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One year ago today Cole and I arrived in Anchorage, Alaska.  The place where we would call home for the next four years.  I remember feeling excited and overwhelmed when we arrived.  I knew that this was the next chapter in our lives and I wasn’t sure what it held.  The past year has been fun, adventurous, difficult, happy, sad, and cold.  Mostly just cold though lol.

We’ve gotten to visit amazing and beautiful places in Alaska and there are so many more places to see.  At the same time it has been very difficult when we couldn’t see friends and family during the holidays, when my aunts have been sick, and just this past week when my mom broke her foot.

Honestly, Alaska is a pretty nice place to live.  So many beautiful things to see, so many fun outdoorsy things to do.  If only I could move the state south about 3,000 miles…

Here’s to the next three years and to the many memories that I know Cole and I will make.

P.S. We have a spare bedroom if anyone wants to visit!! 🙂

6357.3 Miles!

6357.3 Miles!

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Napa Valley & Redwood Nat’l Park August 4, 2014

Roseville to Portland Map

Wow I’m really behind on chronicling our journey!

On August 4th rested and refreshed we said “see ya later” to our sweet friends, the Warringtons, and continued on our Alaska journey.  Our first, and might I say, most important stop was Sterling Vineyard in Napa Valley.  Not only was it a beautiful vineyard but the wine was delicious as well.  Napa Valley Sign Cole Napa Valley Sign

I really wanted those giant grapes!

I really wanted those giant grapes!

The beautiful view from Sterling Vineyard.

The beautiful view from Sterling Vineyard.

View from Sterling

View from Sterling

There were just rows and rows and rows, it was so cool to see.

There were just rows and rows and rows, it was so cool to see.

Yum!

Yum!

View from Sterling

View from Sterling

Giant barrels of wine.  Yum!

Giant barrels of wine. Yum!

In Lift at SterlingAfter the vineyard we head toward the Redwood National Park.  Right outside the park there is the Chandelier Tree in Leggett, CA.  You can read more about it here but it is 315 ft tall, 21 ft in diameter, and approximately 2,400 years old!  It was pretty neat to see the cars drive through.  We were iffy on driving through with the roof bag but after we saw an suv make it through safely we decided to do it.  Cole drove while I took pics.

Chandler drive-thru tree in Leggett, CA

Chandelier drive-thru tree in Leggett, CA

Driving the Altima through the Chandler Tree

Driving the Altima through the Chandelier Tree

After our little tree excursion we headed on to the Redwood National Park. Fortunately we got to see a few giant trees before it got dark.

That was a huge tree!

That was a huge tree!

I feel so tiny!

I feel so tiny!

When I say giant I mean giant!  It got dark not long after this but I know the rest of the drive would have been amazing.  Cole loved driving it because it was curvy but it was terrifying to me because it was so dark and I was so afraid a bear or something was going to jump out in front of the car.  We arrived in Portland around 2:00 am as was our fashion for this trip.  On to Seattle next time!

 

LA July 29 – 30, 2014

LA Map

Map from San Deigo to LA

Cole hasn’t seen Clayton in a couple years so we were very excited to get to LA to spend some time with him.  We had a great time there with Clayton but Cole and I both think one visit to LA was enough for us!

We stayed in this very kitschy motel called The Safari Inn in downtown Burbank. It’s been in several tv shows and movies including CSI & Armageddon.  I loved the view we had there with the mountains in the back and the sign in the front.

Safari Inn

Safari Inn

The first morning we were there Clayton took us out to breakfast.  Within 10 minutes of sitting there we saw our first celebrity!  We were sitting in the restaurant and Gabriel Iglesias and his “crew” came in.  Immediately the staff seated him in the very back facing the wall so no one bothered him so Cole wasn’t able to snap a picture even though he tried lol.  The next day Clayton took us to a taco truck and we were sitting there eating our tacos and Adam Arkin sat down at our table with his son.  Cole was cracking me up because he’s trying to do these slight head gestures and eye movements trying to get my attention to show me.  So funny!

Gabriel Iglesias

Gabriel Iglesias

Adam Arkin

Adam Arkin

The first day there we went to Universal Studios and had the luckiest time.  We stood in line for about 30 minutes to get on the Jurassic Park ride and that was the only ride we waited for.  The next ride was Transformers, the wait was about 30 minutes but as soon as we walked up one of the employees said hey it’s your lucky day and he took us and about 10 other people through to the front of the line!  Something went wrong with the ride and we ended up sitting on it for about five minutes.  When we got off the ride they apologized and gave us a front of the line pass for another ride.  Then we went to the Simpsons ride and were discussing if we wanted to wait for it or not and then an employee came up to us and handed us more front of the line passes and took us to the front of the line for that ride.  I wanted to ride the minion ride and the guys didn’t so I was waiting in line and I was talking to the staff to see if they had a “single rider” line and they said they didn’t.  The guy said to just go with him and he took me to the front of the line!  It was really the best amusement park day ever!

Universal

A giant minion statue!

A giant minion statue!

Clayton & Cole at Universal

Clayton & Cole at Universal

Later that night we went to the Storey Tavern where Clayton works.  It was a neat little Irish pub and they had amazing food.  I had a mac n cheese burger, it was a fat kid’s dream!

Mac N Cheese Burger at the Storey Tavern

Mac N Cheese Burger at the Storey Tavern

The next day Clayton had an audition so Cole and I were on our own.  We decided to go to Hollywood Blvd to walk around and to take a Hollywood stars tour.  Let me just say now…DO NOT waste your money!  If we had a better tour guide it would have been at least a little entertaining but mostly it was just looking at big houses that were probably just random people’s, not stars’ houses.  This restaurant called The Rusty Mullet was the most interesting thing I saw the whole time.

The best thing I saw on the Hollywood stars tour.

The best thing I saw on the Hollywood stars tour.

We walked around the Chinese Theater and looked at all the Hollywood stars.  Almost immediately I found the best star out there…Slash!  So cool 🙂

Slash's Star!

Slash’s Star!

We also went into the mall that is by the theater and stumbled across a candy store called Sweet.  They have a “Chocolate Lab” where they make custom chocolate bars for you while you wait.  It was really neat and our chocolate turned out delicious.

Chocolate Lab Menu

Chocolate Lab Menu

Chocolate Lab at Work

Chocolate Lab at Work

Cole Candy - dark chocolate, peanut butter filling, M&Ms, & coffee beans

Cole Candy – dark chocolate, peanut butter filling, M&Ms, & coffee beans

Bridgett Bar - dark chocolate, milk chocolate filling, pretzels, sunflower seeds, and cookie dough

Bridgett Bar – dark chocolate, milk chocolate filling, pretzels, sunflower seeds, and cookie dough

The Bridgett Bar & The Cole Candy - Yum!

The Bridgett Bar & The Cole Candy – Yum!

They also had all these fascinating pieces of art that were made out of candy.  My favorite ones were of the characters of Orange Is the New Black.  They were so cool!

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Jelly Bean Red

Jelly Bean Red

Jelly Bean Crazy Eyes & Pensatucky

Jelly Bean Crazy Eyes & Pensatucky

LA was fun and it was great to spend time with Clayton but when our time was over there we were both ready to head to San Francisco.  Stay tuned for more of our trip!

San Diego July 28, 2014

Grand Canyon to San Diego

Grand Canyon to San Diego

We arrived about 3:00 am in San Diego on the morning of the 27th.  We had originally planned a stop at Joshua Tree on the way from the Grand Canyon but once we realized we were going to be so late getting to San Diego we scratched it.  When we were planning our road trip we knew which cities we wanted to hit but didn’t make many plans of what to do once we got there.  This was good and bad.  Good because we had the option to change things up and just go with the flow.  Bad because we really didn’t plan enough time in our schedule to do a whole lot so when we decided to do something that took a few hours it really put us behind on our travel schedule.

When we woke up that morning in San Diego and I looked out of our hotel window I was so excited, it was simply beautiful.  The water was sparkling and it was dotted with sailboats.  Then when we went to breakfast our view was of the marina and there were so many sailboats and boats!  I have no idea how a person could even get their boat out of that mess.  It was so neat though.

View from our hotel

View from our hotel

My one goal while in San Diego was to walk along the bay.  I just wanted to soak in the sun and the sounds and smells of being by the water.  It was so nice and relaxing and it was so nice for the sun to be shining since it had rained on us the past two days.  We were down there around lunch time and I saw a guy in a suit sitting in his car eating lunch.  That’s where I want to have lunch every day too.  Jealous.  While we were walking along Cole points out something out in the water…it was a sea lion!  I couldn’t believe it!  He was too far away and moving too quick for me to get a picture but I was just so excited to see one just out and about.

Taken while walking along the bay

Taken while walking along the bay

Cole really wanted to go to the infamous San Diego Zoo but I looked up the ticket prices and for both of us it was going to be $92 for us to go!!  What?!?  It’s a zoo!  So we decided against it and were going to find something else to do.  I decided to call and see about a military discount and I’m so glad I did because Cole got in for free and I got a 10% discount.  It was still steep to pay $42 for both of us to go to the zoo but it was a lot of fun and a really nice zoo.

He looks extremely happy even though his hump is so sad.

He looks extremely happy even though his hump is so sad.

For those of you who know Cole is aka Panda so it was a necessity to see the pandas…well that and we’ve never actually seen one in person.  When we walked up to the exhibit it said there would be a 45 minute wait to see them.  Wowza!  Luckily it was only about 25 minutes but you know I would have waited the full 45 because they were so dang cute!  I didn’t get any pics of the mama but the baby was just so cuddly looking.  I wanted to squeeze him and hold him like a baby.

Look at that face!

Look at that face!

Baby Panda

Baby Panda

For them to be “giant” pandas they were a lot smaller than I expected.  The San Diego Zoo is a definite must if you are there and have the time.

I forgot to mention this in my last post but when Cole and I got to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert there was a sign that military got in free.  When we got to the gate we showed them our IDs and they gave us an annual membership pass.  I was so excited!  Between there and the Grand Canyon this saved us almost $50 in park fees.  So don’t forget to ask about those military discounts, up to this point in the trip we had saved over $100 with our military IDs.