4th of July Weekend aka My Break from City Life

The 4th of July holiday evokes images of fireworks, barbecues on the overcrowded beach, s’mores, and lots of time spent just looking for parking (in the city). The only thing I did on this list is the s’more part because for the second year in a row, I spent my holiday weekend at Moses Gulch.

It may become my and Conrad’s annual 4th of July trip. Going off the grid for even a few days really rewired my brain for the better, and I still dream of sleeping under the stars and Sequoias with no city noise or gross smog polluting the air. (One night, though, some bros decided to blast their country music – absolutely the rudest thing you can do in the middle of the forest besides burning it down.) And, though I’m a people person, I get tired of people every once in a while (my introvert takes over at some point). Not seeing or dealing with very many humans was kind of heavenly.

Okay, so reflecting on why I loved this trip even more than last year brought me to a conclusion: camping will be an annual trip. If not Moses Gulch (I could go there quite a few times before I get tired of it), it would be some other remote camping site in the middle of the forest. Maybe sleep among the redwoods sometime in the near future. And, of course, Lulu and her wonderful parents have to be there. What a bonus it was to pseudo-serendipitously bump into them and end up sharing their campsite! They certainly made the trip exciting and saved me and Conrad the prospect of spending the whole weekend on our own, which wouldn’t be terrible, of course.

A 30-45 minute hike uphill and worth the trouble.

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San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

I finally made it south of the border, after living my lifetime in sunny SoCal. This past weekend, I enjoyed beautiful, sunny, blue San Carlos with some friends hankering for the (so close but yet so far) SoCal summer sun. I couldn’t find many words to describe how pretty it is down there because it literally made me speechless. It also helped that lodging (right on the beach) was free, roomy, and also very beautiful; and our gracious hosts brought down their quad and awesome dune buggy both on which we didn’t ride enough.

The trip couldn’t be too perfect of course. All five of us got a bad round of food poisoning on day 2 – we knew that crab tostada from the Soggy Peso Bar was way too good to be true…

But it didn’t deter us from having a wonderful time in possibly the most beautiful place on the west coast. Even being sick there felt like paradise. I’m definitely earmarking my next vacation for this place again – I wouldn’t mind that at all.

Moses Gulch Campground

This city girl finally had her first legitimate camping trip during the 4th of July weekend, and what better place than Moses Gulch Campground in Mountain Home State Forest! It’s within the larger Sequoia National Park, and wow my gosh, how beautiful! It’s quite a drive from Los Angeles (about 5 or 6 hours without traffic), but it’s well worth it. I didn’t take photos until our third and last day, but I’m glad I saved the best site for last: Hidden Falls.

Huge thanks to Amber and Eric for being so welcoming and open to have us tag along, and for making my first camping trip so easy. And endless thanks to Conrad for being the sweet, sweet cherry on top and for making it such an unforgettable weekend. But no thanks to the bugs for giving me bites all over…

Seattle, the Emerald City

Before my good friend Michael Jordan (no, not the basketball player) left Seattle for good after getting his Master’s from Seattle Univ., some friends and I made sure to visit the week before he said goodbye to the Emerald City. We rented a super cheap apartment for a couple days through AirBnB (not the best stay, but we got what we paid for, as Aaron loved reminding us every now and then during the trip) in a cute neighborhood across the street from Garfield High School.

All in all, Seattle is a beautiful city – it’s immediately obvious why it’s called the Emerald City: so many trees! I so wanted to hike somewhere nice, but we didn’t plan for the very hungover morning we had when were supposed to go – whoopsies! At least we got to see some breathtaking views of the skyline… Plus, we got lucky and had sunshine almost the entire time, except the night we arrived and the morning we left – we totally brought the SoCal sun with us!

Other spots we loved: good ol’ Oprah-endorsed fried chicken from Ezell’s Famous Chicken, strawberry sour cream and salted caramel ice cream from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, and brunch and mimosas at the Hi Spot Cafe.

I’m definitely going back to Seattle again when I have the chance. While a small city, it has much to offer the wide-eyed American tourist – great food, beautiful travel on-foot, a picturesque skyline, and lots and lots of parks.

My 25th at Grand Canyon

Many friends of mine have celebrated their 25th birthday with huge parties, but I knew I wanted something different from the day I turned 24: the Grand Canyon.

How it was barely my first time at the Grand Canyon, don’t ask. For a girl who has a huge travel bug like me, it was baffling that I put it off for so long. But what counts is that I finally made it out, thanks to the very sweet Conradical, who proclaimed that he would take me anywhere I wanted to go for my birthday. I would’ve said Paris, but I’ll ask for that way down the line…

We stayed in Flagstaff, which has a cute and quaint downtown, very walkable and lively. The morning after the Canyon, we luckily stumbled upon the best restaurant in town called MartAnne’s which claims to have the best Mexican breakfast – my chilaquiles and Conrad’s omelette made us believers!

At the Canyon, we started at Yavapai Point and walked through the Geology Museum to get a refresher on the history of the Canyon. We then walked a couple miles to the village where we enjoyed lunch outdoors at a cute hotel. To walk off the nachos and buffalo wings (so healthy), we hiked a couple miles down the Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. Easy going down, of course, but whoah, my gosh, walking back up – it did a job on my lungs. But it felt so good to get to the top again – it made me feel so well achieved, even if it was only a couple miles down. One day, I’ll make the hike all the way down! Or, ride a donkey. Whichever comes first.

We then drove to Yaki Point, where an old watchtower provided 360-degree views of the Canyon and where I found my favorite view of the Colorado River–

My favorite view of the canyon from an old watchtower.We then drove back to the Visitor Center to enjoy the beautiful sunset. We were unsuccessful at taking great pictures of ourselves, but luckily a sweet stranger sympathized and offered to take a photo for us–

Great shot from a sweet stranger who didn't mind taking the photo.We finished the trip with Grand Canyon’s annual Star Party, which only happens one week in the year – the weekend of my birthday fell perfectly in coincidence! It was a truly magical way to experience the sky, with no light pollution whatsoever. The Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association provided tons of different types of telescopes to look mostly at Saturn and a few galaxies. They were informative, engaging, and so passionate, as I’ve found all astronomers to be anyway. The Star Party as a whole was just unbelievably amazing – something I want to experience again soon.

This was definitely the best 25th I’ll ever see! Thanks to Conradical for making it happen!

 

 

Exposition Park

Have a day to kill? Leave your car at home and take the Expo Line straight to Exposition Park. Just enjoy all it has to offer…

C-Rad
The California Science Center admits by donation, so it’s a great bargain. It’s an interesting visitor experience with their new layout. Visit your favorite habitat or climate, like their kelp forest- their best exhibit in my opinion.
Rose Garden
Enjoy lunch in a gazebo in the serene Rose Garden.
How can you visit the Science Center without seeing the Endeavour? And for a 360 experience, I recommend seeing Hubble 3D- best 3D movie ever made...
How can you visit the Science Center without seeing the Endeavour? It’s free but get your timed ticket ahead of time. And for a 360-degree experience, I recommend seeing Hubble 3D- best 3D movie ever made…