Adventures

XI. 3 States in 1 Day

(March 29, 2017 | Spring Break Road Trip: Day 6)

I don’t really have much to say for this one.  This post is actually going to be more of a short diary type entry, not that my others aren’t, but you know.  Driving down was sad because that meant our little vacation was over, but I still had a few more stops = I get to see some of my bestest friends.  It was time to hit the road and make it back to Humboldt.

The drive down was scenic, per usual.  Some specific highlights besides how (obviously) beautiful the nature views were:

  1. I stopped by the border of Oregon and California and got a picture with the “Welcome to California” sign. #tourist
  2. I forgot that I left my phone on the hood of the car and when we sped off, we saw something hit the windshield of the car and freaked out.  We were glad that the windshield didn’t break, God bless, but what was that object?  10 seconds later it registered in my head that it was phone.  Oh…my gosh.  We stopped the car and walked the side of the road and forest and drove back until we — thank God — found it.  It was chilling faced down and I was so scared to flip it over to see the damage.  Damage = minimal.  My phone is a 4 year old trooper.  There looked to a little cobweb-looking crack on the upper left hand side, but it disappeared a few hours later.  Spooky.  Not complaining though.

We got to Humboldt by dinnertime and got sushi with Ana and Shane and had a lax night in.  Movies, bubbly drinks, and catching up before Ana and I wouldn’t see each other for another few months.  It was a nice night with friends to sum it up.

That was honestly kind of it.  The last few days of the trip are just stretches of driving, but I’ll keep ya posted on anything extraordinary.

Until the next time I zoom through 3 states in a day and forgot my phone on a hood of a car.

Love always, J.

Adventures

X. Sleepless in Seattle

(March 28, 2017 | Spring Break Road Trip: Day 5)

Yup, not that it wasn’t real yesterday but I am truly in love with this city.  It knocked San Francisco down to #2.  I’m sorry, SF!  I still love you.  I had a relatively extensive list of things that I wanted to knock out on this last day in Seattle so I’m gonna continue the common theme of these posts and break it down place by place.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Before doing anything, I walked around to look for ticket prices for the things that I wanted to do.  The Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly, and Space Needle were all in one area so I made my way through the prices to figure out what to start with.  Everything was a little bit pricey, bordering around the $22 mark — this was a given considering these were all tourist attractions.  We found out that there was a semi-discounted prices on a joint Chihuly-Space Needle ticket.  Separate tickets were $22 for each activity, but it was $37.80 if you bought them together.  Obviously, I went with the latter.

We had 15 minutes to burn before we could go into the exhibit, so we walked around and looked at all of the other art pieces that were spread throughout the area.  It was convenient that those three main exhibits were all next to each other.  Even though we didn’t decide on doing the Museum of Pop Culture, I still wanted to go over there since the building was incredibly interesting to look at — weird shape, bright colors.  Fitting for what the museum was about.  We didn’t linger around that long though, just long enough to take a few photos and, by this time, the weather was gradually beginning to act up so we made our way into the exhibit.

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One of the sides of the buildings of the Museum of Pop Culture.

A few laundry list things before I talk about my experience: 1.) The exhibit isn’t that long.  What I mean by that is that there are a lot of glass pieces, but not actually a ridiculous amount of rooms to go through. 2.) Now that I’ve written that out, I feel kind of dumb because the exhibit isn’t a museum…it’s an exhibit, meaning that it shouldn’t be that extensive.  3.) Alright, the exhibit is perfectly sized.  4.) Take your time when you’re going through the pieces.  You can stay there for as long as you want.  No time restraints (besides maybe your Space Needle time slot if you choose to do both).

Hinging on all those thoughts that I just vomitted out, make sure to take your time when you’re going through the exhibit because there are so many little components that go along with everything that you’ll see.  Take lots of pictures!  A lot of them show up perfectly fine on cameras.  I brought my DSLR and, I kid you not, some of the photos I took looked exactly like the professional ones they slapped on merchandise in the gift shop.  I didn’t even need to edit them.  All of the glass pieces are so vibrant that they light up the photos just by being in it.  It should also be noted that there are a few other art pieces around the exhibit that aren’t glass, so make sure to check those out too.  Oh oh oh, and don’t forgot to take advantage of the free photos they for you.  I forgot to E-mail myself mine after I finished the museum, so learn from my mistakes.

The last part to the exhibit was the outside garden.  By the time we made it out there, the windy was whipping and it was cold and sprinkling.  I wish the weather wasn’t so bad so I could enjoy the garden area more, but it was still a sight to see.  More pretty glass sculptures were placed within the plants.  I’m sure my dad would have loved to see it.  He loves plants and gardening.

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Space Needle

After Chihuly, it was time to go to the Space Needle.  They have allotted times on your ticket on when you can go up to alleviate hoards of people going all at once, so I spent some time browsing in the gift shop for a couple of souvenirs and, shocker, I found myself gravitating towards food.  I did end up getting some souvenirs, but I also ended up buying a quarter pound of fudge.  I know that I don’t like the consistency of fudge that much, but I keep going back.  Why.  There were quite a few flavours and I sampled a couple before I went with the cookies and cream one.  It wasn’t mind blowing, but I’m never one to complain about a sweet treat.  It was basically a large chunk of Hershey’s Cookies and Cream, BUT I do think I like the Hershey’s one better…

When I was finally ready, we made our way up to the elevators and waited in line.  The walls lining the path way up had interactive facts about the Space Needle and there was also another complimentary picture station.  That I once again.  Forgot.  To get.  After.  DON’T FORGET THINGS LIKE THAT LIKE ME.  OKAY?

Anywhoooooos, the actual Space Needle.  Once you get through the line, you get on the elevator and off you go.  Before I continue, I’d like to preface that I have a slight fear of being in elevators and a severe fear of heights.  Not a good combination for going up the Needle.  The view was actually pretty spectacular on the way up, I didn’t have a huge probably with heights this time in regards to looking down at the city.  My problem was the shaking of the elevator.  The weather was still a little bit sprinkly and a lot of bit windy when we were going up and, since the elevator is exposed to the outside forces, the elevator had some turbulence when we were going up.  My friend kept laughing at me because I didn’t want to look and was in not-funny laughing hysteria.  He even got it on video.  Sigh.  Maybe I’ll put that up some time.  The ride down later wasn’t bad at all though, so there’s that.

I thought wrong when I thought that Chihuly gardens was windy.  The outside of the observation deck was insane.  I’m sure that it’s windy all the time because it’s so high up, but it was exceptionally bad because of the weather outside to begin with.  It was so much fun though, even if I was yelling the whole time.  Hahaha.

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There’s not much more to say about an observation deck.  Just make sure you don’t fly away, hehe.  And there’s also a food vendor there if you’re hungry.  We were hungry, but we held off, and I’m sure glad that we did since we already had plans to go somewhere after.

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Pike’s Place Chowder

Next stop and one of the best stops: Pike’s Place Chowder.  Again, this was a recommendation from Ana.  This was seriously the best chowder I’ve ever had in my entire existence.  Actually.  For real.  I’m not kidding.  It was beyond being just delicious.  I got the Crab & Oyster chowder because that was one of the employee’s favourite (if you haven’t already noticed, the trend with me is asking employees what the most popular is or what their favourite is and going with one of those because trust).  I have no regrets with that decision.  It had a nice mix of seafood and meaty flavours because it had chorizo in it in addition to the typical cooked sea creatures.  Ugh, craving it right now.  I was in between getting a full size of this in a bread bowl or getting a sampler of 5 of the chowders and I have some regrets.  Wish I would have done the sampler to try more of them or wish I would have gone with my gluttonous instincts and would have just done the sampler even though I had already split a full size chowder. Darn, next time.  The bread from the bread bowl was good though!  Also locally made.  It was soft and easy to eat.  I like Boudin bread bowls but sometimes they’re tough and hard to chew.  In conclusion, this is a 10 out of 5 Yelp stars.  Even though the line was hella long, it went hella fast.  And, for that, I will add a star.  11 out of 5.  Hahaha.  From the start, Seattle had bomb food (and Portland too!), but it just kept getting better and better, to the point where we went on a second food escapade after this…yup…yup…RIP my body but AMEN to my heart.

Food Escapade: Part 2

For the next 45 minutes or so, it was non-stop food.  Legitimately.  After chowder, I would either stop at a random place I saw on the side or Yelp places.  And, mind you, all the food places in/near Pike’s had 4+ star ratings on Yelp, so I really couldn’t mess this one up.  Chowder –> Chocolate Crinkle –> Baklava –> Macaron –> German Meaty Goodness.  Following suit to my first food escape from Portland, I will give y’all a Sparknotes rundown following the form of: the place name, what I ordered, short thoughts, overall rating.  * Spoiler * I would go back to all these places.

Three Girls Bakery: 1.) Chocolate Crinkle 2.) I’ve had chocolate crinkles in my life before, but this one was incredibly rich, soft, and decadent.  The texture was incredibly nice and the chocolate and powdered sugar balance was good.  Best chocolate crinkle I’ve had so far.  Plus, it was pretty big and around the $2.50 mark.  3.) 5/5

Greek Bakery (there was no sign or name located anywhere, but it’s on the stretch of shops across from Pike’s): 1.) Baklava 2.) The ratio of filling versus wrapper between the layers gave you a full experience of all the different types of textures going on, especially with the crunch.  That was my favorite thing about it.  The crunch of the filling and crisp of the wrapper when you took a bite.  It could have been a hair less sweet and was a teensy pricey for the size ($3.25 for their medium cut), but its overall taste compensated for part of that. 3.) 3.75/5

Le Panier: 1.) Pistachio Macaroon 2.) This was the least…tasty thing I tried in that 45 minute span.  That makes it sound like it was terrible.  It wasn’t.  It was good, but not the best.  There’s this stand at Westfield UTC in La Jolla that has the best macaroons I’ve had  (maybe I’ll do a full review on it next time I go there), so any other macaroon has high expectations to try to beat.  Something that was done well on this macaroon was the pistachio flavour.  It wasn’t too overpowering, but also heavy enough for you to taste 3.) 3/5

Bavarian Meats: 1.) Lunch Special 2.) This varies on what the chef has decided to make for the day, but today it ended up being a bratworst with potatoes on a bed of sauerkraut.  If you ever get this, you have to take bites that has all three together!  The meat was juicy and had a lot of herby flavour.  The potatoes were cut into small cubes and had a crispy outer layer from how it was fried.  The sauerkraut was tangy and tart and pickled to a good point since the vegetables still had a crunch.  Eating this was perfect timing because it evened out all the sweet things we had just munched on.  The women working here were immigrants from Germany, so you know it was real. 3.) 4/5

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Capitol Hill

After feeling like I wanted to explode, we were in between going to U-Dub (University of Washington) or Capitol Hill.  I’d seen so many beautiful photos of U-Dub that I wanted to go and see it in person but we found ourselves in Capitol Hill, mostly because my directions sucked and…yeah.  I have no excuses.  It was fine though because we found Roy Street Coffee & Tea right outside of the neighborhood we parked in and hung out in there until our stomach’s relaxed and we were ready to wander again.  I don’t think we realized just how tired we were until we sat down though.  A friend and I split a Cafe Verde (by split, I mean I took a few sips to see how offset I was by the bitterness of this cup of caffeine) and I didn’t actually hate it.  Still too bitter for me, by the taste wasn’t bad.  There was a point where I just sat there next to the window, closed my eyes, and soaked in the warmth of the sun.  I think that sitting down, not talking, and closing our eyes was needed.

Once we recharged enough, we were off.  I saw Capitol Hill on all the touristy lists of things to do, but I didn’t actually know what was there, so we explored.  It was mostly just shops and restaurants and had a downtown, college sort of ambiance.  Like most of the places we set out to on this road trip, this was also another nice place to simply walk around and enjoy.  I feel like I felt like this about a lot of places — whether it was in the city, suburbs, or nature — because it was all new to me, surroundings I’ve never been to.  It didn’t ended up just being a walk around though.  I spotted a Crossroads in the corner of my eye and then my friend pointed out an Urban Outfitters.  Dead.  Long story short: I didn’t buy anything from Crossroads, but I bought some good finds in the Urban Outfitters sale section.  But for y’all who know me, this isn’t a shocker.  I’m a thrifty shopaholic.

We didn’t really do much else in Capitol Hill.  It was a filler excursion.  And random detail, but the neighbourhood we parked in also had a ton of Cherry Blossoms in bloom next to the side walk.  Beautiful.  I traded the California Palm trees for the Pacific Northwest Cherry Blossoms and I ain’t mad about it.  Change of scenery.

Seattle Great Wheel

Last stop of the day and of Seattle, pretty much: Seattle Great Wheel.  Before I even talk about the Wheel and the last leg of my night, let me just say how expensive going on this was for what it was.  $14 per person for essentially a ride on a Ferris Wheel.  Eye roll.  That’s all.  Okay.  I will continue on with this story.  After I bit that bullet, I wasn’t that bitter.  Like all other things on this trip, I paid for the experience and for being a tourist.  I traveled so far to visit these cities, I didn’t want to miss out on anything!  Or I at least wanted to do as much as I could.  We got our tickets at around 6:30, but sunset wasn’t until around 7:30 so I wanted to wait a little bit before we got on, especially because I wasn’t sure how many rotations the wheel would be taking and I wanted to be there exactly when the sun went down.  The information online said that each ride ensured 3 rotations, but that it also depended on the season (Winter or Summer) and how big the crowd was.  We were lucky.  We got 5 rotations, woo!  And we got in line around 7:15 and ended up getting on right at sunset.  Ugh, amazing.  A pro is that they don’t mix you in with random people.  If there’s 1 person in a group, then that 1 person gets their own “vehicle.”  If you have 5 people, then you you get your own space.  Thumbs up.  I understand that a lot of places want to maximize spots, but I also like to have my own personal space (especially for this since we paid a relatively hefty price!).  It was really calming being on the ride.  You’ve got the sunset setting behind the horizon on one side and then you switch sides and you have fantastic view of the entire city.  A nice way to truly unwind, take in Seattle, and end a trip.

We ended the night with some more BOMB FREAKING DELICIOUS FOOD.  Theme of my trip: let’s get fat while going up the West coast.

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I’m so sad to say bye to Seattle because I’m so in love with everything we did there.  Food, attractions, walking around and looking at my surroundings — but I know I’ll be back.  I’ll make it happen.

Until my next visit to my favourite city.

Love always, J.

Adventures

IX. Dreaming of McDreamy

(March 28, 2017 | Spring Break Road Trip: Day 4)

More like Dreaming of McSteamy…but…title purposes, ho ho ho.  And irrelevant detail to note: while we were still on the outskirts of the city, Chasing Cars randomly started playing in the background when the skyline popped up.  The car knew.  Shout out to all my Grey fans, whaaat.

I loved Seattle from the moment I saw it’s skyline.  Haha, just kidding.  The first thing that came out of mouth through chattering teeth when I stepped out of the car was “I definitely can’t live here.”  It was cold, windy, and sprinkle.  I’m a SoCal girl, can you blame me?  I later learned that today was colder than usual for this time of year.  10-15 degrees colder than the previous day.  After that initial freak out from the weather, I couldn’t stop saying how much I loved this city.  I can’t even pin point why, but something about it clicks with me.  It’s cleaner than most, if not all, of the metropolises that I’ve been too. It’s quirky but still clean and classy.  The marketplace is a gem.  The views of the water are great.  Art everywhere. 

We didn’t do too much today, just a few things to maximize our time in Washington.  It was only a few hours away from our Airbnb in Portland, so we went straight to Seattle and spent the afternoon there after checking out (still have to write an awesome review for Mary and her husband!).

We started with the famous Pike’s Place Market.  Flowers everywhere.  Food everywhere.  Trinkets everywhere.  I loved it.  There was so much fresh produce and different types of snacks and food.  All the samples I tried were delicious.  I wish I could buy it all.  A really cool aspect of the marketplace itself other than the food was that most of the things that I was looking at in the stores were in the spectrum of locally produced or hand made.  Cool tid-bit.  I could walk around there looking at everything for hours, but only 2 hour parking so… I was limited.  It’s okay though.  Lots of other things to see that I needed to cross of my bucket list.

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Next stop was, of course, the gum wall.  And it was perfect since it was right under the marketplace through an alley.  I mean, the gum wall was an alley.  Gum alley.  I don’t know if not knowing that it was an alley makes me dumb, but I definitely just thought it was a singular wall.  I preferred that it wasn’t though, ahah.  There was a lot of room for everyone to take photos.  Also, side note: I didn’t contribute a piece of gum to the wall because I forgot my gum pack in the car.  I’m ashamed.  Also, another side note: if you’re like me and directionally inept, don’t be afraid to ask someone.  That’s what I did.  I asked this lady I bought souvenirs from where it was because I went on a crazy goose chase when I put it into Google Maps.  When you’re facing the market, go towards the end of your far left and walk down the path next to it that goes under the market.  And bam.  You can’t miss it with all the people walking towards it.  Make sure you take photos on the part of the wall that actually gets light!

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Oh, and it’s a given that we had to do some coffee stops while in Seattle.  We hit up 2 places today.  Again, I’m not the best judge to say anything about “real coffee,” but if you need some ideas for coffee places in the city, then here ya go.  One of them was across Pike’s and the other one was next to the gum wall.

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And on the note of coffee, I do love myself some “fake” coffee.  Per tradition of this trip, we stopped by a Dutch Bros on the way home to the Airbnb.  I’m trying something new everyday.  Gotta get through my stamp card before I never see a Dutch Bros ever again.  Sad.  Tonight’s treat?  Chocomocha.  Was it good?  Obvi. 

Insert: Wow, I finished writing this and almost forgot that I also went to the Olympic Sculpture Part.  HOW DID I FORGET?  I was adding photos and saw a bunch that I took there.  Again, more art.  I didn’t take that many photos of the actually art since I was too busy looking at it, but the my first impression of it was: clean.  I don’t even know how else to explain it.  You would think that I’d comment on the art pieces, no.  It was…clean.  Grass cut perfectly, pebbles in place, chairs chilling.  The view of the ocean was serene and the view of the city apartments behind it was majestic.  If you live in Orange County and have ever been to the Newport Beach Civic Center, it’s similar to that but the 2.0 version.  Make sure to walk through every path, there are a few smaller openings that’ll take you to different art pieces and everything’s really cool.  It’d be a perfect place to have a spring/summer picnic.  It’s also just a nice place to take a walk with your friends, significant other, dog…whomever really!  The great thing about Seattle is that a lot of things are within walking distance from each other, so you can definitely walk down the harbor area or go to Pike’s to grab a bite to eat after.  I think it’s also close enough to the Great Wheel if I recall?  If you’re down to walk and get your blood pumping a little.  Not a bad thing, especially in cold Seattle weather.

Insert #2: WOW, I’m losing my marbles.  Also forgot another detail about this day.  That’s what I get for writing this posts after the fact.  We stopped by Bakery Nouveau per Ana’s recommendation and oh my goodness.  One of the best little pastries I’ve ever tried.  I asked the employee what the most popular and her favourite was and I decided to go with her favourite which was the Praline Dream.  It was a pricey, $5-$6 per small little cake, but so worth the price.  The crunch and flavour of the Praline Dream was perfection.  I wanted to go back the next day but we were on a time restraint and wanted to try other things in the city.  They need to open up one of these in San Diego though.  Wow. How did I even forget to put this in?  Amazing.  I want to try everything.

Until my next stroll in Seattle.

Love always, J.

Adventures

VIII. Chasing Waterfalls

(March 27, 2017 | Spring Break Road Trip: Day 3)

Brief summary of today in a few words: food, food, other things, but mostly food.  I feel like the easiest way to break down how my day went is to just go by location because as you read in my first sentence, it was mostly food.  If you’re looking for food places in Portland, this might be helpful for you.  I took the liberty to be a fatty and go food crazy and ate a million dinners so you don’t have too 😉 URWELCOME #gluttonyexcuse I visited some non-food places too though.  Not to worry.

Tom McCall Park

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This was our first stop of the day, a waterfront park in Downtown Portland that had a view of the river and steel bridge that I’m sure would have been beautiful during a clear sky sunset.  The park itself (and much of the architecture of Portland) reminded me a lot of the East Coast. I haven’t been to the East Coast yet, but I’ve seen enough photos to get the picture of what it looks like.  There’s a huge stretch of grass and lots of trees blossoming around the paths.  One side had benches and the park in front of the bridge and the other side of the pathways had a line of shops that overlooked the harbor.  A good place for photo opportunities.  It’s a great place to take a nice stroll around in the morning.  If you’re face the steel bridge from downtown, the left side is completely filled with huge, pink Cherry Blossoms.  I have no idea why we didn’t go on the other side, but we didn’t so we don’t have any pictures with those, but you definitely should go see those if you’re in the area!  I saw it from the other side of the river and is was stunning.

Pad Thai

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LAI THAI

As far as I’ve heard, Portland is a hub to a plethora of yummy food trucks.  On the way back to the car, we found a few and, since one of my friends was craving Thai, we decided to try one of them.  I ordered a traditional Pad Thai with shrimp and shared it. The serving itself was more than enough to keep me full for a few hours, even with splitting it.  For $7.75, I think (and no sales tax, ho ho ho), it was a good buy.  Perfectly cooked noodles with a balanced sweet sauce.  No wonder there were a group of people huddled around it on their lunch breaks.

Multnomah (+ hella other waterfalls and things)

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A must see recommendation that we got was Multnomah Falls.  I was expecting one big waterfall, but on the drive there I realized how many small ones were randomly coming out of the mountains on the stretch to Multnomah and on the actual road leading up to it.  I don’t really have much to say about the waterfalls.  I feel like pictures don’t necessarily do it justice, but are a good enough visual to represent my little adventure chasing waterfalls versus me trying to describe the same thing over and over again.  “Beautiful, amazing, unreal, water coming out of the mountain, wet, trees and nature everywhere…”  All things true though!  I don’t want to discredit the majestic views that I saw.  You get what I mean though, right?  Enjoy the photos.  Trust me.  It’s better than reading what I have to say.

The Grotto

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Next stop?  Back to my Catholic roots: The Grotto.  Complete with a Church and an outside Stations of the Cross, this religious safe haven was a sight to see.  The inside of the church had murals covering its walls and the outside area had different types of statues and mosaics embedded within the shrubbery.

Food Escapade

Dutch Bros. order of the day: Kicker.  This location had a store front so we went in to burn some time before we went to Le Bistro Montage, upon our Airbnb host’s recommendation since it didn’t open until 5.  It was a good thing that we made a detour though.  We met some really cool people who were working at this Dutch Bros. location. One of the guys gave us a ton of recommendations on what to see, but mostly on what to eat = food escapade.  Surprise, surprise.  Everything across the board was amazing.  It’s safe to say that I’ll be 50 pounds heavier by the end of this trip.  There goes all my food self control and working out at the gym this quarter. Ouch.  Oh well.  Super cheat week? Hehe.  I mean, I have to treat myself.  I’m touring the West Coast.  It’s a must.

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Highlights:

  • Sizzle Slice:  This wasn’t the best piece of pizza that I’ve ever tried in my life, but it was good.  I wasn’t sad after eating it, to say the least.  Pros: clean space, a variety of non-generic stopping combination, open late and consistent promos to accommodate college students.  Would I go back again? Yeah, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.  I wouldn’t mind going back one day to try a few more of their novel flavours though.
  • Le Bistro Montage:  Mary, my Airbnb host, was right.  Definitely “world famous Mac and Cheese.”  The Roasted Garlic and Bacon macaroni and cheese was amazing.  The garlic and bacon were cooked so well that everything melted together nicely.  For $12.95, the meal was worth the dollars.  The portion isn’t huge like, say, Cheesecake Factory or similar restaurants, but I thought that the size was actually perfect.  I split mine with a friend, but I think that if you ate it all by yourself you would be at the “perfectly full level.” Not overly stuffed or still hungry.  This would obviously depend on the person, but I think that’s a good gauge for most people.  And, if you’re with a group of people or friend, y’all should order different things (Mac and Cheese in specific) and share so you can try more things!  That goes for any place, but especially here.  Would I go back again?  For sure, fashoo.
  • Heavenly Donuts:  For the most part, doughnuts are doughnuts for me.  The main thing that would differentiate a good doughnut from a bad one would be the freshness of it.  Other than that, taste wise, it’s usually not that hard to please me.  A big plus for me was the filling ratio though! I like filling, but I hate how much is always put into doughnuts.  Personal preference though.  The one that I ordered from Heavenly Donuts had a very minimal layer of a vanilla type filling in it.  If you’re not a heavy filling person, this one’s a good choice for you.  Would I go back again?  For that specific donut, yeah.  The rest are pretty common.

Hawthorne Village

Per recommendation of the Dutch Bros. employee, we ended the day in Hawthorne.  I was really excited because he said that there were a ton of thrift stores (which I love, obviously) and little shops of all kinds that lined the entire area.  Unfortunately, I was a bit underwhelmed.  I’m so used to life in SoCal where everything’s poppin’ until later at night that I was taken aback when I saw that many of the stores had closed at 6PM (and I got there around 6-7PM).  I was sad because I couldn’t experience all the stores.  I went into a few that were open, but there wasn’t much and we didn’t stay long — just long enough to walk up and down the streets.  A large reason for not staying too long was because of that ominous vibe I described in my first post about Portland.  Because of this, we were ready to skidaddle by the time the sun set so that we wouldn’t be walking around in the dark.  That wasn’t ideal, but I’m still glad I went.  Plus, the neighbourhood around it had a run down Victorian style that gave off the “witch” feels, if you know what I’m sayin’.

Closing thoughts about Portland, Oregon:  Overall, I really liked Portland.  I would definitely go back to see more of the quirky thing the city has to offer as well as maybe do some nature sight seeing on the outskirts.  My only con is the eerie vibes that I get, especially at night.  Downtown and all the places around Portland are amazing during the day though.  Walking around and seeing the Cherry Blossoms and scenery is such a treat and none of the food disappointed me.  The latter being very important because…food.  It was a good 2 days, Portland.

Until my next trip to Oregon.

Love always, J.

Appreciation Posts

VII. Appreciation Post #1 | Cheri Sheldon

It’s the first day of the quarter.  Should I probably have been paying attention in class?  Most definitely.  Off of first judgement, I actually liked the marketing class I was in and professor.  But I wasn’t paying full attention anyways.  I was working on some of my spring break blogs posts (which will be going up throughout the week after this irregular post cutting through the middle of them).  Heh, whoops.  I swear, when I come in Wednesday, I’ll be 100%.  Just kidding.  That’s being a little too ambitious.  85%.  Good enough, better than normal.  Really am going to try so much harder to be invested and motivated this quarter though which should be noted.  But this isn’t about my academic life.  I’m writing this post about a women that has made all the difference in my life.

“Appreciation Posts” was something I already had lined up for future blog posts, but haven’t put out any yet.  I think that it’s quite fitting that Cheri Sheldon gets the first one.  Mrs. Sheldon.  Sheldon.  So today’s entry, in what is essentially my general online diary, is going to be about a women who I’ve known for 6.5 years of my life, but has and will continue to impact the rest of my life.

Notoriously one of the most intimidating women on campus, I met Sheldon my freshman year of high school when I joined Key Club since she was the advisor at the time and continued to be as I made my way through my 4 years of high school.  It wasn’t until my Sophomore year that I began getting closer to her though.  One of my most clear early memories of her was my first day of AP World.  Dun dun duuuuun.  She was going through role and walking around the classroom to try to familiarize herself with us, putting names to faces.

“Janelle Alonzo?” (Raises hand: “Here.”)  “Justine Alonzo’s sister, yeah?” (“Mhmm.”)  Side smirk/smile. “You’ve got big shoes to fill.”

It doesn’t seem like much, but I always remember this first significant encounter with her.  She’d also taught my sister when she was in AP World as well as advised her during her Key Club days, so I knew I had expectations to live up to.  Sheldon didn’t only have the title of “one of the most intimidating teacher on campus” but she also had “one of the hardest teacher on campus” under her belt.  For any Costa Mesa High School AP student, I think many of us can relate to the feeling of doom for our Sophomore year after learning that we had to take AP World with Sheldon.  High expectations with a high work load is a semi-accurate summation.  We all survived…I think.  Some of us by a thin string, but we survived.

The next year, my Junior year, I had a business class with her.  To be honest, I only took it because my schedule was a little bit messed up.  It worked itself out though.  That calendar year was the year I had started making bows and selling them.  Nothing too official until she guided me when I was in that class.  Regardless of whether or not I took her class, I’m sure she would have helped me, but I also think that if I had never taken that class I wouldn’t have even reached out to her because making my DIY crafting abilities into something more real would have never even been a thought.  She was the one who told me and pushed me to actually do proper legal paper work to make my “Bow Bank” something more…profitable?

“Alonzo, you can make money off of this.  Why don’t you?  Charge them.  Might as well make some money.  Don’t just do it for free.”

She was right.  I could.  And I did.  I always get a little bit uncomfortable saying that I had a “bow business” in high school.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still one of the greatest achievements of my life thus far, but I always feel a tiny bit like a fraud when I say I had a business because I think of big, “legit” corporations when I think of businesses versus a 15 year old girl who made money by selling handcrafted bow-affiliated accessories.  She always made me feel “legit” though.  She helped me make a business plan (via her class) but also took the time to help me with paperwork for my business outside of class.  She invested her time in me and that carried through as something so admirable about her because she genuinely invested her time and efforts into her students.   Without her, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve such a great success at a young age.  Even though the business was short lived, only lasting until the end of my high school career, I learned and gained so much from that experience.  I started my own website, did my own marketing, got orders from outside of the state, did legal paperwork.  I wouldn’t and couldn’t have done it without her guidance, no way.

“Alonzo, give some of the work to other people.  You’re killing yourself, look at you!  It’ll be fine.  No one’s gonna die if you ask for help.  If anything, you’ll give people something to do instead of them sitting around doing nothing.”

Senior year was a rough one for me as most of my friends and a handful of teachers knew.  Most of it was my fault.  Overloading myself was my fault entirely.  6 APs, a job, a business, extra curricular activities (Editor in Chief of Yearbook, ASB publicist, VP of Asian club, President of Key Clubs, etc. etc. etc.), trying to keep up with a social life…you name it, I did it.  Besides a sport.  I quit that 2 years prior, haha.  BYE.  It’s an understatement to say that I was overwhelmed and burnt out.  It was only the first few weeks of the school year and I was already having meltdowns everyday and was completely exhausted every moment of my life.  Sheldon, per usual, asked my how I was doing after one of my Key Club meetings.  At where my life was at, there was no way of hiding how strung out I was.  And, per usual, I gave her my life update.  She knew I was going to crack at any moment.  I was doing too much and we both knew it.  She offered to spend some time together to sit down and figure out my life and so we did.  I can still picture the whole thing in my head.  I went into her classroom during a free period and she took out a post it, asked me to name all the things I was currently involved in, and she would write it down.  We went over all the things I could cut out or potentially drop to lessen my load but she knew me.  I wouldn’t drop any of it.  I couldn’t.  I was an overly ambitious go-getter.  Dropping anything would mentally go crazy, something she was also very aware of.  I was stubborn.  We sat there for a while going back and forth until she finally coaxed me into handing down some of my responsibilities in Key Club to the rest of my board.  “Khanh will probably be president next year anyways.  Give him some responsibility.  It’ll be good training for him.  Give all of them some of the responsibility.  That’s what they’re there for.”  She was right.  It was hard for me to accept the fact that I needed help and that I couldn’t do it all, but she helped me take the baby steps I needed in learning how to be a leader and how to take care of myself.  This whole memory seems like nothing when you’re reading it, I guess, but it was the first of many more therapy life sessions that would ensue that year.

“Eh, you don’t have to go to class.  I’ll call ________ and let him/her know you’re here.  I have a class to teach but you can stay in the back for as long as you want and cry on the couch if you want.”

If that doesn’t sum up my Senior year, I don’t know what does (besides maybe finding me asleep on random classroom floors…actually true, hers included).  That last year of high school was full of physical torment, mental distress, emotional meltdowns and a whole lot of tears.  I’m not a cry-er by any means.  I always tell people that I used up all my tears since I used to cry all the time when I was little over the littlest things.  That year was an exception to the no excessive crying rule.  It didn’t matter if it was completely irrelevant or if I had already ranted to her about the same thing a billion times.  If I needed advice or just someone to rant to, she made time for it and gave me more than her full attention.  She’d give me hugs even when I didn’t know I needed one and kicks in the butt when we both knew I needed a push.  She’d let me cry and cry and cry when I felt like my life was in shambles — on her couch, at her desk…on a desk, ahaha.  She told me I looked beautiful when I felt like a dead flower on the side of the road that got stepped on and would tell me that I looked like hell to give me a wake up call of how terribly I was treating myself.  She’d tell me my outfits were cute, tell me that I was a little fashionista, and ask me sassily who I was trying to impress.  From little self-esteem compliment boosts to extensive therapy life sessions, Sheldon got me through so much that year in particular and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Something I really did appreciate about her was how honest she was though.  She was honest with her students when we’d ask her about how she was feeling on certain days, especially when she had rough chemo treatments, never sugar coating how tired she was or the pain she was in.  She was transparent with us and something about that makes me have even more respect for her.  She gave us tough love about ourselves but she was also honest with what was going on with her.   She was strength, if I’d ever seen it in my life.  Never complained really.  Just kept moving forward with her life and fighting through whatever she had to fight through while giving her strength to those who needed it.

Even after I left high school and went off to college in San Diego, she was still a strong mother-figure that I looked up to.  I remember being so excited that I got a package my first month of college.  Due to complications with the mail services here, I got it a month late, but oh well.  It was a package from Sheldon with a little inspirational note (that I wish dearly I had with me right now, but it’s safely kept back home in my box of sentimental things), laundry detergent pods with quarters just in case, sweets, supplies, stamps, and a few other things.  It was essentially a college starter pack.  I texted her immediately because I was so excited and I remember her telling me that she had been waiting a month for a message from me since she had sent it so long ago.  From then, I kept in touch with her once in a while to check in and let her know how I was doing since she knew I was struggling with transition into college at UCSD.  I even sent her a post card at the beginning of this school year to let her know that I was gonna be a boss this year and that I was doing better and thinking about her text back to me saying how it made her day to get something from me makes my heart hurt quite a bit at the moment.

I started writing this in the morning and I was incredibly sad and heart broken and still am.  But after reminiscing and writing down a bunch of the fond memories I’ve had with her, I’ve found some sort of happiness knowing that I was even privileged to have had her in my life.  It’s safe to say that she, for many, she so much more than just a teacher.  She was mother figure, friend, therapist, North Star, and so many other wonderful things.  She’s instilled lessons about not sweating the little things in life and doing something about the things we don’t like.  Just seeing all the beautiful things written about her on my social media feeds is a testament to her imprint. I could literally go on and on and on about what an amazing human being the world has just lost, but I would never stop talking.  Even though I stopped cussing as a Lenten promise, I think it’s an appropriate occasion (and quite fitting in describing her) to break it for a second in saying that Cheri Sheldon was (and is) one of the most BAD ASS women that I’ve ever met.  Easily.  If I could describe her in one word, that would be it.  She was an all encompassing bad ass, hands down.  She was strength.  She was fear.  She was love.  She was inspiration.  And I’m sure so many of us who knew her would agree that she is someone that we look up to for more reasons than one.

Thought I lost the only picture we had together when my hard drive broke, but thanking the heavens that my past self took a snapchat selfie with her and uploaded it to Facebook, ahaha.12473698_1091858604168626_2996939713781383534_oThank you for everything.  Love you always and missing you already.

Until the next time I see you, Sheldon.

Love always, Alonzo.

Adventures

VI. This Must be Some Kind of Voodoo

(March 26, 2017 | Spring Break Road Trip: Day 2)

Before heading out of Humboldt, Ana and I decided to grab breakfast together at this cute cafe in downtown called “T’s Cafe North.”  It’s that “cafe that used to be a old house but we turned it into a trendy cafe” sort of cafe.  Say cafe again, J.  Cafe.  Hahha, anyways… the place didn’t disappoint.  I got stuff banana french toast topped with fresh fruit and a homemade banana sauce.  Everything that everyone ordered looked yummy and, as far as I know, was.  I tried a bite of the Eggs Benedict and the bacon was exceptional.

After breakfast, I said my temporary goodbye to Ana and headed off on the next leg of my trip: Portland, Oregon.  From Humboldt to Portland was another 7 hours or so, but the first half of the drive wasn’t actually that bad.  Again.  Most of the driving wasn’t that bad on this trip in general because everything was so scenic to me.  I’ve never driven through a mountain before, so it was a new experience for me.  Oh, and to clarify.  I’ve been in the car driving through a mountain, I’ve just never been the driver.  Hahah.  It was little bit sketchy since it was raining, but it was fun to drive at the same time.  I was going Grandma speed but, ya know, slow and steady wins the race.  I wanted to make sure I was careful.  I didn’t want to hydroplane or accidentally skid or hit the cars around me.  There were so many nice views around me that we had to stop to take photos, but photos don’t do any of it justice.

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Once we were out of the mountain, we were back in civilization.  I’ve heard so many good things about the coffee company, Dutch Bros., that I had to try it.  Especially since I saw one in Eureka when I was on my way to Ana’s.  I was going to get some before I left her place, but she had informed me that there were a ton more on the way up that I could potentially stop at.  I found one right after we finished driving through the mountain, so I stopped by.  I wasn’t sure what to order, but pretty much everything seemed promising.  I went with a medium, iced Annihilator and it didn’t disappoint.  Dutch Bros. lived up to the hype, for sure.  It should also be noted, though, that I’m no coffee connoisseur.  I’m a “cream, milk, and sugar with a dash of coffee” type of girl.  And even that is something I don’t drink often.  I do enjoy coffee, but it’s not a regular thing in my life which is odd to many, especially in college where every zombie body is living off of caffeine or other questionable substances of choice.  It was a small, drive through location that I went through and the worker gave me a stamp card, so you be I’ll be trying to get through that while I have it accessible to me. 

The last half of the drive was the worst half because it was only a few hours left until we made it to our Airbnb in Beaverton, but it felt like forever and we were all tired from so many hours of driving already without any adequate rest.  It was worth it though.  The Airbnb I booked was even better than I expected when I was looking online.  It was basically a nice hotel room.  Clean, spacious, owners are amazing, commodities provided…everything you could imagine!  Excited to be here for the next few days.  From the first 10 minutes of arriving, I was already ready to give them a good review.

I didn’t want to waste any time.  Even though it was later in the afternoon when we arrived, I wanted to at least squeeze something in.  I remember my coworker mentioned a bookstore that was nearly a block big so, as a bookworm, I had to check it out.  Powell Bookstore.  It also didn’t disappoint.  There were so many sections of books.  It was…overwhelming.  It was a trendy Barnes and Nobles on crack.  I wanted to get a book, but was couldn’t decide.  My friend got a book though.  Jealous.  Hahaha.  Maybe on the way down. 

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Next and last stop of the night?  The famous Voodoo Doughnuts, of course.  The distance from Powell to Voodoo wasn’t very far so we decide to walk instead of move the car.  A mistake.  I mean, not a mistake, but a mistake.  I don’t know if I’m just being a snotty teenager, but the less than half a mile walk there sketched me out, mostly because of the people around me.  In any city setting, it’s a given that there are homeless people out at night time, but there was  a different kind of ominous vibe that I was feeling (that my friend also felt).  It was weirdly scary than any of the times I’ve walked around at night in SD, OC, LA, or even the times I’ve walked around Berkeley.  I’m not sure what it was, but I speeded up my already running-pace walking speed.  I just wanted to get those donuts and get back in the car.  But also, I don’t want to discredit how cute downtown Portland is.  The stores, lights, and modern aesthetics are to be appreciated.  Voodoo Donuts has a variety of amped up donuts.  I order 5: the Voodoo Doll, Chuckles, Mango Tango, Powdered Sugar Jelly Filled, and this one with Rice Crispies on it.  And the cashier even gave me an extra Voodoo Doll.  Yey.  I thought that the doughnuts were all pretty good.  The only one I wasn’t as fond of was the Mango Tango.  It was a little too sweet for me, especially because of the frosting.  I would probably pass on that if I ever went again.  Other than that, the doughnuts were really good and, price wise, it was around $9 for 5 (half a dozen if you count the free one I got) which is a little bit more expensive than a regular doughnut, but it’s the cost of the novelty and experience.  Oh, and side note: if you’ve ever been down in San Diego and have been to Lucha Libre, it kinda has those same vibes!  

Overall, it wasn’t a bad first night in Portland.  Lots of beautiful views on the drive there, finally tried Dutch Bros, got a small taste of downtown.  Can’t wait to experience a full day of what Portland has to offer tomorrow.

Until my next day in this quirky city.

Love always, J.

Adventures

V. “Send me your location…”

(March 25, 2017 | Spring Break Road Trip: Day 1)

So.  Where is J now?  No one ever knows, hahaha.

14+ hours later and I’ve finally made it to Humboldt.  Despite the long hours in the car, the drive was nice.  Normally, when I go up to NorCal, I don’t take the scenic route strictly for the purpose of saving time.  Oh boy, was I missing out.  I drove  up from San Diego after work the night before and headed to Orange County to make the trip a little bit easier on myself.  From there, I started my little adventure early the next morning.  Humboldt, being a world away, would naturally take the entire day to get through.  California’s vertical length is basically 2-3 states in itself.  Even though there was a semi-immediate pressure to make good time to get there as soon as possible, I still wanted to take advantage of opportunities to make quick stops to see new things!  I didn’t have too much extra time, but I tried to squeeze in whatever I could.

I haven’t been to Germany (yet), but I would imagine it would look something like the quaint, little town of Solvang.  But I guess that’s a given since I’m pretty sure that’s what the city was supposed to emulate, the German spirit.  Me thinks?  I remember my parents always mentioning stopping by there on a NorCal road trip when I was little.  Wait.   Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not even sure if I was even born yet or if I was living in the Philippines at that time, ahhah.  Regardless, I haven’t consciously been there.  If I wasn’t old enough to have a substantial recollection of something, then it didn’t happen.  Rule of thumb, heh.  It was cute though!  The place was a hub of bakeries, sweet shops, ice cream parlors, and quirky shops.  The dream of a carb-loving sweet tooth.  There were so many free samples at each place that I stopped that I basically made up for not eating a substantial breakfast.

 

Upon the recommendations of my friends, we stopped by The Fudge Factory, home to – shocker – slabs of various types of fudge.  Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, Pecans, Walnuts.  We decided on the  chocolate one with walnuts.  Processed with VSCO with f2 presetMy thoughts: It was okay.  I have a “low quality” taste bud in which I usually either like something or don’t.  My in between thoughts are not very detailed.  I either know if something suits my fancy and I would eat it again or if it’s not my jam.  I definitely would eat this again because chocolate, duh.  But I wouldn’t say it was life changing or the best piece of fudge I’ve ever tried in my life.  It was good though.  One “slab” of fudge is more than enough for one person.  For a little over the $5 mark, I think that it was worth it.  It’s a good sweet to share with a bunch of your friends.  Having the whole thing to yourself would be sickening, to be honest.  Even for a chocoholic like myself.  If fudge isn’t your thing, there are so many other things to try that you’re sure to find something that interests you.

To add onto Solvang’s personal appeal, I found a “Christmas All Year ‘Round” shop and another shop strictly dedicated to wine, bread, and cheese.  For anyone who knows me…all of the things that I’ve described so far, you know that these are all things that make my heart beat a little bit faster.  LIKE.  IS THIS PLACE EVEN REAL?  Yes, it is.  Hahah. So if you’re ever passing the Santa Barbara area, make sure to pass by.  It’s pretty cool.  And the views behind the shops are amazing!  The hills looks like they were alive without even having the sound of music.  Anyone?  Sound of Music reference?  Nah?  Okay.

 

From Solvang, there weren’t many significant stops besides to eat and get gas, so the next big destination to note would probably have to be San Francisco.  If you know me or have seen one of my previous blog posts, then you know that I was in the Bay Area literally a week ago.  And even then, I still freaked out once we made it back to the city.  Something about San Francisco makes me so giddy.  I love the personality of that city.  There was no time to get out of the car or to explore.  We were already on a time crunch, plus there was quite a bit of traffic when we were trying to get through, but I was still able to get my friends to take a few photos while I was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I didn’t even mind driving through the traffic that much.  I was just enjoying looking at my surroundings and soaking everything in.  Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

After passing through the Bay, it was pretty much a straight shot up to Humboldt.  The farthest I’ve ever been up California is the Bay, so the rest of the drive was a new world to me.  An incredible new world, if that.  The winding road immediately plunged into the depths of rolling green hills and mountains, embellished in trees and brush of all kinds.  It was kinda really freaking beautiful.  The common theme throughout this road trip.  Everything is so beautiful.  Nature is so beautiful.  The world is so beautiful.  This is an obvious statement, clearly, but as someone who’s resided in Southern California her entire, I don’t get the privilege to see this “type” of nature besides when I go on family vacations to the mountains and seeing the mountains and trees never ceases to amaze me.  I’m in awe every single time.  All I could say the entire time was “OMG, THAT’S SO UNREAL!” or “OMG, THAT IS SO PRETTY WHAT THE HECK.”  (Refer back to the featured photo of this post.  Point proven). It’s nice to see other views.

Even though I’ve never been very keen on going on a road trip because I’m prone to motion sickness (car sick, train sick, plane sick, sea sick…you name it, I get it…), I’m glad that I decided to plan this.  It’s been one day and I’ve grown to really appreciate the beauty that Mother Nature has to offer.  Truly breathe taking.  She’s a gem of gems.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention how lovely the scenery going up was too.  Even in SoCal.  Because of all the rain we’ve gotten this season, it’s made everything so green and there were flowers in bloom everywhere — even on the sides of the roads!  Thank God for the rain.  You can really see how much of a difference it’s made.  From dreary scenes of the drought to the lush new growth that the rain’s brought.  It’s crazy.

And, to end a beautiful day full of beautiful things is getting to see one of my beautiful best friends, my Nana.  Ana was gracious enough to house us for the night (and another night on our way back) and I got to meet two of your sorority sisters and her boy toy, finally.  We hadn’t seen each other since summer, I believe?  It’s been a hot minute to say the least, but every time we see each other, it’s like nothing’s changed.  Doesn’t even feel like we’re living on opposite sides of California’s border.   Ugh, my heart so happy.  Getting to visit and see my best friends in their “new” homes is a blessing.  Hayley and Christine last week, Ana this week, and Margarita in a few days.  I’m grateful.  Can’t wait to see Oregon and Washington!  YAY.

Until the next part of this adventure.

Love always, J.