Category Archives: Nature

[LA Life] Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Scenic Highway

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Mother’s Day Weekend is a special weekend, a fruitful time for family and a fitting occasion to embrace the divine feminine, and within that – our true Mother – Earth, Nature, Gaia – if you will.  As Danny and I gallivanted away this past weekend to go spend some quality time with his mom in Lancaster, we had (what we considered) a brilliant idea: instead of taking the 14, let’s take a leisurely drive through the Angeles Crest Highway.  And what a magical adventure that became.

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

The Angeles Crest Highway is often referred to as the ‘Highway to the Heavens‘, and in my opinion – rightfully so: just one cruise through it’s winding trails, your car eagerly hugging the curves and you’ll be confused if you’re still in Los Angeles, let alone California – or the United States.  At times, the drive reminded me of Zion, my fiance kept thinking of the Grand Canyon and it’s easy to think that you’ve instantly been transported to the Swiss Alps or somewhere picturesque in the South of France.

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Considered one of the most beautiful non-coastal drives in the United States, the Angeles Crest Highway spans the northern most portion of California State Route 2, reaching from the the tip of Los Angeles County in La Cañada-Flintridge to Wrightwood in the heart of the San Gabriel Mountains.  Wander along the winding roads and you’ll find picturesque views of every angle of Los Angeles from the ridge-line of the Angeles National Forest.

The area is befit with a rich history that dates back to the turn of the 19th Century, and boasts plenty of turnouts with epic views, and hiking trails for those willing to adventure. And with nature just off of a stunning Superbloom season – or as I’d like to think of it, still marinating in the tail end of it, the hills are currently lush with bright yellow, violet and pink blooms.

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest HighwayStopping literally at every turn out we could – because, why not?! – we quite accidentally took a hearty nature break where Mill Creek intersects with the scenic byway.  As Danny found himself enamored by the tunnel born out of the mountain slabs, we were stopped in our literal tracks by the serene sounds of a bubbling brook. Danny eagerly clamored down the hill, reveling in the diamond in the rough that we just discovered – I was busy freezing in my flip flops, overthinking my way down to the water’s edge. After negotiating, and then poorly navigating my way down – spoiler alert: I slipped several times anyways – it was absolutely worth it.

Because we live in the wonderful Mediterranean climate of Southern California, it’s pretty much always a good time to go for a drive on the Angeles Crest Highway, but during the winter months (and some awkward days of June gloom), the snow can shut down parts of the mountain pass and the fog induced poor visibility is actually terrifying – just trust me on that one.  So, before you hop in your car and ride away into the sunset – make sure you check the road conditions to ensure a smooth, beautiful drive.

There’s something absolutely sacred about the way a car hugs a tight turn along a scenic cruise, whipping the soul around to enjoy a palpable, panoramic landscape in a heartbeat; albeit I think the windows should be down and music up to take full advantage of the moment – but who am I to tell another soul how to enjoy a leisurely, weekend drive.

Take a peek at my recent adventures on Flickr!

For more on the Angeles Crest Highway, peruse their website and social media channels – or just take yourself out for a spin; trust me, it’s worth it – and you can thank me later.

Website | Facebook


Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

Adventure Along the Angeles Crest Highway

[LA Life] Say Yay to Snow Days!

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Halfway between a creature of habit and victim of circumstance are a multitude of reasons that I’ve barely ever visited the snow.  Growing up as a swimmer in the Bay Area, I loved the sun and water more ways than I could count; while on family vacations we constantly favored beautiful beaches with their sandy waves over the glistening snow-capped mountains.  I barely ever made it to the snow as a child and can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen it in person.  Not to mention, I can be quoted as saying “I’m a Image may contain: tree, snow and outdoor‘Hawaii’ kind of girl” more times than I can count, because bless my parents – they still like to remind me of all those years before I turned into such a nature nymph. To them, it’s any wonder that I’ve turned from a self-professed city kitty into a rough(er) and tumble(r) snow bunny, but here I am – ready for business, and by business I mean nature-inspired personal pleasure.

One of the many, many fantastic things about living in Los Angeles (Southern California…and just California in general),  is that on any given day you can make a trip to the sand or a trip to the snow; if you’re feeling frisky, you can even get a delightful dose of both! Beach days, though beautiful, are proverbially a dime a dozen in the land of palm trees, blue skies and power lines and let’s get real – everyone flocks to the sandy shores: your housemates, your neighbor, your landlord, celebrities and vacationers all come for the beach – which makes hitting those pearly slopes significantly sweeter.  There are near trips and far trips, day trips and trips you should probably make a whole weekend out of. Don’t quote me on exact travel times because, HELLO Los Angeles traffic, but if you’re in the mood for a fantastic day trip – Mt Baldy and the defunct Mt Waterman Ski Lifts make for excellent treks and are just an hour outside of LA proper in the San Gabriel Mountains, while Big Bear in the San Bernadino National Forest is a little over two hours away.  If you’re feeling like an adventure is in the works, Sequoia National Forest is a few hours away and makes for an epic Winter weekend journey.

Pack + Play

For as fun as a snow day is, being fully prepared for your snow day will make things go a hell of a lot smoother (and, warmer!). First things first, make sure you have enough hydration and nutrition to last the day – and then some.  Make some sandwiches, grab some snacks get a good combination of both salty and sugary foods; in case anyone’s body starts going into a bit of shock – it’ll bring them right back! When it comes to water, even though the weather might be a big frightful and frigid, it doesn’t mean your body isn’t working overtime – especially if you head out on a hike.  Make sure you have twice as much as you think you need, and enough for any pups (or, brave cats!) that are along for the ride. Just like in the movie Shrek, when it comes to clothes in the cold – it’s all about layers, so snag a scarf, get a beanie, and a hoodie – or two; if you’ve got fur, this is the perfect time to rock it.  Because of the nature of snow, if you’ve got waterproof pants, socks and or shoes, bring ’em out. Basically, waterproof everything is a plus – GoPro, iPhone 7, you name it – it’s perfect for the snow.  Also, booze…responsible boozing also makes the snow a whole lot more fun.


[Nature Is Nurture] This Friday, Green Is The New Black

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Dear 2016, there might only be five weeks left of you but I have a feeling these are going to be the longest five weeks ever.  Despite the fact I have my first true health diagnosis in three months, the icecaps aren’t melting, the world feels slightly post-apocalyptic and our president-elect is #notmypresident. It can’t just be me that feels an extrasensory burden of the cosmic consciousness, wrapped around life like a wet blanket; sometimes, it really did feel like David Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman held together the fabric of the cosmos.

In just a few days, Thanksgiving will be here – but this year feels so very different feel than other years. Whether it’s the post-election depression that the country has seemingly been swimming in, the horrific actions against the protestors at Standing Rock, or the lack of chill between your neighbors tearing down their Halloween decorations and fast-forwarding right to the Christmas cheer – this moment, this moment right now feels different; it feels manufactured and store-bought instead of well-loved and handed down gently. And in a sense, that’s all Black Friday truly is: a day of fabricated happiness and discounted opulence masquerading as necessities for people who, no less than 12 hours before, were proclaiming how thankful they were for all that they had. Instead of rushing to the mall this Friday – think outside of the box and into the great outdoors where Green is the new Black, especially for you California locals out there. Spearheaded by the Save The Redwoods League and in conjunction with the California State Parks and the California State Parks foundation, the Green Friday initiative invites Californians near and far to venture to the state’s wonderful parks with their loved ones and enjoy themselves some nature.

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Spearheaded by the Save The Redwoods League and in conjunction with the California State Parks and the California State Parks foundation, the Green Friday initiative invites Californians near and far to venture to the state’s wonderful parks with their loved ones and enjoy themselves some nature. Enjoy high-quality time and high caliber conversations surrounded by the epic beauty and dramatic landscapes from the coast to the mountains of California.  Green Friday supplies access to one of California’s 116 state parks with a free day use pass so you don’t have to pay the $12 fee – instead, think of donating that $12 to a worthy cause like Standing Rock, the World Wildlife Fund or any number amazing organizations. The parking passes are first come first serve, and many parks are selling out – meaning you might even make a new best friend!  To get your green on in California this Friday, simply head to the  Green Friday website and get down on that web search.  If you’re not located in California, never fear – REI is continuing their #OptOutside campaign, this time with a little bit of help from the folks at Subaru and Google.

For more information on the California State Parks + Foundation, Save The Redwoods and Green Friday, head to their socials:

Save The Redwoods: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Blog

California State Parks Foundation: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Blog

California State Parks: www.parks.ca.gov | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Blog

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[Nature is Nurture] Stand Up For Mother Earth, Stand with Standing Rock

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If you’re keen enough, smart enough, on a mission enough – you might find them hiding between lines of sexual misconduct, email scandals, and personality flaws during this perverse and conflicting election season.  You’ll catch a glimpse of them as the scurry from the darkness into the light, more often than not you’ll find them neglected or negated, swept under rugs or just simply brushed aside – what are they, you might ask? Well, they’re facts. They’re the real issues and real problems that you’re somehow not being bombarded with because the news is controlled by media companies so succinctly feeding the press stories – not truths – that it becomes hard to tell who the chicken and the egg are.  Image result for who owns the media infographicBut at least you can admit, to a point – they’re both clucking mad.

According to an infographic from 2011  that’s since gone viral, in just under twenty years – the media has gone from being owned by 50 different companies to just six by 2011: GE, News Corp, News-Corpiacom, Time Warner and CBS.  Based on the recent merger between AT&T and Time Warner, you better believe that number is only going to get smaller over time – and that’s downright terrifying.  One conglomerate to control them all could (unfortunately) make sense in a fascist dictatorship, or under communist rule – but we have either an oligarchy or plutocracy that masquerades around as a “democracy” – which makes it all the more terrifying how much “they” control the “news“.  Because let’s face it, whether locally, nationally or globally – news continually slips through the cracks while the semblance of a political psycho-circus is always lurking just around the corner.  More often than not, I find both media outlets, as well as my peers, are consumed with what consider to be the wrong issues.  Right now for me, that issue is the Dakota Access Pipeline.

For those with a terrible short-term memory, back in 2011 – there were ample protests against the cross-continent implementation of the Keystone Pipeline XL.  An extension of the Keystone pipeline that would stretch from the oil fields in Alberta, Canada all the way down into Texas.  The cliff notes version: Alberta’s TransCanada energy company wanted a pipeline to travel to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, which would bring 830k barrels of oil through a day.  Through much protest (that America heard very little about) the motion was passed in Canada.  Their intention was to piggyback on the existing Keystone pipeline, which was given a green light by George Bush in 2008.  The new XL pipeline would instead carry tar sands oil: a heavier, more corrosive and more carbon intensive oil than the conventional oil. Translation: less ecofriendly, more emissions, more pollution – and more of a mess to clean up.

The almost 1200 mile pipeline was set to disrupt wildlife while pushing out indigenous tribes that have lived in synchronicity with the land for eons.  The pipeline was raising more questions than answers, increasing our carbon footprint and forcing climate change as we frack for crude oil instead of searching for more eco-conscious and sustainable solutions. The ideology behind the XL pipeline was so terrible that troves of tree huggers, nature lovers and generational leaders came out of the woodwork in protest –  including most notably the president of the Sierra Club, who broke their 120 year stance on civil disobedience to drive their point home.  Though a Republican Senate passed the Keystone Pipeline approval act, President Obama thankfully rejected the decision in 2015.

But that was Keystone XL, and this is the Dakota Access Pipeline.  So, what’s different now? For starters, not much – and that, in my opinion, is the first problem.  Since the industrial revolution, humans have continually trolled the land, stealing and pilaging what we can from it without giving much, if anything, in return.  The DAPL proposes to take crude oil from currently untapped regions Bakken Oil Pipeline that are estimated to hold upwards of 7 billion barrels of oil. The problem with pipelines, as we’ve seen in the past, are the ways they can burst, break and wreak havoc on their surrounding environment, creating unlivable human conditions and decimate any semblance of animal life.  As the pipeline is currently drawn, it would drive itself into the heart of the Sioux Indian Tribal Lands, disrupting the way of life of not just the native human population – but the continually dwindling animal population as well.  And speaking of animal population, it feels like they’re listening – just watch this video of Bison travel down to Standing Rock to give their energy, and then remember how large packs of bison actually used to be.  This is our doing, this is is our destrution, this is humanity’s Midas touch -and we pour salt in our own wounds on the daily.

It’s a shame that so many of us believe that the earth is theirs to inherit, it’s not ours, the same way it was never our grandparents, or their parents before them – this land belongs to my great granddaughters who I’ll never meet, and their great granddaughters and so forth. Our time here is a continual investment in the future, not a past debt owed to us that we can exploit over, and over again.  According to the World Wildlife Foundation’s biennial Living Planet Report, in the last fifty years the marine life has been decimated by 36%,  terrestrial populations have declined by 38% and freshwater popluations have shrunk an abhroent 81%. They project that in the next fifth years almost 2/3 of the wildlife in the world will go extinct for a various number of reasons, most of them manmade: climate change, pollution and the destruction of the animal’s natural habit; a hat trick of terror that humans have enacted onto the world that we simply can’t turn back the clock on – but we can stop ourselves from getting greedy with the planet and going overboard.

Ways to Help

Sign The Petition 

Start small but think big.  Sometimes, it’s difficult to think of one voice as being strong, loud and resonant above all else – but then you’re stuck in a room with a mosquito and it all clicks.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the signed petition gets heard: thankfully, the White House petition exceeded the number of signatures necessary against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but there’s a second petition  here through Credo Action that could also use some love.

Donate

The first thing everyone thinks of when they see the word donate is money.  Yes, money helps – but so do supplies, blankets, food and water.To donate directly to the Sioux Tribe at Standing Rock, head here.

Make a Visit.

For all the wonder and splendor that the United States has to offer, I never once thought I’d put North Dakota on my travel bucket list – but until now, I’ve never been so crystal clear on what could actually affect change in our world.

Facebook Activism

Though I’m typically not a proponent of Facebook activism per say, in this case – it can do wonders to disrupt, dismantle and discombobulate the network of decision making by authorities.  Though the tactic is currently under investigation by Snopes as to its actual validity, checking in at Standing Rock on Facebook  is a wonderful gesture to demonstrate your solidarity, not to mention a rallying cry to get others in the know.

The earth is much more than nature – it’s nurture, and it’s time for us to protect and love the earth the same way she has loved us.  Stand up for Mother Nature – stand up for Standing Rock.

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[LA Life] A Gloomy June Afternoon In Ernest E Debs Park

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This past weekend the all too timely June Gloom hit Southern California, but that didn’t stop Danny and I from adventuring off into the great outdoors and exploring a nearby park that’s been on our bucket list.  As it turns out, there are actually upwards of 200 beautiful landscapes, parks and hiking trails scattered throughout the previously presumed concrete jungle of Los Angeles.  The parks themselves cover nearly 24,000 acres of land and are the perfect destination for those looking to romp, roam, rock and roll their souls all over the city.  Over the last few months, we’ve done some due diligence in the great outdoors, exploring the nooks and crannies of diversely delicious landscapes around the city from Cahuenga Peak and Point Dume to Lincoln Park and Griffith Park, so this time – we thought we’d keep it local and see what we could discover in our backyard.


For the last few weeks, Danny’s been raving about this wonderful outlook where you’re served a stunning 360 view of the city – including the skyscrapers of downtown (when it’s a clear day, that is) – and when I heard there was a little lake on top of the hill, I was sold; it was off, off and away on a Sun-date adventure to Ernest E Debs Regional Park in the heart of East Los Angeles.  Open every day from dawn through dusk, the park is never staffed and boasts a bevvy of picnic tables and BBQ fits perfect for parties and public use, and yeah – a gorgeous lake with lots of  little fish for those inclined to take their gear for a spin – and it’s smack dab middle of the city!  

As it turns out – that “little walk” up the hill to the lake has a pretty impressive incline, it’s short, sweet and way worth it…but don’t say you weren’t warned.  On our way up, as we stopped to catch our breath, we noticed a few black and white snails – and then a few more….and all of a sudden, we realized that there were literally hundreds of them swarming the plants.  I’ve never seen so many snails in one place!  If they could move quickly, I might have been a little nervous about the whole ordeal but I mean an infestation of snails is one of the least aggressive infestations I’ve personally ever heard of (or, seen, for that matter).

For more information on Ernest P Debs Park, head to their website or socials – or if you’re local to the Los Angeles area, just drop what you’re doing and pay the park a visit; I mean, when was the last time you took a real lunchbreak outside?  If you’re curious how your local parks stack up to the rest, take a gander at ParkScore.  A sucker for my city’s walkability, Park Score gives you a metric based, analytical overview of your favorite public spaces.  Give it a whirl!

Website | LA Parks |  Yelp | Facebook

[Oh, Snap] Eagle Rockin’ and Eagle Walkin’ V10

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Spring has most certainly sprung in Los Angeles and though the weather can seem a bit finicky at times, the neighborhood mornings have been beyond lovely and have given me ample inspiration to restart my “workout routine”; whatever that means.  But, between a three months of unlimited membership at One Down Dog, the local yoga studio to Eagle Rock, and the LA Fitness in Pasadena – something has to give….eventually…maybe.  Until then, I’ll enjoy my morning frolics outside, breathing in the fresh(ish) air of the city and filling my soul with the hearty buzz of the city.  The flowers are blooming, the sun’s up early – not to mention, I’m up with the sun.  I smell some big things brewing for the rest of the year and I’m excited for what’s to come.

Is that a painting? Nope! We found a mirror on our morning jaunt and it made for some fun photos of the town.

These last few pics aren’t necessarily of Eagle Rock, but they’re a few of my favorites that I’ve taken lately and they go to show just how beautiful it really is right now in each and every corner of the city.

 

 

[LA Life] Trekking Cahuenga Peak To The Hollywood Sign

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Now that Spring has officially sprung, it’s been a personal mission of mine to get out and enjoy every ounce of sunshine I possibly can.  Depending on your perspective of Los Angeles, it’s easy to flounder under the incorrect assumption that the city is a concrete jungle – but quite the contrary: in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our go-go-go lifestyle are a plethora of green spaces waiting to be explored.  From The Huntington Gardens to Pasadena’s Arboretum, Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon – there are a lot of amazing nature hikes to offer, and you don’t even have to go far to get it in.

When we first set out for our hike, we only had one thing on our mind – it’s a beautiful day to get some exercise in.  We packed a little pack of water, snacks and goodies and were off, off and away on a Saturday adventure.  Not gonna lie on this one, the struggle was definitely real; we haphazardly decided to ascend the Tree of Life Trail to Cahuenga Peak  so we could get as close as possible to the Hollywood Sign.  Depending on your source, the tree in question is equally referred to as ‘The Wishing Tree’, ‘The Wisdom Tree’ ‘The Giving Tree’ and ‘The Magic Tree’, but whatever you choose to call it – it’s a beautiful hike up a ridiculous incline; meaning you’re going to want some badass shoes to accompany you.  As a fair warning, this hike is not for novices or beginners – and I only say this, because I consider myself both, especially when it comes to this trail.

If you’ve been following my adventures over the last few years, I’ve evolved into a nature nymph of sorts and I absolute adore it.  There’s nothing like the brisk air and fresh breeze of the great outdoors, but man – was I a sweaty, panting mess by the end of it. This hike is one puppy that you want to pack some supplies for – some snacks with sugar to keep up your blood sugar, sunblock to prevent heat stroke, tons of water to rehydrate yourself and some quick to eat protein like nuts or beef jerkey.  Overall, I would say it took us about two hours to get to the top with a few pit stops along the way to stretch our muscles and take in the view.  It was only later that we discovered a simpler way to the view, where you can park on city streets and take a paved, lazy river of an incline to the top.  Definitely not as gratifying but thank goodness we could take that route out of the park!

 

Overall, the view from the Tree of Life Trail is breathtaking, and the aerial 360 of the city is as stunning as it sound.  This is one hike that I not only recommend, but will be doing far more frequently – after all, we didn’t actually make it over to the Tree of Life – we caught ourselves a stellar view of the city instead – so that’ll have to be a day-venture for another time.