Riding the Rails to Little Tokyo

17 Jun

Sometimes, for kicks, I just hop on the train.

Riding the train in a major metropolitan area is an important cultural experience. Not only do you see the town from an entirely new perspective, but you get the opportunity to truly sit back and take in the city.

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This week’s journey was Little Tokyo. Nestled in downtown LA, Little Tokyo is a microcosm of Japanese culture. The food, the smells, and the shops can keep you engaged for hours.

But you know me, nothing was happening until I fed my belly. With ramen on my mind, I kinda popped into the first place I could find that didn’t have a line. It was My Ramen Bar, and it didn’t disappoint.

I ordered the vegetarian ramen, which was made with spinach noodles. All the other options had pork in some form or another, which I don’t eat.

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After a full and happy belly, I journeyed through the little mall, poking into a few shops and really just taking in the experience.

It was surprisingly busy. The streets were full and most of the shops were difficult to navigate due to the sheer volume of people.

I did manage to happen upon a few gems though. I found a wishing tree. 3

And several stores with fun little doodads.

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The best part was really just exploring the neighborhood. Hanging lanterns and music and all the different smells made for a really unique experience.

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Overall a day very well spent, and I definitely plan to go back. There’s a few galleries and gardens that I didn’t get a chance to see. And you know I’ll be headed back for lunch sooner rather than later.

Three Years Later…Hiking to the Hollywood Sign

17 May

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I’ve been meaning to hike up to the Hollywood sign pretty much since I moved here.

3 years ago.

What can I say? I’ve been busy.

But this weekend the weather was perfect, the calendar was clear, and all the other cards fell into place for the hike.

If you’ve never hiked up to the sign before, there are a few different routes you can take. I took the Canyon Road route so that I could hike up behind the sign. It gets you a little closer to the sign than a front hike.

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I decided to try and plan it in that sweet spot of the day where, perhaps, things wouldn’t be too insane with tourists, pups, families of 12, etc. So hike buddy and I went around noon. We lucked out and found parking right away on the little dirt lot just off Canyon Road.

The trail is easy enough to find and navigate. Pretty much follow Canyon and you’ll hit it. There’s a map right at the entrance too, to help guide you.

Despite all my careful planning, we started the hike before remembering to swing by Batman’s cave. These were the manmade caves used in the 1960s Batman series. I’d’ wanted to go before the hike in case I was too sore and tired afterwards. But we were already 10 minutes in before I remembered.

The hike itself is pretty intense. Its legit, uphill hiking in unrelenting sun. Fortunately, the temp was only in the upper 60s. I’d imagine the hike could be pretty brutal in summer California heat.

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There were tons of great photo ops on the way up. There’s a point where you can see Burbank and the Valley. You’ll pass horses and see stables down below as well. Its really a scenic and pleasant hike.

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At the top, there’s a fence keeping you from getting too close to the sign. Its also right by a police post of sorts. An officer came out to yell at someone for leaving their bike in the wrong spot, so apparently they really are watching. There weren’t a ton of people on the uppermost little cliff, maybe 10 or so. It was peaceful with amazing panoramic views of the city.

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After you take it all in, the trek back down is easy peasy.

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Of course on the way out, I got to play Batman in the Batcave 🙂 .

 

 

 

A Pup’s Bucket List

24 Apr

Let me just save you some Googling…there’s only one legal off-leash dog beach in LA.

Literally, I’ve been to restaurants with a menu for dogs, tripped over them in stores and malls, saw a tiny one roaming freely around a hospital just yesterday, but apparently the beach is where society draws the line.

The injustice.

My fur baby is getting up there (turned 13 in February 😦 ) So Little and I put together an unofficial bucket list of things a west coast pup should do in their lifetime.

Top of the list was swimming in the Pacific.

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She’s been to the Atlantic several times. Apparently East Coasters aren’t such haters when it comes to dogs playing in the sand.

The only beach I could find in all of LA County that allows dogs off leash was a section in Belmont Shore called Rosie’s Dog Beach. I don’t love the beaches in Long Beach, personally. Not for playing anyway because the water is kinda gross due to the proximity to the harbor. But a bucket list is a bucket list.

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So we made the trek.

Rosie’s wasn’t at all hard to find. Plenty of dog signs and scores of pups running around excitedly. We easily found free street parking (Score!) and it was just a short walk to the sand.

Furbaby has become not-so-friendly in her old age. She wouldn’t hurt a fly, but she basically yaps non-stop at anything that moves. So the beach was sensory overload for her.

She barked at everything she saw, tasted the salt water, sniffed tails, and just all around had a grand ol’ time.

I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. She’s only about 5 pounds and the majority of the other dogs were at least ten times her size. And, of course, she likes yapping at them the most. I just knew she’d be swallowed whole. Insert, near heart attack at least 7 times.

Luckily, she wasn’t swallowed whole.

Did she have a blast? Yes. So mission accomplished. Would we go again? No. My heart can’t take it.

 

 

 

 

The View From the Top

10 Jan

Fun fact…my first week living in LA, I almost died on a mountaintop.

For the first few months, I was sharing a big house in the “Burbs” with a few Craigslist roommates.

Two of us decided to go hiking at Runyon Canyon, which was my first time ever hiking a mountain, hill, or anything else taller than stairs. (#MiamiGal).

So, apparently elevation sickness is a real thing. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this until I was halfway up the Runyon “stairs.” I started feeling dizzy and light headed. Eventually, I vomited (embarrassing), passed out, and had to be carried down the stairs by two random shirtless Runyon guys. I started regaining consciousness the closer to flat ground we got. By the time we reached the bottom, I was completely fine.

Well, I like to think I’ve gotten a little better at it over the past few years. I can get up and down on my own two legs now and everything. I also learned that its the sudden increase from low elevation to high elevation that caused the sickness. Which is exactly what the stairs at Runyon do. So, now I take the scenic route and work my way up gradually.

If you’re ever in LA and ready to get in a hike, Runyon is the way to go. Its a relatively short hike, you’ll get a nice little work out, and the views from the top are spectacular.

Yes, of all the hiking spots in the city, its by far one of the most touristy. You can expect to struggle to find parking near the Fuller Ave entrance and in the lot at the top of the park pretty much every day of the week. But its definitely worth it and does live up to the hype.

If you go, be sure to bring a lock so you can leave your own little mark on the trail.

The moral of this whole story obviously being, if you are having trouble finding a hot date, vomit and pass out halfway up Runyon Canyon 😉 .

Playing by a Lake

19 Nov

Every now and then, I get random whims.

Like, sometimes its 3am and I absolutely HAVE to have a jerk chicken patty and coco bread. Or, on a random Tuesday afternoon, I can’t focus until I hunt down and watch 1986 cinematic classic Short Circuit.

The best part of such whims is that, most times, my friends indulge me.

Which is basically how Big Bear went down.

A couple texts later, the adventure was planned.

Its not a far trek from LA, so we went up and back in the same day. We took one of the longer trails, which winded around the lake with some pretty spectacular scenery.

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A couple unfortunate things about me I should tell people before they do anything with me ever:

  1. I’m ridiculously clumsy. So, yea, a couple scratches and bruises definitely happened.
  2. I always forget to drink extra water the day before a long hike, so dehydration leg cramps happened as well.
  3. Food is an absolute requirement, so chicken tacos at a random Big Bear taco spot was mandatory before trekking home.

If you’re planning a trip to Big Bear for a day hike like we did, definitely plan it in advance. There’s tons of trails there and some are much tougher hikes than others. Get yourself a map, bring plenty of water, and load up on snacks. And keep in mind that the dark hits pretty quick and its really tough to navigate your way out in the dark (true story).

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Its a beautiful place with a slow, mountain lifestyle and I was pleasantly surprised about how much I enjoyed being out of the city for a day. This whim actually worked out much better for me than 3am jerk chicken patties. LA Jamaican restaurants, I’m gonna need you guys to get it together.

 

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A Boat Ride

13 Apr

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My little sister is my homie.

We shared a room for the first 10 years of her life and built a bond that’s spanned across the years (and now across the country).

So when her best friend flaked on being her “plus one” for a mutual friend’s wedding cruise, I graciously volunteered.

I know. I’m so generous. Not everyone would be willing to cruise to Mexico, but what can I say, I’m a unique specimen 😉 .

Since sis lives in Pensacola, I had to fly out to Tampa to meet her. Basically I landed, she picked me up, I had a few minutes to buy a pair of sunglasses (yes, I forgot mine -_- ) then we were headed to the ship.

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The first day was spent at sea, and was also the day of the wedding. It was a fun, small, simple ceremony. Then we all did fun cruise things, part of which involved swapping the heals for flats.

And how’s this for in-sync- sis and I both unintentionally brought matching dresses.

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Grand Cayman was our first stop. It was beautiful and, of course, a good time, but I wasn’t blown away. It really reminded me of certain parts of Key West. Essentially it was like every other Caribbean island I’ve been too with tons of touristy shops right on the docks, people pedaling tours and island paraphernalia.

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It did, however, provide sis with the perfect opportunity to trick me into kayaking. She dangled a chill afternoon on the beach in front of me, then hit me with the ol’ okie doke at the last moment. To be clear, I’m not necessarily opposed to tiny little boats. For other people. But, since I can’t swim, I try to avoid taking them into the ocean.

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Well, whatever. We went and I didn’t drown, so the day was chalked up as a win.

I insisted on coconut shrimp and she insisted on some souvenir shopping.

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The rest of the afternoon we sort of killed time and padded around the town with some of the other wedding peeps. There were plenty of little shops to peek in. I ended up finding a color-changing shirt for Little, which I kinda wish I’d gotten for me 😉 .

The next stop was Cozumel. This stop was the one I was most excited about because I’d been wanting to see the Mayan ruins.

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Despite the 6 layers or so of bug repellent (apparently, the mosquitoes there are insane and bugs just love our blood) and the long trek on foot for food, the day was pretty spectacular.

The bus ride to the ruins gave us plenty of opportunity to take in the island and there were tons of great spots to stop for photo ops.

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The food was amazing. We did tacos and margaritas and spending the day in town was a bit more of a unique experience than Grand Cayman. Its heavy to think on how heavily most of the locals rely on tourism. It made me more inclined to buy things that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise purchased.

I love that sis is always down for an adventure and, with us living on opposite sides of the country now, its always nice to have an excuse to spend a week together. And I totally forgive her for forcing me into a little plastic tube on water.

 

 

 

About Those Beaches…

4 Mar

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So…. Have I mentioned I love California? I really do. Its such a beautiful state and I feel like I discover a new gem every week. Like this beach. See how thoroughly un-overcrowded it is?

I’ve been a West Coast gal over a year, which I feel gives me full rights to make opinions now. Coming from Miami, I was a skeptic. But, I must say, I’ve never felt more settled, motivated, driven, and happy as I have since moving out here.

The views don’t hurt either.