Tall Trees, Long Drives and Big Events

We’re back in the U.S.A.! Well…for a few weeks anyway. We arrived home on May 12th and it’s been a busy, crazy, love-filled week and a half since we got off the plane. Stepping out of the airport back in Portland was comforting and strange at the same time. It was the first time being back in “our city” without a place to go or to call home – but we were picked up by Kile’s brother, Adam, and his wife, Monica, so being greeted by family felt so so great. And we could converse! And understand each other! What a wonderful familiar feeling.

We only had 2 days in Portland and we stuffed as much fun as possible in those 48 or so hours. I had a girls night with some dear friends (they completely spoiled me the entire night) and Kile caught up with his brother and other people that we hadn’t seen in way too long. The girls I have in my life are just the best and most supportive people I could have asked for – so incredibly blessed. Our weekend ended with a family dinner at Kile’s sister’s, Heather’s, house. We had been traveling, moving, drinking and socializing a ton over the past couple weeks but having this moment at “home” felt so great.

Me, Alysha, Hannah and Ami – girls night in P-Town!

Our visit to Portland was short-lived. We arrived on Thursday (late night) and left early Sunday morning to head to the Redwoods! The campground we reserved our site at is called the Jedediah Smith State Park Campground. This campsite was just gorgeous – surrounded by massive redwoods, sitting right on the Smith River – insanely picturesque.

Portland to the Redwoods
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View looking from our tent
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These trees though!
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SO huge and majestic!

After a brief night’s stay in the Redwoods – it was time to get back in the car. Our next stop was about 6 hours away in Napa Valley. Even though this drive was long – it was beautiful! Starting off in the Redwoods, driving south along the 101 with crazy gorgeous ocean views, turning into wine country. Really?! And this is just one tiny part of California! It’s pretty magical to think about what the entire world has to offer if this is just one sliver of the West Coast.

Redwoods to Napa Valley

Unfortunately – we’re on a super strict budget and were only using this campground in Napa Valley as a place to stay, so we didn’t do much exploring or take any pictures, sadly. When wine tastings are $25 a pop – we had to pass. The wine country was breathtaking though – so many vineyards we’d drive past and go “Oh hey! I love that one!” or “There’s that one!” Tons of familiar names and brands. It’s no wonder this part of California is the mecca for wine. It sits in such a beautiful valley with sunshine and greenery. Just gorgeous.

Woke up early the following morning for another fairly long drive – 6 more hours until Orange County! Grandma’s house! My grandma lives in Cypress, California – it’s basically the place I call my true “home.” It’s where I spent the first decade of my life with family, same-aged cousins, beaches, barbecues and countless hours in my grandma’s pool. Spending 2 solid days with my grandma, seeing my cousins and getting some sun was just priceless.

Napa Valley to Cypress (Orange County)

The main purpose of us driving down to the Los Angeles area was of course to see family but also to go to our friend Kelsey’s wedding. We’ve known Kelsey for over a decade and he actually played guitar in Kile’s band – he’s definitely “family” at this point and we wouldn’t have missed his wedding for the world. And! So many other friends from all across the country came in as well, so it was a massive friend’s reunion. So much fun. The wedding was simple, beautiful and full of laughs. They requested no phones or phone cameras at their wedding – their motive was to have people just enjoy their time, so we don’t have pics from the wedding. But let me just tell you – they are one beautiful couple and quite literally perfect for one another.

The day before the wedding, I picked up my dearest and most best friend on the planet. Her name is Kim and she basically is my sister at this point. I was so so grateful to have one last visit with her before we leave for our year-long travels. Not only was she there – but her brother (and another one of our “couldn’t-be-closer” friends) Bryon was there, our friends Chris and Kathleen, and Tucker and Dan! I have too many to name. We were just surrounded by people who love and support us – I was so overwhelmed with love when we left, I cried. Every hug brought more tears. It’s just incredible how many wonderful people we have in our lives.

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Welcome to Hollywood!
Wedding time!
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This is what Kim and I pretty much look like all the time. Constantly laughing til we cry.
Our fave people!!! (Tucker, Bryon, Chris, Kathleen, Me (Ash), Kile and Kim)

The wedding shenanigans came to an end and it was time to see some more family. Luckily – a majority of my family lives in Southern California. The grandma mentioned earlier is on my dad’s side so we meandered onto the other side of the family. Timing was perfect and we ended up celebrating my other grandma’s (aka Mormor – which means “mother’s mother” in Norwegian) birthday at my mom’s house!

Me, my mom (Inger), my Mormor (Astrid) and my Aunt Tine

Not only were we lucky enough to celebrate with one my favorite women in the world – but my mom and my aunt just continued to spoil us rotten. After the birthday party we were whisked away to a museum in Fullerton (my birthplace!) to see an Andy Warhol exhibit that was on display. We saw some of his later works as well as the most creepy, yet fascinating, commemorative pieces dedicated to him in existence.

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Andy Warhol commemorative piece with his work in the background

Our spoiling didn’t end there though – the next day my aunt and mom took us up to a place in San Pedro called Sunken City. Apparently a highway and some houses were built on some extremely unstable ground which collapsed back in the 1920’s. What’s left now is broken-up highway sitting on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The pieces of highway are now covered in graffiti; it’s beautiful and gives a very apocalyptic feel to the entire area.

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Sunken City

Done with sightseeing? I think not! Later that afternoon, after Sunken City, we were treated to a Duffy boat ride in Long Beach with food, music and great company. My mom’s man, Gary, played captain as we cruised around in the harbor and through Naples. We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day!

Boat life!

Our time in California was short but so very rich in not only the company we had – but the food, and the sightseeing and the well wishes for our future. We’re so incredibly lucky.

It seems like Mexico was already a lifetime ago – we’re beyond excited to see where the rest of this road trip leads us, who we’ll meet and things we’ll discover. Texas here we come!


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