Five Years

No adventures have happened in my world since the last time I posted. I’ve been really busy with projects and homework and my job. Being gone the first three weekends of the quarter was challenging, and I’m enjoying slowing down a bit. One thing did happen though.

About a week and a half ago my boyfriend and I celebrated five years of togetherness. We started dating when I was a sophomore and he was a junior in high school. Looking back at pictures makes me realize that we were little babies! I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the years we’ve had together. I am so blessed to have him in my life. He has taught me patience, thoughtfulness, and love. He always looks out for me and wants me to do things that will make me a better person. Even though we had a bit of a rocky start, I am so happy to be with him. We’ve both come a long way on our journey together and I hope we have the good fortune to have many more years together.

On our actual anniversary we didn’t have any free time to go on a date. But the night before we went to Native Foods Cafe. It is a vegan restaurant that is absolutely delicious. It’s a bit of a drive from where we live, so it was a treat to be able to spend some quality time together there. I didn’t take any pictures, but we had a swell time!

Yosemite Retreat

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This past weekend I went to Yosemite for a spiritual retreat with my university. We left on Friday afternoon and arrived at Camp Wawona in the evening. The girls from my school stayed in the lodge, but the guys (including my boyfriend), got to stay in a yurt. I was so jealous.

Two other schools were there as well. We had a lot of worships and song services. Each school’s chaplain gave a sermon about surrender. The whole concept of going to a retreat and surrendering something instead of looking to gain something was very different, but I really liked it and was blessed.

Sunday morning we piled in the vans and headed to Yosemite Valley where we had free reign for the remainder of the afternoon. My boyfriend and I chose to hike with a group up to Vernal Falls, one of the lower waterfalls in Yosemite. The Mist Trail was closed for the winter, but we disregarded the gentle warning and took it anyway. Since this year was very dry for California the trail wasn’t wet and slippery.

We hiked a mile to the falls and ate our sack lunches at the top. The view was gorgeous, but it was chilly outside. With a high of 50 degrees, we were all hiking in long sleeves and jackets. We made it to the bottom before we had to be back at our vans.

I really loved being able to spend a few days in Yosemite, even if it was only for a short time. The mountain air and smell of pines was refreshing. It’s really good to escape from the daily routine and go out into nature to reassess your life and straighten your thoughts out.

The Adventurer’s Must-Haves

Anyone who goes on adventures must have the essential gadgets. In my experience, there are several things a person needs to always have handy.

1. Pocket-sized GPS-
for the directionally challenged
2. Flashlight- in case you lose track of time
3. Camera- to capture the special moments
4. Knife- you never know who may be lurking in the shadows
5. Good Walking Shoes– these make all the difference! When your feet are happy, your adventure goes so much smoother

I’ll put up another post where I list links to some of my favorite products to take on adventures.

Joshua Tree Deja Vu

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to go back to Joshua Tree and camp overnight with some friends. It was so much fun!

We left for Loma Linda Friday afternoon at around 1. We got to a supermarket and planned out our meals. Friday night we’d have grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, Saturday morning pancakes and hash browns, and at noon homemade chimichangas. We planned food for seven of us. Although it was just three meal’s worth, the bill came out to over $70 (and that’s buying the “budget” priced items). Food adds up.

We arrived at Joshua Tree after sundown. Our campsite was a group site that could hold up to 30 people. We had two fire pits. One was on the lower ground by where the car was parked, and the other was a couple hundred yards up a hill, surrounded by rock formations. We decided to eat at the lower pit because it had concrete picnic tables, and to sleep and build a fire at the upper one. The first thing we did after unpacking was build a fire.

A lot of the people on the trip had been in Pathfinders, a Christian group similar to Boy Scouts. Everyone was familiar with making a fire. As soon as the fire started up, we unpacked the rest of our gear. It was a nice, starry night and we decided to ditch the tents and sleep outside. After everything was set up, we made dinner.

It’s my observation from backpacking and camping trips that everything tastes good when you’re out and busy in nature. The grilled cheese and soup it the spot.

We talked and sang around the campfire for a while, and then decided to go to bed. I wanted to wake up early and catch the sunrise the next morning. We laid our tents out on the flattest ground we could find. Even with our sleeping bags and blankets, it was freezing. This trip solidified my hate for my sleeping bag. I had thought that it was a good bag, but the last few times I’ve taken it out it has failed me miserably. That night, in the desert chill, was not a night I wanted it to perform poorly. I was shivering all night long and didn’t sleep a wink.

Every time I would open my eyes I was hoping it would be light outside. After I finally felt a little warmer, I had to go to the bathroom. You can’t have everything, right?

Sunrise came and it was worth it. My friend Stacey and I climbed up the rocks surrounding our fire pit and watched the sun rise with blankets wrapped around our shoulders. Bright pinks, yellows, and oranges peeked over the horizon. There was a gentle breeze. It was the perfect way to start the day.

After breakfast I took a nap on some rocks almost until noon. Then, in the afternoon, the whole group of us climbed a big rock mountain a little ways from our campsite. I’m terrible at judging height, but it was really tall. The tallest one around. Everyone in the group was a pretty good climber. We made it safely to the top (although my mother would have died if she had seen some of the areas we climbed up). One part near the top was almost a 90 degree angle with just a few handholds to hoist yourself up with. I thought it was the most fun part.

Getting down was easier than we had thought and we got back to our campsite and packed up in time for the sunset. We were going to play it by ear as to whether we stayed another night or not. The consensus was that everyone was too cold. And we didn’t have enough food for two more meals.

I love Joshua Tree, even with the miserable nights. I just need to be more prepared next time. I look forward to going back in the spring and camping a whole weekend.

New Beginnings

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Winter quarter of this school year just started for me on Monday. One of my goals for the new year was to travel and do more day trips. I started that resolution by going to Joshua Tree, CA, last Sunday, the day before school started back up.

It’s amazing that I’ve lived my whole life in southern California and have never been to Joshua Tree. It’s only about an hour and a half from where I live. I didn’t know what to expect when I went there, but let me tell you, it was amazing.

I have always been in love with the forest and the ecosystems surrounding it, but the desert found a place into my heart as well. Although a large part of southern California is technically the desert, it is not as extreme as Joshua Tree. Rocks and sand stretch as far as the eye can see. There is minimal brush, but Joshua Trees frequent the landscape. Although this may seem bleak or boring, one comes to appreciate the light and the effect it has on the landscape. Depending on the time of day, the colors can range from reds and purples to blues and greys. It truly is amazing.

We arrived at around noon and ate our sandwiches on top of some rocks. Afterward, we hiked to find Skull Rock. We strayed from the trail and climbed any and all rock formations that caught our fancy. I really like rock climbing, but I had never done it out in nature before. (So apparently I guess I don’t like it that much, but the experience made me want to climb outdoors more). We found the trail a few minutes before sundown, and then drove to a prime lookout point called Keys View.

My weather app told me that sundown was at about 4:45, but there was a large mountain in the way, so it descended earlier. We arrived at Keys View a little after four o’clock. From the lookout point, you can see part of the San Andreas Fault and the Salton Sea was a glittering blob in the distance. The wind was over 30 mph, and it was 40 degrees outside. We were not prepared for this weather and were shivering. While we were taking our prime photos as the sun went down, my phone decided to go into shock and shut off, lying and saying that I had run out of battery. Apparently when an iPhone overheats or becomes too cold, it goes into protection mode and shuts off. I braved the cold to get my premium shots, which didn’t end up happening at all. Oh well. It’s just an excuse for me to go back again.

Joshua Tree was a great experience for me. I look forward to more desert adventures and hopefully some camping trips in the future. I’d advise taking a camera though, and doing a thorough check on the weather forecast beforehand.