How I fulfilled my Dream and went to Yosemite National Park, CA

I’ve been waiting for this for years. Yosemite National Park has been one of the greatest travel destinations for me since I got in touch with the work of Ansel Adams, a landscape photographer who shot many great landscape photographs.

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Half Dome, on my way to the campground

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I think it was in 2012 when my mother told me about Ansel Adams‘ work. I was thirteen years old and became really interested in photography and cameras when she introduced me to his photographs.
It didn’t take me long to find out about the National Park in his pictures.
Big granite monoliths, rocks so high your neck will hurt the longer you watch their summit, but definitely worth it!

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Half Dome

For years, Yosemite National Park has just been an unapproachable-seeming dream, until the day my Ballet teacher wore a Shirt from Yosemite in class and I almost couldn’t believe her when she told me she went there. That was in 2016 and since then I knew:
One day I will go there, one day I will see Half Dome, El Capitan and the Tunnel View with my own eyes.

Two years later, I applied for the Camp America program, got hired as a camp counsellor and decided to travel to San Francisco and Yosemite, even if I had to do it alone.
So I booked a campground, deciding I would travel there, no matter what.

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My preparation mainly included bringing a tent, which was far too big since I was hoping I would find people in my summer camp who want to join me, and a sleeping bag.
When it turned out that nobody would join me on my little four-day-adventure, I got a bit scared, since you need to take a subway, a train and a bus to the park and my campground was not in Yosemite Valley, but a 30 minute bus drive away.
To be honest, I almost quit, since I was by myself and I had to carry everything by myself and didn’t know where to leave my luggage in San Francisco.
However, I was too committed and decided that these little travel issues would not let me wait another three years till I would come back and try again.

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So I got up at six in the morning, took the subway, took the train, took the bus, waited three hours in Yosemite Valley for the bus to take me to the camp ground and finally arrived around six at Crane Flat Gasstation.

The camp ground was a five minute walk from the gas station and when I walked down the road, I realised that this campground was not really supposed for people without a car. The ranger at the entrance was a lovely woman who was obviously amused that a 19 year old girl with only one Carry-On back pack (my tent was inside, as well as my sleeping bag so I was actually just carrying one backpack) was checking in.
She asked me if I would, at any point, have a car and I answered I wouldn’t.
Smiling, she handed me my paper hanger with my booking number, showed me on a map where my camp space was and added „You don’t need to take the map, it’s probably annoying to carry around, you will find the spot without it“ and I just thought: ‚That lady clearly understood my packing issues :D!‘

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-day of arrival-
to be continued…

 

PS: Some of these pictures where taken during the bus drive to the campground, which explains why some of them are a bit blurry and have reflections in them. Additionally, I was not able to take the pictures with my reflex camera since it broke at the beginning of the summer. I took most of the photos with a bridge camera and also used my phone.

Cairns, Home of two World Heritages

I suppose everyone who has ever considered visiting Australia, knows this small city in the very north of the country. What makes Cairns very special is that you have access to two World Heritages. First, the Great Barrier Reef and second, Daintree rainforest, which is probably one of the oldest rainforests in the world.
Additionally, Cairns has cool restaurants, a stunning harbour where all the huge and luxurious vessels begin their diving tours and entertaining tourist attractions.

Of course we did a Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling tour with an eco-friendly company, called Passions Of Paradise. We decided to go with this company, since they care for the reef, use a catamaran in order to be able to sail back instead of using the engine and they teach you about marine biology, sustainability and the reef itself.

Another highly recommended spot in Cairns is the salt water lagoon, a big ocean water swimming pool (with reduced salt percentage). There are many cities on the east coast of Australia who offer their tourists a salt water lagoon experience, but the one in Cairns is my personal favourite.

We also went to the Cairns botanical gardens and really enjoyed the walk through a small rainforest ca. eight kilometers from the city. You can take a bus but we took an Uber and paid 10$ each in total. Definitely give it a try, but please do not forget to put on mosquito repellent!

Everyone who visited Cairns highly recommended the „Cape Tribulation“ Tour, a rainforest/village/beach tour. You can either do a day trip, or even go for a camping experience. Well, unfortunately we missed that and I regret it almost every day. 😄
Cape Tribulation is the name of a village in the Daintree Rainforest and people told me that you explore the forest and also go to the beach the same day. Isn’t that amazing?
Cape Tribulation is definitely on my bucket list for my next trip!!

However, we had a great time in Cairns and I loved the city and especially the Great Barrier Reef! I still have a lot of GoPro footage to edit, but I promise I will share my Reef videos with you sometime this year.

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Palm trees everywhere!

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The salt water lagoon

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Thanks for reading, I hope you have a great week!

xx, Sophie

 

PS: We really enjoyed our stay in the Njoy! Hostel, they even have a free airport pick up, the bathrooms are clean, they have a swimming pool, a very good kitchen and the people are really friendly and will love to help you chose the right tours!

 

Into The Woods, „As I began to love myself…“

Charlie Chaplin, English actor and filmmaker, once said:

“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

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As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

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As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

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As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

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As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!”

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Today, people are constantly striving for perfection. People build up huge egos in order to hide their lacking self-confidence. But what happens when we forget our mental health and keep focusing on our work instead of taking care of ourselves? Many people are overwhelmed by loads of work they have to do, they do not have a work-life balance and one day, they may fall over.
I have to admit, that I am often too ambitious and too much of a perfectionist.
Although ambition is quite helpful if you want to achieve something, it can be overwhelming. I am sure, many of you know exactly what I mean.
I used to not taking care of myself. I did everything at once, being elected representative of the pupils at my school, doing three different language certificates within 10 weeks, singing in our school choir and being a member of our movie club at school.
In addition to the extracurricular work at school, I went to the gym three times a week, I had Ballet classes one to two times per week and I went running.
For some people this may be „nothing“, but that time was quite busy for me.
Although everything went right, I realised that I had not listened to my body carefully.
Generally, I love working and I like to keep myself busy.
However, there are times when my body shows me that I took it too far.
After having worked seven days a week the past six weeks, I ended up being really tired. I set my alarm clock because I had a meeting at 10 and I planned to get up at 8 in order to go running. Well, I overslept and woke up at 9:59. Quite unfortunate.
Instead of being angry, I realised that I have put my body under a lot of pressure recently and that the oversleeping was just a sign that my body works properly and protects me.
Consequently, I decided to just do what I wanted that day. I was lying in bed the whole day, watching 8 (!!) episodes of Twin Peaks and later got up and went on a longboard tour with my little brother.
It is okay if we are not that productive occasionally. Sometimes our minds and bodies just need a little rest. It is highly important that we listen to our bodies and love them because if not, we will never achieve a healthy work-life balance. Maybe this is the most significant and also difficult challenge we have to cope with in our lives.
Being able to work efficiently and still spend enough time with family, friends and also alone.

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The human body is a marvel. It protects us, it does everything possible to maintain our health, it can stand severe pressure for a long time and if we listen to our bodies, they tell us what they need. Unfortunately, this is the tough part, since most people do not understand their bodies. I guess understanding our them and knowing what they need is something which can be achieved by taking care of ourselves and loving ourselves.
Sometimes I feel that I have to take three deep breaths, close my eyes and figure out what I actually want. After having done that, I usually know if I am able to move on or if I need some rest.
I highly recommend creating a personal guide on what you can to in order to feel better again. My list would look like this:

  1. Taking a nap! 26 minutes are perfect for me, since I will not be very tired afterwards. Naps that are longer than 30 minutes may have the opposite effect and you might feel more groggy than before.
  2. Running! I often say that running saved me because it compensated all the stress I had and all the pressure I put myself under the past few years. I love to go on a run in the woods because I often see deers, foxes and sometimes even boars (although these encounters can be VERY dangerous). When I go running in the forest, I am highly alert of my surroundings, this clears my mind and fuels my body.
  3. Taking online latin dance classes – I love latin music and I love latin dances. I occasionally find myself locked up in my room, curtains closed, music turned on and enjoying taking latin dance classes on youtube. It releases the tension in my body and I feel great afterwards.
  4. Playing and instrument – Although I am definitely not a musician, I love to play the ukulele. The chords are simple and you can play almost every song on this little guitar with four strings.
  5. Decluttering! Maybe you have already read my blogpost My thoughts on MINIMALISM – happiness, a state of being or a state of having? and My personal guide on how to become a Minimalist – if not, check it out if you are interested in Minimalism. However, I often find myself messed up in a messy room. When my mind is messed up, my room is messed up as well. Then it is high time to declutter and get rid of old stuff I do not need anymore. Personally, I can only work efficiently when my space is neat and clean.
  6. Spending time with my family – There is nothing more relaxing than going for a walk with my little brother. We are fooling around, talking about random things and I just feel calm and happy.
  7. Lift weights – When nothing is working properly anymore and I am completely overwhelmed, I head to the gym and lift heavy weights. Lifting weights is a part of my workout routine, but really getting to that point that my muscles are sore and I really feel the burn frees my mind. Even though it may not be that healthy for my muscles if they are still aching two days later, I have to feel my power and really push myself to the limit. My mind becomes creative, it increases my physical endurance as well as my mental endurance. For a moment, it feels like I could conquer every single challenge in life.

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My brother took these pictures, he is twelve and it was the first time that he used a reflex camera. I think he did a pretty good job.
Furthermore, if you are interested in how to be good at work, make sure to read my article Reconsidering – How to survive the 21st century and tell me if you are interested in these kind of personal posts.
Additionally, I hope that you like this quote by Charlie Chaplin as much as I do.
A very wise and clever woman gave it to me and I love to read it over and over again because I think that Chaplin hit the nail on the head. It gives me strength and hope.

Love yourself, because if you don’t love yourself, how should anybody else do it?
Love yourself, because you will have to live in your body your whole life.
Love yourself, because you deserve to be loved.

 

I hope you are all well and I send you so much strength for the next week.
xx, Sophie