Tag Archives: California

Camping in Morro Bay State Park

IMG_8973On the weekend before Thanksgiving Katie and I headed up north to Morro Bay State Park with Punky and Frankie for a short weekend of camping fun. We arrived late at night and the campground was completely full. We quickly lit a fire and the proceeded to set up our tent and sleeping spot as the girls patiently waited in the car, or not patiently as pinky wouldn’t stop whining.

Once we were set up the girls came out for bathroom break and then we all huddled by the small fire to try to warm up. Within 30 minutes I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye and Frankie started growling towards another campsite. That was our first encounter with the coyotes. We decided the girls would be safer in the car and within another 10 minutes the ranger drove through the park following another coyote through the campground. We decided to call it a night soon afterwards and all climbed into the tent. It was very cold so we huddled together for warmth with Frankie under the covers in the middle and Punky under them on the side.

When we awoke we clambered out into the crisp air to a whole new world around us. Everyone was up making breakfast so we slowly started our day. I made the fire while Katie walked the girls. Once again our wood was not the best, but we managed to heat up our burritos and some hot chocolate. The girls settled in their crate as the morning slowly wasted away.

Once most of the other campers had left we took Punky and tethered her to our table and then I played a little with Frankie as she at her breakfast. Eventually we decided to go on a hike within the campground called Black Hill Trail which took a couple hours and then we were back at our campsite relaxing again.

With the time change and the shorter days it got pretty late without us even noticing it. By 5pm we were already starting dinner and dessert, chicken sausages and banana boats. We started dinner so early we even had time for second dessert, s’mores with real graham crackers from Trader Joe’s.

As we sat by the fire and the night air grew colder Katie put Punky in the crate again and wrapped her up like a little burrito in her favorite fluffy blanket. Another two coyotes came around, but this time Punky was the only one to let us know as Frankie was huddled under my sweatshirt sleeping. We burned as much wood as we could, our fire hot with white flames and so large it encompassed the entire pit. Staying warm was the only thing we thought of.

We headed to sleep and this night the girls were a little less cuddly. Katie and I thought it was colder the second night than the first, but the girls must have adapted to the cold quickly since they chose not to sleep under the covers that night.

The following morning we were up earlier. We made breakfast, packed up our supplies, and said goodbye to Morro Bay State Park. It’s definitely a nice place to stay. You are within walking distance from a dock where you can rent kayaks, a little cafe called Bayside Cafe, a nice hike, and a golf course. Put it on your bucket list if you are into just relaxing camping trips.

Maruya’s Ramen Noodles

IMG_8973After seeing Ryn Weaver in concert Katie and I headed to Little Tokyo in Downtown to get some ramen noodles. Katie had been to this little place called Maruya  before with friends and family and wanted to show it to me.

It took us a while to find it, but when we did we were seated immediately. We took a few minutes to look at the menu and then each ordered a soup which came with a salad and some sushi. It was relatively cheap for the amount of food we got and we weren’t able to finish it all so we took most of it home.

The food came super fast and it was amazing. The salmon sushi cuts were delicious and just melted in your mouth. The soup had the perfect amount of saltiness from the pork and the noodles were just the right size. I couldn’t have complained about anything if I tried.

If you’re ever in Downtown Los Angeles and looking for a great place to get some ramen definitely go to Maruya. You will be so satisfied and pleased that you went you might decide to never go anywhere else for ramen ever again.

Ryn Weaver with Astr and HolyChild at Belasco Theatre

IMG_8971Ryn Weaver is an American indie popsinger-songwriter who I first learned of in 2014. Earlier this year, I saw that I could have a chance to see her in concert on Goldstar. I jumped at the chance and bought two tickets immediately.  She was to perform at the Belasco Theatre and with my tickets in my hand I patiently waited for the night to arrive.

Finally, Saturday was upon me and Katie and we drove down to downtown Los Angeles. We found a lot to park in not too far from the theatre and walked to the entrance. Now you have to understand, every time I told anyone I was going to see Ryn Weaver they would look at me confused asking, “Who is she?” so I wasn’t surprised to see no line and an extremely empty room as we walked into the theatre. We were pretty early and there were probably about 20 people waiting for the show to start.

Katie and I made our way past the merchandise booth and got some food at the theatre bar while we waited. When we were finished the first of the opening acts had started, ASTR. ASTR is a boy girl duo based out of New York known for their song “Operate” and new single  “Activate Me“. I hadn’t really heard of them before, but their techno style of music was a great way to start to pump up the crowd.

The night continued with the second opening band known as HolyChild from Los Angeles. By then the crowd had thickened a bit, but still wasn’t more than about 40 people. I hadn’t really heard of HolyChild before either, but the music was relatively good. The two instrument players were really good and the drummer was amazing. I really liked 2 of their newly released songs, “Running Behind” and “Money All Around“.

Finally it was time for Ryn Weaver to perform. I loved how intimate the theatre space was with probably less than 100 people there to see her. It was nice to be able to get as close as we wanted to the stage without having a big struggle to get thru or past other people. There really wasn’t a bad spot in the house though. She sang a bunch of songs that I didn’t know the words to but had heard a few times before. As the night began to come to an end she finally sang the few I was waiting to hear her sing and that I was prepared to sing along with, “The Fool“, and my all time favorites, “Promises” and “OctaHate” her June 2014 single that got her to where she is today.

By the end of the night I was in total bliss, my ears ringing with happy tunes that I completely enjoyed rocking out to. Ryn’s energy was amazing, as was the crowd’s. It was like she just understood everyone in the room. By the end of the night everyone was singing and dancing and it was just a great all around positive vibe. When she comes back to LA I will definitely be  going to see her again. So go listen to Ryn Weaver. Who knows, you might really enjoy her music.

Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns

IMG_8973Close to Halloween Katie and I went to the Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns in Arcadia, CA, just a short drive from Los Angeles. I bought the tickets off Goldstar for about $20 each. Even thought I was super excited to see what it was all about we waited until the weekend right before Halloween to attend the event.

We arrived at the Santa Anita Race Track and followed the signs to the main entrance. Just before the numbered time entrance lines were a few fun booths. One had pumpkin beer and snacks, another had a green screen picture taking booth where they could put different backgrounds behind you, and another was a guy painting and carving pumpkins. There were even some fun statues made out of pumpkins that people had lined up to take pictures with as well.

After checking out each booth we headed over to where our line entrance was and were let in right away as our group time had already gone through. We pasted a few small jack o’lanterns and then arrived at the main event.

First we walked through an under the sea section with jelly fish, star fish, Spong Bob, an octopus and a school of fish. Next was a safari section with lions, tigers, antelope, giraffes, and many other animals. After that was a Love section and then Sesame Street characters. A little farther were some Dinosaurs and across from those were Minions. Then there were cars followed by horses and emoticons. The short walk ended with a huge Japanese Dragon. All of these main features consisted of multiple pumpkins with different sections of the animal or car or etc carved on each pumpkin. They were then place together to create the whole picture.

As we made our way down the rope lined road in front of each section were smaller carvings individual jack o’lanterns and painted pumpkins that included Star Wars, Inside Out characters, Nightmare Before Christmas and many more. These had amazing detail and looked just like the real things.

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My favorite displays were the Dinosaurs, Under the Sea, and Safari. It was cool to see a new way of carving pumpkins that put small individual pieces and built up to larger artwork. I loved how they created a whole scene, not just small fractions of the environment.

As we exited the walk we headed back over to the carving station to watch Joseph Yakovetic carve some more pumpkins. Within the short amount of time we took to walk through the event he had finished his painted pumpkin and had created an outline of The Bride of Frankenstein’s face. He spoke a little about how he carves his pumpkins and ways to preserve them to last longer.

Overall, The Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns event was a lot of fun. It was cool to see the different pumpkins. I do think the walk was very short but I still had a good time. I think people of all ages would enjoy checking this even out at least one year, but I could see it getting boring after going multiple years.

Woodstock Pizza

IMG_8971On Katie’s and my way home from Big Sur we stopped by Woodstock Pizza in San Luis Obispo for a delicious and much needed meal. After spending the morning packing up our campsite and the afternoon driving through Pebble Beach and the 17-Mile Drive we were quite hungry.

We headed inside and took a long look at the menu. Even though there was only one group ahead of us, it took a long time to place our order. The group was very disoriented in their process and weren’t quite sure what they even wanted to eat. Eventually we got our chance and ordered the SLO Classic with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and olives.

We took our seat and waited for our food arrived. The place was pretty empty with a huge room and then a smaller back room with a few video games in it. Our pizza came and it was a very good. Somewhat salty, but that’s to be expected with the sausage. Maybe next time we will try the BBQ Bird.

Woodstock Pizza is a great place to stop by on your way up north or if you’re spending the week or weekend in San Luis Obispo. With the few video games and an assortment of beer to drink you might find college students enjoy this place even more than others. Though, it’s a great restaurant for people of all ages.

17-Mile Drive Around Pebble Beach

IMG_8973Before Katie and I headed home from Big Sur we drove farther north past Carmel to Pebble Beach to check out gorgeous the 17-mile drive. It costs $10 do drive the secluded coast of Pebble Beach, but I thought it was well worth it. It was an extremely relaxing drive and very quiet due to their no motorcycle policy and calm roads. The ocean views were amazing with a tremendous amount of variety and a ton to see.

We started out inland where we made our way through thick trees all around us down the road. We passed under and over bridges and twisted our way to the first overlooks. We reached points one and two, Shepherds Knoll and Huckleberry Hill, where we could just barely make out the ocean due to the clouds that morning. I can only imagine what the ocean would look like on a clear day, beautiful.

Then stopped at the Poppy Hills NCGA Golf Course and made our way to the Spanish Bay. Don Gaspar de Portela, the Spanish explorer, and his crew camped there in 1769 while searching for Monterey Bay. We stood at the boardwalk and watched the surfers catch a few waves. With multiple spots to catch the waves, there were waves  of all sizes that day ranging from shoulder high to overhead. A short rain shower started and we headed back to the car to grab a snack as we watched a little longer.

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Once at Spanish Bay the rest of the drive was right along the shoreline and coast. We stopped at almost every point along the way including the Restless Sea, Point Joe, China Rock, Bird Rock, Seal Rock, Fanshell Overlook, and Cypress Point Lookout. At each spot we learned something interesting. Point Joe was where mariners often crashed upon the rocks after mistakenly setting their course for this point believing that it was the entrance to Monterey Bay. Bird Rock was where we saw hundreds of birds with a long row of binoculars set up to give visitors a better view and a list of animals that can be seen through Pebble Beach. Fanshell Overlook was gorgeous. As we pulled up we saw otters playing in the water as the waves wash over them. I excitedly jumped out to check it out trying to get a picture before they vanished into the vast ocean.

We continued and came across The Crocker Grove, Lone Cypress Tree, The Ghost Trees, and Pescadero Point. Crocker Grove was vastly different than everything else we saw on the drive. The trees stood tall and on the way there we saw a huge buck standing nearby. The Lone Cypress Tree was one of my favorite points to see. It is one of California’s most everlasting landmarks. It has existed on its rocky perch for over 250 years and no one knows how it has thrived there for so long. It has inspired many and is revered as a symbol of Pebble Beach Company.

The drive concluded at the Lodge of Pebble Beach. Inside the courtyard were stores for shopping and dinning. We walked through the lodge and came to the 18th hole of the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links which overlooks the Stillwater Cove. The golf course was so green and lush. The cove was just amazing to see. The water in the cove was completely calm while  just a few miles before the waves crashed roughly onto the shore.

The 17-mile drive through Pebble Beach was absolutely inspiring. From Stillwater Cove to Spanish Bay the coastal views were breathtaking and unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else. With the green golf courses, tall cypress trees, and crystal blue waters it’s a great activity for people of all ages. Everyone would enjoy this drive.

McWay Waterfall Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

IMG_8973Katie and I were hiking on our camping trip in Big Sur. We had just finished exploring all that the Ewoldsen Trail had to offer and had made it back to the parking lot with a few minutes left until sunset. I really wanted to show Katie the McWay Waterfall so we headed towards the ocean.

We easily found the beginning of the McWay Waterfall Trail just past the ranger’s station at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. We walked down the short trail dirt path and through the tunnel that goes under route 1 stopping at a T right before a cliff. We turned right and started up toward the overlook.

As soon as we could see the waterfall we stopped. We never made it to the end of the trail as the sun had begun to set and there was a crowd of people standing at the overlook. We took in the sunset, the small cove, and the 80 ft waterfall that fell onto the sandy beach below from where we stood. It was a gorgeous site to see. Possibly one of the best sunsets ever as the sun streaked stunning pinks, oranges and reds across the sky.

The McWay Waterfall Trail is a short .5 mile trek. The trail is great for all ages and every ability level. With a small incline, the cool ocean breeze keeps the walk comfortable even on hot days and there’s a bench at the end if you need a rest before you make your short walk back to the car. Parking is free if you can find a spot on route 1, otherwise park in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park for $10.  The waterfall itself is one of the most popular images people see when they think of Big Sur. Almost everyone that has travelled up route 1 has stopped to see it as it’s a must visit place if you are ever in Big Sur. It’s right up there with the Bixby Creek Bridge.

Camping at Big Sur State Park

IMG_8973Last weekend Katie and I headed to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park for a weekend of camping. We had heard early in the week there was a chance of rain on Monday, the  final day we planned to be there. As the weekend drew near and it got closer for us to pack up and leave the report had showed more and more possibilities of it being a sun filled weekend. We were excited and ready to explore Big Sur as much as we could in the short time we would be there.

We headed up to Big Sur late Saturday afternoon with our camping gear knowing there was still a chance of rain but hoping the weather would hold out for us. We drove down the 101, the sunsetting just as we reached Avila Beach. Then we crossed over to route 1 which we winded our way up the coast. It had gotten dark and with a cliff and ocean to one side and a mountain to the other we slowly drove until we finally reached where the GPS said the campground would be. Not seeing it, but knowing it was nearby we continued on stopping at the Big Sur Station to call Katie’s parents and ask if they knew where it was. Another 1/2 mile down the road we pulled into the campground glad we found it and feeling that it was still early enough in the night to get everything ready and have a massive campfire.

We drove slowly through the now pitch black campground with only our truck headlights leading the way. We headed over the bridge and then down a one way street stopping at each sign we saw, inching our way closer to our site #180.  We finally got there and Katie backed the truck into its spot. We scanned the site for a perfect tent location and moved the small rocks away. We set down our tarp and I put up our tent while Katie pulled out our gear and firewood.

Then, while Katie set up the air mattress I started the fire. With in a few minutes it was lit and I was just coaxing it to catch onto the bigger, denser, and still somewhat wet wood. Once it was a decent size we ate our sausages and then made banana boats before calling it a night to sleep on our what we realized now was a partially deflated air mattress. Somewhere along the way our mattress got a hole in it. First thing on our last for the next day, get a new one.

We woke up the next morning on the hard Big Sur dirt floor. I got up and started a fire without using any matches, just the hot smoldering dense log we had left to die the night before and what I now realize are the best things ever, a few pieces of Starbuck’s coffee cup holders. My fire lit faster than it had the previous night and we heated up our breakfast burritos while we ate oat bars and apples.

We let the fire die down and got ready for the day. We headed to REI and the Target about an hour away and then went for a hike at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. We came back to the campsite after dark again, this time due to the time change. I started our fire back up again without using any matches, it was still warm from earlier that morning a few hour ago.

We cooked our sausages and then had s’mores that night. Afterward we sat by the campfire talking for a while until we felt like having a second round of sausages and s’mores. We continued talking as we looked at the stars above us. It was crazy how bright the stars are when there is no other light washing them away. We sat watching the fire burn late into the night until we finally decided it was time for bed.

Early in the morning I awoke to rain drops on the tent. Too early for me to want to get up I reached outside to make sure our shoes were under the flap and tried to fall back asleep. A few minutes later I was awoken by an even more intense rain and I knew that it would be too difficult for me to sleep in any longer. I laid there wondering if the tent really was waterproof, so far so good, but it had just started to get heavy. When I couldn’t stand laying there doing nothing any longer I made my way out to the car to get my rain gear and then headed to the bathroom. I got back to the tent and tried to sleep some more. It was too noisy for me though and that’s when I realized that I forgot to bring my book into the tent from the car.

I laid there looking up and noticed a bug that looked like some kind of beetle. Compelled to move it off our tent I flicked at it and it grew to double it’s size with 8 creepy legs catching back onto the tent as it fell. From that moment on I was the defender of the front of the tent. I told the spider it could coexist with us as long as it stayed on the back half of the tent and didn’t attempt to block my exit. I thought we had an agreement until I made it’s move toward the front. I flicked at it and it scurried back. I laid there watching it’s every move. Allowing it to climb all over the back of the tent but not allowing it to adventure onto the front. Katie got up to use the restroom and eventually I could take it no longer. I told the spider that it was time to go and gave it one flick sending it to the floor below.  It tried to scurry it’s way back up the tent once more but by now I had made up my mind. It had broken the rules and it was time for it to go. One last flick and it was gone.

We climbed out of the tent and started to pack up our things. Even though it was raining we wanted to heat up our breakfast burritos so I tried to make a fire. It took us about an hour or so to get it started, but eventually with a little help from some dry cardboard, lighter fluid, wet wood, matches, an umbrella, and some charcoal the neighbors left the other day we did it. It lasted just long enough to heat our food up and then we let it die as the rain fell upon it. Any wood we had left was too wet to continue it, so wet that the few pieces we put on it hardly were able to dry enough to burn with any vibrance.

We packed up our gear within an hour, finishing at 12:05pm just after our set check-out time and just as the rain stopped. We ran to the bathroom, threw out our trash and stopped at the Big Sur Lodge to get myself a magnet and some postcards before heading north toward Carmel to start our day.

Camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park was so much fun and definitely somewhere everyone should camp at least once. Next time I go I hope to be able to check out some of their trails, many of which were closed while we were there. Maybe we can even try some fishing.

Alien Fresh Jerky

IMG_8973On Katie and my way home from Las Vegas we stopped at Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker, CA. While it was originally established in Crystal Springs, Nevada, the store moved to Baker in 2002. I had never been there before but it is one of those places that many people stop along the route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas as a fun little break and I was not disappointed.

As we pulled off the freeway and up to the front door the place looks so intriguing. There’s a car in the parking lot with three aliens in it, some of which move a little. There’s also a spaceship that for a dollar lights up and talks. While it was hard to hear his whole message, I’m pretty the sure he says something along the lines of stop at Alien Fresh Jerky to get some jerky. It was kinda cute, I just wish the spaceship would have moved and maybe looked like he was taking off or something. Then it would have been worth the full dollar.

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We headed inside and they had a ton of alien trinkets and gadgets from alien parking and warning signs to alien blowup dolls to alien labeled backpacks, magnets, and bumper stickers. You name it they probably had it with an alien on it.

They also had numerous options of beef jerky, hot sauce, and honey. The jerky was $8.99 each or 3 for $25 so we decided to get three bags of jerky and one container of Desert Honey. They had small samples so we were able to try two of the three before we had even purchased them. We choose Abducted Cow Beef Jerky, Pepper Teriyaki Beef Jerky, and Honey Chipotle Beef Jerky. They were all delicious, my favorite was the Abducted Cow Beef Jerky, and they took us a couple of weeks to finish.

As we left we received a coupon for an online purchase, buy 9 get the 10th free. We probably won’t use it since we don’t eat that much beef jerky, but I could see how some people might really need or want it. If you’re ever driving from LA to Vegas or back you should be sure to stop and check out Alien Fresh Jerky. It’s a fun little store that everyone can enjoy. And if you aren’t driving in the area, but still want some Alien Fresh Jerky hit up their website and get some shipped out to you today!

Lindsey Stirling at the Greek Theatre

IMG_8973I often get emails from Goldstar, a website that tells Los Angeles residents what events are happening and upcoming in the area. One day I saw that Lindsey Stirling, a violinist that plays electronic beats, was playing at the Greek Theatre. I have known of Lindsey Stirling for almost 2 years now, absolutely love her music, and think she is amazing. Right then I decided I couldn’t miss this opportunity. I had to go see her on stage. I purchased two tickets and patiently waited until the day finally arrived.

Katie and I got there early, found our seats and waited for the show to start. The night was started off with two opening acts I had never heard of before. Olivia Somerlyn was first up, singing her hit Parachute and new single OXO. We laughed and sang along with our new dance moves. Olivia was followed by Lights who’s music started  on the complete other end of the spectrum of what I had expected the night to expose. It was loud, hard and heavy but soon fell into what was anticipated with Running with the Boys.

Finally it was time for Lindsey Stirling to perform on her Music Box Tour. I thought she was awesome. She played all her songs and every single song that is a favorite of mine had a beautiful backdrop or some other element that was fascinating to watch. She entertained us while having so much fun on stage herself. You could tell that she was really enjoying what she was doing.

The sets for each song were phenomenal.  Moon Trance had a mini cemetery set up with dancers that followed her every move and she fought them off and controlled them with her music. Shadows had big silk screens with her shadows on them that matched her dance movements as she played and danced throughout the song. Elements had a boarder and a silk screen that you could partially see though to the stage where it rained, burned, and blew wind to the extremes. Shatter Me had silk screens with snow globes on them that some of the dancers stood inside with her until the song broke them all free. Transcendence was started with a video interlude about the song and ended with her explaining her recent struggles and how she is so grateful to finally be able to play on stages like the ones on her tour.

As the night continued she would let us in on little pieces of information, such as she couldn’t decide on which video game song to play so she combined them all together in one long song that encompassed Zelda, Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim, and Halo. She also let us know that it was the last night of the tour. She ended the night with a rock song where one of her guitar players and her fight until they come together and create beautiful music together. The vibe of the night was just awe-inspiring and I was so glad and grateful to be a part of it.

Just when we thought she was finished, but I was secretly hoping she wasn’t, she came back out on stage and played an encore of Phantom of the Opera music mashup. She played all the common songs from Think of Me to The Phantom of the Opera. She played a small portion of each song in order from start to finish. The whole show was so good and left me feeling refreshed, relaxed, and excited to be alive for another day.