Tag Archives: nature

[LA Life] Frolic Among the Flowers at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

Standard

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Over the last year, my life has uncovered a bevvy of nuanced ways that it has to re-prioritize what’s important. Call it a quarter life crisis, or simply just growing up – but the things that used to sit on top of my pyramid of needs have reorganized themselves into a quieter, calmer lifestyle.  An avid audiophile through and through, when I pulled away from going to music festivals and concerts it was like I spearheaded an investigation into who I was at my core.  A daughter, a dreamer, a lover, a cat lady, a nature nymph, a very silly girl who cares very deeply about the world she cultivates around her. Two years ago, four years ago, ten years ago – I couldn’t escape the monotony of my home life enough:  living in Los Angeles, there is literally something to do at every second of every day, and I dove in head first, exploring new eats in new cities and musing around music festivals like it was my job, which eventually – it was.  At 23, it was the perfect lifestyle – at 28, still amazing; but as I cruise into the meat of my thirties, that’s just not what I want out of life at this current moment.

Untitled

What do I want? I want to be nurtured by nature, I want to analyze my psyche through the scope of the arts and I want to take things just a little more slowly, a little more sweetly.  Over the almost nine years that I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’ve watched as this self professed ‘City Kitty’ has evolved into more of a ‘Country Cat’.  I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Big Sur and Sequoia, breathing in the the crisp, clean air while I revel in the romanticism of the great outdoors. Though we’ve been in a major drought these last few years, major rains during this past Winter have done their part to change the lay of the land and bring some much needed water to the area – and the Springtime Southern California desert has responded in kind with the Super Bloom.

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Just a hop, skip and a jump up the 14 Freeway from Los Angeles lies the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.  Sitting right on the outskirts of Lancaster, and potentially one of the only valid reasons to go to Lancaster at all, the AV Poppy Reserve is surrounded by rolling hills and a sweeping skyline.  Part of the California National Park system, the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve spans 1,781 acres acres and boasts a wide variety of trails to take you from corner to corner of the park. The state natural reserve is located on the states best natural poppy bearing land. But, beyond the orange beauty of the California state flower, the Poppy Reserve and outlying areas are covered with luscious blue lupines, and yellow goldfields and cream cups.

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Though the Poppy Reserve is stunning, and boasts plenty of walkable trails – I found that the best Poppies were right on the side of the road.  With ample turnouts available from Castaic Lake all the way up to the Reserve, you could literally spend the entire afternoon staring into the soul of flowers.  And boy, do those flowers sing back.If you couldn’t get enough of the sprawling desert landscapes of Lancaster, the Arthur B Ripley Desert State Park is only about 8 miles West of the Poppy Reserve, and has plenty of wildflowers and juniper woodland, in addition to the area’s native Joshua trees.

For more of my photos from the Poppy Fields, check out my album here 🙂

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Southern California and plan your trip to the Poppy Reserve now! For more on the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, head to their website and social media channels –

Website | Facebook | Yelp

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Untitled

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

[LA Life] Say Yay to Snow Days!

Standard

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

Standard

greentnb.jpg

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.

img_0350-1

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

img_8397

Sequoia BK-32

[LA Life] Frolic Among the Flowers at LA’s Best Botanical Gardens

Standard

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

With the weather we’re blessed with in Southern California, it’s no surprise that we spend the better part of our lives outside.  Beyond the fact my wardrobe is perfectly equipped for it ( my daily uniform consists of a tank top, cut offs and flip flops – thank you, working from home), there’s an impressive amount of outdoor activities to partake in.  You want wine tasting? You don’t have to go to Sonoma or Santa Barbara, just head to Santa Monica or Malibu – skiing and snowboarding are only a few hours away at Big Bear, and the beach is equidistant in the opposite direction.  Fun, sun, snow, sand – we’ve got it all, and then some.  Now that Summer season is in full swing, I’m finding it near uncomfortable to be stuck indoors with so much amazing weather, so when it comes to daily adventures –  it’s time to start thinking outside the box – or at least, outside the home – for some fun day trips and day-tes in the area.

Though Los Angeles can come across as a completely concrete jungle, once you’ve found the right nooks and crannies you’ll realize it’s anything but! From the West in Santa Monica to the East in Pasadena, Los Angeles has been blessed with a gregarious amount of green space throughout the city, and it’s only right that as residents we get to revel in it.  The fabled Griffith Park Observatory offers up acres and acres of fresh green space smack dab in the middle of the city and it feels like you’re on a wild safari when you’re trying to trek towards the Hollywood Sign, while assorted areas like Ernest E Debs Park and NELA’s Lincoln Park provide a pop of vivaciously contrasting greens in the heart of residential neighborhoods and burrows.

Even though I’ve lived in LA for over eight years, I’ve realized that here’s still so much to discover and uncover.  There’s simply so many options to choose from that I have a hard time narrowing it down – after all, they all have their je ne sais quoi moments of sheer bliss, utter beauty and vivacious blooms.  Between the neat little retreats and hidden gems with sincere botanical beauty, I’ve definitely made my way through a pretty solid chunk of what the city of angels has to offer and I’m eager to share my favorite botanical gardens and nature nooks with you.



The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

The trifecta of artistic expression, creation and perfection – The Huntington boasts a bevvy of fantastic art collections, a wonderful library rich library and of course – a delectable amount of shrubbery, flowers, trees, flora and fauna.  There natural areas are broken out by region, and you can take a leisurely stroll through a Japanese Tea Garden, a Chinese Garden and even a banzai exhibit, which is even cooler when you realize you’re staring at tiny Sequoias and Redwoods – it’s actually unbelievable.  With over 120 acres to revel in, it’s easy to get lost – and even easier to not see absolutely everything the park has to offer.  Good news – you can get an annual pass and visit whenever you want.  Seeing as the park spans the globe, there are always wonderful specimens in bloom.

Check their website for the latest exhibits as well as their Summer hours, from my knowledge the venue is open from 10:30 to 4:30 every day except Tuesday.

1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA

Website | Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter

The Descanso Gardens

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/117/39265557/files/2014/12/img_5323.jpg

Though I’ve only visited in the Winter (which in Los Angeles just means it’s below 60), the Descanso Gardens boast a stunning landscape that includes a Lilac Garden, a Japanese Garden, California Natives and a sprawling 5 acre rose garden.  Open year round and only $9 for adults, botanical gardens offer a menagerie of courses and programs, and host a wonderful series of summer concerts.

1418 Descanso Dr, La Canada Flintridge, CA

Facebook | Website | Instagram

Los Angeles County Arboretum

IMG_4854

Located off in Arcadia on the East Side of Los Angeles sits one of my absolute favorite venues, and every time I go I’m absolutely astounded by the fact it exists within Los Angeles county.  Just one stroll around the LA Arboretum, in through the tall bamboo shoots or the indigenous South American trees, and you’ll feel instantly transported into a new land.  Each corner and every inch of the park is impeccably maintained and absolutely stunning to marinate on.  Plus, the third Tuesday of every month is free!

301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA

Website | Facebook | Twitter

img_7850

Storrier Sterns Japanese Garden

Located off the beaten path, in the residental neighborhoods of Pasadena is one of the city’s unique hidden gems.  The Storrier Sterns Japanese Garden is a stunning piece of throwback landscaping and architecture built by the one and only  Kinzuchi Fujii in 1935, not to mention – the last standing one he ever created.  Over 80 years later the two acre span is more beautiful than ever with a teahouse, relaxing areas to sit and meditate in and an active coy pond. The venue is tiny, only about two acres, but there simply so much to see that you could be there all afternoon.

270 Arlington Drive, Pasadena, California 91105

Website | Facebook

Arlington Botanical Gardens

One thing about the wonderful botanical gardens in the area – is you more or less have to pay for them.  Great news about the Arlington Botanical Gardens, is they’re open to anyone, any day, for Free.99. The Arlington Botanical Gardens stand as the only public open space in Pasadena and it offers a great arena to walk and relax among it’s community maintained garden, or the rich array of Californian and Mediterranean trees, bushes, flowers and succulents with a wonderful amount of benches scattered among them – so bring a book, get comfortable and get into your R&R.

275 Arlington Dr, Pasadena, CA 91105

Website 


I’ve by no means gone to all of the local gardens, but I’ve been blessed with the opportunities to visit a great number of them and be awe struck by their beautiful, blooming bounties.  Also, if you couldn’t tell – I effing love reflection shots!

What are your favorite Botanical Gardens and Open Spaces – in Los Angeles, or your favorite city?

Let me know in the comments below!

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

Standard

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

Standard

 

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.

 

 

[Traveling Tales] Keeping it Coastal in Central Oregon

Standard

img_1509

“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder

Until a few years ago, I firmly believed that down to my core I was a city kitty; from a purposeful hustle and bustle like you’ve never seen before to vibrant, neon color schemes boldly emblazoned against the darkness of the night and the palpable buzz of a technologically savvy, creative beehive. I grew up in California’s South Bay Area and quite frankly one of the few reasons I’m proud to be from the Silicon Valley is that people actually know the area I’m from instead of “40 minutes south of San Francisco”, “a little East of San Jose” and “a lovely drive from Santa Cruz”.
Being close to San Francisco and San Jose meant that whenever I could immerse myself in their go-go-go nature, I would – but there’s something to be said for what Santa Cruz had to offer: a slower pace of life, a calmer approach to the present moment with a less populated view and a stunning landscape where the trees meet the sea.

When we live in a fast past environment, we’re forced to adapt to a fast paced way of doing, being and living.  Like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, we feel like we’re running just to stay in place. Suffice it to say that in Los Angeles – a quick wit, high levels of intelligence, deep passions and lack of sleep are  four cornerstones of the lives of basically everyone I consider a close friend.  Like a caterpillar in perpetual chrysalis, as age and experience boldly dance together inside, I’ve gladly shed the skin of my past while transitioning into a phase of my life that’s falls on the side of a country mouse than a city kitty. img_1148

This past weekend, Danny and I took a lovely deviation from our typically atypical LA life and jaunted up the West Coast for some wedding planning and much needed family time. For both of our first times, we blasted off out of the lovely Long Beach Airport and headed up to Central Oregon.  Originally, we’d planned on flying in Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday evening – but by extending our stay from Thursday night through Monday afternoon, we saved a few hundred dollars and got some extra family time; now that’s what I call a win-win!  After settling in for a cozy Thursday night, we woke up Friday morning fresh faced and adventure hungry; with a quick breakfast in our bellies and a glance at the stunning weather on tap for the day, we’d packed a bag and we were off off and away, ready to spend a day with the scenic Central Oregon Coast.

Our first stop of the journey was in Newport, Oregon to chow down on some delicious eats at Local Ocean Seafood, with a lovely view to the harbor. For as much as I consider myself a Bouncy Kitty of sorts – I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to eat a lot more raw fish, the likes of sushi, sashimi, tuna tartare and seared salmon make me salivate; but when it comes to the cooked variety, I tend to shy away.  Enter Danny.  He has a no holds, or foods, barred approach to chowing down and it’s expanded my culinary cravings tenfold.  LOS had the most delicious oyster shooters and seared albacore kabobs – and I know precisely what I’m ordering next time we go back!

 After a quick jaunt down the pier for a friendly conversation with some local seals, we were off off and away down the Central Oregon coast to Yachats, a small, sleepy town where I spent several memorable summer vacations with my dad’s side of the family.  But first, we plotted a few stunning beach stops on the way, first – to Ona Beach!

 

I had a million and a half flashbacks to fond childhood memories, tidepool hopping with my father, scavenging for sea glass, seashells and seashell things with my step-mom and breathing in the salty air while dancing in the sunshowers bouncing off the Pacific.  These memories and feelings fill my soul like a warm bowl of soup on a frigid day, or a hearty hug after a long night.

img_1294

Apparently, we couldn’t get enough of the beach because after leaving Ona Beach, we stopped again at Seal Beach to take in the awe inspiring view – and then, it was finally off for Yachats, a town so small that you have to remind people in Oregon where it is.  Translated from the Siletz language, ‘Yachats‘ literally means the ‘dark water at the foot of the mountain’ – one look off the cliffs down into the Pacific, and you’ll be sure to agree. A quaint community about halfway between California and Washington, Yachats sits right on the water and feels like it walked right out of 1950’s America. Back in the day after my grandparents settled in Corvallis Oregon, they snagged an adorable Summer home from a fantastic Rhododendron expert who scattered the flowers across our property.  The end result is a beautiful landscape boarded by the bubbling Bob Creek that sprouts to life and blooms only four weeks of the year, and we were lucky enough to be around to witness it.

img_1496

img_1304

 

The last leg of the trip was definitely my favorite, if not for proof that my apple doesn’t fall far from the family tree. Back in August in 1987, hundreds of thousands of eager souls around the globe flocked to sacred, spiritual locations to participate in the  ‘Harmonic Convergence‘ – the first internationally synchronous  meditation event in recorded history.  Of course – my dad and his group of friends went; they chose an area called Cape Perpetua, and Danny and I were lucky enough to stop by for a sunny, afternoon visit – a rare, sunny afternoon at that, especially for anyone that knows the Oregon Coast!  Cape Perpetua is a slice of Oregon heaven with hundreds of tall trees sitting over bluffs that give a panoramic view of the entire Oregon Coastline. Pay it just one visit and you’ll see in a heartbeat why it’s so special.

 

img_1310

img_1394

img_1320

img_1347
img_1330

What I learned on my trip is that if you’re a fan of the California Coast, you’ll be head over heals for Oregon’s. Start planning your journey now and check out these helpful sites on the state’s natural wonders.

Travel Oregon | Yachats | You Might Like Oregon | Oregon National Parks