This past weekend we went camping with friends at the Princess Campground in Sequoia National Forest for our friend Kyle’s birthday. Our pal Shawn snagged 2 great campsites with ample space for 8 of us which allowed us to spread out a bit. We were able to see a few sites in both Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks including the Grant Tree, Roaring River Falls, Hume Lake, and Zumwalt Meadow, where we saw a mother bear and cub from a fairly close distance. We also attended a Birds of Prey presentation at our campsite which included a Red Tailed Hawk, Great Horned Owl and Screech Owl. I was super excited to see the owls close up as they are birds that have always fascinated me. Even though we explored many areas of the parks we also had some down time at the campsite where we told each other embarrassing stories, made lots of vegan food (Daiya mac and cheese…mmmm) and played a few games of Werewolf which we got super into and got yelled at by the campsite ranger for making too much noise. Ooops! On our way back home we stopped off at Pixley National Wildlife Refuge where we saw two jackrabbits from a distance. Besides a brief low point on Saturday night where my Entomophobia kicked into high gear after Scott spotted a spider on my shoe, this was a great trip shared with friends. I hope we can go another adventure in August before work takes over my nights and weekends.
We have done less adventuring than I would have liked this year but I figured it was about time I posted about our trip to Santa Cruz Island over Memorial Day weekend. We had been talking about taking a trip to Channel Islands National Park since maybe our first backpacking trip last spring and we finally made it happen. This trip required more preparation as we had to take a boat out to the island and we needed to carry all of our water with us, since there was no potable water at our campsite*. We left early on Sunday morning to catch our boat at 9AM in Ventura. The boat ride was choppy but luckily no one got sea sick. We made it to Prisoner’s Harbor around 11AM and had lunch at a picnic table right on the beach. After lunch, we made the 4 mile hike to the Del Norte Campsite. This was an intense hike for me, lots of steep climbs but we made it. The Del Norte Campsite has just 4 spots but overlooks the Pacific Ocean so the view is perfect. Once we got to our site, we set up our tents, relaxed and napped. We then took a short hike further along the main trail to see if we could spot any of the island foxes we were anxious to see. We spotted one down the road but he kept his distance. Once back at our campsite, we started to cook dinner and a little fox came to investigate the campsite next to us. We watched him from a distance, until he eventually left. We took a short night hike to blow off some needed energy without disturbing the other campers.
In the morning, we got up and had breakfast. While the other campers, broke down their tents to catch the early boat at 11AM. Our boat wasn’t coming until 4PM so we had a lazy morning reading and relaxing. Once some of the other campers left, we got visited by 2 adorable island foxes and took 1000 pictures. Around noon we packed up our gear and made the trek back to the dock. We had lunch while waiting for our boat to arrive and relaxed on the rocky beach. The boat ride back was much smoother and we met a pod of dolphins which we watched swim along with us from the front of the boat. It was amazing! Once back on the mainland, we stopped for a much-needed meal at Pizza Cookery and gorged ourselves on vegan garlic rolls and pizza.
This was by far one of my favorite trips we have done, if you live in Southern California you should absolutely do this! I’m anxious to explore some of the other islands and eventually want to camp at Santa Rosa island, which requires some intense hiking and a 2-3 night stay!
*As we arrived to the boat on Sunday morning we discovered that Scott’s camelback sprung a leak. We made several attempts to fix the leaks but eventually gave up and did our best to drink from his water first. This gave me tons of anxiety about running out of water during our hike to camp but it all worked out and we had enough.
Last weekend we hiked up to the San Antonio Ski Hut on Mt. Baldy for Shawn‘s birthday. I was very worried about this hike because even though it was on the shorter side, only 3 miles, it was all up hill with a 2200′ foot elevation gain the biggest elevation gain I have done. Luckily we were sleeping at the Ski Hut which means we had less gear which meant a lighter pack. The initial ascent was rough but after that it wasn’t too bad and Shawn even commented that it was the most chipper I have even been on a hike (aka normally I am a huge complaining mess). It was a really cool hike. It was misty and rainy and there was large patch of snow we had to trek through which was definitely scary but we all made it. Once we got to the Ski Hut we hung out and played a variety games while we relaxed and had dinner. Alix made Shawn a vegan cookies and cream cake which she assembled on site and was delicious. In the morning when we woke up it was snowing, so I ran outside to enjoy it for a moment before making breakfast and packing up for the hike back to reality.
It’s a new year! While I roll my eyes often at the idea of new year’s resolutions, I do enjoy making lists! These are the personal goals I hope to achieve over the next 12 months.
- ADVENTURE – I went camping for the first time on NYE 2014 and have since been on 7 other camping trips. I want to do more in 2015 and with my goal being to go on 10 or more adventures this year. We are already off to a good start as we have two trips in the works.
- TINYLETTER – a few months ago I started a TinyLetter to try to stay in better communication with friends back home or in other places that I don’t communicate with enough. I try to be a bit more personal there but I haven’t sent them as often as I would like. Hoping to get myself on a schedule this year.
- SEWING – Scott got me a sewing machine for my birthday in 2013 and I only made one skirt. I bought patterns and fabric to make other things but just haven’t made the time for those projects. So I’m setting myself a goal to make at least 3 items this year.
- EXERCISE – I got a gym membership in August but only went 4 weeks total in 2014. We are canceling the membership to save money but my goal is to start working out at home until we can afford to reinstate my membership. My fitness goals are to correct my posture and increase my stamina for when we go on backpacking trips and long hikes.
What are your goals for the new year?
To celebrate my birthday this year, we decided to take a trip to the Salton Sea. The weather was perfect and the campsite was nearly empty so it was like we were all alone out there. We stayed at the New Camp in the Salton Sea State Recreation Area and found a great campsite beneath some trees so we got plenty of shade in the morning once the sun came up. We went and explored the beach by the campsite which is covered in barnacles and fish bones. It’s the most bizarre thing to see so many whole dead fish just sitting on the beach. And then took a trip down the highway to Bombay Beach where we explored some abandoned houses and watched a beautiful sunset over the water. Back at our campsite, we made dinner, gathered wood for a fire, told stories and ate donuts from Donut Friend in lieu of cake. The next morning we made breakfast, packed up camp and drove to the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge in Calpatria where we hiked the 2 mile Rock Hill Trail and saw many sea birds as well as some Desert Cottontail rabbits. Once we left the refuge, we headed to Niland to see Salvation Mountain. It was a really nice laid back trip and is a great weekend adventure not far from Los Angeles.
You can see more photos from our trip here.
To celebrate Alix’s birthday we went to Death Valley National Park. It was the perfect time to go, there weren’t big crowds and the weather was lovely. We stayed at the Furnace Creek campsite which offered a bit of shade and greenery considering we were in the desert. We visited the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Natural Bridge, Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point and Artist’s Drive. Artist’s Drive was absolutely my favorite. It’s a 9 mile drive through beautiful multi-hued volcanic and sedimentary hills. I really didn’t want to leave it was so beautiful. I can’t wait to go back and see the rest of the areas and sites in the park.
Over the Labor Day holiday, we went on our first 2 night camping trip to Yosemite National Park with Shawn, Alix and our pal Dilcia. Shawn managed to snag us a spot at Housekeeping Camp at the very last-minute so we had a nice little retreat with a few more creature comforts that usual. It was such a lovely trip. We hiked up to the top of the Vernal Falls. We rented bikes and rode around all the bike paths throughout the Yosemite Valley stopping to swim at several points along the Merced River. We went to Mirror Lake and walked around the dry river bed at sunset. We also drove up Glacier Point Road and took a brief hike up the McGurk Meadow trail. I can’t wait to go back to Yosemite again, I’m hoping we can return next spring and see a whole new side of the park.
My friend Shane, turned 35 today and quit his job. He posted about it on his website. When I read it, it made me think about my job change from earlier this year. I haven’t written about it but it seems like maybe now is a good time to share.
In May, I quit a full-time job with benefits created just for me to go back to a seasonal job that employs me 7 months out of the year. Luckily Scott is the most supportive person in the world, so when I told him how I was unhappy and wanted to leave, he asked what I would want to do instead. The answer was simple, return to my old contract job and the job that brought me to Los Angeles in the first place, I was proud of my work there, was a vital member of a small team and honestly really loved the people I worked with. Also my job just happened to be available. But I knew realistically that probably wasn’t a real option because of the full-time job with benefits I was giving up. But again, Scott being amazing said do it and we would figure all the scary stuff out. It was really that easy, I mean sure I debated it for a few weeks and we really talked more about the scary stuff but after that first real conversation my mind was made up. When I told some close friends the decision, a few of them thought I was crazy. And when I announced I was leaving, many of my former colleagues couldn’t understand why I would leave if I didn’t have a another full-time job lined up.
Now here are some of the realities of what my decision meant, the aforementioned “scary stuff”: I was and still am the primary contributor to our household income (this will be changing soon but was not known at the time) so this was a huge financial gamble. Technically, my new job pays more per-paycheck that my full-time job so I’m taking home more money now but come December I have no paycheck. I was also the person who got us both healthcare at very little cost and that also disappeared when I quit. Now we have both lived without health insurance before so that one was less scary but it still sucks. I currently have a chipped tooth that has started bothering me but no dental insurance and limited funds mean that it’s not getting looked at anytime soon.
But I still have absolutely no regrets about the decision I made. Overall, I’m much happier when I come home each day from work, even stressful days are nothing compared to how depressed I felt earlier this year. Sure the beginning of next year is going to be a bit scary, I don’t have another job lined up and we are banking big on Scott’s new promotion filling in the gap and hopefully it will but if it doesn’t we will figure it out. I’ll get a minimum wage job, I’ll go find a short contract job somewhere or something. But I couldn’t let that fear, keep me locked into something that made me very unhappy. And you know what, the last time I did something like this (yes I have taken this risk before) I left a very stable and prestigious job in New Orleans to move across the country to Los Angeles for a job that was only for 3.5 months (it’s the job I went back to FYI) and everything worked out then too. So I am not stressed about it.
So why write about this now? Well like I said above Shane’s post got me thinking and I wanted to share my story. Maybe it will help you take the same kind of leap and find something better. You know what you are worth as a person and if a job is making you miserable I say do something about it. Also I just hate all of this pressure to have a full-time job and wanted to put it out there that maybe you don’t actually need one.
Last weekend, we ventured to Big Sur to hike the Vincente Flat Trail in Los Padres National Forest with our adventure pals Shawn, Alix and Kyle. Don’t let the name fool you this was definitely our most strenuous hike so far as the trail ascended 1800 ft to our camp for the night but it was also the most picturesque with constantly amazing views of the Pacific ocean. During one break to admire the scenery we were able to see a whale breaching the water far off on the horizon. Once we got to camp, we made some dinner and had some cake to celebrate Kyle’s birthday before getting in our tents for the night. In the morning, we made breakfast and filtered water in the nearby creek. Once we got back to our cars, we stopped across highway 1 to have some ramen on a rocky beach.
I had so many food pictures from our trip to the Bay Area that I decided they warranted their own post. The last time I visited the Bay Area Cinnaholic did not exist and I was anxious to try it. Given our limited time we only had a few chances to eat out and so we ended up hitting up Cinnaholic twice in the span of one hour and then grabbed some on the way out-of-town. Seriously I didn’t understand how good cinnamon rolls could be until I had these. Every combination we tried was delicious but my favorite was either almond icing with strawberries or just a simple orange iced roll.
Other new places we discovered this trip were Source where I got a delicious vegan mac and cheeze pizza and Pepples Donut Farm where I had the best TLTA ever and some of the best vegan cake donuts. Pepples was so good we went back for weekend brunch which was also amazing and when they serve yeast donuts in addition to the cake ones.
We also visited Saturn Cafe in Santa Cruz, got brunch at Herbivore, had 4th of July dinner at Cha-Ya and met our pal Derek for dinner at Souley Vegan but I sadly forgot to take pics of the food. Which is a good excuse to go back soon and eat all of those yummy meals again!