Category Archives: Staycation

[LA Life] A Tranquil Trip to the Self Realization Fellowship Gardens

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The happiness of one’s own heart alone cannot satisfy the soul; one must try to include, as necessary to one’s own happiness, the happiness of others.”
– Paramahansa Yogananda

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The bumper sticker is faded, a bit roughed up and dirty – but the words “Never Stop Exploring” boldly expresses our want, or rather need, of constant discovery and wanderlust. Affectionately called the ‘Adventure Wagon‘,  what was formerly my family’s car and what I learned how to drive on back in the day has become a staple of our current lives.  Turning 20 years old this year, it’s taken us throughout the better part of the West Coast, roaming between Oregon, Southern California and Canada, and experienced it’s share of music festivals; truth be told, my favorite adventures are the ones that it takes us close to home.Untitled

Truth be told, this past year was a monster unlike any other for me – and as it seems, for most of us.  Between some of the highest highs and the lowest lows, we traveled a lot less than ever this past year, especially as we slowly dissolved ourselves from the festival scene. Recently, these little country cats have turned into city kitties and we’ve fallen in love with the Museum of Modern Art in Downtown Los Angeles, the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Room‘s at The Broad and simply roaming the streets of downtown in search of amazing architecture and technicolor street art. Instead of gallivanting to new states, we found ourselves in a slow state of finally appreciating our surroundings within Los Angeles proper, and it was absolutely wonderful. Between the beaches in Malibu and Venice, hiking trails in Hollywood, desert landscapes of the Antelope Valley and Salton Sea, the Griffith Park Observatory, and the Angeles National Forest, it’s been nice to finally marinate in the beauty of what’s in our backyard. With the year drawing to a close and no holiday vacation on tap, the last few weeks of light work turned into the perfect reason to get one last round of exploration in for the year, and I couldn’t think of a better way to look ahead into 2018 than a tranquil trip through the Self Realization Fellowship Gardens in Mount Washington, featuring sprawling lawns perfect for stretching, yoga, and ample seating while you take in the salacious views of Downtown Los Angeles and marinate in the wonderful pockets of nature..

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The Self Realization Foundation itself was founded back in 1920 by yogi and guru Paramahansa Yogananda as he first came to America. Considered far and wide the father of Yoga in the West, Paramahansa Yogananda is attributed with introducing his practices of Kriya Yoga and meditation to both Indians as well as Westerners.   After coming to the United States, he lectured and traveled along the East Coast, gaining notable followers from Mark Twain‘s daughter Clara Gabrilowitsch to soprano Amelita Galli-Curci, leading him to establishing the Self Realization Center in Los Angeles.  As the first Hindu teacher to truly live in the West, over time and even surpassing his death, Paramahansa continued to influence key movers and shakers across the board with his essentially self titled autobiography “Autobiography of a Yogi“, from Steve Jobs to George Harrison and Elvis Presley.   Since then, the Self Realization Fellowship has been dedicated to carrying on the ethos and humanitarian work of their founder.  The foundation themselves reaches worldwide, with a goal of fostering “a spirit of greater understanding and goodwill among the diverse peoples and religions of our global family, and to help those of all cultures and nationalities to realize and express more fully in their lives the beauty, nobility, and divinity of the human spirit.”

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Enjoy a panoramic view of the city by the sundial, or relax in the luscious lawn with lovely little flowers and well groomed trees in vibrant shades of green. Following the paths through the gardens, dip into the ferns and marinate in the calmness of the small waterfall and pond in the center.  When you continue, you’ll find various benches hidden between bushes and off the beaten paths, and a set of stone chairs and table perfect for an afternoon picnic.

The paths at the SRF are open to visitors from 9am to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday and from 1-5pm on Sundays. For more photos from the gardens, head to my Flickr – and keep in mind, I’m really just learning the Canon 6D – so more to come from that in a bit! For more on the Self Realization Fellowship Gardens, head to their socials or pay them a leisurely visit.

Website | Instagram | Yelp | Facebook

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[LA Life] Kick Start 2016 Off Right With a First Day Hike!

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525, 600 minutes ago, yet I can still taste the moment that I was marinating in: blustery, salted ocean air coating my hair as we adventured down into Crissy Field and over the Golden Gate Bridge where I did my best to forgo my fear of heights.  Somewhere, in between two nights of Pretty Lights, my audiophilic tendencies were reinvigorated and my love for the world blossomed exponentially.  I’m a sucker for the bright lights, bold vibes and vibrant personalities of city life.  There’s an energy that resides in the city, a resilient energy that grows stronger as the night grows darker while glowing technicolor.

It’s not that I don’t find an equal but opposite view of the stars and nature, it’s just for almost 31 years that my dancing feet have led me directly into the heart of the city. Yet, after 31 years I’m finally searching for that something new, something natural, something free  – an oasis in the midst of a barren desert, a secret garden in a concrete jungle. Time and time again, I’ve found myself enthralled by the melody as the bass becomes me, but more and more I’ve simply pulled out of my city kitty tendencies and found myself into the great tonic of wilderness, clean air and a clear conscience.

The New Years offers up a wonderful, albeit temporal, period of solid resolution and personal resolve.  Whether it lasts the whole year or not sounds like more of a personal problem but those who have a will, always always tend to have a way.  But, I’ve found that writing down my personal wants, needs and goals for the year helps me not just keep track of them but I also hold myself increasingly more accountable of them.

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Last year, when I made my 31 Before 31 Resolutions –  I made it a point to visit a new local Botanical Garden or State Park every month and I’ll tell you right now that beyond going to the multitudes of festivals and events – it’s one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve ever had.  Betwixt the travel and writing, work and kitties, music festival after music festival across the West Coast – I’m so grateful that we had the opportunity to visit so many wonderful places steeped in grandiose history and utter beauty.

 

With exercise as one of the most common New Years Resolutions, it might just behoove you to get up, get out, get over that hangover and get healthy – or at least just get some fresh 2016 air.  Around the nation, thousands of people will be hitting the trails, mountains and rivers as part of the National ‘First Day Hike‘ movement – and there’s plenty of fun to go around on each and every corner of the United States.  Just in California, there’s over 50 different hikes to join in over 40 different parks across the state, not to mention paddle boat rides, geology walks, seal tours and some vehicle rides off the beaten path.

Locations include:

Where will you be spending the first day of 2016?

 

For more details on First Day Hikes around California, head over to the State’s Parks Website. For a birds eye view of all the natural, National goodness  – use the hashtag #FirstDayHikes to dive into pictures and locations on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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For a trip down memory lane, try out these adventures from the past year!

December: The Los Angeles Arboretum | Big Bear | Crissy Park

January: UC Botanical Garden

February: Glenoaks Canyon

August: Multnomah Falls, Oregon

October: Big Sur, California

November: Stanford Arboretum + Arizona Cactus Garden

December: LA Zoo Nights

[Get Free] Los Angeles Museums Offer Up Free Admission On January 31st

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but FREE is one of my favorite F words. Get free, be free, freedom…and then – there are the free things in life that make our already glorious lives that much sweeter.  For the last few seasons, I’ve shared my assorted adventures gallivanting through some of the most gorgeous gardens, arboretums and parks on the West Coast. in search of the perfect picnic plot, a summertime reading nook or simply a splendid location for an afternoon stroll. From Southern California through Utah and Colorado, Northern California into Oregon, Washington and Canada – I’ve loved them all, and I’m still on the hunt for more.  With the Getty, Getty Villa, Huntington Gardens and UC Berkeley’s Botanical Garden – though the main attraction truly is the astounding grounds they all reside on, the museums that each facility boasts is creme of the crop, top notch and has international acclaim.

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At the end of the month, some of the best museums in the Los Angeles area are pairing up the local Metro to celebrate a decade of free education at the “Museum Free-For-All”.  On January 31st (and, for some, February 1st), assorted museums are slashing their admission prices so the general public can ogle for free.  Any specialty ticketed exhibitions are except from the offer and regular parking does apply, but that’s a small fee to fork over for an amazing, mind opening day. Participating museums are as follows – and if the museum is offering a Sunday admission, it’s noted.

  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
    Annenberg Space for Photography
    Armory Center for the Arts
    California African American Museum
    California Science Center
    Chinese American Museum
    Craft Folk & Art Museum
    Fowler Museum at UCLA
    The Getty Center
    The Getty Villa (Timed Tickets Required)
    Hammer Museum
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) 
    Los Angeles Fire Department Museum and Memorial
    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)
    Museum of Latin American Art
    Museum of Tolerance (Sunday, Feb 1)
    The Paley Center for Media
    The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits
    Pasadena Museum of California Art
    Santa Monica Museum of Art
    Skirball Cultural Center
    The Torrance Art Museum
    USC Pacific Asia Museum
    William S. Hart Museum
    Zimmer Children’s Museum (Sunday, Feb 1)

Whether you’re a science nut, a nature nerd or an art afficianado – there’s absolutely something for everyone, and a perfect excuse to get your family, friends and favorites together for a wonderful weekend at the museum. After rummaging through the list, I realized that I’ve only been 20% of the museums – most likely, I’ll be running around between the California Museum of Sciences, the Annenberg Space for Photography and hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in the Getty Villa one more time too.  I love learning, I love expanding my center of knowledge and I love doing it with the people nearest and dearest to me.  If you can’t make it out that weekend, don’t sweat it – there are loads of museums and gardens that offer spotted free admission once a month.

The ArboretumFree the 3rd Tuesday of Every Month

Descanso Gardens Free the 3rd Tuesday of Every Month

The Huntington Botanical Gardens The First Thursday of Every Month

Getty Villa – Admission is always free, Parking is on a Pay Basis

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What are your favorite museums? Do you have any tricks of the trade for free admission? Let everyone know in the comments below!