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Death Valley National Park

Let me tell you now. Death Valley National Park is easily an Absolute Must Visit for me.


The Sophomore Slump Recommends

Movie: Finding Nemo – Still remains to be my most favorite animated movie of all time.

Music: Yankee Foxtrot Hotel by Wilco – This is one of my top three albums of 2000’s.

And since I’m now here in Greece, this video I found uses one of the album’s songs as a soundtrack to a short created by an Athens-based director. Here is “What is that?”. The song, Pot Kettle Black, is one of my ultimate best album tracks of all time. I never get tired of this song.

You GOTTA watch this one….

Death Valley National Park is absolutely spectacular! There are many attractions where you can just drive by or walk and hike, and explore!


Driving around the desert is so cool too. You can see miles and miles and miles and miles of nothing. See this next picture … you can see this endless road to the dot…


Death Valley is a nature art museum. Mother Nature did an incredibly great job being an artist in this part of the Earth.


Artist Palette

Many of you know how big of a fan I am when it comes to awesome rock formations. So Death Valley NP really delighted me right off the bat.

Twenty Mule Team Canyon

Twenty Mule Team Canyon


Twenty  Mule Team Canyon

Mind you, I was only here for one full day and I saw so much of its breathtaking and, not to mention, interesting landscapes.


Devil’s Cornfield

Natural Bridge Canyon

Natural Bridge Canyon

I got to walk on the lowest point of North America.

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin

I hiked some of the trails. And even though I came here during winter to avoid extreme heat of the desert, weather here is still a kicker esp. when you hike. I have learnt to bring enough water and gear up for this occasion. :D ;)

Trail to Golden Canyon

Trail to Golden Canyon

Trail to Golden Canyon

Trail to Golden Canyon

I recommend ending the day in Mesquite Sand Dunes to catch its dramatic color.

Mesquite Sand Dunes

Mesquite Sand Dunes

I took more pictures with my DSLR but the charger and a cord I need to upload got to my shipped boxes so I have to wait long for the shipment to arrive here in Greece. But for now, I think these cellphone pics will suffice. Til then, see you for more of one of the best California travel destinations I’ve been to.

Last Call…

i started pointing the cellphone camera direction to the sky. And when I turned around, next thing I saw, everyone was doing it too :D


Phoenix-looking cloud


Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is my Everest. My dream come true.

Half Dome

Half Dome

The Sophomore Slump Recommends

Music: Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams – Get introduced to Alt Country by a musical genius of this one of the most heartbreaking albums of all time.

Movie: Whiplash – This film lashes however much it bleeds. Just give it to JK Simmons. He better have the grand slam for his acting performance.

Here is Rushing or Dragging scene …

All images are taken with Samsung Note 3

Just entering right pass the gate, Yosemite lets me know how grand it truly is.


Eye-popping. Majestic. Everywhere you look is at large. You cannot size anything. All of us humans and manmade creations are just babies and tiny toys compared to the scales of the nature grandeur Yosemite has displayed for us.


I am not superior.


Yosemite is a beauty.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

I was awe-striken by its splendor.




Captivating. Too stunning. At times, I feel like I don’t deserve to gawk at it (seriously!).


Upper Yosemite Falls

Having gone to one of my dream locations. I feel like gone through every where.

In front of the Lower Yosemite Falls

In front of the Lower Yosemite Falls

I am blessed. I am grateful.


I felt so complete.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

Yosemite took me to so many unimaginable places.


Yosemite became like the mother of them all.


I know I won’t be able to get to all my dream travel destinations. With Yosemite, I feel so content. I was gifted this Christmas in which I am humble for.


I wish you all the best of luck next year especially with some of your hopes, dreams and aspirations.


I am very happy.


Cabrillo Beach and Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, CA

imageSan Pedro highlights the international seaport of Los Angeles where fishing industry prospers.  You’ll sure notice that driving towards this coastal end.

if you’re interested, go check out The Korean Bell of Friendship.

And make sure to visit Cabrillo Beach and Marine Aquarium.


Parking is a staggering a dollar per hour! Keep in mind that this is still in LA where most of the parking fees can go from ten dollars to a riff-off big five-O. The beach area offers children’s parks, volleyball, table tennis, children’s indoor playroom, surfing spots, etc.


The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is designed by world-renowned architect, Frank Gehry. See the building here – Frank Gehry’s Architectural Works in California. 

The admission fee is a whopping $0!!! Donations are encouraged.

They have different shows/special displays at different times/days. Mine happened to be the Tidepool Walk where people can dip their fingers to some anemones and starfish.

This is my most favorite from their exhibit. What I call glow in the dark fish, or what they call Garibaldi (even the name is cool).


The usual favorite, the jellies.



They have humungous lobsters, gargantuan starfish, some interesting-looking snails and other interesting sea life creatures. I decided not to show pictures as to not to crowd this post. Plus, I don’t want to spoil everything for those who might be interested in coming here. :D

I’ll focus on these fascinating camouflaging aquatic creatures. Can you see any?


This next one is easy, but….


This flatfish is so fascinating. They really change color depending on their surrounding. Here it changed to white….


Can you even see it? Ha!

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Exhibits include the aquarium itself, Aquatic Nursery, Exploration Center, and a research Library… all that for free and a very cheap parking spot for all the beach fun you want.

And because of the fishing industry all over San Pedro, at night, the waterside gets illuminated like its Christmas all year round…

Last Calls…






The Sophomore Slump Recommends

Music: A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay. It is both highly popular and critically acclaimed for all the right reasons. See a personal favorite post of mine – The Scientist.

Movie: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – I got three letters for you …. DUH. :)


Featured Blog

Here’s a creative, everything under the sun (including videos) blog ….. Enter …. priorhouse. WARNING: This Featured Post is hilarious – Nuts on the Plate (WPC – Minimalist)

Nordhoff Peak in Ojai, California

Whenever I hike I only choose easy to mild trails, ….. but not this time. Eric Tonningsen of “Awakening to Awareness” dared his readers to push yourself to the limits and stretch yourself. Plus, RVer LuAnn of Paint your Landscape said she’ll be in California this December and offered that we go on a hike. I needed to prepare. Now I blame them for all the hardship and pain this torturous trail put me through. :)


This trail is a b****leep. it’s too far and has an elevation of 4,485 feet. I wasn’t even planning on that. My one bottle water is not enough, and I’m wearing inappropriate shoe to be doing this.


I see a bit of fall colors along the way 10632587_10152893267763578_1249301033982271462_n

It was a long hike. There’s a group of two women close ahead of me. There were people who were hiking back. None of them said they reached the top when I asked them. All of them chose the midway point trails.

I was determined to go to the very top.

i got to see the entire Ojai Valley.


I had plenty of rests here and there. I was largely impressed by my cellphone signal. I was surrounded by mountains and trees and I still got reception! Thank you T-Mobile 4G LTE. :)

The group of two women already hiked back. They said  they were almost there but decided to come back down. There were plenty of time too that I wanted to quit. I was gasping for breath. I’m out of water. But I continued ….


Towards the top I felt like the trail was going nowhere. I was reaching a peak to another peak to another. I was really losing hope of getting to the top. This really is the hardest trail I’ve trekked. I was always reminded of my hike to Mt. Suribachi in Iwo Jima, Japan. That was it. When I was exhausted, delirious really, and doubting my will to get to the top, it’s the men and women who served during wars, and those who are serving our country were my motivation to finish this trail. I’m not only saying that because it’s Veteran’s Day. I reallu was thinking of their hardships, and it became my motor for this gruelling trek.


After a-many character-building moments, I finally saw a sign. The view was spectular …



The sign said I still have 1 mile to hike to get to the top…. Oh Crap. :D


I see clouds on the mountain tops. Some 4,000 feet above the ground. I’m in heaven. On top of the world!


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The brochure I got from the Ojai Visitor Center said it was only a 4.5 mile hike. It was waaay more than that. According to my cellphone, I hiked about 7 miles to get to this part. I really wanted to finish. I was determined,…. but not stupid. :) Thing is I was going to lose daylight, and I can’t take that chance.




Despite the aching pain of my legs, I raced to go back to the start. It was getting dark, and I started to panick actually. By the time I got back, according to my cellphone (app called S Health), I hiked a total of 14.2 miles with 23,776 steps!!! I got back to my car at about 5:30 just shy of being complete dark. I survived. :)

I was exhausted. Dehydrated. Hungry. My legs felt like Jell-O that I could just eat it. :D

I may not reached the very top, but it was a relief and great satisfaction that I persevered. ;)

To those of you who are interested in tackling this height, just follow the Pratt Trail. Very easy to follow. And, like I said, there are other trails like Foothill Trail.


The Sophomore Slump Recommends

Music: The Reminder by Feist Winner of Shortlist Music Award. Nominated for Shortlist Polaris Music Award. Eventual winner for Shortlist Polaris Music Award for a more recent album, Metals. My favorite from this album is a track called “Sealion”, I believe a remake.

Movie: The Departed wWhat fascinates me is that this movie is not far from the truth. Martin Scorsese lived through these scenes and character Costello is actually based on an actual mobster. A lot of people are not magnetized by the brilliance of this film because of it’s a remake of an Asian movie. But I say Martin Scorsese and the ensemble cast delivered it very well. I love Leonardo DiCarpio’s acting performance on this movie.

Featured Blog

A blog I relatively recently followed, but I can’t resist. Her blog is Simply Beautiful … Literally! LolaWi posted ome outstanding, really outstanding, fall colors – Splendor of Autumn.

Revisiting Huntington Library, Arts, and Gardens

Like most places California has some beautiful botanical gardens like the one at the Balboa Park in San Diego or the LA Arboretum. The state has maginficent art galleries like Getty Center, Getty Villa, or LACMA. You might even consider Hearst Castle on your next trip in Central California. But when you put altogether

a timeless library, …


diverse and well-kept gardens, and …


an intimate art gallery,


you are rest assured that you are in one of the best must-go-to places in California.


When I first went to Huntington Library in San Marino, California, I was in a rush that I didn’t get to see its entirety. Thing is, I absolutely loved it the first time. So, I invited my landlord, whom I have a good rapport with, and we visited Huntington Library in a much better pace this second time.


I get to see the areas I didn’t get to explore.

This is the outside of the actual library.


– Funny how this is censored. Pfft-

The library itself is so awesome. They have collected rare books and prints of many wonders and famous authors. They got original copies of plays like Shakespeare’s, stories by Mark Twain, poems by Lewis Caroll, studies by Benjamin Franklin, to explorers like Columbus, presidents like Lincoln, etc. It was just so awesome to see all those literature treasures that are encapsulating our history. It’s amazing. Magnificent!


Too bad. This is a kind of library that doesn’t issue library cards and let people check out books. :D

This time, I get more up close and personal with their art collections.


You see, more doesn’t exactly mean better. Huntington didn’t disappoint.



They also have sculptures neatly scattered throughout the botanical gardens.

From my first post about Huntington, Mona Liza commented that I make sure to take a look at their Desert Garden. So I did.


I haven’t explored much of California desert area other than Palm Spring areas and Slab City. So being close to one of these desert plans and succulents is one for the books. Well, they’ve got 5,000 kinds of it!


And of course, I get to revisit the other gardens too.


The Japanese Garden still look awe-striking.

The pictures may not do justice, but walking through the bamboo paths was awesome.



Just by sitting down, I explored the Chinese Garden even more. ;)




The lilies are more vibrant and alive this second time around.


My landlord hadn’t been back here in Huntington Library, Arts, and Gardens for about 20 years. He thanked me for taking him there and said he enjoyed every second of it.


And I did too.


It’s a place I’d visit again and again, even 20 years after.

It sure is a triple threat. Definitely one of my most recommended.


The details, your perspective and even sweetness, things are just clearer the second time around. ;)

San Luis Wildlife Refuge

Lunchtime, I was only looking for any place to stop and eat after being on the road for a long time. I took an exit, and happened to see a brown sign. I didn’t have much time to burn, but I still decided to follow the brown sign and eat there the sub I made the night before. Got to the visitor center, where they have a mini exhibit, and ahoy! there I found out that entering the refuge is free of charge. Cool! I really chanced upon an awesome place to park, eat and relax.


I drove their Auto Route Tour. That is, you just casually drive around and appreciate the refuge in all its glory through your car window.






I needed to go back on the road so due to time restriction, I didn’t really have ample enough time to absorb the wildlife part of San Luis Wildlife Refuge. My timing wasn’t so good either. They said November to February is the best time.

I did see the tule elks, a subspecies of elks that can only be found in California. Ha!


… Although, they’re too far for me to take a good picture. It is recommended to bring binoculars if you do come here.


The marshes are cool because of the ballets of different birds that are hanging out.



It would be nice to spend more hours here, as visitors should, but I needed to go back on the road.


It was an awesome “rest stop” for me.

Last Call…


Perhaps, I should say, to not always hesitate and sometimes follow a random brown sign on the road. ;)

Care to share one of your “rest stop”?

San Luis Wildlife Refuge website

Huntington Library in San Marino, California

I finally got to Huntington Library! I had been wanting to come here for…like…ever after reading so many posts of Huntington Library from other blogs. Now I know why. I love it! The set-ups are beautifully well-arranged. There are acres of beautiful, beautiful sceneries. You don’t have to have a sharp nose to smell the fragrance in the air. And the feeling of being there is just so much more to it than what the pictures can do justice.

I took advantage of our half-day Friday last week. I was contemplating of whether to go or not. The problem with driving in LA in the afternoon and with the weekend coming is that I have to deal with traffic. But after work week then putting up with the hustle and bustle of this city, it’s a good thing that Huntington (air-quote) Library gives that pause I needed.

huntington library11


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huntington library13


huntington library10


huntington library4

I actually got there with only one and a half before it closes. When I found out they have a Japanese Garden, I immediately knew just where to squeeze my time exploring. That is, me having already been to Okinawa, Japan.

huntington library14


huntington library6


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I love it! I even got extra giddy when I saw these shisa.

Learn more about shisa here – Shisa, Shisa, Shisa Everywhere.

It’s so neat to be able to visit Japan in California.

You probably should have noticed it by now. Huntington Library really is so much more than just a library. The entire property showcahses library, art museums, and botanical gardens which include Japanese Garden, Jungle Garden, Chinese Garden, Rose Garden, Palm Garden, ( breathe :D ) Shakespeare Garden, Australian Garden, Desert Garden, Children’s Garden and Subtropical Garden ( now exhale :D ).

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huntington library21


huntington library2


huntington library17

It blows that they are only open til 4:30 pm. I dreaded the traffic coming back especially with a Friday night approaching. But Wallah! Thank goodness I dodged the traffic. When I went to Santa Paula, I found a more scenic and a lot less stressful road. :D

I didn’t get to a lot of the gardens I mentioned above. But no sweat. That only gives me one more reason to come back. :P :D



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