Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break in the Bay Area - Part 1

The Bay Area is where life really started for our family. We accepted a job there for Jared as he finished MIT, bought our first little house in San Jose and all five kids were born at the hospital right down the road from that house. We made wonderful friends and got really involved in our community there in many ways. A piece of our hearts will always be in the Bay Area and we want our kids to know their birthplace well. Plus Jared and I each have a sister in the Bay Area. So we like to get back there every chance we get.

When the opportunity arose to do a Retreat in Palo Alto, we figured we might as well combine a fun spring break trip with a Retreat trip. So we've spent the past week with our sisters and friends, exploring all our old favorite places, and presenting a Retreat.

We really had a great week despite some less-than-ideal weather and more worries and stress than was really necessary. It rained - a lot - and we had to switch up some plans based on weather. I think we found pretty much every free and worthwhile museum in the Bay Area - and looking back, it really turned out great.

I know realize it wasn't the best idea to combine a family trip with a Retreat because I've felt torn between what needed to be done to prepare for the Retreat at the end of the week and what needed to be done to really enjoy family time. Plus the timing turned out to be a bit hard with all the things we've needed to do on the website (thanks to the exciting fact that we've had over 1 million hits in the past few days thanks to a wonderful article by April that I wrote about in my last post). There were a lot of things I needed to do but couldn't do very conveniently on the road or while trying to enjoy time with the kids.

Still, it's worked out really great and there have been lots of great bonding experiences and memories created despite some of the hard stuff. I need to be better at remembering during times of stress that things always work out pretty darn well in the end. I need to learn to have more faith and squash worries away more effectively when there's not much I can do about them anyway...

Anyway, here's the overview of the first part of the trip in words and photos (the kids have helped me remember everything we did and I've typed in our memories while we've been driving for hours and hours across the nothingness of Nevada to get back home...).

Saturday - We explored Big Sur with Charity – never been there before and it's GORGEOUS! Craggy coast, green water, water fall, redwoods, hiked up waterfalls clinging to the huge roots of redwood trees, walked across a high log bridge, explored hollow trees, waded through a freezing river to cross fields of gorgeous wild flowers and play on the freezing beach where we had an Easter egg hunt, found a ½ alive starfish and lots of cool sea shells, Isaac and Jared jumped in the freezing cold ocean, enjoyed amazing scenery on the long windy drive, had a picnic dinner of crusty bread and cheese perched on a cliff watching the sunset. Had a crazy slumber party with all 8 of us packed into Charity's room at the house she shares with 5 other girls. Not a lot of sleep but every so often, you need a good old fashioned slumber party!

Here's a sampling of our Big Sur photos - such a beautiful, fun day.

such a beautiful spot - amazing blue water, gorgeous waterfall

right across the street from the beautiful cliffs of the beach, there's a gorgeous redwood grove

we hiked up this waterfall using the roots of redwood trees - it turned out to be quite the hike!
I LOVE redwoods - how they grow in groves, using each other's roots, how the new ones grow
from the old ones, how the ground is spongy underfoot with 100's of years of old redwood needles...
We had great adventures wading through a freezing river and walking through
fields of wildflowers to get to a secluded beach
It was cold. but they didn't seem to mind much!

The 1/2 alive starfish was a great find - plus we did an Easter egg hunt on the beach

Charity, Liza and I snuggled on the sand

Jared and Isaac braved the freezing water
On the way home we found this lovely spot to watch the sun go down
while enjoying a picnic of crusty bread and cheese
(our favorite thing on trips is to stop at Trader Joes and grab a loaf of bread,
some sliced cheese, some grapes and some baby carrots and have cheap tasty picnics)

Saturday was pretty much a perfect day.
Here's a little glimpse of our slumber party in Charity's room -
fun to see these boy who tend to fight a fair amount snuggled together in their sleep!
*** For more great photos of our time with Charity at Big Sur and on Easter, visit Charity's blog HERE.

Sunday - Easter – had a special breakfast with Charity (scrambled eggs with ham and asperagus and banana coconut muffins), went to Charity's ward in Palo Alto and enjoyed the beautiful Easter program with Charity playing the flute, fun to share the super-quiet sacrament and the super-loud and lovely congregational singing of a single's ward with the kids, remembered the days when Jared and I were in singles wards, tried to pick out some good dating prospects for Charity, took Easter pictures at the church. After church, we made lunch at Charity's house, went up in the foothills for a picnic and a special Easter egg hunt for our Easter eggs with the symbols of Easter in them. Ashton led us in reading the scriptures and talking about the symbols in each of the Easter eggs. Then we stood on top of a hill looking out at the vista and belted out “He is Risen.” Then we headed to Oakland for a delicious Easter dinner with Kathryn and MJ. Kathryn and MJ's gorgeous old house has so many great memories for us - we spent so many holidays there with them and their kids while living in the Bay Area. It was so great to stay with them for a few days - last chance since they decided to down-size and just sold the house. They're busily house-hunting for a new home. We so appreciated their hospitality during this time of transition for them!

after church at Charity's ward

Easter egg hunt in the Palo Alto foothills - eggs with scripture references and symbols of Easter in each

hunting for eggs

Easter dinner at Kathryn and MJ's house (not sure why I didn't get a photo of the adult table...)

Monday – San Francisco – walked across the Golden Gate bridge, enjoyed amazing views, saw Alcatraz and watched the boats and some dolphins, marveled at the engineering and aesthetics of the bridge, went under the bridge to see the structure. Then we found a huge cool tree to climb, had a picnic at the Palace of Fine Arts, watched the sea lions at Pier 39 and found some great t-shirts there, climbed up and down steep streets for great vistas and thrills, and wrapped up the day by walking up and down Lombard street.

It's the 75th anniversary of this amazing structure this year. I love the aesthetics. Jared loves the engineering.

The kids fell totally in love with this tree by the Palace of Fine Arts - one hour of climbing

You just can't beat the Palace of Fine Arts as a picnic spot

Like Ashton's pose? They said they really wanted to do their own special pose for a silly photo.

Lombard Street from the bottom

Lombard Street from the top
There are so many amazing vistas in San Francisco!
The sea lions at Pier 39 never cease to amuse. The kids kept trying to guess what they were thinking
as they flopped on top of each other and fought for the best spots on the docks.

I'll get part two up tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

What fun! Saren, your family is absolutely gorgeous:)! Also, congratulations on all the traffic POMs is getting! You and April are doing such important work and doing it really well. I hope to attend a retreat someday and thank you in person. Love, Natalie

Cheryl said...

It looks so fun! You have inspired me to travel more and find the out of the way places to make memories!

Eyrealm said...

Congrats on surviving...and thriving! That was quite a lot to fit into one week, not to mention 1 million hits on your website. Fantastic!

Sue said...

I'm sure you didn't mean anything by it but for those of us who love Nevada it sure isn't nothingness. ;))

Jonah and Aja said...

love it sar. ashtons face in the crazy photo is great.

SupaFlowaPowa said...

I love San Jose too - it's where I found the Church. Yay! Lombard street is always so much fun - thanks for sharing your awesome family vacation photos!

Cheryl said...

I am sad you won't be at the Vegas retreat this weekend, I was looking forward to meeting you!


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