Natural Bridges State Park Santa Cruz California

When we traveled to San Francisco, we did end up taking a day to drive down the coast a little bit. It is worth the trip, and if you do go, you absolutely have to go to the Natural Bridges State Park. Scientists believe that the arches in the park were formed over a million years ago when the combination of clay, silt, and diatoms formed into a unique stone mixture. While some areas have become eroded with time, the fact that we can still see part of them today is quite extraordinary!

When we went, we did not see any, however this area is apparently also a great place to see monarch butterfly migrations from October to early in February. If you are interested in checking that out, you probably would want to go during the winter season.

Since my husband and I are from the East Coast, before this trip, we had never seen the sunset on the ocean, so that is another travel tip I have for you. Definitely make sure you go when you can see it because it is really gorgeous! There are various areas within the park as well, from the sandy beach to more walk way focused places for safety reasons. You really could spend several hours here if you wanted. The Walton Lighthouse is in Santa Cruz too, and if you are going to the state park, it would be easy to go there for an additional stop. I will leave the link for the lighthouse below as well.

Let me know in the comments if you have also gone to the Natural Bridges State Park, and what you thought about it! It is a really fun day trip, and if you are visiting California, I would rent a car, pack some snacks, beach bag, and enjoy exploring the coast! I hope that you have a wonderful day, and remember to click that subscribe button!

Walton Lighthouse

https://www.parks.ca.gov/

Lands End Park San Francisco

Typically, when we are traveling somewhere new, we are on the move (quite literally). At the beginning of the planning process, we usually make a list of all of the unique attractions that are part of the history of an area, and then decide which ones we really want to visit. Since we are fairly active travelers, we generally will find a place where we can go for a nature hike. One of our favorite hikes that we had the opportunity to go on was at the Lands End Park in San Francisco.

The unique aspect of Lands End is the fact that you are weaving and going around these gorgeous rocky cliffs decorated with eucalyptus, cypress, and spectacular nature elements all about. There is a lot of history to this specific area, and some of the actual hiking trails are in the paths of the Cliff House Railway and its old railbeds. Also, the Golden Gate Bridge is visible from the Mile Rock Beach and Mile Rock point. I recommend a stop at the Visitor Center located at the Lands End Lookout so you can get more in depth information regarding the history of the park.

We were amazed at the power of the waves in this area, and you really could see how the currents pull in the bay. There are so many flowers, plants, and trees everywhere which is striking by the shore. As an important safety note, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area does advise that if you are hiking, you should stay on the trails, and keep distance from the cliffs. I would also add you may want to bring a little backpack with water, snacks, extra light jackets, and sunscreen as well.

Let me know in the comments below if you have also traveled to the Lands End Park in San Francisco, and what you thought about it! Have a wonderful day, and remember to click that subscribe button!

https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/landsend.htm

Pier 39 San Francisco (A Great Place To See Sea Lions!)

We live in the Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania and absolutely love the beach. There are a couple months (mostly July and August) that are great for swimming and we usually go to the Jersey Shore. On all of our trips going “Down The Shore” as locals in Philly call it, I have never seen a sea lion in person. Fast forward to our trip to the Bay Area in California, and we were in for a really cool surprise!

There was an earthquake in California in 1989 called the Loma Prieta, and it literally shook up the marine life in the area. After being displaced, sea lions found refuge at Pier 39 in San Francisco and discovered that they could feed on a plentiful supply of herring. The structure of the dock itself also created this source of protection for the sea lions. Currently, during the winter season, the populations have an increase of about nine hundred of these magnificent creatures. In the summer some of the sea lions do choose to migrate to the Channel Islands for breeding season, while others have decided to make this a more permanent residence, and do not to leave at all.

When we saw them in person, they really did seem like playful puppies of the ocean. They banter, frolic, and seem to work together as a team as well! Also, they have a distinct bark and you can definitely hear them talk. They are super intelligent and the California sea lions are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is against the law if citizens handle them or feed them without authorization.

If you are visiting San Francisco, this is a great day trip idea for the whole family. I highly recommend it, and it can be a wonderful educational experience as well. I feel that as humans, it is our responsibility to protect these amazing creatures of the sea, and it is another reason why we must reduce our plastic consumption and pollution. Let me know in the comments if you have gone to the Pier 39, and what you thought of it as well! I hope you have a wonderful day, and remember to click that subscribe button!

https://pier39.com/sealions/

https://northeastallie.com/2021/02/22/why-i-recommend-visiting-the-marine-mammal-center-in-sausalito-california/

Why I Recommend Visiting The Marine Mammal Center In Sausalito California

If you are in the Sausalito area in California, I highly recommend a trip to the Marine Mammal Center. It is an amazing organization that helps injured or distressed marine animals (such as seals, otters, or sea lions.) The center provides a source of rehabilitation which enables a fighting chance for these creatures to have the opportunity to return to their homes in the wild.

This is something that really moved and resonated with me, since the organization is not just trapping the wildlife in a locked zoo setting forever. The plan is to get them back to their habitat to live a healthy life again. There are mammals that are separated from their mothers, bitten by sharks, or have unfortunately gotten stuck in debris or fishing lines. It is truly unfortunate that pollution can have an effect on these animals, and this in turn can make their lives in the wild more difficult.

We as humans really must be aware of how we are disposing our waste, and not just constantly dumping it on their homes. We must do better as a society and become more eco friendly. I am attaching the website for The Marine Mammal Center below, and not only is it informative on how they help wildlife, there are a ton of really great webinars, and educational tools and resources as well. If there is an animal in need, you can also contact them right away on their website and they will do everything they can to help them. They have rescued more than 24,000 animals to date. If you are an educator, they also have award winning programs that connect students to science programs, and have professional development for teachers too.

I hope that this post inspires you to find ways in your community to spread the word and find strategies to promote eco friendliness. It is important that we work together on this front. The Earth has given us so much, we must respect her and all the creatures that roam it too! I hope you have a wonderful day, and remember to click that subscribe button!

https://www.marinemammalcenter.org/

Why You Need To Visit The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps And Hidden Garden Steps In San Francisco

I think that sometimes the creativity of a city can be hidden in the corners of it, so let me tell you, the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps and Hidden Garden Steps are amazing gems in San Francisco to find. These visual masterpieces were literally created from the actual people living in the neighborhoods of Golden Gate Heights.

The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps project began in 2003 from residents Alice Yee Xavier and Jessie Audette when they wanted to build connection with others in their neighborhood through this artistic adventure. The community chose to bring in artists Colette Crutcher and Aileen Barr in the collaboration effort to create the mosaic panels. The concept behind these gorgeous stairs was to create a flowing view of the ocean to the stars on the 163 stairway. There was not a detail left unturned, and from the sea shells to the rays of the golden sun, it was almost like seeing this detailed picture book come to life!

Another really unique community public art project is the Hidden Garden Steps. You literally get to walk next to beautiful gardens right by the mosaic stairs that have these amazing flower and earthy designs. This volunteer art project was created to shine light to nature and personality of the neighborhood itself. The gardens created next to the steps are home to native California plants and also succulents since they do really well in the Bay Area climate. I loved how they really focused on the small details, there is even a mosaic butterfly!

If you have the opportunity to visit these community art pieces, I would recommend it! I will leave the direct links here from their organizations too, in case if you are looking for travel directions or more information about the mosaics themselves. Remember to click that subscribe button and have a wonderful day!

http://hiddengardensteps.org/

Japanese Tea Garden San Francisco

In San Francisco, there is actually the oldest public Japanese Tea Garden in the United States. It was originally in an exhibit within the 1894 Midwinter International Exposition. After the exposition left, the creator, landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara maintained the garden and became a caretaker of the property. He was known to have put all of his income and creativity into it, and expanded the gardens to about five acres where he dwelled until 1942 when he and his family were forced into internment camps. At this time, about 120,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly put into camps.

After World War 2, the Hagiwara family was not allowed to move back to their home, and over the years, many Hagiwara family treasures have been removed and new additions took their place. I think it is important to know the history of a place when you visit, and respect the lives that created it.

Another interesting historical note, and this one is a according to family members of Makoto Hagiwara, is that he introduced fortune cookies to the United States. Apparently, he had a special iron mold to create them on his site, and when they became more popular in the area, he hired the San Francisco confectioner Benkyodo to make fortune cookies in larger quantities. He modified them slightly, and created a sweeter version for the States with a vanilla flavoring to them. The gardens do currently have a Tea House on the property where they have Japanese refreshments, and fortune cookies tucked into their bowl of rice crackers or arare. It is amazing to think about the historical context of the fortune cookies, and how much of an impact Makoto Hagiwara has had on society.

If you are in the Bay Area and can visit this historic landmark, I would recommend it! It is one of the most elegant and calming places to visit, and the garden is one to appreciate. I hope you have a wonderful day, and remember to click that subscribe button!

https://www.japaneseteagardensf.com/

A Clean Slate

Winter brings with it an opportunity to grow in the fact that it quite literally can bring you a clean slate to work with. In the northern part of the United States we are dealing with snowy conditions and in a way, it emotionally resonates with me. This is not particularly just in the fact that we are in the early introduction of this year, but this may be the fresh start we all need.

As we shovel out the streets, it is quite literally like lifting a weight, and in a very physical form. We are all working together in this objective, because we want that fresh slate, so to speak. In many aspects, you may find that is a current in your own life. Do you feel like you need a fresh start? This does not mean necessarily that you toss your career away or do anything as dramatic like that, it can just mean seeing something in that fresh perspective. As a writer, this can be very cathartic for me personally.

I generally think about this concept as a reigniting or affirming important processes in our lives. It reminds me of organizing, but of our inner self. What are we putting on the shelves of our minds, and as a collective, how does this affect us?

I think that is why organizing is invigorating for many individuals as well because you can literally see how these components affect us in a physical sense. I honestly think that it is a crucial part of balance, and really enables us to be present. I hope this post inspires you in some way! Have a wonderful day, and remember to click that subscribe button!

A California Pacific Coast Highway Trip To The Santa Cruz Walton Lighthouse

On our travels to the Bay Area, we felt for a more authentic California experience, we had to do at least a mini day trip down the Pacific Coast Highway. So one of the days, we set out, rented a car, and went for it. If time allows for it on your visit, this is a must do on your list! The state route literally hugs the ocean as you wind around bends and mountains, and provides you with really unique perspectives.

After we rented the car, we made the coastline trip from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. The highway is over 600 miles long, so we did not do the whole ride since we only had the rental for that day. We are from the Philadelphia area, so when we typically go to the beach, we go down the shore (Jersey Shore) and I personally had never seen surfing before. We honestly do not get too many on the east coast, so it was awesome to witness that in person! Especially as we got closer to the Santa Cruz region, we did see a lot in action catching the waves and that was very cool.

When we arrived at Santa Cruz, besides the beautiful beach, we wanted to see the Walton Lighthouse. After we parked our car, there was a little bit of a hike to get there, and I heard a noise coming off the docks with the boats. It turns out that there were a couple seals hanging out by the docks, one swimming around, and the other was taking a sun bath. I am very happy that we investigated this noise, and they are fairly typical in this region!

As we made our way up to the lighthouse, one thing I made note of is that there is a very wide path leading up to it. The structure itself is very tall, regal, and elegant. Location wise, it is right at the northern end of the Monterey Bay, and close to the Natural Bridges Park. There is a relaxed beachy surfer vibe going on in Santa Cruz, and I highly recommend it for a fun day trip!

Let me know in the comments if you have ever traveled to Santa Cruz, and what you thought about it as well. Remember to click that subscribe button, and have a wonderful day!

https://www.santacruz.org/

https://www.visitcalifornia.com/

Why Exercise Is So Important

Every day most of us take vitamins, but are we getting enough exercise into our routine? It is so important that we take care of our health and well being. In addition to a healthy diet, we have to remember to keep moving.

I find exercise particularly helpful if I feel like I am in a funk. Sometimes just staying in the moment, and feeling the motions of a run or doing Pilates can bring me back to the present. A lot of us feel guilty for taking time out to exercise, but this is actually very good for you. I am someone that does not prescribe to a particular routine, and I like to listen to my body intuitively. I have lost over twenty pounds last year just by leaning in, and really focusing on the most healthy option every day. If I have a big work day, then I will try to fit in a walk on a lighter scheduled day. The most important thing is that you find something that actually works with your schedule.

You have to remember that sometimes, you do need to really rest yourself as well. If you have a highly active profession, and you are on your feet most of the time, something more relaxing like yoga may be a better exercise for you then a high impact sport. I believe that there are different parts of life, and the main thing to focus on is balance. That is definitely a more healthy perspective.

Several years ago, I was exercising quite a lot, and yet I was gaining weight. In the hustle and bustle of life, I was not focused on what I was consuming, and after much research, I have tried my best to implement whole foods, fruits, and veggies when feasible. We as humans are so different in our internal systems, again, I think it is important to listen to ourselves and our doctors to figure out the best plan. While vegan diets work for one person, sometimes a whole foods diet will work for another. I would always consult your doctor of course before beginning any diet or exercise plan.

I hope this post inspires you to go outside, take a walk, and enjoy your day. It is important to remember that exercise should be adding to your life. Sometimes honestly putting on your favorite jams and dancing around for five minutes has the greatest benefit. Balance is everything and every day is different so we should enjoy the ride!

Remember to click that subscribe button and have a wonderful day!

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

Muir Woods National Monument

When we travel, it is important to us to visit places that connect us with the local nature and environment of the area. It is so good and healthy to enjoy the sun, Earth, and to really get a true sense of the history of the land. There is nothing like a hike among forests that brings true joy to the soul.

One of the most peaceful and delightful places you can visit near the Bay Area is Muir Woods. You totally get lost in the ages of their beauty (some of the redwoods are on average 600-800 years old and have grown over 200 feet.) The oldest tree in the monument is estimated to be at least 1200 years old. There is this deep appreciation of these trees that have stood the test of time. It is as if you have been whisked away in this natural fairy land filled with magic, love, and wisdom. At least that is how I felt walking through the forest. The reason why these trees can reach magnificent heights is due to the temperate weather conditions near the California coast.

Of course, I have to tell you a little about the namesake of this place John Muir. He actually originally worked on mechanical inventions, but due to an industrial incident, he left this profession to write, develop scientific theories, and promote conservation and preservation of land. He had a large part in the establishment of Yosemite National Park, and the Sequoia National Park as well. As a founder of the Sierra Club, he was able to write in this publication about the environmental issues that were true to his heart. He even influenced President Theodore Roosevelt in his conservation efforts. With all of his contributions to the environment, it is fitting that the redwood monument is named after John Muir himself.

When we were walking through the forests, the path was very easy to follow, and it was not too arduous of a hike. There are some hills but overall I think this path should be fairly easy to navigate. They also do have a cute gift shop and restrooms on the site by the entrance that you should check out as well!

Make sure that you review the resources below for more travel and historical information. I highly recommend this as a must see on your travel list. My husband and I really liked this stop, and it is a fun hike! Also remember to click that subscribe button. Let me know in the comments if you have gone to Muir Woods and what your experience was like there too! I hope that you have a wonderful day!

https://www.nps.gov/muwo/index.htm

https://www.visitcalifornia.com/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Muir

Cable Car Museum San Francisco

For years, before I had traveled to the Bay Area, I imagined that cable cars lined the streets. It may have been a particular rice commercial that had first enabled me to have this vision. If you grew up in the nineties, I think you know what treat I am referring to! Once we were finally there, my thoughts were realized as I saw the smooth cars rummage down the lanes. The hills were indeed rather steep as well, but walking the city, at least we had a good workout!

There is a lot of history in regards to the cable cars. What began in the 1870s is now actually the world’s last manually operated cable car arrangement. The routes that are being used currently run in the downtown area around Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf, and also along California Street. We went on them once during the day, and once at night. If it is possible with your schedule, I highly recommend going during both times. You get way different perspectives, and you could take pictures during the day of the city, but then see the lights at night.

The Cable Car Museum is a great place to stop if you are interested in seeing how the process works, as you actually see the inner mechanics of them, and also for a more in depth historical view point. I thought it was so neat to see the exact way the cables pull the cars down the streets! This particular stop is a great place to go if you have a family and also if you are interested in a fun educational experience. I will leave some resources below for you to check out, and make sure you also hit that subscribe button. Have a wonderful day!

https://www.visitcalifornia.com/

http://www.cablecarmuseum.org/museum.html

A Journey To Yosemite

Yosemite was on my mind a lot even before we got there. It has always been one of those places we always wanted to go to, and luckily it is not too far away from San Francisco (where our hotel was.) There are different restrictions depending on weather or the time of the year, such as having chains for your tires, so we decided on doing a day trip with a local tour bus. We really liked the company Gray Line when we went to Iceland, so in San Francisco we booked with them again. The tour guides are amazing and great at answering any questions too!

Location wise, the park is about 140 miles east of San Francisco and about 100 miles southeast of Sacramento. It is a mountain range (Sierra Nevada Range) surrounded by natural forest land. Depending on the time of year that you visit, the weather can vary from extremely warm in the summer to bitterly cold and snowy in the winter. I think with this National Park, it is crucial that you make sure the weather conditions are safe before you go.

One of the first places that we went to on the tour was El Capitan. When I had the opportunity to personally view El Capitan, I was blown away. It is an immaculate granite monolith, with vertical walls expanding 7,569 feet above sea level. In Spanish, the name El Capitan is translated to “The Captain.” Our tour guide also informed us that it is a very popular place for rock climbing, which if you look through your binoculars, you may see. If you do see them, they barely look like dots on this gigantic mountain. I honestly do not think I saw any, however, due to the size of the climbers from my vantage point, they would be difficult to find.

A distinguishing feature of El Capitan is the heart formation right in the middle of it. You can really see this in the photos that we took on the tour. It is a unique feature of this mountain, and I can see how many artists and photographers really flock to this range.

If you are looking for a peaceful region of the park, Yosemite Falls would be your best bet. They are visible from numerous places around Yosemite Valley, and particularly by the Yosemite Village and Valley Lodge. The waterfall is one of the largest in North America, and is highly active November through July with the largest flow in May. (The snowfall melt is the greatest during spring which helps in the water accumulation in the Falls.) Our photos were taken in late winter to give you a time perspective.

While the mountain ranges within Yosemite are immaculate, the woodlands and tree ecosystems are as well. In the park, you will see thick areas of trees, which interestingly enough have sometimes been burnt. To provide you with a historical perspective on this, during different time periods the forests have been set on fire to promote vegetation growth. Currently, fires are becoming more of an issue with their increased prevalence due to lack of precipitation. When you actually see this in person, you can tell how it is effecting the wildlife.

Yosemite is a truly special place, and I highly recommend that you visit this park. It will change your life in a very positive way. It is truly magnificent, precious, elegant and will leave you with a profound respect for the Earth, and all she is.

Remember to click that subscribe button, and have a wonderful day! Make sure you check out the resources below as well as you plan your own trip to Yosemite!

https://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm

https://www.grayline.com/

The Golden Gate Bridge/Wave Organ With Interesting Historical Connections to Philadelphia

Nothing says San Francisco like the Golden Gate Bridge. This may be one of the most iconic bridges, not just in the United States, but in the world. It was actually built during the Great Depression and has been quoted as being part of “American resolve and ingenuity.” The bridge itself typically carries around forty million vehicles a year, just to give you an idea of how meaningful this structure is to the Bay Area. It connects San Francisco to Marin County.

In addition to being an architectural marvel, it is truly amazing to view. If you are visiting San Francisco, please please go and see it up close in person. It is worth the visit and may possibly take your breath away. I know it did to me. Since we were in the area over several days, I did manage to take pictures at different times with different weather conditions. You will see the colors seem slightly different radiating off the bridge with certain degrees of light.

My absolute favorite were the sunset pictures! The bright sun had a great contrast against the bridge and softens the colors and textures quite a bit. The sunset views were taken from an area called The Wave Organ. The Wave Organ creates various sounds using pipes that interact directly with the tides of the bay. The unique stones used in the build are actually from salvaged pieces from the Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco. Yes, this is exactly what you are thinking, the city of San Francisco moved its final resting place of the original U.S. senators, Civil War soldiers, and pioneers in the early 1900s. It is estimated that more than 30,000 bodies were moved to the Cypress Lawn Cemetery located in Colma California. Currently, the Laurel Heights neighborhood occupies the space of the old cemetery. Also, for all my other local Philadelphians reading this, yes, the name was inspired by our very own Laurel Hill garden cemetery. It is interesting to see the influence that Philadelphia has had over the years!

Make sure you check out more resources in the links below and hit that subscribe button. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/wave-organ

https://visitcalifornia.com

https://www.goldengate.org

Dance of Winter’s Whispers

These winter evenings captivate my soul. A type of resilience rings true for those who can contain even the darkest of nights. The fire ever crackles on my heels, singing a song of howling wood. When the dusk of day is simmering in the distance, one can walk through fields of silence with smooth resolve. The sky is painted with feathers of deep aquamarine and swirled with humbled heavy hues. My boots are stumbling on this path lit by a single candle, unsure of anything but itself. I find the wind is whirling past my burnt lips, however my arms hold strong to the single light.

I can see my breath as I smell the sweet pine, that also withstood the drifts of an icy waltz, in their own divine design. Trudging to the cabin, I hear laughter lighter then the shimmering cape upon us. The warmth of being is once more, through the dance of winter’s whispers we can be sure.

Twin Peaks Overlook San Francisco

When we get to a city, one of the first things we generally will do is get a feel for the layout of the place. In San Francisco, we decided on the “Painted Ladies Tour Company” to get more interesting vantage points. Our guide was very knowledgeable and gave us in depth perspectives on the city regarding history and even the day to day experiences. They also reviewed amazing stops for local cuisine and attractions that you would not want to miss on your visit to the Bay Area. Of course the vintage Volkswagen Bus made the tour even more fun! I will leave their information at the end of the post, and I would recommend them for your San Francisco visit.

Of the many stops that we made on the tour, one of my absolute favorites was the Twin Peaks Overlook. It is seriously one of the best places for an immaculate view of the entire city line. You feel like an eagle, and it was one of the most spectacular places I have ever gone. There is a small parking area at the viewing point, and it is a great place to take pictures of the city as a whole.

Make sure you check out the resources below, and also click that subscribe button! Have a wonderful day!

https://www.visitcalifornia.com/

https://paintedladiestourcompany.com/

Authentic Dreams

I am pretty sure that we have all had that experience where we have visions of life that are completely our own. A dream is your reality because it speaks the truth of your being, and no one will have your exact thoughts and processes. Every one of us faces challenges and various view points, however these seeds within us are sacred. They are the voice and song of our souls wanting to be written in our lives. These reflections and concepts are motivational, true, and unstoppable.

When we nurture our hopes, we are writing our own path, and the world would not be the same without it, and it could not ever not be as it is. It is an encouragement in life to be authentic and true. Humans find their path in their voice, presence, and light. I think this is the process that we all do go through in our lives, and we feel most at peace when we are true to the being in our soul.

I hope this post encourages you! Let me know in the comments what your dreams are and how they motivate you. Remember to click that subscribe button, and have a wonderful day!

The Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco

Once we arrived in San Francisco, we dropped off our luggage at the hotel and decided to go right out and explore right away. There was no time to waste! We called a driver and found ourselves at one of the most iconic places in the Bay Area… The Palace of Fine Arts.

The Palace of Fine Arts is one of those places that take your breath away when you see it. You feel as if you have been dropped into Ancient Rome, and all you can possibly do is marvel at it. The area is full of peace, tranquility, beauty and majesty. The California breeze is sweet and inviting as you look at the gorgeous wildlife and structures. The water splashes and drifts as turtles and birds enjoy this relaxing place. (It is very accessible if you do not like walking down hills, there are stairs and a walking path. The path extends around the palace, and is not too difficult of a walk. You will actually be able to view it from all sides as it makes a loop around the building.)

Here is a little bit of history/information for you as well. The Palace of Fine Arts is located in the Marina District. It was constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition to exhibit works of art. The structure was redone in 1964-1974 and it is one of the only few structures left from the Exposition. The iconic place is also on the “U.S. National Register of Historic Places.” It was meant to model ancient Roman Ruins.

If you are in the San Francisco area, this is a must see, and I would highly recommend it. I will leave some resources for you for more up to date information, and remember to click that subscribe button! P.S. There is a rumor that George Lukas created R2D2 off the design of the palace, but I can not confirm or deny this!

https://www.visitcalifornia.com/experience/san-francisco-palace-fine-arts/

Diving Into A San Francisco Adventure!

Our San Francisco trip last winter was so much fun! I hope you enjoy these stories, ideas, places, and of course adventures…

It was so early, one of those mornings where the birds are not even singing yet, you know the kind. I am not sure how much I slept the night before but we were just so excited for this trip the whole way across the United States. We packed our bags and we were off! The sun gently rose into the sky with colors of a dew drop rainbow, and seeing this made me feel optimistic. The airport was bustling and we met up with one of our friends that was working that day. It was great and comforting to get to talk to her and we are lucky to know people in our lives that warm our heart.

Before we knew it, it was time to leave. Quickly, we drank our coffee and hopped right onto the flight. The plane ride went pretty smoothly, and it was awe inspiring to see the American landscape from the plane window. The texture of the Earth changes so much from region to region. Even from the plane, the Rocky Mountains looked truly magnificent. It is a goal someday that we can explore this land.

Anyway, as we neared the coast, we viewed many lush giant trees, and extremely dense building areas. We landed directly in San Francisco. Immediately, we grabbed our luggage and called a driver. I noticed right away that in California, the sun shines very bright, yet somehow the weather is perfect. Not too cold or warm, and this could honestly be due to the fact that it was in late winter as well.

As we drove to the hotel, I noticed that the houses had such rich and bright colors. The hills were amazing, and from our viewpoints, they almost seemed to make a “Lego” formation just from the layout. Since up to this point in my life, I had never seen the West Coast regions, it almost was like traveling to another country.

I am so excited to share more on this California adventure, and also some ideas for you all if you are making the visit out there! I hope you are having a wonderful day, and remember to click that subscribe button!

https://visitcalifornia.com

The Ultimate Holiday Activity Guide

We are officially into the holidays, and this guide should help you navigate them with fun activities and lots of cheer! Personally, for me, this time of year means spending time with family, and practicing gratitude for all the good things that have happened. Of course, some years are more hectic then others, but finding that peace is key to the joy of celebrations.

I grew up in the northern part of the United States, so colder weather and snow honestly are synonymous with Winter for me. Some of my activity ideas are outside, so always remember safety first and bring along layers, coats, warm boots, and gloves if the weather calls for it. Christmas Villages are one of the most holiday central places you can go to, especially in the Pennsylvania region. We have several of them, and for obvious reasons, the Philadelphia one is most near and dear to me. (Several years ago my husband proposed to me at it!) This is a great way to get outside and exercise, while checking out what various artisans have made. It is always a great idea to support your local shops.

Another fabulous way to get outside is the check out holiday light shows. Pennsylvania has gorgeous light displays all over its state, with some car drive through areas, and some walking. My recommendation is to listen to holiday music as you wander through to maximize on the Christmas spirit!

If you prefer to stay cozy and warm you may like baking cookies with your family. This year, my mother in law made really creative and beautiful treats with us, and it highlighted my husbands family history and a love of baking. The nice thing about cooking with your family is that you get to hear about these traditions, and how they are special during the holidays!

It would not be Christmas if I did not mention holiday movies! When I was a kid, my family loved “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” so that is the first movie that comes to mind when I think about fun and festive films to watch. I mean, I hope that everyone knows about the Griswold Christmas tree! A couple honorable mentions as well to check out are: “Die Hard (yes… it is a holiday movie…) Elf, Home Alone, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street (1947), the Holiday, Frosty the Snowman, and of course Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

A superb way of showing gratitude would be to send holiday cards out to loved ones and friends. In our fast paced world, it is all the more of importance to take that time out and to write down how much these people mean to you. These amazing individuals are part of your life, and they will appreciate knowing how much you care about them!

On a personal note, I recommend spending time in nature and really soaking in the magic of Winter. You can bring a notebook or some paper, and write poetry on your surroundings, and explore the environment. If you are going through an especially busy time, I feel like this is a must do on the holiday list!!!

Board games and puzzles are also great ways to connect with family and have good hearted fun. I hope that your holidays are full of joy, fun, and treats! Let me know in the comments below what your favorite activities are as well. I have attached a couple more holiday ideas for you, and remember to click that subscribe button!

Elmwood Zoo Wild Lights Norristown Pennsylvania

A Very Philly Christmas Village!

Elmwood Zoo Wild Lights Norristown Pennsylvania

This year, we have super ramped up all of our outdoor activities, and the holidays are no exception! I do have to say it is pretty cool that a lot of really festive events are actually outside. We always like to research various places in the area before going out, and the Elmwood Zoo really caught our eye. Luckily, it was not too bad of a commute and a perfect opportunity to enjoy a walk while seeing really unique animals.

Since it is very close to winter, and cold in Pennsylvania (especially at night) some of the animal exhibits were closed. However, much to my surprise, there were several animals that seemed to be thriving in our climate. My absolute favorite was an adorable porcupine that seemed to have super strength. The chunky fellow enjoyed climbing up the fence, seemed to do a backflip, and then was taking laps in his area. The porcupine ran up to us right away and was quite social.

There was one indoor exhibit that was open at the time we went with several mammals and even some Montezuma Quail! Even though the exhibit was indoors and warm, there were large open doors to keep the air flowing which was nice. In general, I would recommend wearing warm layers, a hat, gloves, warm shoes, and hand warmers if you have them. It can get very cold up here in the North East region!

The trail itself is easy to navigate, and it is not very arduous. It is basically a loop which is nice, especially walking at night time! The Elmwood Zoo Wild Lights is a great activity to get outside and enjoy with the whole family. It is an educational festive experience that you will treasure forever! You might even see a Bald Eagle or two! I will leave the Elmwood Zoo’s website below so you can get the most up to date travel information. Make sure that you click that subscribe button! Happy Holidays!!!

https://www.elmwoodparkzoo.org/

Green Spaces For Health

I have been hearing so much about green spaces recently, and how it can be beneficial for our health. A green space can be a forest, field, park, or even a little garden. I believe especially in Winter, it is so important that we get outside, and enjoy the beautiful rays of the sun.

Finally, science is catching up to what I have always believed, which is that humans absolutely need to be around nature for optimal health and well being. Honestly, I really enjoy city life. It is amazing to be close to many things, and the bustle of this particular landscape. The energy is delightful, and I think there is definitely a time to enjoy this atmosphere. Personally though, I feel most at home enjoying the lush environment of the Earth, writing down everything I observe.

For the modern person, there must be a balance here. At times, due to work or school, you may have to be close to or live in a city. In this case, when you do have available time, just try to find a park in the city, or close to it to enjoy green spaces. So many places do a fantastic job of incorporating this as well.

When I was younger, I lived in a more rural area full of woods, streams, ponds, and big trees to climb. I would literally go and explore, and that is when I noticed the beauty and peace that comes from nature. Listening to the singing birds, running after squirrels, and jumping across streams, I really found myself in the revere of the forests. In nature, you are connected to the world like nothing else. It was and will always be the sacred story written in everything.

The balance of the world is very real. This is why it is so important to cherish the land, and respect all beings that inhabit it. Any time of year, it is crucial to find our own green spaces. You may just become very inspired, and just be. Let me know in the comments how nature has inspired you. Also, remember to click that subscribe button. Attached is a great website I found that has more in depth information on the benefits of green spaces.

https://usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-11-12/green-spaces-do-a-heart-good

A Very Philly Christmas Village!

The Philadelphia Christmas Village holds a very special place in my heart. Several years ago, my husband actually proposed by it, and it is one of those landmarks that are near and dear to me. There is something unique about it that is very Philadelphia, while wrapping in a traditional German market feel. It is an open air market, so you will want to dress warm depending on the weather. I personally will wear layers, wool socks, mittens, a hat, and sometimes even bring hand warmers along.

There are so many local vendors that create their own unique artistic twist on ornaments, goods, and delicious foods as well. When we went, we tried the German Grill and Schwenk Grill that served bratwursts and potato pancakes. I also highly recommend Raclette Stube for their melted cheese on a fresh baguette.

City Hall is right across the street from the market, and it has a continuation of specialty artisan shops and walking regions. If you enjoy ice skating, you have to check out the rink as well, which is quite magical in the winter season. On the building of City Hall itself, during the evening hours they have a light show with holiday music playing. You can see this very well if you are skating at the rink, so that is another fun idea.

The market usually runs from November 26 to December 24, and I will leave their website as a resource to check the more up to date travel information. If you are in the Philadelphia region, I would put this as a must see for the holiday season. It is a wonderful activity if you are searching for festive outdoor fun for the whole family. Let me know if you have visited the Christmas Village in Philadelphia as well, and remember to click that subscribe button! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday!

https://www.philachristmas.com/

Bethlehem Christmas Market

I feel like that this year especially, we have been eagerly awaiting the holidays. The changing of the seasons always invigorates me, and I know winter is close once the first days of December arrive. There is something magical about the change to crisp weather, and snow dusting the yard in the morning. Christmas is the perfect time to do something a little festive, and if you are in the Pennsylvania area, I would recommend you check out the award winning Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem. It is not that far from Philly, and the awesome thing about this market is that it is outside as well.

There are a lot of local artisans and small businesses, and it is always sweet to support our communities. My personal favorite was the waffle stand, and you could purchase them to go for a decent price. They were really good and had a caramel flavor in the middle! Needless to say, between my husband and I, those waffles did not last very long! A couple other places that caught my eye were a record shop with art work and a very neat little wooden chair tent. Honestly though, there were a ton of very creative products which would make for great Christmas gift ideas for the whole family!

Make sure you stop on the website soon to plan your trip to the market! I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season so far! Make sure you click that subscribe button!

https://www.christmascity.org/christkindlmarkt/

Photoshoot In Lancaster Pennsylvania

I have known my friend Marisa for over ten years. She is one of those people that see life in amazing perspectives, and that shines through in her photography. A couple weeks ago, we decided to have a get together at the Lancaster County Park, and she offered to do an anniversary photoshoot for us. It was truly an amazing idea with the backdrop of the wooded area. The weather was perfect, and it was one of those days that was cooler, but not cold and we all felt comfortable moving around.

I am usually anxious with getting my photo taken, but she helped calm my nerves and enabled confidence as we wandered through the park. My husband and I were excited that we could have these special photos, and it is sweet that now we are able to look back and remember these moments of our lives. We are very grateful to Marisa for the memories to cherish forever.

I highly recommend Marisa for all of your photography needs. She is honestly the best in the business, and is the most talented photographer I have ever known. You can contact Marisa at http://www.marisareneephoto.com, and her Instagram handle is @marisareneephoto.

Remember to click that subscribe button!

Rhode Island Adventures

Several years ago in November, my husband and I went up to Rhode Island on my work trip, and we ended up making a mini vacation out of it. The place really captivated my heart, and I was inspired by this New England state. Rhode Island has amazing views, seafood, parks, historic houses from the Gilded Age, and its very own famous art installation coined “WaterFire.”

Providence Rhode Island hosts WaterFire each year generally from May to November, which is understandable since it is an outside installation. Various bonfires are strung about the waterways of the downtown Providence area. This was one of the very first places we visited on our trip, and it was a very emotional experience for me. The night that we went, it was beautiful memorial to soldiers, and the music that played truly provoked our hearts.

Even before I traveled to Rhode Island, in my mind, I associated it with lighthouses. Honestly, this makes sense because the smallest state in the United States has extremely diverse coastlines spanning over four hundred miles. While there are sandy regions, the areas that we visited were very rocky in its landscape. One lighthouse that we were lucky enough to check out was the Castle Hill Lighthouse, which is located in the Narragansett Bay area. I was lucky enough to capture pictures of the lighthouse during sunset, and the colors from the sky played very well against the rocky cliffs and driftwood emerging from the ocean.

Another fun activity if you enjoy walking around and exploring cities is to check out downtown Providence. There are so many neat cafes and little shops, but we were most amazed at a mural we stumbled upon by artist Umberto Crenca. The Providence Bank facade changes images frequently, so if you visit make sure you take photos of the most recent ones. Mine are from November 2017 to give a time perspective on when these particular images were taken.

There is so much colonial history seeping from the streets of Rhode Island. We enjoyed spotting these treasures from the past that are woven into the current times. Providence also has the Oldest Baptist church in the United States, and that is a place to definitely check out as it was founded in 1638 by Rodger Williams. Talk about history!

One of the best parks (in my opinion) to visit in Rhode Island is the Fort Adams State Park. The fort is rich in Naval history, and currently there are a high prevalence of sail boats in the region. You can see that the people of Rhode Island really enjoy the Newport Harbor and the East Passage of the Narragansett Bay. If you have to opportunity to visit during the summertime, there are Jazz and Folk Festivals to really take in the surroundings. Fort Adams is very easy to navigate as a walker and is more of a relaxing hike with a coastal feel.

I think a great point to go from there would be Rhode Island’s delicious seafood! One of the craziest experiences I had in Rhode Island was going to a “Raw Bar.” What is a raw bar anyway? A raw bar is an area to enjoy freshly shucked oysters, clams, and sometimes other seafood items. The key word here is “raw and uncooked.” When we visited a local raw bar, it was directly by the ocean, and the boats actually brought in the seafood. You can not get fresher then that! I was very anxious before this event, but the evening prior, I tried a seafood soup with mussels and that was actually pretty good. I believe if there is a place to try raw seafood for the first time, Rhode Island is the place to go!

Anyway, when we walked into this little restaurant, there was a little area that sectioned off clams and oysters directly on ice. We decided to get a dozen to share, half oysters and half clams. Now, if you have not had this before, I recommend not looking at it for awhile before you eat it. Just trust me on that one! At the table, they gave us lemons and hot sauce to dress the seafood with. I tried both methods and they were equally good. It literally tastes like the ocean and had a fresh flavor. I highly recommend checking out the raw bars in Rhode Island.

You will notice in the Ocean State that as you go into the Northern Atlantic areas on the coast, it is quite easy to find a lot of mussels, clams, and sea life. The area is very clean, and to my surprise, even though it is a northern state, the water is very clear in many areas. Even as you drive the roads in Rhode Island, there is a very strict “No Litter” policy. You can see signs that notify the citizens that you can be fined sometimes for $1,000 for littering. I honestly wish more areas would adopt these policies and focus on the health of our environment and Earth. I do believe there is hope after seeing this in action, and you can see how the seafood there is so delicious!

Another place I highly recommend going to see is The Breakers, which is a historic Vanderbilt Mansion from the Gilded Age. They have audio tours that guide you room to room and give a historical perspective of those times and you get to feel the perspective of their daily lives. Rhode Island has a multitude of Gilded Age mansions and if you have the time, they are worth the stop. On our trip we went to The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, and Rosecliff. The opulent style at the time almost visually overwhelmed me, and they truly are the castles of America. You can see the historical relevance of industry as well, and how the times changed from previous generations of American settlers.

Rhode Island is such a magnificent place, and I highly recommend it to any traveler. It’s history, architecture, coastal areas, parks, restaurants, and even the delightful pine trees everywhere make this place a must visit region. I have listed some resources for you to check out as well for more travel information! Also, remember to click that subscribe button!

https://www.visitrhodeisland.com/

https://fortadams.org/visit-fort-adams/

https://www.newportmansions.org/

http://waterfire.org

Unique British Restaurants To Visit In The Philadelphia Area

I have always enjoyed learning about British culture. Any place that was home to The Beatles, Jane Austen, and J.R.R. Tolkien is esteemed in my book. Honestly though, besides the historical contributions of England, they actually have pretty decent food! This is my personal review of two wonderful British restaurants that you can enjoy a nice meal at in the Philadelphia region. I think it is important to note that I am not affiliated with either of these restaurants, and this is just my personal opinion as well.

A couple months ago, I did an ancestry test that my mother in law gifted me for a holiday, and found out that I was partly British. Of course, these were very new revelations on my part, so I set forth on a journey to learn and become immersed within the culture. My husband was very sweet, and on a lovely quiet weekend, he surprised me with a trip to a local English tea room called A Taste of Britain located in Wayne Pennsylvania.

I was immediately enthralled by the gorgeous quaint cozy setup of the restaurant that somehow wrapped elegance and comfort into one space. Everyone was also very sweet and made us feel at home right away. It was a chilly day, so we ordered a Welsh Rarebit, The Old Fashioned Turkey sandwich, and a pot of pumpkin tea.

My husband and I have always been obsessed with tea, and we were ecstatic that A Taste of Britain had their very own tea list. This gorgeous list has black teas, flavored black teas, oolong, green and white teas, rooibos, herbal teas, and a decaffeinated selection as well. Besides what we ordered, the restaurant had a wide variety of entrees to choose from such as salads, sandwiches, English Favorites, and even Full Afternoon Tea which is an assortment of tea sandwiches and treats with delicious tea. I highly recommend A Taste of Britain if you are in the Wayne area by Philadelphia, and even if you are a bit further out, it is definitely worth the drive to this establishment.

My other recommendation is in Philadelphia directly, so if you are in the city, the travel should not be too difficult, and it is called The Dandelion. I have a little bit of a back story with this establishment, and we have been going there for years. About five years ago, our friends were traveling up to Philadelphia for a visit, and we were looking for a great place to relax, and also enjoy wonderful food. After a little bit of searching, we decided to stop at this British restaurant called The Dandelion. Even as you walk up to the building, you get this sense that you are going someplace special.

The staff was very lovely, and kind to us right from the moment we walked in, and the ambiance danced with English history and Victorian designs. The very first time we went there, I tried the fish and chips, and it was hands down, the best fish and chips I have ever had in my life. Later, I found out, this was one of the original staples of the menu, and it has even won awards!

Since our original visit, we have gone to this delightful establishment many times for birthday celebrations, get togethers, and even the High Afternoon Tea for a special anniversary. The Dandelion’s menu is very expansive and has brunch, afternoon tea, high tea, authentic British dinners, delicious deserts, and so much more. Location wise, it is very close to Rittenhouse Square. Often we take a walk around the Rittenhouse Square Park in Center City which is another fun activity if you are making a day trip.

I hope you enjoyed my review of these sweet British restaurants! I truly do recommend them, and I hope you will really enjoy their culinary charm and most agreeable atmosphere. Please comment below and also let me know if you have visited these places, and what you thought. Also, remember to click that subscribe button! I have listed some resources for you to check out up to date information on A Taste of Britain and The Dandelion for your next travels there.

https://thedandelionpub.com/

https://atobritain.com/

https://www.visitphilly.com/things-to-do/attractions/rittenhouse-square-park/

A Day Trip To Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania

Hello Everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful day! I am so excited to go through some great day trip ideas if you are traveling to Jim Thorpe PA. This is such a gem in the Poconos, so if you are headed that way, it is a must stop region. Since my husband and I are in the Philadelphia area, the Poconos are regarded as a pivotal place for any vacation when you want a more authentic rural experience. This rings true to many locals, and from the mountains to the charm of the historic towns, you can see how this place is revered.

Jim Thorpe is sort of a sacred area for my family, and before my husband and I ever ventured there, our parents have enjoyed this place for many years. It made sense recently that for celebrations within our family, this place was a frontrunner to enjoy the day. I am sure that any time of the year Jim Thorpe is beautiful in its charm, but we especially enjoyed it in its Autumn glory.

I think it is important to give you a brief history of Jim Thorpe because this place is truly rich in historical notes. The town was originally known as Mauch Chunk (Bear Mountain), but it was renamed later in time for one of the most decorated athletes you know as Jim Thorpe. Another important note is that it was part of the first industrial railroad along the Lehigh Canal. The town has ridiculously gorgeous Victorian Age type buildings which seem to transport your mind to another time.

That will bring us to the first must see area when you are planning a trip, which is the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. As the name specifies, you do travel by train to see the Lehigh Gorge in the State Park. Since we were leaving from the Philadelphia area the day of the trip, it took us a little over two hours to get to this railway from where we live. The commute was very nice, and when you get there, the railway has ample parking which is awesome. Also, everything was really well laid out, and there is a specific place to purchase your tickets for your train ride.

When we went in October, it was pretty busy, but I think they are used to dealing with large crowds, because it was very easy to coordinate things once we got there. On the train itself I would estimate generally that four people can fit in a booth. If you have small children, you could probably squeeze in about five people. The staff on the train were also very friendly and I can see this as a great place to go if you have kids as a trip they would enjoy too.

The train ride was truly amazing. You really get the vantage point of so many regions of the park, and I loved how the mountains soared against the river. My husband and our family all really enjoy the magnificence of the environment so this was such an amazing experience. Personally, as someone that has not gone on trains very much, I found it so exciting to actually go this ride! I felt like a kid in a candy shop!

After we took the train ride, we decided to wander for a bit around the town. The Victorian essence is very strong and so charming. As I mentioned, you literally feel as if you are walking back in time to another place and it is magical. There are so many little shops and restaurants that line the sidewalks.

We explored the area around the Asa Packer Mansion as well, and let me tell you, that is a house on a hill if I ever did see one! Asa Packer had major ties to the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and it is a Victorian National Historic Landmark. The mansion was closed at the time that we visited, but the building honestly speaks for itself just by walking around it. It is easy to see that Asa Packer had a very significant impact on the history of the town from the railroad to being a founder of the Lehigh University. You can see on the second picture below the viewpoint from the mansion to the town.

We found that these were the main things to do for a fun day trip, but if you are staying in Jim Thorpe for a little longer, you may also enjoy visiting the Old Jail Museum, the Mauch Chunk Cultural Center, and the walking the Lehigh Gorge State Park. Also, if you are in the Poconos, there are so many other places to see as well, and I will have to write you all more specific places on this blog sometime.

I believe, these historic Pennsylvania towns are a place to relax, learn, and enjoy. They are an amazing destination for any world traveler, and the community is very welcoming to all. I hope this guide has given you some ideas for your next trip to Jim Thorpe! Please comment below, and let me know if you have also enjoyed the area, and if you have any stories from your visit! Also, remember to click that subscribe button! I have listed resources for you to check out for up to date travel information as well as more educational facts.

https://www.visitpa.com/region/pocono-mountains/jim-thorpe

http://www.poconomountains.com/explore-our-area/jim-thorpe/

Local Living

Hello Everyone!

My name is Allie and I am from the Philadelphia area in the Northeast part of the United States. This blog has been in my mind for some time, and it is truly amazing to finally put my thoughts into words on here. On this blog, you can expect perspectives on life, wellness, encouragement, travel, and of course local living. My family has been in the Northeast for many generations, and I feel a connection to this area that heavily influences my writing and ideas. There are so many amazing shops, restaurants, festivals, activities and I wanted to share our community with the world.

I have traveled to other areas, but the Northeast is distinct in its nature. We have so many beautiful cultures, ideas, and traditions that are brought together to create this unique place. Philadelphia is known as the city of “Brotherly Love” and I can attest that this statement is true.

I am looking forward to taking this journey with you all and getting right into it! I hope you can find some inspiration from these stories and places. I think it is crucial to write about the places that we find our path on, and hopefully they can reflect positive experiences to all. A place to be a tapestry of dreams, ideas, and architecture that builds into our lives.