I longed for freedom and fresh air. It was the morning after Christmas and the clouds danced in between the mountains of California as though they had music we could not hear. “I must see snow today,” I thought at my first sight of the sky. It rained more in the past week than I can remember all year. The mountains sparkled different shades of white in the early morning and the mountains are only a few hours away.
A Few Hours Later…
After hours of post-Christmas window-shopping, I could not head straight home. The hills just above my route glistened in green, shades of dark gray and just the beginning touches of gold. Thoughts turned to actions and I found myself driving up towards the Sierra Nevada’s of California.
Heading through the low hills, vehicles covered in snow occasionally pass in the opposite direction, teasing sweet freshness ahead. I’m not sure how far I’d have to drive to experience more than snow on the side of the highway, but I wasn’t stopping until I got there. Before seeing more outside of California, it was never odd to me how many different types of weather and land we have here. I have a new appreciation for my home.
4,000 ft. above sea level
Cars line the side of the road, and filled the small parking lot. The lowest spot on the trail packed with snow and recently melted road ice still sat in puddles on the pavement. My heart yearned for the tallest peaks, “Soon,” I say to myself. Getting out of my car, the energy for a random snowball fight bubbles to the surface.
The impromptu trip meant I was wearing high-heeled boots, on an icy road. Never one to avoid the possibility of falling in dirt, “Muddy slush stains will be photography memories,” and I turn on my video camera hoping to catch a fall on film. No falling-fail-video this time, though, sorry to disappoint!
Do you think I am a little over-the-moon when it comes to water? A fish in a desert would feel the same. More on how important snow runoff is to California here. However, these peaceful photos are already changed! Just hours after my drive, a storm was scheduled to hit, leaving California with record snowfall. Learn more of the recent weather chaos here. We currently have 161% more snow than average (LATimes.com, 2021), the snowiest December on record (UC Berkley, 2021)!
One week ago I visited an extraordinary Lego® art exhibit in Los Angeles, California. 100 sculptures and over 1 million Lego® bricks blew me away! I visited Nathan Sawaya‘s The Art of the Brick and left nothing short of entranced. Here, the inner-child shines even though these sculptures are nowhere near your typical living-room Lego® creations. Supported with emotional depth, I must encourage you to attend before it leaves! Let me share with you, The Art of the Brick.
Only Until January 2022?!
Most of my travel spots you can return to at leisure, but not this one! The Art of the Brick is only at the Los Angeles California Science Museum until January 2, 2022 when it moves to San Francisco. Check here for the most current schedule. Art Exhibits change and are moved (curated) around the world so generations can experience the wonderful collections. However, I “OH MY GOODNESS-” ‘d so many times, I knew I had to share more with you immediately.
California Science Center
A massive faceless, yellow figure made of Legos® greets me from a building-sized poster as I step out of my car into the quiet morning air of Los Angeles. The drive from Hollywood was far too hectic and I was glad to be out of the car. But, we are hours away from the 10:00 AM opening time Google lists for the Center. I can’t quite tear my eyes away from the man, pulling his chest apart to reveal a hollow inside, spilling out more Legos®. Welcome to the California Science Center, where most things are not what they seem.
“So much movement and natural shape starts with the simple form of a cube.” This revelation followed me as I continued around each corner. A surrealistic artist with a fascination for breakout artistry (i.e. Monet), I have to be honest, I assumed I was about to walk into *insert eye roll* yet another pop art exhibit. However, even the recreations of historical pieces brought new life to familiar scenes! Allowing the viewer to experience what was once just viewing a 2D image sent fireworks through my neurodivergent brain. I only wished for a walkthrough of famous scenes next! Check out highlights of my favorite sculptures in my video link below!
PERNiCiEM: The Endangered Species Collection
Pairing with photographer Dean West, thePerniciem Collection sits at the end of Nathan Sawaya’s The Art of the Brick. With talents combined, the best was saved for last. I am delighted as I turn the corner to see the Perniciem scupltures. Each sculpture sits next to a beautiful photograph, at home in their own world. To be honest, the first several photos earned a double-take. I didn’t realize the Lego® version of the animal was in each photo! The biology was so well designed, the cubed creatures seemed real.
Art Making a Difference
I am excited to share, “A percentage of the [PERNiCiEM] proceeds will go to NGOs that are on the ground protecting and preserving the beauty and splendor of our world,” (PerniciemCollection.com). Lego® is even perfecting bricks made from recycled plastics and we appreciate their efforts (Wired.com, 2021)! I’m not a scientist, but I love nature and animals and any attempt to understand how we can do better is vital (Sara “Milbrodt” Rose, 2019).
What To Know Before Visiting
Proof of vaccination or proof of negative test was required before entry into the California Science Museum (one of the several buildings at the Science Center). Fortunately, signs with links and QR codes made finding my information very easy. I did not plan this stop on my trip and if the information was not so easily accessible, this article would not be here today! I did notice several testing tents around Los Angeles and at one on a street corner near the Center, a reminder of COVID-19.
Order your tickets online before you go! Choosing time slots online made my day a breeze and allowed for breaks. I arrived over an hour early so picked my ticket bundle while eating Quiznos across the street. I wanted to try everything but overall, three activities cost me less than attending a movie theater!
Can’t Make It?
If you can’t get to Los Angeles before the exhibit leaves, you may still be in luck! Just up the West Coast, San Francisco is the next stop for The Art of the Brick. You never know, maybe I will see you there! Find the most up-to-date details on where to see the exhibit, here! Until next time, There Goes Sara Rose.
Day 2 of my road trip, “16 States in 16 Days,” was an incredibly eventful start to the adventure and could not be shared all at once! However, I could go no further without sharing a particularly interesting moment from this day first. Welcome to, literally, my hot mess of a story with “There Goes Sara Rose”!
The South entrance holds a Visitor’s Center and a SIX-STORY IMAX Movie Theater presenting, Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets. Be sure to check with staff for the most up to date information on events, hotels, restaurants, maps of the area and more! Stay up to date on the Grand Canyon from the Nation Park Service here or current park operations here!
The Grand Canyon was not our only stop of the day, but it should have been. As the sun moves across the sky, the colors around you change. Never in my life have I seen so many shades of greens, reds and the orange-brown layers of earth, forged through eons of time.
Wild, Wild West: Horses and…Disaster?
No one ever described to me how populated the Grand Canyon area is. Yet, there is wildlife grazing comfortable nearby all the same. Right after the entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park, you continue driving before getting to the Canyon and I was so surprised to see wild horses! See my photos above or my video on Tiktok, here! We continue on the road, find our parking spot and get ready to finally see the Grand Canyon! Returning to the car, after deciding to walk to park with the GoPro, we are off!
The Grand Canyon
Words cannot describe the immensity of the Grand Canyon, a National Park encompassing 277 miles (446 km), said to be as wide as is it deep. As busy as it was (National Parks are getting a lot of attention post-lockdown!), there is a peace among travelers. Everyone is polite, even talkative, something I am not as used to in California. Is it the travels, a new state, a conglomeration of so many people and languages from around the world? I don’t know but I loved it here. I could have stayed at the park all day and plan on returning!
GoPro Footage Coming Soon!
I traipsed around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon with a GoPro strapped to my chest and a camera in each hand. There are several centers for visitors to learn more about the Grand Canyon on site, but not all were open at the time of my visit. At the same time, not everything can be shared here! Check back soon for the GoPro walkthrough or on my YouTube, here! I’ve left another piece of my heart in a National Park, but I think this one was from a heart attack! What drama unfolds next? Well, let me tell you…
But, Did I Lock The Car?!
Weeks of planning had come to fruition; in no way was the trip, or attendees, under-prepared for the adventure. As a helpful feature, new vehicles can connect to mobile devices and alert you if you have left the car unlocked and perfect for road trips. The Grand Canyon does not have the best cell reception, so although we just received an alert, “The passenger door has just been opened”, the option to lock the car isn’t connecting. Regardless, the alert was clear as day. Why was this important? As I was moving family heirlooms across the country, almost everything important to me is in that car, and it was about half-a-mile away from me, in the middle of a parking lot, as busy as any theme park in the summer.
It is well over 100°F / 38°C, and I am running full speed. The heat isn’t bothering me, or the crowd of people I am running through, or that I am running in hiking boots. What is bothering, why I am running in sheer terror is, I may have already made a major mistake at the very beginning of this trip. As my side begins to ache, and with leg-muscles screaming, I round the corner and the parking lot comes into view. Just a few more rows and I know I will be at the car. The question is, did I make it in time?
Not Close Enough
At this point, I am one row away from where the car is parked. I search desperately for people at a passenger door, hoping I have caught them in the act. It is so hot, and I am so exhausted, I cannot tell which car I should be looking for. I just realize, there is no one rummage through a vehicle anywhere near me. Relieved and confused, I find the car, which was unlocked. I opened the CLOSED passenger door, frantically look through the car expecting to not find my prized electronics, but everything is as it should be. I find a water bottle, and begin to recover. “What happened?” you may wonder? As my friend and co-pilot return to the car, cell reception and alerts resume to normalcy. The bad cell reception, mixed with the fact I returned to the car to get the GoPro, ensured I was alerted of the open passenger door, 20 minutes after I opened it.
Sour Huckleberry Beer & Pizza
The excitement of the afternoon left me exhausted! We were on our way to the Geology Museum when the chaos-inducing-alert occurred and interrupted the plans. Rehydrated and all belongings safe-and-sound, it was decided to grab some pizza and drinks at the Grand Canyon for an experience. And may I say, the locally-crafted, Sour Huckleberry beer was delicious!
Many times on the road trip something did not go as planned, as you saw here today. Enjoying life is all about perspective, and the Grand Canyon was AWESOME! Thank you for joining the journey and see more of my adventure, “16 Days in 16 States,” soon at ThereGoesSaraRose.com!
1k ALL TIME views?! Just last week, the TGSR Adventurer Community reached 1,000 views on ThereGoesSaraRose.com! May I say, OMGOODNESS and THANK YOU! Taking a pause to celebrate this incredibly special moment, I come to you humbled, appreciative and with something in return. It clear, you enjoy what we do and I couldn’t be more proud of how far we have come. In celebration of this and to continue sharing top tier adventures, I bring you #TravelTuesdaysandThere Goes Sara Rose (TGSR) Discord! #TravelTuesdays will bring a new Travel Blog Post to There ThereGoesSaraRose.com EVERY Tuesday at 11 AM PST! Get ready to Join the Adventure! The TGSR Discord was released just this week and YOUR feedback and suggestions matter the most! The community deserves a place to connect with each other in a fun and safe environment and we are excited to meet you as well!
Regardless of how fun and hectic life can get, when it is time to recenter, I visit a favorite spot in nature! Let us celebrate together and join me as I share with you this SPECIAL Blog Post, A Quaint Place to Getaway, Three Rivers!
What to Expect
A recent trip of mine was to Three Rivers, California. As a small, tucked-away town, many locals don’t know it exists. It sits right at the entrance to the Sequoia National Park and a place I had to visit before seeing more of California on the production, “16 States in 16 Days,” (more on that on my next #TravelTuesdays Post!). I had such a blast visiting this hidden treasure of a town. Here are my favorite parts of the area, some directions, and a guide to local history!
A Utopian History
Three Rivers, a small town nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, has been charming guests since 1886. This is when a group of settlers founded a commune in the area based on the principles of social equality and economic fairness. Every individual participated in creating and sharing public goods; this cooperation helped the community thrive! However, when Congress founded the Sequoia National Park in 1890, the utopian settlement was absorbed by the community surrounding it to join into one town — Three Rivers. This history of acceptance and equality is a source of pride for its modern day residents, and the hard work of the original community is still highlighted by the stunning memorials displayed across town.
Getting to Three Rivers
California Highway 198 will take you straight into Three Rivers. Several major cities have direct access to 198. As you get closer to Three Rivers, you’ll pass some other small mountain towns, each with hidden gems of their own. If you stop at any on your way, be sure to share your finds in the comments!
Hiking Trails Galore
Between the national parks and mountain ranges, Three Rivers has some of the most breathtaking nature I’ve seen. Luckily, there are dozens of hiking trails to explore in the area. I had such a great time venturing outdoors and hiking — I even got a firsthand look at one of the rivers! Make sure to strap on some appropriate hiking boots and go hit the trails.
The trails inside the Sequoia National Park were friendly for beginning hikers and take you through the stunning sequoia forests. A few paths will also take you along the shorelines of the local rivers. The park is a testament to the beauty and diversity of nature. It’s definitely worth stopping in to hike here.
Another option is the Skyline Loop. This is a popular trail with locals, and it’s easy to see why. Salt Creek Falls, a waterfall system, is right along the path! It’s a serene scene, and something I would encourage every visitor to go check out. If you want to stay away from the parks while still taking in California nature, this trail is perfect.
Must-See Local Stops
One of the best parts of visiting Three Rivers was getting to see the shops and museums in town. These three visits are essential stops when you’re in the area.
Reimer’s Candies & Gifts shop was such a fun visit. After selling homemade chocolates and sweets for 50 years, trust me, they have perfected the craft. Reimer’s offers over 80 different kinds of chocolates, and every treat I tried was to die for. They also have super creative and delicious fudge flavors. Their creations come in all different assortments and sizes. I absolutely loved getting to try these local sweets!
My absolute favorite stop was Three Rivers Village Antiques. This quaint shop was full to the brim with local antiques and goods. Western Americana is on display throughout the store, with collections of artifacts from Western settlers, cowboys, and Native American tribes. I had an awesome time looking through all of the old jewelry, photographs, and goods they’ve collected. It’s definitely a must-see when you’re in town!
Another cute place in town was the Three Rivers Historical Museum. They had exhibits showing off the tale of the town’s founding all the way to modern times. Several renovations are planned to add even more interactive galleries for guests to see. I encourage everyone to see what it has in store. There are also several local restaurants to refresh yourself in between hikes or before heading home, each with amazing views of the river! See below for one such view from one of my top spots, River View Bar & Grill.
Get out today to go see Three Rivers! Please share your favorite parts of your trip, including other small towns you find, in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe to this website to get early access to my blog, as well as extra pictures and videos of my travels from social media. Until our next journey, happy trails Adventurers!
In the desert of South California, a T-rex erupts from the sand. You thought you just had to worry about falling on one of the various cacti (check out my video on those here!), didn’t you? Don’t worry, the dino is not the human-eating kind, but a sculpture made of metal.
A little further down the road, the T-rex is joined by a prehistoric mammoth and a kneeling camel. The whimsical works come from the fantastical mind of sculptor Ricardo Breceda. Not originally an artist, Breceda created his first sculpture after his daughter watched one of the Jurassic Park films and he created a dinosaur for her. Fascinating!
Anyone can visit the sculptures, located along Borrego Springs Road, but the journey does take some preparation. There is no fee to view the sculptures and the average vehicle (not one low to the ground) can maneuver the dirt off-road parking areas around each art piece. I recently visited and chronicled my journey through video and my social media, check out some of my favorite photos though in this blog!
Before you go
Before you head out on any trip, it’s important to make sure you’re fully prepared, particularly when traveling in a pandemic.
Aside from packing your camera gear and your favorite snacks, make sure you’re prepared for the weather. Summer weather in San Diego County is temperate, with highs of 77°F/25°C and lows of 62°F/16°C However, the sculptures are located in the desert, with current high’s at over 100°F/38°C so it’s best to bring layers of clothing, a wide-brim hat and sunscreen to help protect you from those golden rays.
The sculptures are mostly visited by car travel, so it may be a little easier to stay socially distant. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends wearing a mask when in public, remaining six feet from anyone outside your part and washing your hands often. Be sure to check the CDC website for the must up-to-date travel tips.
How the sculptures came to be
Breceda was first commissioned to make sculptures for Galleta Meadows Estate, a large desert property owned by Dennis Avery. Now more than 130 creatures are scattered around Anza Borrego Desert, with new ones occasionally popping up.
The rust-colored sculptures are scattered across 10 square miles. Because the surrounding landscape is barren, it is easy to spot them from far away.
Some of the most popular sculptures are the sea dragon (or serpent, if you ask some locals!), the grasshopper and the scorpion, and the sloth.
The sea dragon is the largest of all the sculptures and even crosses the road. It stretches across 350 feet and rises to a height of 15 feet. The scorpion and the grasshopper face off in an epic battle, but they are sculpted with intricate detail. The sloths feature fur made of metal and are designed to look like the Harlan Ground Sloth that used to live in the area. Travel post-lockdown left us with lots of travelers, plan your photo sessions well or you might lose out on daylight like I did!
The sculptures are spaced out along Borrego Springs Road, so it’s best to drive to each one. Some portions of the drive require travel along dirt roads, so be sure your car is reliable and has a tank full of gas. Pocket maps can be purchased from the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association at the Visitor Center. Borrego Springs has a wonderful town center in between these sculptures, don’t forget to stop and hydrate or grab snacks to stay nourished (I recommend the Boba truck!).
What to do after
If the desert is still calling to you after your drive, you can head to the nearby Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
With the regional stay at home order lifted, California state Parks are reopening, though some precautions still remain in place.
Reservations are required at many Anza Borrego campsites and the visitor center is maintaining limited hours — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Monday — with limited capacity. Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with heavy cleaning schedules, so be sure to pack your own hand sanitizer to keep clean.
Park goers are asked to recreate responsibly, including wearing face coverings and maintaining a safe social distance from other hikers. This goes for the sculptures as well. Be sure to check the most recent state park guidelines before you head out.
After you’ve fed your wanderlust and creative spirit with a trip to see the sculptures, check out ThereGoesSaraRose.com for more travel tips.
Although many of us have picked up new hobbies such as bread making or sewing while at home, it can be a good change of pace to get outdoors. If you’re looking for a safe way to get some sunshine, a hike through one of California’s many parks is a great option.
As lockdown restrictions begin to lift, prepare your hiking boots for some epic adventures. Central California offers an array of hiking spots, but most require a little planning before you hit the trails.
If you’re stuck for places to try, here are just a few of my favorite California trails.
Carrizo Plain National Monument
This park is one of California’s hidden gems. Located near California Valley, just a few hours from Los Angeles, the plains offers a unique variety of nature.
Centuries ago, the 204,000-acre park served as grassland where the deer and the antelope played — and some still live there today. New animals such as kit foxes and antelope squirrel now call the plains home. Wildflowers cover the landscape and it is home to a diverse set of plant life, many of which are endangered.
Hikers can traverse valleys, ridges and ponds along the San Andreas Fault. Some of the park’s most popular spots include grass lands, distant mountain views and Painted Rock, a rock formation with pictograph art. Guided tours to Painted Rock are available at this time, but may be limited or canceled due to nesting birds.
However, the most popular part of the park is Soda Lake, a normally dry lake bed that concentrates salt water as it evaporates, leaving a substance that looks like baking soda.
Yosemite National Park is one of California’s most well-known hiking spots, but there’s a reason for that. The park has been protected since 1964 and offers magnificent waterfalls, glaciers and breathtaking views of the High Sierras. Backpacking typical is a no-go until the snow completely melts, but trails open throughout the year as the season permits. You can check the Yosemite National Park website for up-to-date trail openings.
If you’re looking for a beginner hike with little elevation, I recommend the Mirror Lake trail. The two-mile hike typically takes about one hour to complete. The first mile is paved and the traversed elevation only reaches about 100 feet, though the lake is more than 4,000 feet above sea level. The trail follows Tenaya Creek and crosses two bridges before offering views of Mirror Lake and Mount Watkins. The view (and the photos) are well-worth it.
For more advanced hikers, I recommend the Half Dome Day Hike, which offers hikers views of Yosemite Valley from 5,000 feet up. To reach the summit, the hike does include a portion on metal cables, however, which also requires a permit. For a less daring hike, I recommend the Yosemite Falls Trail. A shorter two-mile, paved trail will take you to the base of the waterfall while a 7.2-mile trail takes you to the top of the falls.
Although it offers a variety of hiking trails, it is very popular in the summer. For that reason, reservations to enter the park are required starting May 21, so be sure to plan your journey accordingly.
Before you go, check out my video from our day trip to Lower Yosemite Falls and see various views firsthand!
Some higher areas in the mountains may still be snowbound and Tioga Road is still closed. Mariposa Grove usually opens by mid-March. Glacier Point Road is also closed (and as a note, it will be closed for the entire of 2022 for rehabilitation). Generally, plan a route that won’t take you above 6,000 feet and check with the rangers to see what is or is not open.
The spring snowmelt makes the waterfalls particularly pretty, especially in the Valley. While it’s generally not clear enough for backpacking without snow camping, there are plenty of day hike options.
Trails near Oakhurst and Raymond, California
Although they don’t boast the same fame that Yosemite does, there are some incredible trails in Oakhurst and Raymond.
If you want to see waterfalls, I suggest Corlieu Falls or Angel Falls. Both trails are moderate with great views of waterfalls and places to relax and soak in the water. Both trail heads have limited parking, so it’s best to go early in the day to get a good spot.
If you’re looking to mix it up, check out Pincushion Mountain. The trail is about five miles, and it can be steep and rocky so good boots are recommended. Along the way, you’ll see mountains, a river valley, and a wide-open sky. Just remember to take it slow and take some breaks along the way.
So, if you’re looking to get off the couch, try out one of these awesome California hiking trails. Be sure to bring plenty of water and check weather conditions before you go. And next time you’re planning a trek, check out for ThereGoesSaraRose.com more travel advice.