Thursday, February 18, 2016

SF, LA, Death Valley Travels

Lovers Lane in San Francisco

Over the last week, I traveled from SF to LA to Vegas and to Death Valley before coming back to SF. We had some friends visit from Asia and wanted them to get the West Coast experience in a week. We did a TON of shopping, as most people from Asia do! haha. We hit up the outlets like nobody's business (ie spend hours upon hours at Coach, Nike, Gap, etc) Basically ALL the stores.
After Day 1 of all shopping, we did some sightseeing around different parts of California.

We traveled down Highway 1 from SF all the way to LA. It was a LONG drive, but it was truly scenic and beautiful. We enjoyed fantastic sunny weather, and stopped by so many towns on Hwy 1.
First stop was Big Sur and the Bixby Canyon Bridge. The Bixby bridge is one of my California bucket list must-see's. It was truly spectacular! Big Sur is so beautiful :)

Bixby Canyon Bridge 

Big Sur, CA

Big Sur, CA 

Beach on Hwy 1

McWay Falls, Big Sur, CA

Elephant Seal Vista Point on Hwy 1
A little bit passed Big Sur, we saw this! A bunch of elephant seals living on this beach. They were so cute! Check out the way they move from water to land. It's funny and adorable.

We saw zebras on Hwy 1! CRAZY.

Travel Tips: There are so many vista point lookouts on Hwy 1, and we stopped in lots of them to take in the gorgeous views, look at the water and spotting lighthouses. A big city you'll pass by on the way to LA is Santa Barbara. I definitely recommend that you stop there for a few hours and have lunch or dinner at Zaytoons - a gorgeous Mediterranean restaurant with fire pits on every table. 

Once we got to LA, we chilled for a few hours in our hotel before embarking onto Griffith Observatory at night - a must stop spot to see night views of LA.

Griffith Observatory.

I can never get used to the twinkling lights in the urban city.

Love at Griffith :)

The next day we went to my favorite beach in LA, Manhattan Beach. It was perfectly sunny and just the right amount of coolness. 

Pellicola Pizzeria in Los Angeles - it was DELISH!

Death Valley
Death Valley was one of the most beautiful sites we visited during our trip. Who knew that the hottest place on earth was also so picturesque and unique? To be honest, the last park i would think of to go to is probably this one because not only is it just a desert, it's also hot and remote and a stark contrast from the gorgeous and breathtaking Yosemite.

When we went, it was at a "cool" 82. During the summer, the valley gets over 108+ with a record of 135 one summer. 


This national park is the biggest one in the US, where one end to another end would take more than 3 hours. We only visited one end of the park, which was enough for a day trip. It was about 2.5 hrs from Vegas where we came from and we spent the entire day exploring this mysterious land.

One of the most interesting things at Death Valley is the amount of salt that the land produces.
In the light, it looks like snow. Lots of snow. But it's all salt. Isn't it beautiful?

Badwater Basin 

Badwater Basin 

Death Valley is said to have some of the darkest nights. Because of its remote location, it gets really dark. During moonless nights, you can visibly see different planets with your eyes. 

We stayed until nighttime, and the stars were literally painted across the sky. It was as if the stars were falling into the backdrop because they looked close to touching, but they weren't. They are generations of lightyears away ;p It was so incredible, all of it. The whole experience was new - i've never seen nightfall in a desert before, so i definitely had no expectations. I just wish I could have captured it on camera. Now I sort of understand why there are people who go all over the world to stargaze. 

The below image from the web captures what Badwater Basin looks like at night. The stars are incredible and worth going just to see them :)


Btw, I know i've been visiting lots of national parks lately but I got the national park services annual pass for $80 and you could visit any park in the Nat'l Park in the US. It's a pretty good deal considering parks charge up to $25 per vehicle to enter or a per person entrance fee.

Where to next? I was thinking of visiting Lassen Volcanic Nat'l Park and the Pinnacles Nat'l Park. They're both in Cali. Back to the planning board... :) 

How have you all been my dears? :)


Stephanie | said...

These places are beautiful!! I LOVE that yoga pose / jumping shot ;-D How many takes did it take?? I would love to go to Death Valley and see these stars myself! It sounds like THE place to be! Please keep these travel posts coming Jen!

Stephanie |

TracyBeautyReflections said...

AWESOME trip! On my list to see! You're adding to my list of travels lately haha! And yes! We have a Parks Canada National Pass-it's so worth getting them I think.

Sangeeta said...

The place looks beautiful. Love the photographs.

Shireen said...

I am super envious at how much travelling you've been doing! I honestly can't wait to visit the US, so many places are being added to my list currently!

Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

Cathy Cook said...

Omg. I'm so jealous of your life. I need to make a trip to the West Coast soon! Also, nice wheel. ;)