Thursday, July 31, 2014

famILY Visits the OC Part 1


Hello blog family, 
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far. I can't believe it's already almost August. Almost time for the kiddos to go back to school. Where does the time go? My summer has been amazing especially because my Daddy and family came to visit me here in California this month. I had the most amazing week and a half...ever! It was the first time since I left PA almost 2 years ago that I felt like I had my normal life back. I could still go to work, do my normal everyday things independently, but at the end of the day I could go over to the house my family rented and eat dinner or just hang out with them. I loved having them here but it also made things really hard for me after they left. Since moving to California I haven't really been homesick, probably because I've been enjoying how amazing it is here. After my family flew home I had a really hard week trying to adjust to not having them here anymore. I still get emotional about it, but I just try not to think about it too much.

Now on to what we actually did! We literally did so much in such a short period of time that I've decided to spilt this visit into three separate blog posts. They arrived late on Friday night at LAX, so we decided to meet up on Saturday after they could all get a good night's rest. We ended up having a beach day at my go to beach, Crystal Cove State Park in Newport. I love this beach because it is never crowded since you have to pay $15 per day to park but it keeps most people away. I also love this beach because there are rocks on the shore that create tide pools and are home to a lot of small animals. I enjoyed exploring the rocks with my sisters and seeing all the different animals that call them home. We saw a ton of crabs, snails, oysters, hermit crabs, small fish, slugs, sea anemone, and so much more. Besides exploring the beach we actually went swimming for the first time in the Pacific Ocean. After living here for 5 months I finally made the plunge into the freezing cold water.
The family together at Crystal Cove 
I love my family
Exploring rocks
What can we find?
My sisters!
Yes, it is cold
Finally made it in the water 
Exploring more rocks 
Looking for tide pools 
Small crabs and hermit crabs
After hanging at the beach all day, we traveled South towards Laguna Beach for dinner. The bad thing about eating dinner at the beach is that you most likely will wait at least on hour anywhere you go. We never have had that problem when we go to Rock'n Fish in Laguna (I've blogged about this place before). All 8 of us where able to enjoy our seafood dinner while watching the sunset over the ocean in the background.

When dinner was over we needed to work off that delicious meal so we decided to take a long walk along the beach in downtown Laguna. My boyfriend and I love Laguna Beach because the people there are for a lack of a better word, very interesting. There are always people outside playing music, doing back flips on the beach, or even dressing up like Spiderman. Along with the great people watching, we also saw dozens of pelicans dive straight into the ocean searching for dinner. It was a really cool feeding frenzy to see especially with my family. We had a great beach day and were really relaxed and ready for the next days adventure. 
What up Spiderman?
Walking on Laguna Beach
Flying kite
Cactus 
Beautiful roses
On Sunday morning we woke up early to make the 2 hour drive Southeast to Joshua Tree National Park. Admission to the park is $15 for the day which we paid at the visitor center. My Dad wanted to make a trip here especially to see the stars at night since the park is supposed to have great stargazing. Unfortunately there was a full moon that night and the stars were hard to see, but the day overall was a great success. It was hot, about 107, but I still had such a fun time. As soon as we pulled into the park I was blown away by the natural beauty. We pulled over right away and hopped out of the car to climb some rock mountains. It is easier to explain how amazing this park is in pictures rather than words:
With a Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree National Park
Mountains 
So beautiful
On top of the rocks
With my sweaty little sisters 
All the girls 
Daddy and his girls
Looking for rocks to climb
Hello :)
With my mini me
Just doing some casual hiking
The family 
Exploring caves
On top of the world!
Thousands of miles of this...
Found some mountain goats 
Cave paintings 
<3
Amazing view
5,000 feet above sea level
So much beauty 
Look at Daddy all the way up there
She loved climbing the rocks 
One of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen
I love it here
My loves
Family and sunet
Looking for stars
The full moon
At the end of the hot day we hiked/climbed about 8 miles total, so we were definitely tired afterwords. I had work the next morning while my family was going to Disneyland for the day. I'm not quite sure how I survived the long day of work, but I am so glad I got to experience Joshua Tree and will always have the memories of this beautiful park. 

Check back soon to see about the rest of my family's awesome visit to California. I also will be making an update very soon about what is next for us in this craze adventure we call life. 

XoXo,
Valerie