Thursday, July 6, 2017

Seattle in the summer


Finally, I have caught up on the events up to this past weekend. We were super duper excited for this weekend. H and O prepared a fantastic itinerary. We flew in on a Thursday evening. And met up with E for dinner. We went to a good thai place that A was scared would be vegan. He was thinking we were going to get BBQ. Foiled once again!

We went home to prepare for the next days' activities. On Friday morning, we drove onto a ferry!! I was super thrilled to do this. It was so exciting! I was so inexplicably excited. We got off in Bremerton to pick up provisions. With a car packed full of stuff, we continued onto Olympic National Forest/ Park. I wasn't sure where the lines were drawn. We hiked Mt. Townsend. It was about 8 miles roundtrip with about 3,000 foot elevation gain. We could see Seattle from the top, and on our way down we realized we could see Seattle for a lot of the way up. Our sandwiches were the perfect accompaniment for the journey. There was snow at the top, which I was thrilled about. We had moderate cloud cover for a lot of the parts that mattered. We couldn't have hoped for better weather.

We stopped in Port Angeles for a meal that was pricier than it was worth. By the time we arrived at the log cabin resort, there was still some daylight left. But it would have been nice to have arrived earlier. And I was glad we were able to catch the 8:30 ferry. Timing worked out very well for us. The log cabin had a downstairs and a loft and a spectacular view of the lake. It is very similar to my dream home of a shotgun house with a loft. O & H very kindly let us have the upstairs, which I was so incredibly stoked for. This experience was by all definitions glamping. There was a shower with hot water. They provided towels and all the accoutrements of a hotel. There was a community fire ring we used to make our own campfire. It was a great evening. Breakfast outside overlooking the lake was so nice.

We did a short hike to Marymere Falls before turning back for home. We also stopped in Poulsbo to see the cute little Dutch themed town and for some beer and games. We took the same ferry back. Again, I was so inexplicably excited to drive our car onto the ferry. Must do! We picked up pizza and watched a movie back at home. It was such a perfect and fun trip to the Olympics!

The following day we got to see H crush at Potlatch, a tournament-like event for ultimate frisbee. And we got to go to the flagship REI. You can never have enough time at the flagship REI. I could spend a whole day there. Also, we got Ezell's for dinner. What a great day!

The next day was another lazy day of sorts as we got a pretty late start to the climbing gym. Afterwards we made our way to Georgetown and Costco. Also, another mundane thing I was super excited to do. O and A grilled some salmon while the girls supervised. It was really good. We watched some tv until it was time to play Carcassonne. This was yet another late night.

On Tuesday morning, we lazed around some more until we left to get food and laze around the house on the patio some more. The weather was so, so perfect. Perfect lazy weekend vibes. It was such a shame to leave Seattle.

disparately timed,

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

June is family time extravaganza


In June, E came to visit and we went to get vegan food with her. It was quite delicious. The following week, K & Z and her mom came to visit. We went to Disneyland the first day because it was a Thursday so it would have been the least crowded with shortest lines. But it's Disneyland, so it's always a s***show. We got out a little late, but spent the rest of the day there. We saw fireworks and the parade. There was a lot going on. That place is crazy. Crowds are less and less appealing lately.

The next day we went to the Getty Villa up the PCH. We finally got some food spicy/flavorful enough for Z's mom. K and A got to play some Nintendo Switch. The next day was my brother's birthday, so we all headed out to Catalina Island for some birthday freebies. We went to the Botanic Garden, K got a free meal, free coffee, free minigolf, free ice cream, and there was more we didn't get to. Pretty epic way to celebrate your birthday. And great promo for Catalina, because if it's your birthday and you get free stuff - you're going to bring friends who all have to pay. We got ramen back on the mainland that K was really surprised by how good the chicken broth was. When we were kids, our family would prepare a whole chicken just for K to eat.

The last day they were here, we went to climb. I showed them how to lead climb. We went to brunch at Republique before going to see K's godson - Jelly, the beagle. The day after we dropped them all off at the airport, A had to pick up his sister from the airport.

The following weekend, the 3 of us drove back up to the Bay for Father's Day/ his mom's birthday. We started with a night in Monterey at a fancy hotel before meeting his folks in Carmel the following afternoon. The weather was pretty near perfect here. We drove back up to the Bay Area, San Jose specifically, for dinner. It was so very, very hot. Even when we got back to Piedmont it was hot. The following day after a mad rush to cook and consume our food, we started the drive back down to LA. And when we got back - it was so very, very nice and not hot. I had never appreciated LA so much. I was so happy to have completed that family time extravaganza. It just seemed never-ending.

relentlessly ajest,

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

May is scattered


May was less busy than previously, but we still didn't manage to get a weekend at Black for the RRS to climb.

We went to the drive-in to watch GOTG. It was a little rainy at the end, but the show went on. We also discovered Mama's Lu. Probably the highlight of the year. Those dumpling were so good. We helped a friend move their things into storage for until they return in the fall. The Culver City car show was also this month. The changed the location. We thought it was dt Culver like in past years, but it was a mile further in a field in the park. This is probably a better location for those camping out for the day with their cars, but I was not pleased about having to walk farther. We'll have to bike next year. We also went to the Riverside Quarry for a very short day trip before stopping for Mama's Lu on the way home. The Quarry is a literal dump. I counted tires and mattresses. Not what you would think of as far as climbing outside goes.

The following weekend we went up to the Bay area for A's sister's graduation from Davis. It was soooo hot in Davis! We managed to get A's folks out on a hike before we left. There was the typical reluctance before getting out and the typical pleasant surprise after. Type 2 fun.

We had some do nothing time, which I always appreciate. We started on the garden this month too, I think.

daringly crossed,

Thursday, May 4, 2017

April is packed too


The madness of March seemed to carry over straight into April. That final week of March, we had a brief visit from A's sister. O and H arrived for that first week of April. They are probably our favorite long-distance couple friends.

We celebrated H's birthday with a weekend of magic. We started on Friday with a visit to Universal Studios for a visit to the Harry Potter World. I think we watched Harry Potter that night, and all the nights. The following day, we had a slow start before walking to downtown and returning home to get ready for the Magic Castle. We definitely stayed out past our bedtime. The next day we went out for coffee before taking them to the North Hollywood Wat Thai Temple for a big lunch. This was a bad idea because we were way too full to climb at Hollywood Boulders after that. I feel like I had only started to digest all that about 2 hours into the session. We stopped at a Ktown grocery store before returning home to watch more Harry Potter. A weekend of magic.

The following weekend, a trip to Yosemite was cancelled due to unfavorable weather. So it opened up for a weekend of birthday extravaganzas. There was a tamale birthday party on Friday, and a barcade party on Saturday.

The following weekend we got to go see Into the Woods downtown. I loved it. I was particularly impressed that most of the production is put on by the actors. Everyone stayed on-stage the whole time to play instruments, make sounds, move props, etc. Some actors had multiple roles. It was so clever. We also went to Knott's Berry Farm that weekend. The last time I was there was a Thursday in fall, so there were no lines for anything. This time, we waited over an hour for many rides. I think we went on only a handful of rides. Our friends were so kind to gift us an annual pass to Knott's, so we could just go back another time. I had a lot of fun my first time there, but the lines really do just eat all of your time. I have to figure out a better way to do this.

The following weekend was Earth Day and Festival of Books. I volunteered at a creek clean-up Saturday AM - a great Earth Day activity. The following day, I managed to drag A to the Festival of Books. We didn't buy anything this year. Good job, us! We watched a talk from the authors of Run Fast, Eat Slow that influenced our salad game significantly. Salads have become a regular part of our diet and homemade dressings are the only kind we have in our fridge.

The last weekend in April was the big weekend I had been waiting for. I made the reservations 6 months earlier. We managed to wrangle our friends L and E at the last minute to come with us. We left Friday morning and arrived in the afternoon to a gorgeous bug-free campsite. The following morning we embarked on what would be an approximately 15-mile hike beginning with the East Rim Trail up to Observation Point and ending in the main park. This would be our longest hike to date. I was really nervous about this because L and E are super hardcore because they are avid backpackers - so this would be a walk in the park for them. Like anything challenging in life, it was fine. We got some epic views, few crowds, varied landscape, diverse topography, and a lot of sun. It was a great way to experience Zion. The following morning, we went up the iconic Angels' Landing before parting ways. I had done it solo last time, but this was definitely preferred. A and I stopped at the visitor center to watch an informational video before heading home at a leisurely pace. We left a night early, which I was ready for. We had done a lot and I was excited to go home and shower. Also, I love playing hooky with A so we had a great time the following day running errands.

splendid daily,

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

March madness


A lot of things happened in March.

The first weekend, we made a day trip to Solvang, a cute little Danish town. We stopped first at Nojoqui Falls for a short hike before rolling into town to look around. We stopped at a few places for wine tastings. If you stop first at the visitor center, they have a bunch of 2 for 1 coupons for tasting rooms. Great deals. By the end of the day, it could have been a tossup to spend the night or drive home - because we were schnockered and consequently sleepy. We (he) rallied and (he) drove back home after eating the worst sausage ever at the Copenhagen Sausage Garden. Costco sausages are leagues better. Do not go there for sausages despite the deceiving moniker.  

The following weekend, we planned a trip to Red Rocks, near Las Vegas. In honor of the RRS's birthday, but mostly BSB concert tickets I had gotten for the night of his birthday. I snagged a great and giant airbnb at the last minute for a lot of people. We might have had 13 sleeping in there at the highest capacity, but it could have held more. Our group was over 20 at some point while out at the crag. It was a large group to rally. I was pretty impressed everyone came through.

That first night, we bbq'd at the house and then the boys went to top golf, while I went to the concert with R. It was a great time for all parties involved. The following morning, we rolled out to the crag despite the unfavorable temperatures. It was a good day outside in the shade and hanging out with friends. We went to all you can eat sushi that night. It was delicious! We wrapped up the night with a low key gathering at the house. The following morning, we had a slow morning making and eating breakfast before heading back for home. At the beginning of the trip, there was talk of an AM climbing session this last day, but the consensus seemed to be that everyone was ready to roll back home - an indication of a good climbing day the day before, I suppose? We all parted ways, hopefully with the house cleaner than when we arrived. I do appreciate having adult friends. It was really nice to see this community in a different setting.

The following weekend, A's folks came down to celebrate A's and his dad's birthdays. We met them at Universal Studios after they arrived on a Friday. We had dinner on the Universal Citywalk and got shave ice near there. I think it was their first experience. The following day, we met them at their hotel in Anaheim to drive together to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. We packed a picnic lunch, which was a hit! I'm always happy to feed people. We stopped at what has become a Vietnamese and boba shop mainstay for his family for dinner before his folks drove back home. What a long day for them! I am always so impressed with the amount of time they are willing to spend in a car. It's nuts! It was a fun trip to see them briefly for the weekend.

The following weekend was a birthday extravaganza for several friends. Ciclavia rolled through Culver City again. They demoed these cool new cycle tracks on Washington from Helms to National. We held our post-Ciclavia BBQ again. Successful weekend that became increasingly jam-packed despite the plan to do nothing. This seems to be a recurring problem.

barely packed,

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February, briefly


My parents came to see our place for the first time in February. I put them up in an airbnb within walking distance. My mom was not pleased that there was no tv, even though she doesn't watch tv - she just has it on for background noise. What a waste! She also complained about it being someone's house and questioned the cleanliness. She insisted on buying her own towels at target (like that's any cleaner??) My dad was more than happy to be within a stone's throw. They barreled in every morning to make oatmeal and criticize my lifestyle and the cleanliness of my apartment. My dad contemplated opening a cleaning service as they were cleaning my place.  

They managed to have Chinese food for every meal except their first night and last day here. They insisted on going to Chinatown and then all the other days we went to various SGV eateries - the Chinatown of the suburbs. They would subsequently get Chinese food to go for dinner later. After the 3rd freeway interchange to get to "Chinatown" (my mom was under the impression that SGV is Chinatown, because that's where all her friends live), my dad, "Oh, this is actually pretty far..."

I took them on a hike every day. My mom started out complaining like there was no tomorrow. She eventually came to terms with the activity. She ended up going on all our hikes, despite the whining and threats.

Mom's philosophical progression on hiking:
Day 1: I'm not going! I don't have the shoes. You can't make me.
Day 2: I'm staying in the car.
Day 3: This is not bad. It is better and cheaper than the mall.
Day 4: Where are we hiking today?

My dad loved the hikes. He was so into it, and proposed moving to my patio and "going up the mountain with me every day." I set him up on the patio with a hammock to read his newspaper.

On our last day, we took them up the PCH a few minutes to the beach and for Western lunch. My dad picked a fish that he eventually traded with me because he liked mine better. He only likes Chinese food, and it was the most neutral thing on the menu. The RRS pulled the wool over my mom's eyes by picking up the check when they weren't looking. That is how you fool the master. We took them to blockheads for shave ice. To my surprise, they got their own and finished it. My dad contemplated opening a shave ice shop in Chicago. The highest compliment you could hope for from my parents who don't like cold things or sweet things. Truly, a surprise to both me and A.

A and I have been trying to figure out things to do with our parents, because we cannot spend the whole day eating. Hikes have been quite successful. It gets us all outside, and a way to expend some energy - making conversations easier to facilitate. Also, outside is free.

still sunscreening,

Thursday, February 2, 2017

other January happenings


Nothing much else happened in January. We watched Amelie, the musical. It is in our top 2-3 musicals. Philippa Soo, of former Hamilton fame, developed the character Amelie. It was very much in the spirit of Amelie, but completely different from the original French movie. We both loved it so much. It went onto Broadway in Manhattan, which ultimately ended it's run in May amidst Tony snubs and poor reviews. We were both thoroughly surprised.

We made our annual pilgrimage to Chicago for Chinese New Year. It has been too long since and I really don't remember what happened at this point. I really need to be better about filling in the blanks immediately after the events. The RRS's friend, J, met up with us in Chicago despite low temperatures. His first tourist experience, we made stops at the Art Institute, coffee, pizza, etc. He got a full ethnic experience at family CNY meals with my family, impressing them with his appetite.

We also went snowboarding this month to Big Bear. I was happy to go with our friends A and CW because we couples separated into and boys and girls, which correlated with our skill levels. Let's be honest, I am way too slow to go with the RRS. It is not good for either of us.

persistently sunny,

Thursday, January 19, 2017

first of 2017


We had been itching for a moment to visit O&H in Seattle. The skies opened up and we seized a cheap flight up in early January. It was the record cold in Seattle, unfortunately. There was ice on the roads and fear in my partner's heart. He insisted on double pants and alllll of his jackets. He will not make it.

He jumped on the opportunity to go minigolfing. I was less enthused, but in the end I came around. It was more fun than I thought it would be. We stopped for coffee and a deli for sandwiches. The RRS threatened to starve us when he said we should get sandwiches later. I pushed for sandwiches early, and it turned out to be a good choice. How many years until he just concedes? We went to a minigolf and bar place. They let you just bring drinks around to all the holes. How fun! There was a Seahawks game happening so we busted out of there. We did the tourist thing and walked our way down to Pike's Place for some samples before going home for board games and cookie baking.

The next day was a lazy, rainy Sunday. We didn't leave the house until 2 in the afternoon for the climbing gym. After a few hours at the crowded facility, it seemed like everyone else had the same idea that day, we went for fried chicken before going home for another board game night. Carcassonne is so fun!

I stayed in Seattle a couple days longer than A initially to meet up with another friend, but due to last minute changes, my services went to my hosts instead. I spent some time organizing legos and cleaning their place, which is probably more fun for me than most of the populace. I set out for the gold rush museum to learn something historic. It turned out to be just across the street from where we were that previous weekend. And I took the similar path back home making a stop for tomato soup, which was delicious, just when it started to tinkle. Also, stopped in target, because I do the most adventurous things when left to my own devices. Finally went to the co-op they live by to pick up some stuff for dinner. Some more cleaning, organizing, bossing the next day before going to brunch close by and walking through the neighborhood. And lasagna for my last meal before returning to the bright, bright sun of LA. I always have a great time in Seattle, and admire the weather there.

reluctantly braised,

Thursday, January 5, 2017

last trip of 2016


We began the endless drive up the coast of California on the Tuesday after Christmas. We decided to go up the 1 until the lost coast, because it ends around there, thus why it's called the lost coast. But first! A stop at Berkeley Bowl, which made my day. I would have been happy to call it quits right there - in the aisles of Berkeley Bowl.

There were lots of places to stop for oysters, but we weren't that hungry yet and we still had a lot of mileage ahead of us. Whenever we drive up the 5 to the Bay, A likes to stop after the halfway mark for food, so it makes the end leg seem easier. We drove and drove and drove and drove. California is endless. There is so much of it beyond the SF-Bay. We pulled over next to the ocean for a brief snack at some point and in the woods too. There was this long winding road through the forest to go from the 1 to the 101, which admittedly I was starting to feel carsick, and I normally don't. Finally on the 101, we reached Eureka as nightfall rolled in.

I picked this old Victorian inn place for us to stay. I thought it would be fun. I was hoping to meet a ghost. It was old, alright. But we had a fun room with a good view. And television! We watched some tv for a bit before going downstairs to the attached Irish pub. The best fish and chips in town, so we had to go for it.

The next day we headed off about 40 miles north for Redwood National Park & Forest. The history of conservation in the area was difficult because many tracts were privately owned for logging so the forests are in bits and pieces here and there as they were slowly accumulated by conservation organizations. We started off on our hike through some of the biggest trees in the park, and I took a wrong turn doubling our intended mileage. Again, we seem to find ourselves in these types of situations a lot. I didn't pack snacks because I figured our hike would be so short we'd be back to the car in a jiffy. All I could think about was all the food in our trunk.

Finally back to the car, we munched a little before driving up the coast for some seaside views. We picnicked oceanside for a late lunch. The view was sweeping and endless as the sun sparkled gold against the waves. Boy, oh boy, it was one of those moments that truly amazed me at the endlessness of magic and beauty in California. We walked down probably one of the most narrow paths cliffside to the viewpoint in hopes of seeing some wildlife. A had gone on and on about seeing elephant seals when he was a kid. We saw one seal flipping around and concluded all the seals must be stationed right beneath where we were standing - out of sight.

Mr. Lee owns the inn where we stayed. He looked pretty old, and was talking about how he came to have just one lung. I would have liked to ask him more questions. When the Chinese Exclusion Act happened, Eureka made their own version of it and booted out 480 Chinese. The law didn't get repealed until 1959. Mr. Lee is Korean, but I think Eureka and other towns like it must have a pretty colorful and fascinating Asian American history. Mr. Lee was really nice and poked fun at A for his impractical sports car when he saw us out.

We took the 101 back down, stopping at the City of 10,000 Buddhas. When we arrived it was about 2pm, and the guy at the check-in said the temple was open from 2-2:20pm for public viewing and then it would be closed for an hour for meditation. A scribbled down our info, because you have to sign in, and we scrambled over to see the 10,000 buddhas. The whole city is so quiet. The calmness and peacefulness felt permeable. For lunch, we caught the vegetarian restaurant before the closed. The food was really good, and A got suckered into buying an $8 bottle of grape juice that they make on the premises - "non-alcoholic wine." We brought it home to have with his family for new year's eve, and it was a hit.

Our last stop was Russian River Brewing, of course to buy a case of Pliny and their other beers. A was thinking just 1 case, but who are we kidding? I was confident we'd be able to make space for the beers in his tiny car. Oh, the things we have to struggle to fit in his car. His "racecar" is probably the most rugged s2k out there with all the places we take it.

Another trip in the bucket. There is really so much to see in California.

flagrantly aghast,

Tuesday, November 22, 2016



We spent our first day in Delhi visiting Old Delhi. Navigating the train was comfortable and somewhat familiar. With the chaos and noise of Delhi that seemed so foreign and different, the language of public transit is almost universal and relieving. It provided a sense of control and consistency that other modes of transportation had not given us. We wandered around thinking we'd run into the spice market, but found the Red Fort and a mosque. We finally gave in and got a bicycle rickshaw to take us to the spice market. He took us back to where we had been to a small little spice shop that was not what we were looking for. We got on another rickshaw and he took us to the same place, this time I protested and he took us to the actual spice market. It was much simpler than we thought. We had turned and weaved through Old Delhi when we really should have just kept walking straight. Immediately we started sneezing, and everyone else around us was sneezing too. This was definitely the right place. With only a brief time up and down the stalls, we made our way back to the train with a delicious samosa stop. That night we had a dinner/housewarming/unpacking with the newlyweds, a last party before their other friends leave.

That night was the big announcement regarding 500 and 1000 INR notes, rendering our 500s useless. The banks and atms were also closed, so we had no way of getting change or more money. It was a stroke of luck that the things we had planned to do were free. The metro is incredibly inexpensive, you can get most anywhere for about 15 cents or less. Our first stop was the Lotus Temple, a gorgeous place of worship that looks just like a lotus from the outside and beautifully clean and quiet inside, a nice respite from the dirge of what was outside. We stopped at McDonald's again for lunch because they take card, and tried another veggie burger and veg mcpuff. India McDonald's has been the most different from any other international locations we've visited. Our next stop was Lodhi Gardens, which had the oldest-looking/least restored buildings we had seen thus far. It was a really big garden with a lot of different parts that it seemed locals were just hanging out in also. Our final stop of the day was Khan market where there seemed to be some higher end shops in addition to bigger international/American chains.

We went back to our hotel to collect our bags and sulk in the aftermath of election results. A, I's new husband, was nice enough to come pick us up from our hotel, because he works in the neighborhood. We went back home with him to spend our remaining days in Delhi. A lot had happened in the world that day and it was nice to be with friends. We ventured to another mall that evening for I to buy new, shiny clothes - as it is tradition for the newlywed to wear. That was a fun and exhausting experience - similar to the American experience, but just a little different. A's mom had prepared food for us to have for dinner that night. It was delicious and so nice to be able to have a night in during our trip.

tragically abroad,