Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Best/Worst Campsite

This past weekend, Rich and I decided to do an overnight backpacking adventure to get ready for our Outward Bound (more on this later) trip in September. We packed up our packs on thursday night and then as soon as Rich got home from work on Friday we headed for the Pennsylvania mountains. We Parked in the Allen Seager area in Rothrock State Forest and took off on a trail. After climbing a constant uphill for about 3 miles, we came to a sign that said part of the trail was closed due to hazardous conditions. At first we were thinking, "thanks for telling us now that we got all the way up here and it's already 8pm". But, we decided to just carry on with our adventure. About 10 feet up the trail from the sign, we came across a huge clearing that extended all across the part of the mountain we were on and also all the way up the next range we could see. This was not the most pleasing view after a couple hours of hiking with a 30 lb pack. It made us think about how humans ruin everything. But then we noticed a campsite that someone else had set up with a fire ring. With it getting a little dark, we decided this might be the perfect spot. It turned out to be the perfect place to camp, given that there was an abundant amount of firewood because of the big clearing. So, I set up the tent while Rich built a fire and collected wood. We then ate dinner, sat by the fire and went to bed. The next morning we had breakfast and hiked back down the mountain. Needless to say, we were pretty exhausted but it was a fun trip. Ralphy also came with us and did such a good job. Since he is such a mama's boy, he doesn't need a leash and will follow along the whole way. He was so tired from the hike that he let us sleep in until 8am! I think he is still recovering.

Summer of weddings

From May to June, Rich and I attended two weddings. Even though this happened a while ago, I thought I would share some of the good times we had and some pictures.

First in May we attended Alex and Troy Goode's wedding in Herndon, VA. The Goode's are best friends of Jill and Brett and the god parents of Peter. When Alex and I worked together on Jill's wedding, we spent a lot of time together and in general I have just hung out with my sister's friends a lot so I knew it would be a blast and I was excited to get an invite. My mom and I had the duty of watching Peter during the whole thing, so that Jill (matron of honor) and Brett (groomsman) could follow through on their duties being in the wedding. The night was full of celebration, good food, and dancing. Peter was probably the most popular person at the wedding and his tuxedo was so cute! Since Rich doesn't dance, little Petey served as my dance partner most of the night. I always have a lot of fun hanging out with Jill and her friends and they make me feel so welcome in the group. All in all it was a great night!

About a month later, in June, Rich and I attended Jesse and Maria Leblanc's wedding in New Jersey. Jesse is a childhood friend of Rich and also lived in Tahoe during the same time as Rich. Jesse, Maria and Rich went on several adventures together while they were out west and Rich has many fond memories of the two of them. Since Rich served as the best man for the wedding, it was more of a wedding weekend than just one day. We spent the whole time hanging out with all of Rich's closest friends from growing up and it was really fun to see them all interact after being friends for so long. Since Rich was in the wedding and I was not I quickly befriended Steph, who is married to one of the other groomsmen. We spent a lot of time together over the weekend as our guys were doing groomsmen duties. We did get to ride in the wedding party limo, which was a lot of fun. It was definitely the biggest limo I had ever been in and we managed to squeeze in about 18 people. The weekend was full of tons of food, really good stories, and a lot of laughs. The funniest part of the weekend for me, was when Jesse started to ask me about tennis and quickly decided that given 12 weeks of training every day he would be able to beat me in a tennis match. After some skepticism from the crowd, he quickly rephrased his statement to "I could at least give you a good match". The only believer in Jesse, was Lucas, who decided that if Jesse could just switch to being lefty and play like Nadal then he could beat me. As embarrasing as it was for me to be talked about for a solid 30 minutes, it was pretty hilarious.

California is the best!

In case you didn't get my email about California and haven't seen the pictures, I'm posting it on here. I have been trying to increase my email address book, so don't be offended if you didn't get this the first time around.

I went to California with my boyfriend, Rich, in June. We took 8 days to explore the northern part of the state and visit some of our favorite spots. We started the trip by flying into Oakland and spending a day and a half in San Fransisco, then we drove down the coast and spent a night in Big Sur, then we drove over to Yosemite and spent a few days there, then up to Lake Tahoe for a couple of days and finally to Berkeley for the last night. We camped 6 of the 8 nights and did 25 miles of hiking throughout the week. To most people that might not sound like a vacation, but it was perfect for us. Although, we were quite tired and hiked out by the end of the trip. We reached 8,000 feet of elevation in hiking and about 10,000 feet during our driving, which also added to the exhaustion. I have attached some pictures to highlight the trip, but here is a little summary of each part in case you are interested.

San Fransisco: After spending Friday night in DC with my mom, we flew out early Saturday morning and got into Oakland around 10am. Once we got our rental car, which took way longer than it needed to, we were in serious need of some coffee. Being the coffee lovers that we are, we had done some research and found a few places we thought would be good. After some confusion and on place being closed, the Garmin got us to Ritual Coffee Roasters in the Mission (San Fransisco). Needless to say, we revisited this place two more times before leaving San Fransisco. It was delicious and the best Latte I have ever had. That was probably the highlight of our time in San Fran because the weather was pretty overcast, but we also went to fisherman's wharf for some clam chowder, took a long walk in golden gate park, visited the Point Bonita lighthouse, ate breakfast at the Bistro in the Cliff house (restaurant on the water and a historic building), and stayed in The Rainbow Room in a Bed and Breakfast and ate at Magnolias (a Rich favorite) in the Haight-Ashbury area. On Sunday afternoon, after we got a final coffee from Ritual Roasters, we headed for Big Sur.

Big Sur: We took a nice drive down to Big Sur via Highway 1, which featured some amazing views over very high cliffs. Despite my clinging to the car (heights freak me out a little), I was able to really appreciate what the road had to offer. We started our 6 days of camping there at the Pfieffer Big Sur State Park and then headed to Mcway Falls with just enough time to catch some pretty good pictures. After exploring the area, and the two most awesome campsites ever, we set up our tent, built a fire and roasted some marsh mellows. The next morning we did the TanBark hike to the Tin House. This was a strenuous hike that kept me wondering if the views would be worth it. Turned out they definitely were! The Tin House was pretty cool and the hike down offered awesome views and a great place for us to stop and have lunch. Then we left for Yosemite.

Yosemite National Park: The drive from Big Sur to Yosemite was the longest, so we broke it up just a little by stopping in Mariposa and staying in a KOA. The nest morning (my birthday) we woke up and headed into the valley. Since Rich worked there for a summer in 2001, we hadn't made reservations because he knew of Camp 4, which was a walk-in first come first serve site. After waiting in a long line, we were the lucky winners of campsite 35. The next two people in line got sites and then it was sold out...lucky us and happy birthday to me! We then decided, despite a nasty blister I had gotten from the day before, that we would do the Upper Yosemite Falls hike (a very strenuous, very rewarding, high elevation hike). The next day we took a break from hiking to let my blister have a break and drove up to Glacier point for some pictures and then Rafted down the Merced River. The next day it was already time to leave, but we did a morning hike up to Vernal Falls before leaving for Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe: On the way to Tahoe we stopped at Nicely's (a Rich favorite) and some hot springs (another Rich Favorite). Those who know about these, like to keep them a secret. All I will say about them is they are near Bridgeport, CA and they are awesome. We got back on the road and set up camp at Camp Richardson in Tahoe. We then drove to see the lake and got some pictures. We ate dinner that night at Divided Sky and I had the best salad I've pretty much ever had. There was supposed to be a live band, but after a couple hours of them not being able to get their sound system going, this tire duo left and went to bed. In the morning we ate at Rich's favorite coffee shop Alpen Sierra, just up the road from Harrah's where he use to work. We then did our final hike of the week and made it about 3 of the 5 miles up Mt. Tallac. We then pick nicked at Pope Beach and later met up with Rich's friends Kelly and Charles for some dinner. After that Rich and I went to the improv and had some pretty good laughs. We then spent our last night in the tent, got up the next morning for some pictures, breakfast and lunch at Sprouts (shocker...a Rich Favorite). Sprouts was the bomb and can join the ranks with Ritual Roasters. Then we took off for Berkeley and an actual bed with pillows!

Berkeley: The reason we spent the last night here is because Death Cab for Cutie was playing at the Greek Theater on campus and we both like the band. It was also a short drive to the airport from there. We stayed at the Hotel Durant, walked to dinner and then walked to the concert. It was a very good end to a great trip. Our flight ended up being delayed back into DC, so by the time we got to State College it was 2:30 am and we both had to get up early the next day to work. But, that was pretty much the only glitch in our trip so we aren't complaining. We probably also would have attempted more hiking if it weren't for my blister, but for the sake of our tired bodies it was probably for the best.

Here is the link to the rest of the pictures... http://community.webshots.com/user/kmb5166

My first blog

I have been following my sister's blog religiously, and I decided it might be fun to create my own. She is a superstar at blogging and keeps me entertained with all of her pictures and videos. I probably wont be as interesting as her, but I will do my best. I'm also new at this so it might take me a while to grasp.

Hoepfully, I will have interesting things to talk about!