nature

Dana Point Waterfall

#TBT to that one time it rained so much in California! Do you remember when there was a huge waterfall happening in Dana Point? Don’t remember? Read this Orange County Register article here to learn more about it!

BeeJay, Peter and I hung out again to practice taking pictures on this one night. We wanted to check out the waterfall and see what it was all about.

We drove by the waterfall a few times because of course, we couldn’t find it in the dark. We pulled into a lot to park our car and walked across the street hoping that we could find the waterfall.

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Well, it wasn’t raining so there was actually no waterfall at that moment but we at least knew where the fall would be. We hung around the area for a bit and then it started drizzling. Then within minutes, it started raining cats and dogs.

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We left the site and got to a hut that had picnic tables, and stayed there for about 10 or 15 minutes until the rain calmed down.

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While it was raining heavily, we suddenly heard a rushing sound of water. We were like, “Listen! Do you hear that?” We all stood still and were in much surprise because of how loud the water was.

By the time we wanted to check out the waterfall, the rain had stopped luckily. We followed the thunderous clashing sounds of water and were in awe of how monstrous this waterfall was.

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We took some long exposures in front of the waterfall and the street behind us.

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It was definitely an experience to be hanging outside in heavy downpour and to take pictures of this waterfall at night. Friends, it’s not a great idea to take pictures of a waterfall at night. No one really does that anyway.

Hopefully, we’ll get to see this waterfall when it rains in the morning or afternoon. Not when it’s dark.

Thanks Peter for teaching me again how to take long exposures and thanks BeeJay for driving! Hope you all had fun in the rain!

The Yosemite Five

Last year, I got the chance to start the new year with a road trip to Grand Canyon! It was my first time hiking in the snow and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to adventure with!

I was fortunate enough to travel again in the start of this new year! I went to Yosemite for the second time in the span of 9 months. Though my first time to Yosemite was in the spring, I was more curious to experience Yosemite in the winter with the snow!

On our way from SoCal to Yosemite, we made our first stop at Benaddiction in Fresno. We were pretty hungry after driving so many miles and found a place to eat via Yelp. It’s a small restaurant that can probably fit a max of 30 people. Due to the small capacity of the restaurant, the wait for us to be seated took some time. We saw hangry customers leave after waiting several minutes. If you plan to check out Benaddiction, keep in mind that it’s a small restaurant, it gets busy, and they close at 3PM!

Benaddiction is known for their breakfast and brunch entrees. I ended up getting a burger because it was past lunch time by the time we got seated and I wasn’t feeling breakfast. The burger was packed with a huge slice of tomato and shredded lettuce. The burger wasn’t anything that special as I expected but it did the job filling me up since I was hungry!

After lunch, we kept driving north until we got to our AirBnB place. We had a hard time finding our place since the street signs were hidden and it was getting dark too. We circled around the neighborhood for quite a long time and somehow we found it after lucking out on a turn!

Note to future self: Check-in at AirBnB place before the sun sets so it’s easy to find especially in rural areas where they like to hide street signs and house numbers.

Once we got to our AirBnB place, we chilled for a bit and then prepped for dinner. We had some fancy lasagna from Costco with a side of corn and garlic bread. We raised our glasses with Martinelli’s Apple Cider and made a toast for our trip! Can’t go wrong with that! While we were eating, we played some classical music in the background and ate with our pinky’s up. We fancy.

We went for a walk in the dark after dinner. Literally, it was pitch black outside. I had to hold onto some hoodies to make sure I was walking in the right direction. I may or may not be afraid of the dark. Don’t judge!

It was beautiful outside seeing some stars but it was also scary. I wasn’t sure if some animal was going to pop out of nowhere. It was just the five of us walking down a lonely road.

We ended first day with an episode of The Man in the High Castle. It was my first time ever hearing about it but I surprisingly enjoyed it. I think everyone else knocked out except me and maybe one or two others. I can’t remember who knocked out because I was really into the show.

The next day, we packed our lunches in the morning and headed out officially to Yosemite National Park!

We actually had a rough start to Yosemite. We entered the park and we were required to put chains on. We purchased some chains from Walmart earlier and that was not a good idea.

I repeat it was not a good idea.

Probably for a good hour, we struggled with them chains. They were straight up real chains with links on them.

First, we had a hard time putting them on in the cold, very cold weather. Once we got them on, we were driving around and something was not right. We heard some clunking noises. As we were driving, we passed by a bunch of Asian tourists standing outside. They were watching us drive by and the look on their faces was priceless. They looked concerned for us. Oh, you could tell they were deeply concerned.

We pulled over and thought we knew where the clunky noise was coming from so we tightened up the chains. Then we started driving again but heard the noise again! We pulled over for two or three more times to tighten things up. We were pretty confident for the first few times that we figured out where the noise was coming from but at some point, we were like, “Let’s be safe and just go back and buy new chains from that guy.”

We backtracked and bought chains from the guy on the side of the road. That was probably the best idea ever. Those chains were thin, easy to put on, and definitely quiet. And no tourist looked at us weird.

I think we spent two hours in total trying to figure out our chain issue. BUT! It was great teamwork and we all learned something new that morning. Too bad we don’t have a picture of us with the crazy chains. Maybe some moments aren’t meant to be captured.

Ok, now onto the fun stuff! We didn’t hike any strenuous trails since they were all closed due to the weather. We made multiple stops within the park and took a brisk walk to see some beautiful sites!

Tunnel View

On our way to Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall

Even though the picture below is blurry from the mist, I still had to share it because there was so much potential in this picture looking beautiful.

Yosemite Valley

Major PC to Kevin! Thanks for taking this awesome shot!

On our way to Vernal Fall

Photo credit to whoever was at the bottom either Kevin or Susan! 


We ended up not being able to hike up the whole trail to Vernal Fall. It was blocked off midpoint because of the snow. It was still nice being able to hike up halfway and have our lunches up there with the drizzle.

We were able to make a lot of stops within one day and experience the beauty of Yosemite with the snow. There were moments when it was snowing and felt so magical! Going to Yosemite during the winter is a MUST! It’s a complete whole different experience compared to any other season.

I heard that you’re able to ice skate somewhere outside in Yosemite. If the opportunity comes around again to go to Yosemite during the winter, I hope to ice skate then!

The trip was short and sweet! I’m thankful that we played in the snow and that no car was damaged from the chains! Yay, us!

 

Big Horn Mine Hike

I was on Instagram one night and noticed that Patrick Manalo, a photographer in the SoCal area who I follow on IG, posted some scenic pictures that just seemed so different from any hiking pictures I have ever seen! I looked into where he had gone which was Big Horn Mine and then I just had to go too!

By the way, I have no idea how I found Patrick Manalo on Instagram. I’m pretty sure he was on my Explorer page and I found a lot of his pictures aligned with my interests such as food, travel, and adventures.

I posted some information and pictures about this hike on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to join me on this adventure. A good amount of my friends were interested so I created a Facebook event to get the ball rolling. I planned about one month in advance because I knew this hike wasn’t just going to be a simple morning activity that friends can stop by. It was going to be an all day thing.

I’m a planner so I had a rough itinerary planned out so my friends knew what to expect throughout this whole adventure. I ended up being pretty on point with my agenda but below is the schedule you might want to follow accordingly if you plan to check it out:

  • 8:30am – Leave Orange County
  • 10:00am – Arrive at  Grassy Hallow Visitors Center to purchase a $5 Adventure Day Pass. This is to pay for parking. Apparently you can purchase this ahead of time at REI.
  • 10:15am – Begin the hike. Take breaks and pictures. Go into the mine!
  • 2:00pm – Approximately the time we got back to our car
  • 2:45pm – Lunch at Ichi Ichi in Rowland Heights and milk tea at Tenju Tea House
  • 5:30pm – Arrive home and rest

If you can, I suggest that you pick up the Adventure Day Pass ahead of time. Grassy Hallow Visitors Center doesn’t open until 10:00am sharp! If you hike earlier in the morning, you will be able to avoid the crowd at the time. By the time we got to to the mine, we had the whole area to ourselves so it was really nice to enjoy the scene. An hour later, there were probably more 20 people onsite and we weren’t able to take decent pictures.

Here are some tips to share with you about this whole hike:

  • If you’re going to get there before 9am, you might want to dress warm (in March). We were surprised how cold it was that morning. It was forecasted to be high 60 degrees and low 40 degrees. Once we started hiking, it definitely got warm.
  • I was not able to find an exact address to get to this site but if you type in Big Horn Mine or Glassy Hallow Visitors Center on Apple or Google Maps, it will show up. It will be fine to follow those directions.
    • You are going to lose reception once you are up in the mountains. Prior to your drive, save the location on your map. Follow the directions from Business Insider on how to save a map without Wi-Fi.
    • If you forget to save the map, just know that if you drive by Inspiration Point first and then Grassy Hallow Visitors Center, then you’re heading towards the right direction. There will be a dead end and you will see a lot where you can park. Don’t forget to hang your parking pass up!
  • After you park, it can get a little confusing on which trail to take because there are a few different ones. You will see a white gate and right behind that gate is the trail you want to take to see the mine. This hike is a little less than 4 miles round trip.
  • There is another trail you can take that is to the far right of the white gate. It’s a skinny hidden trail. I think that trail might be the longer route, 8 miles round trip. You might be able to see an empty cabin and see some snow if you take that route. There might be some restrictions from experiencing the whole hike based upon weather.
  • Make sure you have hiking shoes on that are sturdy and waterproof. There were a lot of uneven and sharp rocks so it was nice to have my feet protected. If you wear your regular Nike shoes, you’ll definitely feel the pain. I recommend waterproof boots also because when we went into the mine, there was a stream that the guys accidentally stepped in.
  • Make sure to bring:
    • Headlamp – It’s nice to use this when you’re in the mine over your smart phone and it feels cool to wear one
    • Extra socks & shoes – Just in case you step in water and it’s nice to wear a fresh pair of socks and comfortable shoes after the hike
    • Water – You’ll get thirsty in the beginning of the hike because of the uphil
    • Sunglasses, hat, & sunscreen – It got pretty sunny on our way up so make sure to protect yourself from burns

Ok, I hope those were some helpful tips for you! I did a lot of Googling and reading Yelp reviews.

Onto the fun stuff, pictures!

Inspirational pose at Inspiration Point-

Inspirational friends-

When you see this, that’s when you know you’ve made it!

This is what the view looks like when you’re actually there!

Ok, Tim got some pretty cool pictures. I’m a little jealous.

Above all of these unprotected metal posts was a mine shaft! We had to climb up some old wooden planks to get there. It was a little scary but we made our way up. To get through, we had to limbo our way into this gated fence. This mine shaft was pitch black and dead quiet but with friends and flashlights, we were able to make it out alive. I wish I had taken pictures here but I didn’t want to risk dropping my camera in an unfamiliar area with minimal lighting.

You will definitely want to check out the mine. We walked pretty deep into the mine but stopped at some point because it was getting too hard to see where the trail was leading us.

Afterwards, we went back outside and took more pictures!

I have no idea how Tim and Edward got up there but all I can say is that they were brave.

By the time we were done touring around the main site, it was getting crowded there. As a result we weren’t able to take a good selfie group picture! 

Going downhill was quick and easy. We probably got back to our car in less than 45 minutes. It was so much easier than going up!

We had some thin Oreos on our way down and it definitely brightened our hangry mood. Thanks Edward for bringing them! Once we got to our car, we changed shoes and got comfortable.

We ate in Rowland Heights since it was on our way back home. Then called it a day. After hanging out with each other for 8 hours, we concluded that we were all best friends at a friendship level of 4. Who knows what that level really means but what matters is that we are all best friends! #insidejoke

Thank you Cindy, Stacy, Edward and Tim for joining me on this hike! It was a lot of fun singing in harmony during the car ride. This hike was a nice short and sweet one day get away from Orange County!

Grand Year, Grand Canyon!

Ah! Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Leap Year! Oh man, I can’t believe I missed sharing all those holidays on my blog. Better late than never, right?

So many memories took place in 2015 that I have yet to share on TTT! There will be plenty of #ThrowBackThursdays to share here.

It’s crazy how time flies. I’m so surprised how today is the last day of February! Now, let the March Madness begin!

I told myself that I’m going to post my first trip of 2016 before February ends. So here I am now!

Meet my friend, Cindy. We met about three years ago at work and hit it off the first day we met each other. Oh gosh, just to clarify we’re not dating. We’re just friends. We actually don’t work together anymore but still stay in contact a little too much.

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Back in the fall of 2015, she invited me to go to Grand Canyon with her and her friends. The trip was planned for the first weekend of January. I was a little hesitant to go at first simply because it was happening the first weekend of January. It was just too soon for me to plan something that far advance in the new year but then I thought YOLO. Right after that, I had no hesitation to go.

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Ok, so we left on a Sunday afternoon. I think we spent about 6 or 8 hours driving and making stops. We spent two nights at an AirBnB in Flagstaff, Arizona. Our stay was perfect for 8 people!

Monday morning, we had breakfast, packed lunch for our hike and headed towards Grand Canyon. It was freezing when we got there! I quickly lost mobility in my hands and had to layer up! Once we started walking around though, I felt a little more alive.

There were multiple trails to hike through but we ended up taking South Kaibab Trail!

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We probably hiked for about 4 hours round trip. Even though it was only a 3 mile hike, going down was challenging initially. There were moments where you had to use your core to control yourself from not falling since it was slippery hiking downhill.  At some point, we got the hang of it going downhill.

It was a magical hike going down as it was snowing! The view everywhere around us was breathtaking!

We took a good amount of breaks to take pictures and to catch some breath. In the picture below, it was crazy to see that there was no snow right behind us but in front of us, there was plenty of snow. It was a little funny how nature was working that day.

When we were hiking, I remember thinking, “We are never going to get down there!” Seeing the skinny trails ahead of us seemed impossible for us to get to our final destination.

We ended up getting to the flat area a lot faster than expected! I had so much adrenaline that I wanted to keep going but we couldn’t go all the way to the bottom due to time. We wanted to make it back before the sun was setting.

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We spent some time enjoying the view and of course, taking jumping pictures.

It was pretty brutal going back up. I think we were all breathing heavily and dreading each step we took.

The uphill inclination was quite steep and trying to be cautious to not step on special gifts that mules left behind made it even more challenging.

We all agreed that it was a good idea that we didn’t go further down because that uphill would have been worse and we would have been more tired.

As we were going back up, we had some intense snowball fights. I got hit and was fatally wounded.  Just kidding. I did get hit but it was by accident. Well, I like to believe that it was by accident.

Definitely at the end of the hike, the craziest snowball fight happened and there is evidence of it in the picture above.

It was bittersweet finishing the hike. I was relieved that that we had made it to the top but I had immediately missed the scenic view.

After the hike, we treated ourselves to some pizza and wings! Then we went to our AirBnB home and played an intense game of darts. That game was way too fun. I got bulls eye at least three times that night! It was all by God’s grace that had happened! GG, everyone!

The next morning, we packed up our belongings to go back home. I’m not sure which route we took to go back but it was a scenic one! Major photo credit to Kevin Yoon for taking some awesome pictures on my DSLR!

Cindy kept asking me throughout the whole trip, “Who invited you?” She asked me numerous times with a serious face. Oh Cindy, it was you who invited me. You, my friend. You.

One last group selfie before this post comes to an end! Everyone looks great in the picture below!

Thank you to new and old friends for making this trip so much fun! Big thanks to Kevin and Tim for driving us around! Thank you again, Cindy, for inviting me! Thank you to Rachel, Andy, and Preston for being so hospitable!

I’m so thankful to have started the new year with this trip! What a grand year 2016 will be! I’m excited for more opportunities to travel this year! More adventures to come!

Oh yeah, one more video to share with everyone! Here’s a video I put together from all the random recordings I had on my phone and camera. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

AirBnB in LA

Finding a place to spend one night in LA was quite of a challenge in a fun way. There are way too many cute places to stay at in LA through AirBnB. I highly suggest you to avoid spending the night in any LA hotels because it is overly priced and parking your car in a structure can be almost as expensive as $40. So, no thanks. Go through AirBnB and you will find a lot of artsy studio apartments or houses that are so unique to LA compared to any other areas.

Linda and I found a cute little two bedroom house in LA that was on top of a hill overlooking Downtown LA. It was 10 minutes away from Chinatown, Fashion District, and all sorts of fun places!

The house we stayed at had some eccentric artworks on the wall. They definitely caught our attention.

This huge red orange canvas on the wall definitely illuminated the room!

All the guests who stayed at this house through AirBnB wrote such sweet and loving notes to the host on this white board!

We walked around so much in that afternoon that we decided to relax outside on the patio for the night.

We had such a great view of LA from where we were! I would love to come back here if time permits next time! It was affordable and convenient to stay here! Thanks Linda and AirBnB for a short and sweet adventure in LA!

Sunset in Newport Beach

Aaron and I grabbed our Canons to Newport Beach for a sunset photography session. We missed the sunset because we were circling around the parking lot for a good 30 minutes. It was such a beautiful day that all one million Orange County residents decided to go to the beach and enjoy the weather at the same time. I can’t blame them for that because we were basically there for the same reason.

Miraculously, we found parking and decided to challenge ourselves to take pictures with little lighting except from the rays beaming on the water.

Going to the beach always reminds me to be thankful for where I live. Sometimes we easily take the perfect weather in sunny SoCal for granted. We actually met a couple at the beach who were visiting from Chicago. Aaron and I were both thinking to ourselves, “Why would you visit Newport Beach? Why Orange County?” We realized it’s because the weather here can’t beat anything or anywhere else! We’re so blessed.

Thanks Aaron for challenging me to take pictures in a new setting instead of taking pictures of food! And thanks for listening to Taylor Swift in the car ride. Note to us: Go to beach a lot earlier because of parking.

The Capitol

I finally got to see the White House! I mean, the White House in California! In other words, the Capitol! Briana and I probably had the time of our lives taking pictures with a selfie stick in front of the Capitol. I don’t know what it is but selfie sticks are fun!

Alex and Justin joined us a little later for the fun with the selfie stick!

We look like a happy family there, right? Right! After taking millions of selfies together, we finally decided to go check the Capitol building!

During the security check, they thought the selfie stick was a weapon! We almost had to leave Briana behind. Just kidding, we wouldn’t have left her alone. Luckily, the security guards knew what a selfie stick was so Briana was good to go.

We walked around for a good hour in the building. There was so much rich history and beauty to the building that I felt like we could stay there forever. Unfortunately, our parking meter didn’t allow us to stay there that long. For the short time we had, we saw a good chunk of the Capitol.

We explored outside to see the garden but we had a hard time finding it. So here are some pictures of trees:

I would love to come back here and spend more time in the museum and just soak in more of its history. It was a little surreal to be at the Capitol because you grow up learning all this stuff from textbooks. Thanks Briana for making this trip to the Capitol possible! Thanks Alex and Justin for hanging out with us for a short period of time!