Thursday, March 26, 2015

booze cruising

Ahoy,

What with the RRS and his sister having a birthday a day apart (March 10, March 8 respectively), we made it up to the East Bay to celebrate. This being the first year in a long time he could actually celebrate his birthday, the lack of finals and homework was an automatic win. We got to hang out with family, eat, horde spicy tuna omusubis from Berkeley Bowl, and top-rope! What more could a girl ask for? Berkeley Bowl is where I will go when I die.

For his sister's birthday, she arranged a booze cruise of sorts. We went on a cruise around the Bay with the ever iconic marvel of engineering- the Golden Gate Bridge. There was a buffet brunch, live music, and bottomless mimosas. Bonus! That day was Sunday Streets on Embarcadero. It was a lot of fun to play in the street.

Another bonus! That weekend was a scorcher in LA, but we got to escape all that sizzle!

endlessly birthday'd,
jt

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

mt. rushmore of Chicago

Ahoy,

If there were to be a Mt. Rushmore of Chicago, Frank lLoyd Wright would be one of the heads on it. A lot of houses and neighborhoods in the Chicagoland area are known for his prairie style architecture. I was excited when the Hollyhock House, one of his first forays into adapting his style for California living, reopened. It was free for a 24 hour open house, and the only day pictures would be allowed. I dragged the RRS along. He had no idea who this iconic architect was, but we ended up in a 2 hour long line so there was plenty of time for him to catch up. By the end, he had stars in his eyes too. Welcome to the fan club.

We made it in and out, took pictures and he realized the awesomeness of FLW. He's a genius! A genius! We got there in the morning so the day was still young. Although as we were leaving there were people queued up for a 3 hour long wait. There goes your day.

Our next stop was in the Angeles Crest Forest north of Arcadia. I had the Chantry Flats to Sturtevant Falls hike on my list for a while so we finally made it. It was super crowded that day and a lot of folks had to park pretty far down the mountain, but we were lucky and able to snag a spot in the lot. It turned out to be a pretty short hike but still a great adventure outside. He referred to this day as our portion of Valentine's Day was not fancy.

relatively gushing,
jt

Thursday, March 19, 2015

longest hike in my record

Ahoy,

In my record of being alive, I went on the longest hike of my life the other day with my friend H. We started out the day anticipating a 9-10 miler. It ended up being 14! What a doozy. We started off from Chantry Flats greeting the goats and chickens at the general store (which is surprisingly obscure to find). At the falls we stopped to eat and proceeded back up.

The path to Mt. Wilson isn't always marked on the placards. You have to know what sites to pass prior to Mt. Wilson, but it was probably obvious enough. you could figure it out. Although the trail was incredibly obvious, there were portions that had a lot of debris littered throughout. It looked like rangers had recently come by and chopped off the branches from a lot of trees and left it all on the ground. There is a picnic area consisting of one table and a campground that you will pass. We actually veered off the trail at one river crossing and had to turn around, but that was just a 5 minute detour.

There is a marker that says 3 miles to Mt. Wilson, and all of those miles are a steady uphill. It can be soul wrenching and heart breaking. We trudged on and passed a halfway point marker. We were aghast, shocked, disbelieving, exhausted. I thought it was a joke. But it was not. Those 3 miles to Mt. Wilson were the longest 3 miles of my life.

At the top we saw snow! And an observatory with a telescope as powerful as the Hubble. It was a pleasant treat. The uphill was a very steady uphill that I did not think was terribly steep, but I realized I was mistaken when we kept sliding out on the way down. There are also a lot of rocks and pinecones waiting to take your glory, so we had to pay really close attention where our feet were stepping so as not to twist our ankles or fall. It was a lot more attention to detail than we thought would be necessary for the way down.

We finally made it back to Chantry Flats just as the sun went down. We went to the closest In n' Out and scarfed down some glorious CA goodness. That mountain chewed us up and spit us out with no hesitation, but we could have been worse for wear - just a little dirty. We left the day thoroughly satisfied. Oh, and I had enough water this time. My days of under-preparedness are behind me!

unexpectedly rigorous,
jt

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Chiberia

Ahoy,

Per our usual agreement, we made the trek to Chicago for Chinese New Year. It was 8 degrees below zero when we landed and A was pooping in his many layers of pants. In all honesty, you just avoid spending time outside when it's that cold. My mom drove right up to the door and we ran into the car. Living in Chicago also taught me to always have my key in hand at the ready. I'm not about to go digging through my bag at the door looking for my keys if the weather outside is unsuitable for human consumption. Please, son (can you hear my sass?)!

The central heating in my house was on all night and it was probably nearly 90 degrees above zero on the top floor (READ: my room). No one was getting frostbite that night. My brother got the day off from school the next day because weather, so we were able to go climb indoors at BKB Chicago. It was a great time indoors, and that gym was packed full of everything you could want or need in a climbing gym. We also picked up a power drill there because the one A wanted couldn't be found in CA. The folks at the store told him to go back to CA. This day was above 0 degrees.

We finally got to try Little Goat! We've only been trying to go every time we visit. There were high expectations and they were met, I dare say, exceeded. Stephanie Izard is a genius! A genius! A was happy to spend the rest of the day watching anime. My brother and I did some house cleaning. We disputed over the things we should or should not keep as relics of our youth. It was really quite cathartic.

We were also able to play at the new Maggie Daley Park, and try out the ice ribbon. As the hour went by the ice became super bumpy and the line for skate rentals went out the door. It was super cool to watch the construction on the outdoor climbing structure progress. I saw a postcard for a husky event at another park. So we went to go see huskies. It was yours and my paradise.

Sunday was the day of the Chinese New Year parade and it was the longest amount of time we spent outside. A has escaped death so many times now since he's met me. It's amazing. He should get an award. My grandma stayed out with us for the parade too. She's such a badass. I hope I can be as badass and sassy when I'm her age.

audaciously prosperous,
jt


Thursday, March 12, 2015

done camping

Ahoy,

On the final day, we arose bright and early. I was super duper excited to go home. The whole week was such a whirlwind of anticipation and relief and amazement. We drove to Las Vegas where I had booked a bus ticket back to LA. It was only about 2 hours away, and the time change even gave us a pleasantly surprising extra hour.

The day was still young as my friend departed for Northern California. I waited at the station because Vegas is overrated. I managed to get on an earlier bus, watching the sunset as we approached LA. The clouds were gorgeous. My knight was quick to scoop me up and off to In n' Out. In Wild, Cheryl Strayed would always get a burger whenever she made it to a station so I was more than pleased to replicate that tradition.

That was the longest amount of time I didn't shower and A said I smelled of campfire. I think he's too nice to say I was stinky. But it was so nice to shower and sleep in a bed.

minimally sized,
jt


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