Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Family

Cindy’s in Japan

We are thrilled to have Dave’s sister, Cindy, here visiting us in Japan!

I wasn’t the only one eagerly awaiting her arrival at Haneda Airport. The paparazzi was poised and ready! Seriously though, we never did see who they were waiting to capture.

Plus, they didn’t roll out the red carpet quite as well as we did!

We planned a rough outline of things to do and have been working on the details this afternoon. Wednesday and Thursday we will tackle Tokyo. We have quite an extensive list and comfortable shoes! I can’t wait to share Japan with her! It should be an amazing week.

Home Again

Dave and I returned home Sunday 9/24 after a fabulous two week vacation visiting with family and friends. We spent time in Indiana with his family and enjoyed the opportunity to relax and catch up. Jakob, Carmen, and the three grandboys drove up to Indiana and surprised Dave. 

Plus, there was a fabulous surprise party hosted by Bob and Tish to celebrate Dave’s promotion. Family and friends came from various parts of Indiana, Georgia, Colorado, and Florida to see us. It truly was a special week. My only regret was not snapping more pictures of everyone. I suppose I was too busy chatting! 

The second week we spent in Virginia Beach enjoying time with our friends. Dave and I made a point to see sunrise each day on the boardwalk. 

We enjoyed as much beach time as possible. 

Our friends, Jennifer, Danny, Campbell, and Chase came up for the weekend to visit. They joined us for morning jogs, beach time, and numerous laughs. 

Many of the laughs might have been because of Danny. 

Jennifer, Campbell and Chase were sports with the moisture masks. More explanation on that soon! 

We celebrated Jeff’s birthday.  

We celebrated Big Jeff’s retirement. 

It was a wonderful week in Virginia Beach. Mark, Roxanne, Sue and Jeff were amazing hosts and made coming back to the ‘hood feel like home. 

And I can’t forget to add a picture of Little Melissa aka Springer aka Small Fry. She’s always popping in with a smile and a story or five. 

Thank you family. Thank you friends. You made our trip special and full of so many memories. We miss you all so much already. 

Redwoods and PC Highway

We finished up our stay in the Redwoods National and State Parks with one last hike along the Cathedral Trees Trail. 

Along this hike, we not only saw more big trees…

 We also saw the biggest tree of them all. 

We circled back to the RV on the Trillium Falls Trail. 

With more trees… 

And a waterfall. 

A cute sign that made us giggle and look for bears. 

And family! 

We drove down the Pacific Coast Highway before camping for the evening.

The sunset was amazing. 

The next morning, we continued along the PC Highway and stopped occasionally to enjoy the view. Seeing these views, I quickly joined Team Pacific and was ready to move here! 

One last picture of my family. 

And one last picture of The Rig at our last campsite surrounded by big trees. 

It is hard to believe how quickly two weeks passed. I enjoyed having time to spend together without feeling rushed or distracted. This vacation provided quality time to laugh, talk, and enjoy each other’s company. I will cherish so many memories. One of my favorite memories which, I have no picture to document, was stargazing. We would stretch out on a log or picnic table and watch the millions of stars in the night sky. Being away from city lights made the stars bright and mesmerizing. It was always a bonus to see a shooting star or satellite. 

I’m truly appreciative of my brother for organizing and plan this adventure. Also, I’m thankful everyone was willing to come together and share the experience. 

On Friday, 7/21, my mom and I were dropped off at the San Francisco Airport. After returning The Rig, George, Juliana, and Fiona had planned to spend a few days in San Francisco. My mom was flying home and I would be meeting up with my VB friends for the remaining portion of the vacation. Can you believe I saw even more of Northern California and more friends! I am a lucky girl. 

Team Redwood 

Our next destination on our RV adventure was Redwood National and State Parks along the Northern California Coast. Redwood National and State Parks encompass a string of protected forests, beaches and grasslands.

We spent the night of Sunday 7/16 along the coast in the middle of big trees. 

Monday morning, we were up early and went to Pebble Beach to investigate tide pools. I wish you could hear the seals on the big island barking and the crashing of the waves. 

After lunch, we took a six mile hike through the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. The trail took us through dense old-growth woods. There were big trees everywhere! We all took turns being trees in the trees! 

I took a picture of this branch that fell. It’s called a widow maker. Because if you’re under it when it falls, it will kill you. Notice how it stuck in the ground. And how new growth is already sprouting. The branches hold so much water and nutrients, they act as a nurse log for the new growth. 

Can you see me? 

I also saw my first banana slug. 

Dinner that night was a well earned crab feast! 

Our six mile hike was just a warm up for our 11+ mile hike on Tuesday. (Depending on whose device you checked we walked somewhere between 11 and 16 miles – but who’s counting miles when they are filled with beautiful big trees?) We took a hike to Fern Canyon in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Fern Canyon is aptly named because of its high, plant-covered walls. 

I attempted to capture the magnificent Redwoods throughout the hike. 

Both of these hikes were beyond my definition of hiking through the woods. The strength of the beautiful big trees was inspiring. I’ve seen Giant Sequoias and now I’ve seen the world’s tallest trees. Both are worthy of appreciation. However, if I must choose between the two, I stand tall with Team Redwood. 

Crater Lake – Day 1

Crater Lake National Park is located in south-central Oregon. The main feature of Crater Lake National Park is Crater Lake. Crater Lake is famous for its deep blue color and water clarity. Approximately 7,700 years ago, when Mount Mazama Volcano erupted, it exploded and then collapsed to form a caldera over 2,000 feet deep. It took about 250 years after the eruption for rain and snow to slowly fill the caldera and ultimately created Crater Lake. The island in the lake is Wizard Island. Wizard Island formed when a Cinder Cone Volcano erupted after the crater began to fill up. 

Crater Lake has no rivers flowing into or out of the lake. The evaporation rate equals the rain/ snowfall replenishment rates. The lake has a depth of 1,949 feet, making it the deepest in the U.S. and the ninth in the world. I took this picture looking down the steep sides of the caldera. The blue is the lake – not the sky! 

We spent three days/two nights in Crater Lake National Park. The first full day, 7/14, we were fortunate enough to secure tickets for the boat ride tour of the lake the next day, Saturday, 7/15. I will come back to that story in the next post, for now, I’ll just say, Fiona and I worked magic. 

After securing our boat tickets, we took a hike up to Garfield Peak. The trail was closed shortly before the peak but, we enjoyed amazing views along the way. 

One of the highlights was viewing the Phantom Ship rock. 

From here, we could see Garfield Peak. 

The views made taking a break even more fun. 

Here you can understand why the trail was still closed. There was a huge slab of ice snow still on the trail! 

After our hike, we made another short hike around a short loop. 

We had to cross through more snowy trails. I was impressed by my sandal hiking family! 

One last picture of our super sweet campsite! What you can’t see in this picture are the thousands of mosquitoes swarming around us! If you go to Crater Lake – take bug spray! 

PS. Thanks for being patient with me as I blog a little late about my travels. At the time I’m posting this, I’m in SFO about to fly home to Tokyo. I enjoyed the past three weeks immensely. I needed an American vacation with my family and friends. And I can honestly say, by disconnecting I was able to reconnect. It did my heart good. 

Wine Camp 

On Saturday, July 8th, Audry dropped me in San Francisco where I was able to meet up with my family to begin the second leg of my journey. My brother, George, is the official driver of the RV we rented to drive us around Northern California and Oregon. Juliana, my sister-in-law, is the navigator extraordinaire. My mom, Fiona (my niece), and I are the happy campers, gummy bear tasters and overall back seat ruckus rousers. 

Saturday was our meet up and load up day. We hit the road for real on Sunday morning working our way through Sonoma Valley towards Lassen National Park. We made a long pit stop at the Benziger Winery for a tasting and a tour. 

The Benziger Winery is a biodynamic winery. The for the past 22 years, the l 85 acres have progressed from organic to biodynamic. 

Biodynamics is essentially the most purest form of organic farming and in this case, wine making. The process is biologically friendly with many levels of diversity to achieve growth and harvest of the grapes. Our guide, Patty, told us the Winery uses insects, natural predators, plants, and trees to attract pollinators for the grape vines. The same balance is utilized to prevent pests and diseases. Here’s a picture of three houses. An owl house, bat house, and blue bird house. 

Simultaneously, the winery uses compost procedures and manure from the 60 sheep and 2 cows  on the premises to keep the soil healthy and full of nutrients for the grape vines. The sheep are also used to “mow” between the vines and their hooves help to aerate the soil. The winery also recycles the water for irrigation. 

Our first tasting was during the tour. It was the 2015 West Rows Chardonnay – Signaterra. Buttery and not too much oak. 

The grapes are hand picked preventing bruising and damage. 

Instead of traditional methods of crushing the grapes, a high speed camera and laser imaging enables imperfect grapes to be pulled out and only the very best grapes remain. Fermentation then occurs in these large and well insulated vats. 

Barreled wine is stored in caves constructed by the winery. The caves are 28,000 sqft and naturally maintain 60 degrees / 70 % humidity. The white oak  barrels are used because they offer the perfect density for aging their wine selection. 

2014 La Reyna Pinot Noir – it was ok. 

2013 Oonapaus Sonoma Mountain Red – One of Juliana’s favorites. 

2013 Three Blocks – My favorite!  

We purchased two bottles of yummy deliciousness. One was consumed with lunch. Fresh fruit, local bread, and olives. 

The second bottle was saved for tomorrow…

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