Zion National Park

Zion National Park is the most beautiful place I have ever been. It took my breath away literally and figuratively. We chose one of the most strenuous trails—Angel’s Landing—on one of the hottest days. Countless switchbacks on the way up to Scout Lookout forced me to stop and pause for air and water, and to drink in that incredible view. The challenging conditions made reaching the peak all the more satisfying. 

Angel’s Landing is a five mile trail that beings with a series of steep switchbacks (with a 1488 foot gain in elevation!) and ends with a narrow single-file steep cliff-like walk with chains to hold on to, a 1200 foot drop on one side and 800 foot drop on the other. We were all pretty positive about doing the trail but secretly each of us had reservations and none believed that we would actually complete it. The funny thing is that once we got going I didn’t really feel afraid. While actually on this section of the trail I was so focussed on putting one foot in front of the other, maintaining the all important three points of contact (which according to Rich guarantees you will not fall) and manoeuvring around the tide of people coming back down the trail (it’s a single file system with two lanes of traffic…not ideal at points!) that I didn’t have any brain space left for fear. When we paused to admire the view, take photos or look out over the edge I began to feel a little freaked out but all in all my own bravery kind of took me by surprise. 

We hung out on the final landing for a little while , recorded some videos for our families and took a ton of photographs. It’s hard to capture just how high up we were, it was hard to even comprehend it when we were there! I’ll never forget this day, it was hot and scary and such a challenge. 

This is the view from Scout’s Lookout—the trail to Angel’s Landing is just ahead, up over the first orange-y peak and then onto the green one in the centre of the frame. It doesn’t look too impressive in this shot but believe me…it was insane.

These little chipmunks were running around everywhere. They are clearly used to hanging out around humans because they scrambled right up to us while we were eating our lunch, awaiting errant crumbs no doubt. 

This is the top of the landing. It was a busy day and the trail was packed. Hiking in America is a very different experience than hiking in Ireland. People tend to keep to themselves and it’s rare for people to greet each other or exchange pleasantries as they pass. It’s kind of sad considering how we were all experiencing this incredible thing together, but not really together. I’ve come to appreciate just how special the community spirit we have back home is. 

That was a pretty scary moment. The shuttle buses look like little ants they’re so far below. 

This photo makes my heart explode. This year has been the highest and the boldest and the hardest and the most full. Moments like this kind of push it over the edge. 

Look at this adventurer. I love him and how he convinces me I can do these insane things. Yay for more adventures and roadtrips and everything in between. To do this all together is such a treat. 

How is this real life? Seriously?! This world is awe inspiring. 

When we got to the bottom of the trail we waded into the river to cool off. It’s hard to comprehend that this now narrow, shallow river was once large enough to carve the enormous valley. 

There are so many trails and vistas left to explore, I hope we can make it back to Zion again sometime. If you have the chance to visit Zion, go. You could never regret it. 

What’s Better than a Friend who Visits?

A friend who visits with Cadbury’s chocolate from home, obviously. 

Joanna was here for a whirlwind three and a half days and we packed them full. I have not ate so much, laughed so much, talked or smiled so much as I did while she was here. Friends from home are the BEST. 

I didn’t take that many photos…probably because I was too busy doing the aforementioned eating, talking, smiling, laughing, but here’s a few if you’d like to take a look. 

Twin Peaks, Rich’s favourite first-stop tourist destination. 

The Mill, because even though it’s just toast, it’s really really good toast. 

That photo up there is my favourite from the whole weekend. It gives me such wanderlust…even though I live here. Weird.

We saw these guys perform two years ago in Portland at a Last Thursdays street festival…it was so random to come across them here in SF.

On Sunday we went to Alameda and I bought Shoshanna the bike! We were meant to go hiking but it rained all morning and so doughnuts and the flea market made for an excellent runner-up. 

Friends who visit are the best friends of all! We miss you Joanna, California is much sweeter with you in it!

Sonoma County

Our kindly landlords (or our ‘american parents’ as R & I have taken to calling them behind their backs—er eh, on the internet, hi guys!) drove us up to Sonoma County a couple of weeks ago to go wine tasting. That is what one does in Northern California, apparently. It rained on the way up—which made for a very quiet day in the vineyards—but had stopped by the time we reached our first destination: DeLoach Winery. We toured the winery, learned about bio-dynamic farming (which sounds less like agriculture and more like witchcraft if you ask me), chit chatted with the animals and tasted lots of delicious wine. We had a picnic here and visited the animals all over again before heading on to Twomey and then Preston wineries.

Of all the places we saw Preston stood out as my favourite (despite the fact that we didn’t taste their wine—next time!). It has such a homey feel; fat cats lazing about, pergolas overflowing with flowers, and an honesty-system farm shop with fresh eggs from the hens and salad leaves from the garden. We are definitely planning on bringing my mum here when she comes to visit. 

And now for the picture portion of this blog post. The shop had run out of colour film but I had a roll of black and white knocking around so we put it to work. Half of me wishes I could show you the beautiful colours of the flowers at Preston and the other half of me is in love with all the rich textures that b&w brings to the fore. We’ve got no choice but to go with the latter, so enjoy. 

These lambs were all brand new. Our guide told us about how the little black one was rejected at birth and had to be bottle fed. He was so sweet and so soft I could have scooped him up and taken him home. 

Cats are Richard’s happy place. There were a few cats at Preston and they were all HUGE. This one was a beautiful grey colour and reminded me so much of Mog, The Forgetful Cat

Look at this! The posing! And the snuggling! I can’t get over it. 

And here are some unbelievably cute chicken wagon houses. Good night Sonoma! We’ll see you again soon. 

Photobooth Favourites.

photobooth

I love a classic photo-booth. I made Richard promise that if we ever have our own business we need to purchase one of these guys. I don’t know what use a photo-booth will be in a brew-pub slash vintage clothing store slash design house (haha) but I’ll make it work. 

Classic photo-booths take, hands down, the most beautiful and flattering photographs. I don’t understand how something capable of producing such perfect and clear and stunning photographs has, over time, transformed into something that produces little more than pixelated crap. The passport photos from one of these would be a hundred times better than the girl in the chemist with the camera who isn’t sure whether or not you have to show your ears (true story—she literally said ‘I don’t know what to do!’). The sign on the outside of this booth professes to even capture the most wriggly of children, which was of course a novelty at the time of its production. 

This photo-booth is situated in the Musee Mecanique at Fisherman’s Wharf and it is—in my opinion anyway—the only good reason to go to Fisherman’s Wharf. Skip the bread bowls and tourist souvenirs and head straight for a strip of these beauties. It will cost you $3 which you’ll need in single dollar bills. And if you’re anything like me you will want at least two. 

We bought some cheapo party hats and horns and had a mini celebration in the photo-booth for Emily’s birthday (we sent the photos stuck to the present and when she pulled them off she said ‘look, it’s Clio and Richard! It’s from Clio and Richard!’ which of course made me melt). My lovely friend Joanna is coming to stay with us for Easter and I can’t wait to squeeze into the photo-booth with her for some silly posing.

I intend on coming home with a stack of these black and white memories. 

That last one of the right cracks me up…I forgot that there was another photo to come and was about to get up and walk out, aka resting bitch face in all its glory!!!

 

Happy Birthday Emily!

Today you are three.

You think you are six. You opened the t-shirt that I painted with ‘three’ in indigo and you exclaimed ‘oh six!’.

You have started counting ‘one, two, six, seven, eight…’

I get it. Six sounds better, six sounds bigger. I’ve been doing it all my life, wishing, wanting, hoping to be just a little bigger, a little better, a little more there. From where I’m standing three looks pretty perfect on you. 

You opened the stickers and shouted ‘oh stick-aas!’ excitedly.

You knew that the M&Ms were sweets but didn’t know what to call them, saying ‘maw-bles, I want to eat them!’

We sent you a present of This is San Francisco (with added photos of us), some tiny tiny dinosaurs for your collection, the aforementioned t-shirt and a few little bits and bobs. Melanie recorded you opening each present and sent them to me. I had to work hard to stifle laughter and hold back tears while watching the videos in work yesterday. I have watched them over and over since. You are such a gem. Missing being with you today breaks my heart in all the right places. 

You bring me so much happiness. I know, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again. You make me so excited to have children. You teach me patience, kindness, goodness. You embody love. 

I hope that I will always try and be my best self for you and your sister because you deserve nothing less. Sending love and hugs and kisses and so many silly games of hide and seek across the Atlantic for you today and always.