All posts filed under: Travel

There’s No Place Like Home

As I captioned the above photo on Instagram, things are always changing in Tucson, but also remaining exactly the same. I spent 24 years of my life living in the same city. I was born there, went to school there, fell in love there, made friends there, lost friends there, had loved ones be born there and die there. And when I moved away I had no idea what it would feel like to come back home. When I’m in Tucson I’m bombarded by familiar smells, sounds, and feelings. The air is different, the stars shine brighter, the birds chirp louder. In the summer there’s the smell of creosote and the sound of cicadas. The fall starts off warm, but a coolness eventually rolls in. The winters are chilly and dark and there’s something wonderful about feeling cold in the desert. In the spring the Texas Rangers bloom with bright purple flowers and the smell of sunscreen fills the air as people flock outside before it gets too hot again. While I wouldn’t trade living in …

Catalina Island: Facts n’ Photos

Before visiting Catalina I knew nothing about the island except for the fact that it’s off the coast of California and (most importantly) that it was the iconic setting for the end of Step Brothers. After spending a weekend on Catalina Island I learned quite a bit and am here to report back with some fun facts and a few photos I took during my short visit. 1. The Catalina Island Wine Mixer is now a real thing, and it’s happening in September! There’s even a Step Brothers themed costume party y’all. 2. The Wrigley family owns Catalina and has since the early 1900’s. 3. The Wrigley family were known for their gum and numerous other business ventures, including as part-owners of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs even held their spring training on the island from the 1920s until the 1950s. 4. There aren’t many cars on the island. In fact, residents have to spend 30 years on a waiting list before they can even get a Smart Car. Now that’s patience. 5. Instead of cars people use golf carts, and they’re loud, annoying, …

A Weekend in NYC

A few weeks ago I spent a long weekend in New York City, marking my first trip to the big apple ever. On the flight from Reykjavik I started reading How to See the World by Nicholas Mirzoeff – on visual culture and how we see things and are seen – and realized that although I had the experience of observing the New York City of film, television, and advertising, I had never actually seen the city. While I had been dreaming of visiting NYC for years, I showed up almost nervous. After spending time in parts of rural Iceland (the least populated place I have ever been to) I was heading to the most densely inhabited place I had yet to occupy. Iceland has a way of slowing you down and I worried that the extreme change in environment would almost be jarring. But instead of feeling overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of New York’s streets, it felt good to finally see it myself – not on a screen or billboard. I found New York City to …

Visiting the Huntington

I’ve been meaning to visit The Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino for over two years, and finally went with my sister recently. Below are photos we took in the various gardens, which span 120 acres and include a Desert Garden, Japanese Garden, and Chinese Garden, among others. The photos below do not do The Huntington justice, so I recommend spending the day there if you’re ever in the Los Angeles area. The Huntington Library was founded in 1919 by Southern California businessman Henry E. Huntington. Huntington had a deep interest in gardens, art, and books – building a massive research library, art collection, and botanical gardens. Only 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the Huntington Library is a wonderful place to relax and appreciate nature.

Business & Leisure in San Diego

This past weekend my sister accompanied me to San Diego, CA, where I presented a paper at the Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association’s national conference. My paper, titled “How YouTube and Instagram are Normalizing Veganism,” analyzes the ways in which vegan cooking and lifestyle content creators appropriate mainstream YouTube aesthetics, and examines the importance of a strong digital community for vegans. While the purpose of my trip was to present at the conference, I spent the majority of my time hanging out with my sister in and around San Diego. On our way down from Los Angeles we stopped in San Juan Capistrano, Del Mar, La Jolla, and Coronado Island, and in San Diego we spent time at Balboa Park and around Old Town. We also drank great coffee from Heartwork Coffee Bar and Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, and stuffed ourselves with food from Kindred and Barra Barra. Presenting at PCA/ACA not only gave me the chance to work on my public speaking skills (I’m doing better but there’s so much room for improvement), but it also provided me with some much-needed time for …

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 …