YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK; INSPIRED BY ANSEL

It only took me 27 years to make it to Yosemite National Park. Well…to be clear, I have been to the High Sierras before on a college backpacking trip but it wasn’t technically in Yosemite Valley… so this past weekend was my first official time inside this vast and beautiful national park.

I spent the weekend with my cousins hiking, taking in the views, chatting around the campfire, sleeping in tents in 30 degree weather and basking in the sunlight and glory of nature. It was perfect, refreshing and invigorating.

As someone with a passion for photography, it’s impossible to be in Yosemite Valley and not think of the iconic photographer, environmentalist and overall game changer - Ansel Adams. His photography is displayed in every hikers mountain cabin, in museums, photography schools, and nature exhibits all over the world. He is so iconic that they even named a part of Yosemite after him, the “Ansel Adams Wilderness” to be exact. Well, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the breath and depth he captured in his early 1900s black and white photography…so here is my best attempt to follow in his footsteps.

EL CAPITAN as shot by ANSEL ADAMS captured in 1952.   Ansel Adams made this image around 1952 with an 8" x 10" view camera. El Capitan is the largest exposed granite face in the world, drawing climbers from around the globe. Thanks to Adams' work, it's also a magnet for photographers and this image has long been a favorite of the Adams family. During his career, he took many images of El Capitan's dramatic face, notably one of his first known photographs taken in 1916 on his first trip to Yosemite . Using a Kodak #1 Box Brownie, he offered an early hint at the visualization that would later become his hallmark, framing the pale granite face with leafy trees in the foreground to downplay the overwhelming size of El Capitan. After that early photograph, Ansel Adams returned to El Capitan over and again photographing it in every time, season, and light he could.

EL CAPITAN as shot by ANSEL ADAMS captured in 1952.

Ansel Adams made this image around 1952 with an 8" x 10" view camera. El Capitan is the largest exposed granite face in the world, drawing climbers from around the globe. Thanks to Adams' work, it's also a magnet for photographers and this image has long been a favorite of the Adams family. During his career, he took many images of El Capitan's dramatic face, notably one of his first known photographs taken in 1916 on his first trip to Yosemite . Using a Kodak #1 Box Brownie, he offered an early hint at the visualization that would later become his hallmark, framing the pale granite face with leafy trees in the foreground to downplay the overwhelming size of El Capitan. After that early photograph, Ansel Adams returned to El Capitan over and again photographing it in every time, season, and light he could.



And here are some of my shots…

The steps at Glacier Point -  We left LA in the wee hours on Friday morning, arriving at the entrance to Yosemite National Park mid afternoon. After entering the park, we drove another hour and a half or so up the winding mountain roads to our first destination - Glacier Point.

The steps at Glacier Point - We left LA in the wee hours on Friday morning, arriving at the entrance to Yosemite National Park mid afternoon. After entering the park, we drove another hour and a half or so up the winding mountain roads to our first destination - Glacier Point.

Cousin crew -  I went on this trip with my two cousins, Kristi and Kacie, our good friend Mel, Kacie’s boyfriend Russell, and Russell’s cousin John. Cousins, friends, family…the best kind of crew to be with! Here’s John looking out at Glacier Point.

Cousin crew - I went on this trip with my two cousins, Kristi and Kacie, our good friend Mel, Kacie’s boyfriend Russell, and Russell’s cousin John. Cousins, friends, family…the best kind of crew to be with! Here’s John looking out at Glacier Point.

Cool couple -  There happened to be a couple taking Wedding photos at Glacier Point and I had to sneak in a few shots of them. The girl was walking around in normal hiking clothes + hiking boots and when they found a spot she would throw on her dress over her clothes and change real quick. Talk about low maintenance! I am sure their photos turned out amazing!

Cool couple - There happened to be a couple taking Wedding photos at Glacier Point and I had to sneak in a few shots of them. The girl was walking around in normal hiking clothes + hiking boots and when they found a spot she would throw on her dress over her clothes and change real quick. Talk about low maintenance! I am sure their photos turned out amazing!

Perfect sunset-  We initially arrived at Glacier Point around 4pm and decided to stay until sunset. Because we arrived so early we were able to find a perfect view spot of Half Dome and see everything clearly despite the large crowds that gather. The sun set, the sky turned a purple haze, and the coolest part of all was how the shadows engulf the whole base of Half Dome and leave the peak of it soaked in the sunlight until the very last ounce of light falls behind the horizon. Epic.

Perfect sunset- We initially arrived at Glacier Point around 4pm and decided to stay until sunset. Because we arrived so early we were able to find a perfect view spot of Half Dome and see everything clearly despite the large crowds that gather. The sun set, the sky turned a purple haze, and the coolest part of all was how the shadows engulf the whole base of Half Dome and leave the peak of it soaked in the sunlight until the very last ounce of light falls behind the horizon. Epic.

Sunset spectators -  As we parked at Glacier Point I looked over to my cousins and said, “Ok, let’s see how many languages we can hear” …and although this was kind of a joke at how touristy places like this are…it was quite fascinating to see so many people from so many different places all gathered to watch the sunset. I forsure heard Korean, German, Spanish, English, Japanese, and the wildcard that counts although it is still English…Australian!! haha!

Sunset spectators - As we parked at Glacier Point I looked over to my cousins and said, “Ok, let’s see how many languages we can hear” …and although this was kind of a joke at how touristy places like this are…it was quite fascinating to see so many people from so many different places all gathered to watch the sunset. I forsure heard Korean, German, Spanish, English, Japanese, and the wildcard that counts although it is still English…Australian!! haha!

Worth it -  sitting up top, watching the sky turn crazy colors of purple haze, wrapped up in my puffy jacket, with no care in the world…man. that’s the life! At this moment I declared that the 6+ hour drive up the winding mounting was absolutely worth it. No matter how the rest of our weekend went…it was already worth it.

Worth it - sitting up top, watching the sky turn crazy colors of purple haze, wrapped up in my puffy jacket, with no care in the world…man. that’s the life! At this moment I declared that the 6+ hour drive up the winding mounting was absolutely worth it. No matter how the rest of our weekend went…it was already worth it.

Into the valley -  Yosemite being the valley that it is… makes for quite a unique driving situation. Basically, everything in the valley resides on the “Yosemite Valley Loop Trail” which shoots you one way in and one way out. This makes things pretty simple and easy to follow, and I began to understand why I saw so many bikes! It’s totally possible to ride your bike all around this valley loop trail to different trailheads, view points, and campsites. Awesome.

Into the valley - Yosemite being the valley that it is… makes for quite a unique driving situation. Basically, everything in the valley resides on the “Yosemite Valley Loop Trail” which shoots you one way in and one way out. This makes things pretty simple and easy to follow, and I began to understand why I saw so many bikes! It’s totally possible to ride your bike all around this valley loop trail to different trailheads, view points, and campsites. Awesome.

Vernal Falls -  On Saturday we decided to do one longer hike…up to Vernal Falls, the Emerald pools, and if we were feeling up to it…Nevada falls. The weather was PERFECT and the views all the way up and down were spectacular. We made it up the steep path on the Mist trail and I took this shot at the top near the Emerald Pools.

Vernal Falls - On Saturday we decided to do one longer hike…up to Vernal Falls, the Emerald pools, and if we were feeling up to it…Nevada falls. The weather was PERFECT and the views all the way up and down were spectacular. We made it up the steep path on the Mist trail and I took this shot at the top near the Emerald Pools.

Hello EL CAP -  Now, after FREE SOLO won an oscar the whole world turned it’s attention to the giant slab of granite in Yosemite, EL CAPITAN. Thank to Alex Honnold and his daring attempt up this thing with no ropes or safety gear, we mere mortals can now gaze upon this rock in astonishment that indeed…people have climbed this. Seeing El Cap for the first time in real life was incredible. It is massive and beautiful. We cruised on over to see it just at the sun was passing the climbers sleeping on the wall at the top, leaving us with a pretty mystical feeling as we realized those tiny bodies we saw in tents handing off the wall would be sleeping there all night. Wow.

Hello EL CAP - Now, after FREE SOLO won an oscar the whole world turned it’s attention to the giant slab of granite in Yosemite, EL CAPITAN. Thank to Alex Honnold and his daring attempt up this thing with no ropes or safety gear, we mere mortals can now gaze upon this rock in astonishment that indeed…people have climbed this. Seeing El Cap for the first time in real life was incredible. It is massive and beautiful. We cruised on over to see it just at the sun was passing the climbers sleeping on the wall at the top, leaving us with a pretty mystical feeling as we realized those tiny bodies we saw in tents handing off the wall would be sleeping there all night. Wow.

The best way to wake up -  One of the things I love most about camping is how everything is stripped down to it’s simplest form, thus making everything seem even better than it could at home. Take for example, OATMEAL. I rarely eat oatmeal at home but tell me why a pack of oats eaten in 35degree weather while camping taste like the greatest thing to ever exist?!!! And thanks to this awesome cousin crew…we served up some pretty awesome meals - ramen, beef and veggie tacos, smoores, and a big brunch of eggs, bacon, veggies, and toast our last morning. YUMMMMMMMM.

The best way to wake up - One of the things I love most about camping is how everything is stripped down to it’s simplest form, thus making everything seem even better than it could at home. Take for example, OATMEAL. I rarely eat oatmeal at home but tell me why a pack of oats eaten in 35degree weather while camping taste like the greatest thing to ever exist?!!! And thanks to this awesome cousin crew…we served up some pretty awesome meals - ramen, beef and veggie tacos, smoores, and a big brunch of eggs, bacon, veggies, and toast our last morning. YUMMMMMMMM.

Valley View -  on the drive out of the valley, there is a small parking lot on the side of the road that you can pull over in to see what is famously known as “valley view”. This spot was so peaceful. The reflection of El Cap in the water and the stillness of nature all around…so good.

Valley View - on the drive out of the valley, there is a small parking lot on the side of the road that you can pull over in to see what is famously known as “valley view”. This spot was so peaceful. The reflection of El Cap in the water and the stillness of nature all around…so good.

Tunnel View -  this is quite possibly the most iconic view of Yosemite Valley. El Capitan on the left…Half Dome tucked far back on the right hand side…and the valley displayed beautifully below. We were lucky to catch this view on the way out and it took my breath away.   Yosemite far exceeded my expectations and I am already dreaming of my next trip back!

Tunnel View - this is quite possibly the most iconic view of Yosemite Valley. El Capitan on the left…Half Dome tucked far back on the right hand side…and the valley displayed beautifully below. We were lucky to catch this view on the way out and it took my breath away.

Yosemite far exceeded my expectations and I am already dreaming of my next trip back!

そろそろ。。。

And just like that…in a few weeks I will be heading back to Japan for the first time since saying farewell over a year ago *enter all the emotional tears *

As I prepare for my trip I have been thinking a lot about the things I am MOST looking forward to eating/seeing/buying/doing back in Japan. I began to realize that all the things on the top of my priority list are quite arbitrary…which I guess is the result of calling a place home for 3 years. I miss the most basic stuff!! Forget the fancy shopping malls, the trendy food in Tokyo, the hyped instagram spots…I miss the simplest, smallest, most insignificant things more than anything.

Here are a few at the top of that… “ARBITRARY THINGS I CAN’T WAIT TO DO IN JAPAN” list…

EAT MY IDEAL BREAKFAST - Blazing hot black coffee with Butter An Pan is my favorite breakfast and something I will gladly eat every single day without hesitation. This is a combination that is relatively non-existent in the states for reasons I completely understand. Sweet red bean paste with a slab of butter on top spread on a piece of toast is not something that suits the American palette…but to the average Japanese person this is as classic as it gets and something I love so much. BUTTER AN PAN….I AM COMIN FOR YA.

EAT MY IDEAL BREAKFAST - Blazing hot black coffee with Butter An Pan is my favorite breakfast and something I will gladly eat every single day without hesitation. This is a combination that is relatively non-existent in the states for reasons I completely understand. Sweet red bean paste with a slab of butter on top spread on a piece of toast is not something that suits the American palette…but to the average Japanese person this is as classic as it gets and something I love so much. BUTTER AN PAN….I AM COMIN FOR YA.

WEARING MASKS -let it be known that I miss wearing face masks. Why? After some thought, face masks are one of those random societal norms that 100% work in Japan and 100% would never work in the states and that’s the charm in them. They are ridiculous and excessive but TOTALLY normal (I know people that wear one every single day) and a part of the culture I miss. Plus, when I wear a mask I feel even more Japanese than I already am and this is a cool feeling.

WEARING MASKS -let it be known that I miss wearing face masks. Why? After some thought, face masks are one of those random societal norms that 100% work in Japan and 100% would never work in the states and that’s the charm in them. They are ridiculous and excessive but TOTALLY normal (I know people that wear one every single day) and a part of the culture I miss. Plus, when I wear a mask I feel even more Japanese than I already am and this is a cool feeling.

BRISKLY WALKING THROUGH A TRAIN STATION - is there anything more exhilarating than rushing through a bustling train station in order to catch your train in 2 minutes so that you aren’t late to meet up with a friend for dinner?! No. the answer is no. Driving a car will never compare to the thrill of a train station. The endless stream of people entering and exiting, the organized platform lines, the voices over the intercom announcing the next train, the little shops tucked neatly inside, the beep beep of people swiping their pasmo cards, and the click click of heels on the ground….ahhhhhhh I miss it!!

BRISKLY WALKING THROUGH A TRAIN STATION - is there anything more exhilarating than rushing through a bustling train station in order to catch your train in 2 minutes so that you aren’t late to meet up with a friend for dinner?! No. the answer is no. Driving a car will never compare to the thrill of a train station. The endless stream of people entering and exiting, the organized platform lines, the voices over the intercom announcing the next train, the little shops tucked neatly inside, the beep beep of people swiping their pasmo cards, and the click click of heels on the ground….ahhhhhhh I miss it!!

SHARING A MEAL WITH FRIENDS THAT ARE FAMILY - the relationships God blessed me with in Kashiwa and Tokyo are something I treasure with my whole heart and nothing beats sitting around a table in a smoky Japanese izakaya with a few of them catching up and laughing about our best memories together. This is the main reason I am going back to Japan and the thing I am most excited for :)

SHARING A MEAL WITH FRIENDS THAT ARE FAMILY - the relationships God blessed me with in Kashiwa and Tokyo are something I treasure with my whole heart and nothing beats sitting around a table in a smoky Japanese izakaya with a few of them catching up and laughing about our best memories together. This is the main reason I am going back to Japan and the thing I am most excited for :)

BEING BACK IN TOKYO - There is something magical about Tokyo. I cannot explain it well in words but if you have spent any significant amount of time here…you know what I mean. It’s endless. It’s ever changing. It’s all encompassing. And it is the greatest city in the world. I can’t wait to walk these busy roads again soon!

BEING BACK IN TOKYO - There is something magical about Tokyo. I cannot explain it well in words but if you have spent any significant amount of time here…you know what I mean. It’s endless. It’s ever changing. It’s all encompassing. And it is the greatest city in the world. I can’t wait to walk these busy roads again soon!

A STROLL ALONG TEGANUMA - now, although Tokyo is the city that has captivated my heart, Kashiwa city will always be home…especially this little corner of the city called Teganuma that is very high on the list of specific places in Japan that hold the most memories for me. Teganuma is home to a river (Ohori river) and a park (Furusato Koen) and I cannot tell you how many mornings I walked this pathway talking to God and thanking him for sustaining my life in Japan. This place is peaceful, beautiful, calm and home to me. I miss it daily and can’t wait to be back to breathe the fresh air and thank God once again, for all His goodness and grace.

A STROLL ALONG TEGANUMA - now, although Tokyo is the city that has captivated my heart, Kashiwa city will always be home…especially this little corner of the city called Teganuma that is very high on the list of specific places in Japan that hold the most memories for me. Teganuma is home to a river (Ohori river) and a park (Furusato Koen) and I cannot tell you how many mornings I walked this pathway talking to God and thanking him for sustaining my life in Japan. This place is peaceful, beautiful, calm and home to me. I miss it daily and can’t wait to be back to breathe the fresh air and thank God once again, for all His goodness and grace.

日本。。。see you soon!

3 GIRLS + 1 BOY

Last weekend, I spent a day with my three nieces and my nephew. Does it get much better than this?

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Growing up. Isn’t that an odd thing to think about?

When you’re 8 years old and mad at your parents because they won’t let you go out with your friends - all you wish for is to be a grown up. When you’re 15 stuck in pre-calculus class all you can dream about is becoming famous so you can get a free pass to adulthood and not be in school. When you’re 20 and in college all you want to do is find your husband and your career path so you can have a home of your own. When you’re 25 and on the work grind all you strive for is to climb that corporate ladder and not be the “new hire” anymore.

And then…at what point do you know you’ve grown up? When do you arrive at…adulthood?

For me, now just a few years until 30, I am beginning to understand how growing up is never fully an “arrival” but rather a calm and necessary progression along the road of life. To best express this I have made a silly list of a few sign in my life that have read “Amie, you are growing up” …so here is that list

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  • I can tell my body reacts the best to healthy foods. This is an obvious statement but for 25+ years of my life I would have chosen a bag of chips over an apple any day. But then, I realized how my body reacts terribly to dairy, sugar, heavy meats, and a bunch of other crap I had been enjoying. Thus leading me to begin a somewhat vegetarian/vegan lifestyle these last few months and since then…I haven’t missed much. So now I’d take a quinoa bowl with grilled veggies and tofu over an in&out cheeseburger with grilled onions any day of the week. This, I tell myself, if a sure sign of growing up.

  • Continuing on the topic of food…COFFEE. I have officially developed a deadly habit of needing blazing hot black coffee every single morning of my life. I feel incomplete without it. It is dramatic and it is true. No cream. No sugar. Just strong black coffee.

  • When shopping, I now read every tag for the fabric the garment is made out of. Why?? I turned a new leaf and realized I don’t want too much polyester touching my skin and prefer cotton and natural fibers…who am I a 75 year old zen Chinese grandma? Possibly. I also am hyper aware of what I put on my face. I somehow have become obsessed with face cleansers, moisturizers, sun screens…you name it, i’ve googled it.

  • A perfect night out with my girlfriends is a chill yet nice restaurant with at least 4 stars on Yelp, mature waiters who pour you a glass of wine like a professional sommelier, and candles on the table. There has to be candles on the table.

  • I recently felt the sudden urge to buy myself a pair of Manolo Blahniks. 20 year old Amie would have said, “Manolo who? Is that an icecream flavor?” but 27 year old Amie says, “I am a European size 38 and I want a stiletto heal, pointed toe…yep, the one with crystals on it.” WHO HAVE I BECOME??

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen…just a few signs of the time <3

INSPIRED BY : ZARA

There was a point a few years ago (in Japan) where I had VOWED to never buy anything from Zara ever again. The cause of this was when the patch on a jacket I had bought there came off just after a few wears and I immediately lost all trust in the quality of the brand. Welp, recently the creative people at Zara pulled a fast one on me and decided to not only hire some magical stylist to prep their new catalogue, but also hired some awesome people (person?) to photograph it all leaving me COMPLETELY in awe that this relatively affordable brand could produce some high-fashion editorial photographs.

SIGH…I wish I could have stuck with my vow to stay far away from a brand like Zara who pushes fast fashion and a ridiculous amount of products per season/store…but when you take photos like this I CAN NOT IGNORE IT.

Here are some of my favorite shots…

take all my money…