Thursday, July 30, 2015

stateside birthday

Ahoy,

This venue provides a really good place for me to keep track of the events of my days, but in order for that to work - I need to type it up.

I'll mention our 4th of July weekend first. It was a kind of last minute, split second decision to go somewhere that weekend. A wanted to take advantage of his long weekend, but any flight out was completely overpriced. And I feel like a sucker when we make last minute flight decisions that are overpriced.

We ended up heading out to the Palomar Observatory to camp for 2 nights. The Thursday we departed happened to be the premiere of the minions at McDonald's, so I made sure to remind the RRS frequently on our way to the campsite. Traffic is bonkers towards Long Beach from probably 2pm-7pm and we had the opportunity to experience that. We made it to the campsite around 8pm and set up and cooked mostly in the dark. The fire-making was much more successful than usual, to our surprise.

The following morning we rose to hike to the Observatory. It was relatively early for a family campsite I guess because we didn't see too many others on the trail that morning. The Observatory had a separate museum to inform us of the facility and history of stargazing, etc. Definitely interesting, but we were pretty sleepy in there. We picnicked outside atop a rock and the RRS slept.

It was an incredibly slow camping day, not a ton of excitement as far as our typical camping regimen goes. We took our time hanging around the Observatory and getting back. I have to say it's a nice contrast to our other trips. It was refreshing to be outside and not feel like we have to rush from trail to trail hoping to get a parking spot in order to pack in all the park attractions we can.

We departed on Saturday pretty early. One of the traditions we have been trying to squeeze in is a stop at a fruit stand, and it's one of the highlights for me. Also, it's always quite the challenge fitting in more stuff on our way home. We made a quick stop in Carlsbad to visit some friends and a brewery. Houses there are huge!

It wouldn't be right to conclude 4th of July without a barbeque. And we are so fortunate to have friends that tolerate us and feed us. It is increasingly apparent to me how fortunate I am to so many options for exploration in CA. Camping has opened up a whole new world of adventures.

fascinatingly aslumber,
jt

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

minion mania!

Ahoy,

As you all well know, I have a bit of an obsession. We went to the drive-in to watch the Minions and Inside Out back to back. Double feature, folks, is very worth it. I was so excited to collect all 12 minions from McDonald's. Probably the highlight of my year. Poor A indulges my childish discretions. I'm so fortunate to have someone to minion hunt with me.

hastily cornered,
jt

Thursday, July 9, 2015

graduation, again

Ahoy,

Three years after I received my masters, the Resident Rocket Scientist has finally received his! Although I will admit he is a much more productive member of society than I. His family rolled into town, and per usual, A got home too late to have dinner. We spent the night packing for what we now know was a logistically unrealistic plan of action. We thought it would be fun to go camping after his graduation.

His ceremony began at half past noon and didn't finish until almost 5pm. There are so many engineers at UCLA! We ate an late lunch/ early dinner immediately after and made our way to Las Vegas where his sister was house-sitting for a family with a pool (!!!). Somehow I contained my excitement. I approach pools with the same zest and enthusiasm as when I was a kid, but more responsibly conscious of my spf.

We spent a little over half a day walking through the hotels in Vegas. It is such a strange land of excess and consumerism. All things bad are somehow encouraged here. Such a strange land of surreality. We made it back to LA at about 1am, which was not my preference. I think A and his family had a good time together. I look forward to the rain check on that camping trip with his family.

fiercely aflame,

jt

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

perfection

Ahoy,

I made it out to Chinatown one day to meet my best friend. I joined her daily ritual of yoga during a late lunch break at the park by the river. Everything about that experience was perfect. The way the breeze was coming through. The shaded spot for me and sunny spot for her. The seemingly private corner we had because there just weren't a lot of people out. The way the grass tickled my toes. Everything was perfect. I thought to myself, "I could do this every day. With you." I could have this lifestyle and be happy. I could live close enough to see you frequently enough to the point where you become sick of me. And it breaks my heart that that lifestyle is not within my grasp at this point in my life. It tears me apart, yet fills me with joy to revel in these moments.


"I sing it because my best friend lives far away."
- Marcel the Shell

delightfully tragic,
jt

Thursday, July 2, 2015

birthday workout

Ahoy,

On K's birthday, he so graciously used a personal day so we could go kayaking. It was a super hot day, the first of the year to hit 90 and then keep getting hotter. We also enlisted our cousin to go with us. I have to say I was impressed to decided to join because of the times we've invited her to do things involving physical activity- she typically declines. Hooray for a double birthday celebration!

The location was amongst an industrial district in the North Ave area. I was not impressed with the facilities. They also stressed to us that the area and city is dangerous and we should not leave things in our cars leading me to believe they are from the suburbs. Automatically I distrust your advice. They proceeded to give us an orientation on how to kayak while we were standing on land. You can't expect me to take you seriously at this point in the game. The stretch of river from North Ave to downtown is mostly industrial and probably boring if you're on your own. I had a fun time with C & K, but I think we could have had a better time with a different company and location. We used vouchers that were discounted, but I wouldn't pay full price.

Chicago is incredibly picturesque to see from the river, but I don't think this took full advantage of the beauty of the skyline. We made my 2nd trip to Maxwell's of the week and called it a day. I was really happy to be able to spend some time with C. She is always so busy. And super stoked to make K go on an adventure on his birthday. That is the nature of our relationship.

stiflingly afloat,
jt

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

level of supervision

Ahoy,

We have long been discussing the need to repaint our garage. Over the years, there has been a bunch of graffiti painted on and painted over on the wall, but the color was mismatching and you could tell only the graffiti parts had been painted over. So this project has been a long time coming. I put on my bossypants (did I ever take them off?) and commissioned the siblings Tam to get this done! It faces the street so you too can spot our house as you stroll the residences of the Bridgeport neighborhood.

My mom walked outside to find us in the middle of painting our Batman mural. She asks, "What are you guys doing?"

This, my reader(s), is the level of supervision my brother and I have had our whole life.

judiciously accomplished,
jt

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

summer is here

Ahoy,

I went to Chicago for my brother's graduation and his birthday. I brought a friend and gave her a tour. She speaks Mandarin so I knew she would get along with my mom. We arrived super duper delayed on a Thursday evening/ Friday morning. It was kind of not my favorite time flying. It was warm and humid in Chicago, if a little chillier than that time of year.

The following day I took my tourist friend wandering downtown. We walked a lot. She was mega-pooped at the end of the day. We hit up Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, Daley Plaza, Chicago French Market, a Rick Bayless place, a Stephanie Izard place. And I feel like there was more. Maggie Daley Park is so fun, I highly recommend, and there is no age limit on the playground! I made the call to go home to bother my brother because he didn't want to come out with us. Per usual. Weather was blustery and overcast this day, uncharacteristic for the time of year.


The following day I had to drag A out of bed to get us to K's graduation. It was pretty short compared to A's that would take place the following Saturday. Afterwards, we went home for lunch and made it back out. Farther north was the grand opening of the Bloomingdale Trail. I had been anticipating this project for a while, so I was super duper excited. We walked the whole length of it twice that day. I love Chicago in the summer. For dinner I was happy to finally make it to the Publican. Weather was absolutely PERFECT this day. Sunny and warm, if a little cool for June.

The following day started off a little cool and rainy. But quickly warmed up to HOT and humid. Luckily we spent the day in the gym. We introduced Maxwell's to the foreigners. It was a hot, so was the Italian ice. In honor of K's birthday, everybody gathered for pizza at a local favorite. K's gf initiated it and I think it went well. I know K definitely scored with some giftcards.

Per K's request we spent the next day cleaning out the garage a little. We sneakily brought a lot of things to the donation bin at our local thrift store. We knew we had to get it out before our mom came home to catch us. Also, we began work on our Batman mural.

hurriedly athunder,
jt






Thursday, June 4, 2015

everything is far

Ahoy,

So we exited the Park through the Fresno side because the RRS wanted oysters. Since it was early in the day and we were in no hurry, this gave us the opportunity to make stops along the way. The skies cleared and temperature went up as we made our way down the mountain. Despite our relatively gloomy weekend, I was in no hurry to return to the blinding sunshine of CA. We stopped at a fruit stand and bought a bunch of fruit that would have been much more expensive in the city. The fruit was delicious. I would love to frequent these stands. Too bad they are far away in the middle of nowhere. We looped over to Palos Robles that turned out to be farther than we thought and just as interesting as watching paint dry. At last, we could smell the sea breeze at Morro Bay. We had stopped there before for oysters. We ended up going to the one and only place we've ever patronized and probably will ever patronize. It was all so yummy in my tummy, and there was live music, and it was outdoor seating right over the water. You can't beat that.

One our way back down to LA we stopped for ice cream at Santa Barbara. You can never go wrong with ice cream. The town gave us a sort of snooty vibe, which is not typical of most beach towns and we decided it was not for us. Just the ice cream was for us.

We got home later than we thought and I would have been happy to just shower and tuck in, but the RRS wanted to cook. Sometimes he's handy to have around.

fastidiously towed,
jt

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

treestreestrees

Ahoy,


For Memorial Day weekend we finally made it out to Sequoia National Park! The trip had been slotted for several other weekends that fell through until this weekend. I asked at the beginning of the year if we could make it out to Sequoia this year. It's just that whenever we go to Yosemite we pass the sign for Sequoia and I can't help but remark how it's closer and we could just hop off the highway earlier to go to Sequoia instead of Yosemite. I didn't know very much about Sequoia, I just knew it was closer and therefore I wanted to go.

The weather was slated to be very favorable. In fact, it was pretty likely to rain. I booked a campsite in the Sequoia National Forest thinking that it would be close enough, but alas, I realized it was a 3 hour drive from our campsite to the Park! So we ditched the campsite and decided to just drive up to the Park and hopefully score a first come first serve campsite. Worst case scenario we would have to go back to our original site.

After entering the park, it was quite a long and winding path to get to a campsite that was available. We passed up a few that were all full. As we approached higher elevation it started to rain, and then it started to rain harder, and it continued to rain. The elements always add a wow factor to any trip outdoors. In line for a campsite, the ranger told us the car in front of us got the last reservation! In times like these I think back to all the moments that delayed us that would have gotten us a campsite. It was about another 20 minutes to the next campsite and I sulked regretfully about what had led us to our predicament.

Sequoia National Park & Kings Canyon National Park are technically 2 separate parks but operate as one. The path in the parks goes through National Forest land going from Sequoia in the south to Kings Canyon in the north. We found our campsite at Stony Creek Village in the National Forest. We rolled in and found a lot of empty sites. The ranger flagged us down and told us there were walk ins available and we breathed a huge sigh of relief. Also, the rain had subsided - so everything worked out. This was the cutest campsite I'd ever stayed. We had our own creek that we had to cross to get to our site. It was huge and as private as we could hope for. Plus, since it was still National Forest we were able to transfer our original reservation to this site with no additional cost. Bonus!


The following morning we went on a Crystal Caves tour first thing. It included a short and steep walk downhill to the cave. We learned that you're not supposed to wear the same clothes to any cave tours because you could be carrying a disease from cave to cave. So we had to make mental note to wear something different for our next cave tour. Cave dwellings are so cool.

We met up with our friends who arrived just on time to our site. It's always great when people can be timely and reliable. Off we went to see some trees, the biggest tree. We saw General Sherman (~ 2,200 years old) covered in fog. There's something magical, spooky, and eerie about a forest enshrined in fog. I feel like it's more of a unique and rare experience to see a forest like this. It's a testament to nature and how flexible you have to be, how undemanding you need to be of its powers. It will give you whatever experience it wants. You are just another creature amongst giants. We walked around a meadow of giants too, and I think since it was after the rain and spring - all the bears must have been out. Because we saw 8 over the course of 2 hours. We saw 6 (3 of them cubs) in one meadow and I think 1 adult bear was not even 12 feet away at its closest point, and 1 each at 2 other meadows. Also, 2 marmots. Back at our campsite we saw 3 mule deer. So much wildlife! What a treat. I felt honored to be in the woods that day.


After A & I struggled with our wet fire ring the night before, we knew we had to make a new game plan. The fire was successful that night despite the hail and rain that poured on us. We stood over the fire with umbrellas for a good 15 minutes while the sky cried. Canned soup never tastes so glorious as around a campfire.


The following day we headed up to Kings Canyon to see the General Grant, the nation's Christmas tree. We hopped out of the Park after that to make our way home. It was a short trip, but action packed. I couldn't have asked for a better time.



 happily smoky,
jt








Tuesday, May 26, 2015

on a plane

Ahoy,

For mother's day weekend this year we flew up to Oakland to see A's folks. I thoroughly enjoy flying there moreso than driving. I'm also pretty sure the flight is cheaper than gas for his car. Another one of the many inconveniences his manual car affords. Many of you know that I don't do well sitting still, especially during a long car ride. It is the worst. I believe this is a byproduct of my upbringing. We rarely had to be in a car longer that 20-30 minutes.

As Touchstone members, I like to get on the ropes at the NorCal gyms whenever we go up. This time we just bouldered at Ironworks because we wanted to hang out with a friend. It made me realize how incredibly spoiled I am to climb at Lab. The older bouldering setups are much more cramped and smaller. It is difficult to stop anywhere because there are people falling from all directions onto you if you do. Lab is incredibly spacious so you could potentially park yourself in the same spot all night without being in a fall zone. I didn't realize what a luxury that was until Ironworks. Which makes me so very excited for when the Culver City location will open. It's going to be huge!

For dinner we went out with his family to a thai place near Cal. I believe I've frequented the college campus eateries more after graduating than while I was a student there. It's always an interesting feeling to be surrounded by college students now that I'm not one of them, although I could easily blend in. It's so strange to be an outsider to what could have been your own positions years ago. I'm reminded of a time in my life that had so much going on, but yet I'm glad to be on the outside of.

The following morning I started prepping and cooking at 10am. And I'm pretty sure we didn't start eating until 2pm. I have no idea what all happened in that chunk of time between 10 and 2. It is sort of nuts to me how much time it takes to prepare a meal for a dozen people. I have no idea.

We were glad to go back to LA. Always that sigh of 'home sweet home' whenever we return. I really like that about our home. I really like that we have created a little sense of "home" for ourselves here.

pleasantly dramatic,
jt