The past few weeks have been a busy for us! We got engaged, travelled back to Ohio for a week, and are in the middle of a marathon of weekends at California’s great National (and State) Parks. The blog fell out of priority but we’re trying to get back on track. To ease the pain, I’m going to zoom through the past few weeks in one post.
Lots of wildflowers in California!
Last year our company started holding a Fiscal New Year’s Eve party. Since we missed out on it the first time around due to hiking the Grand Canyon, we flew back to Ohio to attend the party and the other work events going on that week. We both left San Francisco Friday afternoon; I headed back to Cleveland, Zach spent the weekend in Salt Lake City for his cousin’s bachelor party. In a bit of unfortunate luck, my dad was running the Boston Marathon that Monday so I only saw my parents briefly before they left. Fortunately, I was able to have my grandparents over for dinner and wait out a tornado warning at my best friend Sammi’s house.
Celebrating our 4 year anniversary at the spot of our first date – The Melt
Zach and I both arrived in Columbus Monday morning and began a work week full of activities. Between hanging out with friends and work events, we didn’t get much sleep. The highlight of the week was watching my sister Megan race on the Ohio State Crew team. Her novice eight boat won both races. You only get to see the boat for a few seconds as they row by, but it was exciting to see in person her hard work pay off.
Not the best spectator sport
Before we knew it, our time in Ohio was over and back to California we flew. We had a work week to kill before heading to Big Sur, so we hunkered down in Hollister, the largest city in San Benito county. We spent most of the week working and relaxing after our busy previous week. The weather finally warmed up, a little too much for my liking, so we enjoyed dusk runs through the very large campground (500+ sites). We saw more animals in the campground than we had any other week – loads of deer, many interesting birds, squirrels, a fox and a family of wild boar.
That weekend we traveled south to Big Sur – not a national park but a region full of state parks. Many of the best trails are closed due to frequent fires and landslides. The trails we hiked were great so I can’t imagine what the better ones are like! Unlike most weekends when we are in the middle of nowhere and left to cook for ourselves, there were some great restaurants in the area. We dined at the world-famous Nepenthe, overlooking miles of the Pacific coast. I discovered my new favorite beer, Lost Coast’s Great White, while watching the Cavs beat the Pacers at Big Sur Tap House.
Since our campground in Big Sur was only an hour from a Starbucks, we spent Sunday night in the park and packed up early Monday morning. As long as our weekend accommodations are within a reasonable drive from an internet connection, we use this strategy to maximize our time in the parks. This work-week was spent at Sunset Beach State Park on the north shore of Monterey Bay. For those of us who live full-time in campgrounds, California has the worst State Park system. Almost none of their campgrounds have water and electricity hookups but still cost forty dollars a night. Sunset Beach was a beautiful park, and much cheaper than the other eighty dollars a night private campgrounds in the Monterey area, but after a week of washing dishes without running water, I was happy to move on to a site with hookups.
Finally the right weather and trees for the hammock!
Excluding Gateway Arch, Pinnacles is the newest National Park. In 2013, it was upgraded from a National Monument to a National Park, officially making California the state with the most National Parks. Unlike Gateway Arch, it actually deserves to be a National Park (read this for more of my feelings on Gateway Arch). Our campground in Hollister was only an hour from Pinnacles, so one day after work that week, we headed into the park and explored Bear Gulch Cave. It’s more of a tunnel than a cave but still a great way to spend an afternoon.
The trail to Bear Gulch
That Saturday, my brother and some college friends were racing the Wildflower triathlon which was not too far from Pinnacles. It was hot and hilly just spectating and I’m glad I wasn’t racing. I will come out of my triathlon retirement one day but I’m not yet ready to return to the sport. Matt did great, finishing 9th out of over a thousand racers. But, no surprise to anyone who knows Matt, it wasn’t quite as good as he was hoping. I didn’t get to see him much since he was racing for most of the day, but anytime with family is better than none.
Not our best picture, not our worst
The past week I had been fighting a cold, and just as I was getting over it, I came down with a sinus infection. I spent the rest of the weekend blowing my nose and relaxing in bed. I attempted to go for a hike but turned around a mile in, leaving Zach to finish it alone. I was happy we visited the park earlier so I was able to see more than just the campground. From Pinnacles we headed east to finish our our last few weeks of California in the Sierra Nevadas.