Oh, happy 2020. Last winter, O and I had the pleasure to stay at the legendary Skywalker Ranch. Because O’s mom was teaching George Lucas’s daughter horse riding + Chinese classes…. we were able to enjoy such a unique opportunity with O’s family. Who knows how to polo and speak Chinese and English well in the westside? Mama Yang obviously. So. badass.
For that holiday, we stayed at one of the bed and breakfast inns. I usually don’t really like rustic interiors, but I’d say that the farm-like furniture with bright whites, surrounded by cool Skywalker decor made me feel like I was in a clean, cozy and kickass cabin.
Our artisanal bed and breakfast included a spacious living room, two bedrooms (one master), one spacious kitchen and dining room, and two bathrooms. Of course, the bathroom was a huge plus to me because it included a bathtub and gold finishes-perfect for reading and relaxing.
O and I’d slip out by about 6AM, eat some cereal or some breakfast in the kitchen next door, slide a Skywalker ranch bike out, and roam throughout the ranch, gardens, vineyards. Breezing through trees made me feel like I was speeding through the kickass bike chase in Endor – but without stormtroopers. (Refer to Star Wars Episode VI, Return of the Jedi)
By the time we reached Lake Ewok, I felt like a compulsive Star Wars maniac especially when holding the stuffed Ewok toy. There was something also magical to see studio where all the magic happened and Lucas’s old Victorian residence.
Aside from the lush fields, we also played with some of the residing animals including goats, which were delightful to feed.
Oh, and did I mention that her horse was at the ranch? She wanted to keep her gorgeous quarter horse healthy and active and even gave me an opportunity to ride her horse. I’ve never been so prouder to be with my second family.
Goals for our future home. Stoked for 2020.
I was addicted to traveling in 2016. But yes, flights are damn expensive. I still want to continue to travel to at least one destination every month, so to take it down I decided to go on a road trip. My architect friend Mikey proposed to drive up to Big Sur just as refreshing getaway from the ton of architecture wall sections and the busy city life I’m surrounded with.
Big Sur is known as the “great meeting of land and water in the world” and is a 90 mile stretch along central California. Look at that coastal fog from the waves that crash against the coast. Check out that Bixby Bridge. I watched Death Cab perform the song, “Bixby Canyon Bridge” live and would sing along to it in my car but wonder what it must be like. That reinforced concrete / open spandrel arch bridge is incredible. Yes, Ben Gibbard wrote this song while he was staying in a cabin in Big Sur.
“On Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends, we travel for miles on roads without seeing another vehicle, then cross a federal highway and look at cars strung bumper to bumper to the horizon.”
— The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (current read)
My 2 busy weeks of cramming my home improvement project for a photoshoot + Revit and poche cramming for Tuesday’s client deadline finally ended. Since Tim was getting even busier, we parted, I left on Sunday morning for my solo getaway; I put on my travel essentials: Uniqlo leggings, tank, New Balance running shoes, Northface backpack, and packed my open back Bali spa onesie, Franco Sarto leather sandals, black moto jacket, an extra pair of lingerie, skincare essentials, watercolor sketchbook, palette, brushes, novel, Kinfolk mag, Banh Mi sandwich from mom, latte from Zweet cafe, and $40 cash ($20 for refilling gas, $20 for whatever needed food/drink/emergency)
Throughout my years I’ve refrained from driving for long hours and hiking by myself because of fear. But after spending too much time at home and in the office, Tim truly inspired me with his solo road trip stories. I decided to leave everything, just drive, explore, and go solo. No trip advisor / Yelp / texts / phone calls. There’s something very liberating about making an as-you-go adventure for yourself in unfamiliar places. And there’s the risk of going solo as a woman with health insurance still being processed. But pushing all my excuses aside, I drove 250+ miles up north, listened to some solid Radiolab podcasts, then blasted and sang along to every track on Weezer’s Blue album and Avril Lavigne’s Let Go. I was in search to fulfill my list: 1) Trail 2) Something strange 3) Seafood 4) Beach (and somewhere along the line, read and paint a bit)
After rushing into the Jack in the Box restroom, I drove up to the very peak of a steep neighborhood and found the beginning to Bishop Peak Trail. The lack of signage, the unstable boulders piled on ridiculously steep hills really caused me to struggle. Within 30 minutes of this trail, I was completely alone, lost, and surrounded by poison ivy and other weird bugs I thought only existed in Lion King, so I decided to jog towards whatever light and open space I could find, which led me to this sunny spot of solitude. I sat, felt and heard nothing but really cold wind blowing my hair in front of my face for a good 10 minutes. Since it was getting really cold and a bit dark, I decided to drive out towards downtown.
2. Something strange.
I’ve heard about this gum wall, but didn’t know where it was. I didn’t know I would walk right by it after sipping on some sparkling pear tea, reading at Cafe Scout, refilling coins at my parking meter. Yet the wall is pretty obvious because of the kids shrieking and laughing, and the smell is quite disgusting as you proceed through the alley. But walking through it, reading messages that people wrote with their gum – was quite fascinating. I too wish I had gum to sign my name with.
Years ago when my brother and I swung by Pismo beach, we swung by Splash cafe for their award winning, kick ass clam chowder. Although I was getting really cold, I wanted some seafood that came in something other than in the form of soup And I found it: 2 Shrimp tacos drizzled with this creamy, pesto glaze for $7.50.
4 . Beach.
Just around the corner of the main street towards the pier, I picked up ice cream (another great choice as I was shivering). Luckily, this hole in the wall, janky looking ice cream parlor just had everything I wanted at that moment to fulfill my sweet cravings: sea salt caramel ice cream with a chocolate dipped cone. While I was sketching a mountain and enjoying the sunset by the pier, a few Brazilian men who seemed French, asked me to take photos for them and told me that my English was great. I laughed and we exchanged our travels / living abroad stories. I found myself agreeing with them on so many levels of LA: Unfriendly, cold people in sunglasses, crappy public transportation, yet good weather, an extensive variety of food options and cuisines, and laid back lifestyle with a hodgepodge of cultures.
Would I do this solo getaway again? Hell yes. Next up, Catalina Island.
2015 was the year of many big firsts for me: my first year in stepping full time into an interior designer, initiating the ChefCharette and blogging, and pursuing freelance photography. I feel worn out thin from juggling all of these on my plate (with also the additional occasional event planning)… I’ve been desperately trying to maintain some work/personal life balance and am learning to say no to meeting old/new people, even if they are for networking purposes.
Yet I’m also still this incessant 24 year old woman who is worried shitless of what is to come in 2016 and the years aftermore. I can’t help it, I’m anxious to quickly figure out how I can best utilize my skill set and contribute to the world with a meaningful purpose. (I am tired of drawing nonsense lines for buildings that don’t get built, photographing and filming narratives that people barely glance over.) I’ve decided to hone my design portfolio by studying and adding more interior, architecture, and lifestyle photography. After reading more into Cereal’s travel issues, I decided book this trip to San Francisco by 2015 and to experiment with cafe photography (and to see whether San Francisco could be my next potential move for 2016.)
This year’s trip through downtown was mainly guided by my one of my closest Architecture colleagues: Andrew Lau. Within two days we prepared a breakfast, walked throughout the streets of downtown, and roamed through cafes and restaurants including Blue Bottle, Sightless Coffee, Song Tea and Ceramics and Hops and Hominy.