Full disclosure: this trip started horribly. Neither Evan nor myself had ever been to California, and we are both outdoorsy people so we knew we wanted to spend a few days hiking and camping. So we booked our campsites and packed our sleeping bags and then the day before we left the Yosemite fire started. Our first campsite was in an area that ended up being evacuated so we decided to re-route north of the park since the fires seemed to be moving south. We stayed on the absolute sweetest couple’s property – they were starting a vineyard and let us explore their gardens, made us spicy tofu over a camp fire, and let us snuggle with their darling puppy. All seemed well, and then we were woken up at midnight by every barking dog in a 20-mile radius who did not stop barking until 5 am when we just decided to get up and realized it had become incredibly smokey during the night. So we hopped back in the car to decide where exactly we wanted to go next – at this point, everywhere we had planned to camp and hike was on fire or in the path of it, and we were 4 hours from any major city. But then, by a true act of God or just the magic of the west coast, we heard a local NPR radio report that the last main connector on Highway 1 was reopening that morning, and off we went. From that point on, the trip was wonderful. We watched the fog roll off of Pfeiffer Beach and Big Sur and ate maybe the best seafood of my life. We went wine tasting at 10 am and visited the same used bookshop three separate times. We spent loads of time with our wonderful friends Patrick and Tushar, drank a lot of coffee, and plastered ourselves with metallic tattoos before heading out to see Foster the People and Paramore live in concert. We drove for hours and hours and hours, seeing so many different landscapes and listening to a million podcasts and our favorite albums on repeat and finally, on our last night, decided we would be getting married next year. I came home sunburned and smiling and genuinely concerned that my suitcase zipper was going to break because I jammed so many new books inside. It was a beautiful adventure, and we will definitely be going back to actually explore Yosemite sometime soon (when it’s not totally ablaze).

how wild is that smoke line settling in across the sunset?