Two years ago I was set for a study away trip to California during winter break. Bright eyed and beaming, I began planning my trip down the coast of the state through San Francisco and other major bucket list sites. Sadly, a few weeks after applying, the professor leading the trip informed me that there had not been enough interest generated, and therefore the trip would be canceled. I was bummed.
Having lived in Kentucky my whole life, I have dreamed of going out west. Although I have been fortunate enough to travel to nine countries in Europe as well as to several states in the U.S., including Hawaii, I had not visited the western region of the country. With this interest sparked, I have been determined to fulfill these goals.
Last July I began dating my boyfriend, Cole. The first week of us getting to know each other happened while Cole was in San Francisco with his best friend for a concert. This further ignited my wanderlust for the West coast.
Six months into dating we both asserted our need to go to/return to California. Our trip would be June 24-July 3. We saved up, bought the tickets, and excitedly waited for the time to fly out to get here!
Cole played in a tennis tournament on the rooftop of the downtown SF bay club. The views were rad, he won his first match, and I got seriously burnt. Then, we got lunch at a cute cafe. Followed finally by a trip down to Crissy Field to see the Golden Gate Bridge, one of my top bucket list items and National Parks.
We began the day worshipping at Redemption Church, where Cole knows the worship pastor (a fellow WKU grad!). The environment was very welcoming and we really enjoyed the fellowship amongst the city life. It’s a beautiful thing to know that God is alive and at work in this city that is not typically known for spreading the gospel.
After church, we hiked up to Alamo Square to see the famous Painted Ladies house. It was a sunny day and the houses were awesome! I was hoping to see John Stamos, but alas. (Full House reference for those who were unaware)
We then went on a city wide bus tour for several hours which crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, roamed through Chinatown, and reached all the way over to the Haight-Asbury district, known as the hub of hippie culture in the 1960s.
The long trek to Yosemite National Park! We drove four hours from SF to Yosemite and headed directly for the Yosemite valley, where my parents visited 30 years ago! We walked around for about two hours just breathing in the history and the perfection that is God’s creation.
We saw Half-Dome
Yosemite National Park! We drove to the top of Glacier Point and hiked for a bit, surprised at the 90 degree temperature in comparison to the 50 degrees in SF. ALSO, how AMAZING is our God to create sights like these for us?
While we had planned on going to Sequoia National Park, it was well beyond our driving capacities, we ended up going to a small patch of the giant Sequoias just 45 minutes south of the park: Nelder Grove. We stood next to trees close to 2,000 years old. It was very humbling, indeed.
Off to wine country we went! We spent the day in Sonoma, California at Kunde Family Winery trying several wines, cheese, and desserts. It was a MUST for me and I definitely enjoyed the beautiful vineyard and delicious wines.
Full day in SF! Cole and I started the morning by eating in Cole Valley! It was obviously necessary for us to go there. We ate at “Crepes on Cole,” and then headed up to Billy Goat Hill to take a picture on the swing over the city, however it was removed. I was crushed. Atleast the views were still good
We then walked around Market Street going to all the stores and then proceeded to walk up some of the steepest hills in SF. Even after weeks of working out, my calves were not prepared. After all the walking, we then made our way to Lombard Street to see the daytime view of the city. Finally, we ended the day by eating at the Cliffhouse overlooking Ocean Beach, the place where Cole was last year when we first began talking. Not even the freezing temperatures could keep us from having fun
Last day in SF! WOAH! We packed it all in on our last day. First we headed down to the Mission District so I could see a super colorful house we had passed the day prior.
And while it was a chilly, windy day, we couldn’t miss heading over to the Marin Headlands to see the view of the city and bridge from the Northside. Winds reached upwards of 40-50 MPH and I deeply regretted forgetting all my winter jackets, but being there made everything else worth it.
All in all, the trip was chilly but perfect. I am so thankful I finally got to see these amazing places with my family and my adventure buddy. I can’t wait to see where life takes us next!
Video courtesy of: Cole Claybourn.