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!
It had been over 4 years since Scott and I took a vacation together so we decided to take a 4 day trip to the Bay Area over the Fourth of July holiday. We had only been there once before in 2007 and wanted to explore the area more while also checking out Santa Cruz along the way and take the scenic drive down the Pacific Coast highway. We stayed at the Hotel Durant in Berkeley which while being a cute little hotel also had cruelty free toiletries which I was super excited to discover. It was a really nice but short trip and made me anxious to take a longer vacation soon.
I finally went on my second camping trip, this time we went backpacking in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with our pals Alix, Shawn and Kyle. We hiked the Redwood Creek Trail and Hart Tree Loop in the Redwood Mountain Grove. About 4 miles in we set up camp to spend the night. Scott and I packed a ton of food (according to Shawn maybe too much) and enjoyed a nice warm dinner in the darkness after we got our camp set up. We even heard an owl give us a hoot! Despite my insect phobia flaring up when it got dark, it was a blast and we are already planning a second backpacking trip for next weekend. Here are some photos I took with my Konica Autoreflex TC 35mm camera and a few that Shawn took with his Canon DSLR.