We woke up early the next morning after staying at Yosemite View Lodge the previous night. We had no idea how spectacular the view was from the lodge until the morning, as it was dark when we checked in at 11pm the night before. We were greeted by the sunrise and cliff faces, and it couldn't have been a better start to the day.
You feel like you are already in the park before you technically are.
It was definitely worth it to make it down to the river. It was beautiful seeing the river, which was low, trinkle its way around the boulders and rocks.
We even found a big rock to climb up on, for a better view, and of course, for poses.
Jeremy and I stood at the base of Yosemite Lower Falls with my mom and Katy. Then, thinking Jeremy was following me, I set off unto the woods to the left of the viewpoint to try to get a different angle of the waterfall. I had barely walked into the woods and turned around when I noticed he was not following me, and he was no longer within my view. He had gone somewhere else. I decided to continue hiking my way up towards the base of the fall. Eventually I made my way back out towards the open rocks, and who do I see on the other side? My bearded man.
We got to the park in the early afternoon, so the sun was quite fierce. We got to the park entrance gate, and my parents purchased the America the Beautiful pass as Jeremy's and my Christmas present. The pass allows you to have free admission to any National Park for one year.
If you plan on visiting more than one National Park within a year, I highly recommend getting the America the Beautiful pass. It only costs $80.00 which is usually about the same or cheaper than two admission fees into different parks. For example, the admission fee into Sequoia National Park costs $35 for a vehicle, and is the same for Yosemite National Park. We were just on vacation, and happened to go to two national parks. For $10 more, the annual pass is well worth it.
Jeremy and I live relatively close to Rocky Mountain National Park where I plan on adventuring a few times this year. Let's say I go three times over the course of the next year. A vehicle day pass at RMNP is $25, which means that would be $75 spent in admission fees alone. Jeremy and I are also going to Yellowstone for my birthday in June. Yellowstone's admission fee is $25.
So, basically, instead of spending $170 this year on national park passes, the America the Beautiful pass is just $80. Get one! It's worth it if you plan on visiting the parks.
Okay, I'm done trying to sell you on that point :P I just love my pass!
We found a dirt path off to the side that took us to the top of the Tunnel Rock. We were able to climb up on top of it. The rock is actually quite steep, and there are signs warning you of climbing up on top of Tunnel Rock, so we didn't climb too far up.
Katy was the bravest of the three of us, perching up on the hump of the rock. Jeremy and I stayed by the slab on the side, which made for a perfect foot rest.
Sequoia National Park is a beautiful drive, even before you get to the famous Sequoia trees. I highly recommend soaking in the view. Plus, a lot of people don't know that Sequoia National Park is also home to the tallest mountain in North America - Mount Whitney! That is on the completely opposite side of the park from the trees, so we did not go and visit the mountain. Maybe next time! PS - the mountain in the above photo is NOT of Mount Whitney. I believe it is Mount Eisen - I could be wrong! If anyone knows what the snow-capped mountain is in this image, please feel free to comment!
The rock formation in the foreground is known as "Castle Rocks"... naturally.
The tree above with the sun shining next to it and the one on the left directly above this sentence are both images of General Grant.
In the Grant Grove loop, there is this fallen tree called the Fallen Monarch. The tree was hollowed out by a fire more than 300 years ago before toppling over. The fallen tree served as shelter to cattlemen who later built a cabin very close by, a saloon, and a horse stable! Now it is a tourist attraction that one can walk through. The right image above shows Jeremy standing in front of one end of the Fallen Monarch.
When the family, Jeremy, and I were there, it was beginning to get dark, so it was very black inside the tree. I don't believe I would have noticed this heart shape hole on the top curvature of the fallen tree if it wasn't for the setting sun shining through it.
The following image after shows the other end of the Fallen Monarch.
The two trees above are more of the Giant Sequoias, and the one below is another image of General Grant. You can tell by the one significant branch that reaches out towards the sun in the image below.
So now you're probably thinking, "What the heck happened??" Well, let me tell you!
Technology errors are the digital photographer's nightmare.
This last bullet point is what failed me with Macie's Session. We had taken the photos below, and they were BEAUTIFUL, high resolution images, and then my computer just fried. My external hard drive had fried about a month prior, and then my laptop fried before I had replaced my external, so everything I had saved just went... poof. Bye. Gone. I was devastated.
I had already post-processed these images, and had uploaded them to Facebook, which is how I have the ones below. However, as anyone who has downloaded an image back to their computer from Facebook knows, the quality just isn't there. I did my best to save them, but it was clear - we would have to take a new picture. That's how the one at the beginning of this post came to be!
So let's talk these photos!
The first photo that we took in our secondary session was shot on a piece of railroad track that is no longer being used which sits off to the side of the active tracks in Alma, Wisconsin.
The rest of these images were shot in Winona, Minnesota during her first session. The left two images were shot alongside an antique store in downtown Winona, and the right two images were shot in the Lake Park. We had a lot of fun during the session, and I really enjoyed editing the images. I'm still sad I don't have the originals anymore.
I learned my lesson the hard way. ALWAYS back up your files!
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!
Back when I lived in Wisconsin, I shot this senior portrait session around Alma, Wisconsin.
Locations: Tim Neitzel's property on County Road N in Alma, Buena Vista, and the town of Alma.
Train tracks do run alongside the town. Train tracks run along the Mississippi for quite a length, you could almost follow them to tour riverside towns in Wisconsin.... or you can just take the River Road. Whatever floats your boat! Ha. Okay, I'm done.
Anyway, the town has a bridge that goes over the tracks, so we headed there next.She was just tall enough that when she sat down on the bridge, her face was above the shadow lines. Just so you all know, I said before this girl was a trooper, and I mean it! The walkway part of the bridge is the rigid metal, with the little points that stick up at you. While you never notice it with your shoes on, it really hurt my knees when I was kneeling to take this image, and so I can only imagine how it felt when she sat on it!
For the image below, I normally greatly dislike taking images on train tracks, but since Kaylee's mom was with us and could keep an eye for oncoming trains. I highly recommend NOT taking photographs on train tracks for the following reasons:
1. It's hard to hear a train when you are on the tracks. Obviously, I could see beyond Kaylee, and she could see beyond me, but we could have been distracted until it was too late (PS, that's the back of a train you see behind Kaylee).
2. It's trespassing! If we had gotten caught, the railroad company has the right to sue you for trespassing.
So what are my alternatives? If you can, find a piece of track that is no longer being used. You can find them on the sides of active railroad tracks and older towns, like Alma. Use that instead!
Since I normally don't like taking images on train tracks, I had her sit down, shot photos in a quick succession, and then had her get off the tracks. We were probably only physically on the tracks for two minutes!
Do you want to have an Imbeccable senior portrait session? Book your free consultation today, or email/text me questions at firstname.lastname@example.org / 608-304-5427.
Photographer, visual artist, mother to four fur-babies, and travel enthusiast.