[Oh, Snap] Celebrating Mother Nature on Earth Day

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”

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Angeles Crest Highway, California

As the saying goes, ‘The Earth Without ART is just EH’; and mother nature is the most wonderful of artists. I feel blessed by the treasures I’ve discovered, places I’ve uncovered and experiences I’ve been able to share. I hope on this Earth Day, you get to go and enjoy the wonders that this world has to offer. Though many of us spend the entire year in reverie of what Mother Nature has to offer, Earth Day gives us a moment to pause and take stock of the wonder, seductive beauty and technicolor menagerie this planet offers us on the daily. Now living in my third state in less than five years, I’ve had a unique opportunity to roam and road trip through the entire Pacific Coast and Western part of the United States. In honor of Earth Day and National Park Week, I’m excited to share some photos of this beautiful planet we get to call home.

Originally from the south Bay Area, I went to college in Santa Barbara then moved down to Los Angeles for a good decade. Between the memories of music festivals and downtown, West Hollywood and beach days in Santa Monica – there are equally fond memories of getting out into the great wilderness that the area had to offer. From the Southern tip of California to the North, bouncing from the dry desert to the coast, from rugged highways to ridge tops and frequenting parks throughout the Sequoias and Big Sur, San Francisco and the Angeles Crest Highway.

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Big Bear, California

I spent a good part of my 20’s as a music journalist, it was awesome – and involved a lot of traveling. Even while gallivanting from state to state to cover the next festival, we made it a point to stop and smell the roses – no matter how far off the beaten path they were. On the way to Global Dance Festival in Colorado, we were lucky enough to travel through Zion and Bryce Canyons; take the backroads through Colorado and breathe in the fresh air of the Rockies.

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Roaming through Utah
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Zion National Park
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Red Dragon Canyon
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Dixie National Forest, Utah

And on the way to Shambhala in Canada, we made sure to take the most scenic of the routes and hiked Multnomah Falls in Oregon, and were taken back by the beauty of Osoyoos, the Wine Country of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.

Moving to Oregon a few years back changed my life for the better, and the slowness in their pace of life now seems more normal where the one I was living in California finally felt frenzied and anxiety induced. Not knowing a soul besides my family, we took trips to different corners of the state almost every weekend -tip toeing around the tidepools, hiking to the top of Cape Perpetua, and making Yachats, and the Oregon Coast, a home away from home. An unexpected perk was how the daily scenery of Corvallis poured on the charm, ushering in a warm Autumn that truly felt and looked more like Spring.

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Oyster Bay, Oregon
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Darlingtonia Botanical Garden, Oregon

Going on my third year in Washington, I find myself in awe more times than not – the variety of nature, flora and fauna, of daily weather; it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. One day, we’re in a snow storm – the next, sun dances through the flower blossoms and the sweet floral aroma of Spring effuses itself into each moment. With Mount Tahoma, we have the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States – with the Cascades and their waterfalls descending into the East as desert land; meanwhile in Olympic National Park, Washington is home the only rainforest in the greater 48 and we can’t not talk about the most adorable islands I’ve ever visited in the San Juan Islands.

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San Juan Sculpture Park, Washington
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Richmond Beach Trails, Washington
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Though I’ve only been out of the United States a handful of times – Costa Rica and Mexico – I feel lucky to have seen much of the western part of our country by car. Admittedly, some times I can get a bit sad when I visit some parks – there’s trash everywhere, and a view that was once magnificent is overrun by the mistakes of man: plastics, forgetfulness, and arrogance. However, I’m grateful for my family andthe conscious festival community for instilling good practices; like ‘leave it better, leave it beautiful’ (thank you, Do LaB) while picking up after yourself and others. To combat the trash pileup, my husband and I invested in some trash pickers and have been taking garbage bags with us while we’re out and about; and let me tell you: it feels good to be good to our planet.

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Seal Rock, Oregon

There are hundreds of ways to respect the planet – but it’s a conscious decision that you have to continually make. Choose eating sustainably to benefit the local ecosystem and biodiversity of plant and animal life while ensuring you’re getting the right type of nutrition. In our culture of overconsumption, it’s tantamount we reduce our dependence on single-use plastics; take reusable bags to the store, ask for paper bags (I use mine for cat litter) and I mean, do you really need that straw?

Look for corporations that are making the switch to alternative and renewable power sources like Solar Energy and Wind Turbines over traditional power sources like Nuclear Power and Electric for a more sustainable future. When it comes to transportation, we’re battling the ‘Cult of the American Car’. Sure, we’re a country where people are fervent collectors – especially when it comes to our vehicles, but we are close to having more cars than people – with only 8% of people without access to one. But there are also trains and planes, in addition to automobiles – with public transportation coming in hot as a $74 Billion a year industry. By converting to renewable energy, even just in the United States, would add jobs and help save the environment.

The Earth was not ours to inherit from our parents, it’s ours to give to generations that haven’t even been born yet. It’s a good time to pick up a new practice, even if you’ve been doing your part. So, what are you doing that’s going to preserve the sanctity of nature and life on this planet?

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Point Dume, California
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[Oh, Snap] Weekend Wanderlust Along California’s Coastline

“We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.”
Alan W. Watts

When life seems overwhelming and bubbling over, it’s important to take some personal time and marinate in the purity of the moment. Whether its work or social life, the cure for emotional chaos and calamity is the warmth of the wilderness and the nurture of nature. This past weekend, I took a wonderful little trip up and down the California coast on the historic Pacific Coast Highway with Danny and a few of our friends, leisurely exploring nooks and crannies and enjoying each other’s company.  Danny and I had done the drive before a few years ago, but we always found ourselves wishing we had more time to explore tide pools, coves, caves and the great outdoors – so this time, we made a point being leisurely and letting it all soak in.

Constructed over the course of several decades, California’s Highway 1 began segmented construction in 1911 to connect coastal communities.  Commonly just referred to as The 1 or the PCH, depending on which leg of the journey you’re on, the route was completed through the Big Sur region in 1939 after securing funding from Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression. After cruising along the 101 into Santa Barbara, we jumped on the 1 in San Luis Obisbo and took a necessary lunch break in Morro Bay where its almost obligatory to get the clam chowder.

Our pit stop took us to the Otter Rock Cafe and man, oh man – was it ever delicious!  I had to get some clam chowder in a bread bowl and a Bloody Mary after the table over dished some elated dirt on them, and then some oysters on the half shell to top it all off.   Leaving Morro Bay, we set our sights on San Simeon’s Elephant Seal Vista Point. I’ve never seen so many of them – they’re loud, a little bit ridiculous looking, in my opinion they’re one of the few living remnants of God’s sense of humor.  There were literally hundreds of them lazing around various coastal beaches, from young pups to more mature seals.

After leaving San Simeon, we were off and away to Big Sur, Carmel and Monterey, winding the roads with wanderlust in our eyes and adventure in our veins.  We finally reached Monterey around dinner time and took a nice Uber into the Warf area and searched for a worth dinner spot.  After some searching, we found ourselves at Lallapalooza, and let me tell you – their specialty drinks are phenomenal; I had a Skytini with cucumber, mint and Hypnotiq and it was refreshingly fantastic.  With some bar hopping under our belt, we resigned ourselves to our hotel in Seaside for the night so we could get a roaring start to our Sunday funday.

My #1 objective for the weekend: find us some tidepools.  I don’t know about you guys. but growing up I loved searching through the tide pools for brightly colored creatures and slippery souls.  Sea urchins, starfish, hermit crabs, sea anemones  – you name it, if it’s in a tide pool I will undoubtedly think it’s awesome.  Our first stop on Sunday was at Del Monte Beach just outside of Seaside, then we were on the road again – more concerned about the journey than our final destination. After scouting a few beaches we found ourselves at Garrapata State Park, just a few notches south of Monterey. The park is host to wonderful hiking trails up and down the coast and on clear days it’s wonderful for dolphin watching – we even saw a pod!  For the more daring it’s just a hop, skip and a jump down to beach level, and more importantly – you guessed it –  tide pools!

On closer inspection, the tide pools evolved into technicolor colonies – so gorgeous!

Visually, there’s something so simple yet stunning about peach flowers against a bright blue sky and I can’t help but try and capture it. I actually took a really similar picture last time Danny and I came through the area, but it was just so delightful that I had to snap another.

One of my personal favorite things about hiking along the cliffs was seeing bits and pieces of old abalone, muscle and clam shells glistening and sparkling in the dirt.

After a leisurely, lovely stroll through the park we were off, off and away – but not without first losing my phone in the car, then finding it, the trunk almost coming open on the drive, rushing out to close it and flinging my phone into the sand….so that five minutes later I’d actually lost it and we had to do a major search along the roadside for the next fifteen minutes. Good news is that we found it, glistening in all it’s rose pink glory in the bright Autumn sky; never a dull moment when you’re with me, I promise. 😉  On our way up the coast we strolled through the area around Pfeiffer Beach near sunset and made a mental note to come back the next day and I’m so thrilled we did, there was so much wilderness to explore – including rocks that had been pulverized so much that a cave had been created in the middle of it, and there was a completely hidden cove with so many stacks of rocks – it was beautiful!

Last, but certainly not least, we caught a stunning sunset near Lafler Canyon – the cotton candy, sorbet skies are permanently etched in my mind and not in my phone because I found myself enjoying the moonrise too much to care – retrospectively, maybe I should’ve asked to stop but the memories will live on.

From start to finish, this past weekend was one for the books and a completely necessary deviation from the normal, routine of everyday life – an escape from the fast paced, high anxiety world that’s part of some weird reinforcement cycle that I’m most certainly an integral part of.  As a self proclaimed city kitty, this time away from the sheeple and masses reaffirmed to me that I’ve been overwhelmed with life, over-inundated with work, tasks and relationships and haven’t taken the proper time to reset myself, to meet myself at my core and be unshakable, to find solace in a moment without flustering over the past or fumbling into the future.  A weekend without cell phone reception, wrapped up in conversations that ranged from trivial and hilarious to insightful, inspiring and compelling. Before our journey, I felt a dark cloud over my head and an unshakable awkward, anxious feeling but after a weekend swept up in nature and seduced by the open sea air, I found myself calm and collected upon my return to Los Angeles – a change that was hopefully deeply imprinted upon me. Though to be fair, I could always use a good excuse to escape again.

 I can’t wait for our next weekend getaway and am already looking up fun routes to and from Oregon for Thanksgiving! When’s the last time you got away for the weekend and where did your wanderlust inspire you to wander to?

[Oh, Snap] Cruising the PCH

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

On the way back from San Francisco, we had two options for our drive: take the 5 and suffer through the dusty drabness that defines the middle of our state, or cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway and enjoy ourselves.  Well, after doing the later I can firmly say that as in all of life – it should be about the journey and not the destination; and journey we did!  Not even exaggerating, we stopped at every third turnout to catch a view of the stunning California Coast!  Now, I grew up in the Bay Area, came down for college in the Central Coast and cruised on down to LA when I was done but never have I ever taken the 1 down the coast. Well, after yesterday I can check that off the proverbial bucket list and I have the pictures to prove it!  We roamed the beach, found beautiful foliage and gorgeous coastal views; it really was like a dream come true…

Mailboxes in Big Sur

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