Happy New Year! Welcome to 2021
2020 is finally over, welcome to 2021 the year we have all been waiting for. Even though 2020 is over it still feels like it is clinging on. Covid-19 has not disappeared it is mutating. In California, we are still under stay-at-home orders. I suspect many other states have the same order. 2021 seems to be a continuation of 2020 but for some reason, there is more hope. The vaccines are coming and another round of Covid relief checks are coming to a bank near you. Have you received your stimulus check?
I hope your first day of the new year started great. I started the year by moving to a new apartment. Currently, my belongings are in boxes and I don’t know where most of my stuff is located. All my files and photos are not on my computer but in backup hard drives which means I can’t access them since they are safely stored away. This is a good thing because I will have to start taking photos soon and start sharing them.
Since we are under the stay-at-home orders my adventures are currently on hold. This will give me time to settle in my new apartment. It will also give me time to research, plan, and schedule new adventures. Either way, my camping gear is stored away so I guess day trips only are my only options. Anyway, I want to wish you all health, happiness, success, and curiosity to explore. Happy New Year.
When it comes to the outdoors, making decisions to go or not to go down a sketchy, unfamiliar even dangerous path is a no-brainer. My survival instincts kick in, I evaluate my gear, my skills, and the possible danger, if I am unprepared I play it safe. Usually, I get a really strong gut feeling, it's like an internal alarm shouting “don’t do it” meanwhile my curiosity is saying “do it! do it!” In the end, my survival instincts punch curiosity in the face and I survive one more day. There have been times my gut feeling doesn’t kick in because there is no immediate danger however I end up not exploring an area because I overthink it. Those are the times I regret the most because I end up missing out on some great adventure. This past weekend was one of those days.
On Saturday, the day it was predicted to rain and snow the sun came out. Not once or twice I am talking several times. There was rain and the temperature did drop a little but not enough to keep someone indoors the whole day. I saw a blue sky, huge puffy clouds as the sun mocking me. I was so disappointed in canceling the trip. I immediately started researching winter camping, waterproof gear, and everything I could find to avoid this situation from happening again. How could I call myself an explorer if the first drop of rain or snow I panic? No, I was not going to let the weather stop me from enjoying the outdoors. I mean why would I spend money on rain gear if I don’t plan on using it. So I went shopping for tarps to create a canopy for the rain, a heater for the cold, and other camping gear that will make wet camping fun camping.
On Sunday I called up my nephew and asked if he wanted to go up the mountain. He had found some old winter gear from his dad and older brothers. The snow gear was in good shape so he layered himself up and drove to the mountain. The day was cloudier than Saturday but there was still sunshine that is until we arrived closer to the mountain. As we drove up it started to get darker and colder. It began to sprinkle a bit. My nephew spoke about one day going to Big Bear for the snow, at that moment it begins to snow. We started to see cars with snow on their roof. We were so excited. I felt we were ready for anything. We decided to stay the whole day and eat freeze dry food that I brought for lunch.
We entered the park and drove to the Doane’s Pond located next to the campground we had made reservations for. The colors of the landscape were so saturated with color it felt like I had entered a world where Photoshop had increased the vividness and saturation of the landscape. It was breathtaking. We didn’t explore the campground we just wanted to try our winter gear and hike. Not surprisingly there were hardly any people in the park. Those who came were prepared. We started walking at a leisurely pace, enjoying the views. The air was cool and crisp the temperature was cold but not unbearable. We walked on the Thunder Spring trail a .08 mile hike. The rain would at times turn into snow then slush and finally going back to rain.
Our snow boots, unfortunately, were too old and did let water in. I felt my toes getting cold and wet but the wool socks work their magic. As we continued to walk I did not feel my feet get cold anymore. We took photos, recorded each other, and just enjoyed each other’s company. We did find sections with a bit of snow covering. My nephew made a few small snowballs to toss, not enough to have a snowball fight. We continued on the trail and we gradually started to gain elevation. We were the only ones on the trail for a very long time. Everything was going well until I notice some a tree on the path. The trunk seems like it recently had snapped. I moved toward to inspect the snapped tree and notice another tree on the path. Normally I would just hop over the tree and continued in the path however I thought it would be best to play it safe and return to the car. Besides, it was getting close to lunchtime.
When we reached the car I extended my arm and pulled at the door handle, the door usually opens automatically however this time it didn’t. It's a keyless car. I have to use a fob to open my doors and drive. The fob was not working at that moment. I switched from one door to another and repeated this ritual several times. The doors wouldn’t open. The battery on the fob had died and I was starting to panic. I knew the battery on the fob was low a few weeks ago but I didn't bother to replace it. Another regret. We were stuck in the cold and rain. My only hope was the general store up the main road. I started to rehearse some lines in my head on how to ask for help and persuade the people next car over to assist us get to the general store. Luckily my constant pressure on the key fob and yanking at the door handle vigorously opened the car door. I was relieved.
Overall the day trip was amazing. I was right about canceling the camping trip, we were not prepared but I am happy we had the opportunity to test our gear. For the most part, we enjoyed our hiking in the rain and snow.
This experience opens a whole new type of adventure. We enjoyed our hike and we learned a lot. I can’t wait to camp in the snow. I always wanted to take photos of snowy landscapes. No more regrets.
This past month I have been busy brainstorming, researching, and planning new places to visit that meet my pandemic criteria. The pandemic changed everything, traveling stopped completely when the pandemic hit. Most recently it is starting to pick up however it is unknown if the traveling industry will recover. The original list of places I was planning to visit had to be revised. I spend the first months of the pandemic waiting for it to be over. As time passed by, I realized that this pandemic is not going anywhere anytime soon, and we all had to adapt to the “new normal.” Most of the places on my original list were urban which meant I had to interact with people. For the sake of my family and my health, I decided to create a new list that meets my pandemic travel criteria.
What is my pandemic travel criteria? It is a checklist that each location must meet for me to visit it during the pandemic. The criteria are based on health orders given by my local government and my personal reasons. Please make sure you follow your state and local government health orders and do not take my pandemic travel criteria as an official guide for your travel. Without further delay here are my pandemic travel criteria.
LOCATION MUST BE DRIVING DISTANCE
The last thing I want to do is to breathe the same air that other people are breathing in a steel tube.
I do not wish to fly or take any form of public transportation. If I can drive to the location within a few hours (6 hours max) then it meets the criteria. For this reason, I am including scenic drives as a destination.
MINIMAL TO NO PEOPLE
I live in a city/town, it is hard to avoid people. If I want to avoid people I would need to drive as far away as possible from the city. This means going up to the mountains and deserts.
Notice that I don’t mention the beaches. Beaches are magnets to city people, they flock to the water when it gets above 80 degrees.
The location must be or have areas with open spaces. If I am going to the desert or mountain I don’t have to worry because they are open spaces. If my destination is inside a building, I only choose those that have open space in which I can escape should a crowd starts gathering.
My new destinations meet some or all three criteria listed above. During this pandemic, I want to share with my followers, places that can be enjoyed without worrying so much about the virus. Please use your best judgment when visiting these places and follow state and local health orders to help prevent the spread. In my next post, I will share my pandemic car kit. Stay safe and healthy.
For the past few years, I was blessed with traveling with an amazing man, I called him my "mountain man." He was not just my love but a true explorer. His knowledge of the outdoors was extensive, he knew of camping, backpacking, fishing, hunting, off-roading, and many outdoor skills. He kept me out of trouble when I wander off to take a photo or was oblivious to danger. He was there to protect me. We went on many adventures, many of which were not publicized on my social media. I have so many amazing memories of our adventures. I always felt safe because I knew he would get us home safely. He taught me so much and showed me a whole new world (starting to sound like Jasmine in Aladdin, but it is true) I never knew. He taught me to push the limits and not give up. I went on my first ever backpacking trip with him and I could not imagine doing this with anyone else. He proved to me that I was stronger than I thought I was. I learned so much and saw so many beautiful places by his side. I am grateful for the time we had together and thank God for blessing me with loving such an amazing man. He has forever changed my life. Sadly that chapter of my life is closed. Now I have to face the reality of exploring alone again.
It's hard to face reality. I miss him. Exploring California will never be the same. It is hard to move forward when I see an empty seat in my Jeep. It's been a long time since I had the urge to explore and the pandemic is only making it worse but today was a breakthrough. I finally made the effort to start looking into getting new tires for my Jeep. My current tires are factory stock and not fit for off-road exploring. I research some all-terrain tires (something I learned from my mountain man) and I will be ordering them soon. I had a sudden spark of adventure, fleeting but I am hoping I see more sparks soon once I get my new tires. I had forgotten that prior to us being a couple we were individual and I was an explorer. I still am. I will continue to explore.
I had many adventures of my own and with family. I would often take off on long road trips to find new and exciting places. Those years seem so long ago. I was young and fit, less afraid and unaware of the dangers. Today it is scary to imagine being alone in the middle of nowhere but I am an explorer and curiosity is stronger than fear at times. My mother and sisters have an adventurous spirit, and so do I. I have to remember who I was. I have new skills thanks to my mountain man and I plan on using them and learn new skills of my own. I hope that I become the explorer I dream of when I was a young girl.
In 2015 I took my nephews and nieces to visit San Gabriel Mission. I took some photos here and there but I didn't dedicate enough time to really photograph the place. I thought to myself that I would have to come again alone and photograph this mission to add to my collection. I woke up this morning to the bad news that the church part of the mission which is basically the history part of the mission was burnt down.
I had to dig up my unsorted files from 2015 to find photos of the mission. I am very said that I didn't dedicate my time to this mission. It will be years before they restore this mission. Learned my lesson, I better photograph is well the first time and if I am not satisfied then come back again.
I got up today, loaded my car with my camera gear and took off to the mountains. My goal was to film the Cleveland National Forest Sunrise Scenic Byway and create a You Tube video. I was excited because I haven't done any filming due the quarantine and haven't been in the mood to film for a while. So today I thought it was the day, but things did not go as planned.
The dash camera I was depending on to get footage of the byway did not function. It turned on and off but never stayed on. I knew there was an issue with the camera but I thought it was only the memory card. I formatted the memory card but the camera would not stay on. I had to use my cellphone to film the road. To make things interesting my cellphone battery was running low and the charging cable would not reach the cellphone mounted on the windshield. Thinking that the footage was going to be a bit shaky and the camera showed a small section of the sucker cup on the top right hand corner I decided to stop filming. I couldn't ignore the corner as I played back the footage. I also didn't want my viewers to be distracted by this.
I also forgot to bring my selfie stick which makes a world of difference for me. At times I don't care what I look like but other times I do. I don't know why but I am sure there are many people who have those days where the hair must be in the right place and the light must be hitting at the right angle. After all selfies are self portraits of our best angles. Unfortunately for me I have not master the selfie so it is a struggle for me to make videos.
When my Gopro stabilizer broke, that was it. I was going to add some really nice b-roll to the video but with my stabilizer acting up I was not able to get the shots I needed. Not to mention that the memory card was giving the camera errors. So I packed my cameras and just enjoyed the ride.
I didn't want to just delete the clips I took so I figured I write a blog about my failed attempt. This will be a blooper blog. Surprisingly the cellphone footage was not as shaky as I thought it would be. In fact I think it has a camera stabilizer built in. I am very impressed with my new cellphone camera and might just do a video only using my cellphone camera. I just ordered some charging cables so there is no more excuses next time.
There are trips I prepare for and other trips I just don't want to hassle with the preparation. My last trip to Big Sur was the fun, unprepared trip I always wanted to do. It was so much fun but I do regret not researching on the Mission Carmel Basilica. If I would have prepared I would have know that this is Father Serra's final resting place. His portrait is on the first step of the alter and his remains are buried on the floor. Because I didn't do my research I did not get a photo of Father Serra's resting place which is an iconic feature of the mission. On my next trip I will research first then have fun when I am there.
On my last road trip I camped at Big Sur State Park. I did not pack food because I considered it more of a road trip than a camping trip. I just wanted to use the campground for sleeping. When I arrived at Big Sur it was about 3:00 pm and I had missed lunch so I decided to have an early dinner at Big Sur Lodge Restaurant.
The Restaurant was mostly empty except for a couple eating at the far end of the restaurant. The Hostess was friendly and immediately sat me near the fire place at a table next to the window. I was able to admire the tall redwoods just outside my window, I felt so remote from the city at that moment. Although the restaurant was empty it had a romantic vibe to it, candle lit tables, roaring fireplace, large windows with views of the woods. Apparently Valentine's Day is their busiest day.
Since I did not rent a room at a hotel and choose to camp, I was able to use the money I saved on more expensive meals. I selected the Grilled Top Sirloin for my dinner and a coke because I needed the caffeine. The meat was a little overcooked for my taste but since I was starving I ate my meal within minutes afterwards I enjoyed the view. The services was excellent.
While traveling I search for delicious local restaurants, food trucks and street stands to eat my next meal. Food says a lot about the place I am visiting. I want to start highlight on my website some of the places I have eaten in hopes that you will try them too. Please note I am not getting any type of compensation by highlighting these places, I just want to share them with you.
On my most recent trip to Big Sur, I drove north to the small town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. While buying a patch for my collection I asked a young cashier if she knew of a great place to eat breakfast, she recommended a few places but The Cottage sounded like a good place to check out. The Cottage is a cute restaurant that can easily be missed if you are not looking for it. It is a house that was converted to a restaurant. I was lucky to be seated at the table next to the main window. I felt like I was at home enjoying the view from the comfort of my table.
The staff was great, there was this young Mexican cook who brought me all the hot sauce bottles he could find when I asked him for hot sauce. He was handsome and fit, very attentive. Whenever I visit a new place, I always ask the locals for advice on where to go and visit in hopes they will give me a “locals only” destination. Since I was new to the area, I asked this young man for recommendations and he was happy to provide them. My server never came back, the only person coming to the table was the young cook. We were having a great conversation about places to visit, I realize that I need to carry a small notebook to write things down since my phone is not always charged. Next thing I know he comes back and sits on the empty chair across my table. I had the feeling that he was confusing my friendly conversation with flirting. It was not my intention, I never pass the flirting lesson that most people master at a young age. He finally asked if I had a boyfriend which I made clear that I did.
He was polite and continued the conversation for a bit before leaving. I was sad that the conversation was over since he was providing me with great information about Carmel however, he was asking about my life while I was trying to get more information from him about surrounding areas. In the end, I thanked him and gave him a good tip. I left the restaurant and forgot a sheet of hand-made paper that I was planning on using for a book cover. I just bought the paper a few blocks away and it cost me almost $6.00. I felt embarrassed going back for it, I don’t know why since I did nothing wrong. I decided to walk to my car and visit the next place of interest on my list. The sad thing is I can’t remember the young man’s name now.
I was looking for an interesting video to watch on You Tube when I ran into an Anorama video titled "Create No Matter What." I felt compelled to click on the video and watch it.
These are difficult times and although I didn't feel like creating anything these past few weeks I didn't want to stop completely. I can't explore California right now but I can continue sharing my previous travels. I remembered there are several places I had not added to this website. I just created a new destination on Queen Califa's Magical Circle. This brought me joy. I hope that those who love to create continue to do so. Stay safe and healthy. #createnomatterwhat