Our California Adventure
"this is the beginning of anything you want"
In 2016, Jeremiah & I ventured overseas for the first time, and traveled through 4 countries in Europe. This same year, I graduated high school, started college full time, got fired from my job, started photography full time, and at the end of it all said to myself "This was the biggest year of my life".
Well, 2017, you proved me wrong. God always has big beautiful plans in mind for our future, sometimes bigger than even I can dream. By far the biggest highlight of our year was the time we spent in California. We left Ohio, took buses, shuttles, ubers, and we relied on the kindness of strangers, and the strength we had yet to discover in ourselves, until we made it across the country to California.
We took two weeks to travel through the diverse land of California, and it quickly became one of my favorite places in the whole world. It started off in Sequoia, we rode the bus from Arizona for a whole day until we arrived to where we could take the shuttle up the mountains to Sequoia. Once there, we were extremely worried we wouldn't be able to find a campsite. Summer is the busiest time of year for these parks, and campsites are first come first serve.
We walked up to the check in kiosk for the campgrounds with our luggage in tow, looking dirty and exhausted. The lady inside asked us:
"Where is your car?"
We explained to her that we had been busing around the country from Ohio, and that we had done the whole trip with no car. She told us she had a spot she was saving for someone else, but from our desperate looking situation she gave it to us. Rejoice! We had a home for a few nights!
Seqouia was in a simple world, peaceful. Beautiful clear waters flowed through the campgrounds, and I preferred to spend much of my time swimming in those streams. Chipmunks would grace our presence every morning, and the camp grocery store wasn't too far of a walk. We often cooked soup over the campfire, and one night we splurged and bought a gallon of chocolate milk (which we had to drink quickly because we didn't have a cooler). Coming from the insanity of seeing all we could in Arizona, this was a welcome time of rest for us. No cell reception, no outward communication, no keeping up with my Instagram, just Jeremiah, me, the sequoias, our tent, and the stars.
The forest was magnificent, on one hike, we walked across one of the giants sequoias that had fallen and just layed in the midst of the sun and forest surrounding us. During the day we would hike, and at night we would look at the moon and stars above us while listening to the other campers laugh, sing, and be completely present with each other.
I was very inspired by these few days in the Seqouias, words can never truly sum up how I felt, So, here is a few images from the first part of our journey in Sequoia National Park.
AHHH onto the next stop, our second California location, Yosemite National Park! This place had been #2 on my bucket list of places to see in the world for a long time. We took a shuttle at 4am to get there as early as possible, to try and secure a spot at a campsite. On that same shuttle, we met two campground workers who told us what it was like living in such a magnificent place year round. I was greatly inspired by these two people, they were very kind towards us and each other, and we all laughed together while they told us their stories about their adventures in Yosemite.
Even though we arrived in Yosemite at 8am, we were unable to secure a campsite. We were told that there was a camp for backpackers, with a maximum one night stay. Backpackers camp was amazing, quietly and privately tucked away behind one of the main campgrounds. It was amidst some pines, everyone was very polite towards each other and shared our food, space, and goods. It was peaceful, children played in the stream under the small bridge we had to cross to get to camp, and most of the day no one was there because they were out exploring this grand place.
Our first and only night in backpackers camp, we woke up at 2am, and walked several miles so we would get to Camp 4 in time to secure a campsite. We arrived at 4:30am, and there was a line of people sleeping in front of the kiosk waiting to try and get a spot in the camp for the next day. We joined the mass of people, and slept on the ground until light.
The following morning, we did it! Morning light came, and we were the last people to get a campsite, we rejoiced because we again had a place to stay for a couple nights. With those worries out of our way, we were free to hike and explore the park as we pleased. First we checked out the lower falls area, where we met a sweet couple from Germany. I asked them if I could take photos of them, and we communicated through body language since we all couldn't understand each other.
There was a group of teens who had gone way off the trail, and slid down some rocks, so they could stand at the bottom of the falls. These were my kind of people, I was so inspired by them that even while I was wearing a dress, I followed suit and slid down the rocks so I could experience Yosemite Falls the same way.
That feeling, was complete and total freedom. I had gotten this far, in a month I had come from Ohio all the way to California with no real plan starting off. I could do absolutely anything, because when I'm inspired, I am powerful.
Our now third day in Yosemite, we took the most exhausting hike of my life, the Upper Falls Trail. But man oh man, it was so worth it. We were the last ones up, we stood on the mountain atop of the waterfall and looked over the vast valley of Yosemite. Normally I'm the crazy one, always pushing the limits and running towards any adventure, but this time Jeremiah took lead in a new way. There was a little ledge beyond one of the barriers, with a complete drop to the bottom of the valley below. He climbed over the barrier, and once on the ledge reached his hand out to me. I didn't take my camera, because I didn't want to drop it. Even thinking back on this makes my legs tingle with nervousness, but we sat on the ledge as fearlessly as we could, and took it all in. Even though I don't have a picture of it, the mental picture I will have remember forever.
That night while hiking down, we saw the sunset colors hit Half Dome. Pinks and blues danced across the sky, Half Dome is a place I've always dreamed about, and being so near it was truly incomparable to anything else I've experienced.
At this point in the trip, we were joined by our friends Luke and Mikayla Donaldson, and their friend Lauren Harris. They flew all the way from Ohio to come on the last part of this journey with us! We took the Mist Trail, as well as endured terrible Yosemite traffic and drove up to Glacier Point where we also met up with Randi Kreckman!
I won't lie to you all, I think I may have fallen in love with San Francisco. Going into this city, I had no clue how windy, foggy, and moody the weather was. Yet the colors in the houses and the beaches, go against the weather and complement each other in such a beautiful unique way. I absolutely cannot wait to go back again, and even though we were only there one day, we did our absolute best to make the most of it.
Jeremiah and I have learned from past traveling, that the best way to experience a new place is just by taking it slow. We had one afternoon and one morning in San Francisco, and we spent our time walking. We walked to the grocery store, to baker beach, a little of the golden gate bridge, and around a few random streets we thought looked "fun".
Don't be afraid to take things slow while traveling, enjoy the little things. Many people have seen the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Full House home, but how many have seen the houses on Anza street? The gateway with a cat on it, or the flower rose bushes outside of locals homes? The details are so much of what make a story or place whole. Again, I cannot wait until we go back (seriously who wants to have an engagement session here?!).
So... we were in L.A. for a grand total of 3 hours. Our airbnb wasn't exactly the nicest thing ever, and we decided to leave for Joshua Tree early instead of staying the night there.
But, while we were there, Jeremiah & I wasted no time because we wanted to see everything we could! The street our Airbnb was on had tall palm trees aligning each side, it reminded me of Beverly Hills! The sun had just set, and light was almost gone, but I put on a dress I had been saving for LA., and we ran into a crosswalk to take some photos! People honked, laughed, and applauded us, but this was one of the best 20 minutes of my life. Every since I was a little girl, the actress in me had dreamed about being in the city of angels. We had so much fun getting creative with our surroundings, and using the light in a new way challenging way.
First off, let me start by informing you all that Joshua Tree has the CUTEST Airbnbs. Book a flight and go stay in one of these things right now, you won't regret it! Second of all, DOGS! I love dogs, big dog person here, and we met a few dogs on this section of my trip (and they were such good models too).
Joshua Tree was my kind of place. Everyone here had lived a life, many hippies and unique people gather here, I wish I would've had more time to connect with the local people. But from the few people we did meet, I will carry the conversations we had and the stories they told me for as long as I can.
The desert was too hot during the day, so we spent a few hours hitting up the local cafes and antique stores. Also, Jeremiah and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary in Joshua Tree, and he bought me a beautiful ring with a large white crystal on it. I wear it all the time, it reminds me of this beautiful place.
While we waited for the sun to get lower in the sky, we did a comfy in home session in one of our Airbnb's with Luke and Mikayla. Afterwards, we ventured out into the desert to see the Joshua Trees, and get some photos before the sunset.
That night was one of my favorites. We came back from a long day, and I was adamant that we had to have a bonfire. There was a bonfire pit in the backyard of our Airbnb, it was too perfect of an opportunity to pass up! If there's one thing Midwestern people love, it's bonfires.The 5 of us sat around the fire, admired the stars above the desert, and talked about our futures. Moments like these mean the most to me, bonfire's with like minded people in the desert of California.
And finally, this takes us to the last section of our trip, Malibu. In Malibu, we decided just to have fun with our last few days. We walked the Santa Monica pier, went surfing, saw a celebrity, and I was reunited with a friend I had met at sports camp in Ohio several years back.
But my favorite part of possibly this entire trip took place on the night before we left. I alongside Jeremiah, Luke, Mikayla, & Lauren, hosted a meetup in Paradise Cove. We had about 15 people turn out! I began it with a small talk on the pier about the importance of community over competition, and supporting other artists in their goals and careers. Then we scattered on the beach, half of us models, half of us photographers, and began creating with each other. This was such a great feeling, seeing a group of people being brought together for the purpose of photography, all by some artists from Ohio.
On this same beach, I also ran into another photographer named Alissa, who was having a picnic with her then boyfriend-now fiance! She had the cutest vintage bikini on, and I approached them to ask if I could take some photos of them. Alissa told me about how she had moved to California to pursue her dreams of being a west coast photographer and actress, this inspired me so much. She gave me many words of encouragement and in that moment, I made a new friend in California.
The last photo in this gallery is the view from our Malibu balcony at sunset, just minutes before we got in our Uber and left for the airport. Going back through these photos is emotional for me, I miss the beaches, mountains, forests, and people in California. Jeremiah and my goal is to be a destination wedding photographer and videographer team, ideally splitting time between Ohio and the west coast. I do love Ohio, but California was such a dream and I miss it everyday. Enjoy this last portrion, and remember to travel wherever, and whenever you can.
"as long as you've got passion, faith, and are willing to work hard, you can do anything you want in this life"