Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

We’ve done some awesome travel the last few years, including our honeymoon to Italy and our first anniversary to Kauai. Well, a year later, time for our second anniversary trip. We chose to go to Yosemite National Park and Sonoma, California for a week of hiking and wine-ing. First up, we spent three days in Yosemite enjoying the outdoors.

Right off the bat, our accommodations for Yosemite were right outside of the entrance to Yosemite Valley in a place called the Blue Butterfly Inn. It was an amazing B&B right on the Merced River with filling, hot breakfasts from two really nice people. They don’t allow kids, so it’s perfect for us and in a great location.

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

So here’s the thing we learned about Yosemite in April: Morgan summed up the trip with the word “waterfalls” and I summed it up with the word “closed.” There are TONS of gushing waterfalls flying over the edges of tall cliffs, but, at the same time, more than half the park is closed for winter. Yosemite in April is gorgeous for flowing water everywhere, but we were snowed on and the half of the park that was normally open had trail and road closures due to recent snow. So you have to take parts with grains of salt. Because of all this, we didn’t tackle as much of the park as we thought we would, but here’s the highlights of what we did get to do.

The first day we were there, we started at Bridalveil Falls, which is basically the first place you can stop when you come in the valley main entrance. Probably only 300 yards from the parking lot is a footbridge with a view of the falls. From there, you can walk up about 100 yards and be right at the falls. Because the waterfall was rushing so hard, you couldn’t actually see it from that point because we were just getting pounded with water… and it was about 35 degrees out.

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

From there, we drove over to Tunnel View, which is a spectacular, picturesque, panoramic view between steep rock cliffs through the valley. It’s amazing, a must-see, and really quick to see near-ish the entrance to the park.

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

From here, we drove down the main road, where you can get an excellent view of El Capitan without actually having to spend three days rock-climbing it.

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Then, we drove over to Mirror Lake. We had to park about half a mile away from the trail due to a road closure, then walked the trail to the “lake.” This was pretty disappointing because it was basically just some runoff water in a shallow marsh. It’s supposed to be a picturesque lake that reflects Half Dome, but no. Considering how much water was running off the mountains, we expected more. We hiked on a bit more and it started snowing. Then it started snowing harder with big fat flakes. We were out there for probably another 1 1/2 hours hiking in this. The big loop trail around Mirror Lake took about 2 1/2 hours. It was a good hike, but don’t go to see a lake.

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

The next day, we started by heading to the Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls trail. It starts out going pretty straight uphill on a paved path until you get to a footbridge with a great view of Vernal Falls. We walked on until we got to the bottom of where they have rock stairs for a bit. A park ranger was there turning us around saying “it’s closed.” Shocker. What happened was that the waterfall was rushing so much that the mist it put off was going onto the trail and freezing into sheets of ice. Literally… in April… We walked out onto a big rock in the river to get a better view of the falls and you could see people still trying to go up and down the stairs and struggling. We decided to listen to the ranger and sit it out. But we still had a great view of Vernal.

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Next we drove over to the Visitor’s Center and quickly left when we realized it was the dinkiest visitor’s center since we went to Congaree National Park. We walked over to Lower Yosemite Falls and walked with about 200 of our closest friends to get a good view. When we tried to hike a little bit toward the Upper Falls Trail, guess what… closed. Oh well. You can’t actually see the Upper Falls from that spot, but you see them from all around the valley. This is the only place you can see the Lower Falls.

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

So next we actually did a fantastic thing and just walked around the dirt trail in the middle of the meadow that’s in the valley. It was amazing. It was warm at this point and there was virtually no one around. You wind around next to and over the river that runs down the middle and have fantastic views all around you of cliffs, El Cap, Half Dome, Upper Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls. Take an hour if you go to Yosemite and casually walk around the meadow. Take a book and a blanket even and picnic here.

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

On our last day in Yosemite, we drove up to the northern section called Hetch Hetchy. What? Yeah, it was, dude. Anyways, this area is where they have a dam and water reservoir and good hiking. It normally should only take an hour to drive there from Yosemite Valley, but that road was… closed (see, you’re getting good at this now!), so we had to go around it, which took about 3 1/2 hours. We had to do it because we had planned to spend the night up near there before we moved on to Sonoma the next day, so oh well.

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

I’m so glad we went to Hetch Hetchy. It was stunning. Mountains around a lake that reflected and were snow capped with waterfalls everywhere. We did the main trail from the dam to Wapoma Falls and back, which took 3 hours. You could do it faster; you could do it slower. Depends how many times you wander over to the cliff edge to take a panorama. The trail is perfect and there is a great place halfway through to take a lunch break and play in a river pool (if it was summer). You can also keep hiking past Wapoma Falls for about 13 miles if you so choose.

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite National Park - Charleston Crafted

Yosemite was really cool, but we learned that things are still a little tumultuous in April. The weekend before we were there it was 65 and sunny. The weekend after we were there, they started plowing the roads in the parts of the park that were still closed for winter. I never would have thought that it would be “winter” in April, but it was. April is a great time to go to Yosemite for the waterfalls and the lack of crowds, but you run the risk of closures. Depends what you’re willing to risk. We still had a great time and enjoyed that extra view of winter for the year, but we definitely can’t wait to go back one day and see more of the park!

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The Top 9 Instagram Spots in Charleston

Top 9 Instagram Spots in Charleston - Charleston Crafted

Charleston, South Carolina, is a beautiful city any time of year. That’s why we keep getting named as the number one tourist destination in the country, and the world, and the best place to move, and the number one city in the world, and the nicest people in the country, yada yada yada. We wouldn’t keep getting all these distinctions if it weren’t true. If you’re one of the thousands of tourists heading to the Holy City, you’re going to want to post some pictures of your trip online (pics or it didn’t happen, am I right?). These are photos that the two of us have taken and posted to our accounts, so they are legit. So, not in any order, here are the top 9 Instagram spots in Charleston.

Top 9 Instagram Spots in Charleston - Charleston Crafted

Pineapple Fountain- the Pineapple Fountain is located in Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston. The Pineapple Fountain is a great spot to capture a sunset, but make sure you get the obligatory “standing in the water with your hands in the air” shot.

Who's got 4 paws and HATES the water? 🐶

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White Point Garden- this gorgeous park is located right at the Battery (some know it as Battery Park), which is a big curved corner of downtown on the water. From here you have sweeping views of the water, but the best pictures are in the park, especially looking down the middle with all the oak trees on either side and the gazebo in the middle. There’s also some pretty houses nearby.

Had a gorgeous day to walk around downtown with my girls. Great weekend.

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My always & forever #HouseGoals.

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Pier at Folly Beach- head toward the sand and snag a picture of the Folly Beach Fishing Pier. The pier offers a bunch of really gorgeous angles, including facing out toward the water or catching the sunset between the beams.

Cotton candy sunsets under the bridge.

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An evening walk on the beach to cap the weekend last night.

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Time for a little Folly Beach sunset action on a rainy day 🌅

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Morris Island Lighthouse- while you’re down at Folly Beach, drive to the end and walk out to see the Morris Island Lighthouse. It’s isolated in the middle of the water now, but you can get great pics of it from the beach, especially one through all the driftwood trees lying around.

You couldn't ask for a prettier March day.

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Being a tourist in my own town

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Ravenel Bridge- probably the most iconic structure in Charleston is the Ravenel Bridge. It spans the water between downtown and Mount Pleasant and offers beautiful photo ops from both on it and below it.

Beautiful day in Charleston means it's a beautiful day to walk the bridge.

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Rainbow Row- you can’t come to Charleston and not take a picture of Rainbow Row. The historically-painted pastel colored row homes are a tourist dream and offer a lot of color for your Insta.

🌈 Row.

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Historic doors- we did a whole gallery wall in our house of photos of historic doors in Charleston. There are colorful ones, wooden ones and iron ones anywhere you look on the downtown peninsula.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood 🏘

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It's January and we are walking the dog south of broad in shorts. Love where we live ❤️

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Churches, Courtyards and Cemeteries- this one is a little bit of a cop out too, but that’s because there were too many to choose from. Walk down any residential street from Battery Park and you’ll see tree covered courtyards, tall church spires or old cemeteries that are great for black and white Instas.

Charleston, I love ya

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Charleston in December

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College of Charleston- CofC offers lots of historic buildings with moss hanging from the oaks, or the Cistern, or iron gates. Walk through College of Charleston while you’re doing your shopping on King Street and dream of the college you will wish you had went to.

Walking thru my favorite spot in the world

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Charleston is filled with many many many more gorgeous Instagram-worthy spots, but take it from a local that these are the ones to not leave town without.

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How to Restore an Old Wooden Cutting Board

How to Restore an Old Cutting Board - Charleston Crafted

Cutting boards get worn out pretty quick, especially if you’re using one made of wood. Luckily, they can also be restored pretty quickly. Morgan found a beautiful wood cutting board at Goodwill that needed a little love, so she brought it home and it’s now a beautiful display piece in our home. In less than five minutes, I’ll show you how to restore and old cutting board and then you can do it yourself in that same time.

The two things that usually need fixing with an old cutting board is the knife marks and the discoloration. First, work on the knife marks. I used two different grits of sandpaper for this part. First, I used 80 grit to buff away those deep marks and try to bring the whole board back to level height. Once I achieved that, I switched to 120 grit to give the board that nice smooth finish.

How to Restore an Old Cutting Board - Charleston Crafted

How to Restore an Old Cutting Board - Charleston Crafted

After sanding, I wiped away the dust particles and then poured a few arcs of cutting board oil to the surface.

How to Restore an Old Cutting Board - Charleston Crafted

How to Restore an Old Cutting Board - Charleston Crafted

Then, using a cloth, I spread the oil around evenly to the top and sides of the board.

How to Restore an Old Cutting Board - Charleston Crafted

How to Restore an Old Cutting Board - Charleston Crafted

How to Restore an Old Cutting Board - Charleston Crafted

After waiting 20 minutes, I wiped away excess and let it dry. See how the oil brought out the color without staining it? Ta-da, turned out pretty good.

How to Restore an Old Cutting Board - Charleston Crafted

If you’ve been dinging up your wooden cutting boards and want to restore them to their original glory, it’s super simple. This will give new live to your cutting boards and allow them to last a lot longer.

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When to splurge on tools and when to save

When to splurge on tools and when to save - Charleston Crafted

When you’re a new homeowner, you don’t have a ton of money after you close on the home, but you also often need to do some improvements on your house. If you’ve never lived in a house before, like me, you might not have had a ton of tools to work with. When on a budget, it’s important to get an idea of when to splurge on tools and when to save.

I’ve written before about what tools you should have in your first tool box, what the best saws are for a new homeowner and what the essential yard tools are, but didn’t talk too much about which ones to buy and when. It can be a daunting thing to look at a $350 saw or a $150 drill or a $500 lawnmower, but do you need those? Often times, no, but here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding when to splurge on tools and when to save.

When to splurge on tools and when to save - Charleston Crafted

  • How often are you going to use it? – If the answer is “I’m going to use it all the time,” then you probably want to spend a little more money. I love the drill I have. The first drill I had had low torque, couldn’t drill deep into things and the battery died all the time. It was cheap and chinsy and a waste of money. The 20 volt Porter Cable drill I have now is awesome. It’s powerful, the battery is great, and I never have any problems. I literally use my drill almost every single day for one thing or another, so this is where I wanted to spend some money.
  • How unique is this tool? – This question is in line with the first one because if the answer is that the tool is very unique, you likely aren’t going to use it that often, and if you aren’t going to use it that often, it might be better to spend less or borrow. For instance, I borrowed my neighbor’s brad nailer and air compression unit when we hung crown molding. At the time, the cheapest nail gun I could find was on sale for $199. I didn’t really want to spend an extra $200 on our crown molding project for that tool when I didn’t think I’d have much use for it after. I also borrowed another neighbor’s electric pole saw to cut down a limb on one of our trees. I’m not going to need to cut down that many limbs, so why spend a couple hundred bucks when my friendly neighbor offered me his?
  • What scale do you need this tool? – I asked myself this question when I was shopping for a miter saw. I use my miter saw all the time, but I had never used one before and didn’t know how much I’d need it. One thing I did know was that they ranged in price from $150-500 and I didn’t need some massive piece of equipment in my small garage. I ended up going with a 7 1/4 inch blade miter saw that I thought would fit my needs. I splurged a bit and got one with a miter and bevel and a slide, but I saved by getting a smaller blade and one that didn’t have extendable arms for leveling. I decided I didn’t need that big of a scale of tool, so I opted for one that better suited my needs.
  • How long is this going to last? – Know that if you buy a cheaper tool, it will likely not last as long. The price reflects the quality. If you need something now, but don’t have the ability to fund a big purchase, consider buying a lower quality version and save up for a while to buy the next one. This question also applies to hand-me-downs. I got a bunch of yard tools when my dad moved, including his lawn mower. It’s so old that I used it when I was a kid to mow the grass. But it works. It has no problems, it’s just not fancy. I’m going to take care of this mower for as long as it will last, and then I’ll buy a new one.

Think you need a tool and don’t want to pay full price? We have found that pawn shops actually have a great tool selection at a bargain price. Some big box tool stores like Lowes or Home Depot also offer daily or weekly tool rental for large items.

Every tool purchase is going to be a big one. You don’t always need to splurge for the best and brightest tool on the shelf, but you also don’t want to necessarily get the crappy cheap one either. Know your budget, know what you’re going to use it for and how often and make the decision that is best for you. If you are debating something, please feel free to drop a comment below and I’m happy to give my opinion on your next purchase!

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The newest tool in my tool box

Remington Beard Boss - Charleston Crafted

I have a lot of tools, but the newest tool in my tool box isn’t one that helps me build things… unless you count my perfectly crafted facial hair as something that needs to be built. As a guy who has maintained stubble on his face for close to four years now, it’s important to me to make sure I use the right tool to do that. To me, the right tool is The Perfecter: Beard Boss Stubble and Detail Kit by Remington.

Remington Beard Boss - Charleston Crafted

Stubble on my face that is equal length with my buzzed head hair is my signature look. I needed a tool that wasn’t going to break or catch my hair and would give me the look I wanted. The Remington Beard Boss Perfecter Stubble and Detail Kit is available at Walmart and on Walmart.com. That makes it easy to pick up and start using right away.

Remington Beard Boss - Charleston Crafted

Remington Beard Boss - Charleston Crafted

A cut and trim buzzed look all over is important to me because I have a, um, follicle challenge on the top of my head. I have to keep my signature look trim and tight all the time. My number one tip for anyone who wants to keep this clean look is to make sure you maintain a consistent schedule. Otherwise, your hair will start to grow out and not look clean cut. That’s why I maintain a schedule of cutting my hair once a week and trimming my stubble with the Remington Beard Boss every other day.

Remington Beard Boss - Charleston Crafted

Remington Beard Boss - Charleston Crafted

It’s funny, because I actually cut my hair more often now that I have less hair, but that’s because my sweet follicle challenge really stands out when it’s longer. I use the Remington Beard Boss because I was able to use its adjustable length settings to figure out the exact length to mirror my stubble to my head. Plus, using the Beard Boss with no guard allows me to clean up my beard and neck lines, keeping a clean look all week long. The premium T-Blade provides ultra close trimming and pinpoint precision and control for those perfect crisp, clean edges.

Remington Beard Boss - Charleston Crafted

I also love how the Beard Boss is made. It comes with a non-slip grip handle and is 100% waterproof, so you can use it wet or dry. It’s Turbo Mode is great to cutting right through a thick beard and makes for a fast trim. Plus, it has a powerhouse lithium battery that gives you 5 hours of cordless run time, meaning I go months of trimming between charges.

Remington Beard Boss - Charleston Crafted

I’m truly loving the Remington Beard Boss, available at Walmart, for maintaining my signature look. Right now, it’s my favorite grooming product and the best new tool in my personal tool box.

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media®  & Remington  but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade #RemBeardBoss  http://my-disclosur.es/RgFrEH

 

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