Celebrating Baby Yang’s baby shower was much more blissful than I expected; I first thought of hosting a baby shower but was concerned with 1) how friends and family would respond to me having an in-person baby shower during this pandemic 2) the cost 3) the effort having to host one 4) my guy friends being too awkward about joining in something traditionally “for women only”

As I was closing in on my last month “the final stretch” I decided to invite and host family and friends over to our home for an in-person baby shower because  1) I’ve been really, really missing hosting gatherings 2) I’ve been missing my family and friends throughout the pandemic (I am still disgusted that it’s been 2 years and there’s a lot to go) and 3) I was and still am bummed that I just had 1 family member, 5 friends join our own wedding after all of that anticipation growing up and planning for the big day. My coach also reminded me that this day of memories could “replace” those memories – and fast forward, it has fulfilled all of those holes.

It was a total relief that the weather was sweet and dreamy, not too cold nor too hot for friends and family to easily hang out in our patio and/or freely into our home (while also seeing and sharing advice on our baby room set up).  I wanted to make sure everyone felt safe and welcomed, so I had a mix of activities, food, and refreshments outside and inside our home from 9AM-5PM. I get that wedding food and baby shower food don’t need to be spectacular, but it was important for me to support some local businesses without having to make anything myself that could be appropriate for brunch/snacks/sweet tooths depending whenever our guests dropped by.

Thank you so much again Capri and Hangry Bakery for the delectable treats (and Tammy for doing my hair and makeup!) Instax worked really well because as much of a sucker I am for memory keepsakes, I didn’t want to be walking around snapping photos with everyone and worry about getting perfect shots but legitimately catch up with friends and family I haven’t seen in years.

As I’ve been reading more about labor and epidurals and Oly and I’ve been also watching more parenting educational videos, my belly has also protruded more to a point that it’s been much more difficult to move (yes, I feel more like a penguin than a pregnant woman sometimes and waddling is real) As I’ve been struggling to fit into my own clothes, I decided to rent a few RTR outfits including this Rachel Pally dress to save some closet space and not have to commit to buying maternity clothes.

My mother in law being a yacht enthusiast really worked out for party supplies; she has a gorgeous tiny boat model, a classy life ring, and various other nautical props. Facebook marketplace also proved to be wonderful in snagging hand-me-down server trays and being 1/4 mi away from Trader Joes proved to be wonderful for bundling a few of my favorite plants (Eucalyptus and pampa grass) and finding a new favorite like these Eryngium blue flowers.

Since my dad left for a more senior-appropriate home, we’ve turned his bedroom into our baby room – which has been an enjoyable work in progress that we like to work on a little every day. Although I was super enthusiastic about creating this Eames inspired mobile, Oly came to my rescue in finishing it up for me (I guess pregnancy hormones colliding with the anxiety of getting closer to my 3.22 (or the physical labor of delivery) colliding with more physical discomfort is catching up more and more)

By the end of the day (Thank you Weiyi/Vivien for coming at 5:30PM and asking about where everyone was), Oly and I were particularly relieved and exhausted. Opening up our home to our coworkers, family, and friends to celebrate baby Yang (a 2 in 1 housewarming and baby shower) was so pleasantly perfect that I think it made me happier to celebrate this milestone with Oly than our own wedding celebration. It also helps that Oly and I are such morning people and would much rather have friends and family trickle in than a dense crowd of friends and family at night. Was it worth it? Hell yeah.


Growing up, I thought birthdays were the best day of the year until you were 18, then 21, then 30… and that anything after that was just an awful sad reminder that you’re old. I also thought that birthdays were the day of when you have a justifiable reason to be selfish, the day of when you could really do whatever the hell you wanted, the day you hopefully get the presents you wanted but didn’t get for Christmas…(and the day you could tell that those who didn’t say happy birthday weren’t your friends)

But I now believe that a birthday is ultimately  a date to celebrate another year of survival and hopefully accomplishment preferably with loved ones; we all go through incredible experiences earlier or later, and grow older faster or slower – mentally and physically in years.

When I was a kid with  my very active parents and “asian genes”, I believed that my parents could live forever.

I truthfully have done a terrible job in keeping track of my parents’ age (partially in denial that they are aging) and honestly forgot their birthdays a handful of years. It wasn’t until a few months ago that my older brother reminded me that  our dad’s 80th birthday was approaching…and that we should probably buy tickets to LA and celebrate with him altogether.

Because of COVID, we cancelled our flight from NYC to LA. But O and I drove over cross country and were just 50 miles away; I certainly couldn’t let COVID deter my dad’s birthday into anything less than awesome.

So like any other overenthusiastic woman planning for her nonexistent child’s birthday…I coordinated as best as I could the best birthday possible.

Stumbling into his old closet in Orange County, I found photo albums stashed away, neglected and gathered them.

In 8 damn decades:  photographs changed from classy black and whites to ..sepias resembling an Instagram filter… to vibrant colors and smiles of my childhood with my dad.

Without many dates nor recollection of who is who / where is where, I placed the images from top to bottom, left to right based off of the photo quality and how my dad had matured (just hoping that the baby photo I found was of him – and to my amazement- was)

What I love about my dad  is that while he’s been extremely wise, he has always been particularly young at heart – encouraging me to make friends with whoever, hang out with whoever until whenever, play video games like Star War’s Episode 1: Podracer , watch MTV’s Daria, welcome any of my friends over for a slumber party, go out for McDonald’s fries – Full Moon Sushi  – and then probably Wendy’s for frosty shakes on our way back home.

While my dad’s memory has been declining, there’s something incredible about the power of photographs and how they trigger memories. While my dad has been living with strangers, I assembled these photographs to remind him how incredible of a life he’s been leading and that his family and friends were always with him in some form – and to my relief, he soaked it all in and explained to me who they were in smiles.

While my dad’s an absolute genius, he’s never instilled the “helicopter parent” or “crazy tiger parent” demands to be #1 at math, science, tennis, or piano at all throughout my childhood. While I was particularly a rebellious  prick watching some MTV crap,  he was totally faithful in me, patiently helping me with homework everyday. While waiting in lines or in elevators, he’d almost always compliment someone or strike up a happy convo, constantly reminding me to smile and be happy and love others. I was embarrassed, but I get it now. I get why his #1 values were to be happy and always love.

As for celebrating, I thought that it was silly to shower people with gifts and plan accordingly to a theme… but I finally also understand why women, particularly moms go “all out” for their child’s birthday – especially his/her first birthday. This was the closest for me to experience preparing for a nonexistent child’s birthday – one meal and/or present wasn’t enough. Aside from the shadowbox of photos and a Japanese dinner, I prepared a watercolor painting of our dog, big/little dipper card  in watercolor, ice wine from Niagara Falls, a telescope since my dad’s been heavily studying Einstein’s theory of relativity, and the celestial cake.

I get why photographers want to capture every single moment of intimacy and laughter (and why you  designate a photographer while you host/spend time with family/try to Facetime other family/get music) My parents threw me lovely birthdays where I was “the princess”, and on the flip side- this was my opportunity to be treat him like a king.

Days later and coincidentally Star Wars Day…May the fourth be with you and still – Happy birthday dad. I love you to the moon and back x 17.

Thank you so much to all the support and vendors during this time:

Japanese dinner – Sushi Koshu
Cake – Pufffect Bakery Cafe
Crafts – Michaels
Groceries – Gelson’s


Rather than stressing ourselves about our wedding (6-ish months away?!) + splurging for a honeymoon, O and I decided to break out of cold and bleak NYC into the hearts of tropical Bali as our pre-wedding honeymoon. Except, it didn’t start off as dreamy as we thought; we landed in Denpasar mainly frantic about my missing outfit for our pre wedding shoot. Fortunately, the streets of Seminyak and Paulina Katarina saved us by delivering the breezy shirt dress to my hotel within 15 hours. Another plus – our hotel had everything we wanted: lush nature, gorgeous architecture and interiors done by our colleague Jess’s father’s firm, and a private beach front.

Oh, and did you know that Bali is known for its gorgeous waterfalls as well? After I saw gorgeous waterfalls online,  I had to snag photos of us in one.

Tegenungan Waterfall

Jl. Ir. Sutami, Kemenuh, Kec. Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar,
Bali 80581, Indonesia

Thanks to our USC architecture colleague Jessica and her dad, we were able to stay at the hotel designed by her dad’s firm for 3 glorious nights, 3.5 heavenly days with morning yoga, lagoon lounges, and a private beach. The chic and contemporary hotel doesn’t need much introduction, but we love it for the beachside pool, views, and how all of this nests in nature. I visited it back in 2015 as my first trip to Bali and loved it with Jessica.

Photos don’t do justice, but seriously, lounging at the lagoon with nasi ayam and other delicious Indonesian dishes was nothing less than excellent.


Jl. Danau Tamblingan, Sanur, Kec. Denpasar Sel., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80228, Indonesia

This pre-wedding honeymoon was particularly mentally powerful for overcoming fears. While I just learned how to properly swim a month ago thanks to Coach Brian, I truly overcame my fear of water by completely submerging myself in all kinds of water, including sitting 35 feet on Nusa Penida’s ocean floor. A few lessons I’ve also learned (the hard way) from our two dives:

Lesson #1: Quickly figure out a way to adapt to the water pressure changes while descending/ascending or your ears and head will be in excruciating pain

Lesson #1: Do not drink seawater or you’ll feel nauseous enough to be projectile vommitting through scuba diving equipment or over the boat.

Lesson #3: Water can get damn cold; there is no shame wearing 2 wetsuits.


While I wanted to have pre-wedding photos of us taken by a waterfall, I wanted to also suspend myself off of a waterfall. While there are few waterfalls you can jump off of, the infamous Aling Aling and its jump-offable cliffs were on the other side of the island, 75 damn km away. I’ve never been so proud to be with a man who was willing to drive us up (literally, up mountains into clouds of wind + rain) on a motorbike for his first time. We only live once, right?

According to O, waterfall/cliff jumping was going to be “much easier” than scuba diving. But honestly, walking up to a cliff with a crowd of people watching me finally stand at the tip of a 10m high cliff to jump off of.. released so much adrenaline that my heart was beating as if I ran a mile and my body was trembling in anxiety. I had to meet that minuscule margin of error;  over-rotating or incorrectly angling myself within the 5 seconds would hurt – probably badly. Yet as soon as our guide walked over to me, claimed that I wasn’t ready and suggested I skip it, I insisted that I was ready to jump off; I’ve been having an incredible year and we didn’t come all the way up here for me to just stand and walk away.

Before I knew it, I jumped off the cliff, somehow angled myself at a 15 degree angle and hurt my ass as I broke the water. Seconds later, I floated back up as gracefully as possible, more eager than ever to get back onto land, hug O, and move on to graceful waterfall slides. As Tupac says, “…life goes on.”

Lesson #1: “Anything that’s not straight up and down is really going to hurt.” -Orlando Duque

Lesson #2: Jump off with arms out left/right, then toes and arms as straight and close to the body right before hitting the water with feet first.


Jl. Raya Desa Sambangan, Sambangan, Kec. Sukasada, Kabupaten Buleleng,
Bali 81161, Indonesia

Aside from staying at Sanur’s gorgeous 5 star hotel, I wanted half of our trip’s accommodation in something more atypical of a honeymoon: a treehouse. Of course, you could find any accommodation via Airbnb. I found this gem that wasn’t only a treehouse that sits on a tree with branches protruding in/out of, but that was also in Ubud, another town that I wanted to explore. Showering in a treehouse immersed with lush leaves was one of the most bizarre feelings we’ve ever had.

Hars, the owner, manager, architect, landlord, entrepreneur of the property is truly the 21st century Renaissance man. Every morning he prepared and served us breakfast from below in another treehouse dining room. Starting every morning with home-grown fruits, vegetables, and potato patties that’s sourced just feet away brought us so much joy.

If you know me, you know that I am obsessed with visiting local cafes at every endeavor around the world. Once we learned that our photographer Nat and her aunt owned a pet project cafe, we slipped in some time to visit the cafe gem (snug within a car wash, next to Nat’s uncle’s barbershop) Their industrial and cozy cafe also embraces urban coffee culture overseas  (their favorites being hole in the walls) while also respectfully using Balinese arabica beans in a humble way. While I am a huge sucker for arabica coffee, we could clearly tell that the cafe is clearly driven by nostalgia… from the delicate dainty ceramics (I couldn’t help but feel like I was at my grandma’s) and the photography books (literally, the same one I owned and referred to) …We just couldn’t ask for a sweeter, sentimental way to leave Bali.



And last but not least, every time I visit a country, I love swinging by at least one local cafe (who doesn’t know that?!). This time, we swung by our prewedding photographer’s cafe. Yeah, how cool is she?! Nat so happened to help start up this smitten cafe, Oli Kopi. – right alongside her uncle’s barbershop, within a car wash (we had to find a way to swing by, and we literally did  just before we departed Bali)

To this date, Bali is the paradise trip that made me not even want to sleep-to an extent that I got sick as soon as I came back to NYC.

Oli Kopi

Kerobokan Kelod, North Kuta, Badung Regency,
Bali 80365, Indonesia


While I was in London, I figured I might as well swing by Paris on my own. Since I was jet lagged for the first 2 days in London, I figured I might as well just take the first train ride to Paris. One all nighter for traveling wasn’t uncommon for me, but 2 hours of sleep on 2 days was entirely a new level that I hope none of us has to endure. But because I was too excited and tossed/turned all night (calling friends of different time zones) I bounced off C’s bed and quickly caught the bus for my 6am train ride to Paris + ridiculous security protocols. (Eurostar is the way to go. Shame on America for not having transportation services like that)

And before I knew it, I arrived Paris within a few hours. My first and last time I visited Paris was back in 2014 and an entirely different experience with my Itoya coworkers (who paid for us to visit everything including the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Palais Garnier via Taxi)

Immediately after arriving Paris (ah, the good ol’ Gare du Nord) + picking up train tickets, my priority was to grab a croissant …obviously, further away from the station/shopping. Something about walking down boulevards with no reception was very liberating. As soon as I found a hole in the wall bakery along my path, I walked in. I didn’t even know how to pay for the croissant (nor ask for it), but began pointing at one and am (optimistically) sure that the French owner didn’t overcharge me. That  flaky, buttery croissant just smiled at me and spoke to me that I was officially in Paris. And that’s how I really woke up to Paris.

Because I didn’t really plan/RSVP this trip either, I couldn’t visit Musee d’orsay and  Atelier des Lumières (damn you Mondays + Pre-sale tickets) However, I did manage to scavenge my way through various  city zones and got a good glimpse of the streets. Paris’s metro to me is Tokyo’s metro + NYC’s metro; Efficient with automated announcements, but strangely filthy. Somehow, every train I’ve been on is cooler than NYC’s. I’m still traveling to see which can disprove that.

Whenever I was tired or felt defeated, I grabbed more buttery carbs like this huge galette (+ a glass of champagne) to regain energy.

Musée d’Orsay

Fortunately, one museum I was able to step into was Musée d’Orsay, with a fantastic collection of Van Gogh’s water lilies. My photograph doesn’t even capture a quarter of how dainty and wonderful it is to be in the space with lilies that large. Something about museums that I realized I’m disturbed by is when people papparazi around an art piece and take too many selfies for me to never get to. Something that I love about museums is re-experiencing brush strokes, particularly Impressionist work.

Although I’m not a shopping enthusiast, the only shop C recommended me to check out was Merci (but before, a kickass French waittress at Merci’s cafe gave me that wonderful detox tea that really, kicked my ass)


Merci’s store is impressively well curated, quaint, and dangerous with a superb collection of various textiles, accessories, furniture, home decor, stationery, and beauty products (basically, everything I love). If American Apparel + Anthropolgoie + West Elm altogether gave birth, then Merci would be their offspring. Merci tempts me to go all the way back to Paris just to pick up another plate.Although I’m not a shopping enthusiast, the only shop C recommended me to check out was Merci (but before, a kickass French waittress at Merci’s cafe gave me that wonderful detox tea that really, kicked my ass)

While I was a bit concerned about how I’d freely and quickly explore Paris on foot without having to #RentAFrench, be fluent in French, nor carry a fanny pack for my passport, I’m quite proud to say that I did everything I wanted to do…and more.  Something about my solo day trip in Paris made me very proud to be a woman.  (Was it because I’m a designer? Because I didn’t look suspicious? Because I didn’t keep looking down at my phone?) Whatever the reason was, France made me feel fantastic. Paris is certainly comparable to NYC in having filthy streets. But somehow, it’s still so much more romantic and chic.


O and I jumped on the bandwagon to check out NYC’s Color Factory after  J, one of our bubbliest and inspirational designer friends, highly recommended us to go together as a nice date. She showed us photos from her experience and suggested that we check it out for a nice date. But  after visiting the Museum of Ice Cream  and 29 Rooms (honestly, underwhelming), I couldn’t help but feel a bit guarded. Because it was J of all designers and friends, I was curious and convinced to check it out.

O was just as excited as I was to start the new year off with it. Unlike other pop-ups where your timing could be a huge factor, the Color Factory did a phenomenal job of not making us feel rushed by encouraging us to make the most out of each room because once we moved on, we couldn’t “go back.”

And yes, I recommend to come as a pair/pairs for the sake of one room being less awkward. Nothing wrong with making a new friend though. People should cut some slack and just chat/get to know strangers if he/she is separated from their S.O., because really – it held up my line and caused one guy from his friend and me from my boyfriend. sigh….

Part way through, we matched with colors that reflect our life choices / personality. And woah. we’re complementary colors, re-emphasizing how we complement each other.

Although it’s best to attend every room with the group we came with based on our scheduled slot, we didn’t feel rushed. I also loved the fact that they gave each and every one of us cards so that we could tap at every exhibition to have our photos taken. Color Factory? Hell yeah.  Thanks for bringing me back to our childhood selves.

The ball pit is understandably, one of the most infamous rooms because it’s a vast  sea of  about 207,000 gorgeously blue balls. Drowning ourselves / soaring like flying fish / playing hide n seek / chucking balls at your friend / taking selfies with aerial photos using the cards they provided are all brilliant ideas. Nonetheless, swimming in that sea of 207,000 balls was magical and everything I needed to start the year.

With the great customer service, all of the interactive experiences, take home photos without us delicious treats (macarons, ice cream mochi, Swedish fish…) and even thoughtful take home gifts, I’d rank it 10/10. Color Factory is officially my favorite interactive (temporary!) pop up museum and I so highly recommend it.

The Color Factory

251 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013


My favorite type of tofu is now the yuuba. With a burner heating a pot of tofu soup,  I’ve learned to use a bamboo stick to pick up layers and layers of tofu skins gradually. Who knew tofu could be served in so many ways. The first time I came to this comforting tofu restaurant was with my Kyoto friend, Rika-chan. Ever since then, it’s been a tradition for me to visit the Kiyomizudera temple and tofu restaurant everytime I come to Kyoto. And of course, end with tofu ice cream – creamy, slightly sweet with subtle flavors of soymilk and tofu.

Before/after tofu and ice cream I know it’s always a good idea to swing by Kiyomizu dera aka “Water Temple” – which was and is always particularly beautiful in the fall, not necessarily for their light show nor the swarms of tourists in kimonos, but how gorgeously red and vibrant it stands with bright leaves – naturally and from all angles.

Kiyomizu dera (清水寺)


Fushimi Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社)

This Shinto shrine of thousands of gorgeous Torii gates is perhaps most infamous. there’s no wonder why it’s featured in so many films, music videos, posters, art in general. This is hands down, a favorite stop that I love walking up in early mornings. While I should’ve truly believed my friend that there isn’t much at the top, O and I hiked to the top.


% ARABICA Kyoto Arashiyama

3-47, Sagatenryuji Susukinobabacho, Ukyo-ku
Kyoto 616-8385 Japan

Although I never like to wait in long lines nor be associated with coffee snobs, I always make time for Arabica Coffee, particularly the one next to the breathtaking Arashiyama river.  After I saw Arabica Coffee in a magazine last year, A and I taxied over first thing in the morning and was alright with just a few people in front of us in line; A liked it so much that he went again the next day – and bought a bag of coffee beans to bring back home. Not sure if we were just lucky then going in early in the morning or if it’s gained so much more popular by now, but even after O and I taxied over on a Friday morning, we had to wait a good 30-ish+ minutes in a line full of other coffee enthusiasts/photographers/foreigners around the world. No, they don’t offer seating, but yes you can sit outside and enjoy the gorgeous scenery or you have to rent that space for $10 per hour.

I’m still seriously amused by their consistency in serving superb coffee  in such small space with mobs of customers. Something about the coffee beans being brought from high elevations elevates my experience.

Kinkakuji (金閣寺)

I also tell my friends who want to see the Golden pavillion, to visit either by sunrise/early morning or sunset; it’s one of the best things you could do for your soul. O and I arrived shortly before it started raining and the sun set, which created such a heavenly experience.


Since I’ve been particularly fascinated with history and learned more about samurai and imperial history, I fall in love with Nijo castle and am always mesmerized by how sophisticated the Japanese culture has been throughout centuries and how well they preserve their culture. Although photos are prohibited, I well…. accidentally snagged a few.

Kyoto wouldn’t be Kyoto for me without the nostalgic Mister Donut “pon-de-ring” – this very chewy sugar coated donut  that’s filled with mochi. Thank God there is one in Kyoto station. I always love to snag one (or two) as soon as I arrive and just before I leave. Something about that texture in donut form…

Our one night stay in our tiny little hotel in Shimogyo-ku was not only traditional and clean, but so serene with the phenomenal view. Who knew sleeping on the floor could be so dreamy. This time I also appreciated Kyoto just as much or more than I had Tokyo. Not sure if it’s because I’ve gotten older, or if it’s because I was so much busier in Tokyo meeting with friends and old coworkers, or if it’s a mix of those and Kyoto’s traditional architecture and general serenity made it so much more peaceful than our lives  in New York City.


As mentioned before, I started getting involved in LittlemeatsLA. This time, I was called in last Friday to help host a 9-course umamikase (non-Japanese omakase) dinner for 11 guests with Colin Gardner, a renowned New York CIA alum chef /model who specializes in French and Italian gourmet cuisine and worked in Michelin restaurant: Melisse.

Aside from Colin spending days in advance preparing ingredients and sauces, the team (Colin, Billy, Michael, Nate, and I) hustled through 3 kitchens: 2 stoves, 2 portable burners, a grill, sous vide, blender, electric mixer, dozens of pots, pans, trays, cups, jars, bottles of wine and vodka, while also entertaining our 11 guests. Please forgive me for my lack of photos and understand that I had every limb occupied (shoulders with dslr/hand holding two Iphones to photograph and Snapchat, other hand busily chopping/saute-ing/garnishing, legs hustling to accommodate chefs and guest calls – and of course my mouth was either filled with samples of cocktails/condensed watermelons/tuna tartare/double creams/sorbets/poached peaches or busy talking and laughing with guests)  Here’s some of the highlights of the night:

Condensed watermelon blocks with soy sauce, ginger, sesame seeds, a nectarine slice and sprig of shiso leaf.

Soft boiled egg on top of a nest of fried potatoes on top of chopped bell peppers, cauliflower puree that are all sprinkled with leek ash.

Salmon with heirloom tomatoes, lemon, olive oil, tobiko, beurre blanc.

Oysters with a smoked sriracha, topped with caviar.

Duck with butternut squash, charred cabbage puree, and sous vide poached peaches.

Hell yes, we killed that night. It was such a pleasure to work alongside Colin with such a great crew, while sharing our culinary/travel adventures over the table to our guests. Thanks Greg for helping with some photos and Robin for opening, welcoming, and also entertaining all of our guests while we were busy! And thank you guests for joining in with our fun filled adventures and conversations!

I highly suggest you to check the calendar and snag your own umamkase dinner tickets here!


“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)

1. Trail.

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.

3. Seafood.

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.