Category Archives: Travel

[Self Discovery] The Serenity of the Sea

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 “My life is like a stroll upon the beach, as near to the ocean’s edge as I can go”
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Henry David Thoreau —

Summer in SD

Ever just feel the need to get away? Not to necessarily escape from life, but to take a midweek vacation from all the humdrum stress of your vocation and whatever else might be plaguing or mentally exhausting you.  Lately, there’s been this large itch to jump in the car and not be home – maybe it’s the incredible heat waves we’ve been having in Los Angeles proper, maybe it’s the fact I’ve formally lived in Los Angeles for a decade now; irregardless, lately I’ve had this distant itch that I’ve needed to scratch from sandier locations.

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I work from home and have been working from home for the last five or so years.  It’s a wonderful life, but at the same time – it can make for some stir crazy mornings and cabin fever-esque afternoons.  Thankfully, for the last few weeks, I’ve been blessed enough to tag along while my dad goes on a few work trips down to gorgeous and sunny San Diego, and every now and again I’ve also been jumping in the car with Danny and working from anywhere that cell phone service exists along the Southern California coast.  From Santa Monica, to Long Beach, San Pedro down to Orange County and San Diego – the California Coastline down here has a bevvy of beautiful beaches, ripe and ready for adventures.

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With seventeen miles of coastline and nearly 5000 acres of land, San Diego boasts an incredible amount of beaches per capita, each with their own unique charm, from Ocean Beach to Encinatas and back to Moonlight Beach – you simply can’t go wrong as you bounce from one sandy piece of heaven to the next.  Yes, of course beaches will be crowded – have you met Summer in SoCal?! – so be sure to head there with plenty of time to spare and plenty of sun and sand to be had.

Travel up the coast a bit and you’ll hit the beautiful beaches of Orange County and Newport, including the stunning 1000 Steps Beach.  But I’ll be honest, the only version of the OC I like is the show – and it’s primarily because I can put it on mute. Anyhow, just a hop, skip and a jump up and you’ll reach shores of San Pedro and Angels Gate Park, where notorious scenes from my all time favorite movie were played out in the 90’s.  Can you name the movie? I won’t give it away!  Nestled between two coastlines in a sprawling green park that overlooks the coast, you’ll find the fabled ‘Koren Friendship Bell‘ in all of its vibrant glory and impeccable hand crafted detail.

Los Angeles itself is known as much for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood as it is the menagerie of beaches against its coast.  Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, Point Dume – you simply can’t go wrong.  Now, it’s definitely a personal decision, but Danny and I typically off for the off the beaten path locations with less people – the more of a tourist trap it is, the less peace, quiet and space you’ll have, you know – if you’re into that sort of thing.

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“Don’t underestimate the healing power of these three things:
music, the ocean, and the stars.” 

Hypnotically beautiful with brooding turbulence underneath, the Ocean water mimics the human condition: meeting new highs and pulsing lows, bringing rocky baggage ashore and washing herself clean of the past, pulling new ideas back undertow and ingraining them in her personality. Summer in SD

It’s as if the waters have found themselves in the midst of mindful meditation that you can’t help but immulate: with this wave – I’m breathing in, with this wave – I’m breathing out.

 

No matter the mood or emotion I bring to the water’s edge with me, it’s always washed away and I’m left feeling rooted, as the soles of my feet and tips of my toes edge their way in and around millions of grains of sand that each have thousands of years of stories to tell.  Twisting my head to and fro to see as far as the eyes can see, I’m inexplicably drawn to the cascading of blues that measure where the sky and sea are drawn together in an almost hand painted gradient.  It’s here, that I shed my snakeskin of the past to the salt and air and become again.

Where do you go when your soul needs to refresh?

 

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[Traveling Tales] A Weekend Jaunt to Santa Barbara

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“Jobs fill your pockets, but adventures fill your soul.”

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For as vast and varied as Los Angeles is with its multitude of museums, live music on damn near every corner and a menagerie of personalities, there are just some times that you need the elixir of another town, to be able to drink in the libations and life of a new location. Southern California, with its little bit of everything, is an adventurers wet dream with ample amounts of snow, surf and everything in between.  Travel a few hours south of Los Angeles, and you’ll end up in Mexico – go East and you can jaunt out to Joshua Tree or Palm Springs, West will take you to the Pacific Coast and adventure just a little up the 101 and you’ll hit one of my favorite places ever: Santa Barbara.  I should premise this by saying I’m incredibly biased, I spent five lovely years in Santa Barbara pursuing my college degree and each inch of that town is crawling in marvelous memories – but admittedly, it’s been far longer than that since I’ve been back. So, the other weekend when Danny was itching to get out of town, I knew exactly where we needed to go.  After booking a great hotel through CheapTickets at the last second Friday afternoon, on Saturday we were off, off and away on a whirlwind landmark and culinary tour of my old stomping grounds.

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After a leisurely drive up the coast, our first stop on Saturday was the new(ish) Santa Barbara Public Market.  apparently it’s been around for a few years, but it’s definitely new to me since the last time I visited town! Originally, I had planned to stop by the Big Eye Raw Bar started by my college friends’ husband (ps. it looks delicious), but the tacos from Corazon Cocina looked so heavenly that it would have been a sin to pass them up.  UntitledA few laughs and micheladas from The Garden later, and we were off, off and away to stroll State Street in search of The French Press. From what I’ve been told, its one of the best coffee shops in America – and damn, they were so right; I loved it a latte – pun very intended.   Taking the long way back to the car, we stumbled into the Karpeles Manuscript Museum, something I didn’t even know existed – let alone in Santa Barbara, but very worth getting sidetracked by.   Boasting a wide array of original documents and technological advancements, we took a serene stroll through eye opening artifacts and inventions before checking into our hotel, which truly felt like more of an oasis than I would have ever known from the photos.

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Walking in, we were met with an unexpected blend of blooming flowers, lush ponds, as coy fish, ducks and geese unfolded in front of us.  The scene only got better as the sunset began her magic.  Oh, and it wasn’t just ducks – there were ducklings hanging out on lillypads and it was literally the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.  I may or may not have spent half an hour chasing them around with crumbs to get the perfect photos, and of course make a few furry friends along the way.

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When dinnertime came about, we had only one decision to make: Mexican or Fish-centric.  Santa Barbara is exceptional when it comes to both, boasting some of the best authentic Mexican food at La Super Rica, a small hole in the wall family business that has the best meats, as well as the uni that’s imported the world over.   Stretching from Isla Vista into downtown, hitting the coastline, is Santa Barbara’s main squeeze: State Street.  The closer you get to the ocean, the more populated everything is – and rightfully so when you can take a romantic walk on the beach after a hearty meal and the further you get from the water, the less packed you’ll find your haunts.  Deciding to get fishy with it, we ventured over to Edomasa and chowed down on some exceptional late night sushi.

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On Sunday afternoon, we gallivanted down the length of State Street and onto Sterns Wharf for some views and a kickass meal of the freshest of sea food before we hit the road back to Los Angeles. The oldest working pier in California, Sterns Wharf boasts plenty of shops and sightseeing right over the ocean; it’s magnificent.  Formerly a buying station for local fish in the 80s, the Santa Barbara Shellfish Corporation sits at the very end of the pier and has been cooking up a storm for the last two decades with literally the best seafood you could catch – and they do!  We chowed down on fresh oysters, dungeness crab cocktail, rock crab, uni shooters and this kitten had her first cioppino.  Full of crab legs, shrimp, scallops, clams, and mussels – it was a dish I wouldn’t have ordered for myself, and I’m so glad Danny insisted we try it – delicious!  I would have taken photos of the food, but I confess I was too busy eating it all.

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Coming back down the coast, we stopped in Summerland to take in the fresh sea air just one last time before heading back into Los Angeles and reflect on a weekend well spent.  If you ever have a weekend to spend in Santa Barbara, here’s some of my must visit places in no particular order:

Sushi, Upper State St: Edamasa
Sushi, Lower State St: Arigato
Mexican Food: La Super Rica
Seafood: Santa Barbara Shellfish Co, Enterprise Fish Co
Views: Santa Barbara City College, UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Botanical Garden
Coffee: The French Press
Smoothies: Blenders
Beach: Butterfly Beach
Dancing: Eos

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[LA Life] Meandering through LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art

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Dotted around the city like technicolor sprinkles on an urban cupcake, the museums of Los Angeles offer a unique artists perspective on time, culture and society.  The Getty Villa gives a wonderful retrospective of Greco Roman art and architecture while the Getty proper itself is almost as well known for their immaculately groomed gardens as they are their vast collections of classical, modern and post-modern art. Venture into the Fairfax District and the La Brea Tarpit extension of the Natural History Museum thrusts you backwards through time as the LACMA descends into global contemporary and modern art, and Peterson’s Automotive Museum drives you through the history of the modern car.  Then there’s downtown, with The Broad, a menagerie of museums at Exposition Park and last but certainly not least, the Museum of Contemporary Art.  First, that’s not even all – and that doesn’t cover the incredible amount of art galleries and spaces like Gabba Gallery, The Container Yard and Hauser and Wirth, providing hundreds of avenues, indoors and out, to peruse a vast array of art and creativity.

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One thing about art, one of the great things, like Alex Grey says in ‘The Mission of Art’,

“The artist’s mission is to make the soul perceptible. Our scientific, materialist culture trains us to develop the eyes of outer perception. Visionary art encourages the development of our inner sight. To find the visionary realm, we use the intuitive inner eye: the eye of contemplation, the eye of the soul. All the inspiring ideas we have as artists originate here.”

Each and every one of us is a visionary of sorts, with our own unique lens to observe the world with; within that, we’re all artists just waiting to find our catalyst for creativity.  The art at the MOCA is wonderful, inspired, controversial and pensive – it makes you stop, think and smell the artistic roses – so to speak.

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The MOCA is in close proximity to art galleries, wonderful graffiti and a lot of yummy restaurants – including a branch of the famed Lemonade right outside their lobby.For more on LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, head to their socials – or just take a journey downtown!

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Yelp| Twitter

For more photos, head to my Flickr album!

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[LA Life] Journey to the Other Side of Angeles Crest Forest

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Adventure is out there, and whether you hear it or not it’s constantly calling to all of us to come, play and enjoy it in all of its splendor. Sure there are some things we’re indebted to – our health, our jobs, and family ties – but if every single person just spent five minutes a day immersed in the the world’s splendor, we’d be a hell of a lot happier of an international tribe. Admittedly, it took me a few years (okay, maybe over half my life) to have come to this realization, but better late than never, especially with nature.  Thanks to the industrial revolution, our society has been in this go-go-go-faster mode ever since the 1800’s and now that it’s been compounded by the technological revolution of the 21st century it’s as if we’re all the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, running as fast as we can in the city just to stay in place:  rents are going up while our paychecks aren’t, cities are becoming more impacted, skyscrapers are raised twice as fast as affordable housing and artist lofts are razed.

To be fair, it’s only been a recent course of history that humans have found themselves sitting in front of boxes, inside of larger boxes inside of office boxes that they’ve traveled to from their home boxes.  Ah, yes – it’s true evolution has been kind to us in some respects like sturdy homes, soap, the vastness of technology and the industrial revolution – but the end result is that us humans, who used to hunt and gather, and roam the open plains for plenty of exercise, sunshine and Vitamin D, have been relegated to a life that for the most part mirrors a well fed, indoor pet.  So the truth of the matter is that we need the tonic of the wilderness, the blustery winds and mountain peaks, the roaring rivers, smoldering saturated sunsets, and the glorious natural white noise of animals calling, trees rustling and the radiant sun shining down to ground our souls back into their natural habitat.

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The good news: nature isn’t going anywhere – and she’s always on time. Every now and again when I feel like my soul has strayed from it’s path, immersing myself in the wilderness is the surefire way to get back on track. A quick jaunt over the hill and through the woods in Los Angeles, and you’ll find yourself in the midst of the Angeles Crest Forest.  Sprawling over 700,000 acres, the Angeles Forest includes 10 lakes and reservoirs, several dozens mountains, a handful of rivers, five distinct wilderness areas – meaning you can visit time and time again, and never take the same path twice.

 

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With trails upon trails upon trails featuring amazing hikes, waterfalls and mountain peaks, small furry creatures and soaring birds with swooping wingspans – the Angeles Crest Forest tops my list for quick mountain getaways and stay-cation day-cations. Snow bunnies can rejoice in a selection of Ski and Snow Resorts in the Wintertime including Mt Waterman Ski Lifts and the Buckhorn Ski and Snowboard Club, and in the Summer those resorts turn into fantastic hiking trails. For those wanting something more, the are a host of great campsites scattered throughout the forest – some have unreal lookouts, and some are more shrouded with trees and natural shrubbery, most are first come first serve but it would behoove you to make a reservation ahead of time if you have a location picked out or a big enough group that you want to grab a lot more land than usual.  If glamping is more your speed, there are several hotels and Air B’n’B locations with stunning views of Southern California and the contiguous mountain ranges.

 

Where are your favorite places to go when you need a dose of nature?

For more on the Angeles Crest Highway and all of the amazing turnouts it has to offer, head to their website – or better yet just take the trip yourself!

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[LA Life] In That Moment, I Was Infinite: A Trip Through Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors at The Broad

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Yayoi Kusama x Infinity Room

My last few years in Los Angeles have elicited a mountain of personal growth and emotional change.  In a grand sense, I’ve finally discovered myself and understand my innate needs and wants – and in the most basic, I’ve fully enjoyed being myself within each and every moment.  Forever a city kitty by nurture, it turns out that I’m actually a little mountain lion by nature but the trick has been learning what keeps my soul level and balanced – a little bit of sunshine and landscapes here, some graffiti, city lights, music and art there.  The most amazing thing about living in Southern California, and especially Los Angeles, is the immediate access to both – sometimes even in the same day.  Just the other weekend, Danny and I took a cruise through the Angeles Crest Forest and grounded ourselves in the scenic beauty and amazing views, and this weekend we balanced it with now my favorite art exhibit I’ve ever been to – Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors at The Broad.

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Art does a lot of things for me, but above all it provides me a new, askew and different lens to observe the world through.  Whether it’s sculpture, watercolors, immersive art or sculptures – the best art forces me outside of myself to view the world from a birds eye view while diving further inside of myself in personal discovery; and I would absolutely include the Infinity Mirrors in that category.  A playful experience with color and perspective, Yayoi Kusama’s excellent creative eye has created a handful of unique environments that meld your minds and opens your eyes to a vibrant, multidimensional universe.

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Hailing from Nagano, Japan, Yayoi began playing with color and shapes when she was ten and it’s obvious that her love and creativity have only grown exponentially since.  Considered a forerunner to the Pop Art movement that cultivated  Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, Yayoi calls her unique process “Self Obliteration”.  An artist that’s as multidimensional as her work, Yayoi has foraryed from painting and watercolors to writing novels and poems, dabbling in fashion design and film direction.  Since 1963, she’s been recognized for her hypnotic and mesmerizing Mirror / Infinity Room environments.  Featured at international museums as both a traveling and permanent exhibit,  fans will be excited to know that the Yayoi Kusama has officially opened in Tokyo, Japan – if you’re up for the adventure.

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For now, Yayoi’s current works are being featured in a 50 year retrospective that’s on rotation between several museums across the United States.  Originally at Washington DC’s Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum + Sculpture Garden, the exhibit then traveled to the Seattle Art Museum over the Summer before landing at Los Angeles’s Broad Museum.  In March, Yayoi’s works will travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario and then finally land at the Cleveland Museum of Art in July of 2018.

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For me, this was an experience I absolutely had to document – from room to room, I was moved phenomenally and entranced by my surroundings.  But, I also put my phone down and just was wowed by it all – and I highly suggest both for you, too. Due to a high volume of interest there are no more reserved spots for the Infinity Mirrors – but the Broad Museum does offer standby tickets for those willing to wait.

For more about Yayoi Kusama‘s Infinity Mirrors, the Broad Museum and their contemporary collection of art, head to their site and socials –

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

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[Traveling Tales] The Surreal Scenery of Salvation Mountain + East Jesus

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Tucked away in a small sleepy corner of California just East of the Salton Sea sits not just one but two of the most beautifully bizarre man-made areas I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.  The stores and fables of Salvation Mountain and East Jesus have intrigued me ever since I moved to Los Angeles almost a decade ago, but it wasn’t until last weekend that I finally witnessed the oozing creativity for myself.  One second, you’re taking a dusty road off the beaten path, in what feels like the proverbial middle of nowhere: you’re off the grid and surrounded by a sweeping desert landscape of BLM land with scattered mountain ranges.  All of a sudden, you see it – and once found you absolutely can’t miss it: a brightly painted surreal scene that felt born of Dali and Dr Seuss.

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First created back in 1984, Salvation Mountain is an otherworldly artistic expression from area local Leonard Knight.  Recognized by the Folk Society of America as a “folk art site worth protection” back in 2000, the mountain itself is ever evolving – with volunteers flocking to the mountain the first Saturday of every month with their buckets of paint, ready to pour themselves into Leonard’s vision.  My personal favorite part?  There’s cats – eight of them, to be exact, and they’re so freaking adorable roaming the yellow brick road. Let your wanderlust carry you to the top of the mountain, and don’t forget to take in the vibrant colors that are dancing around you.  Saunter off to the right of the main hill, and you’ll find multiple nooks and chaotic crannies littered with bible verses, prayers, religious sentiment and offerings. All around the outskirts of the mountain are refurbished cars, embellished with impeccable detail and design.If you couldn’t get enough of Salvation Mountain, just you wait until you get into Slab City and East Jesus.

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The best way I can describe East Jesus: think of it as a retirement center for Burning Man art, and maybe even burners as well.  The area itself is so off the grid that one truly could create a year round community built on the ethos of Burning Man – and indeed, some have: Slab City itself is considered a sparse ‘snowbird’ community –  no running water, no food, no amenities – meaning residents are forced to be radically self reliant within it.  If it’s chaos, then it’s the most controlled version of chaos I’ve ever seen – there are blocks, addresses and streets, basic societal infrastructure…just without the rest of society. It really makes you think about the bare minimum you would need to be content, and how magically creative you could be as you create your own world.  Built on top of a Camp Dunlap, a de facto military base that was dismantled at the end of World War II, Slab City was named for the literal ‘slabs’ that were left over – using them to create their city.

Last, but certainly not least, my favorite part: East Jesus.  I’m pretty sure I could get lost inside their art garden and I’m 1000% alright with that.  The art inside is made completely from repurposed and upcycled materials.  Ever evolving and interactive, there’s treehouses to climb, outdoor bowling, the craziest sculptures built out of seriously who knows what, and so very much more.

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There’s not only something to look at around every corner, but something to make your head spin just a little bit, maybe even enough to spark a conversation with a stranger. Hands down, Slab City, Salvation Mountain and East Jesus are roadtrip destination worthy of being on everyone’s bucket list.

For more photos, head to my album here.

For more, head to their socials – or just plan your next visit!

East Jesus: WebsiteFacebook  | Instagram | Twitter  

Salvation Mountain: Website | Facebook

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[Traveling Tales] A Double Date of Drinks at Block15 and 4 Spirits

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In what’s become a tradition of sorts, several times a year I venture off to Corvallis to visit my family, reconnect with nature and reset my personal frequency.  While the school year brings a hearty amount of hustle and bustle to the mostly agricultural community, the Summertime brings sleepy months of stunning sunsets mixed with fantastic weather; and the food and drink? Thanks to the Oregon maker spirit and an influx of former California natives, they live up to the state motto ‘Alis volat propriis‘, and they’re getting better all the time.

This romp around Central Oregon was absolutely different than anything else; first and foremost, after three years of planning – Danny and I were finally getting married, and secondly – it was fueled with the energy of the Total Solar Eclipse.   Though there were some fantastic moments over the entire week, one of my personal highlights was actually after the weight of the big day had been lifted and we were just left with some key players, including my now husband, my dad, our officiant + best friend and my cousin.  For one glorious afternoon, we enjoyed a double date of delicious drinks and rumpus games at Corvallis’ own Block15 Brewery and 4 Spirits Distillery.  Though I’d been through the former haunt of 4 Spirits, I hadn’t had a chance to visit since their migration. 

Now conveniently located side by side, 4 Spirits and Block15 pack a hearty one two punch of some of the finest beer and rustic whiskey Oregon has to offer.  When visiting, our friend reminded us of the old adage ‘Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear’, so off to 4 Spirits we went!

Boasting a bevvy of Rums, Whiskeys and a signature Vodka, at it’s heart – 4 Spirits is a philanthropic venture, giving back to both homegrown programs from Oregon and initiatives in Wyoming, Montana and Washington. To taste a flight of four hearty half ounce shots, it’s only $5 – and if a member of you group happens to purchase a bottle, then the rounds are on the house. For the whiskey drinkers, there’s the Bourbon Whiskey with delicious undercurrents of vanilla and caramel, the American Whiskey, and Single Malt; for the rum-ophiles, there’s a silver rum, a light rum, a dark rum, and my personal favorite (and take that to heart, because I’m not a rum drinker) – their habanero spiced rum; and last, and least, their vodka – which was great, but that’s not why one goes to 4 Spirits.  To add to their cornucopia of liquor, the new spot also offers a kitchen with munch worthy snacks like Stuffed Tots and fries, full sized fare ranging from burgers and sandwiches to pizza, plus a lawn version of Yahtzee, appropriately called Yard-zee.
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After loosening ourselves up with liquor, we were off to the second stop on our double date – Block15.  Literally a hop, skip and a jump across the parking lot sat Block15’s Brewery and Taproom, not to be confused with their restaurant located in the heart (aka. within the four blocks) of Downtown Corvallis.  For about $5-8 depending on your tastes, you can get a flight of five tasty beverages.  My favorites was Hopnotize, Wandlepad and the Lil’ Dab, a cannabis infused drink – cheers to you, Oregon.  Hypnosis was on the heavier side, so if you’re of the type that likes to chew their beer – this is your best bet. Though their food menu isn’t nearly as deep at the Taproom as it is at their Restaurant, the kitchen still produces some bomb eats including a DIY charcuterie board, hearty sandwiches and a hands down the best bier pretzel I’ve ever tasted.

For anyone who happens across Oregon’s Central region or finds themselves in Corvallis, between these two locations you simply can’t go wrong.  So hop on the good foot, and do the drinks thing.

For more on 4 Spirits and Block15, visit Corvallis – their socials:

4 SpiritsWebsite | Facebook 

Block 15: Website | Facebook | Instagram