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October 23, 2014

Drought in Angeles National Forest

Californians love to hike. More specifically, Angelenos love to hike. I'm not sure if this is because most of the time the weather is perfect for hiking or because we have great spots easily accessible to us at all times, but we take advantage and hike as often as possible.

We strayed from our regular spots a few weekends ago and headed over to Angeles National Forest for a little breather. This may have not been the smartest as it was well into the 90's that day and ridiculously hot..but man, was it a sight to see.

While I was in New York, I had heard a lot about the drought in California. Having not spent extended periods of time at home over the past five years, I didn't really grasp how severe it was until we went on this hike.

Where there once was a river, was almost completely barren. People used to actually use the water here -- people would fish, swim, trek across the water to get to different hiking paths. Now? There are no fish -- there is no water. Trees are dying and it was shocking for me to realize how desperately we are in need of water..of some rain.

(On a lighter note, I'm quite pleased with this family photo! I am rather good at finding makeshift tripods via rocks and trees, if I do say so myself!)

I mentioned this on Instagram, but you know you are Korean when you pack kimbap for road trips and other notable events (hikes, adventures to parks, etc). Kimbap, for those who don't know, is a Korean staple. It's white rice and a combination of different ingredients (typically with carrots and spinach, but we like the non-adult option) wrapped in a layer of dried seaweed. 

It's delicious and incredibly handy for on-the-go eating.

Feeling rather adventurous, I was! My legs were shaking, even though it wasn't really that high up -- I kept thinking it was going to break beneath me and I'd wake up laying awkwardly on top of a rock with incredible pain.

Dramatic, yes.

And..there was the view! What was supposed to be the top of the waterfall here, turned out to be a disappointing view of a little stream down below. Apparently, when the waterfall is in full force, it's quite the sight.

If you go, I highly suggest crossing the bridge to hike into the river, instead of on top of it. With this drought, you don't get to see much and just end up scratching up your legs.

I didn't quite make it up the first time around..so I had to go back on the return trip to redeem myself.

Victory tasted so, so sweet.

If you can see at the top of the tree, there's a woodpecker! I've never seen one before, but this little guy was pecking away with such force I thought he'd surely drill a hole right through the trunk.

It was a nice, leisurely hike, but I do wish it would rain so that the river would return. Would the fish return, too? 

And on a different note, I think I'm going to try and post twice a week again -- I hope if you're a reader, you'll be into that!

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October 20, 2014

R+D Kitchen, Santa Monica

This entire post is a lesson on how not to take blog photos. They are all in poorly lit areas with shaky hands and a camera that keeps everything yellow, no matter how many times you fiddle with the white balance. 

If you don't mind the abhorrent state of these photos, then please keep reading and understand that while I wasn't going to put these pictures up, this is the only time I've really documented an adventure with my dear friend Caitlin since we were both in school. And that's crazy to me!

C took me to the LF sale happening in Santa Monica, which was a big hot mess. It was bad enough that it was hot in there -- add my clunky camera and a hand full of things, I couldn't really browse the way that I would have wanted to. 

But still. Sale. I ended up buying the cutest striped dress and a pineapple scarf. I'll have to show you all soon.

We had actually gone to R+D Kitchen before popping over to LF, but because the wait was so long, we wanted to kill some time elsewhere. Naturally, we lost track of time and missed our names being called. After some more waiting (and turning into starving beasts), we were finally whisked away to our table.

We started with the Dip Duo, which comes with sweet guacamole and a mountain of queso.

C and I decided to share, so we ordered a crispy chicken sandwich and a burger. Funnily enough, we each ended up liking what we ordered more than the other person's order. Ha!

The food here was pretty decent -- nothing that I'd squeal about, but definitely worth a visit..if only for the dip duo (the mountain of queso, guys...queso) and a few drinks. What makes me like R+D so much, though, was the staff. We had a wonderful server by the name of Brett. He was amazing and took care of us as it was our first time eating there.

We even talked about my camera! I hope he gets one too, soon.

Anyway, this was one of the first times I've ever gone somewhere and someone understood my food photography struggles. Taking photos in restaurants is difficult because they're so dimly lit, and I feel a bit self-conscious about busting out my big camera at the table. But Caitlin understood and actively participated in the snap party that happened as soon as the food touched the table. 

I often forget how nice it is to be around other bloggers/social media savvy friends. It's comforting to have someone take the camera and also snap a few photos of you, instead of awkwardly asking them to take a picture. 

I need more days like this.

Cue our awkward car selfie snapshot. We had so many, but they were all blurry, weird, or photos just for the C+S vaults.

Again, a lesson in how not to take blog photos. I promise it'll be better next time.

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October 13, 2014

Night+Market full of stars

Some things happened that we don't necessarily need to talk about, but I will touch on as this is supposed to be a blog about my life and my adventures...right? Is that okay?

Bear with me. I promise there are delicious photos for you to look at in between the text (though looking at them now, they're really terrible photos. I'm sorry, I tried).

Last month, my boyfriend and I broke up. Cue the sad violins! It's been an interesting experience, to say the least, but I think it was for the best. Sometimes you just know when something isn't going to work out -- and that's neither your fault, nor theirs. I think it's important to come to terms with that and realize that everything is going to be okay. The world will keep spinning, the sky won't fall down, and everything will balance itself out.

But, as expected, I was a bit blue the few days following. And all without my support system back in New York! What was a girl to do with that?

Well. I called upon the forces of good, and surrounded myself with the few friends I had in LA. And a get together always means good food, great adventures.

Mariana has been talking about this place since I've moved back. Night+Market supposedly has some of LA's best Thai food, and I just had to try it out.

We started out with the peek gai hey-ha, aka "party wings". I will argue that any time anything is called party _____, it's a must try. These wings were crispy, juicy, and smothered in a cracksauce. I don't know what it is, but I could swim laps in that sauce.

They gave us some coconut rice and brought out the gaeng hanglay, which is pork belly braised in a Burmese curry with pickled garlic, ginger, and tamarind.

*pew pew* It's divine. Really. We ate it like soup (are you supposed to eat it like soup?). Lots of meat, lots of flavor.

M's favorite, the beef grapow. A teeny bit spicy, but it comes with a fried egg that you crack open and let the yolk do its thing with the meat. And then you slurp it all up and don't look back.

I can't say if it's the best Thai in LA as my Thai experiences have mainly been in New York, but it's definitely up there in my top picks. Make sure you go early or make reservations. They get packed, even on weeknights.

Naturally, we were stuffed. Ready to get some movement in, we headed over to the Griffith Observatory to look through some telescopes and sigh at the beautiful view of the city. 

The moon was huge! Big, bright, red. As it rose into the night sky it lost a bit of its coloring, and eventually faded to a bright white. But one of the telescopes out front was pointed right at it, and you could see all of the moon's craters..which blows my mind.

I saw the moon up close!

We also waited for one of the big telescopes, which offered us a view of Saturn. I even counted the rings. 

Tired, and well past our bedtimes, we headed back home. This was just the kind of adventure that I needed, and I crawled into bed feeling a little less like the world was dreary and dark. 

I knew that everything was going to be okay. Besides -- I had seen Saturn! How could anybody be sad after seeing such a sight?

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October 6, 2014

Mesa Verde, the cliff-dwellers

Our last stop in Colorado was Mesa Verde. It's home to tons of little villages housed on the cliff-sides of the Ancestral Pueblo people. You can see the different 'mesas' with their flat tops as you drive, and the road winds between them to take you to the tour sites.

We got tickets to go tour Cliff Palace, though it was a few hours later than what we had wanted. If possible, go early! Buy your tickets the night before! You have to actually go to the welcome center to get tickets, so plan accordingly, friends.

Otherwise, suffer in the heat like we did.

Since we had time to kill, we headed to Spruce Tree House as it's one of the only free sites you can go roam by yourself.

There's a little kiva, which acted as a little communal meeting place in the village. You could climb down into darkness and see basically nothing..but still, pretty cool to go down the ladder.

My terribly adorable parents.

Starting the tour off right! Down a narrow stairwell to the gate where the park ranger collected our tickets and said hello.

Welcome to my throne. Haha.


There must have been some sort of fire as there were huge patches of dead trees -- very cool to see, but sad to think about. Tree trunks were strewn around as if they were light as feathers.

But we couldn't stay for long. We had an agenda! We had to make it to California before the end of the night. So we raced off to our last stop of the trip: the four corners.

I for some reason had big expectations for this. I vaguely remember watching Breaking Bad and seeing Skyler have to make a huge decision there. I won't spoil it if you haven't seen the show before, but does anybody else remember this as being an epic moment?

I was a little disappointed. And they charge per person! Not per car! They count how many people you have in your car...what.

A little bit let down, we went back on our way and drove for what seemed like an eternity. Shortly after 2 in the morning, I settled into my own bed and thanked the stars that I was finally home.
So much traveling this summer. As much as I've enjoyed it, I am going to really enjoy getting to stay put for a little bit.

And as the last plug, I made a video/vlog of the trip. I forgot about the clips from the Rockies and from Mesa Verde, but go check it out if you haven't already? And my shameless plug: please subscribe! I want to make more videos, as I think it's quite a fun outlet.

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