Winter

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!

 

Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink

Once I had a taste of those cronuts from Bakers Donuts, it was time to ice skate! Well first, I had to pack my belongings at Briana’s place since it was my last day in Sacramento. I packed, helped Briana clean up her place, and then off to the next adventure!

Sadly, Briana wasn’t able to ice skate because she had other plans for the night so she dropped me off at my next destination. From there, we said our goodbyes and parted ways. Tear, tear.

Going to Downtown Sacramento to ice skate was like going to Rockefeller Center in New York City because of the outdoorsy feel. Actually, I’ve never been to NYC but I imagine it would be something similar. Coming from SoCal, you don’t see an outdoors ice rink quite often. It’s not a significant attraction to check out nor is it available in SoCal so it was nice to experience a new kind of winter culture in Sacramento.

At the ice rink, I met up with Phil, Jaclyn, and a bunch of other people! To be more specific, I met some new friends who were friends with Jaclyn. Also, Alex and Justin joined in on the fun!

Since we skated on a Friday night, we got a dollar discount on admission fee. We ended up paying $9 each, eight for the admission and a dollar to rent the skates. We skated for a good 2 hours!

The rink was big enough for me to practice my triple axels flawlessly like Yuna Kim. Just kidding, I have no skills in ice skating except moving forward and opening up my arms gracefully like a ballerina.

I don’t know what it is but ice skating around the rink is a lot of fun. Whether you’re skating with your friends or even by yourself, to skate through the cold is ironically fun. Maybe you get a sense of freedom like an eagle soaring through the sky and from that comes out joy perhaps. It’s just liberating to skate in a circle for some odd reason.

I was having so much fun like a little kid that I really didn’t want it to end! But, we had to get going since it was our last night there and we were planning to leave a few hours after ice skating.

Thank you, thank you Briana for taking care of me and showing me your favorites spots in Sacramento! I’m glad that I was able to hang out in Sacramento for more than 24 hours unlike last time! Ok, talk to you on the phone soon!

 

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!

Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates

Briana and I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. We take desserts pretty seriously because it’s what brings complete closure to a meal. After Shoki II Ramen House, we went to Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates in downtown Sacramento. Briana was raving about how good their hot chocolate was. I had to try it myself to see what she was talking about.

I got myself their famous hot chocolate for $4. I was thinking about getting a macaron or some other sweets like a slice of cake or pieces of chocolate but I had to pass. I didn’t think my budget allowed me to treat myself to more sweets.

Let’s start analyzing outwards in of the hot chocolate experience. First off, the cup. When you initially look at the cup, you think it’s just a normal cup with a flat base but it’s slightly shaped like a funnel! There’s more hot chocolate than expected!

Also, I loved how the spoon was placed into the handle of the cup. At first, I thought the cup was uniquely designed just so that the spoon could slip right through the handle but I realized you can do that with any cup. The presentation of the hot chocolate was so sophisticated that every detail of it caught me off guard.

Ok, onto the marshmallows. These aren’t ordinary marshmallows from your local grocery store. They are homemade with love and shaped into abnormally large cubes. The marshmallows add a creamy texture to the hot chocolate. They melt pretty quickly so make sure to get your Instagram picture of the hot chocolate immediately!

Finally, now onto the most important part, the actual hot chocolate. There’s only one thing that needs to be said about this drink and that is, it is rich! The chocolate is dark which gives a bittersweet taste to it. The richness can be overwhelming if you’re not a sweet person. (Did you get that? Pun!) Because the drink is heavy with the chocolate and from the marshmallow, you can get pretty full from it like a latte. I was pretty full from it but it was ok because it was perfect for the cold weather that day in Sacramento.

Thanks Briana for taking me to a hip chocolate shop for some fancy hot chocolate!  Thank you also for the close up picture of those marshies and the selfie stick picture at the end! Selfie stick for the win! Whee!

Night Tubing in Big Bear

Can you believe that it’s finally raining here in Southern California? What a perfect time to just drink some hot chocolate and get all cozy! Well, last Friday I was able to do just that! My friends and I needed to get out of town and relax somewhere far, far away.

We got a cabin through a convenient site called Air BnB. This cabin was so cute and cozy. We easily felt right at home. It had Netflix, all the appliances for cooking, and it was located close enough to the market and the slopes.

When we got there, Linda started making dinner for us. She made us some awesome homemade kalguksu (kahl-gook-sooh) aka knife noodles in literal Korean translation. So she made the noodles herself and added some chicken broth with some chicken and onions.

After eating, we went night tubing which was the main highlight of the trip! We each paid $20 for unlimited night tubing at Alpine Slide. It was about 20 minutes away from our cabin which wasn’t too bad. I’m glad we went to this place because they had flat escalators to take you to the top of the slope. After many rounds of going down, you actually get pretty tired surprisingly. So thank you Alpine Slide for having that flat escalator!

Here’s a clip of our adventures down the slope:

Oh man, I can’t get enough of that video. It’s just so hilarious to watch and it makes me want to go back now! I hope we can go back soon!

Later that night, we went to the market to pick up some late night snacks and relaxed in the cabin. We had some pizza as we were watching some movie thanks to Netflix!

Also had some hot chocolate! Thanks Linda for making us the hot chocolate!

It was one long night with these lovely ladies and I enjoyed every moment of it with them! Special thanks to Linda for driving and making us some YUMMY food!

My Unforgettable Holiday Music 2012

Even though Christmas is over, I can’t seem to stay away from Christmas music! I started listening to Christmas music way before December even came around and you’d think I’d be sick of it by now. But, I’m not. I’m really not. I have no idea why…

So I gave my friends my favorite holiday music as gifts! Here’s my 2012 holiday play list:

1. Christmas Song – Catherine Feeny

2. Christmas Lights – Coldplay
Heard this on Pandora. Fell in love with it. Had to purchase it on iTunes!

3. Frosty The Snowman – Fiona Apple

4. Deck the Halls – Folk Angel ft Shane & Shane
Thanks Pandora!

5. Joy To The World – Folk Angel

Pandora again. This song has a twist compared to the usual Joy To The World. Definitely more fun
and upbeat.

6. Mistletoe – Justin Bieber
Ok, don’t judge! This song is really hip and cool. ‘Nuf said. I only know this song because I got Justin Bieber’s holiday CD last year as a white elephant gift. At first, I was upset but once I heard this song, I fell in love with it. 

7. All My Bells Are Ringing – Lenka
Another fun and upbeat song.

8. Love Is Christmas – Sara Bareilles
Somehow, I discovered this song a year too late! I didn’t know she had a holiday song out last year! Can’t get over this song.

9. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Sarah McLachlan
Finally bought her holiday CD this year. I don’t regret purchasing it at all. She sings this song so beautifully.

10. In The Bleak Mid-Winter – Sarah McLachlan
Her voice is so pure and calming. Love it.

11. Jingle Bells – Sugar & The Hi Lows
Found this song from random iTunes shopping. It’s a hipster-indie holiday song. It makes me think of roller skates and doing the disco dance moves.

12. Linus and Lucy – Vince Guaraldi Trio
The best way to end this playlist was with a classic holiday song You can’t go wrong with this! I’ll never get sick of it and I’ll always want to dance like the kids. 

 

Friends, I hope you enjoyed this play list! I can’t wait for another set of holiday music in 2013!

The Fat Cow at The Grove

Christian recently got back from the east coast so it was time for me, Briana, Mark and Christian to reunite. Unfortunately, Briana wasn’t able to join us due to prior engagement. Whenever the four of us hang out though, we like to experience new places or go to our traditional spots.

Somehow for this recent hangout, we weren’t able to figure out where to go. Christian thought about Orange County but I felt that I’ve conquered OC to the point where I haven’t found anything newly exciting just yet. So I suggested LA since there’s always something to do there.

We decided to go to a traditional spot, The Grove. Before Christian moved to the east coast, The Grove was actually the last time we all hung out.

Something new we found at The Grove was Sprinkles! Right by the parking structure is a quick mini Sprinkles stop. You stand in line outside and order right at the window! It was pretty convenient to have it right there by the structure just so that everyone is bound to see the little cupcake shop.

FYI. Follow Sprinkles on Twitter! They have special secret word of the day on Twitter. If you say the word at Sprinkles, they’ll give you a free cupcake! There’s a catch to it, of course. It’s only if the first 25-50 people say it. Be on the look out!

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It’s always a magical night at The Grove. They still had the holiday decorations up, Christmas music playing, and snow too! Ok, it was more like bubbles rather than snow. But still. It was fun walking around in holiday spirit even after Christmas.

After shopping around, we came to a conclusion at 9PM to eat at The Fat Cow which is owned by Chef Gordon Ramsay. We sat out in the cold just so we could have a nice view of the fountain and look cool. Just kidding about looking cool. But we did sit outside in the cold. Luckily, I was sitting by the heated lamp.

The food was a-ok. It’s not a place where I have to go back to. I’m a simple person so I just ordered a Fat Cow Cheeseburger. Nothing special about it. A little dry but it’s because I got it well done. Food was overly priced for its quality. We each probably spent about $17-$25 on our meal. I wouldn’t suggest anyone going there unless you have the time and money. It’s just overly priced because you’re at The Grove and the restaurant is owned by a famous chef.

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We probably should have Yelped before going there but we wanted to try a new spot. According to Yelp, The Fat Cow got 3 out of 5 stars with 194 reviews. I’m not surprised with its 3 stars. The restaurant actually reminds me of Umami Burger with its stamp on the buns and its overly priced burgers.

After trying a new burger place like The Fat Cow, I always come to a conclusion that nothing ever, EVER, beats In-N-Out.

I’m glad the three of us were able to hang out! It was good catching up with you both! Briana, wish you were there but it’s ok, you saved $20 for food.