Are we too open on the internet?

Last week, something really creepy happened to me that made me re-evaluate how open I am on the internet and how easy it is to find out someone’s personal details.

For many people (including myself), the internet has been the perfect way to create an online diary, to share your thoughts, experiences, and to become friends with people you never would have met otherwise. Thanks to the internet, a lot of people’s worlds are a lot smaller than they were 20 years ago.

I consider myself to be pretty internet and privacy savvy; I’ve been using the ol’ interwebs for a good 13 years now and I like to think that I wouldn’t make any rookie errors when it comes to my privacy – obviously, that’s not true.

We all have a good idea about what we shouldn’t be sharing and have probably all read stories about people who’ve had something happen to them as a result of their information being too easily available online and scoffed, wondering how they could be so stupid. But when the internet is something you’ve grown up with, and is something you associate with making friends and good things, it’s easy to become lax. You always think nothing will ever happen to you, and our lives seem to revolve around sharing, sharing, sharing.

It’s easy to leave your hometown, school, or place of work public on your Facebook profile, or forget to turn off geotagging so your photos are on a map showing your exact location, or not paying for extra privacy when buying a domain, allowing the world to see your address.

For me, the internet has always been about meeting other people with similar interests and I’ve never had an experience before know that’s made me want to remove pretty much anything that to someone with a lot of time, or maybe not a lot of time, could piece together my identity and intrude into real life.

The majority of people who use the internet aren’t weirdos or creeps, but I guess you always have to cater for the 0.1%; the weirdos, the scammers, and identity thievers (is that a word?). 

What do you think; do you think you’re too open on the internet?

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Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake

Where do you wander off to in your head when you feel stressed? When everyone wants something from you? When you just need a minute? When you’re trying to bite your tongue? When you’re bored?

For me, that place is the shores of Moraine Lake. Sat on fallen over tree next to Daz, feeling the warmth of the sun ever so slightly. Sheer bliss.

Moraine Lake

It’s strange how you can find somewhere that feels so peaceful in quite a touristy place.

About a month before we went to Canada, I ordered the Lonely Planet guide to Banff and Jasper (well worth it, by the way) and we both desperately wanted to know what lake was on the cover, and we eventually found out that it was Moraine Lake. Because we both love a good kip, and it was very cloudy while we were there, we didn’t have chance to see a sunrise or a sunset over Moraine Lake, but I’m not entirely sure we could have handled it given how stunning it was in the middle of the afternoon.

Moraine Lake is on our list of places we’re going to go back to when we revisit next summer, so hopefully you’ll get to read a blog post about how we lost our shit watching the sun set over Moraine Lake.

Where is your mind palace?

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake canoe rental

 

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A day trip from San Francisco to Yosemite with Extranomical Tours

There was no way I was going to visit California without stepping foot inside Yosemite National Park. I knew that a day trip from San Francisco would be a long day, but would be more than worth it to get to look up and see El Capitan and Half Dome with my own eyes. 

After hours of searching, I settled on a day trip with Extranomical Tours because they seemed to offer the most time in the park.

I was picked up from outside the Hilton Hotel in the middle of San Francisco at about 06:00. If you’re staying in the city centre, Extranomical offer pickup from hotels and the BART runs early in the morning so getting there shouldn’t be a problem, unless it’s a holiday. (Of course I chose to go on a holiday, so, shout out to my buddy Cat for getting up way to early and driving me.)

On our drive out to Yosemite, and our first comfort stop, our tour guide, Vlad, told us about San Francisco, what it’s like to live there (super expensive!) and in the surrounding areas. Vlad was a great tour guide and I didn’t envy him having to drive and talk to us for 15 hours (I’m sure that’s not even legal in the UK), but he was so passionate and into what he was doing even at the end of the day, when the rest of us were dosing off.

The drive into Yosemite is pretty beautiful, especially as you ascend up switchbacks and look down into the valleys.

Giant sequoias

Our first stop off was to see the giant sequoias in Tuolumne Grove, which involves a 20-minute walk down hill until you set your eyes on one of the giant beasts. Unfortunately we only had an hour here, which means you pretty much just about have time to walk down and see one tree, and walk the very steep trek back up to the bus. The forest area itself is pretty beautiful, especially when the mid-morning light sneaks through the trees, bathing the place in this magical glow.

On the way into Yosemite, Vlad told us about where the name for Yosemite National Park came from, and it fascinated me. In the 19th century gold rush, people from all over the world descended upon Yosemite to try and find gold. 

In their desperation, they formed a battalion and kidnapped the leader of a the Ahwahneechee tribe and gave him an ultimatum; either you let us come onto your land and look for gold, or we kill you. The tribe leader, sensing he couldn’t win either way, told them to kill him and his land was invaded. Understandably, the tribes people were pretty pissed and kept saying “yos.s.e’meti” to the gold rushers, which translates to “those who kill”. So, Yosemite actually means the valley of the killers.

There you go, I’ve taught you something interesting today.

That said, I researched the history of the name behind Yosemite and there are a couple of different stories. I quite like this one though.

Yosemite, Inspiration Point

Our first stop off in the park was the aptly named Inspiration Point, which provided stunning views of El Capitan, Half Dome, and the valley.

Don’t be fooled by how peaceful and quiet that photo looks, because directly behind where I stood to take this photo is a car park rammed with coaches, cars and fellow visitors. It is kinda inspiring, but I feel like I would be a lot more inspiring if you didn’t have to listen to people beeping their horns and revving engines. Such is the problem with places this beautiful I guess; you’re kinda in the wilderness, but completely not in another sense.

Yosemite National Park

baby deer in Yosemite National park

Baby deer in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite

After avoiding being run over, the bus took us down into the valley to stop off for lunch, where I had a couple of hours to see Yosemite waterfall, and dip my toes in the river while taking in my surroundings.

El Capitan

Yosemite National Park

As we left the lodges, our driver pulled over and we got out to play spot the climbers on El Capitan. Apparently the record for climbing up there, with NO ROPES?!, is just over two hours. How? That must take some serious skill, fitness, and balls to do that because it looked huge from where I was standing, let alone climbing up it.

Bear with the open mouth in Yosemite

Bear with the open mouth in Yosemite

Bear with the open mouth in Yosemite National Park

We made one more stop inside the park to see “the bear with the open mouth”, so let’s see if you can spot it.

Old tribes named it “the bear with the open mouth” because it kinda looks like a bear lying down with it’s mouth open. This spot was probably the most peaceful place we went to all day because there was only our coach there and it felt so calm and serene.

The water was like a mirror and I could have stayed there for hours taking it all in.

Sunset over San Francisco from Treasure Island

San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge

Since it was the end of Labour Day weekend, our trip back into San Francisco took a little longer than expected, but Vlad provided us with the perfect end to the day but taking us to Treasure Island, where we could see the lights of the city twinkling against the sky.

It was such a long and busy day, but boy was it worth it to see Yosemite. It’s one of those places I’ve wanted to see for years, and my plan is to go back at some point and spend a few days in the park; hopefully at a slightly quieter time of year, if such thing exists in Yosemite.

If you do want to take a trip to Yosemite from San Francisco, I can’t recommend Extranomical Tours enough. But do bear in mind that it is a long day and it does feel kind of rushed, and you will see people complaining in reviews about that, but what do you expect? It is rushed and it’s not about chilling, wander about at your own pace day. Yosemite is a three hour drive from San Francisco, so that takes out six hours of your day before you’ve even started. If you want to explore the park at your own pace, a day trip isn’t for you and you’re probably better off staying in the park for a couple of days.

Have you ever been to Yosemite?

One day in Yosemite

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Third year of university

It’s here; my third year of university and right now I am filled with all the enthusiasm. (Though I have zero enthusiasm for all the COSHH forms…)

When I started back to university last year, after taking a 3 year break, my third year seemed so far away. I was so preoccupied with how much I might have forgotten during those three years, or that I might have no idea how to write a decent essay, or pass an exam, that all I could think about was completing my second year.

Second year completed with flying colours and I’m two weeks into my third year. I know this year is going to be a lot of hard work, and feels like it has been already, but the end is in sight.

Over the summer we were assigned our third year projects and I ended up with my fourth choice. I wasn’t overly impressed with it, but it wasn’t the worst project on the list. Happily, I’ve managed to change it to something that really excites me (which is half the battle, right?) so I’m now doing my final project on soil analysis of decomposing pigs trotters.

I’m sure that before I know it, the Christmas break will be here and I’ll be thinking about writing up my project, while attending postgrad open days and putting together applications.

I know this year is going to fly by and I’m really proud of myself. It’s not often anyone says they’re proud of themselves, but I’m proud of myself for having the courage to do something that seemed so scary, and give up a full-time job and return to university. I’m also proud of how hard I worked last year, and I know I could do better to be honest (damn you, Pinterest!). I’m not going to lie, I have had nightmares about sitting down in an exam room and having no clue how to answer questions already, which is probably a good push to begin revising now.

When I relaunched Girl In Awe I said that I wanted to post twice a week, and I have failed to post anything at all for the past couple of weeks. I do still want to try and maintain two posts a week but I’m not sure how realistic that is yet, so I’m just going to play it by ear and see what time I have left.

Now you know what I’ve been up to, how are things with you folks?

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