Sophie’s Posts

Spring Break Part 1: Washington D.C.

Day 1: On March 29, Mom, Ben, and I boarded our plane at Salt Lake International Airport early in the morning. We were headed to the east coast for spring break. We flew to Denver, where we had a two hour layover, then to Washington Dulles Airport. The flights were smooth, though I had some sickness due to air pressure at the end of the second flight, but it felt good to be travelling again. I had never been to this side of the country so I was looking forward to the trip.

After getting a rental car and loading up our bags we set off. We drove downtown and got burgers at Shake Shack before heading to the national mall. We took our time driving around so we could really see the city, which was gorgeous this time of year. We were so lucky to come when we did since the cherry blossoms had bloomed. We planned to go together to see some of the landmarks but the traffic was insane and there was no where to park so mom let Ben and I out at the Jefferson Memorial so we could look around. From there we also had a really nice view of the Washington Monument.

By the time Mom came to pick us up the sun was going down. We drove to the Lincoln Memorial and though it was too dark to get any good pictures but we still had a lovely time admiring the stunning landmark.

It had been a long day and the time difference was kind of throwing us off so we decided to drive to where we were lodging. We were staying with some of our old friends from southern California who lived outside the city in Virginia. We had a wonderful evening at dinner with them while we caught up before heading to bed.

Day 2: The following day we decided to do hit a couple of the museums on the mall, specifically the Smithsonian’s. Ben is really interested in aviation so we went to the National Air and Space Museum first.

Though I’m not as interested in this kind of stuff as Ben is, it was still pretty fascinating. I also really admired the way they set up their exhibits. I took an amazing shot from the second floor balcony where all the planes were hanging down, giving the effect that they were in flight.

I also really enjoyed the exhibits dealing with the part aviation had to both of the world wars, since history is more in my interest.

After spending a couple hours there and eating lunch we went over to the National Museum of Natural History. This museum was really captivating since it contained such a broad collection of exhibits on many varying subjects. The most memorable for me was an exhibit dealing with the evolution of homo sapiens and the other human species that lived on the earth.

We also spent time visiting the National Museum of American History and the National Archives Museum. These were both really interesting but we did have to wait in a massive forty-five minute line to see most of the historic american documents at the National Archives Museum. Though it was a really cool experience and those documents have a very symbolic meaning, we were only allowed to look at them for about fifteen minutes. Just a warning if you planning to visit that museum , it’s one of the biggest attractions and is often very crowded.

*There are one main things that I think people should understand: if you visit the national mall you will be doing a lot of walking. And I mean a lot. By the last day in D.C. we all had trouble standing and our feet were aching, which wasn’t good because we had three more big cities to visit. Beside that it was all very interesting and totally worth it.

Day 3: On our third and last day we spent in D.C. we started our day by going to the Nation’s Capitol where we took a tour. Though parts of the building were under construction, it was still a beautiful building and a really interesting experience. After that we went to the Library of Congress. This was one of my favorite places to visit just due it’s amazing architecture and art inside of it. We ate lunch at We The Pizza, which was a lot better than we expected(but then again I love pizza no matter what so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter).

We spent the rest of the day biking around the mall. We saw the Washington Monument up close and visited most of the war memorials along the way. This was one of the more difficult parts of the trip(until the 9/11 museum in NYC but I will talk about that in another post). Though the memorials are beautiful I always feel like these heroes deserved more than just their name engraved into some wall and tourists should spend more time paying their respects.

We spent that night at our friend house before heading on to Philadelphia the next day.
*Note*I am not the most patriotic person and I’m sure, despite political beliefs, most Americans can agree that this nation has many flaws especially during in chaotic time. But to see our country in it’s finest and to learn about the foundation this nation was built upon was humbling. I received a newfound respect for our freedom and became more gracious towards the system(though I did lose some of this respect as 2016 went on). I am sure I am not the only one who has had a similar experience while visiting this beautiful city, and that is why I recommend it so highly. Especially for teenagers. We live in an age where we get so caught up in what everyone is saying on Instagram or other forms of social media, that it is refreshing to see that this state was built on wonderful ideals even if those are not being held up to in our society and government today. It was really an amazing experience and I think everyone should have the opportunity to visit their countries capital at one point in their lives, just to be properly educated and receive the respect that the experience lays upon us.

Blogging and a Very Long Drive Up the Coast

Me in front of Birkholm’s Bakery

January 29, 2015

On Friday (29th) we had school in the morning and I did a lot of blogging, which was fun. After that, we all looked at these old pictures from when I was little, and they were super cute! After lunch I asked my mom what we were going to do that day. She said she wasn’t sure. Noah volunteered going to the beach, as he did every single day. My mom said that she thought it would be fun to take a drive up the coast (of course we didn’t know how long it would be).

We got in the car and started driving. The drive from Oxnard to Santa Barbara was familiar, though I have only drove on it twice. I thought we might stop in Santa Barbara and go to a beach, but we just kept driving. After about 1 hour of driving, the kids started asking where we are going. My Mommy’s Mom (here visiting for the weekend) was in the front seat looking at what would be cool to stop and look at, but nothing was quite what we wanted to look at, so we just kept driving.

The drive was very beautiful. It was very green, the mountains were scenic, and we were driving by these cliffs around the beach which were really pretty. My mom said she hadn’t drove around this part of California since she was pregnant with Ben, which was over 15 years ago, but she seemed to remember it pretty well.

About an 1 hour and 45 minutes into the drive, we went behind some mountains into a canyon-like place. After 15 minutes of driving through it, we came to this little Danish town called Solvang. All the buildings looked like a Danish town in Europe. We went to a bakery called Birkholm’s Bakery. We all got to pick one Danish treat. Their bread and pastries are very different then what we were used to, but it was good.

When we were done, we kept driving. The mountains were all green, and there were clouds behind, so we joked that they were volcanos. After hours of driving up North, I started reminding my mom that we have to turn around eventually because the more hours we drive north, we have to drive that amount of time back home.

Eventually we came into a small town, and I asked my mom where we were. She said the place was called Morro Bay. I asked what we were doing here and she said we came to see this gigantic rock called Morro Rock. It is in the middle of the beach and it is huge. We looked at it and it was mind blowing, then we ate dinner. We headed home and watched old Disney movies. We got home pretty late, but we called my dad. He asked me where we went, and when I said Morro Bay he said: “No you didn’t. Morro Bay is hours up the coast, you couldn’t have gone there.”

I explained and he believed me. We apparently we were in the car for over 6 hours!

Morro Rock was super cool, and if you are ever in the area for some random reason, you should see it because it is awesome. After doing of that, I think that we are having so much fun doing random and unplanned things, and I need to stop worrying about what will happen, because we are having so much fun and learning and seeing cool new things which I think is a part of what life is all about!

Mountains with clouds behind them. What we called Volcanos.  It turns out they probably once were actually volcanos, and Morro rock was a “volcanic plug” that popped out of one when it went off!

Morro Rock

 

Santa Barbara and the Mission

January 25, 2015

Santa Barbara MissionIn the morning, my parents decided that we would go to Santa Barbara after lunch. I kept asking my mom what was in Santa Barbara that we were going to see but she didn’t really answer me. Around 11a.m. I took Noah and Lucy to the beach. Me and Noah boogie boarded while Lucy played in the water. My mom told us to be home by twelve thirty to have lunch then we would drive 40 minutes to Santa Barbara.

We came home around twelve twenty and washed off and had lunch then we left for Santa Barbara. The drive was along the beach and was very beautiful. When we got there, we drove up a hill to a park and what looked like an old church. My mom said it was called a Mission. She also said there were many in California and Mexico because California used to be owned by Mexico. I asked her what a mission was and she said it was Spanish Missions in Alta California are a series of 21 religious outposts; established by Catholic priests of the Franciscan order between 1769 and 1833, to spread Christianity among the local Native Americans.

The Santa Barbara Mission was the one we were visiting, and it was built in 1806. They have monks who live there and when they aren’t having mass, you can go on a self guided tour, which is what we did. We walked to the courtyard where they have a garden. They were playing a video in one of the rooms about how they made the Mission. It was very cool because I have only been inside of one kind of church in my life and I thought it was interesting to see what other people do. In the room with the video there was a statue of Mary with candles in front of it. My mom said that people buy a candle then light it and pray to Mary.

My mom also told us about Saint Barbara. She was a girl who was raised by a pagan father who did not like Christianity and locked her in a tower. She somehow got out and became a Christian but her father beheaded her for her beliefs. We walked around the garden then into the grave yard. It was green and had many trees. Some of the graves were nice and marble and others were old and made of rock. Though there were only about 30 or 40 graves, a plaque said there were hundreds of Native Americans buried there. There were crosses everywhere and I wasn’t quite used to that because growing up I was kind of afraid of the symbol, but I got over it. On a small statue there was a symbol that my little sister pointed out to look like my dad’s tattoo. Mom told us it was because it was the same symbol—a sacred heart.

Then we went into the chapel where they have mass. A sign told us to be quiet. We walked up to the altar at the front then looked at the holy water in the back. There were doors at the back and my mom said they were called confessions, where you go in and tell the priest what you have done wrong and he makes you clean again. At the sides of the room there were statues where the people go to pray. My dad pointed out one that he thought was very good, it was of Mary in the garden after Jesus had died and he came to her.

We walked through the rest of the place, going in rooms and looking at sculptures and things. The grounds were very pretty and before we left we walked around the front of it.

After we left, we got ice cream at this really good ice cream place, McConnells, then went down to the beach for several minutes before heading home. When we got home we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

After, I told my dad that I wanted to go to the beach because you could hear the waves from our house. It was dark but that’s why I wanted to go. After dinner, just me and my dad walked down to the beach. The water was really pretty in the dark. With Utah’s bad pollution, we could never see the stars. But here, it was so pretty. You could see see so many stars and the moon glistened on the waves. We walked down till our feet were touching the damp sand, which was warmer than the dry sand. Actually the water would make its way up to our feet. It smelled just like the ocean should smell, of fresh, water, and sea salt. We headed back and went to bed.

I really liked going to the mission. I like seeing what other people do instead of just knowing what I do.

Santa Barbara Mission

Me in front of some statues

Selfie while waiting for my mom to come out of the gift shop

 

 

Beach House, Channel Island Visitor Center and the Wind

January 24, 2015

Saturday (the 24th) was the first day that my dad was here. We slept in then had pancakes and BACON! After that me, Noah, Ben and Lucy went down to the beach. It was super windy and the waves were huge. There were a bunch of surfers there.

BEACH HOUSE
Later my parents came to the beach and we decided it was too windy so we decided to go to a marina where the boats go out.

We played on the beach there because they had rock baracades in the water to keep the huge waves from coming in so we waded in the small ones, then we went to the Channel Island National Park Visitor Center. AT THE BEACH In about two weeks we are going to go out there on a boat and take a tour. We went inside of the visitor center and we saw a National Parks worker talking to some people around a huge tank full of fish. She talked about the fish at Channel Islands and a disease that kills starfish. She said that they didn’t have it in their tank (which had starfish) until they let in some water from the ocean, then one of the starfish died in a horrific way. She said the disease might wipe out kinds of starfish and that’s why they aren’t as common on the islands.VISITORS CENTER

The lady also told us that there is an exhibit that told you about the layers of the sea. On our way I saw this thing that said Pygmy Mamoth. It said that the had found the most complete set of Pygmy Mammoth Bones on one of the islands and I though that was interesting. VISITORS CENTER 2 We learned that the islands are part of one big mountain, half under water and the other half above water. Five of the Eight islands are park of the National Park. The islands in the park are: San Miguel (9,325 acres), Santa Rosa (52,794 acres), Anacapa (699 acres), Santa Barbara (639 acres), and Santa Cruz (60,645 acres).CHANNEL ISLANDS MAP

There are many animals on and around the island. There are sea lions and seals and also whales. Aparrently marine life ranges from microscopic plankton to the endangered blue whale, the largest animal on earth. Whale watching is very popular there along with scuba diving, hiking, and in some places, even camping.

If you are planning to go to Channel Islands National Park, I would go to the Visitor Center in Ventura. It is very helpful and interesting and I learned a lot of cool new stuff!

This picture shows all of the eight islands of Channel Islands.  San Nicolas island is a part of them and is the island that the girl is stuck on in the Island of the Blue Dolphins.

This is a picture of some of the islands in Channel Islands National Park at sunset.

CHANNEL ISLANDS

Sierra Madre and Michele’s family

January 17-19, 2015

We stayed one more night in Amy’s house and then in the morning of the 17th (Saturday) we packed up and left for Sierra Madre. I lived in Sierra Madre when I was a little kid and we still have some friends there. One of the families that we are really good friends with there are my mom’s friend named Michele’s family. They have two little boys about the age of Noah and Lucy then a girl named Addison who is Ben’s age. Ben and Addy were best friends when we lived in California and we were good friends too. They live in the same ward we lived in growing up.

We drove to Sierra Madre which took about two hours and when we got there I felt like crying. I reconized everything. Roads, parks, shops, and even certain houses. We passed a park that I used to go to at least once a week called Hamilton Park. It very green in Sierra Madre, and there are many trees. There aren’t many big buildings. We passed the library that I remember walking to when I was little with my friend Autumn (we are pretty good friends with her family too).

When we got to Michele’s house, we decided that we would go to the park. Addison and I decided that we would stay home and watch a movie while everyone else went. So when they left, we watched Marvel’s Agents of Shield then we went in her room and I started reading one of her books and I read it for most of the rest of the day.

Around dinner time my mom said we were going to The Old Spaghetti Factory, and I have not been in years. I went once at the one in Salt Lake City but the one in California is better. The building used to be a school in the early 1900s. I used to go there on all of my birthdays because it was my favorite reseraunt.

The next day was Sunday so we went to church with our friends. Some people in my old ward reconized me when I told them my name and they all said, “Sophie Christensen can’t be older than 7!”  (I haven’t seen these people in a long time, half of them I didn’t even recognize.)

The next day was Monday which was Martin Luther King Day so there was no school. In the morning we packed up and went to Panera Bread for lunch. About 2 p.m. we drove to Pasadena to see our some other friends.

I really liked going to Sierra Madre because I lived there as a little kid and I really liked it there.

 

Amy’s House

KIDS AND AMY January 12-16, 2015

Before we go to our rental house by the beach (where we are staying for most of the California trip) we were stopping at some friends house’s and doing some things around the areas I grew up in. We stayed at a friend named Amy’s house for several days. Amy was watching her grandma for most of our stay in her house, but we will see her quite a bit. Amy is my mom’s good friend. When I was a baby, Amy loved to hold me and she is really good with kids.

We got to her house really late at night. It was about an hour after we dropped of Ben and Dad at the Long Beach airport. I didn’t know that Amy wouldn’t stay there the whole time with us so I was nervous that we may go in the wrong house when w e arrived at her home. We went inside and her house is gorgeous. It looks small from the outside but the inside is really open and pretty. My mom and Noah stayed in one of her extra rooms and me and Lucy stayed in bunk beds in a guest room.SAN DIEGO BEACH

In the morning we were all a bit tired and cranky. We didn’t know the internet password till about 10 a.m. so we got a late start on our school. That day we spent a lot of time outside because she has a big back yard and it is very green with some trees that my siblings would climb. While we were at Amy’s, we relaxed a lot and didn’t do much.

The next day, we did school and then went to the beach. We met with Amy at the beach and we were there for four and a half hours. After, we went to the store to pick up some food.

The day after we went to the beach, Amy came back to stay with us. In the morning we went on a walk on a really pretty trail. Then, we picked fruit and tried different kinds like passion fruit (except for Noah, he didn’t want to try the new fruits). That night my mom and my watched Divergent because she had not seen it yetREPACKING AGAIN.

The next day we decided that that the next day we would go to San Diego and go inside the USS Midway and then after have pizza with Amy. And the next day we had a wonderful time in San Diego. I love going to new places and doing things like that. I also learned a lot while we were at the museum (Read San Diego and USS Midway).

Disneyland and L.A.

Saturday, January 10-11, 2015

We woke up around 8 on Saturday morning and we started getting ready. We were going to Disneyland about 9. When I was ready, Ben said that he would take me down to breakfast so we wouldn’t have to wait for everyone else. While we were eating breakfast downstairs, it started raining and that was kind of concerning because we were going to Disneyland and we were going to be there all day. About ten minutes to 9, the rest of my family joined us downstairs.

We left for Disneyland a little after nine. It took us about five minutes to walk to the entrance. We like to stick together at Disneyland because it is one of the few parks where everyone in the family can go on everything. It was raining kind of hard by the time we were in the park and everyone was upset to hear that Matterhorn and some other good rides were closed.

We started in Fantasy Land, where we went on rides Peter Pan and my Dads favorite: Mr. Toads Wild Ride—he gets very excited when you drive the car to hell.

Then we went to Frontier Land, going on The Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain (which barely had any line), and the one of the family’s favorite: Pirates of the Caribbean.

Then we went to Adventure Land where we went on Indiana Jones which we have had issues with in the past. Last time my younger siblings came out crying but this time they had a great time. Noah was the one “driving” and he did a great job not even touching the wheel.

Then we went and got fast passes for Thunder Mountain. None of the kids in my family have been on it because it has been closed the last couple of times we have gone and my parents said they remember it not being that fun but when we went my whole family said it was one of the best rides.

Then we went to Space Mountain in Tomorrow Land where we waited one hour and two minutes but it was totally worth it.

After that we had dinner then we split up for the first time all day (except for the times Lucy kept getting lost). Noah, Lucy, and My mom went to go on some kid rides while me, Ben and my dad went on Indiana Jones again. When we got there, the line was huge! We were deciding if we really wanted to go on it when this random guy ran up to us and gave us two fast passes for it then went away.

My dad said that me and Ben should go but from my previous experiences from going with Ben on rides and roller coasters, I said I wouldn’t go without my dad. We went up to a “cast member” and told her what was going on. She took the passes and gave a one pass and said it would count for all three of us and that we can take up to six people on another ride and go in the fast pass line. So we went on Indiana Jones and then met back up with the others and told them what happened. We decided that we would use the pass for Space Mountain.

We went on Buzz Lightyear, Star Tours, and Space Mountain. Then we realized the park was closing in fifteen minutes, so we ran to Thunder Mountain and went on it again. After that we saw we only had five minutes and so we ran to Pirates of the Caribbean and got there one minute before the park closed. After that we went to get ice cream on the way out of the park on Main Street, but while my mom was about to pay, she realized that she had lost her debit card, so my dad paid while she shut down the card over the phone.

We left the park and went back to the hotel. We were all very tired. Then we realized we had been at Disneyland for a whole 15 hours.  Dad’s pedometer said he’d walked 13 miles!  Mom said that was a half-marathon.  Though we were there for a very long time and it was rainy on and off, we had a great time.

The next day we woke up at about ten. We packed the car and left for L.A. We ate lunch at a really good burger place (yes, burgers…AGAIN) called Fat Burger.  After that we walked passed some premier theaters and got really good ice cream sandwiches at a place called Diddy Riese. After that we drove by some of my parents apartments they used to live in before they had kids. We also drove by this cemetery with hundreds of graves for men in the war.

Then we drove up the mountain to an art museum called the Getty. You can only drive halfway up and you have to take a train the rest if the way because there are no roads up there. We were up there for a while but my favorite part, the gardens, were closed. My brother Noah started feeling sick so we decided to go to Santa Monica beach to watch the sun go down. I collected many beautiful and unique shells. After we ate at a restaurant on the beach called Gladstones. While they were eating, the Golden Globes awards were playing on TV so we got to watch some of that.

After that, we dropped off Ben and my dad at the Long Beach airport and drove to our friends house about and hour out of San Diego. Our friend is named Amy, she lives by herself in this gorgeous house on a hill where a bunch of rich people live. We drove there in the dark so we couldn’t see anything, but the house was gorgeous. Amy was babysitting her grandma so she wasn’t there for the first few nights.

The weekend was very fun and I had a great time.

 

 

Las Vegas and The Drive

January 7-10, 2015

We left Wednesday afternoon, later than we thought we would, because we are the Christensens. My dad picked me up from school at noon and we went out to lunch. My dad and my brother Ben aren’t coming until later. We are going to California for two months and stopping at Las Vegas for two days where we have cousins.

My mom picked me up at around 3 in the afternoon with the kids and a fully packed car. The pollution was really bad that day so my mom kept taking pictures of it.

My mom gets a little paranoid about our car, so when it was feeling a bit wobbly in Lehi, we stopped at a Big O Tires. We apparently had some car trouble. We killed some time at Lehi Roller Mills and we saw how they make the flour and bought some cookie and brownie mixes to give to our friends.

That got us held back for about two hours, then we were on our way, again. We listened to calm-ish music on the way to Vegas and then got there about 9:45 p.m. Las Vegas time.

My cousins had just gotten a puppy, named Max, which was kind of distracting when my mom kept telling us to go to bed. We started online home school the next day, which was kind of hard because no one really knew what we were doing, but we got the hang of it. After school, I hung out with my cousin which resulted in a violent pillow fight game where we nearly broke her ceiling fan and everything in her room.

That evening, I went across town with my family to visit my mom’s really good friend Doris. Doris used to work with my mom when I was little, then she lived with us when we lived in Bountiful. And just a heads up, when going across town in Vegas around dinner time, don’t take the roads, use the freeway. Traffic is worse on the main roads. We went to my favorite restaurant, Sweet Tomatoes, which is weird because I don’t like tomatoes.

The next day, we did school, which was easier because we actually knew what to expect. My mom got us all Chrome Books to do school on. I cleaned out our extremely messy car and reorganized it. My mom was really happy because I did that without her asking. About noon, we got lunch at In and Out Burger then started the drive to Long Beach Airport, Long Beach, California, and of course the drive started with traffic, but it didn’t last long. I spent the drive listening to music, sleeping, and texting my cousin Grace. The drive isn’t that long. Its only about four and a half hours.

We got to Long Beach just in time to pick up my brother Ben and my Dad from the airport. We ate at Habit Burger, yes that was the second time we ate burgers that day, then we drove to our hotel in Anaheim, California and if you know what is in Anaheim, you may have guessed what we did the next day. 🙂 Our hotel, Springhill by Marriott was probably the fanciest hotel I have ever stayed in, and I took a whole thirty minutes to admire it.

My mom had to take away my book, Insurgent, before I went to bed because I couldn’t stop reading, and I was still adjusting to California time which is one hour earlier than Utah.

I was very excited about what we were going to do the next day….

Pasadena and Kath’s Family

January 19-22, 2015

We got to our friends house about two fifteen. Our friends in Pasadena that we are staying with are some of our closest friends. Kath and Wade are friends with my parents. They have a son Noah’s age and a daughter named Ella who is my age. We have been friends since we were babies. We goofed around for the rest of the day. We made funny music videos and watched a show at night.

The next day we didn’t do much because we all had school. But at night we went to Soup Plantation (owned by the same people at Sweet Tomatoes and they are basically the same place). I used to go there all the time with my mom and Doris when I was a kid. Kath and Ella are vegan and are trying to go gluten free so it reminded my family to remember to eat healthy even though we were on a trip. Souplantation has a really good Caesar Salad. After we went to Trader Joes, and it was the one that we used to go to a lot in Pasadena.

The next day we did school and then we finished our fake music videos. After the kids went to the park by the Rose Bowl with the adults so me and Ella watched TV then when everyone got home, Kath and my mom left and got dim sum so me and Ella were baby sitting. We had pizza and watched TV until the adults got home.

Today we woke up and did school. We are going to our house by the beach in Oxnard later when we are done with school. I am really excited!