Our trip to Hidden Falls Regional Park

I guess you can say we’ve been bitten by the travel and adventure bug. Lately, anytime Jon has a few days off we are looking for somewhere to go and explore. Last week we were in the mood to do some hiking so we headed off to Hidden Falls Regional Park.

hidden falls regional park

Hidden Falls Park is located in Auburn, Ca. which is about 2 hours from us. Before we moved across the country the thought of a 2 hour car ride would make me cringe. But now….we think nothing of it. Our girls are pros at 2 hour car rides. It feels like nothing. A movie, a few snacks and we’re there.

hidden falls regional park

Now you may be thinking…”How in the world do you hike with 3 kids?”. Very carefully my friends. Very carefully.

No, really. I use the term “hike” very loosely. I look for places that are either handicap friendly or stroller friendly. Surprisingly there are a lot of both.

hidden falls regional park

Hidden Falls was actually neither. Of course we didn’t know that going into it but we hoped for the best. The first 1/2 -1 mile was fairly easy aside from being pretty steep downhill. I knew it was going to be a beast for Jon coming back since he was pushing the double stroller. I, of course, was wearing Sera in the Ergo.

hidden falls regional park

We then took a wrong turn and walked for a bit on a skinny trail that ran above the creek. We could look down and see the water way down there. We were trying to get to Hidden Falls but realized we were headed the wrong direction after awhile. We actually abandoned our stroller and we all walked since the terrain was very rough with rocks and roots. We turned around, fetched our stroller and found the correct trail. There was absolutely no cell service and we didn’t have a map so we were relying on signs and other hikers for our info.

hidden falls regional park

Before we headed out again on the trail that would lead us to the falls we had to stop for some snacks and a break. We were all hot and hungry. Thank goodness I had packed us a snack bag full of treats.

Bakerly snacks

I ALWAYS pack food. Wherever we go. That’s pretty much the number 1 rule. Bring water bottles and snacks. We love to bring clementines, granola bars, trail mix and anything that packs easily.

bakerly snacks

This time I had brought along some new snacks we were trying from Bakerly . This was our first time trying these. Bakerly has french snacks like crepes, croissants, mini brioches, sponge cakes and other packaged delicacies. These were so tasty! They were filling without being too heavy for an outdoor adventure. I especially loved the brioches…so delicious. My girls were all about the strawberry crepes.

hidden falls 5

It was back on the trail after our snack where we spent the next 2 hours roughing it over steep inclines, declines, roots, and rocks. We saw snakes and other wildlife. It was adventurous to say the least. I know the other hikers we passed thought we were absolutely nuts for bringing our young kids and stroller but we were determined. Eventually we had to abandon our stroller again in order to make it down to the falls. Jon carried Alina, I was wearing Sera and holding tight to Emma’s hand. It was no small feat and truly we probably shouldn’t have tried it with our young family but we had made it so far that we didn’t want to give up.

hidden falls regional park

Finally the falls rewarded us with its beautiful sight and a lookout deck to sit and relax. We stayed awhile and then began the long uphill hike back.

To say we were exhausted when we got back to the van is an understatement. But we felt something more as well. We felt pride. We were dirty and tired but we felt alive! It took teamwork to make that trek and we pulled it off. I’m not saying I want to try it again but darn it if we didn’t show that trail who’s boss.

Thank you Hidden Falls Regional Park for giving us a great workout and lovely sights!

*Bakerly is the official sponsor of the Transat Bakerly. Talk about adventure! The yummy snacks in this post were made possible by Bakerly but I assure you all opinions are my own. 

Our trip to Mono Lake in Lee Vining, Ca.

I posted last week about how we stopped at Mount Whitney in Lone Pine, Ca while traveling the scenic hwy 395. Our next planned stop along that route was in Lee Vining, Ca. Lee Vining is the home to Mono Lake Tufa, a majestic lake that covers 65 square miles and has millions of migratory birds every year. It also has these strange but very cool “tufa” towers which are calcium carbonate deposits (or something like that). Obviously we had to stop and see it.

mono lake tufa

Lee Vining is a very small mountain town. I believe the actual population is less than 250! Of course they cater to tourists since that is the majority of who goes there. We had a touch and go time getting there since there was a winter system moving through and we did not have chains for our tires. We forged ahead and made it with much prayer and sweating. We stayed at the Lake View Lodge . It is across the street from the Lake and had a great view. It was an older but cozy motel. It was perfect for what we needed.

mono lake tufa

We checked in as it was still snowing. Since it was the dead of winter many of the seasonal businesses were closed which made for a quiet, sleepy but beautiful little town. Jon walked to find us food since it was snowing and freezing out. What a good man. He came back with yummy food from Nicely’s which was thankfully open.

mono lake tufa

We got up early the next morning and stopped by the general store. It was the funnest, coziest store that sold everything you could need and had hot food and coffee!!  We still talk about how neat that place was and how good the pastry’s were.

mono lake tufa

We drove to the lake which was only a few miles away. It was such a quiet, cold, serene morning. It was probably only 15 degrees. We left our fee in the drop box since it is a state park, there was not a soul in sight. It was so amazing. We had the whole lake to ourselves.

mono lake tufa

We bundled up with as many layers and blankets as we could find and walked down to the lake. The walkway was stroller friendly which was a huge plus because I didn’t feel I could keep Sera warm enough out of her car-seat. It was so cold that the air hurt our lungs.

mono lake tufa

We didn’t stay long but it was so worth the time it took to get us all down there and then back into the van. Having kids just means it takes more effort and planning to pull off trips like these but they are totally doable! Adventure is out there.

mono lake tufa

Our trip to Mt. Whitney

Back in January when we drove across the country ,one of the highlights of our trip was taking scenic Hwy 395 up southern, middle and northern California. It was amazing. There really aren’t enough words. Amazing doesn’t do it justice but I’m probably going to use it 1,000 times in this post.

lone pine ca

We had planned to stop in Lone Pine, Ca. to see Mt. Whitney. Of course we had no idea what the town would be like, we just wanted to see the mountain. Lone Pine is quite possibly the smallest town I have ever been to…and I went to high school in a town with 1 stoplight. We drove through the town before we realized we were there. Literally, we had to turn around and go back. It was a blink and you miss Main Street town. I loved it. Absolutely loved it.

lone pine ca

(source)

It turns out that Lone Pine, Ca. and the nearby Alabama Hills are the shooting locations for over 400 movies. Famous movies. Lone Ranger, Cisco Kid, Iron Man, Gladiator, Star Wars Generations, Tremors, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to name a few. We were blown away by this information. There is a small Movie History Museum in the town where you can take a self guided tour and learn all about them. We didn’t take the tour, we didn’t think our girls would be as thrilled as we were. We did stop at the visitors center which was just..so cool. It had maps of the surrounding mountains, a gift shop and really nice restrooms …which..is very important when you have 3 kids on a road trip.

Then we went to the Mountain. Oh Mt. Whitney.

We made the drive about 25 minutes up the road twice during our stop as close as we could get to Mt. Whitney. Yes twice. We went once, got out, took pictures, drove back to town to eat lunch …then drove all the way back out to that mountain again. It was just that amazing and worth going twice.

Mt Whitney

mt. whitney

mt. whitney

These are some of my favorite pictures of all time. One day when we buy our forever home I am going to have all of these printed on canvas for a gallery wall.

It was quite chilly the closer you drove to the mountain, so baby Sera stayed in the van to stay warm. It was very rural with only 1-2 cars passing us while we parked on the side of the road and got out. Because of that we felt safe letting the girls get out and explore. …And by explore I mean sit in the middle of the road for pictures.

mt. Whitney

Mt. whitney

It was a spiritual experience. You can’t see scenery like this and not be moved by the Creator of it all. We honestly talked about what it would take to move there, going as far as looking up real estate. Then we came to our senses and realized we were 100’s of miles from a Starbucks or even a hospital for Jon to work at. But it was a nice little dream bubble while it lasted.

whitney 6

We will be back for you Lone Pine and Mt. Whitney. I think we left a piece of our hearts there.

Our trip to Muir Woods National Monument

I mentioned in this post that we had taken a trip to San Francisco and it turned out to be very rainy and foggy, impeding our views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. However on that trip we were able to make a visit to Muir Woods which is nearby. The woods were magical! It wasn’t raining while we were there and the fog just made the woods seem mystical. I have never seen such TALL trees. There is the greatest boardwalk trail that is stroller friendly! We walked the whole loop. It was well worth the $10 per adult (kids are free). There are plenty of other trails that you could hike if that’s your thing.

Muir Woods

Since my parents were with us we had someone to take our family picture. So nice to not have to take turns posing with the kids.

muir woods 3

muir woods 4

The girls wanted to get out of the stroller immediately of course so my dad ended up pushing the empty stroller. He was a great sport. I loved having them with us.

muir woods 5

muir woods 6 muir woods 7

If you ever get the chance to go you should!

Our trip to San Francisco

We live roughly 2 hours from beautiful San Francisco. It was high on our list of places we wanted to visit. I love that it is close enough that a hotel doesn’t have to be involved. Hello day trip! When my parents came to visit we jumped at the chance to have extra hands go with us. That trip was fun and exciting since it was our first time but we were disappointed since it was rainy and foggy and we couldn’t see any of the breathtaking views of the bay.

So we set out to go again 2 weeks later. We made sure the weather was clear this time and we were not disappointed. I totally understand why people love this city! It is beautiful and unique and I just feel refreshed being in it. I wish the cost of living weren’t so high and the traffic so rage inducing or we would be there in a heartbeat. So here are some pics from our special day! I can’t wait to go back, I’m trying to talk Jonathan into a ferry ride so we can explore the pier area.

San Francisco

San Francisco

The way to get up to this viewing area is up a fireman type ladder on a cement structure, it’s hard to explain. We kind of just stood at the bottom of this ladder trying to figure out how to get the kids up there. We wanted to see the views so badly. I know people watching us were thinking “Really now, you’re going to take all 3 kids up that ladder to an area with a cliff and sharp rocks?” We talked over a few options then decided on me going up first and Jonathan handing me the girls one by one, mind you I’m also wearing a baby on my chest. But this option was easier than me being the one to lift them up to him since I was wearing said baby.

San Francisco

San Francisco

That’s what this “life on the road” has been about. Discovering an issue or dilemma and working together to solve it. We have grown so much as a family and as a couple by doing things like this.We are much braver now than we used to be, more willing to try adventurous things with our young family. Pretty much all you need is a bag full of extra clothes, diapers and tons of snacks and you can do anything with kids. In theory at least.

San Francisco

San Francisco

We visited Baker Beach again too. So cool with the Golden Gate Bridge right there looming in the background. We found a picnic table and ate our sandwiches and fruit we brought along.  I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to bring out the bathing suits. We will definitely come back for a day in the sun!

San Francisco

Our last stop was at The Painted Ladies. Otherwise known as the Full House houses. I did not grow up watching Full House but Jonathan did. Still a very cool thing to see. Everyone was tired by this point and the baby had just fallen asleep (I hate to wake a sleeping baby) when we pulled up and miraculously found a parking spot in a prime location. It was another moment of deciding what to do. I made the decision this time and said we’re here let’s do it. We all got out and trecked up the hill to get a good view. I am so glad we did. These are memories we will have in photograph for our girls to have one day.

It was a great trip! We love San Francisco. If you’ve ever been what are some places you went? If we go back we need some suggestions on places to eat and go. Leave me your suggestions in the comments.

Our trip to Magnolia Market

I haven’t talked much about it on this blog but we recently moved across the country. As in, across North America…from east to west. I won’t be super specific but we went from Georgia to California.

The road trip was incredible. Yes we drove. With all 3 girls and our stuff. I know people thought we were crazy but honestly it was one of the best experiences of my life and I know my husband would say the same. Enough about that though, that’s not what this post is about. Well, it’s not about the whole road trip but about one of our stops along the way. Yes, our stop in Waco ,Texas at Magnolia Market. If you are scratching your head because you don’t know what that is then I’m sorry but we can’t be friends.

Kidding..just kidding. Magnolia Market

As soon as I found out we would be driving through Texas I asked Jonathan if we would be able to stop in Waco and he made it happen for me. He’s the best. I’m just your average stay at home mom Chip and Joanna Fixer Upper fan-girl. They’re my favorite and I want to be their best friends.

So our trip.

We only had one night in Waco. We arrived on a Sunday evening and checked into our Hotel. We stayed here if you’re curious. Got an awesome deal on Hotwire. Very nice hotel within walking distance to the Silos. However there was a slightly questionable neighborhood on the way so we chose not to walk there.

We got up early the next morning (a Monday), they opened at 10 AM and I had heard there could be a line if you get there too late. We had a road trip schedule to stick to so we hoofed it there and made it right at 10am. The street parking was all taken but they have a nice sized fenced in parking lot beside the Market. We easily found parking there.

Magnolia Market

I wore Sera in the baby wrap and the other girls walked. It was quite cold being that it was a January morning. We walked right in (no line) and headed to the Market first (the storefront). We browsed the store and the warehouse out back. I purchased this ( I’m wearing it in my profile picture) and a gorgeous coffee mug. Oh how I wished I had $1,000 to drop on home decor because Joanna’s style is flawless in my opinion. I loved that it wasn’t “touristy”, I’d imagined there would be tacky magnets and t-shirts and stickers and all things shouting “MAGNOLIA FARMS”…but there wasn’t. It’s a true blue home decor storefront. Everything is elegant and the few t-shirts and mugs they do sell were high quality pieces that would last a long time.

magnolia 7

We moved back outside to walk around the Silos and grounds. So so neat. Exactly like they look on tv and in pictures. The grounds are huge and perfectly manicured. There are a few lawn games that the kids can play lying around. There is a large seating area to sit and hang out on or eat and drink coffee. There is lively music playing over the loudspeakers . I think it was a mix of Sinatra and Michael Buble’ playing which made it all the more magical for me. And the food trucks! Oh the food trucks lined up outside just waiting for you. So neat.

Magnolia Market

We threw the bean bags a few times, walked the Gardens and took a million pictures. It was fairly chilly so we didn’t linger anywhere too long. Jonathan went to the coffee truck and got me one of the best lattes I have ever had. I still talk about that coffee and ask him to go get me another one all the time. Overall it was wonderful. I mean, we didn’t purchase much and probably only stayed an hour but it is one of my favorite places I have been. There is a very calming atmosphere there. I am convinced it is because of Chip and Joanna’s Faith and that God has blessed that place.

Magnolia Market

magnolia 2

We left after about an hour but it put us in a great mood for the rest of the day. It lingered with us. We didn’t go stalk their house or any of the other businesses featured on Fixer Upper but many do. I would love to go back sometime, maybe with a friend or family member. I want to visit their new bakery. Hint Hint…Mom and Sister.

magnolia 5

And that’s it. If you have any specific questions about our drive or visit in Waco I would be happy to answer. There is lot’s of info on their website here.