Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Sequoia National Park

Hello, again! It has been quite a while since I’ve shared an adventure. At the beginning of July, we flew out to CA for a friend’s retirement. Since we were already out there, we decided to take a mini vacation to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. The trip was too amazing not to share. We spent three full days in the park and saw everything we could see. A section of the park is still closed from the October 2021 wildfires. Nevertheless, there was still plenty to see and hike! Here’s a recap of the first day.

We drove from Lemoore Naval Station to the Ash Mountain park entrance. As we approached the park, we stopped to see Tunnel Rock.

Tunnel Rock

General Highway takes you through the park. It has lots of twists and turns as you gain elevation. The first sighting of big trees were The Four Guardsman. of course we had to stop for a photo!

The Four Guardsman

Our next stop was at the Museum. We wanted to catch the shuttle to hike Moro Rock. Before getting on the shuttle, I had to give this one a hug!

Tree hugger
Sunlight on Sequoia

The hike up Moro Rock is mostly stairs(about 400 stairs!) and you are rewarded with amazing views of the Canyon.

Moro Rock Trail
View of the canyon from Moro Rock

After climbing back down, we walked over to the Parker Group of Sequoia trees. The sheer size of the trees are impressive. I did my best to try to show the size. Let’s just say they are giant or mammoth.

We continued our walk to tunnel tree. The tree that fell years ago and they cut a hole for vehicles to drive through. Fun!

From here, we decided to walk back to the museum instead of catching the shuttle. It was about 1.5 miles through the giant forest and the trail included many giant trees!

Me with tree roots!

This short hike was one of my favorites. We saw hardly anyone and we saw a lot of big trees. We made it back to the car and enjoyed our picnic lunch. Side note. In every parking lot there are signs warning you not to leave food in your cars because of bears. When I saw the first sign in an over crowded parking lot, I thought, no way would we see a bear with this many people around. I changed my thoughts after we saw a Mama Bear and cub on a well traveled trail. More of that in a minute… first we headed to General Sherman. The largest tree on the planet.

After visiting General Sherman, we hiked the Congress Trail. This hike was also one of my favorites. There were so many BIG trees! It was a 3ish mile loop with big trees and where we saw Mama bear & cub.

After our Congress trail hike, we loaded back into the car agreed not to leave food in the car anymore! Bears are definitely everywhere! We stayed at Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia NP. On our way back from dinner, we saw this Big Brown Bear!

The first day was packed with fun. I need to wrap up this post because it’s taken me 3+ days to write. We are in the process of moving and I was using wabisabisole as a distraction from the chaos! I’ll share the next two days here soon. As always, thanks for reading.

Gore Creek Campground

Monday was our last night of camping. When I booked a spot at the Gore Creek Campground I thought they had running water. Nope. Rookie mistake. I assumed when using Reservation.gov if the campground didn’t specifically say “no water” then water was available. Not the case. Always be sure to check that it says “water” as an amenity. Fortunately, it was our last night camping and the next night would be in a hotel.

Our campsite in the Aspen grove

Speaking of water, I purchased a solar shower before we left. Up until Monday morning I was super pleased with Dr. Prepare. And then I wasn’t. Sadira went to fill it up Monday morning and the hose disconnected from the bag. We tried to duct tape it. But, it just didn’t work. I don’t recommend the Dr. Prepare. It only last 4 days for us. That’s ridiculous.

Dr. Unprepared

After settling into our campsite, we decided to take a short hike. According to AllTrails, the trail was a 1.4 mile loop. We found the trail easily and set off. We hiked up and enjoyed the view as we climbed. A little over a mile in, we became concerned because we hadn’t looped around. When I checked AllTrails, no surprise. We were off the trail… again! We double backed and couldn’t find where the trail was supposed to turn. It looked liked it had been blocked. We continued back down the way we came and our 1.4 mile loop turned into a 2.5 out and back! Haha

Despite the extra distance hiked – the views of the mountains were beautiful.

Sunflowers and Aspen
A trail through Aspens
Almost clear skies
Happy hikers
We think this was some sort of mushroom.

After our hike, we prepped the tent one last time and Sadira made us quesadillas for dinner!

Campground sunset
Campground Chef

Tuesday morning we packed up for the last time. We headed to Denver for the day. We stayed close to the airport Tuesday night so I could fly home easily Wednesday. Tuesday we had lunch at Lowdown Brewery. We split a mushroom pizza and salad. Yummmmm!

One last selfie

It was a fun and relaxing camping trip. We had a few hiccups throughout the week… but, overall it was a success. As always, thanks for following along!

Crested Butte, CO

Sunday morning we were up early and packed up by 9am. We wanted to hike the Snodgrass Trail in Crested Butte. George and Juliana hiked this trail two summers ago and highly recommended it. Their directions to find it left us doubting we would. “Drive through town and follow the road until you see a parking lot with a port-a-potty.” Sounds sparse, right? Actually, they were spot on! we spotted the potty, found the trail we wanted to take and set off!

After reading AllTrails, the hike was 5.8 miles. We packed water and snacks and set out. Ironically, the AllTrails map took us to the top of Snodgrass Mountain. The trail Sadira is pointing to in the picture above is what we walked for about a mile before realizing we weren’t on the trail. Our 5.8 mile hike turned out to be 8 miles! The views were amazing! Wildflowers and Aspen and of course Crested Butte.

Sierra larkspur & Crested Butte
Aspen and ferns
Flower Friends
Arrowleaf Balsamroot & Crested Butte

Once we realized we weren’t on the summit trail, we turned around and started up the mountain. Everyone knows the reason you hike a mountain is for the panoramic view at the top. Hopefully. We hiked up about 1.2 miles in what seemed like straight and steep uphill. In the sun. Only to find the top was covered with pine trees that obstructed the view.

The view at the top
Taking a breathe break at the summit

Regardless, it was a great hike and a quick walk down. More Aspen, butterflies, and flowers.

Crested Butte on your head!
Callippe fritillary
Wood betony & Aspen
Crested Butte

After the hike, we hopped in the car and started the drive over to Redstone Campground. It was about a 2.5 hour drive. We had to go up & over the mountains using Keebler Pass. Little did we know the drive was mostly (40 miles) on a curvy gravel road. It was awful. Sadira was car sick by the time we got over it. We stopped at a little campground and had a snack while watching the hummingbirds until she was feeling better. Whew! What a drive!

Saturday was the only night we’re stayed at a KOA. Camping life in a KOA campground is much different than camping life in a National Forest. The perks of a KOA include showers, laundry and flushing toilets. Oh! And a dishwashing sink that ONLY has hot water. To enjoy those perks you pass up seclusion, privacy, and incredible views. Sunday night we were in Redstone Campground. It was appropriately named – there were red stones all around us! We had privacy, scenery and clean pit toilets!

I forgot to snap a picture of our meal. Sadira made us pimento grilled cheese and tomato soup. It was delicious. We took a dip in the creek and then had a solar shower… our last one, actually… more on that tomorrow-


Gunnison, CO

Our drive to Gunnison, CO on Saturday was about three hours. We had lunch on the road and arrived at the Gunnison KOA right at 2:00pm for check in. We were so late to the party planning this adventure this was the only campground I could find for Saturday night. Honestly, it wasn’t terrible. We had a real shower, flushing toilets, and laundry facilities. It was a good reset for the halfway point. From one perspective it looks like a KOA. From the opposite perspective it looks perfectly pleasant.

Campground Chef in a crowded KOA
It’s like we have the place to ourselves

After checking in, we went to Hartman Rocks for a short desert hike. We really pushed the Prius to its uphill limits. This area is filled with mountain bike trails and the road was super rutted. We decided not to push the limits too far and hiked around from the first parking lot.

Adventure awaits
That view!

We saw several great wildflowers over the past two days on our hikes. Here are my favorite.

Plains Prickly Pear
Spineless Horsebrush
Sego Lily
Arrowroot Balsamroot
Scarlet Gilia
Rocky Mountain Penstemon

The hike was hot with a nice breeze. We decided a short hike was best to keep us from a visit to the hydration station. We went back to the campground and enjoyed not having neighbors- until they arrived after we went to bed. Speaking of the campground, we decided this would be a great opportunity to rack up some license plates. As we walked around, we added an additional 5 plates to our collection. Bringing our total up to 43! #strongwork

Campground Chef – burritos

Taos Take 2 & Elk Creek

Friday morning we drove back to Taos for a very important mission… Fun Rings! As we drove down the mountain, we got stuck behind the line marking truck. Painfully slow trip down most of the mountain!!

We made it to Taos, finally. After a quick stop at the Walmart for fizzy water, ice, and pimento cheese, we walked through the Taos plaza on our ring hunt. The second store was a huge success. A fun silver and turquoise ring for each! The lady who helped was super nice and warned us of bears while hiking. She suggested we carry a knife. ??‍♀️

Fun Rings!

A few of my favorite pictures from our walk around Taos.

Friendly reminder in Taos, NM
Catching fish

We fixed pimento cheese sandwiches for lunch and were back on the road. Our next destination was Elk Creek Campground near Antonito, CO.

Elk Creek

We had no cell service in the campground. It was kind of fun to fall off the grid. We decided to take a hike. The skies were overcast and the temperature was in the low 70s. We thought it might rain while we were hiking. Luckily, the rain held off and danced around us. The hike was lovely.

Cool Tree
Rain Clouds
Hiking in Aspen

After our hike, we set up camp and made a gourmet dinner of tortellini and sauce. We also had a chance to try out the portable shower. It was cool and refreshing. We had to layer up because the mosquitoes were really bad. But, with cool dry nights in the upper 40s layers were good!

The next morning, we relaxed and didn’t leave camp until 10ish because we needed to stop at the visitor center to use their wifi to get directions. As we were sitting there, the nice host – who told us about the hike the day before politely ease-dropped on our conversation. When I said we needed to head back to Antonio, he replied, “That’s cute. It’s Atonito.” We had a good laugh. Me especially, because I’m notorious for mispronouncing places.

Saturday morning camping vibes

With another bag of ice for the cooler, we were off for Gunnison, CO.

Elephant Rock, NM

Thursday morning Sadira and I beat feet to get out of Texas. Honestly, we couldn’t leave it fast enough. The beauty of the concave desert landscape is truly in the eye of the beholder. Of which we aren’t. The best part of TX, besides leaving, was spotting an Alaska license plate in the hotel parking lot.


We were so excited to cross into New Mexico and even more excited when we started seeing mountains on the horizon. Unfortunately, we didn’t heed the the last pit stop before we started across the NM desert and with no facilities available for 60+ miles, we had to use the facili-trees. Along the drive we saw lots of cute prairie dogs popping tall and welcoming us to NM. Our first stop was in Taos, NM. We enjoyed lunch at the Taos brewery. Delicious beer & pizza.


Before heading to our campground, we drove out to the Rio Grande River Gorge. We bravely crossed the bridge on foot and held our breath when we looked down!

Rio Grande River Gorge
Windy Hair
Don’t look down…

Elephant Rock campground was smaller with perfectly acceptable pit toilets. Our neighbors felt the need to preach thereby encouraging us to plug in some tunes. The higher elevation was cool and optimum for star gazing.

Dinner was campground gourmet. Chili, cheese, canned wine and altitude puffy Fritos.

All in all – it was a first night of successful camping.

Amarillo, TX

This morning, my niece and I left Memphis and drove to Amarillo, TX. What started out as a joke to meet up with her parents on their adventures https://semisabbatical.com/ morphed into a trip to Colorado. We spent 12 hours in her parent’s Prius cruising west on I-40. The car is loaded with camping supplies, snacks, and wine. #winecamp That part of I-40 doesn’t have much to offer. Except windmills, Cracker Barrels, and Stinky Stella in Shamrock, TX.

To spice up the trip, Sadira downloaded the app Plate Spot to track how many different license plates we see. After 12 hours we were at 28 plates. #strongwork

We made Cadillac Ranch our destination for today. It was underwhelming, kind of like driving I-40 West from Memphis for 12 hours…

Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, TX
Obligated Selfie at Cadillac Ranch

Tomorrow we are driving to Taos, NM and then to our first camping spot. A much shorter drive day with an afternoon hike!

Yin & Yang

According to Ancient Chinese Philosophy, Yin and Yang is a concept of dualism. It describes how two very different things can be complementary to one another. I realized today that my Yin & Yang are Palm trees and Aspen trees. Neither can be found in the same place and both are in places I want to be! Also, when I’m around one, I’m super happy and can get really excited to talk about seeing the other. We had one last hike in Park City today. I knew I just wanted to Forest Bathe or as I learned in Japan, “Shinrin-Yoku”, in an Aspen Grove. That meant we went back up the Ontario Trail (longer side) of the Bald Mountain. As we shinrin-yoku, I was in hiking nirvana.

At the top, we snagged a selfie #favoritehikingpartner and stayed a minute in the best chairs in Deer Valley. Just enjoyed a chance to look out at the future together.

While we were hiking, I also sorted out why open chair lifts stress me out. I grew up loving the thrill of the first drop of a roller coaster. And chair lifts seem to trigger that same reaction…. Oh, crap! I’m gonna drop and I don’t have a harness! But they don’t drop fast. Nonetheless, I grab tight to the closest person… sorry, Dave! Thanks for hanging on to me!

View from the first drop

One more Aspen picture to close this out…

Peace, love and trees!

Double Hike Thursday

This morning we hiked up to the top of Bald Mountain using the Sliver Lake Trail. This trail was steeper than yesterday’s and a little shorter. It wrapped around the mountain and gave incredible views of Sliver Lake.

Glimpses of the lake
Appropriately named Silver Lake

One area we hiked through looked like there had been an avalanche at some point. Many trees were down and cut up to help clear the trail.

Downed trees

Along the way, I was able to spot a few more wildflowers to add to my collection. Please enjoy the pictures!

Creeping Yellowcress
Jacob’s Ladder
Aspen Fleabane
Stream bank Wild Holyhock
Star Chickweed
Red Baneberry
Common Yarrow
Hawk’s Beard
Parsnipflower Buckwheat
Sulfur Flower
Orange Agoseris – Mountain Dandelion
Tall fringed Bluebells
Yellow Salsify
Wavyleaf Thistle
Black eyed Susan
At the top!

We were to the top by 9:45. The chair lift didn’t open until 10. So, we sat for a spell and enjoyed the view. That’s what is nice about this part of the vacation. We don’t have to be on a schedule.

Top of Bald Mountain

Confession- open chairlifts stress me out. Don’t look down! Especially, at the start.

Heading down on the chairlift

We enjoyed lunch at the resort. In the afternoon we hiked the Sultan Out and Back. It was actually a loop. It’s a trail that’s available to hikers and horseback riding. It should have been named Horse Poop Trail. There were Horse Pies everywhere. I didn’t take pictures of the poo – you just have to trust me on that one. The trail stayed low on the mountain and had several nice views.

Silver Lake
The turnaround point put us on a road uphill.

We saw these new wildflowers on our afternoon hike.

Yellow Salsify – going to seed

And these butterflies were EVERYWHERE! Several would fly along with us as week hiked. I used an app called PictureInsect to identify it.

Mormon Fritillary

It was a beautiful day. We finished with dinner at the resort with a former shipmate of Dave’s. The dinner and company were excellent.

Hiking, Science & Love

We started out our day with a hike up Bald Mountain along the Ontario Trail. I researched this trail before leaving home and knew it would be a good one. If you enjoy hiking or trail running, check out the app AllTrails. It lets you search for trails near year or in a specific area. It also has a GPS feature so you can “see” your location on the trail in real-time. The app also gives you information about the trail you want to hike – distance, elevation and difficulty level. Anyways, we hike the trail up the mountain and it was a beautiful alpine hike. It was about 3 miles up the mountain and through several Aspen Groves.

At the start of the trail
A third of the way up – notice the orange lichen

Did you know Aspen Groves are one organism? Yep, they grow by cloning. All the trees shared the same root system and send up shoots to grow new trees. The Pando – The Trembling Giant is a grove of quaking Aspen in south central Utah and considered to be the largest single organism. #sciencefacts

A little over halfway up
The last one before the top

Another fun science thing to see on this hike was the lichens. Lichens on the rocks are a sign of good air quality. When hiking, we liken to see lichen! #sciencejokes

Green Lichens

The other highlight of the hike was the numerous wildflowers! They were everywhere! I took a lot of pictures and was able to use my plant id app “PictureThis” to identify them all. Another great app. You simply snap a picture and look it up later, or if you have the time you can identify the plan immediately. The app then saves the plant to your virtual garden collection. Check out all the flowers we saw! #wildflowergeek

Wild Geranium
Richardson’s Cranesbill Geranium
Silky Lupine
Sticky Geranium with a bee
Pacific Ninebark
Giant Red Indian Paintbrush
Wasatch Beardtongue
Purple Coneflower
Colorado Blue Columbine
Common Pacific Pea
NettleLeaf Giant Hyssop
Sticky Cinquefoil
Twolobe Larkspur
Beach Pea
Woods’ Rose

As we got closer to the top, the weather started to change. Clouds were rolling in and raindrops started falling.

My Love in the Alpine wildflower field

The views from the top were worth every step!

Lots of mountains and lichen on the rocks!
Hiking ❤️
WabiSabiSole at the top of Bald Mountain
Geological marker at the top of Bald Mountain
What a view!

By this point we were chilly and wet from the drizzle. We made a smart decision to take the ski lift down the mountain. Save our knees and enjoy the view!

Going down…
Relaxing and enjoying the view

After our hike we had lunch and relaxed before going into park city for dinner. We started with happy hour at Wasatch Brewery. I enjoyed the Juicy IPA and Dave had the Chasing Tail Pale Ale. Both delicious. I have to admit, we’ve been disappointed with the Brewery swag. Story on the street is that orders aren’t being filled because COVID. Maybe next time…

We enjoyed a sushi dinner at Yuki Yama. It was good. The sashimi appetizer and the Japanese wagyu beef bruschetta were excellent. The rolls were alright.

Japanese Wagyu Beef Bruschetta
The presentation was better than the taste…

We returned back to the room after turn down service. Water, chocolates, tomorrow’s weather forecast and slippers. So, cute.

GooooooD NiiiiiiiiGHTTTTTTTT!

Sunset for our balcony….

I totally get the love of Park City. Until tomorrow-

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