Rebecca Ames Photography | Chapel Hill Wedding Photographer


The Em and Mom trip to California | Personal work. San Francisco, Bodega Bay and Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

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I couldn't help this. I know I should be working on weddings and engagement sessions, but I just got back and couldn't help but look at my personal photos first from my trip to California for a wedding. Every time I travel (almost every time), I take one of my girls with me on the trip. I really, really, really, really love to travel and want to be sure that I instill that passion in my kids too. Plus, we get a little bonding time and that is also very nice. This time, Em came with.

When I give a description, it will be under the photo.

Obviously, the Golden Gate Bridge. Although, I've crossed this bridge dozens and dozens of times, this will be the first time I had stopped to take a photo. Quite honestly, I never noticed the turnoff because I was too busy staring at the bridge. Em didn't realize how big it was from photos and was properly awed. That was my favorite part, her awe of engineering.

The first day, we got off the airplane and went straight to In N'Out for our grilled cheeses (they are excellent) and headed north. Side note here: I grew up in Southern California. I didn't move away until I was 17 and I have never actually had a burger from In N'Out. Never, only grilled cheeses. I am a disappointment to pretty much everyone from the region. I know. I actually never had Mexican Food while living down there either, I subsisted completely off Asian Food and pizza.

After eating our grilled cheeses, we headed to Bodega Bay. I got lost a couple of times, because I will do whatever Apple Maps tells me to do. I almost went down some gravel alley going inland (ew, inland). Since this trip, I have switched to Google Maps, for your information. We pulled into our campground really late, around 11pm Pacific Time and went right to sleep. This was our view when we woke up. 

We drove up PCH (Pacific Coast Highway to you East Coasters), which is on my top three list of favorite roads in the country. It is slow and windy and slow (did I say that already?) but we saw wild marine life!!!!!!!! I'm a total sucker for sea creatures! So, harbor seals and a sea otter. So cool. Jelly fish are my favorite of the animals, but the water was way too effing cold to go looking for them. That I leave for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. But, seals and otters!!!!

The next day, we headed even further North to Humboldt Redwoods State Park (and getting closer to our wedding destination). There we camped with one of my favorite people in the whole wide world and hiked, waded in the river, and just talked, talked, talked and talked. Monica and I have been friends for 17 years??? I love her. Anyways, she schooled my daughter on all things about the State Park and took us to see an ALBINO REDWOOD TREE. I have never heard of one before. It was pretty cool. Then down to the river. I don't get wet unless it's 80 degrees. Notice my jeans and a t-shirt.

We woke up the next morning at Big Lagoon State Park and went out for an early morning walk on the beach and collected agates. They are these rocks that have a high amount of quartz crystal in them, and are super pretty.

Then we headed to Fern Canyon. This is by far my favorite hike outside of the redwoods. It is so gorgeous that the shot Return of the Jedi (the part with the ewoks) and Jurassic Park Two there. During most of the trail, the 30 foot high canyon walls are covered in ferns and it is my happy place. This was at the top of my list for my daughter to see.

The next day we camped at Patricks Point State Park. Did I tell you that I rented a 1989 VW Eurovan for the trip? Well, I did. It was awesome because all I had to do was pull up, pop the top and go to sleep. I highly recommend it. The company is called California Campers. This was the day of Sydney and Ronnie's wedding, so we had to hit up Wedding Rock.


Our final night camping and my daughter had decided that she needed to camp amoungst the redwoods one more time. I agreed because I wanted this to be HER vacation, since we are going back to her birthplace that we left when she was just a mere one year old, but also, because it was on the way.

Family vacation | The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. North Carolina and Tennesse

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We headed out to The Great Smoky Mountain National Park on my husband's birthday. A great way to celebrate a birthday, if you ask me. The girls were so excited. They were thrilled to be going camping in the mountains for a few days. THRILLED! Especially, once we actually made it into the park because it was just gorgeous. All those rolling mountains and landscapes that seem to go on forever. We made it to the Smokemont Campground on the first day and took a little hike from there. A 3/4 mile loop right off of our campsite. Cool little bridges, a beautiful creek, and all sorts of pretty everywhere. 


We packed up our gear and headed to the Elkmont Campground with a quick stop at Clingman's Dome. This is the highest peak in the park and we were excited for the views. Unfortunately/fortunately it was foggy and sprinkly, but still stunning with all that pretty hazy light.  We have never been to the Smokies before and wanted to see which part we liked the best. This was great because there was a creek right behind our tent and we got to listen to the rushing water all night and the girls got to play in the water and, again, gorgeous. 


We left the Elkmont Campround and headed towards Cosby, but on the way we had to stop and surprise the girls with horseback riding. It is one of my favorite childhood memories and the girls needed that one too. 

After that, we hiked the mountain to Grotto Falls. It was gorgeous and well worth the walk. I love waterfalls. LOVE. They bring me such a calm joy that makes me so contently happy. 

note: I didn't bring a tripod on this trip and tried to handhold to blur the water. This was at 1/10th of a second on my knees. I couldn't go slower than that. Bah.


We headed over to the Catalooche Campground via a windy dirt road. It took a while. This place may be the most remote in the whole park. It was well worth the drive. It was just gorgeous. The girls were thrilled to find a swimming hole with a rope swing. We spent most of the day right there in the freezing river. Then we played bocce ball and Greg and I kicked the girl's butts. 17-6. It was awesome because they were talking to much trash. 
And yes, I did make everyone stop what they were doing to pose for family photos. 

and then we went home and the kids ate the most giant plate of pancakes ever.

Also, I wish I could go on vacations with people and document all their adventures. Why isn't this a thing? This should be a thing, because it would be awesome.