Tag Archives: Wanderlust

[LA Life] Life’s a Beach at Leo Carrillo + Point Mugu

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In Los Angeles, the weather of choice from about March through October is sun, sun and more sun; and I’ve heard that the only remedy is to give in – indulge in the afternoon, frolic in the sunshine, stick your toes in the dirt or the sand – wherever the day takes you, and if absolutely necessary – take a mental health day when you’re feeling at your best, but instead let’s just agree to call it a ‘Because I’m Awesome’ day, because – well – we’re awesome, duh. Anyhow!

The other week, after realizing we’ve spent all the time we could with our A/C unit and the kitties, Danny and I did a quick about face, packed our beach bags and in a seemingly unprecedented move we left the East Side for the day, in search of sandier pastures where we could relax with the ebb and flow of whimsical, diamond encrusted waves.  Only about an hours drive sans traffic from the forever away East Los Angeles, there are ample beaches to bounce between with your choice of rough and tumble rocks, rolling sandscapes, and a sprinkling of pastel wildflowers.

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It can’t be just me that’s entranced by the the undulating consistency of the waves, with their half dangerous, half powerful and all inspiring nature, or the strength of the sun’s rays, dancing to and fro about our bodies like stars in a solar system. There’s something so calming about dipping your toes in the water, something so innately ingrained in all of humanity’s motion.  Considering how much of our bodies are actually made out of water – it makes sense that we feel so at peace in it, and then ten fold when you think that our first moments were floating within our mother – the same way we float within mother nature.

For my full photo album, head over to my Flickr and show some lovin’ 

For more on Leo Carrillo Beach or Point Mugu, head to their socials – or just get off your beach bum and head there yourself.  Trust me, so worth it!

Leo Carrillo Beach:  Website | Yelp 

Point Mugu: Website| Yelp

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[Traveling Tales] Take it to the Top: Conquering Gray’s Peak Trail

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Image may contain: one or more people, sky, tree, outdoor, nature and water

“You might not find any wifi in the forest, but I promise you’ll find a better connection”

For the better part of the last decade,  any weekend with time to spare and sun to catch magically evolved into a festival fueled adventure somewhere along the West Coast.  Over the last few years, our festival family reunion and pre-Summer kickoff was Lightning in a Bottle – delightfully and delectably getting us ready for the rest of festival season.  When the time came this year to figure out where we wanted to lounge lavishly and enjoy each others company, we took a long hard look at the growth we’ve elicited from ourselves at Lighting in a Bottle – which comes easily when you’re surrounded by the prismatic love, light and laughter of the event.  Each year, though challenging for individually unique reasons, provided the perfect platform to acknowledge myself in the moment and grow from it.  Paired with sweeping landscapes and myriads of magical music, I almost dare you not to be moved – because I have been, over and over and over again.

Even as I describe what we didn’t experience this year, I feel blessed and gifted with my past experiences.  As I marinate in my own newfound maturity, I amuse myself in what I’ve become – knowing full well that growth is synonymous with growing pains, and I effectively feel like I’ve graduated from a phase of my life, and of myself.   All together, these thoughts synthesized themselves in a way that made me opt for a new journey for Memorial day this time around the sun. So, instead of feverishly packing our apartment to fit inside a tent, we packed an overnight bag and it was off, off and away to Big Bear for a weekend of sun and fun with a few friends that have become a hell of a lot more like family over the last few years.

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Just a hop, skip and a few hour drive into San Bernadino, Big Bear already sits at an elevation of nearly 7,000′ – even before you head out on your hike or snow inspired romp through the woods, and has a little bit of something for everyone – granted that everyone’s a bit of a nature nut.   We might have cut our lodging options short by not planning our trip until literally three days before the weekend, but thanks to AirBnB finding an a beautiful place to stay  – fully equipped with patios and a hot tub on a budget – was super easy.

After to getting into town late Friday night, on Saturday morning the group made a bomb little breakfast and got to packing for our hike.  Several sandwiches, a few mixed drinks and some salacious snackables later and we were off, off and away for what turned out to be an intense but well worth it hike up Gray’s Peak Trail.   All together, the hike up Gray’s Peak is about Seven Miles each way with 1300′ to climb in elevation.  One thing we didn’t know beforehand, but damn well are sure of now: at about 8000′ in elevation is when people start toying with altitude sickness and at approximately 8300′ – at times, you could really tell that we weren’t in Kansas at sea level anymore.

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Even though the few websites we found on the hike claimed that it was great for kids, my friends and I can attest that those kids must be jacked up on Mountain Dew because we all had our collective asses handed to us.  There were a lot of fun ‘turnouts’ – if that’s what they’re even called if you’re not in a car – that got us to jump off the beaten path and forge our own trail, but in a respectful way – of course.  There were a few places with tiny streams, stemming from the base of the mountain and loads of little lizards running amuck every which way.  Near 8k’, you could tell that the trees were starting to be weathered under the altitude but that all changed when you got near the pinnacle, it literally felt like you’d walked through a portal and into Fern Gully.   There’s a couple things that make this a Summer hike in my book – like the incline and the potential weather, but it also turns out that the trailhead is closed for public use between December and April because it’s in the middle of a bald eagle wintering habitat area – how effing neat!

Packing Pro Tips

Make sure everyone has enough water, and a backpack between two people is perfect.  Layers, extra socks, hiking shoes cause you want your ankles.

Things I’ve learned as a novice hiker, but expert adventurer:

  • Cameras are always a must, sure your phone has one – but point and shoots are fun, too! Make sure you take at least one group photo before you head up the trail and into the sweat zone – yeah, now you get it.  Extra points if you remember to bring a collapsible tripod – you’ll really be your groups MVP, most valuable photographer.
  • Your phone has a compass on it, don’t be afraid to use it – but also, put that thing away and enjoy the hike!
  • Hydration is key, super key. Drinking and hiking is fun, but in the Summer it’s not the smartest – make sure you’ve got enough water for the walk up, and the walk back; plus, being more hydrated makes the drunk more fun – if you’re into that type of thing 😉
  • A bag per every two people is appropriate, that way you can also switch off with carrying duty – make sure you toss in some sammies and full bars for meals, and for snackables both nuts and dried fruit have a lot of protein.  Last, but not least if you’re weird like me and don’t really enjoy chewing – throw in a few ensures to top it off.
  • Everybody loves layers – especially for hikes.  Bring an change of socks in case you encounter water, shorts / pants depending on what you start off in and a hoodie.
  • Do a gut check with everyone before the hike starts and make sure everyone’s comfortable with the adventure ahead, you never know who’s in super great shape, or who might have some hesitations about an all day excursion.
  • Leaves of three, let them be. Poison Oak is no joke and usually it’s kept off the trail – if you’re like me and like to forge your own path, know what it looks like…or better yet, just wear pants.

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For more on Big Bear, head to their website or social channels:

Website | Facebook | Twitter 

 

 

[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.


[LA Life] Morning Bliss in Lincoln Park

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A picture might be worth a thousand words, but what they often won’t tell you are calamity, chaos and all around entropy surrounding those perceived moments of serenity.

Just minutes before I found my mental zen at East Los Angeles’ Lincoln Park, I was frustrated to my boiling point with the DMV – infuriated that we’d wasted over two hours of the morning and I’d had essentially had it up to my ears with any semblance of ‘humanity‘ before the clock had even struck noon.  There are few tribulations that we can all share here in this world, and dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles is definitely one of them.  As we were gallivanting throughout the city’s side streets on the way to the DMV, I noticed glimpses of pastel and primary colors in delicious dichotomy with the multitudes of green in a park across the street.  against the multitude of greens.  And now that the morning had manifested in its own auspicious way, it felt like the only remedy was to delve back into whatever nature I had found as soon as I could.

The second we parked, I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough –  I took a breath of Spring air as I gingerly skipped from the parking lot pavement to the grassy landscape encroaching the tranquil lake.  Technicolor buildings reflected against the lake in a kaleidoscopic fashion as we slowly made our way around in a giant pseudo-circle.  Strolling in synchronicity, we shared a bakers dozen of laughs – enjoying what little time was actually left of the morning hours, blissfully aware that under any other circumstance we would have been tethered to our work lives and inundated with tasks that would require us to stay in doors.

Like treasures tucked away in uncharted territory, there are a plethora of small city parks located around the city of LA simply waiting for you to discover them.  I’ve loved Echo Park Lake for a long time, but Lincoln Park is almost a miniature version and a whole lot less populated. Founded all the way back in 1881, Lincoln Park was originally named East Los Angeles park, only to be renamed ‘Eastlake Park‘ in 1901; you wouldn’t know from looking at it now, but the park used to house a full zoo,  cactus garden and a private alligator farm. Renamed Lincoln Park in 1917 after the local high school, this portion of paradise has been a staple of Los Angeles’ beautiful cross section of counter culture humanity and the arts.

The park itself comes equipped with a menagerie of of activities for all ages, lush lands to picnic on, a playground that has adult swings (yeah, you heard right), a skate park designed by a professional,  BBQ pits, fishing in the lake and last but most certainly not least – the wonderful Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts + Education,  a prominent meeting spot for the community and the only multidisciplinary building of its kind in the city.  Not to mention, my favorite touch, sprinkles of large scale art around the edges of the park.

 
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For more on Los Angeles’ Lincoln Park, head to their social media pages – or better yet, just drop on by and pay it a visit.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |  Yelp

What are your favorite local parks?

Let me know in the comments below!

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[Traveling Tales] Spring has Sprung in the Sequoias

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“You are yourself a Sequoia; stop and get acquainted with your big brethren.”
[John Muir to Ralph Waldo Emerson]

Once in a blue moon the stars  shift into alignment by night while the sun showers down on by day, sharing their ominously beautiful light and dancing around us to and fro; beautiful butterflies bounce by in bountiful numbers, eagerly awaiting the lush vegetation sprouting up and around each nook and cranny of the land as a reminder that Summer is just around the corner.   It might not be magic, but it certainly feels like it; it’s simply another Spring day in Sequoia, gleefully taking in all the wonder the grounds have to offer.

Just about three hours north of Los Angeles, the Sequoias provide both a literal and figurative breath of fresh air for this city kitty turned nature nymph. After a wonderful Winter adventure up to Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks, I’ve been itching to go back and Danny’s birthday this past weekend gave me the perfect excuse.  On Saturday morning, we packed our bags, added a friend to the mix and were off, off and away on another nature fueled adventure to the land where there might not be internet, but I promise you will find a better connection.

Even though we just visited this past February, the landscape had magically manifested from a pristine snow covered wonderland into an effervescently lush landscape of a menagerie of eager greens ebbing to and fro throughout forests while bold pops of wildflowers were perfectly scattered throughout the park and around the cabin where we frolicked for the weekend.  The icing on Danny’s birthday cake – his birthday (4/17) falls during National Park Week, which lasts from April 16-24, 2016; and now that we know, for every birthday going forward we’re going to add another National Park to our epic “To See” list – but more on that later!

We kicked off the trip on Saturday afternoon with another adventure into the North side of the park to visit King’s Canyon and Grant’s Grove.  With how frequently I’d been updating my weather app, I was absolutely astonished and beyond happy that the weather in the park for the weekend was a delightful 70, and it was definitely at least 80 back in Three Rivers.  An awe-inspiring tree, to be in the presence of the great Sequoia is incredibly humbling – not to mention, an incredible dose of perspective.   By the time we reached our cabin that night, the sun had begun to set and the creatures had begun to creep out and enjoy themselves in the dashing dusk. 

The next morning, the sun greeted us with an awe inspiring sunrise as the weather took a turn for the beautiful, butterflies and sunshowers greeted us around every corner while the Kaweah River calmly rolled through Three Rivers.  Each and every moment felt right out of a dream, or better yet a perfect moment of space preserved in time.  We spent the day frolicking around the river, dipping our feet in to cool down as we took in the wonderful wildlife around us.  I’ve never felt so humbled and awestruck by the world we live in as I do in Sequoia, and I’m already itching to go back.

What National Parks are on your Must See list??


  

[Traveling Tales] Serenity in the Sequoias

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With the sporadic influx of pseudo-Winter weather in Southern California over the last few weeks, a fresh blanket of snow had dusted over the local mountain ranges and springtime blossoms were peeking out with pastel colors against fifty shades of green.  Once I caught wind of the awe inspiring pictures of Yosemite’s fabled February Firefall, the itch for wanderlust had flooded back through my veins.  Twenty minutes and an excited conversation with Danny later, and we were scheming about what shenanigans we could get up to for the weekend.  Since the weekend before was a beautiful three day Valentine’s Day and President’s Day twofer, we realized that there would be very few people on the roads traveling about – which made it perfect timing for a quick weekend adventure.

A self professed ‘city kitty’ of sorts, I can easily count the number of times I’ve played in the snow on one hand.  So, the genuine prospect of an outdoors adventure prancing around a crystalline cloud makes me giddy, like a school girl crush on the first day of Summer. After consulting the map, we realized a 36 hour trip to Yosemite was a bit lofty – but the good news was that we could cut our travel time in half and finally enjoy the stunning scenery that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have to offer.

After some quick research of the area, we devised what I thought was a genius game plan. First, we jotted up to Project Survival Cat Haven for a quick stop and a Caturday inspired tour of the big cat sanctuary and conservation center.  Between the gorgeous Lions, Bengal Tigers, Lynx, Leopards and more – the feline fanatic inside me was absolutely satiated. Then, we headed off to King’s Canyon to frolic in the snow and gallivant around Grant’s Grove.

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A full day of snow filled adventure later, and we were ready to turn down for a delicious meal overlooking the Kaweah River in the sleepy town of Three Rivers, right outside of the southern entrance of the park.  Once we found our cabin for the night, we nestled in and reflected on our incredible day, while memories intermingled with the rich aroma of a Winter night’s fire and laughter. The next morning as the sun slowly soared over the mountains, we found ourselves enraptured by beauty at each and every angle, from geometric reflections in the pool to the warm aroma of rosemary and lavender. After some hearty conversation with some of the locals, we were off, off and away – but this time, into Sequoia National Park and the Giant Forest.

Founded back in 1890, Sequoia National Park stretches to over 400,000 acres of land with topographies that range from 1,000′ to 12,000′ – including the highest point within the Great 48, Mount Whitney. The park contains 34 separately stunning groves of Giant Sequoia Trees, accounting for nearly half of the Sequoia groves in the world. A member of the Redwood family, Sequoias are considered to be one of the oldest living entities on Earth with it’s  oldest members dated at an awe inspiring 3,266 years old; for some perspective, the oldest living tree is an astonishing 9,550 years old.  Featuring fibrous, fire resistant bark – the Giant Sequoias rank in as the world’s largest single trees, and largest living thing by volume.  The world’s largest tree by volume, the General Sherman clocks in at over 52,000 cubic feet, stands over 280′ tall and is aged between 2,200 and 2,700 years old. The park also contains the next four largest trees in the world – including three additional Sequoias that lie within the Giant Forest.

Sequoia-44One of my favorite things (and there were a lot of favorite things) about the park is the varieties in the terrain, yielding a complex menagerie of landscapes within a small area. In addition to the incredible Sequoia themselves, the flowing Kaweah River was roaring with delight while wildflowers sprang out sporadically from behind bushes and gold dusted rocks. Waterfalls peeked from around each and every bend, with small off the beaten path hikes and trails, while incredible granite monoliths like Moro Rock and Hospital Rock towered above us like a watchdog.

Heading up the mountain one more time, we ascended in direct proportion to our excitement – with changes in elevation causing me to constantly bundle up in more warmth around each and every turn. Eventually, we arrived at Big Trees Trail – the home of the General Sherman, and you better believe there was a whole lot of tree hugging going around.  Their warm rich color paired with vibrant evergreen needles against the pristine white snow made for a nearly spiritual moment seeped in serenity.  Ravens and red tailed hawks flew to and fro while the trees beckoned to us gently in their stillness; standing in their shadow, a wave of humbling calmness washed over me as I finally felt like I understood the true gravity of the world.  Stuck within a moment of lucid beauty,  I found I’d lost track of time and couldn’t tell if we’d been standing there silent for moments, minutes or hours. I left the forest feeling transformed, transfixed on what felt like a life changing experience underneath the stunning Sequoia.

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Hands down, the National Park Systems is one of the best gifts that the United States Government could give back to the people and slowly but surely, the country mouse is coming out of me and I’m truly enjoying submersing and submerging myself within its ubiquitous beauty.  If last year I could find the time to work and play at a new music festival every month, this year I can certainly commit to a new national park every month.  And now, with this past trip under my belt, I have to admit that Sequoia now has a special place in heart and is my favorite park that I’ve visited so far, with Zion and Red Rocks coming in as close seconds.  If you have grandiose plans of traversing the park soon, be aware that Generals Highway is closed between Lodgepole and Grant Grove – and the depending on your proposed route, your detour can be an incredibly narrow and windy road (trust).  The closure will be reopening in Mid March.

What’s your favorite National Park and which ones are on your bucket list?

 

 
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