A Weekend Exploring The Mojave National Preserve

For a while now, Wesley and I have wanted to explore the Mojave Desert for the longest time. Last year, we did go camp out in the Mojave Desert, but we didn’t have time to really explore the areas that we wanted to. A few weeks ago in January, Wesley and I along with our adventure buddies Brandon and Anneka headed out to the Mojave to explore for the weekend.

We headed out pretty early Saturday morning to try and maximize the sunlight we had for the day. Since we were coming the Los Angeles/Orange County area, we took the 15 Freeway to the Mojave. Our first stop was Zzyzx and on the way there we stopped at a truck stop in Yermo, California. But this was not just any truck stop… this was probably the BEST and cleanest stop I have ever been too! It’s called Eddie World and I was so amazed. I was very impressed and they had all the candy in the world and so many food options… in the middle of no where! So, if you’re ever traveling on the 15 either going to Las Vegas or where ever… STOP HERE! It’s so worth it.

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After spending too much time and too much money at the truck stop, we were finally back on the road to Zzyzx. When you exit Zzyzx Road, you take the road all the way to the end and you get to the old mineral springs resort. Zzyzx’s former name was Soda Springs and was the home of Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa founded by Curtis Howe Springer. The site now is being used by the Cal State University for desert research, but when we were there it felt abandoned because there was no one there and the olds spas were still there. We walked around the the area and checked out the old springs and the pools of the facility. Behind all of the buildings was the dry lake bed. We found old chairs in the lake bed and hung out and took in the beautiful views of the mountains and the blue skies. After, we headed towards Baker and stopped to get some food.

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From there, we headed to the Mojave National Preserve. Our first stop was the famous Mojave Desert Lava Tubes. These lava tubes have a natural opening at the top of the tubes and draws in natural sunlight and gives a great effect. After gawking and admiring the tubes, we headed towards Aiken Mine. From the old abandoned mines were so much fun to explore. We walked almost the whole area and checked out the abandoned buildings that were there. It was amazing to see all of the old equipment and trucks that were just left behind. It felt like they just up and left things just as they were.

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After we spent sometime at the mines, we headed back to the main road and headed towards Kelso. We stopped at the Kelso Depot to check out the old train station and to eat lunch. After a quick stop, we headed towards the Kelso Dunes. The dunes were a pretty cool sight to see in the middle of the desert. We walked the dunes for a short while and then headed back to the main road. As the sun started to set, we headed towards Pisgah Crater, where we were going to camp for the night. This crater was so cool and not what I was expecting. We got to camp on the crater and was surrounded by black sand and amazing views. We ended our night around our camp fire having great conversations and having a great time. The next day we hung around Pisgah Crater and checked out the lava fields and the crater itself.
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Although we got to see a lot in one weekend, we only scratched the surface on exploring The Mojave National Preserve. We are hoping to go back again and see the rest the desert has to offer. Hope you enjoyed this post!

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A Day Out in Downtown Los Angeles

Today was President’s Day here in the United States and I decided to do a solo day of exploring in Downtown Los Angeles. Since it was just me, I didn’t want to drive or pay for parking so I hopped onto the Metrolink and took it down to LA Union Station.

Union Station is the central nerve system for Los Angeles’ transportation. You can catch the subway or a bus from here and it can take you anywhere from Azusa to Santa Monica to Long Beach. From Union Station, I wanted to get to Pershing Square out in Bunker Hill area of downtown. You could either take the Red or Purple Line and I just so happen to catch the Purple Line. Once I got to Pershing Square, I headed towards Grand Central Market. Grand Central Market is filled to brim of delicious foods, drinks, and good feels. I’ve been there a few times, but never on my own. Most people go there to get Eggslut, but since I’ve tried it before, I headed to Jose Chiquito. They serve diner style foods along with great Mexican food. I decided to get the BTA Omelette which includes bacon, cheese, tomato, and avocado! It was delicious! After eating my filling breakfast and taking some Instagram shots of Grand Central Market, I headed towards Blue Bottle Coffee. I’ve seen this place all over social media, so I was curious. It’s a boutique coffee shop and I got the iced cold brew, which was pretty good, but a little pricey. The shop itself was super cute, so I took my time with my coffee and took more pictures inside.

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Across the street from Grand Central Market is Angels Flight which is a short cable car the runs up and down Bunker Hill that has been around since the 1900’s. I took Angels Flight up to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I was hoping to spend a few hours at the museum, but they renovating over half of the museum so I only spent 30 minutes. Since I had a lot more time to kill, I decided to head down to Walt Disney Concert Hall and Grand Park. With the curved lines and reflective materials, I took my time to appreciate the architecture of the concert hall and took a bunch of pictures. After, I headed towards Grand Park and to LA City Hall. I was hoping to explore the observation deck, but since it was federal holiday I knew it would be closed and it was.

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After, I headed back up towards to concert hall and to the US Bank Tower to experience the OUE Skyspace at the top of the tower. The OUE Skyspace gives you panoramic views of the downtown. Also featured there is a see-through slide you can ride on the side of the building from the 70th floor to the 69th floor. The views from up there are so breathe taking. After gawking at the view for a few moments, I headed towards to slide. At first I was pretty nervous since its all see-through, but once you ride it it’s not bad. The slide is so short, you barely have anytime to look around. After the slide, I spent another hour up there and admiring the view. It was amazing.
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Afterwards, I headed towards 7th Street and Metro to explore the area. I thought the walk to be further, but it was pretty close and easy. I checked out a few shops and ended up near the big Macy’s and ended my day with a nice coffee. Since my fiance works in downtown, I met up with him and we headed home together. Overall, my day went pretty well and it was so easy to get around on foot and by the metro. I would highly recommend the train and subway to anyone since it’s so easy and convenient to get around without a car! Hope you enjoyed my post and hope you got some inspiration to check out Downtown Los Angeles. There’s still so much more to do in Los Angeles and I hope to explore it soon!

2017 Year End Recap | November & December

Wow, I am so behind. I never got to do a recap of the end of year for 2017 😦 Sorry guys. November and December were filled with adventures in National Parks and celebrations!

November –  November is my favorite month and is filled with celebration. Not only is it both of our birthday month, but it’s our anniversary month too! Every year we try to do something special and different for our celebration month. Last year, we went to Hawaii and spent a week in paradise. But for 2017, we decided to keep it pretty light and decided to spend a weekend up north in the Monterey Bay area. Since we are saving for a wedding in 2018, we wanted to do something fun and new, but not spend as much money as we did when we went to Hawaii. We planned a long weekend up in Northern California to check out the Monterey Bay area and to the check out Pinnacles National Park… cause you know us, WE LOVE NATIONAL PARKS! (Support your National Parks!)

Instead of driving up to NorCal, we decided to fly up to San Jose and drive down to Pinnacles National Park. We arrived mid morning and picked up our rental car. Since it was our celebration month, we wanted to get more of a special car rather than a normal rental car. If you know me, you know that my dream car is a Dodge Challenger! I know, so random. So we booked it, but unfortunately, when we got to the airport the car rental company had already run out of those type of cars. Instead, we were able to get a new Dodge Camero! It was actually pretty cool, but I was a little bumped that we didn’t get the Challenger. So, after we received our car we headed down to Gilroy to get some breakfast. Gilroy is such a cute little town. I’ve been to Gilroy before for the Garlic Festival, so I knew that this would be a good stopping point for some food. We found a cute little hometown cafe.

After breakfast, we headed down to Pinnacles National Park. When we got to the National Park, it started pouring so hard. At that point, I felt like I hadn’t seen real rain in so long, so I wasn’t that mad about it to be honest. The rain let up and we went to one of the trail heads. This National Park is one of the newest national parks so it’s not yet set up like a normal, more established park. The park really has only one road, but has some long trails. Since we only had a half day to explore the park, we did the Bear Gulch trail and some of the High Peaks trail. This trail takes you through some of the popular areas and through some really cool caves and you see some unique rock formations. At the end of the trail you get to the Bear Gulch reservoir and then after you take a part of the High Peaks trail to get back to your car. I really wanted to do the High Peaks trail, but its one of the longest trails in the park and we just didn’t have enough time to do it. Just as a warning, some of the trails are not clearly marked so just make sure you have a map with you and especially if you’ve never been there before, make sure to bring someone with you. This park is now one of my favorites. Even though it was raining, I think it added to the beauty of the park. Since the park is covered with rocks and moss, the misty-ness of the sky added to the environment. It was so beautiful.

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After Pinnacles, we headed towards Monterey Bay and arrived in the early evening. After we checked into our hotel and rested for a little bit, we headed out to dinner at the Fisherman’s Wharf. We found this cute Tiki Bar and got some clam chowder, some seafood, and a fun island drink. Since it was a little cold, there weren’t that many people out, but ended the night watching the sea lions and exploring some of the shops on the wharf.

The next day, we headed down to explore the Monterey Bay area and Big Sur. We headed for breakfast at Cafe Trieste in Monterey. Its a cute Italian cafe and had a very filling and delicious breakfast. After, we did the 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach. It’s a nice and easy drive through Pebble Beach with marked stops and vista points. We took our time and it took us about 2 hours to do the whole thing. The 17 Mile Drive was so pretty and because it was a clear and crisp day, it made it even better.

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After we headed down towards Big Sur and our first stop was Bixby Bridge. I’ve seen so many pictures of this bridge and was excited to finally see it. When we got there, I was a little disappointed. I think people edit the pictures so much that it makes it look so much impressive than it is in real life. Granted, the engineering is pretty cool, but I was a bit disappointed to be honest. After, we headed down the Highway 1 and made some stops along the way to look at the beautiful views along the highway. We also headed towards the Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park to check out McWay Falls. For lunch we ate at Nepenthe, which was the cutest restaurant that was right off of the highway and had amazing view of the ocean and the coast. After taking our time going up and down Highway 1, we headed towards our hotel to rest and get ready for dinner. For dinner, we found a little seafood restaurant but it wasn’t that good… I was disappointed. After we headed towards Cannery Row to check out the shops and bars they had. We ended up spending the night at an arcade and played some fun games.

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Sunday was our last day in NorCal. We checked out of hotel and headed back towards Santa Cruz and towards the Mystery Spot. We signed up for tour of the area and was a fun spot to spend the morning. We learned about the history of the area and got to experience the “gravity pull” of the Mystery Spot. After, we spent the rest of the day at the Santa Cruz pier and at lunch at the pier and checked out the carnival games and rides of the area. Then it was time to catch out flight out of San Jose. Although it was only a weekend up north, we made the most of the time we had and saw a lot and had an amazing anniversary weekend.

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The rest of November, we spent at Wesley’s parents house to watch their dog so we couldn’t go on anymore trips for the month. For Thanksgiving, we spent a night in Dana Point with my parents. We had dinner near the water and watched the sunset near the break water. It was so pretty. I love the Dana Point area and it’s s chill over there.

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November was great celebration month filled with family and some adventure.

December – For the beginning of December, I planned a trip to Joshua Tree for Wesley’s birthday. Wesley’s birthday is technically in November, but since we had to dog watch we couldn’t go out to celebrate. We left a little early from our apartment and headed towards to National Park. When we got there, we got onto the Ryan Mountain trail… and let me tell you… I died on this trail! Although this trail is only about 3 miles roundtrip, the elevation is about 1,000 ft which is really steep in a short amount of time. But once we got to the top of the mountain, it was so worth it. At the top, you could see the whole valley of the National Park. After we drove all the way to the end of the park near the 10 freeway. Towards the end of the day, we checked out the Hidden Valley Nature Trail. We watched the Sunset and climbed some rocks. After exploring some more of the park we headed towards our Airbnb in Joshua Tree. I rented a small, but cute house in the area. For dinner, we had pizza at Pie for People although it took a long time to get our food, it tasted so good! Worth the wait for sure! 

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The next day was our last day and headed towards the park to do some more exploring and hiking. We did the Baker Dam hike and the Ryan Ranch. Both were pretty easy trails. Baker Dam had a lot of water, which I was surprised to see. Ryan Ranch had an old abandoned ranch at the end of the trail that you can explore. After taking our time leaving the park, we headed home.

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Later on in the month, Wesley’s company had their holiday party in Hollywood. We stayed at the Mondrian Hotel and it was so bougie! But I was very grateful to be able to stay there. We had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant and it was so pretty! They had strung cute lights along the open air patio and had beautiful floral centerpieces. After dinner, the company had reserved an area of the lounge area and we enjoyed drink service and some good music. But to be honest, I felt so out of place at the lounge because of the people there, but overall it was good experience and I’m glad I pushed my self out of my comfort zone.

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During the Holiday season, my sister was in town! I was so excited to see her! While she was visiting, we went to get my wedding dress!  A few of my bridesmaids joined me to get the right dress and I got it! I’m so excited for 2018 because we’re getting married at the end of the year! I can’t believe it’s happening! For Christmas, I just stayed home with my parents and Wesley and we had chinese food for lunch. A few days before New Year’s Wesley and I had an engagement party with our friends and family. It was fun to see everyone meet and get to know each other. And then lastly for New Years we celebrated at our friends house and counted down to 2018 with champagne and good company.

2017 was a great year filled with friends, family, and some adventure. I’m excited for 2018 and although we are already 2 months in, it’s already been off to a great start. Thank you for reading all of this and making it to the end! I promise to update my blog more often!