Tuesday, February 24, 2015

almost done camping

Ahoy,

Driving into Zion was nuts. Everything is so much bigger than me. Everything is so striking and awe inspiring. It looked a lot like California Adventures but blown up a 1,000 times bigger. We got a primo campsite in the desert that had no snow. None of the sites had any snow. The campsite is set amongst the mountains and is an absolutely glorious way to wake up.

We went on an easy hike to the Emerald Pools, the Weeping Rock, and Riverside Trail. They were fun and excellent warm ups for the next day. The weather here was warmest of all our stops. Camping had really been quite luxurious at all the parks because all the bathrooms had running water and were heated. What a world we live in!

The following morning H & I departed for Angels Landing. It was a pretty steep hike up to the top, but oh so worth it. I made it all the way to the top to see why it was called Angels Landing. I can see how some people might be uncomfortable with the end because there is a little bit of scrambling up a sheer cliff that would definitely lead to your death if you fell off. H & I made our way back down as it seemed to be getting more crowded. Glad to have started out early, we enjoyed our lunch in preparation for a leisure;y afternoon bidding farewell to Zion. We picked up the other one and went on one last hike on the Watchman Trail as the sun dropped in the sky. The evening was glorious as we were all so looking forward to a shower and going home the next day.

I know I had a great time and am so indebted to H for giving me the opportunity to go on this adventure with her. I am also so thankful that A encouraged me to go. It was bittersweet that he couldn't come, but he knew it would be lots of fun.

rockfully varietal,
jt


Thursday, February 19, 2015

still camping

Ahoy,

The drive from Grand Canyon to Bryce is about 5 hours. We headed out as early as we could... That many hours in the car made me a lot closer to strangling the other one. I decided my sanity would do better if I just ignored her.

Bryce was snowy, pink and funny looking. I loved the snow. It was great. The others were growing increasingly more nervous as we approached. We went on a hike when we arrived in the afternoon because a hike in the morning would have been iced over. The way down on the Navajo Trail was steep, muddy, icy, and slippery. The others wanted to turn back, but me being the great sympathizer I am continued down on the ice ignorant of their requests. It turned out to be more than worth it and they had a great time. What'd I tell you? You're not really living if you're not living on the edge. And it was a pretty docile hike as far as hikes go.

I was able to start a fire to cook dinner. But we ended up having to sleep in the car that evening because all the campsites were snowy. Much to my chagrin the car is like a deep chasm that amplifies snoring. By this point, I had gotten very little sleep. I'm sure I was just running on adrenaline about staying alive, anxiety about imminent death in the wilderness due to my limited camping experience and annoyance for Nervous/Negative N, probably also throw in anger towards N. It made for a delightful cocktail that really revved up my engine.

We awoke early enough to see the sunrise, which truth be told was not as impressive as the books made it out to be. I'm willing to say the clouds made it less spectacular than it could have been. We busted out of there right away because the other two wanted to leave the snowiness. What a shame. It was an hour and a half to Zion.

fantastically socked,
jt


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

camping

Ahoy,

I'll be the first to admit camping is not my thing. I'm not over the moon whenever he poses this activity. I like modern conveniences, plumbing, flush toilets, etc. I've done it before, and I'll do it if I have to. But it's not something I outrightly request. Also, I should say I'm not typically one to have a lot of girlfriends or hang out with a bunch of girls. I would say I'm typically more comfortable with a bunch of boys, more so than girls. So there's that. All that being said, I agreed to go camping for a week with 2 other girls. This would be the longest period of time I would spend camping and with only girls. I was filled with anxiety at this prospect.

But it was a great opportunity and I just couldn't pass up the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion. I departed with the girls on a Monday, leaving the comforts of technology and testosterone. I couldn't even begin to imagine how the rest of the trip would progress.

We departed a little later than anticipated, but we made good time to Grand Canyon. We still had about an hour or two of daylight by the time we arrived at the campsite. H showed me these firestarter log thingers that make it super easy to start a fire. You just light up the brick and it burns for a long time to get the wood logs going. What a revolution it was to me! So we just set up camp, cooked dinner and tucked in early for the night. N snored like a truck driver right next to me and I'm pretty sure I got little to no sleep that night.

The next morning, H & I were up bright and early to wait for the other one. Little did I know this would be the normal routine henceforth. After taking her time, the 3 of us departed for the day aboard the shuttle. We started out from the visitor's center to walk around the South Rim. After about 5 minutes on the trail and a few photo ops, N left to go back to the campsite. I have to admit I was really glad she did. I was pretty close to strangling her. H & I spent the day on the South Rim trail, which was really flat and easy. Weather was unseasonably mild, I was told because there should have been 10-15 feet of snow on the North Rim, but there were no feet. Regardless, the views were sweeping and grand. Pictures cannot capture it.

The next day we were on to our next stop at Bryce Canyon!

elevationally practiced,
jt

Thursday, February 5, 2015

trespassing

Ahoy,

I'd like to alert you all of a fun place to visit where you are technically breaking the rules but it's okay. Isn't that the best type of fun? We went to the farmers market near Venice & Centinela first because I had been eyeing this for a long time. We got 10 pounds of oranges because they are my favorite and I don't have to carry it home myself this time. We were loaded with snacks and hydration to go to the ever so far away Long Beach area, San Pedro specifically.

I wanted to check out the Korean Bell of Friendship and the Sunken City. The Bell of Friendship was given to us as a birthday gift. It's a pretty giant bell sitting under what appears to be a pretty traditional Korean awning. It's in a pretty stellar park overlooking the ocean, spacious and well used by the population. Just a little further down is a park I can't remember the name of that is public, but adjacent to that park is the Sunken City of San Pedro. It was incredibly easy to jump over the fence and under another one to enter the Sunken City. I highly recommend.

The Sunken City is the ruins of a city from the early 1900s when a development company thought it would be wise and profitable to build a community directly on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Unfortunately, this cliff was not stable enough and collapsed, thus sinking the residences into the ocean. The developer never did anything with the space after everyone fled, and has left it all these years to let mother nature take over.

That day we saw families with children and folks in Sunday church clothes exploring the ruins, in addition to your typical group of hooligans looking to graffiti and get away from adult supervision to engage in less than legal activities. We even saw a mountain biker mountain biking over everything. It's a fun place to explore and scramble over - naturally scenic but with a major touch of urban grunge. I highly recommend. Everyone else is doing it.

naturally degentrified,
jt

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

skip to the visit

Ahoy,

We always LOVE when Hen visits! They are the best, best, best guests & hosts in the world! We got dinner at a Japanese izakaya place that had less than satisfactory service, but we got the back room that requires you to take your shoes off, so I loved that. The food is always bomb, so it's not like we can't forgive crummy hosts. We also made it to the climbing gym so we could watch A climb things until 2am. That's pretty much what those desprately-trying-to-fit-in-one-gym-trip things is about. I arrive and realize I so desperately would rather be elsewhere, but now I'm stuck watching A climb endlessly. Also, I should have brought bananagrams.

The following morning was slow going - first was coffee. Always coffee first with Hen. Always. It turned out to be a great day to take the train. We made it downtown to check out Grand Central Market and eat all the things there including both burritos and eggslut. Also, more coffee and ice cream. Exploring led us to the puppy pop up shop and Last Bookstore. There could have been more puppies and less line. The night led us to drinks and A finally, FINALLY got to play pool. Probably the highlight of his night. And dinner ended with my highlight of strawberry beer. Despite being low on stomach space, we stopped for pie. There was a long line and they had run out of a lot of things. But the pies we got were still good.

Finally, we boarded the train home for more alcohol and board games. Board games! Okay, maybe that was my highlight.

The next morning was slow going again. And first was, you guessed it, coffee. We went for brunch at Playa Provisions, a top chef restaurant near the beach. We had been here before and it was great. This time did not disappoint. We wandered over to the beach for a bit and saw a beached ship. How fun! It was sunny and warm and so California. Mind you, this is January, folks. Our next stop was over to Santa Monica to look at storage. And then it was time to go to the airport. And just like that Hen was gone again, leaving us in the dust of memories and the warm glow of friendship. Until next time, friends.

technically smitten,
jt


Thursday, January 29, 2015

sunset adventures

Ahoy,

The day we spent in San Francisco was on a tour of sorts led by my cousin. I have distant family of sorts in the sunset in SF. I first got wind of this extended family when my family came out with me for my move to Berkeley for college. I'm pretty certain I would never have known them if I hadn't come here for college. I'm pretty sure a lot of things would not have happened had I not made the trek to college. Throughout my days in the East Bay, I would travel out to SF to stay with my family over holidays or extended weekends. It was like a home away from home, but with no central heat.

We started off the day first to the Moraga Steps and Turtle Hill. The mosaics are a gorgeous thing to look at, especially from the bottom. It was super windy that day up there. I felt like there should have been anchors or something to clip into. The view was worth it. Some people think Chicago is windy, but I dare to disagree.

Our next stop was Turtle Tower for Vietnamese pho. I enjoyed it. And it was served with raw meat on top of the soup, which is something I'd never had before. How strange! But the broth was really light, yet flavorful. My brother had a field day at a comic book store, again.

We made our way over to the Lands End Park because I wanted to show them the Sutro Baths. I'm sure it was once state-of-the-art, but now, lucky for us, it's in ruins and open for exploration. It continued to be the windiest I had ever experienced here. The paths are along where the walls used to be so it was totally a possibility you could get blown off and into the water, but we soldiered on to find the mostly secluded beach.

We did a little walking on the trails at Lands End despite the wind. Even went down and up the stairs to see the beach. At the labyrinth, we stumbled across somebody proposing and I'm pretty sure the girl was just cursing in her head and wondering why they had to stand in the wind. My brother also lost his hat here. That red hat, was lost to the ocean.

The following day, we departed early to drop off my brother at the airport in San Jose. While there, we made a doughnut & coffee stop and looked at the trees on display in downtown San Jose. And just like that my brother was gone again. I wish he would stay. Of the things I miss most about Chicago, my brother may be the biggest heartache. Driving back to LA was thoroughly uneventful. There wasn't much traffic and we took the scenic route.

windily windblown,
jt










Tuesday, January 27, 2015

half day

Ahoy,

We had to stay home for a brunch thing, but K got to catch up on sports. We jetted to go pick up A's friend and wander around their old haunts when they were young and reckless. I convinced them to take me to the creative reuse store in Oakland. I'm sure it's a junk store, but somebody's junk is someone else's treasure. I got a super cheap puzzle and postcards. I love this store because it's great for crafting finds. I haven't been able to find something similar that is close to where I am now. While waiting for dinner at "one of the best sushi places in the Bay," I dragged the boys to Berkeley Bowl, again. I probably couldn't count all the times I made someone go during this trip. It's my favorite grocery store on the West Coast. You have to go.


The following day we got an early start out to Santa Cruz to go see the monarch butterflies migrating. They stop at the Natural Bridges State Beach and clump up in the eucalyptus trees. I think we got there later in the season so we only saw a few clumps. At the peak, the butterflies cover the entire tree. We'll have to try again next year. We drove back up on the PCH and landed in San Francisco to see my family.

majestically blown,
jt

Thursday, January 22, 2015

we're off

Ahoy,

My brother is an excellent shotgun rider for car rides because he is nothing like me. He sat still the whole time and buckled his seat belt. He was a dream passenger. Meanwhile, I had a grand time riding in the back. I had so much room to move around and snack. I'm so very grateful our friend let us borrow her car. A was incredibly pleased with K in the front especially given it was his first time riding in the car for such a long time.

We made a stop at In n' Out because people will be upset with you if you go to CA and don't get In n' Out. And arrived shortly after at the Sunnyvale Planet Granite. My brother and I opted to top rope, which A was very glad for so he could boulder to his heart's content. We got to spend a bunch of time there before heading out to SF to have dinner with A's friend at a bougie Vietnamese place in a sketchy neighborhood.

K got to cross the new Bay Bridge, I think he was only a little awed by it. A can't get over it because hometown pride. The next day was Christmas eve, so we couldn't really get out to do stuff. K got to watch a ton of basketball. We likely got out to make emergency grocery runs, but that's neither here nor there.

Even the day after Christmas was only mildly interesting because A really wanted to go shopping and buy things. So we went into the city to shop and climb. Finally made it to Dogpatch, which in my opinion is way dustier than La.B.

dustily sniffed,
jt

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

northbound

Ahoy,

This was our first day of adventure in the Bay and I was dying to get out and do things and not do the obligatory family things anymore, which was mostly sitting at a table for a long time.

We packed the car and loaded up on snacks to head up to Santa Rosa to check out the Charles Schulz Museum. He spent most of his adult life in Santa Rosa and became a big part of the community. There's a Snoopy ice skating arena that was the first to have some official ice hockey league for 70+ and he played on it! The cartoons were cute and funny. And K is totally like Charlie Brown.

We went a little farther from town to check out Armstrong State Park. We got in on just the last hours of daylight. A had a cup of coffee and I was carrying hummus and bread. Clearly, we had decided this would not be a serious hike. It's only after we are in the woods that we think we should be more prepared. We stepped out of the woods just as daylight was closing in on us. It was a lot of fun nonetheless, and we don't regret it because we wanted to be able to see the Museum without the pressure of closing time.

Our final stop in Santa Rosa was dinner and drinks with the Russian River Brewing Company. A is a fanatic. He bought 2 cases of beer from them because he could, but mostly because we would never have the trunk space to spare again. I don't care much for hops so the glory of the brew is totally lost on me. However, the beers on tap there are super cheap and strong, and food was decent/typical bar food. Apparently, the beer is in such high demand that they have to limit how many customers can get in stores, and they don't mark the trucks because folks will follow and buy out every store. What a phenomenon! He might be rationing his beers until the next time he can go.

mossily informed,
jt


backseat riding

Ahoy!

These are the things we did while K was here in LA:

There was an Annenberg Space for Photography exhibit about water levels rising, and natural disasters and how to plan for the changes ahead. I dragged along an old college friend. One of those people I keep missing when I'm in the bay or she is down here. It was great to see her again. The museum is free every day, so I highly recommend it.

We finally went to see an Upright Citizens Brigade show. I only have heard of them because Amy Poehlor, and she is fabulous. Tickets are only $5 and so worth it. The actress who plays Brita from Community was one of the cast members. A got a thai tea and subsequently a cup of coffee right before the show. He was double fisting his caffeine intake. We will definitely go back.

My brother loves noodles, so we took him to get ramen downtown. We also made a trip to the Evolv outlet. K got a whopping 3 pairs of shoes- more shoes than he's ever bought his whole life. I got 1, and A got 1. So I think the trip was worth it. I took him on a bicycle adventure to the comic book store, animal shelter, and ice cream. As we approached the comic book store he said to me,"I can't guarantee how long I'll take in here."

The next day we left for the Bay. It would be K's longest car ride to date, surpassing the 2.5 hour drives he made between Madison & Chicago. He's nothing like me, so he would do well.

carpingly adroit,
jt