Category Archives: Los Angeles

Places near Los Angeles

El Diner at El Rey Theater

11046207_10100816715777287_7339094506597289456_nOn the night of the Meghan Trainor concert at the El Rey Theater I got there very early. I did a quick Yelp search for food and made my way to the El Diner next door. They had an wide array of mexican food, from empanadas to quesadillas and the prices of everything was pretty low considering it’s connected to the theater.

I wasn’t extremely hungry so I got one of their chicken tacos which I was informed came with pickled onions and cheese on it. They were really fast and while it was smaller than I expected, it was actually really good. I debated going back to get another, but the line had gotten long and was now out the door. I didn’t want to wait. Plus, I was excited to get into the theater for the show!

All-in-all if you are headed to a show or in the area I would recommend you stop in and try something. It is really small though, so don’t expect to be waited on. And while it would be great for a small party of 2 or 3 it is an order and get your own food spot, not a sit down, relax and dine place.

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Lips Are Movin at El Rey Theater

10997192_10100816716016807_8296065644057219277_nI bought tickets to see Meghan Trainor at El Rey Theater the night before her show. While I am not a huge fan, I do enjoy her two hits, “All About that Bass” and “Lips Are Movin” and I had a friend that really wanted to go. The night of the show my friend decided she didn’t want to go anymore, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me from having a good night out. I took the tickets, reached out to some friends and head to the show.

The show was standing room only, but not super crowded when I arrived. I walked around taking in the sights, picking out where I would watch and stumbled upon a photo shoot opportunity in the balcony section. I waited in line and ended up with a photo of Meghan and me singing! (Ok, she was photoshopped into the picture, but it still counts!) I felt like a little kid again, such a silly thing to do, dress up and pretend to sing, but so much fun.

I1505447_10100816716276287_7877417048808001981_n haven’t been to a concert in a long time and I was pleasantly surprised that being there by myself did not affect how I felt at all. By the time I got my photo the first singer was on stage. Honestly, I don’t know who he was, but he was a super cute, teenage kid that had his own hit song.  After looking into it for a bit I found out, he was Matt Prince. I can’t seem to find much on him, but the little girls seemed to know who he was and he did a good job working the crowd.

1507042_10100816715492857_4913611374118131772_nNext on stage was Sheppard. I have to say I didn’t recognize them in the beginning. I kept thinking their songs sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it. Then, their second to last song I finally figured it out, “Geronimo“. It all came rushing back. I hear them on my Songza station I always listen to. They were amazing, the energy was great and their on stage presence was just inspiring. I’ve never watched a show where the musicians looked like they were having as much fun playing as I was having watching them. It was so filling of my heart and soul.

11017455_10100816715353137_8667492556695305446_nFinally Meghan Trainor came on, but could she really do better than her guests? Of course she could! Her energy was great, right on track with the rest of the night. Even the slower songs were good and worked perfectly with the set. Her dancers were great as well and she had a guest singer come out to join her during one of the songs. She even sang to a 17 year old, which just made that girl’s night. I even saw her later. She was on cloud nine. She walked past some guy from the Disney channel, turned around and tracked him down. It was too freaking cute.

Let’s just say Meghan Trainor has a great message to send out to everyone. Believe in yourself, love yourself, and basically, you are amazing just the way you are! A great night, that left me with tons of smiles and happy feelings all over.

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April’s Ape Shapes

photo-1414490929659-9a12b7e31907A friend of mine, Kristen Dunn, has been making documentaries on female role models in today’s world. She has a website dedicated to her works, FreeSouls which is amazing. Who wouldn’t want to know more about strong, independent woman making their marks in the world? Especially women that are adventurers and ocean enthusiasts.

Kristen invited me to help her on her most recent project, a documentary on April Newman, a surfboard shaper here in the Los Angeles area and what a fun experience it was! I hope I get to help again soon.

photo-1416163255873-f17745e8f851We started by interviewing April about her life, her experiences, her feelings, and her work. She owns her own surfboard custom shaping company, Ape Shapes. Watching her share her adventures of surfing, family, and her works just lit me up inside. Her smile filled the screen with joy and the emotion in her voice was music to my ears. I don’t want to share too much so I don’t spoil the documentary, but she is such a captivating woman.

photo-1421151051865-b98b5f93dc13We moved into her workshop and she brought out the board that she had been working on. She carved away the sides, sanding them into smooth curves explaining a little about what she was doing as she dove into her own private world. She spoke about other boards she had created and the materials used. It was a privilege to get invited into such an awe-inspiring experience and I truly treasured and am extremely grateful for being allowed to join such a peaceful and beautiful person in her workspace!

Don’t forget to check out Kristen’s documentary on it when it’s up!

Hiking Vasquez Rocks Trek

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I had spent the morning surfing and even though I was kind of sore I decided to head over to Vasquez Rocks for an afternoon hike with a friend. What a great decision and amazing adventure! I only wish we had more time to explore.

We pulled into the lot, got our gear set and headed to the small visitor’s center to check it out before we started hiking. Inside they had a few live animals to be on the lookout for: snakes, spiders, and a scorpion. We took note and hoped we didn’t come across any of the poisonous ones.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area is located only about 45 minutes outside Los Angeles. It is a 932-acre park located in Agua Dulce, named after Tiburcio Vasquez. Tiburcio Vasquez is one of California’s most infamous bandits. In 1874 he used the rocks to hide horses he would steal from the local farmers in order to resell them. He was able to elude capture by law enforcement in these amazing rock formations and his name has since been associated with them ever since.

IMG_8115We set out on the first trail we came across and quickly were drawn to smaller less traveled path that led us up a hill to a rock that was believed to have some ancient drawings on it. We didn’t see any ancient drawings, but we climbed the rocks to the top and got an amazing view of the area. We descended down the backside through the brush and eventually came to another pathway that led back to the main trail. We continued hiking, up, over, around, through, and on and off the main and smaller trails for the rest of the afternoon totally a little over 4 miles.

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Vasquez Rocks is amazing, beautiful, and so much fun! Climbing the rock faces are both exciting and can be a little scary. They are quite steep, but are also well worth the views. It’s fun for all ages if you stay on the trails and a little harder if you feel the urge to travel the less traversed routes or make up your own as we did. Go check it out. You could spend the whole day there, or two! Maybe you can even reenact some scenes from Star Trek or Roswell.

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Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

IMG_8067I joined a meetup group in hopes of finding some new and exciting activities to do and places to see in the city. It turns out that in Los Angeles there are many different hiking trails. You can hike through the city, the valleys, over the mountains, and along the beaches and many of them have amazing views. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, located in Culver City, was one of the places that was suggested so one early morning I decided to check it out.

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook trail is located off of Jefferson and Heltzer. You can drive to the top which has a parking lot with a $6 parking fee or there is free parking in a small lot at the base which is usually full or along the street which if you get there early enough usually has lots of availability. Once you start your hike you will notice that it has two main options to choose from, a 1/3 mile hike up the center stairs or a 1.25 mile walk along a dirt path that zigzags around and through the 58-acres park and  crosses the stairs a few times. Both end about 300ft above the trailhead for an amazing view of the city.

IMG_8072When I went I decided to tackle the stairs up the center, all 282 of them, right off the bat. I followed the path to the left of the main entrance and stopped at the bottom of the stairs for a few photo ops. It wasn’t a super clear day as the haze hadn’t completely lifted yet, but I could still see the top. It wasn’t going to be an easy trek.

The steps were quite big and I needed to take a couple breaks as I went, mainly because I was going right before work and I didn’t want to get all sweaty in case I didn’t have time to run home to shower. It turned out that I had plenty of time, so next time I will try to just power through the whole thing not caring and get my full workout.

IMG_8078Just before the last set of stairs there is a marker, putting you 375ft above sea level. It also has an amazing and motivational quote, “Step by step, your climb expands the cityscape a thousand-fold, framing it ever more broadly with hillside and sky.” I took the last set at a quick pace and arrived at the peak huffing and puffing. I took a moment to catch my breath and gazed out over the city. I could see the LA River and part of what I believe was Westwood to the northwest. To the east was downtown LA, but it was too hazy to see much of anything that day. Next time I will go later in the day, which will give the haze time to clear and allow me to take in the full view. I explored a bit and found a cute little explanation of the plants and animals that can be spotted in the area.

IMG_8082I started my descend down the trail that leads back to the entrance, not sure of which way to go. I easily found a trail heading down, but you could spend an hour just getting lost picking and choosing between back and forth paths and walking in almost any direction you would like to go. I arrived at the bottom using the driveway as my final path knowing that it was one of the quickest ways to reach the bottom.

All in all Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is a nice little jaunt through a small park in the middle of a big city. It’s relatively easy so anyone join in the fun, tackle the stairs or trails, and take in the views.

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Eye of the Beholder

1379959_10100777770019897_4662411434176356769_nI was talking to my boss about my adventures I have been planning this year, and boy do I have a lot of places I plan to explore. However, she mentioned that Los Angeles has many different cultures and environments to explore as well. It’s like a little world all on its’ own! Well, since I’m in LA majority of the time I thought I would look into those environments and cultures and do a little exploring.

I have a friend that is really into Geocaching so I decided to join her and do a few searches around my apartment. Besides, Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder. So couldn’t I learn to love where I am as well?

10425419_10100777769979977_4183336679517274897_nHere’s my first ever find, only about 1/2 a mile from my place. Didn’t take us too long to snag this one and I can’t wait until we find our next one. I’d give you more info, but in the spirit of geocaching maybe you should just check out the website, geocaching.com, and figure this one out on your own.

 

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Just Wing It LA

10393777_10100770108229187_2823600484894730512_n I spent the morning surfing the Venice Breakwater with the Santa Monica Surfer Gals on my Zuma Jay 9′ board. It such a nice sunny day, the waves were perfect. And I met a few more surfers while I was out there.  After our session we headed to REI because they were having a sale and then to RipCurl and Swim Spot. By the time I was on my way home I was starving. As took my last turn and drove down my street I saw a food truck. Just Wing It. Yum! I hurried home, brought my stuff up to my apartment and booked it back down to get some wings.

10888395_10100770108348947_3859434253774022261_nI walked up to the window and gave my order to Dre. There’s really only 4 options at the moment, Tangy BBQ, Sweet Teriyaki, Spicy Buffalo, or Unsauced and they only have 2 sizes, 3 at $7 or 5 at $10, but you can mix and match flavors as you wish. The cook, Mike, mentioned that the lack of numerous flavors is only due to the fact that they just opened. Soon they will have many more! I waited for my food and Dre and Mike were very nice. We talked a bit about the football game that was on inside the bar and about how they plan on being outside of The Oak Tavern every Sunday for the new few weeks, they couldn’t tell me exactly how many weeks though.

10891671_10100770107954737_4972112451029576890_nI got my food after a bit of a wait, but they are still working on figuring out the timing and I wasn’t in a rush so it was all good, and I headed home to dig in. To my surprise their wings weren’t what I was expecting at all. They were battered, deep fried, and then sauced. I looked at my Tangy BBQ and Sweet Teriyaki ones a little concerned, but took a bit. After biting into them all I have to say is yum! Those Sweet Teriyaki ones were to die for! I will definitely be going back when I see them again. You should go check them out too!

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Ducks!!! At Franklin Canyon Park

10888467_10100760784379257_7899926835494415472_nIt was the first of the year and after a very eventful New Years Eve I was once again aching to get somewhere new. This time I stayed local. Only about 15 minutes from my apartment is Franklin Canyon Park. It consists of a reserve, a few trails, and is the location to many films and tv shows, including Combat.

My roommate and I arrived late in the afternoon and as soon as we arrived I realized that I had been there before. We had worked on a Hallmark movie, Backwoods, with Haylie Duff and Ryan Merriman, filming up and down the main road. However, since I was working in base camp that production I didn’t really get to experience the park at all.

10891603_10100760782977067_2727342950880979912_nWe started our journey on the road and walked down and up the small hill. We came to a cute trail around  what I will call the duck pond. There were all different kinds of ducks including Mallards, Mandarin Ducks, and Wood Ducks. They were very friendly and would come right up to you. It was quite obvious that no one was following the “Do not feed the wildlife.” signs posted.

We continued to the first reserve and it was beautiful. The mountains and pine trees shut out all the city noise that you would normally expect. And the reeds and ducks bring nature right to the center of Los Angeles. It’s just a little lake in the middle of the city that you would never expect to be there. You feel as though you could be in the mountains in the middle of the wilderness.

10451735_10100760783076867_3151645784572961153_nWe continued our journey down the road, past a small house, a few other trails that I will need to go back and explore and to the gated off end reserve. I’m sure at one point the reserve must have been open to visitors, but it no longer is. We turned around and headed back up the road we came down, remembering how we flipped the car in Backwoods right on that very street. We turned up a side trail that brought us back to the beginning of the park.

A few things to know if you plan on going are that there are several parking lots inside the park, including one at the entrance and one at the very end. The trails are relatively easy so it is a good place to go for a short hike for both young and old. Also, be aware that there are several stop sign cameras inside the park. Make sure you come to a complete stop or you will get a ticket in the mail. Other than that, parking is free. So enjoy!

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2014 Geminid Meteor Shower at Templin Highway

78c8dff1The week of Dec. 13th I had been daydreaming about shooting stars, astrology and much more. The 13th came and I had an aching to go somewhere new and explore something I’ve never seen before. On a whim I googled meteor showers and stumbled across the 2014 Geminid meteor shower that was going to occur that night. I finally knew exactly how I wanted to spend my Saturday evening, staring up at a dark sky watching screaming hot balls of fire light it up.

I did one more quick search for the darkest spot in or just outside of the city. Templin Highway, Angeles National Forest was number one on the list and sounded perfect. It was close, 45 minutes outside of Downtown LA and a popular spot among amateur astronomers meant there would be at least some others around too.

I picked up a friend and her nephew and we headed out to Castaic. We exited “the 5” and tentatively drove the .7 miles east until we spotted the dark, wide gravel lot around 9 p.m. We bundled up in extra layers and stepped out of the car. The show had already started and we were the only ones there to watch it for a good hour.

Other spectators slowly arrived as the night progressed. Some were in trucks, others in convertibles, and even some in campers that brought out small tents. But no matter how they chose to share the experience everyone was there for the same common purpose. To watch the amazing sky.

oY3ayprWQlewtG7N4OXl_DSC_5225-2It was absolutely gorgeous. Stars were flying across the sky every minute and it didn’t matter which way you looked. Some were soft streaks that you would barely see while others were so bright you swore they were going the strike the earth before they burned up. We were in constant awe, shouting out each time we saw one. We were so excited we would forget to make wishes. It didn’t matter much though. We must have seen over 100 or 200 shooting stars that night. There were plenty of wishes to be had.

Eventually, much later than every website had predicted, the half moon rose above the mountains. It was a beautiful sight and was the cap of our night. We watched the stars a little longer and then headed back to our bright city. An amazing evening and an amazing experience.