Souvenirs From the Golden State


Looking over the valley in Yosemite National Park

Looking over the valley in Yosemite National Park

Last month Eli & I took 2 weeks off to drive around California – and friends, it was revolutionary! I haven't had 2 weeks off work since my sophomore year of college when Christmas Break was still a thing. That's truly a blessing given recent history, but I was feeling really worn down and just needed to hit "Refresh" on the browser that is my life. This trip was full of firsts for me – first road trip, first time in Vegas, first time experiencing a Redwood forest, first time swimming in the Pacific Ocean... the list goes on. We had no itinerary – just a loose idea of the places we wanted to see, 16 days & a round-trip flight to Vegas. I wouldn't have changed a thing (other than upping the ante to 30 days, of course). 

The afterglow is just starting to wear off after three weeks back in the real world, but luckily I picked up goodies along the ride to sprinkle around the house and take me back to my favorite vacation. Here's the loot I could fit in my luggage... 

Craftsman & Wolves poster from San Francisco | Serape blanket from San Diego | Bullet casing found on the ground by Mono Lake | Chimayo weaving from Angel's Indian Gift Shop in San Diego| Brass sea lion from San Francisco |  Free Tycho Band posters from San Francisco | Pink rock found on the ground outside Yosemite

Craftsman & Wolves poster from San Francisco | Serape blanket from San Diego | Bullet casing found on the ground by Mono Lake | Chimayo weaving from Angel's Indian Gift Shop in San Diego| Brass sea lion from San Francisco |  Free Tycho Band posters from San Francisco | Pink rock found on the ground outside Yosemite

That solid brass sea lion was $20 at a sidewalk sale in San Francisco & is my new favorite thing. We saw so many seals & sealions while driving down the coast, so this memento is fitting. You can bet your bottom dollar he'll be on Arf-Arf-ing on my living room shelves. The serape blanket is a close second. I've got a few DIYs I'm itching to try with that, so stay tuned. The Chimayo weaving was on sale for $15 because it was discolored from sunlight – but that's kind of what I like most about it. Win, win! I'm gonna frame it, as well as that newspaper insert from Crafstman & Wolves. The band posters were a random freebie in San Francisco & don't really fit into my color palette, but you never know when you'll need a pop of red! I'm still thinking about what I can do with the bullet casing that I found on the ground by Mono Lake – a necklace, perhaps? And I'd like to polish that rock so you can see how pink it really is!

This grab bag will be fun to style around the house, but it's just an added bonus to the real souvenir: photos to clothe my embarrassingly naked walls. I had so much fun taking photographs. I mean, I really had fun. I probably have enough photos to cover the walls floor to ceiling & turn my house into an immersive virtual reality. (Why didn't I think of that before?!) Here are some of my favorites that I can't wait to print & frame. (You can move your mouse over a photo to get the location deets.)

Winding road between Vegas and Death Valley

Winding road between Vegas and Death Valley

Zabriskie Point outside of Death Valley

Zabriskie Point outside of Death Valley

Me & Lydia gawking over this giant tree timeline in Muir Woods

Me & Lydia gawking over this giant tree timeline in Muir Woods

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point

Eli & I on top of Sentinel Dome in Yosemite

Eli & I on top of Sentinel Dome in Yosemite

Tunnel View in Yosemite

Tunnel View in Yosemite

Muir Woods

Muir Woods

Eli filming the coast line along US 1

Eli filming the coast line along US 1

US 1 Highway

US 1 Highway

U.S. 1 Pacific Highway

U.S. 1 Pacific Highway

U.S. 1 Pacific Highway

U.S. 1 Pacific Highway

Watching the sun rise over Lake Tahoe

Watching the sun rise over Lake Tahoe

We started in Vegas because the flights & rental cars were cheap, but after a day we were ready to set off for Death Valley despite my mom's worried pleas. (What's in a name, really?) From there were went north to Lone Pine, Yosemite & Lake Tahoe, west to wine country and then Berkeley to visit Eli's sister. We hiked in Muir Woods, spent the day in San Francisco, and headed down the Pacific Highway. U.S. 1 is one big photo op – jaw-dropping views. We stopped in Santa Cruz, ate killer Korean food in Monterrey, drove through Pebble Beach and Carmel-by-the-Sea before heading down to Big Sur. We camped on the beach outside Morro Bay, hung out in LA, surfed at Venice Beach & again in San Diego, and rounded out the trip in La Jolla before heading back through the desert to catch our flight out of Vegas. Phew! Is that it?! :P

It was a whirlwind, and yet totally relaxing and rejuvenating. The best part was simply spending 2 whole weeks with Eli without a to-do list on my mind or stress weighing on my shoulders....I can count on one finger the number of times that's happened in our 5 years together. I told you this trip was full of firsts!  :)

In vacations past I tended to bring home new clothes as my souvenirs, so I could remember the place each time I put them on. Now that we have a house, I found myself drawn more to things I can display. What's your favorite kind of souvenir?