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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Winter Getaways

Big Sur, California

Happy 2013 everyone! Now that the holidays are over and a new year has begun, hopefully we have renewed our hopes and aspirations.  As many of you already know I strive to live life to the fullest —however long that life may be. Therefore, I set out to explore two of my most favorite places in California: Big Sur and Yosemite. After a few days of exploring Yosemite, we cut across the state and headed to the majestic coast of Big Sur, California, one of those seascapes that can remain forever in your mind. 

MacWay Falls and the Sun Setting by Highway 1

Driving along such an awe-inspiring landscape, I understood why the first settlers fell in love with this enchanting land.  From Yosemite, the landscape transforms into an Oak-filled landscape that stretches all the way to the sea. You can see how the land and the sea appear to meet in an almost primitive and  rhythmical way. The scenic highway 1 offers many turnouts to enjoy the scenery and plenty of opportunities to photograph its beauty.   By the time we approached our destination, we nearly stopped at every turnout!

The Purple Beach at Pfeiffer Beach

Although Big Sur offers many lodging opportunities, for years our family tradition has been to stay at the historic Big Sur River Inn,, a hidden jewel in the popular Big Sur, strategically located on Highway 1 and right next to a beautiful river.  Perhaps, the small lodge attracts many tourists from all parts of the world because it has been around since 1888, which was then named the “Apple Pie Inn.”  I happen to love apple pie!  When we first discovered this place, it was during the summertime at midnight.  My husband and I were so tired that all I remember was checking in and waking up with a million dollar view!  From there, the rest was history!  

A hearty breakfast or a romantic dinner by the large fireplace was ideal to mend all your worries. If that isn’t enough, you can have lunch on the wooden lawn chairs by the river or directly on the river.  The simplicity of the inn allows you the luxury to do whatever you wish, from sitting at the bar or simply sitting on a bench with your significant other to enjoy a glass of wine.  For families, the inn also offers a heated pool and an outdoor barbecue.  It is also the perfect place for an unforgettable dream wedding.

The beautiful ray of sunlight from the sun setting on Pfeiffer Beach

But for writers like me or those seeking to escape from it all, the inn offers the ultimate perk: privacy along with the serene sounds of the river—or better yet, a disconnection from civilization! As a frequent traveler, I have experienced many high-end resorts but the simplicity of this little inn is often hard to find.  But the thing I love the most from the River Inn is that it is my central point in which I use to explore the many natural wonders around that area. Big Sur is a photographers' and a writers' paradise and I indulge selfishly on the scenery.  The breathtaking coastal landscapes, such as Pfeiffer State Park, Pfeiffer Beach and Los Lobos State Park, are just some of the many places you can go to in order to absorb the best that nature has to offer.  This photos are for you to enjoy!  Cheers to a new and inspiring new year!  

A little time to meditate and enjoy the scenery

Yosemite: My Winter Wonderland!

A glimpse at Mirror Lake

If telling you that Yosemite is an awe-inspiring place is an understatement, that’s because it is just that. After fourteen years of not visiting this majestic place, I decided that it was time to visit once more with my husband and two preteen kids. While most people visit the park during the spring and summer, a rare wintery wonderland beckoned all of our senses.

A walk on the Merced river

Many know Yosemite National Park as the home to the world’s largest granite monolith, El Capitan.  It is also home to one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, Yosemite Falls.  As you enter the park, you are quickly absorbed into winding roads that are contoured by a variety of pines, oaks, firs and cedar trees to name a few. There is even one lone Elm tree in one of the meadows in the valley floor. The elevation ranges from 2,000 to 13,114 feet!  I traveled during the month of January in the New Year and it was a beautiful winter wonderland to say the least.  The snowcapped landscape made the geological landscape all the more incredible.  The snow covered the meadows but the waterfalls were still flowing from the immense cliffs.  If you pause to admire the wintery waterfalls, you could see the cold water transforming into snow while piling up at the foot of the waterfall, which then it turns into ice.  

Beautiful Landscaped Mountains 

A beautiful 600 foot drop at Bridalveil Fall 

As a writer, I wanted a one-on-one experience with nature.  Therefore, I contacted a couple of good friends that have vast experience all through out the park.  I explained to them my many restrictions and my endless wish list.  John and Gabe at, listened and for the next couple of days, showcased without reserve the beauty of Yosemite.  

A Mariposa Grove of Sequoias 
The only Elm tree in the Yosemite valley floor 
Bridal Veil Falls 

They first took us on a gentle hike, into a wintery landscape along the Merced River.  As we hiked and stopped to take photos of the beautiful snow capped mountains above us, they enchanted us with the history of the park by telling us the many stories of the Native Americans, John Muir, the Gold Rush, the glaciers and the first pioneers that helped protect this park from the pillaging of the land. Their expertise in the region was priceless as they are very aware of the weather and its patterns.  To make a long story short, we were caught-up so much on the place that we even forgot to eat!  Now, that’s a rarity. But as the old saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words…here are some more landscape photos, courtesy of Joseph Gutiz.  Enjoy!

Majestic Sequoias
The Yosemite Chapel in the valley floor