Yosemite: A Land Frozen in Time

When life hands you lemons, and your mind spins into a tizzy about leaving your beloved home state before you’re ready…. you hop in a car and go on an impromptu adventure.
<insert cheesy John Muir quote here>

Glacier Point Yosemite Valley phyllthis

Yosemite.
Land of towering cliffs, iridescent mountains, fields of Sierras, and sparkling lakes. Birds soar and hum overhead while hikers ascend switchbacks, pausing every so often to catch their breath and take in the view. The infamous landscape transforms throughout the day as the sun & clouds drift, kissing the mountains with their soft rosy hues.

Tenaya Lake Yosemite phyllthis

It was an completely spontaneous trip (but aren’t those the best ones?) within 36 hours we went from zero to out the door. And it was a short – a 2.5 day shotgun mission, where it seemed like we managed to do almost everything wrong.

So here are my notes – a brain dump of tips and advice for my future self. And pretty pictures (duh)

Panorama Trail Hike in Yosemite Valley phyllthis

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Rise & Rave: Daybreaker LA

I am not an early riser, so when I’m voluntarily up & out before dawn, it must be because the club’s going up. We shimmied and shook our way into Wednesday morning with Daybreaker at V Lounge in Santa Monica.

phyllthis Daybreaker dance party LA
Here’s basically what went down:

12:30am the night before – yay friends, yay sleepover, yaaaay trashy TV. It’s like we’re in college again guys!

around 3am – M sleep punches me in the face …this is NOT college anymore. Definitely can’t fit 3 girls in a bed and still get a quality 5 hours of sleep.

5:45am – alarm goes off, nooooo

5:55am – this is stupid, why are we getting up right now? honestly, what could be better than sleeping?

6am – lol guys, other real adults get up this early every. day. to work out or feed kids and stuff. lolololol

6:30am – circling, still circling for parking…. stupid LA, stupid people who get up at 6am to work out.

6:45am – We’re inside, the lighting is dim, the base is bumping and people are dressed in everything from chicken costumes to sequins, neon gym gear to their regular Wednesday business casual. As if on autopilot we wander over to the bar where instead of regretfully buying an overpriced watered drown drink, we find it stocked with kombucha, iced coffee, antioxidant drinks & Kind bars, all gratis. Breakfast.

open Kombucha bar, from Synergy. Photo from Daybreaker Facebook Page

open Kombucha bar, from Synergy. Photo from Daybreaker Facebook Page

We find our other friend on the main floor, say good morning & commence to awkwardly side-shuffle dance while people watching all the beautiful morning creatures of LA. Mostly people watching.

7:15am – A 3 piece brass band, the Downtown Horns, comes on stage & jams along. Their live jazz blending into the synthy DJ music is energetic, funky & perfect when your brain is not yet awake enough to take that untz untz untz.

phyllthis daybreaker LA

7:45am – Dance dance. Girl in booty shorts comes out with her light up hula hoop, because duh. FOX TV comes and films the crowd. Hiii Mom, we’re on morning news. Continue reading

How to get Artists to think you’re an Artist too

(Like real, ‘capital A’ Artists)

Volunteer at the 4 day LA Art Show and leave your badge on the rest of the day while you visit the other booths. Shake their hand, and talk to them about how dope, dynamic & visionary their work is. Then, when they ask you if you’re showing too, mumble something about doodling on your receipts or choosing really good Instagram filters and run away.

“Life” Oils by Hiromi Hasegawa

"Superman Takes a Break" X-ray Photographic Print by Nick Veasey (Evan Lurie Gallery)

“Superman Takes a Break” X-ray Photographic Print by Nick Veasey (Evan Lurie Gallery)

Alright, but honestly, volunteering at the show was really awesome – and a great way for us common plebians to catch a glimpse into the art world. I worked with Chris Hayes (who is ah-mazing by the way) and greeted/directed traffic at the front entrance all Sunday morning. Sure my cheeks were a bit sore after the 4 hours, but it was a front row seat to people watch!

deceptive badging

deceptive badging

LA-Art-Show

(Art Show people watching is now one of my favorite things. Attendants range from wealthied Euro families, to Hype Beast street kids, to Fashion Folk, to angsty art students. It can be a tad overwhelming, and of course once you’re inside, you’re too focused on the actual, you know, ART to look at the people blocking your view.)

LA-Art-Show-Afshin-Pirhashemi

eyes that blaze right into your heart. Oils by Afshin Pirhashemi

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Bruce Willis Ruins All Films… (Scuba-ing Part 2)

Predive Final Safety Check = Bruce Willis Ruins All Films… BCD (check), weights (check), releases (check), air (check & check)… final OK.  Next thing you know we’re side-hobbling down the steps into the Dive Park, and snorkeling out in chilly 61 degree water to the buoys.

But once I get there and stop kicking, I realized I’m not fulling inflated… my 26 extra pounds start dragging me down. I panic and start thrashing about. My left fin falls off my foot and sinks 2 feet before I realize I’ve even lost it. The tough post-#hellastorm winds are still in effect and the current is strong. By the time I catch my rouge fin and actually inflate myself up, it’s time to descend down and start the dive.

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My mind is racing… what am I doing here??  This is nuts – humans weren’t designed to go underwater for a reason. My heart is racing and my breathing is sharp and panicked. I rely on yoga and try to focus on oujai breathing.. but through my mouth. Needless to say it, those entire 35 minutes underwater were a challenge.

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That was certification dive #2 out of 4 during our weekend diving Casino Point on Catalina Island, and by far the toughest since I was mentally shaken up before we even went down. We ran through the same, though fewer, drills than during the pool session – full mask flood, regulator recovery, alternate air source, compass navigation, fin pivots, etc. The skills themselves were infinitely easier the second time around, but the conditions were definitely rough that Saturday – cold waters, choppy waves and rough winds.

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Welcome to Joshua Tree

Straddling the Mojave Desert & Colorado Desert lies Joshua Tree, a quirky little region where magic courses through the air and nature thrives in the most unlikely places.

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The National Park is actually larger than the state of Rhode Island, and is lined with tons of hiking trails. There are 3 main entrances on the perimeter of the park, and you most definitely need a car to get in & around the park (I mean.. Rhode Island is it’s own state, for comparison’s sake) A $20/car pass gives you admission to the park for an entire 30 days.

when in Joshua Tree, do as the Joshua Trees do

when in Joshua Tree, do as the Joshua Trees do

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Some quick highlights…. these were my favorites.

Hidden Valley Loop: this is about a 1 mile loop hike, where cattle herders used to hide stolen cattle. It’s a pretty easy & fun hike. There were several rock climbers climbing alongside this trial… the ultimate people watching sport.

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Cholla Cacti Field: Beware! these are super prickly (duh) but there are loose burrs everywhere on the ground. still a pretty cool sight to see… though may not be worth the extra 40 minute drive roundtrip.

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Keys View: Not really a hike but an amazing look out point – you can see all of Coachella valley, the San Andreas fault line and the Salton Sea! Go around sunset but just know that it will be crowded up there (oh how original of you… to go at sunset) Continue reading