San Francisco :: Part 2

Here are some pictures from the beautiful places we visited in San Francisco ::

:: M U I R  W O O D S  N A T I O N A L  P A R K ::

If I had known what this Redwood forest was like, it would’ve been on my bucket list to see before I died. Now it doesn’t have to be. The height, the age, the color and the stillness of these trees made the forest feel magical. Also, I’d never breathed air that smelled so clean and fresh. It tasted good.

The whole park has been set up in a way that leaves a minimal impact on the forest itself, and yet it still feels interactive. It was amazing to touch the trees, listen to the vibrant animal life chattering away in the branches and on the forest floor, to kneel down and see the neon green clover up close. 

Again, it felt like a magic fairy land. So inspiring.

A towering cluster of age-old redwoods.

While Logan and I felt humbling, silencing awe at the magnificent trees, Valentine could not contain her excitement. Here she is bouncing up and down on my shoulders, yelling with sheer happiness. I wonder what it was in her baby brain that made her so happy? The colors? The sounds? She’s only been alive for one year, one miniscule ring of the hundreds that encircle those tree trunks, but she was not intimidated by them…she was delighted.

It was cold on the shadowy forest trails, so much of the time Valentine sat in her stroller, bundled against the chill.

This scene was so interested to me. These towering trees circling and leaning in towards this ancient piece of petrified wood. It’s almost like they all had personalities. If I keep talking about this I’m going to sound really nerdy. :)

One of those etched rings marks the year 1492, the year Columbus sailed to America. Another ring dates to 1100 and the building of the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde. And then there are our small, fragile hands touching the passing of centuries. Logan has a phrase that he uses a lot, “One of these days you’ll be dead”. He says it to remind himself that our lives are fleeting and short, and that we have one chance to make it count. I would have no significance if it weren’t for the fact that God sees me, loves me, has chosen my heart as a dwelling place. 

The fog was thick on the winding roads leading up to the park. In a moment of inspiration, the kids rolled down the windows, reached out their hands and said they were cloud clutching.

:: R I T U A L  C O F F E E ::

One afternoon, we stole the car and drove to Ritual Coffee for a short family date. I sipped a pungent espresso while V nibbled on a citrus donut and Logan drank a light, flavorful pour-over. It was relaxing to just sit quietly and watch all the interesting people pick up their coffees on the counter.

:: P A L A C E  O F  F I N E  A R T S ::

This pond and monument is glorious and gaudy, special and strange. It was built over a hundred years ago for an event much like the World’s Fair and only meant to last for one year. But some philanthropists in the city loved it so much that they essentially rebuilt the entire thing with materials that could withstand the elements. 

Here you can see the scale of some of these pillars. Even though the monument was an over-the-top and ostentatious imitation of Greek and Roman architecture, there was something kind of endearing about it, the way it stood there so daring and proud. I guess you could say it was very American. :)

While we were there, a photographer was snapping pictures of a beautiful bride. I couldn’t help thinking that her pictures will look like something out of a fairy tale or a Jane Austen film.

:: T H E  M I S S I O N  D I S T R I C T ::

One night Logan and I met up with my cousin Jordan and his smart and funny girlfriend Caroline. They live near Sacramento and had taken the train in to the city. After picking them up at the train station, we walked to a taco shop where we drank ice cold Mexican cokes and ate guacamole filled with chunks of creamy avocado. Next we found Bi-Rite creamery (thanks for the recommendation, Melissa!) and stood in line with dozens of other people for a scoop of their famous ice cream. Well, I had two scoops. :) We took our ice cream to Delores Park and slid down the epic slides like little kids. 

:: I N D U S T R I A L  L I G H T  A N D  M A G I C ::

This is the home of George Lucas’ special effects company, but surrounding the buildings is a beautiful industrial park, with vibrant potted plants, secluded benches and a strategically placed coffee shop. It was a fun place to wander and to let the kids run freely.

Here’s the famous yoda fountain. Notice how the kids are hugging the edge of the bench? Let’s just say there was a puddle of something horrifying on the other end. 

:: T W I N  P E A K S ::

One afternoon Logan took me to Twin Peaks, a towering pair of hills that overlook the city. The view was magnificent. Logan pointed out different landmarks and took the time to tell me more about his week with CIY. 

San Francisco is beautiful and exciting, shocking and captivating. I loved the friendly, laid back atmosphere, the active lifestyle of the people, the volatile history of the city, the cool weather, the gorgeous flowers and the hip shops and restaurants. It was such a fun city to experience as a family.

I’m so thankful to the Parsons, to Nick for the generous gift of the plane ticket, to Rachel’s untiring hospitality and sweetness. To all the times they watched Valentine so I could go read or pray or run or date my loving husband. To all the yummy food they fed us. To all the late nights of insightful advice and hilarious reminiscing. To the kids for loving Valentine so completely, for accepting me as part of their inner family, for being quiet when V was sleeping and hilarious during donut outings.

Thanks to Abby and Melissa and all the others who took the time to give us great recommendations for enjoying the city. And a big, wet sloppy kiss to the Casteels for keeping our dog Mabel the whole time. Thanks for being the kind of friends who pretended like this wasn’t the biggest imposition for us to even ask.

What about you? Have you ever been to San Francisco? What was your favorite part? What’s your favorite city in the whole world? What was your favorite traveling experience? I’d love to talk more about our favorite travel experiences on Twitter or Facebook :)

Posted by Aanna on Saturday, July 6th, 2013

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