Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and Beyond!

Yikes.  I had completely forgotten about this blog.  In the interest of finishing what I’ve started (which is extremely important to me), I will at the very least describe the end of our cross country excursion and talk a little about where we are now (Portland!).  Who knows, maybe I’ll be compelled to continue this thing… but considering my track record for the past month, I’m not sure how likely that is…

Where do I even begin?  The drive from Utah across Nevada to California was long, but definitely beautiful.  One night, on our way from Moab to Cedar City, UT (which was actually a really great place- some of the nicest people ever!) we saw a full moon and the crisp outlines of black mountain shadows over a gorgeous sunset- it was probably the prettiest drive of my entire life (or at least one of the top 10).  IMG_3300

The next morning we drove across Nevada- which was, admittedly, uneventful until we spotted a group of desert big horn sheep running into the desert.  IMG_3301(We have no picture of the sheep- we were literally frozen in awe at their prettiness and only snapped a shot after they’d run far from view- but the scenery is beautiful anyhow.)

As we neared the California border we got a little worried about forest fires.  The sky was an eerie brown color and the air was thick with smoke.  As we headed toward our campsite (or rather the campsite we randomly looked up in the middle of Nevada) we learned that there had literally been forest fires around Lee Vining the day before, we were headed a little south of there to June Lake and decided to check it out- assuring ourselves that we’d turn back if it didn’t seem safe.  In the end, going to the site ended up being one of our best decisions!  June Lake was beautiful- we met some great people and shared coffee/ juice in the morning and learned so much about California, the fires and what it’s like to grow up on the (rarely acknowledged) east side of the state.

After a nice break in June Lake (which is actually a cute ski town), we finally made our way to Yosemite! Yosemite is a place I’ve been dreaming about since I was just a little kiddo- or at least since high school… Needless to say, it lives up to all the hype.  We spent three glorious days hiking miles and miles from the crack of dawn (I made us get up before the sun) until we couldn’t take another step and even weird California national park pizza started to smell irresistible.  We didn’t do Half Dome- maybe next time, but we did see the sun come up over the top of the mountains and hiked some of the scariest, skinniest trails I’ve ever attempted in my life (so far).  It was good for my extremely minor acrophobia and seemed only to make me even more excited to be on the west coast in the land of tall mountains.  IMG_6199 IMG_6197IMG_6207 IMG_6175 IMG_3346

After overloading on Yosemite views, we headed up toward Lake Tahoe.  I had been wanting to go there ever since I read a list of the most beautiful clear water in the US.  Whether it’s the most blue or the most clear is hard to say, but it was undoubtedly one of the prettiest lakes I’ve ever seen.  It was like the Caribbean surrounded by giant evergreens and mountains.  IMG_3336 IMG_3344 I’m not sure if it was the weather (that was a bit too cold for swimming) the months on the road in a tiny car, or the fact that I’d been feeling sick (pregnancy!) for the past couple months that made us change our plans at this point- but after one measly little day in Lake Tahoe, Adam and I packed up our things and made a bee-line north for the Pacific Northwest.

The plan was to move to Seattle, so we broke the drive up into three days, stopping in Ashland and Portland before what we thought was our final destination.  The first night in Ashland was spent in a crappy hotel that smelled like old ladies had been smoking in there since the 1950’s (though the no-smoking sign on the door indicated otherwise).  We decided that spending as little time in the hotel was our best bet so we headed downtown for an Italian meal- which was actually awesome, completely unexpected in southern Oregon, and made it even better I think.  We walked around the cute downtown, then headed home to bed for an early morning.

We wanted to get as much time in Portland as possible, even though we only had one night in a hotel.  We woke up before the sun and headed towards the city.  We spent the entire rainy day walking the length of Division street (through Mt. Tabor Park) towards downtown.  We ate great Mexican food and ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s because the line at Salt and Straw didn’t seem worth it- little did we know).  We talked the entire time about how one day we’d like to live in Portland- especially while we were surrounded by the Douglas Firs dripping with PNW rain in Mt. Tabor.  We spoke rationally, however, about how “right now is not a good time” and “maybe when we’re really ready to settle down” and “we needed a real, bustling city like Seattle for a while first”.

So the next day, we (reluctantly?) repacked our tiny car and headed towards Seattle- our final stop for a while.  We walked all over the city, ate vegan bar food in Capital Hill and corn at Pike’s Place market, we stood in a line around the corner to try the famous seafood bisque (and loved it!), went for an epic trail run in Discovery Park, and apartment searched, apartment searched, apartment searched. But nothing felt right.

The city just didn’t feel like it was where we were supposed to be, though we did a great job of convincing ourselves every day that it was- we just needed to find an apartment.  On Labor Day we hiked Rattlesnake Ridge along with every other person from Seattle and the surrounding area.  It felt less like a hike and more like standing in line while shuffling forward to see the view (see why I always made us wake up at the crack of dawn to go for a hike??).  This hike was important though.  It actually changed everything.

Me: “So, I know we’re planning to look for an apartment in Seattle until the end of September, but I have a feeling we’re going to end up in Portland.”

Adam: “Yeah, me too.”

10 minutes later…

Me (while waiting in line to shuffle a few more feet up the bottle-necked trail): “Let’s just go to Portland now.”

IMG_6195This is me and Vera standing in all our “we’re-moving-to-Portland-bliss” at the bottom of Rattlesnake Ridge.

So, here we are in Portland, Oregon and super happy about having a family in this great little city.  We left Seattle a day later and found an apartment in Portland in one and a half days.  The city welcomed us with open arms.  We had dinners with friends and family and felt immediately at home.  Since then we’ve been hiking and running and exploring and eating our way through Portland and the surrounding beauty.  I have very little trust in Adam and my ability to stay put, but for now this feels right and it seems that we’ll be here for at least a little while.

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