Thursday, August 21, 2014

famILY Visits the OC Part 3

Hello blog family,
I've been really busy this month with a bunch of new stuff going on in my life which I'll explain more about at the end of this post. I'm also back to finish part 3 of my family's great visit to California. It's been over a month since they went back to Philadelphia, and I'm still pretty sad about it. I'll be home in October for a wedding, but it's just not the same as having them here with me everyday. In my last post I left off on Friday with our trip to Disneyland.

On Saturday we woke up early again since we decided we would spend the weekend in Las Vegas. The drive from where I live to Vegas is only about a 3.5 hour drive which really isn't that bad. Being in Vegas with a 7 and 9 year old was definitely interesting considering some of the strange people you see walking the streets. We basically just walked the entire strip, explored in some hotels, and ate dinner at Margaritaville which had a really fun Vegas atmosphere. We also made a stop at the volcano show in front of the Mirage hotel and of course the water show in front of the Bellagio. This is my absolute favorite thing to see in Vegas since I love water. After the water show we walked home to get some sleep. I think we ended up walking 7 miles in total that night. There really was so much to do and see that we didn't get a change to, but with it being such a short drive I know we will be back soon. 
New York
In front of Caesars Palace
Volcano show
So beautiful
The girls and their balloon hats
Family <3
With my sisters
On Sunday morning we decided to make the drive to the Hoover Dam after eating breakfast. The drive is only about 30 minutes or so from where we were staying. The Hoover Dam is thought of as one of the great modern civil engineering wonders of the world and was truly breathtaking considering when and how it was built. We paid for the guided tour which allows you to go behind the scenes and see inside the power plant as well as watch a documentary on how the dam was built. I'm not going to lie, the entire experience was terrifying. Between the elevator ride down to the generators and then looking over the edge of the damn, I was scared. I do have to say that outside standing on top of the dam looking out is really beautiful. Right now there is a major drought going on, so the water levels in the dam are at an all time low. Most of Southern California gets water and power supply from the Hoover Dam, so now I take shorter showers and try to use less electricity after seeing just how low the water is. I remember as a kid my Dad brought me back a souvenir hard hat from his trip to the Hoover Dam and ever since then I've always wanted to see it for myself. If you are ever in Vegas, I recommend you make the short drive and see the massive dam, hopefully when there is more water. 
Down in the power plant with the generators 
The back wall of the dam
Family <3
You can clearly see how low the water is
So pretty 
One side is Nevada and the other is Arizona
Awesome bridge 
Where the water comes out the other side of the dam
How the water gets sucked up into the front of the dam
Where the excess water runs off 
After the Hoover Damn we make the two hour drive to Death Valley National Park back in California. The week before I read an article about a man dying in the park due to dehydration. Once we arrived and stepped outside for the first time I was overwhelmed by how hot and dry it was. At one point my car said it was 122 degrees outside. This national park compared to Joshua Tree National Park is HUGE! I believe it has over 5,000 miles of protected mountains. You could easily get lost in the park, and no one is coming to help you. Although the mountains seem larger and of course are beautiful, I think Joshua Tree is nicer (and less hot). I could only stay outside for small periods of time before having to jump back into the air conditioned car. It was hard to enjoy the natural beauty when you are struggling just to breathe. One cool part of the park was below sea level and had what I would call a "salt lake". There was some water strangely enough, but most of the water had dried up and left behind huge piles of salt. From Death Valley we said goodbye to my parents who were driving back to Vegas for another day while we had to drive home and get ready for work the next day. While saying goodbye I got very emotional, but I am just really happy that I got to experience some pretty cool things with the people I love. 
Daddy and his girls 
My loves
With my baby
Before it got hot...
Sand dunes 
Sisters way out there
Salt piles
Sunset is my favorite color 
Now onto what I've been up to since my family left. Well as you probably know by now, we were scheduled to leave California after only 6 months of being here (March-August). Both my boyfriend and I fell in love with it here, so he began to look for a job that would allow us to stay here more long term. He actually started his new job this week which means that yes, we won't be moving again for awhile. It is nice to finally feel like I can settle in somewhere especially a place as beautiful as California. Once we found out we were staying here, we wanted to find another place to live. Our place now is nice, just not what we were used to coming from our luxury apartment in Texas. We signed a new lease and will be moving in next Friday over Labor Day weekend. Of course moving stinks, but this is the first time in forever that we aren't moving across the country. This will be a breeze compared to the last two moves. Once we are settled into our new place I will be sure to update you on the moving process as well as post pictures of the apartment. Everyone have a great Labor Day weekend, and think of me while I pack and unpack my life again for the third time in less than a year.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

famILY Visits the OC Part 2

Hello blog family,
Well it is officially August. This year is flying by. It is going to be Christmas before we even know it. I'm normally a Grinch, but I especially can't wait for Christmas this year to spend more quality time with my family. This blog is dedicated to part 2/3 of my family visiting me in California.

In the last blog post I left off on Sunday and my awesome trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Monday-Wednesday I had to work :( while my family spent time at Disneyland. I didn't mind missing Disney since my last experience when my Mom was visiting was less than amazing. It was hard though because from my office window I look at Disneyland all day long. It sucked knowing, my family is here, I can literally see where they are, but I can't be with them. On Wednesday after work I drove over to the house they rented and my Dad cooked a huge delicious dinner for everyone. One of the things I miss most about home is my Daddy's cooking. He is an amazing cook, and made me turkey burgers (my favorite), shrimp, mussels, corn, and many other goodies. The cool thing about the house they rented is that it is only a flew blocks away from Disneyland. I can hear the fireworks every night from my apartment but can never actually see them. From their house, you can sit in the backyard or hot tub and watch the entire firework display uninterrupted. The house is so close to the fireworks that we could even hear the music that goes along with the show from the park. We sat outside a few nights and watched the fireworks light up the night's sky. It was great just spending time together, drinking wine, laughing, and telling old stories.

On Thursday I took off from work, so my parents picked me up from my apartment early to make the drive South to San Diego (about 70 miles from where I live). I've heard the San Diego Zoo is the best in the country so I knew my sisters would enjoy spending the day here. You could literally spend two full days here and still not see everything. It is huge and has every animal you could ever imagine. It even had some animals I didn't know existed. My sister Reece was most excited about seeing the pandas, which San Diego Zoo is one of four zoos in the country that actually have pandas. Every exhibit is decorated perfectly to how the animals would live in the wild and actually is really large. Most of the time when I go to the zoo I feel bad for the animals that are stuck in these small exhibits. The animals here are living in mansions compared to other zoos. The park was not crowded which made the day perfect. At some times, we were the only ones in a certain area. It felt like we had the place to ourselves. You can buy a 3 day pass ($150) that allows you to enter the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Safari Park, and also SeaWorld (watch the documentary Blackfish and you will never want to go here again). This zoo is hands down the best zoo I've ever been to and I've been to quite a few. If you are ever in San Diego, I recommend this be your first stop!
Logan with some crocs and a turtle
Just lounging around
With the elephants 
About to see some polar bears 

I took off again on Friday to spend another full day with my family this time in Disneyland. Disneyland has two theme parks, California Adventure and then Disneyland. When my Mom was here we went to Disneyland since it has the Sleepy Beauty castle and is more well known. Disneyland is geared more towards kids and has less thrill rides. I'm glad this time I got experience California Adventure with my Dad and family. If you only buy a one day/one park pass and have to pick between the two parks, definitely go to California Adventure. My last time at Disney I was bored standing in line most of the time, whereas this time I had a blast! My Dad was the king of the fast pass which I found out is free. We did almost every ride and the longest line we waited in was 30 minutes. Being at Disney, it made me realize just how big my sisters are getting. They went on every upside down roller coaster and thrill ride including the Tower of Terror, twice. I was probably more scared than they were (not probably most definitely). We stayed in the park till dinner time since I decided my sisters would have a sleepover at my apartment to give my parents an anniversary date night alone. I'm so glad I gave Disney another shot because I honestly had a great time.  
The ferris wheel that I can see from my office window
My loves  
Rapids ride that I got soaked on
Tower of Terror 
Yea, I was scared
Disney parade, NEMO!
A Bugs Life
Toy Story
I've been to the Irvine Spectrum a few times (blogged about it before) and every time I go I always think about how much I can't wait to bring my sisters here. I finally had that opportunity on Friday night after Disneyland. We of course had to ride the ferris wheel where my sisters and boyfriend made fun of me for being afraid of heights. They also rode the carousal after eating ice cream by one of the many water fountains. I'm so glad that I finally got to take my sisters here even though they wanted to buy every souvenir they laid their eyes on. We had a great night and sleepover just being silly sisters together.
Reece & Cho
Me & Logan
We survived the ride!
Eating ice cream 
Being silly
Riding the carousal 
I'll have one last blog post about my family's trip to California and I'll also be making an update on what's in store for us next.