What You Should Know Before Venturing Out Into Nature

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The light from the morning Saturday sun illuminated the front dashboard of my vehicle with a golden hue. The sky was a gorgeous shade of crystal blue and sat prominently above our heads as the clearest it has been in months. It finally felt like it was spring, but I was stuck slowly crawling behind a line of equally eager drivers on the freeway.

“The sun came out and really brought everyone else out today,” I said to my passenger. We were heading out to venture into the nearby mountains and did not think that the rest of the world would want to slide back into nature too. “I don’t remember it ever being like this,” I continued.

It was true. A few years ago, no one really had ever heard of the words “super bloom.” Instagram wasn’t flooded with photos of excited Influencers and social media professionals laying in the beautiful wildflowers and crushing them into oblivion as they wandered off the path. Hiking was something only a few people I knew did, and I could never get any of my friends to sign up for a 5K outdoors. However, technology has changed along with time, and this has invited more curious parties out into the wild. Continue reading “What You Should Know Before Venturing Out Into Nature”

The Ten-Year Trek

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As I looked down at the new shoes on my feet, I let my mind wander to think of the past ten years out on the trails. The old pair of shoes that I had stuffed into the trunk of a car had carried me through the cool woods of the northern forests of California, had allowed me to cross the sweltering hot deserts in the south, moved me up the jagged rocks that adorned the face of mountains in the east, and near the beautiful blue ocean on that splashed up against the sand on the west coast. For the past ten years, I met new friends, saw jaw-dropping sights, and transformed my life from a nervous small-town teen to a young adult moving forward and growing more confident as the future progressed further. Continue reading “The Ten-Year Trek”

Two Thousand Miles In Two Days

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Two thousand and two miles and seven states in twenty-nine hours. My sister and I drove that distance in a small Hyundai Sonata from Tennessee to California. We celebrated as we passed state lines, posed in front of state signs, and nearly killed each other in the last eight hours before we made it to California.

My sister and I agreed to help our cousin by driving her car back to California from where she lived in Tennessee. She and her newborn baby were to take a flight back home as we tried not to crash her car while moving at top speeds across the country. However, after we began to see historical signs and interesting billboards, we decided to make a couple of stops along the way. Continue reading “Two Thousand Miles In Two Days”

Anonymity In Art: Novel House

art-brush-color-6368There’s an abandoned house tired with cracks that reveal its age. It is wearing thin of its drywall, and the structure seems to degrade and crumble right before the eyes of onlookers. It’s abandoned—but full. The white walls filled to the brim with large black letters, characters and shapes that have been strung together into a novel. The Chongqing Novel House in China draws hundreds of wanderers to the house that has itself become a story.

Scrawled on the walls by an anonymous hand is a tale of adventure and heroism. As you move within the house, you see diagrams and images which correlate along with the themes and the messages within the story, and by the house’s end, you’re left wondering, why? Continue reading “Anonymity In Art: Novel House”

A Vegetarian In Texas

IMG_2257The look of shock and horror had crept up on her face. I sensed jolts of confusion from her as I spoke the words. “I would like the number four without meat.”

Her eyes went blank in expression before she refocused them again on me as I stood patiently at the cash register. “Did you want another type of meat?” she asked hoping quietly to herself that I had just misspoken.

“No, just the sandwich without any meat.”

She turned around for a second to look for help and asked another cook behind her, “Do we have sprouts?” She turned to face me again. “Did you want sprouts? We can put sprouts in it.”

I smiled. “Sure, that sounds great.” I realized that the encounter that I had just gone through wouldn’t be the last in the beef state of Texas. Continue reading “A Vegetarian In Texas”

The Coldest Spring In Chicago

IMG_1939Chilling gusts of air blew in from Lake Michigan into the “Windy City” of Chicago as my good friend from college, my sister, and I made our way from the architecture tour boat to the shops along Navy Pier. It was then that I had heard, for the tenth time, that I had picked a terrible weekend to visit Chicago, Illinois—and I definitely realized that.

Temperatures dropped into the low 40’s, and at one point, when we were waiting on a platform to take the “L” across the city, it even began to snow. I quickly learned that the best time to visit the third largest city in the United States are not April through May due to the unpredictability of the weather, but actually in May or June and between September and October.

What I also learned was that Chicago is a beautiful and a fantastic city full of wonderful people, delicious food, gorgeous architecture, and several old and brand new friends that I hold dear to my heart. Continue reading “The Coldest Spring In Chicago”

How to Experience Lake Tahoe Without Burning Down Your Cabin

Resized_20170923_105516A billowing pile of smoke was rising from the fire we had lit inside the antique wood-burning fireplace that was housed inside the authentic, hand-made old-fashioned log cabin we rented in South Lake Tahoe through Airbnb. I could feel my eyes begin to water as the white indoor clouds reached the vaulted, lodge-pole daring ceilings upstairs.

“Maybe we should open up a window?” My friend was attempting to stifle the smoke in the fireplace after trying to circulate the heat from the flames around the living room.

“Yeah, maybe that’s best,” I coughed. I took a quick look upstairs to possibly open up another window. I couldn’t tell at first if we had killed our other friend, who has asthma and was lying in a bed upstairs until I heard the sounds of snoring from underneath the comforter return to their normal steady rhythm. Continue reading “How to Experience Lake Tahoe Without Burning Down Your Cabin”

Our Trip to Ontario, Canada

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 6.47.36 AM“So, why on earth are you in Canada if you’re from California?” The young man was standing just outside the Toronto Eaton Centre passing out flyers for something or other when he struck up a conversation between my sister and myself. We were heading toward the crosswalk and on our way to grab a couple of Canadian beers and pizza.

My sister turned to the guy with the flyers again. “We just wanted to visit for fun.”

The real reason falls somewhere between my sister’s weird obsessions with the Great White North and my desire to travel the entire globe. Canada was not my first choice, but I was curious to see how America’s hat actually lived. Continue reading “Our Trip to Ontario, Canada”

What Is Art, And What Art Deserves To Be In Museums?

IMG_9992“What is art?” A short older lady with graying hair asked the high school intermediate art class. She waited for the small group of students sitting behind art supplies that were laid out on top of long wooden folding tables to slowly raise their hands. She pointed at a girl sitting near the back of the room. “Yes, you.”

“Art has to be beautiful,” she paused for a moment. “It should be a realistic reflection of all the good things God has created.”

Mind you, I was attending a private Christian school, and everything anyone said about anything had something to do with Jesus.

“Okay, but what about the post-modern art we see nowadays in pop-up galleries and museums?” She started to walk slowly down the row of parallel tables towards the back of the room. “What about the ‘art’ (she threw up air quotes) that isn’t realistic?” Continue reading “What Is Art, And What Art Deserves To Be In Museums?”

The Journey to the Center of California’s Coast

IMG_8324Within the span of four hours in the car that had carried us up and over hills and traveled beside the ocean, we had driven under a sky that had gone from a murky brown to a clear bright blue, to a cool misty gray. My sister and I had decided to visit my dad at his new place in San Luis Obispo for the weekend. We planned on leaving early that morning from Orange County and meeting up for lunch on the Central Coast.

We ended up spending the rest of the day getting a tour of the college town from our dad, sampling the local coffee, and walking along the various piers that gave beautiful views of the ocean. Continue reading “The Journey to the Center of California’s Coast”