Thursday, July 28, 2016

bachelor lifestyle

Ahoy!

Just came back from unicamp. It's always funny to come back to the RRS's bachelor lifestyle. He has a sink full of dishes, dirty clothes still out, clean clothes still out, beer bottles piled up... He never seems to remember when I'm coming back so he always says, "I thought you were coming back tomorrow! I was going to do the dishes tomorrow..." He was prepared for a night of climbing at the gym, cooking a steak for 1, and tucking into a night of anime. What a life!

gratefully descended,
jt


Thursday, July 21, 2016

the wilderness

Ahoy,

We went camping in Washington at Mt. Rainier National Park! For those of you that read these entries - you were there, so you know what happened. We went to visit O & H in Seattle, among our favorite people to visit! They are so incredibly well equipped for camping. H makes a fire like a boss!

We arrived in Seattle on a Thursday night and got some super scrumptious thai food. We departed late Friday afternoon after running around for provisions. We made it to Rainier in what seemed like longer than it should have been because we ran into traffic. But that was okay, because we made it! We had some time for a short hike to Madcap Falls. We went beyond the falls looking for another waterfall and we might or might not have found it. We turned around after what seemed like we had gone too far away from the water. Somebody estimated we might have doubled our estimated distance for that hike.

The rivers and waterways are so cool in Rainier. There is just so much of it! The forest is so lush and green and vibrant. It is just so different from the dusty and hot and dry places in CA. I loved it! It was mostly overcast and rained on us overnight. We waited with a view of Mt. Rainier in clouds for a little bit and the peak never revealed herself to us until the last day on our way out.

Our full day began a little late and a with a big breakfast. It was as close to gourmet camping as I could think of. I'm not a big breakfast person, so when we go camping just me and A, we don't usually spend too much effort on breakfast. But we had pancakes this time around. Nuts! We went on a hike to Comet Falls and beyond to a meadow with fields of white avalanche lily flowers. That waterfall was huge! There is so much water melting off that mountain, it's amazing! We had been miscalculating off the maps, and it is probably not to scale and there was no scale on the map. We ended up probably with a 6 mile hike, anticipating only 4 at the outset, but it was so nice to hike in the forest and not in the sun on a dusty trail in CA. What a change!

Again we found ourselves among the last groups to tuck in. The RRS was snug as a bug in a rug wrapped in a 0 degree sleeping bag within a 30 degree bag. That kid is a weenie for sure. It was in the upper 40s at night and probably low 60s during the day. We awoke to some glimmers of sunshine our last day. After making it to the Grove of the Patriarchs over a suspicious suspension bridge, we zipped out of the park and pulled aside when we noticed the peak of the mountain making an appearance. The ever elusive Mt. Rainier; we were so lucky to have caught a glimpse.


Back in Seattle we spent the rest of the afternoon lolling about and general clean-up after camping. Weather was awfully perfect for Seattle. It seems it always is awfully nice when we visit.

magnificently tiny,
jt





Thursday, July 14, 2016

camping once more

Ahoy,

Camping again! I was really excited and also anxious to go camping again in Sequoia. I just feel like the RRS hasn't had the best record for not getting sick on trips. And it would be really nice if he were to just not get sick every time we go somewhere fun. Also, H came on this trip with us. I was thinking she was going to bail right up until the morning we left. But I was so happy she came. The weather was absolutely perfect. The skies were clear and sunny, it wasn't too hot during the day, and then the evening temperatures were just so very, very perfect. I loved it.

We entered from the northern end of the park driving though King's Canyon first to see General Grant and the forest by there. Our campsite was at Upper Stony Creek, which is in between King's Canyon & Sequoia. We were also able to squeeze in General Sherman before starting up the fire for dinner. The RRS got a stone cold, rock solid frozen cut of pork from the main market in the park. He sous-vied it in a way by boiling water to bathe it and thaw it for a bit, before putting it in the fire. And, ladies and gentlemen, it was THE best pork of my and H's life. All other porks will hereby be compared to the camping frozen to sous-vied pork he cooked that night.

I hung up the hammock on these perfect trees for hammocking and stared up at the stars. Surprisingly, we were probably the last in the campsite to go to bed. I can usually still hear adults and children screaming well beyond midnight at other places in the past. Also, surprisingly, the toilet seat and cover were ripped off the toilet in the outhouse.

We called the trip short because the RRS had a work trip to leave for on Sunday. We cleared out of there Saturday morning to embark on a full day's worth of activities. Glad to have arrived early at the visitor center to secure a parking spot, we started off with a waterfall hike that followed the river and gave opportunities to dip our toes in the ice cold water. It was really refreshing because the day had started to heat up in the sun. After a sleepy lunch at the visitor center, we rode the shuttle to the Giants' Forest and museum. We saw a juvenile bear and a ton of marmots. The bear crossed the paved hiking path right in front of the people ahead of us. A was oblivious and wondering why we were all stopped. He continued to linger, as H and I beelined out of there.

After one last potty break, we began the drive down the mountain into the desert and back to LA. We stopped for some terrible Italian food in the Valley and got home right around 10. Another stellar Sequoia trip in the bag. And A didn't even get sick this time!

voraciously looming,
jt

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

theme park weekend

Ahoy,

A's family came down to visit for a weekend. We all went to Universal Studios to check out the new Harry Potter World. The weather stayed gloomy all day, which was a huge shock to me. It usually clears up, but it rained/ drizzled for most of the day. Just the day before I had heard on the radio that California declared El Nino a wash, kaput for the year. We all tried to make the best of it nonetheless. The first ride we went on was probably the most intense of 3d motion simulator rides. Everybody walked out of there, and you could tell that they just got destroyed.

The lines were crazy. We waited 85 minutes for that first ride. And even the gift shops was wait times for the lines. If you're waiting 50 minutes to go into the wand shop, you better be buying a wand. Nuts! Nonetheless, there is a nice spirit of magic in the air, and I think the weather probably added to it. UK is like that most of the year.

We ate at a Japanese place at Universal Citywalk, zipped to Glendale for doughnuts and called it a day. We cleared out their green Teagan and Sara flavour.

The following day we made it out to Palos Verdes to go to a park that the RRS claimed to be one of his favorites despite only having been once. And the one we ended up going to was not the one he was thinking of.

Vietnamese was on the docket for dinner, surprisingly having a menu so expansive and diverse that it was able to please everyone at the table. We topped it off with quite possibly one of the best boba places any of us had ever been to. Everyone cried tears of remorse as we stepped out because we were likely never to return because it is so far, far away.

despondently deprived,
jt

Thursday, July 7, 2016

new house

Ahoy,

We were so excited to see O & H's new house. It is truly such an adult step in the way of life to have a house and not be able to just call the landlord about something that needs fixing. The color theme is a bluish teal shade, so go ahead and send anything that color their way. It's funny I say that because O is probably amongst the only readers of what I'm writing.

Upon arrival we got a grand tour of O's work and burgers for dinner. We had mistakenly been there before, probably it was one of the first times we met H. After driving through their old neighborhood and past their old apartment, I was happy to find the peace and quiet of their new accommodations. It seems like Capitol Hill gets crazier and crazier every time.

Their house is so cool, and so climate controlled. I remember those hot nights in their old place. Unfortunately, we only spent a night there before heading off to Vancouver. We spent a night there. And when we weren't sleeping, O & H quite willingly submitted to the whims of my mom dictating from afar. Bless their good-natured souls for following along.

We are going to see them again soon. It's going to be so fun!

wildly prepped,
jt




Tuesday, July 5, 2016

itinerary

Ahoy,

Let's start from the beginning. The boarding process took all of 3+ hours. There was a lot of line waiting, like cattle out to auction. We realized later that we should have gotten popo a wheelchair and that would have probably expedited the process for all of us. But what a trooper my grandma is. I aspire to be like her when I'm a grandma. Once we were finally on board and in our rooms, we had an emergency drill to attend. We had all brought our own luggage aboard because I didn't want to wait for the service to deliver it later, or possibly lose something. We had dinner in the fancy dining room that evening, just like we would for all but one of the evenings for the rest of the trip. There were 2 fancy night dress-up meals so they could take our pictures and have us shell out mucho dinero for those moments that my dad recreated on his camera.

We spent 3 full days at sea and 3 days docked. Despite being on-board a ship all day, there was a surprising amount of stuff to do. There was programming daily, all day. We played Dutch Catan a few times, got educated about the habitat and culture, crafted some crafts, watched movies, and tried to fit in some other athletic activities. There really is not a moment to spare for boredom. And the scenery is just so gorgeous, I really could just sit and watch for a while. I really do think a cruise was a great way to see Alaska. It's such a big state, I imagine it would take so long to drive around.

We stopped first in Juneau, the capitol. It was a rainy day, which is typical. All 8 of us rode around in a taxi, while the driver answered my millions of questions and talked about the landscape and culture. He had grown up in Juneau, went away for school, and come back. It is like traveling back in time. All the little kids just roam around without guardians, crime is low, cell phones and technology hasn't become an epidemic yet. We walked over to as close as we could get to the Mendenhall Glacier. It is the most accessible glacier in Alaska. Half of us hiked up to the top of Mt. Roberts Tramway and rode the tram back down. Juneau was built on mining, but you wouldn't be able to tell anymore. There are so many trees.

Haines was the next stop; it is a tiny little town with not a whole lot to do. They only have the capacity to have 1 cruise ship in a week, and the population doubles when that happens. It used to be a military base, and you can still look at what the buildings were. There is a quiet, but big river set against mountains if you cross to the other side of town. We hung around there for a while communing with nature, if you will. This was a really quiet town, which I thought was a welcome change from more touristic harbours, but the parents were not impressed.

Our last stop was the fishing town of Ketchikan, a markedly faster pace than Haines. Half of us went on a hike amongst the trees, slugs, and cliffs overlooking the town. There were bear tracks, and fortunately no bears. The other half went on a duck tour. The red-light district was especially fun to walk around.

Our last day at sea we went up the Tracy Arm to the South Sawyer glacier. The ship got incredibly close and we were able to witness some calving and a lot of harbour seals chilling on chunks of ice that had broken off the glacier. It was magnificent. We ran around all over the ship trying to get the best vantage points as it turned and pivoted in and out safely. A thoroughly thrilling morning on board.

We were scooped up the following day by our relatives for dim sum before getting back on airplanes and back to a terrestrial way of living.

decidedly rocked,
jt

Monday, May 23, 2016

all aboard

Ahoy,

First week back from the cruise. Hello, reality. I don't really remember the other 2 cruises we went on when I was a kid. I remember them being fun. And the pools were filled with salt water, like it came straight from the ocean. I had a great time this time around, and I hope my companions did as well. I was mainly the cruise director for my group of 8. We booked this adventure way back in October. I was scrambling to find people to join in on this deal I found. And then reeling from the aftermath of committing a group of 8, pretty much under my jurisdiction for a vacation. Oh, boy.

There was a lot of convenient eating. So now we are back to cooking our own food and cleaning our own dishes. And not having access to ice cream mostly around the clock. What a drag. Leaving this time with my family also tears me up a little. My dad was so happy to hang out and play with us. He's spent our whole lives working. And now that he's essentially retired, I'm more than halfway across the country. I've never really spent so much time with him. Every time my grandma sees me she asks me to go back home. I just feel bad about being so far away from them. I really want to know my dad better. And I really want my mom to detach from her phone.

I think it was a good time for us. My mom had been looking forward to a family vacation for a while. It was a lot of time spent with all my favorite people. I am truly so happy they all graced me with their presence and agreed to go on this expedition with me. In many ways, I hope I wasn't dragging anyone along. As the cruise director, sometimes it does feel like I'm dragging someone along. Challenge by choice. It's usually just the RRS I'm dragging along, but this time it was 7 whole humans. What a blessing to have 7 mostly willing participants.

generally ashore,
jt

Thursday, May 12, 2016

cars, of course

Ahoy,

I made us reservations to go to the Nethercutt Collection sometime in March. It's somebody's private collection of old cars and other stuffs. It's open to the public and free! The family has over 100 old, vintage cars that are all restored and in working order. They regularly drive them to car shows and win awards still. Isn't that cool? They have all the staff and crew to restore a car in house except for the glass, and 2 other things. Isn't that cool? There is a big building with a bunch of cars and then another building with stuff besides cars, and also cars. The second building requires a reservation to go on the tour. But it's totally worth it, and I highly recommend you do it. 

The second building has a lot of musical pieces. There are a lot of self playing instruments and recorders. There is a piano that recorded Gerschwinn playing Rhapsody in Blue; so it plays on its own a reenactment of the composer playing his famous piece! There is a machine that has 3 violins playing on their own. There is an entire floor of orchestrions. These large boxes that contain all the pieces of a whole orchestra inside as they play themselves. Orchestrions were much more popular in Europe during WWII, and so a lot of the machines they acquired are German made. But in the States, we had silent movies set to the sounds of organs.  

The 3rd largest organ in the world lives here. The tour guide is the curator and musician that plays and maintains all the instruments. He was very enthusiastic about his job. The largest pipe could contain 3 grown men standing inside. Some of the pipes we could see, but a lot of them lived behind curtains in the wall. The guide says sometimes the building just shakes when he plays certain songs. He played a Phantom of the Opera piece for us. 


All in all, a pretty cool outing. None of us were expecting such a stellar end to the tour. It was a pleasant surprise. You should go and check it out yourself. If you're not a huge fan of cars, definitely take the tour.

resoundingly alarmed,
jt

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

asian fit glasses?

Ahoy,

Warby Parker has a new section at their Abbott Kinney location for low bridge fit! This is me alerting the internet universe (mostly to Asians) that you might find something more comfortable at the low bridge fit section at the Abbott Kinney Warby Parker storefront. I tried some TC Chartons, but they are just so much more expensive, and then they charge for the type of lenses, etc.

I tried googling this subject in my hunt for asian fit glasses, and did not come up with much. Maybe this will show up in somebody elses's search. Good luck low bridge noses of the world!

publicly announced,
jt

Thursday, May 5, 2016

he has the immune system of a 2 year old

Ahoy,

We had plans to go to Pinnacles National Park over the weekend. It was a long (year) postponed trip with the RRS's family to celebrate his graduation. And, of course, he gets sick. We left Friday morning and arrived in the afternoon to a less than spectacular, perhaps underwhelming entrance into the park. But I was super excited to see the park and all its great features. We went for a short walk and saw a non-venomous snake that made A jump out of his shorts. Such fortitude in his spirit. We made dinner and A became much more ill. He slept in the car for a while. I went with his parents to hear a snakes talk by a ranger who didn't sound the most thrilled. But making powerpoint presentations thrilling is pretty hard.

In the morning, we decided (I agreed reluctantly) to leave early. I feel like he is always getting sick on vacation. The story of my life: we went to xyz, but then he got sick... This blog will become a record of all the times he gets sick. Somebody was describing to me how their 2 year old gets sick every month. That is as frequently as the RRS gets sick. He has the immune system of a 2 year old. We went on 1 hike and had a nice picnic lunch in the shade before heading out. I was really looking forward to being outside and getting at it this weekend, but sometimes I'm left with a 2 year old to tend to. A spice of life I would rather leave in the cupboard.

Fortunately I was still able to cancel and get a refund. It was super busy in the visitor center and I overheard the ranger turning this couple away because the campsites were all full and there was a waiting list. So how lucky for us, I offered them our campsite and they were super, duper stoked!

Pinnacles is the newest national park. It was once a monument. I asked the ranger why it changed, and he said it's the same amount of funding but more visitors, so it's actually not advantageous. And then our shuttle rolled up and I couldn't pepper him with more questions. True story, there is a pool right next to the visitor center. There used to be 2 other campsites but they got washed out by floods and were never fixed because probably wanted to let the ecosystem do its thing. The more scenic parts are on the west side, but the camp site is on the east side and you can only go to the other side through hikes or a 2 hour drive. We didn't quite get to the cool stuff, so we'll have to go back. They probably won't connect the sides with a road because it would probably disrupt the ecosystem too much, according to Paul Mondragon, another ranger I bugged about stuff. He is a descendant of the natives that used to live in Pinnacles. Fascinating.

repeatedly replanned,
jt