Aloha from Hawaii

Happy Monday!! It’s been exactly a week since landing in Maui island and let’s just say that the past 7 days have been nothing like a vacation. I’m currently here on a work trip and every day has proven itself to be quite the adventure. If you’re following me on Instagram, you might’ve already seen some of these. Here’s what’s been going on in the background!

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Day 1 was an interesting one. I flew in with one of my coworkers and we met with the rest of our group on the island. That night, we learned that the next week would be filled with a handful of adventure activities. Over our first dinner as a group, I was asked questions like, “What kind of sports are you into? Have you ever jumped out of a plane? How do you feel about free diving?” which I was slightly confused by. When talking about our past-time sporting choices, I mentioned enjoying kayaking, which lead to the question, “Kayaking in rapids?” and I’m just like… no. Turns out I’m the least sporty of the group!

Long story short, I immediately regretted all the carb-loading and inconsistent exercising since the Christmas holidays after learning about all the activities we would be participating in over the next week. Don’t get me wrong– I am SO excited to have this opportunity and get to join in on this project, but at the same time I wish I could have prepped a bit better physically. My body is not used to a full morning of snorkeling followed by an afternoon of hiking. In any case, it has been awesome so far and I am loving every minute of being here! Aside from the daily hustle of confirming itineraries, getting work done at each location, and then packing up and quickly moving to the next, getting to know 2 other people – who essentially started off as strangers – as well as I have in the last few days has been so much fun! You get to know a lot about a person when traveling in a car together for 12+ hours a day. Who would’ve thought? ;)

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Top left: Drive up to Haleakalā Crater. The view from 10,000ft elevation is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before! After dropping the guys off, I had a couple hours to myself before picking them up for our afternoon adventures. I ended up makinga handful of stops on the drive down and admiring the view of the pillow-like clouds from above. Seriously, how cool is that view? I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say I’ve looked at clouds from the top-down when not in a plane.

Top right: Going to take a moment to give a big shout out to the delicious food here! On this particular day, we stopped by a fish house for lunch. I had a spinach salad, topped with salmon, honey, papaya seed dressing, and roasted macadamia nuts. Just looking at this photo again is making me drool…

Bottom left: We drove to the south end of the island to spend the day at Big Beach. Apparently Taylor Swift was here on the same day we were (!!!) but we didn’t see her. I was probably too busy getting washed up in the waves (no joke). This is the day I lost my snorkeling mask and breathing tube thanks to the super harsh waves. This is also the same day my coworkers coined the term “sand-druff” to describe the state of my hair. Getting swept up to shore, literally, results in a ton of sand in the hair. This is one lesson I wish I didn’t have to learn the hard way!

Bottom right: Perched on the side of a cliff at Pe’ahi to watch some extremely talented people surf the biggest breaks on the north shore of the island. It was absolutely incredible!! I don’t even know how else to put this experience in words. Between the view of the clear blue waters, the perched viewing point, and the surfing talent, it’s so hard to pinpoint a favourite part of this whole experience.

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Sadly, this adventure is about to end in a few hours and it’ll be back to reality before we know it!
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Final days of summer

Where do I even start with how much I have loved the past two months? Seattle is never prettier than in the summers. The blue skies, abundance of things to do outdoors, and no rain for daaaays! What’s there not to love about this place? I’ve been counting down the number of sunny days left before the rainy Fall comes and have been taking every opportunity possible to go to the beach. This past weekend I managed to get my feet dirty in the sand twice!

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A bunch of friends and I ended up spending an entire afternoon playing beach volleyball. Part of me has always been sad that I didn’t get into volleyball at an earlier age. I played in elementary school and tried out for the team in high school. Sadly, my lack of hops and inability to serve overhand got me cut during the early rounds of tryouts. I waited a couple years before trying to pick up volleyball in university (on an intramural team) and never looked back!

I’m still pretty awful and can’t seem to volley without flipping a nail backwards or barely adding 3 inches of air to the ball, but I’m working on it!

beach

Unfortunately, I got into a bit of an accident during the last game of the afternoon, which means my days of volleyball are over for the summer. :( I was going for a block while someone on the other side of the net was about to spike and all his weight ended up on my foot. I’m usually a tough cookie, but it was pretty painful and I now have a wickedly bruised/swollen foot that seems to get angry on and off while I’m walking around the city.

beachoutfit details:
tank top: H&M
hi-low skirt: Target
bow flats: Nine West
sunglasses: Marc by Marc Jacobs

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If Seattle was this beautiful and rain-free all year round, I don’t think I would ever be able to stay inside!

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From the sand dunes to Hollywood Blvd

Our first (and only) morning in Pismo Beach started bright and early so we could beat the crowds at the sand dunes. The last time I went ATVing was almost exactly 3 years ago! I was really excited to take Ines out for the first time since there’s nothing quite like this back in Toronto.

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The one thing that’s awesome about riding in these dunes is that you never know what you’re going to get when you reach the top of a hill. Drops can be anywhere from 3 feet tall to hundreds of feet! Ines was pretty nervous when we first road out onto the beach, but she picked it up really quickly! Such an amazing way to spend a couple hours in the morning!

ATV

You know it was a good time when you have to shake about a beach’s worth of sand out of your shoes and socks haha! We headed back to our room (in this cute cottage that backs right onto the shoreline) to clean up before heading back out to enjoy the sounds of the morning tides.

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Since it was still early, we didn’t have much competition for real estate at the beach. We both took in the sights and sounds before having to pile back into the car for the last big drive of the trip. Our goal for the day was to get from Pismo to Los Angeles. We took the Hwy 1 for majority of the drive, trying to stay along the coast for as long as possible, which meant at least 3 hours on the road. We ended up making a couple of pit stops along the way…

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I know I’m not the only one who asks for the paper hats at In-N-Out! Admit it. You go there just for the hats too. Ok, and maybe their burgers. And a shake if you’re feeling adventurous. ;) This was Ines’ first ever In-N-Out experience, so we had to get the paper hats.

I’ll never understand how In-N-Out is super busy, all the time, regardless of the time of day. There’s always a line almost out the door, if not wrapping around all the tables by the windows already. Anyway, we chowed down on our burgers quickly and got back on the road. I really can’t believe how beautiful the landscape is driving down the 1:

on the road - clear skies

(more…)

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Golden Gate (insert business type here), Googleplex, and creepy drives in fog

Our last day (err, morning) in the northern Bay Area was full of shopping around Union Square. We woke up bright and early to start our day, hoping to kill some time before going to the Golden Gate Bridge, which is hidden by thick layers of fog (as seen from Fisherman’s Wharf the previous day).

Touristing
Powell Street cable car

While in the city, we caught a glimpse of the Powell St cable car. The line to ride this up a very steep street (Powell) is usually at least a 30 minute wait, so we just took photos and tried to live vicariously through everyone on it. Even about multiple visits to San Francisco, I still haven’t mustered up the patience to ride this thing up a few blocks.

Once the clock struck noon, we decided to leave the city and head north to the Golden Gate Bridge. Surely by noon, the fog would be cleared right? Nope! We were greeted by this lovely view of a half-hidden bridge. A little hard to see, but still beautiful!

Golden Gate bridge

Since we needed to be in Pismo Beach by the end of the day, we scooted along quickly from the bridge and headed south towards Chinatown. We were recommended by SF friends to check out the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, which is located just off an alley in the heart of Chinatown. We bee-lined there as soon as we could find parking (which is a nightmare, btw. I would not recommend driving to Chinatown if you can avoid it).

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golden gate fortune cookie factory

Ok, so it looks a little sketchy on the outside… but it is definitely worth stopping by to check out. We didn’t take any photos inside because, for one, there were no windows anywhere in the building so it was pretty dark, and secondly, each photo costs $0.50. Looking back, I really wish I had just paid the hefty (jk) $0.50 fee for the photo. Imagine a really small ~300 sqft space with iron cast machinery lining the walls. There was exactly one person hand-folding each and every fortune cookie as the flat cookie round came out of the press. There was a little box to her left, full of fortunes which were slipped into each cookie before being folded. Crazy! For $3.75, we left with a big bag of fortune cookies. I honestly wish I could’ve left more money for their cookies. Seeing the working conditions was… a little heartbreaking, to say the least.

We then headed to the Golden Gate Bakery, famous for its egg tarts. I love egg tarts!! Growing up, I used to always hope for a plate of egg tarts to snack on at the end of dim sum. The bakery had a “no pictures” policy, so I can’t show you all the other baked goodies available, but trust me, it all looked AH-MAZING!

golen gate bakery

We bought… um… a few (*shifty eyes*) and headed to Ten Ren for bubble tea to enjoy with the egg tarts. It was a nice break before heading back onto the road to Mountain View: home of the Google headquarters!

Google Building 44
Googleplex - honeycomb

The first time I visited the campus (Building 44, to be exact), there was only the cupcake, donut, eclair, and froyo on the lawn. Since that visit, Android has released gingerbread, honeycomb, ice cream sandwich, and jelly bean. Embarrassingly, we spent more time taking photos at the Googleplex than we did at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Once our inner nerdisms had time to calm down, we got back in the car and started heading south on Hwy 1. After a ~4 hour drive in the creepiest fog I’ve ever seen, we ended up in Monterey! Honestly, the fog felt like a scene straight out of Silent Hill. It was thick and covered about 30% of the view as we were driving.

Monterey
Lover's Point
Lover's Point

The reason for our stop off was to see Lover’s Point. It’s supposed to be a breathtaking view over the water from the cliffs, but given the fog situation, it was hard to see past a few meters at best. Even in all the fog, the scenery was beautiful. It was so quiet and serene. We stayed and soaked in the views until the rain started to fall and urged us back onto the road.

Our last stop for the night was Pismo Beach, which was another 3 hour drive south. This was the longest stretch of driving distance covered in a single day on our trip. As the sole driver, I didn’t think it would feel as tiring as it ended up feeling. Ines was awesome and made sure to keep the music coming in the car… even if we had to do it ghetto style, blasting tracks from her iPad since we didn’t have any radio reception and my phone was tied up for navigating the route.

I can’t wait for the next post! Pismo Beach was the one place I wanted to stop off in for one reason: sand dunes!!

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Los Angeles weekend away part 2

I’m going to preface this post with how much I love my Windows Phone. I got the Lumia 920 last year and debated long and hard between the Lumia and an iPhone. It’s true that the WP platform has less apps than iPhone (sigh…still no Instagram), but the one thing I couldn’t say no to is the amazing camera. I find myself carrying around only my phone instead of both my phone and DSLR nowadays. All the photos that were taken in these LA recap posts were taken with my Lumia and I am so impressed!! Not having to tote around a DSLR on vacation definitely makes traveling light easier.

So the second half of the weekend in Los Angeles was spent at the Getty museum, checking out the amazing furniture and other finds at Nick Metropolis, running into Seattlites at Venice beach, and, of course, eating delicious food that’s special to LA. The first stop was the Getty Museum, which in itself is a work of art:

The J. Paul Getty Museum
The J. Paul Getty Museum

Yeah. This castle-looking building is a museum! Can’t not mention he cactus garden and a huuuuge floral garden walkway. If we had more time in LA, I’m sure it would’ve taken a weekend in itself to explore all the nooks and crannies of this museum!

Next stop: Pink’s hot dogs

Pink's hot dogs

I’m not a huge fan of hot dogs, but I’ll give it to Pink’s for converting me to temporarily think that hotdogs > burgers. Pink’s is known for their chili dogs, but as usual, I got distracted by the witty names of menu items and went for something with a punnier name. On the left is the chili dog, and I ended up getting the “Lord of the Rings” dog, which was onion rings topped with barbeque sauce. haha come on…. the name is pretty good, no? *cricket, cricket*

Nick Metropolis

Another really neat place we made a stop off at was to see the collection of furniture and other collectibles at Nick Metropolis. I swear I’ve seen Nick’s shop featured on some TLC show within the last 5 or so years. The selection of goods range from old school Hollywood signs to 1920s flapper-styled mannequins to 1940s military trunks (still with the original owner’s uniform, photos, and letters. Nick himself was really friendly and showed us the really unique gems currently in his shop (the military trunk being one of them).

Nick Metropolis - Blue

We also had the pleasure of meeting Blue, the sweetest, most affectionate Chihuahua I have ever met. Blue is one of the workers at Metropolis’ dog and she is such a cutie. She usually sits near the front entrance of the shop and will occasionally be allowed to run round the shop. She loves people and wants to play all the time. Such a big difference between Blue and other yappy Chihuahuas I’ve met in the past. (Go figure the most interesting thing in the shop for me is a new animal friend ;) lol)

Last stop: Venice Beach! Gosh, looking at this photo makes me wish there was a more accessible beach in Seattle where I could kick my shoes off and sit in the sun for hours on end!

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Eddy Lee art

While walking the Venice Beach strip, we stumbled upon the artwork of Eddy Lee. Believe it or not, he’s originally from Seattle (!!) and recently moved to sunny California. The work above is part of his Versus series, where each piece s a modern twist on a popular classic. It’s pretty incredible to see such beautiful work being displayed at beach side. I left with a print of the “Vs Michelangelo” piece, which is currently sitting on my work table waiting to be framed and mounted.

The weekend away in LA was filled with a lot of art and inspiration! After staying stationary in Seattle for almost half a year (with the trip back home to Toronto for the Christmas holidays), it’s nice to step away and see how different the world is outside of the Seattle boundaries.

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