect backdrop for a photo shoot (Dallas was extremely happy about that!)  The building is abandoned but an artist by the name of Brian Goggin along with one hundred volunteers petitioned the city to allow them to basically use the building as a canvas.  It's entitled "Defenestration" which means "to throw someone or something out of a window."  I'm sure they were trying to make some kind of political statement, but I'm not totally clear on what.  There are several floors with an eclectic array of furniture jutting from the outside walls.  My favorite is the couch sticking out the window.  Once again, there is no place like San Francisco!

Crepes at Pier 39

There's a place at pier 39 called Crepes that we have fallen in love with.  Last year when we all got together we found this little treasure, so of course we had to revisit for lunch.  The pictures some what show my love for Ari and her love for crepes!  There are so many different flavors, but my favorite will always be banana nutella...amazing.  It was the perfect continuation to our adventurous day after our duck boat tour.

After lunch we couldn't help but explore Fisherman's Wharf and Embarcadero street.  I am constantly amazed by the personality of this city and find myself so incredibly blessed to live here.  Once again, our house is always open to guests!

Duck Boat

I recently signed up to be on a mailing list for groupon.  It's a web company that sends you amazing deals around the area you live.  About a month ago there was a deal on "duck boat tour" tickets, so I snagged four of them for when my friends came into town.  Last Saturday Ari, one of my best friends, also from our New Zealand study abroad, met up with Heather, Katy, and I for a fun day in the city.  Our first adventure was the "Bay Quackers", which turned out to be a lot of fun...probably due to the fact that we were all pretty hyper!  For those who don't know what a duck boat is, it is a jeep type vehicle that can go on both land and then straight into the water.  Our tour started down at pier 39 and took us up through the city, through chinatown, Union square, the Giant's stadium, and then into the water and around the large ships in the bay.

Ari lives in Modesto which is a couple hours away from where Dallas and I live so we don't get to see each other nearly enough.  She literally was my life support while living in New Zealand and we had so much fun together.  I love how I can get together with my NZ girls and it is literally like no time has passed!  We were definitely the obnoxious group, but I'm sure we added the much needed life to the tour.  They even let both Katy and I drive, although our tour guide was a little nervous that I was more concerned about posing for the camera than not running over the sea lions.  She really didn't know me at all did she!?

(make sure to click on the images to enlarge them)

Sunset Sail on Catamaran

I don't know how I grew up without the ocean.  If I could, I would spend my days living on a boat, sailing from port to port.  Dallas probably would as well.  He even got his sailing's license a couple years ago.  We had our first married melt down about two weeks after our wedding when he decided to take me sailing in the bay in the middle of a massive wind storm...but that's a story for another time :)

In August I blogged about my experience sailing in the bay with my little brother, sister-in-law, and nephews and niece.  It was such a fun adventure, although I was quite high strung, worried about little kids falling overboard.  I thought it would be the perfect activity to repeat when my friends came out to visit in October.  

Last Friday, after exploring the CA Academy of Sciences, Heather, Katy, and I drove down to Pier 39 where we boarded the sailing company "Adventure Cat" catamaran, along with a big tour group full of Australians.  Even though the temperature had dropped to low 70's, we still had a blast out on the water, watching the sun go down with the Golden Gate bridge as a back drop.  After we got done sailing, Dallas was able to step away from work to meet up with us for dinner along Fisherman's wharf.
I love the bay area!

Rainforests and music in the park

A few weeks ago I blogged about my experience at the CA Academy of Sciences with my friend Kelsey.  While I was there I decided that it'd be best to simply get a membership since it paid for itself after going three times.  So when Katy and Heather came out to visit I thought it would be perfect to show them as well.

Last Friday we drove into the city and parked at Golden Gate Park.  The CA Academy of Sciences is located next to the deJong Museum and the Japanese Tea Gardens.  The city just finished construction on a couple fountains in the main courtyard so we thought it would be a great place to eat our lunches.  I love to be a "fly on the wall" and just enjoy the many faces and colors of San Francisco.  We found a couple open benches right next to a guitarist.  He had some serious plucking talent and played some beautiful songs; perfect for our background music.

My favorite is still the indoor rain forest.  I could stay in there forever watching all the colorful birds and butterflies.  I also love that each of the exhibits is so educational.  I can't wait til we have kids and can bring them to places like this and open their eyes to learning.  After the rain forest we explored the aquarium which takes up the entire bottom two floors of the museum.  We also were able to catch the last show in the indoor planetarium before heading off to our next adventure.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


If you've read our blog over the past year, you know that we have had lots of company come visit, and we have loved every minute of it!  I'd like to think that friends come into town solely to see Dallas and I, but it's more likely due to the fact that San Francisco is literally one of the most beautiful and fun cities in the states.  This past weekend a couple of my good friends from college came out to visit.  This was their third time visiting over the past few years, but I made sure not to double any of our larger adventures.
I should really consider becoming a tour guide, shouldn't I?

I was surprised when Katy and Heather told me that they hadn't been to Alcatraz yet.  I actually thought I had slacked on my hosting skills!  So I made sure that our tour out to Alcatraz was the first adventure of our extended weekend.  In good fashion we showed up about a minute before our boat left so we wouldn't have to wait in any lines.  The ferry ride lasted a little over twenty minutes and gave us gorgeous views of both the city and Alcatraz Island.
(click on images to enlarge)

I'm pretty sure that I am in love with the historical beauty of Alcatraz.  The moss-covered brick made for a perfect photo shoot.  And who can resist the classic jail-bird shots behind bars?  Needless to say Katy and Heather were pretty good sports about posing in front of the countless numbers of tourists walking by.  They know me well and know I won't take no for an answer, especially when it comes to pictures!

When you arrive on Alcatraz there is a brief orientation by one of the park rangers before you are free to explore the island.  They have created a pretty awesome self-guided tour that covers the main prison building.  We took our time, making sure to stop frequently for photos.  It was a perfect day, especially since it was a gorgeously sunny 85degrees outside.  Have I told you all how much I love the bay area!?

As we were waiting for the return boat, we spent sometime people watching.  We tried to capture the magic that is San Francisco, but I am not sure these pictures do it justice.  There's A LOT of personality here, people can be pretty bold at times with their fashion!  We also found the "bush man" famous for his ingenious disguise.  He hides behind two branches and scares tourists walking by, it may not sound that funny, but anyone who has experienced it knows how hilarious he is!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cedar Breaks National Monument

With all these posts one would think that I've been gone for like two weeks or something, but don't you worry, we packed in 6 adventurous stops into 4 days!
Thursday morning we awoke in Cedar city to find that the storms had finally moved passed southern Utah, unfortunately up to the Utah valley where we would shortly be headed, but we couldn't complain.  Since we were so close, Alice thought we should see Cedar Breaks National Monument.  It turned out to be absolutely gorgeous, although I may have lost a few fingers due to frost bite!  We drove up Cedar Creek canyon for about 30 minutes, which wound itself up and into a gorgeous mountain range looking over Zion National Park.  The storm had brought lots of snow, which I was not prepared for, especially since I've been spoiled with the perfect California weather.  Luckily I had changed out of my flip flops before we got to the monument.
The look out was pretty amazing, especially with the contrast of the snow.  We didn't last too long since the wind started to pick up and we all lost feeling in our toes...I may be exaggerating, but it was quite cold.  We continued our drive up the canyon and back down to Utah valley.  We met up with Stuart, my little brother, Thursday afternoon where mom, dad, and Alice continued on to Salt Lake and I stayed in Provo.  I had such a fun time and I'm so grateful mom and dad had the idea of me crashing their get-away.  I truly have the best parents in the world, where their examples of endless generosity and love have shaped who I am and who I want to be.
Thanks again Mom and Dad for an amazing few days!  Love you!

Grand Canyon

My Dad's pretty funny, when he gets an idea in his head it's pretty hard to convince him otherwise.  Yeah I'm sure I inherited that trait from him!  So after driving several hours throughout Southern Utah, Dad's idea to drive down to the Grand Canyon won the vote for the next item on our agenda.  True when I signed up for this road trip I didn't think we'd be driving all the way down to Arizona, but I guess that's part of the fun of "flying by the seat of your pants!"

After exploring a very foggy Bryce Canyon, we drove down through Kanab and Northern Arizona until we reached the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Dad had never seen it before and it was really great to see him so excited.  It's obviously something you have to see in your life!  The storm that hit us in Bryce must have come straight from the Grand Canyon area because when we got to the lodge the electricity had been out for several hours.  Luckily when we arrived, the weather cooperated.  The clouds parted, the rain stopped, and the light lit up the cliff sides perfectly for the pictures...not too bad if ya ask me!

Since the electricity was down we only stayed for a couple hours; just long enough to take in the beauty, stretch our legs, and relax before continuing on with our road trip.  We ended up driving all the way back up to St. George (via some very interesting southern Utah towns I won't mention) where we ate dinner.  Since there was a Senior Athletes competition going on we couldn't find anywhere to stay, so we ended up driving north to Cedar city where we were all very excited to get some sleep!

(I know I've been reminding everyone to click on the picture to enlarge the image, but I've noticed that many people don't realize you can do that and they miss the details of the photos...yeah I know, I won't remind any more!)

Bryce Canyon

Tuesday night we arrived to a very foggy Bryce Canyon.  We decided that we would spend the night and then take our chances in the morning.  During the night a massive storm came through, scaring us to death with the thunder and lightening.  Wednesday morning sadly, we awoke to more storm clouds.  Driving along the road through the park it was not looking too good...lots of FOG...
(Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Bryce Canyon is pretty incredible and I have to admit that with the fog I got to see a whole other side to it.  The great thing was the wind, although freezing, blew the clouds through the rock formations so that we got some awesome views once second and then fog the next.

Oddly enough, things seemed to work out perfectly for us.  True, we didn't get to walk the rim due to the fact we couldn't see one foot in front of the other, but  we did get some great shots in and out of the fog.  After exploring each of the pull out views, we headed south towards our next adventure, the Grand Canyon, but that'll be my next post...

Zion National Park

Tuesday morning we woke to very cloudy skies.
We decided to at least try to see the sights of Zions even if it may be covered in fog and rain.  Once again we totally lucked out with the sun, for at least a few moments.  When we got into the park we took the park's shuttle to the top of the park for the riverside walk.  Since it had been stormy for the past couple days Angels Landing and The Narrows hikes had been closed, but we were able to at least get some pretty shots of the canyons near the entrance of the hikes.  

After mom and dad decided to turn back on the trail, aunt Alice and I decided to hike the rest of the way into the trailhead for the narrows.  It was fun to hike down "memory lane" thinking about all the times I had hiked through Zions while living in the Devonshire apartments.  I'm sure everyone got sick of me recounting various adventures with Eric Foy and the gang!
While Alice and I were on the trail the rain began to pick up.  Luckily I had a sweatshirt to cover my camera, but we still had to hike a mile back out of the canyon before we could find any shelter.  Mom and dad thought it was pretty funny when we returned looking like drowned rats.  By noon we figured that there wasn't too much more we could see with the weather problems, so we started our drive up to Bryce canyon.

(Don't forget to click on the collage if you want to see the pictures close-up.)

Kolob Canyon

After our stop at Cove Fort, mom, dad, aunt Alice, and I drove down towards St. George.  Along the freeway Dad noticed a sign for Kolob Canyon and almost literally pulled a U-turn in the middle of the freeway.  Kolob Canyon is found at the northern most part of Zion National Park.  You can access it by getting off at Exit 40 on Interstate 15, but it is not a direct route to the rest of Zions, since it dead ends at the Kolob Canyon viewpoint.  It was absolutely gorgeous though and totally worth the 30 minute detour.
(Make sure to click on the collage to enlarge the picture.)

We really lucked out on our drive.  It started raining while we were at Cove Fort and literally didn't let up for hours.  Right as we were driving through the canyon the rain ceased and the clouds parted.  Yeah it was pretty much perfect for our pictures!  And can I just say how much I love my parents and how darn funny they are!?
Like clock work, the clouds came and the rain started right as we were done taking pictures.  We decided to drive out of the canyon back to I-15 and then continue the rest of the way to Zions Park.  We ended up staying at the Majestic View Lodge which was gorgeous with an incredible view of the canyons of Zion National Park.  Not too bad for our first fun-filled adventurous day!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cove Fort

A few weeks ago my mom called telling me about a road trip that she and dad were going to go on.  They planned to drive down through Yellowstone to Salt Lake City for General Conference weekend and then continue driving down to Southern Utah.  Since my mom and dad are simply awesome, they invited me to join them.  I flew into Salt Lake on Monday morning, where mom, dad, and my aunt Alice picked me up.  We headed straight south towards St. George and Zion's National Park.  On our way we saw a sign for Cove Fort and decided to take a quick detour.  Oddly enough I had never been to Cove Fort even though I lived in Utah for ten years and even taught Utah history for four of those years.
It was pretty interesting to hear the history behind the fort, especially since it was built and maintained by President Hinckley's family.

In April of 1867, Brigham Young wrote a letter to Ira Hinckley asking him to take charge of building a Fort on Cove Creek, located in central Utah.  The fort was to be a way station for travelers.  It was built of black volcanic rock and dark limestone quarried nearby.  The walls are one hundred feet long and eighteen feet high.  Lumber, mostly cedar and pine, was used for the roof, twelve interior rooms, and the massive doors at the east and west ends of the fort.

For more than twenty years Cove Fort was used and maintained by the Hinckley family, but as times changed so did the need for the fort.  In 1890 the Church sold the fort, but it was restored and dedicated a hundred years later in 1994, by President Hinckley.

We didn't stay too long, just long enough for a tour given by a senior missionary serving in the visitor's center.  A storm was following us, which continued to follow us throughout our week trip!
(Make sure to click on the collage to enlarge the pictures.)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weekend Escape to Monterey

Have I told you all how much I love California?
How much I love the ocean and the close proximity to the gorgeous sailboats, crashing waves, and sand?
A couple weekends ago Dallas and I were invited to got to our cousin's beach house down in Monterey. It turned out to be a little reunion of sorts. My older brother, Erik and his whole family came, along with my cousins Kendra and Mark, and Greg and Heidi. Heidi's grandparents own a house in Pacific Grove a few yards from the beach. It was absolutely gorgeous and so much fun to see everyone. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is literally a couple miles up the coast and there is a beautiful jogging path along the beach that leads you into Monterey.
We spent most of our time playing at the beach with the kids.
(You can click on the picture to enlarge the image.)

Since Heidi was raised coming to Asilomar Beach she knew all the fun tide pools to show the kids.  It was pretty incredible to see the hundreds of sea anemone covering the rocks.  The kids had fun touching the outsides and watching them curl in on themselves.  We also found lots of star fish and hermit crabs.
Will was such a cutie to watch and I couldn't help myself while taking pictures.

Saturday we all went into Monterey.  Dallas and I had an enjoyable walk along the beach and then met up with everyone for lunch and a trip to the candy shop for the kids.  They almost had a sensory overload when the saw the endless rows of colored salt water taffy.

The rest of the time was spent playing pool, Wii, and more beach time.
Greg and Heidi found a couple skim boards in the garage, so Dallas joined them in trying them out in the surf.  Needless to say he had a couple very COLD spills in the process.

I'm so glad we are surrounded by family out here.  We always have so much fun together.  We can't thank Heidi and Greg enough for putting together such a great weekend.  We love you guys!

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

CA Academy of Sciences

Last week Kelsey and I spent the day at the California Academy of Sciences Museum located at Golden Gate Park.  It reopened a couple years ago and I went with my brother and his kids.  We went a week after it had opened so needless to say it was PACKED.  It was hard to see anything and we ended up getting in and out as soon as possible.
This time Kelsey and I didn't want to fight the crowds so we went in the middle of a school day.  It was perfect.  We were able to see everything and spend as much time as we wanted at each exhibit.

If you haven't gotten a chance to go explore, you need to.  It has the deepest coral reef exhibit in the world, a 4-story tropical rainforest, a towering T-Rex skeleton, a colony of African penguins, an albino crocodile, a literal living roof including sunlights, and a fully-immersive digital screen Planetarium dome.  Basically it's incredible!

There is an amazing coral reef and ray exhibit that surrounds the outside of the Planetarium dome.  The colors were incredible and I am so in love with my camera.

Kelsey thought that I was totally crazy, but I think the lunch area is absolutely gorgeous.  I think I have a thing for linear designs with a splash of color.

My favorite exhibit had to be the 4-story rainforest.  It was amazing.  You walk in through a set of double doors into a humid butterfly infested wonderland.  Each level was based on a different country; i.e. Costa Rica, Madagascar, etc.
(By the way, if you click on the images they can be enlarged.)

Here are some of my favorite shots from the inside of the rainforest.

Butterflies were flying everywhere.  It was so much fun to watch for all the different colors.

 After exploring the rainforest we went to the full size aquarium on the lower level.  It had a overhead tunnel, feeding tanks, and a great combination of fresh and salt water animals.  There was even a pig-nosed turtle!

After we had viewed all of the exhibits we made our way to the living roof.  The wind had picked up so it was a bit chilly, but it was so beautiful.  They've done an amazing job at creating the museum to be as "green" as possible with sun paneling.  It was pretty amazing to think that we were on top of the museum and yet in the middle of a field at the same time.

We had such a fun time and I ended up getting a membership, so if anyone wants to come with me one of these days just let me know, I can get you in free!

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