The one thing my mom really wanted to tackle on this day trip to San Francisco was to see Ghirardelli. Since it was not tourist season, we were actually able to park in the parking garage underneath Ghirardelli Square, which is only a few blocks away from the wharf!
Doesn't my mama look so pretty?
We went into Ghirardelli, of course. It was still pretty early in the day, so we didn't get anything, but we all agreed we would stop by again before getting in the car to go home... after all we were parked right there anyway!
We wandered onto Hyde St. Pier, which houses a few historical ships and acts as a museum of sorts on your way out to the ticket booth. You can pay to actually tour the boats, but we decided that seeing them from the pier was good enough.
PS - I don't think that seagull paid the admission fee ;)
The boat below is called C.A. Thayer, and I pulled the following from Google:
C.A. Thayer is a schooner built in 1895 near Eureka, California. The schooner is now preserved at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. She is one of the last survivors of the sailing schooners in the West coast lumber trade to San Francisco from Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.
Here is the link to the National Park Service web page on the ship if you would like to read more: https://www.nps.gov/safr/learn/historyculture/c-a-thayer.htm
We continued our way down to Pier 39 (which was the end goal for our trip to the wharf). We stopped at these crab stations to check out the menus, but I have to say - everything is so overpriced! When Jeremy and I visited Oregon and Washington, we could get fresh seafood for much better prices. San Francisco really price gouges you if you want anything but clam chowder and bread. Tsk tsk!
At last, we made it to Pier 39. The pier where all of the touristy fun hoopla is. Stores, museums, the aquarium, rides... it's all there! They even have a carousel towards the end of the pier. However, if you're planning on visiting, don't stop there! Go beyond it to get a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and sea lions!
There were only a few active ones. Apparently it was nap time for the sea lions, as many of them slept on the docks below. However, there were two that were very much active, doing somersaults around each other, giving each other kisses, some playful nips, and were just really entertaining to watch.
There are SO many things to do in San Francisco, that I have a feeling Jeremy and I could visit the city every time we visit my parents and sister in California and find something new to do every single time.
Jeremy already declared that next time we are in California that he wants to go to a Giants game. My mom added that we should go to Treasure Island too, so that's already two things to do in San Francisco for our next visit!
Looking forward to it!
We went shopping in downtown Willow Glen while waiting for the schools to get out, and we picked up a few toys in the stores that were there.
My dad went to go get Giovanna from school, while Mom, Jeremy, and I went to go pick up Little O from daycare. Mom was a bit worried that he may be cranky upon seeing Jeremy and I, as she said he doesn't do well with people he doesn't know (he's going to be three, so we've seen him when he was a baby). However, I walked into the daycare with my mom, and little O came directly up to us with no issues.
When I lifted him into his car seat to get buckled in, instead of being crabby that bearded man was in the back seat with him, he pointed to Jeremy and asked me "Who's that?" and then proceeded to share his dinosaur stickers and toys he received in daycare that day with Jeremy.
After we got back to the house, Dad and G were still not home, so we entertained the tiny human. Jeremy was playing with his yo-yo, and O really wanted to try it, so Jeremy started to teach him how to play with one.
We searched and searched for the yo-yo. Mom searched their toy box, I searched the kids' desks and crafting area, Jeremy entertained O in the meantime, and we had zero luck.
However, this auntie came up with an alternative solution to the height problem.
While we were outside blowing bubbles, Dad and G came home. She wanted to join in on the bubble festivities.
O's hand-eye coordination is pretty good for an almost three year old! I love the look of concentration on his face as he focuses on the bubble between his hands.
G made several attempts to catch a bubble on the bubble wand, and eventually succeeded, and as you can see, she was pretty excited about it. That was a good sized bubble to catch, too!
Giovanna did ask me to photograph the short palm tree in my parents back yard, so I went over to the plant. I was totally expecting the leaves to be soft, but they aren't! They are extremely stiff and pokey! However, it still made for a pretty picture.
I will be writing of our day trips to San Francisco, Sequoia National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and coastal towns soon, complete with images and perhaps a few videos! Stay tuned!
In 2017, my parents decided to fly me out to California to get me away from a negative situation I was in. I was able to go on a lot of adventures while I was out there, but one of my favorite places that we went to was Yosemite Park. I have wanted to go to Yosemite Park for a long time, ever since I started studying film photography and came across Ansel Adams and his inspiration, John Muir.
It is said that these two knew more about Yosemite than anyone else, having documented it through photography for years. It held a special place in both of their hearts, and as soon as my parents and I arrived, I could see why.
El Capitan, pictured above, is one of the most photographed cliff faces on Earth. It is one of the welcoming landmarks when entering Yosemite Park, and you can see Yosemite Falls to the left of it in the image above. These sights are extremely easy to get to, as this area of the park is the most visited by tourists, it features paved roads and scenic paved trails that are easily accessible for those with mobility issues.
I prefer to call countries by the name given to it by its method of ruling. So if anyone is lost (which, really, you shouldn't be), Netherlands is Holland. Where the Dutch live. Not the Deutsch, as that is not a group of people, but rather the Germanic language. Oh, and Germany is Deutschland.
Anyway, my second day in Hillegom, Netherlands was wonderful. I truly got the touristy, classical taste of Holland by going and seeing giant windmills at Zaandam. Just Googling Zaandam will make you think you stepped into some folklore about dwarves who live in a shoe or something interesting and historical, but in person it was so incredible. All of the buildings are historical structures, with wooden shops leading to the windmills selling various goods such as chocolate, peanut oil, clogs, and so much more.
Upon first arriving, it's kind of an odd experience being an American. Anything touristy that we have in America is usually either in the middle of a large city, or near a large city.
The historical area in Zaandam with the windmills and shops is surrounded by fields, which has canals threading through it. Seriously, Netherlands and Canals is like Peanut Butter and Jelly, there is no separating them and nor would you want to!
Amongst the shops were also museums, that showed traditional ways of baking Dutch Chocolates and various candies and foods.
I continued my walk down the narrow pathways that the feet of many tourists have engraved into the soils of the earth, Granted, there were paved walks too, but there are so, SO many people touristing this area that the footpaths just seemed more friendly.
There was such a variety of cultures visiting Zaandam that in and of itself was amazing. Just walking through the park, I believe I counted over 10 different languages.
How amazing is that? How many places in the world can you go and hear over 10 different languages in one setting? Maybe a lot across the pond, but here in America, you'd have to be in New York or Los Angeles or something to the liking of those places.
Everything in Netherlands is small, by the way. Just to prepare you other Americans that are used to our large doorways, and our stairs that easily accommodate size 12 shoes, everything in Netherlands is small!
Small, but adorable.
Like this footbridges. Seriously, did I accidentally eat the mushroom in Wonderland and turn into a giant? Apparently, it's just not me, either, because most the people crossing the bridge in the image below are Asian, and even they seem tall compared to the guardrail on the bridge!
I may as well become the old lady who lived in a shoe at this point! I just needed a shoe about quadruple that size and I could make it work.
Let's get back to the scenic photos shall we? Be prepared for windmills, windmills, and MORE windmills! Everyone gets a windmill! Okay, I'll tone down the Oprah.
Before going into the windmills, I had no idea that they were still actively used. That was the coolest part about this trip to Zaandam. It wasn't, "Oh, here are the windmills, look how pretty they are and this is what they used to be used for....". No. This was, "Oh, here are the windmills, look how pretty they are, and even though they are old as hell, we still use them because we are awesome like that."
This first windmill I went into was used to create Peanut Oil, which, if you remember me mentioning before, they sell in the little shops in the park. The first image below shows the peanuts ready to be scooped up to be crushed by the grinding wheel. The second image below is the grinding wheel, which takes all of the peanuts and crushes them into a power which will then be heated up to create the oil. The third image is that of the mill worker, who runs all the machinery.
After the crushed peanuts suffer under the grinding wheel, they get placed into this machine that heats up the ground up peanuts. The third image below shows the mill worker gathering crushed peanuts into the heater. The heat helps release the oils from the peanuts and also releases any toxins that were remaining in the peanuts.
After the crushed peanuts are heated up, they are placed in this machine that pounds the dickens out of the crushed peanuts. This pressure releases the natural oils from the peanuts which drips into a tray that sits on the ground below the press. Keep in mind, this would be an impossible business strategy in America, which is just a sad thing to admit.
It was so delightful to watch, and it smelled amazing.
There were narrow steps leading to a second floor which is this balcony type structure on top of the windmill. It is up here that the mill worker releases the blades on the outside of the mill, allowing for the entire structure to come to life.
Now, when I say steps, I mean that lightly. The Dutch call them steps. I would consider them to be more like ladders.
The second mill we went to was a lumber mill. This one had a lot more mill workers, which makes more sense considering the more dangerous machinery involved.
Around the park there were also quite a few animals. Some were residents, such as the goat, while others were just visiting, just like us!
The last building we went into was a shop where every tourist can find something worthwhile. Across the ceiling all the way across the store, clogs hung with giant tickets saying the size of the clogs in that row. There were magnets, glasses, baking trays, cookie cutters, socks, keychains, shot glasses, bells, postcards, you name it. If you've seen it in a tourist shop, you would have seen it here. At the end of the shop is a worker who shows how to make the clogs. It's actually a really cool process, and this gentleman made it look so effortless.
After his demonstration, and debating on whether or not I could get a pair of clogs (next time we go, I'm getting a pair, gosh darn it!), I left Zaandam and headed for Amsterdam. I'll save THAT for another blog post. <3
For the summer of 2015, I had it easy. I was without a job, and waiting to move to Colorado.
Sometime in July, 2015, I ended up on a plane to Amsterdam.
Can you say, "lucky"? Because I can!
I flew Delta, thank goodness, and journeyed on my eight hour flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.
I stayed awake for a majority of the flight. I was too excited to sleep!
I, admittedly, did doze off once or twice but would awaken to my brain shouting "We're going to Europe!"
Somewhere over Ireland the sun started to rise. I felt my heart ache as we flew over Ireland, as it is one of the number one places I desire to go.
The sun decided to make the moment even more meaningful as it filled the sky above the clouds with its colorful morning rays.
That first day I took it pretty easy as the jet lag settled in. I got a rental car from the airport and drove to Ron's townhouse, a friend, in Hillegom where I would stay for the remainder of the week.
When I arrived, I was amazed by all the gardens. Almost all of the townhomes have gardens in front of them. You can really tell who the slackers are, to put it nicely, but Ron's garden was beautiful.
I made my way inside, and immediately, in front of you and to the left is a stair case. It's a winding staircase with stairs just big enough for feet of a child. There was a coat rack to the left on the wall before the staircase, a closet to the right, and a little hallway went down the right of the stairwell. At the end of this little hallway was a half-bath, and the entrance to the living area. The living area and dining area shared a longer room, with glass-top tables, and black and white furnishings with white floors. I believe he had one purple wall too. At the end of the long room down by the dining room were doors that opened up into the backyard. The kitchen was to the left of the dining room (so if you had x-ray vision, it would be straight ahead of you through the stairs and through the half-bath upon entering) and also had a door leading to the backyard, though this one was smaller.
Going up the stairs to the second level you would find the master bedroom, laundry room, shower room, and a secondary room. You step upon the second floor and the secondary room would be to your left, the master bedroom front-left, the laundry room front-right, and the shower room all the way to the right.
You had to walk down towards the shower room (which was a total of about 3 steps) to continue your journey up the stairs to the third floor, which was an office area. There is a guest bed on the third floor, and there is where I stayed for my visit. At the top of the walls (which the ceilings are not that tall on the third floor) are these windows that tilt open to let the fresh air in.
It's a super cozy townhome, and absolutely adorable. It has quite a sizeable backyard, with gardens, a patio area, and a shed in the back.
After carrying my bags upstairs, using the restroom, and changing clothes, I went back downstairs to the main floor. I took myself and my camera to the back yard for some shots.
The first thing my eye settled upon was this pair of clogs on the shed door. How stereotypical is that? I found it hilarious, and laughed about it. I was told that people DO actually where those wooden clogs in Holland. Ha. Guess it's a stereotype for a reason, eh?
I started to notice all of these snails, so I looked just a teensy bit harder and noticed they were, indeed, just about all over the back yard. I found one on the patio furniture, promptly named him Fred and had him slime around on my hand as I took photos of him.
After a while, I put Fred back down, I went grocery shopping, then came back, ate dinner, and spent the rest of the night resting and watching television.
Photographer, visual artist, mother to four fur-babies, and travel enthusiast.