All posts filed under: Travel

Riding the Pacific Surfliner

This past weekend I rode Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner from Los Angeles to San Diego & back. Here’s a diary entry-style post about my experience: From industrial neighborhoods to the ocean, journeying on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner from Los Angeles to San Diego takes you through some of California’s distinct landscapes. Leaving from Union Station in downtown LA, the first views from the train are what I’d describe as hyper-industrial: cement trucks, train cars, wires, fences, and giant warehouses that are either overwhelmingly grey, or dotted with colorful graffiti. It’s dirt, metal, and cement for miles. The illicit art on buildings and walls – ranging from indecipherable messages to exceptional works of art – interrupt the monochromatic dominance of the landscape. Oddly enough, I think there’s something particularly beautiful about Los Angeles’ industrial and warehouse districts. The area isn’t at all glamorous, but the beauty is in its history and scope. Downtown LA is home to global industries and distribution centers. It’s where clothes are made and shipped internationally, and produce is organized and distributed across North America. Downtown is a hub …

Freedom & Indulgence on the Vegas Strip

Ah, the Las Vegas Strip. You’d think I hate Las Vegas based on my aversion to greed, mass consumption, and gaudiness – but on the contrary, I sort of love it. While the Strip is built on gambling addictions, cheesy simulacrum, and mass amounts of waste (from water fountains to water bottles), there’s a freeness in the four mile stretch of indulgence and exhibitionism that I appreciate and almost relish in. American culture is so go-go-go, earn-earn-earn, that sometimes we collectively lose sight of ourselves. What I believe to be inherently American is this guilt I feel whenever I have the chance to relax. I may have been over worked and exhausted for weeks, but the moment I get to take a break I think of my desire for rest or fun as a flaw. But everyone else is constantly working hard, so why am I tired? Why do I deserve to go do this cool thing? What’s my issue?  Two weeks ago (just one week before the inauguration) I spent two nights in Las Vegas with my boyfriend, celebrating …

Among the Trees at Sequoia National Park

A few weeks ago my parents visited and we took a weekend trip to Sequoia National Park. Out in nature is where I find I can truly relax and rejuvenate, so I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to escape from the city for a bit with my family. This trip marked my first time seeing the giant sequoia trees of California, and wow are they impressive! Below are a few snapshots that don’t do the magnitude of these sequoia’s justice, but do capture a bit of what I saw on my trip (or more like mere portions of what I saw, because these trees are too big to fit into one photo). Pictured below is General Grant, the world’s 3rd largest tree, found at King’s Canyon National Park, and General Sherman, the world’s largest tree, found at Sequoia National Park. If you’re ever visiting California I absolutely recommend checking out both Sequoia National Park and King’s Canyon National Park. I wish I had spent just a little more time among those massive trees, but I look forward to venturing back some day. Next stops, …

Snapshots from Coronado Island

A few weekends ago I had the chance to visit Coronado Island, just across the water from San Diego, CA. While I intended to get some work done while I was there, it was practically impossible with the near perfect weather and pacific waves calling out to me: just relax…relax…seriously dude, you need to chill… So I ended up getting about 10% of the work done that I needed to, but that’s what happens when you’re near a beach and the type of person who easily puts things off, right? Oh yeah…I have some time on Monday to finish that…I think… I took a day-trip to Coronado a few years ago, but this was the first time I really had the opportunity to check the place out. My boyfriend’s family was in town and kind enough to invite us down, so we explored the island for a few days with them. We ate breakfast at Clayton’s Coffee Shop, a 50’s diner that genuinely feels like a 50’s diner, walked along Dog Beach, and spent plenty of time strolling around the glorious Hotel del Coronado, …

Keep Portland Weird!

During a recent trip to Portland, OR, I spotted the “Keep Portland Weird” mural I recognized from Portlandia, and I was pretty excited (though not excited enough to get a picture, oops!). But is it even possible for Portland not to be weird? Weirdness is in the air, the water, the food, the sounds, the streets, the businesses, the citizens. Weirdness is an intrinsic part of the city’s identity. Portland is weird and weird is Portland. Let me take a moment to say that my concept of “weird” is essentially “cool.” Portland isn’t weird in an uncomfortable, eerie way – Portland is weird in an uncompromisingly humble, kind, welcoming, and unapologetically unique type-of-way. I had briefly been to Portland once before, but for some reason, I wasn’t hit as hard with the weird-cool vibes as I was on this most recent trip. Oh, and Portlanders are unbelievably nice too! Below are a few pictures that I snapped during my trip, most of which are from Washington Park’s International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden. Not pictured is all the great vegan food I ate (besides …

A Day in Santa Barbara, CA

A few weekends ago I took a day trip with my boyfriend to Santa Barbara, CA, just 80 minutes north of Los Angeles. This was my first time in Santa Barbara, and even though it was just a day, I can say that the small city exceeded my expectations. I knew it would be beautiful, but I was admittedly surprised by Santa Barbara’s lack of pretension. Our first stop was the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a stunning Spanish Colonial Revival-style building completed in 1929. Before checking out the rest of the city we got brunch at Mesa Verde, a cute vegetarian restaurant where the food is light and flavorful, and the plating is impeccable (I think flowers may come on every plate!). While in Santa Barbara we also stopped by Stearns Wharf, made our way down State Street, went to Old Mission Santa Barbara (where there happened to be a chalk drawing exhibit), and ended our day at Butterfly Beach, which was foggy and cold in the best kind of way. If you’re in the Los Angeles area and want to get away …

Bisbee & Tombstone, AZ

Two weeks ago I was in Tucson visiting friends and family, and I took take a day-trip with my sister and headed south to Bisbee, AZ. Bisbee is an old copper mining town that is known for its art, antiques, and eccentricity. And on our way back to Tucson we briefly stopped in Tombstone, the location of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. If you’re ever in Tucson, Bisbee is just a 1.5 hour drive south, and on the way to Bisbee you can check out Tombstone for a walk around an authentic Western town. Bisbee is best experienced over a couple of days, but if one is all you’ve got, it’s still worth the trip. Be sure to check out Discover Bisbee Arizona and Tombstone’s informational website.

Barrio Viejo, Tucson

Last weekend I was searching through my computer and rediscovered these photos I took in Tucson just a little over a year ago. Before moving to Los Angeles, I tried to visit places throughout town that were important to me or that I felt retained a deep connection to the city’s spirit. Barrio Viejo, a neighborhood in downtown Tucson, is one of those places. According to Barrio Viejo’s website, the neighborhood is considered to be the largest collection of 19th century adobe buildings in the United States. In addition to its history, Barrio Viejo’s character and charm is what draws me to the area; each street is brimming with color and energy. It’s also a place where community, family, and supporting local commerce is of the utmost importance. If you ever find yourself in Tucson, I recommend parking in the neighborhood and going for a stroll. And after that, you can discover the rest of what Tucson’s eclectic downtown has to offer.

A Day at Joshua Tree National Park

During the summer before my junior year of college I saved up to buy my very own camera. Other than my childhood Polaroid and a few disposables here and there, I never had one of my own. I was set on getting a fancy DSLR, so once I had worked enough hours at a sandwich joint and an architecture office, I dove into the investment. Although I’ve never learned how to properly utilize all of my camera’s capabilities (I’ve decided to finally try to master it this year) it has gone with me on quite a few adventures. From France and Italy, to Los Angeles and San Francisco, my camera has captured beautiful people, places, and things, and I’m so thankful to have it. This past weekend I journeyed to Joshua Tree National Park with my boyfriend, his parents, and my trusty camera. Joshua Tree straddles the Colorado and Mojave deserts in southern California, just outside of the Coachella Valley. The park features spectacular rock formations and strangely beautiful Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), a plant that is part of the agave family. According to legend, the …

A Weekend in San Francisco

I spent last weekend in San Francisco with my boyfriend and wow, did we have a blast! It was my first time in the city and I already knew I’d love it before arriving, but San Francisco somehow exceeded my expectations. During our brief visit we checked out a few excellent vegan restaurants including Shizen and Golden Era, both of which would be enjoyed by vegans and meat-eaters alike. We hit up most of San Francisco’s iconic areas including Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, the Mission District, Haight-Ashbury, and of course the Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately we missed out on the Castro District, but that just means we have something already planned for next time. We also explored Golden Gate Park, took a few snap shots of the “Painted ladies” (or “Full House houses,” as I like to call them), and drove to the top of Twin Peaks road for a spectacular view of the city. On our last day we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and spent a little time in the beautiful town of Sausalito, and then we headed back home to Los Angeles. Now that I don’t live too far …