hiking

Griffith Park

Nicole Voris

Before we moved to LA I really had no idea what to expect.  I had only spent a few days in the actual city of Los Angeles, and those were spent downtown.  I basically only had visions of tall buildings, dirty streets, and traffic.

Los Angeles has surprised me in so many ways and easily became my favorite city that I have ever lived in.  I am so happy to call this place home.

One of the best surprises was Griffith Park.  When we lived in Austin we were lucky enough to live right off the greenbelt.  It meant that we were only a five minute drive from a beautiful hike.  When moving to LA I was sure that was something I would lose.  Griffith park completely surprised me.  It's over 4,000 acres of land right in the middle of LA.  It is also home to this sign which I'm sure you've seen ;)

The park actually has a really strange and dark history including ghost stories, a criminal, prisoner camps, and other violence.  You can read about it on the wikipedia page.   I'm glad that despite all that, the park can now have a positive presence and influence over the city. 

 

I really love hiking here.  We usually start at the very bottom of the trail and make our way up to one of the peaks.  You get a 360 degree view of the surrounding city and on clear days you can see the ocean.  It's not an easy hike and I usually complain for the first 10 minutes.  It's so worth it to get the top though.

Griffith has been called the Central Park of Los Angeles, but it's actually much more wild than the Manhattan landmark.  The trails are all dirt, and vary in difficulty.  Theres also a ton of wildlife, including a mountain lion that managed to cross two LA freeways in order to settle in the park.   I've seen deer close up as well as smaller life, like bunnies and snakes. 

The park is also home to free museums and art.  The Griffith observatory is a free museum and national leader in public astronomy.  I suggest completing a hike then heading on in to see this awesome public facility.  http://www.griffithobservatory.org/

Griffith Observatory 

Griffith Observatory 

Another one of my favorite parts of the park is the abandoned zoo.  It was left as a zoo in 1966, but you can still hike and explore the old cages.  During the summer the Independent Shakespeare company performs for free four days a week. (I suggest making a donation if you take advantage of this great opportunity.)  This last summer Oliver and I saw Romeo and Juliet.  They did a fun 1980's style and I absolutely loved it.  I can't wait to see more from them.

These are just a few things you can do in Griffith park.  There's even more, but these are the things I've taken advantage of.  If you live or visit LA I highly suggest taking some time to explore this awesome park!

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My Happy Place - A Weekend in Lake Tahoe

Sasha De Sola

Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s only about three hours from San Francisco which makes it the perfect weekend escape. The lush forests, majestic mountain peaks, and crystal clear blue lake just have this magical quality about them. For me, there’s nothing like a little time in nature to clear your head.

One of my favorite hikes is Eagle Rock on the west side. It’s a super short and relatively easy hike, but it leads you to some incredible views of the lake. The Eagle Rock volcanic outcrop rises about 6,300 feet above sea level and it’s less than half a mile from the road to the top!

The view from the top … vertigo kicks in when I look straight down!! :-/

Another favorite spot of mine is Lone Eagle Grille in Incline Village, Nevada. Make a reservation at the restaurant for dinner, or walk out on the dock, order a glass of wine and watch the sunset over the lake.

    

It’s fun to see everyone enjoying themselves on the water… boating and jet skis galore! I only dipped my feet in the water this time but I’m determined to get out on the water next time around! Until next time…

Hawaii

Morgan Quinn

This year I was lucky enough to FINALLY (I say finally because everyone I know has been there) visit Hawaii! All my friends would tell me it's life changing and I thought to myself "yeah, so is a bag of Hot Cheetos" but MAN they weren't lying. As soon as I stepped foot on the tiny, green saturated island of Kauai I knew it was going to be tough to get on my returning flight home. Now, the morning at LAX airport wasn't as glamorous as Hawaii. It started with me leaving my purse in a stall in the bathroom and running through the airport like a maniac trying to find it. The airport gods were on my side, I found it, and off we went!  

| Kalalu Trail |

It was only me and my boyfriend Sam on the trip so deciding on activities and places to eat was pretty easy. We booked a lot of the activities in advance since Hawaii is popular for vacationing. We made the bold decision to knock out all of our activities in the first 3 of 6 days of our stay. I say bold because it was exhausting. Fun but EXHAUSTING. We hiked, zip-lined, snorkeled, kayaked and more in the first three days. So by day four we had sunburns and blisters and cuts galore. All we wanted to do was soak in the jacuzzi like an 80 year old couple. 

My favorite thing we did on our trip was zip-line. I didn't know what to expect and that feeling of just jumping off and flying above the most gorgeous green trees was incredible and I recommend it to anyone and everyone. Other than zip-lining, the food in Hawaii is super healthy and simple.They have foods that aren't so common in LA like a lot of different types of fish, papaya, lychee, coconut and more. My LEAST favorite was losing my luggage back in LA. Not to worry! It was found 24 hours later after some tears and fear of losing my favorite yoga pants.

Here are some photos of my time in Hawaii and I hope you ALL make it there once or again and again.