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Days 6-7 (Saturday, 2/20, and Sunday, 2/21) were spent in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, hanging out with Lauren’s grandparents, Pat and Lynn Kinney, and also her mom, who happened to be here visiting at the same time. It was a great two days of family time, for which we are extremely grateful.

One highlight of these days has been hearing stories; for example, Lauren’s granddad worked in the Hoover Dam (then “Boulder Dam”) when he was just 16 (in the early 1930s) and later worked on a Zeppelin during WWII that patrolled the east coast, keeping an eye on two particular German submarines that lingered off the coast there.

Grandparents' house in Lake Havasu.

Dinner with grandparents.

An old advertisement of which Gramps Kinney was the star.

Picking from the orange tree in the backyard.

A tour of the aircraft workshop.

Day 8 (Monday, 2/22) was spent driving from Lake Havasu, AZ, to Camarillo, CA. Along the way we made a brief detour to spend the afternoon at Fuller Seminary with our good friend Michael Wright. Michael gave us a great tour around Fuller and Pasadena, and we had the good pleasure to meet a few of his friends. We enjoyed great conversations about music, art, inspiration, and visions for the future.

Michael showing us Pasadena City Hall.

We arrived in Camarillo at Lauren’s Uncle Kerry’s and Aunt Sharon’s house just in time for an incredible homemade dinner and a great evening of visiting and catching up.

The next day — Day 9 (Tuesday, 2/23) — was spent mostly with Sharon, who gave us a great tour of the area, particular the beautiful downtown Ventura. A highlight was definitely the olive oil tasting shop. Once Kerry got home from work we enjoyed going out again to an incredible meal down on the ocean. We hadn’t seen the Kinney’s since our wedding, and we really enjoyed this time of reconnecting. It was really a treat to have that time together.

On the pier.

Day 10 (Wednesday, 2/24) we drove from Camarillo, CA, to Bakersfield, CA. To make this trip we decided to take the long but scenic route up the coast. Our first major stop up this route was around the town of Los Almos, a ripe green land filled with vineyards, wineries, and art galleries. After having spent most of the previous 9 days driving through desert, this change of scenery was a welcomed variation.

Vineyards.

Barrels in a winery.

Winery exterior.

Our next significant stop was a somewhat remote beach down some back roads. This was another one of my google research finds, and it delivered even more than hoped for. Not only were we the only people at the beach, but also we turned around a corner and came upon 7 or 8 sea lions climbing onto rocks in effort to get out of the rising tides. Maybe sea lion sightings are not uncommon for Californians, but for us it was the last thing we expected to stumble upon at our new beach spot. At this same beach we also found a tunnel carved through the hillside by the wind.

Travis at the quiet cove.

Cove with sea lions (they're camouflaged on top of the dark rocks).

Lauren by the cove cave.

We arrived in Bakersfield, after a beautiful drive through what must have been Ireland, just in time to join our cousin Evan and some of his friends in a game of ultimate frisbee. Our skills were a bit rusty but this was a fun group of people to help us sharpen them. Afterward we returned to the Bacon home for a fun time and an incredible home-cooked dinner with Evan and his parents: Uncle Terry and Aunt Jamie.

The road from the coast to Bakersfield.

Day 11 (Thursday, 2/25) was a great day with the Bacons. Aunt Jamie and Evan treated us to a great tour of Bakersfield.

Warning signs at the Kern River.

For supper we all had a great Mexican dinner and returned to the house to hang out and watch Baron Munchausen, a fascinating movie that explores everything from dualism to whether a human can travel across the sky by hitching rides on cannonballs.

Day 12 (Friday, 2/26) was another great day with the Bacons. It began with a tour of Sun World, where Terry works in Research and Development. It was an incredible place to see, and we learned some new and very interesting things about fruit breeding and production.

A visit to Terry's office.

Seedlings.

Greenhouse.

Beehives adjacent to an orchard.

Flower closeup (and the shot immediately before our camera broke).

The next shot (a.k.a. What a messed up shutter looks like).

In the afternoon, Terry and Evan took me (Travis) on an incredible mountain biking adventure out at Hart Park. This place is a mountain biker’s playground, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was definitely my favorite portion of the course, though there were many other similarly exhilarating spots.

Mountain biking at Hart Park with Evan, Terry, and Tobey.

For dinner we had the pleasure of being invited over by Evan’s girlfriend Laura. We were also joined by one of Laura’s roommates, Liz. For dinner Laura made a spectacular pasta; she also served artichokes, salad, and some toasted kale that shattered everything I thought I knew about kale. It was so good that I was eating it like popcorn. Dinner was, of course, followed by a highly competitive game of Balderdash, during which we learned that Ted Toddey (sp?) took 3 years to ride a bull named (insert absurd name here) from St Louis to New York City… or something like that.

After our great time with Laura and Liz we then enjoyed some more time visiting with Aunt Jamie and Uncle Terry back at the house.

NOTE: Despite being a good day all around, there was one – to put it mildly – tragic incident in which our camera…. died.  Well, actually, it’s just that the shutter quit working correctly. Its timing it now off, leaving most of the screen black. Oh well, we were in need of a new camera at some point soon anyway. For now though, Aunt Jamie graciously offered let us take her small digital with us for the next week until we see her again in Austin, TX, around March 9. So, we are very happy to announce that we will still be able to photographically document this trip.

Day 13 (Saturday, 2/27), after breakfast with the Bacons and saying our goodbyes, we headed off toward San Francisco. Again, in typical style, we opted for the longer, more scenic route. We took 46 West all the way to the 1, which we then took all the way up the coast to San Francisco. The whole ride was beautiful as the road winded up, down, and around rocky cliffs overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Pacific. The scenery was made even more interesting on account of the ocean’s extreme choppiness and massive waves, possibly a result of the earthquake in Chile, which was strong enough to put the whole of the West Coast on Tsunami alert to the extent that local law enforcement officials were closing down beaches and asking people to head to higher ground. Though we never saw an all-out Tsunami, we saw towering waves and extremely rough seas.

Coastline.

We also must have seen at least 200 (no exaggeration) seals and elephant seals, which totally blew our minds. They were everywhere. Huge elephant seals, longer than our car and nearly as tall, were lying just feet from the road. Smaller seals were piled high in stacks rolling about and screaming, recalling to our minds scenes from the new Where the Wild Things Are movie. Pile!!

One of many beaches covered with seals.

At Big Sur.

Closed beaches.

The beach beyond the sign (just south of San Francisco).

The weather this day could have been described as sporadic, or perhaps fickle. From sunlight to rainstorm to sunlight again, all within only minutes. In Big Sur we even came upon a tree that had only moments earlier fallen across the road; it would have totally blocked our way and forced us to turn and backtrack for several hours except that it still hung at one shoulder of the road by the power line it had fallen across. We quickly squeezed under and through, spinning a bit in the mud of the shoulder, and shot off further north before any more downed trees could try to keep us from making it to San Francisco.

Only moments after sunset we crossed the Golden Gate bridge to the north side of the city. Here we cut of into a forest at the edge of the Muir Woods, where we found the cheapest legal camping area we had been able to find anywhere near San Francisco, and we settled down for an nice night under the full moon and the soft shadows of this night forest.

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