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Shisa, Shisa, Shisa Everywhere

From Chinese Shi comes Okinawa’s Shisa, a cross between a lion and a dog.

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Each countries such as China, Japan and Korea have different versions of it. Rarely you might stumble upon it in other parts of the world.

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There are noticeable things in Okinawa – the beautiful beaches, the 360-degree low clouds, vending machines, and of course, shisa.

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Older ones were traditionally placed in imperial places and wealthy people’s homes. In modern Okinawa, shisas are everywhere! You can see it on rooftops.

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Being that they serve as wards, they are usually positioned in front of houses and business establishments.

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The one to the left is normally has its mouth close; they attract and keep the good spirits in.

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The one on the right is usually has its mouth open; they shoo away bad spirits.

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There are also in plaques in different shapes of usually square, rectangle or circle.

Shisa, in general, have eyes that are magnetizing as if challenging whoever looks at it.

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In old Okinawa, shisa are mostly fierce-looking.

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There are plenty of shisa variations.

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Some are accessorized.

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In modern Okinawa, versions of shisas are made friendlier and more appealing.

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They can be highly decorated.

Some are candid.

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They are now in colorful designs.

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Some depicting Okinawa’s culture.

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… and in different sizes.

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Being that shisa attribute largely to Okinawa culture, they are now sold as souvenirs.

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Shisa, shisa, shisa everywhere!

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And as proven by the overload of shisa pictures on this post, I just can’t get enough of it.

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Learn more about shisa from another currently Okinawa-based blogger, Eflida, and her blog, Because i am uniquely and wonderfully made.

In the Land of the Rising Sun …

A little update …

Yes, I bade sayonara to a land of setting sun, that is California, and greeted konichiwa to the land of the rising sun, Japan.

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A little story …

While we were waiting at the airport, I was, in its literal sense, constipated. I was with co-workers. If they get a snippet that I’m having abdominal pain, my chance of going to Japan will be shot into smithereens. And so, I enacted like nothing’s wrong happening with me. I was stiff as a ramrod. They asked me a question, I was just nodding or SMH-ing. They offered me food, I snubbed them. They commanded me to do so something, I pretended to be falling asleep. I was already thinking of the worst like appendicitis. But I just have to, HAVE TO get on that plane!!!

Atlas! Flight something-something is now boarding. But urgh! not a perfect timing for I had to do my business. I was sweating profusely as I was seemingly walking the path to the door of freedom, not the airplane entrance but to its tiny restroom. At times like these when you think something is within your reach, everything else seems like is in slow motion.  Literally though, there was a woman having her slow-motion moment when she dropped her carry-on bag and had to pick it up. I wanted to tackle everyone in front of me as if I was Billy Bob playing football. And then finally, the moment of ever-effervescent joy in cloud 9, Disneyland and wiiing-flying Red Bull… Success! I opened the door matter-of-factly and then instantly I deuced the drop, and my stomach pain had a great release. :D  Even better, I went and searched for my seat and found that I was going to sit by myself for the entire flight, and that I didn’t have to excuse myself every time my breadbasket gets an outburst. The pilot turned the seatbelt lights on. The flight attendants asked us to have our windows open and our seats in the upright position. We landed to Japan, and for the last order of “my business” I just need to be reminded not to bow too much when the Japanese greets us or else I might “get into an accident”. :D Wait, Ooops … I forgot something. :D

Sorry for the graphics and my inexperienced storytelling. I will now make a turn into a complete transition.

My first few pics of Japan…

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As I was coming out the staircase on the 4th floor of my building for the next 6 months, I spotted that the sun’s quite photogenic. I headed back to my room and grabbed my gadget immediately. This time, however, I picked not the big camera but my android.

If I can make decent shots like that with my cellphone, then anyone can. You just have to have an eye for it. ;)

Last Call…

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California Sun

I thought I’d make a collection photos first before I bid sayonara to this land of the setting sun.

Well here’s the deal. I started writing, and I was mumbling and babbling so much cliche’s about my stay here in California adding excessive buttery words on how much I love it. Screw that :D. I’m gonna make it simple.

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- Black’s Beach/Gliderport in La Jolla, San Diego -

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- Ocean Beach, San Diego -

I did have options – roads, birds, people, trip highlights, flowers or trees. But in the back of my mind, ever since, I always planned to come to this point and gather all my shots of California sun. I knew this is good enough to show the culmination of my stay here in California.

This is the very first one that I got proud of…

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- Channel Islands, Ventura -

Since then, I always make sure to catch the sunset during my travels. I really set it up to stop at a beach or high areas before the sun goes down.

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- Half Moon Bay -

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- Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California -

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- Tamalpais State Park in San Francisco

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- California coast/Highway 1 -

Believe you-me, I have chased the sun before and came out empty handed. It’s okay. The golden California sun, to me, is always worth the wait.

Last Call …

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- La Jolla, San Diego -

 

Category: California

My Weekend With Marilyn

My weekend with Marilyn and the rest of Palm Springs was kind of a shoot from the hip, spontaneous runaway act. It’s just that I had a choice to either mope around or go somewhere for 14 days. I got out of the house and, with zero plan in mind, I started driving.

I took the road by surprise and the road ended up surprising me.

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Astonishing roadside spectacles abound my drive en route to my destination to Palm Springs. Driving on the road with these windmills, it was as if I was being transported to a parallel universe.
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I only figured I’d avoid the heat in “high desert” and so I went during winter season. I didn’t dream of White December. However, the Aerial Tram in Palm Springs ascended me with an elevation of 8,516 feet. Ahoy! I was standing on the snowcapped mountains I used to only stare at from the windows.

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Being from a tropical island, I was never a fan of cold weather but the next thing I knew, I was hiking on it feeling like an adventurer to an episode of National Geographic Channel. :D A true unique experience, for me at least.
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The end result is a grand overlook of Coachella Valley in five different spots.
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Coachella Valley, I say? No worry, I came down to snoop around for some more. Coachella Valley Preserve seems to have answers, I assumed.
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I was then greeted with forests of palm trees in a place named Palm Springs. Fancy that!
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Coachella Valley Preserve offers a good number of hiking trails. I dashed the easiest one as the night was tapping me on the shoulder, telling me to take a rest.
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The next day, I went Downtown for brunch. Marilyn Monroe happened to be waiting patiently for me to photograph her. :P I caught her in the most cinematic position.
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Downtown Palm Springs centers many events, museums and other attractions. Be sure to look down while walking as Palm Springs has its own version of Walk of Fame, similar to Hollywood but only less glamorized. Be sure to look back up, else you’ll bump into other people and it’s not going to be pretty like Marilyn. :D I have pictures of the stars and names but I’m feeling selfish, and this post is getting longer and longer.
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I then continued on to embrace my newfangled love for hiking.
 
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 My destination – Indian Canyon. Not too shabby for a hiking wannabe. Not at all…
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During my weekend with Marilyn and the rests of Palm Springs, it was really the time where I think of something deeply – travel is fun and being confined inside a square is not. I urge everyone to just Nike do it from time to time.
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Joshua Tree National Park

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Here’s to another of my Absolute Must travel destinations in California.
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Perhaps, many may hate me for it, my adoration to rock formations is stronger than beach and ocean views. So if it’s a combination of both, then it means cloud 9 to me. :)

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Joshua Tree is much more than the intriguing tree for which it’s named for, which isn’t even a tree but of species of yucca. It is a mecca for hikers, mountain climbers, campers and nature lovers. Because of its jumbo rocks, Joshua Tree becomes a most sound rock-climbing destination.


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Here’s the deal, Jessica Biel. Joshua Tree is an instant favorite of mine because of the many hiking trails for all ages. It’s just amazing when you can witness outdoorsy people, noobs or elite, all in front of you doing the same interests like you do.
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My favorite part of my time there, however, was when someone from cloud 9 1/2 decided to flick the switch into tungsten lighting in different areas of the park. It made the puzzles of rocks even more magnificent than they already are.
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So, who in this bizzar-o-world is this Joshua guy? And who piled up these rocks?
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Eons years ago, this part of the desert was once the habitat of this muscular giant named Joshua. He got so bored that he started to play Tetris using these rocks. That theory is based on the wild imagination of Rommel of The Sophomore Slump. Geologists and archeologists, with their glasses and brushes, disagreed.

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Their more boring explanation – result of volcanic activity. Pffft. Actually the Oasis Visitor Center has cool displays into how these piles of rocks uniquely came into form. And if you want to explore the entirety of it, a day cannot accommodate it. It’s okay, you can sleep under the stars as there are 6 campgrounds for individuals and groups.

More of my hikes in the future …

Last Call …

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PEOPLE

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A mother wept a bucket full of tears when 10-year old Kevin left. She used to always prepare peanut butter and jelly, his favorite, and tuck his lunch box to his bag. After school, she’s the one who greeted and walked with him back home. She read, taught and played with him most of the day.

He’s a delight to her. But Kevin had to go. He’s a son of a military whose duty station in California had come to an abrupt end. She was just their neighbor. Though, she spent time and cared for him more than her own. She said that people think she was exaggerating it. Some kids in his school called her Kevin’s Nanny. She said, “It isn’t exaggeration, it’s love.” She She started balling again.

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I have cultivated a good relationship with my landlord. It’s not hard to because he’s a people person. He talks to anybody. He knows Ventura and it’s community. We see each other every time I pay my rent. One dinner, he told me his story. Whenever he does his morning walk and run. He usually passes by a house. Every time, he picks up the daily newspaper left on the lawn, and then he takes it all the way to the front door.
The owner of the house is a woman in her 90′s.

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Ben and John live in the same apartment complex. They and their families spent the big holidays together last year. They become great friends for a couple of years now. There’s one incident that led up to this. John got fed up with Ben for his well being when they were forced to work together. John took the bull by his horns and opened a can of whoop ass to him. He berated and derided, laid out all his problems and irritation with him. It was hard for Ben to swallow everything in.

All the time, John remembers that moment and wished his face-to-face confrontation never happened. When they got reunited, Ben thanked John. He claimed that John made him a changed man. They now go to the gym and run together. John, he learned patience, to be calm and compromise through raising his kid who annoys him severely.

EMANCIPATION

Right now, he’s probably preparing the tables and chairs, or maybe fixing the bedroom. He used to live on a field, alone. He sells oranges at a Farmer’s Market, and that’s the only hours he spent talking to most people. He chose happiness and liberation, forgetting, leaving and shutting out every one he knew. One day, as he was only burning wood for light, he burnt his kindling house.

62496_10151453334548578_553132698_nHe then started to reconstruct another house. That next day, people who noticed his solitary life came to help him. More and more followed, and even donations were readily available to his soon to be doorstep. The house, which is much improved than the last, was rebuilt in just 10 days.

He still sells oranges at a Farmer’s Market. He is also a regular volunteer to a Rescue Mission serving homeless people. He does it as a return, a redemption, I supposed. He disagreed. He said he does it for what it is, his past didn’t matter. He said that he learned something the hard way. “No matter how much you sliced it, people need people.”

These are the stories of the people I know. Names are anonymous.

This post is part of my Special Reports.

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Care for some more amazing story?

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See you on my 100th Featured Blog.

Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park

After Palm Springs, I spotted another sign on the road that interest me. I did a little bit of research, found a decent price hotel, and off I went to 29 Palms.

I got there at night, perfect timing actually. Palm Springs was so good, Joshua Tree was very promising, and Rommel was just pumped up ready to do something but was getting eaten by boredom.

I remedied that with a relaxing, feel-good undertaking …

Drive-In Theater

A blast from the past, very cool Drive-In Theater! I got me a popcorn, nachos and soda, and was just eating and sitting at the comfort of my car. It sounds low but it really was just awesome experience to me. I mean, you don’t have to worry about cellphone ringing, muttering voices, people standing up for nature calls and tugging feet at the back of your chair.

Ow, I also found this on the way to 29 Palms…

Sonic in California

America’s Drive-In. Weee!Two Drive-In,’s sweet! I miss this so much.
i used to go here all the time when I was in Mississippi. Basically, for those who are not acquainted, this is Southerners’ pride Fast Food where you can park your car, get your order, stay there because they bring your food to your car so you just sit back and relax, and eat! I got me a grilled cheese sandwich, a hotdog, their tots and a slush. Exactly the signature Sonic meal.

Do check out my post on the Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park


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Continuing on …

Being a mecca for all things outdoorsy including numerous hiking trails, Joshua Tree National Parks, to me, is an instant addition to my list of Absolute Musts.

Cholla Cactus Garden

First off was a quick stroll with these interesting kind of cactus …

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It was cool because there’s a garden of these Cholla cacti. But then, one spool of spines clung to my jacket and poked me. It was so hard to detach it without any gloves. That’s all I’m gonna say :D..

Skull Rock Trail

I was confused with this trail. I didn’t think I followed the trail. I stayed around because the entrance area alone is already magnificent, and fun! There were people going up the rocks, jumping from one rock to another, ducking in between rocks, and just reeling in the fascination of these rocks…

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Clever of them to call this Skull Rock Trail.

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There’s a cool guy who posed for the camera…
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Unto the Wall Street Mill Trail I went on…
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At the edge of the Wonderland of Rocks sits the Wall Street Mill, a finest example of gold processing mill remaining in the park. This trail shows what’s left during the second gold rush which happened here – the mill, dilapidated buildings, windmill, and some awesome old cars.
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Last Call..
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At times I get frustrated when a pamphlet would tell you that you can see these species and flowers that a lot of times, in reality, are actually hard to come by. Well, after coming back from this 2-mile round hike, I spotted this bird. :)
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I even sushed some people, not to startle the bird so I can capture it. :D

I always envy those who hike farther and more regularly, esp. RV’ers. I guess with Joshua Tree National Park, i found myself extremely content having gone to a RV-type, kind of location. :) And eventhough I resulted to shorter hikes, as I always do, it’s just not at all hard to love Joshua Tree National Park. Driving there alone, seeing the magnificent rock formations is already a bliss.

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. My favorite post – click please – > here.

Graffiti-covered house in Murphy Ranch,Malibu

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There are graffiti everywhere – ground, trashcans, woodpile, pipelines, on the rocks – everywhere. I started thinking like a principal or school guard as to who were behind all these grotesque arts. Is this left to be this way?

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Besto? Pez? Alf___? Joneses? For the life of alphabets, a lot of these I can’t make something out of it. I’m guessing they left it complex for the investigators and the curious minds to wonder about it and decipher. This trail of enigmatic scribbles must be leading somewhere …

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AHA! A graffiti-covered house … more clues! I bet it’s the original owner who did all these unconventional house decorations.

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This dilapidated house, it’s iffy to get in. It’s like entering a haunted mansion. What if there are rats running around inside for dramatic effect? Or three witches with their eldritch laughter?

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Ahhh … I feel content. My own room is not so bad afterall. :D

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Apparently…

Murphy Ranch was designed to serve as a hold out for fans of the Third Reich waiting for America to fall to the Nazis. Instead, the ranch was raided by U.S. authorities and closed in 1941. The abandoned buildings were transformed into an artists’ colony in the 60s and 70s, but were abandoned after the Mandeville Canyon Fire in 1978. Today the grounds of Murphy Ranch are uninhabited, dilapidated, covered in graffiti, and open to hikers.

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Wait! Hold out! There is it! The CULPRIT!

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Er?…. That the same suspect I caught in Venice Beach!

What do you think?

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Love it?

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Like it?

Or just …?

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Last Call …

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Street Art?

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If you didn’t like what you see here, I’m sure you’ll love what antoinette showed here – Street Art Spotted – Lower East Side. Agreed? Well click for more street art using her street art tag. Beyond those amazing shares are her volunteering activities in and out of the states. This kind-hearted, lively and well-traveled blogger has enjoyed her time in Patagonia, Peru, Egypt, Australia, etc. Read actual medical situations, catch children smiling amidst their conditions, experience the world through nature, people and humanity from this blog - love.antoinette.

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Credits to Erica that I found out about this hike.

ZILCH

Solitary Walk: Venice Canals

Visiting the Katimbang family (see post before this), I went to San Diego this weekend. It was a four-day staycation for me. I was also touring around California our old-time friend we’ve known way back when we were all in Missisippi. While I thoroughly enjoyed the company that I don’t normally get, my travel opportunities, however, became limited. Frankly speaking, it was quite frustrating. I dare not to elaborate further not to sound such a very mean tattletale. Let’s just say that I didn’t get anywhere on my destination plans in San Diego. Anyhow, the disappointment were replaced with great conversations of new and old times. I guess, it still worth the long drive. Traveling with group sure has the “inner” benefits, but in all physicality, going solo gives you umpteen possibilities and freedom. See my post here about traveling in groups vs. solo – Lost in Paris.

With the aching, rising price of gas and the long hours on the road, I just couldn’t bare the thought of getting nowhere after three days of staycation. Going back home, in Los Angeles, I tried to cover LACMA but got there too late with too little to see. Knowing me, I just don’t give up that easily. I continued on. I punched in another address on the GPS and I was ready to roll again. When we got there, I told my good old friend to wait in the car handing him my iPad so he has something to do. I already took him to Santa Monica, Chinatown, Griffith Park, Fairoaks Pharmacy, Mission Beach and La Jolla. I’m sure he understood.

I went for a solitary walk in Venice Canals. The good riddance, perhaps selfishness or rudeness for some, was all worth it. It can easily be one of the top best solitary walks I had in my entire travel days of all-time.

Yes, the Venice Canals in California is set-up to resemble the one in Italy. Only this is a high-end part of Los Angeles. Not of historical signifance scenes than its predecessor, and no gondolas in sight, the scenery here is then beautified with glamour, stylish houses, gardens, trees, cemented and wooden bridges, and varieties of paddle boats.


These are the only passengers I saw on these boats.

I ran so quickly I tripped three times, bumped into two people blocking my way where one of which, I pushed to the water, dropped one of my lenses, just so then I could get on top of the bridge to catch this shot.

I was, of course, just joshing. I stood on the bridge and waited eagerly and patiently for that shot above. This one below, however, was a serendipitous sighting.

The lanterns that are hanging from a tree lit up, telling me I should go back now and get back to my friend I left so horribly inside the car. He did like the Hollywood sign and Santa Monica for those are popular, but I don’t think he had the same interest in seeing these views.

 

This post is part of Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary.
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Italy and California?

Featured Blog

Here is an excellent all-around blog. I don’t mean it in the slightest. This blogger is an artist, a poet, a traveler, a photograph expert, and a well-versed writer. She is currently enjoying Verona, and sharing wonderful street photography and stories of her stay there. Mind you, stateside, she’s been to San Jose, San Diego, Honolulu, Chicago, Anchorage, to name a few. My most favorite from this newly Freshly Pressed blog, One Street Shy, is this Verona-slash-intrapersonal post.

Last Calls…. Brace yourselves, as I did.


Though I didn’t anywhere in San Diego while traveling in group, this bookending solitary moment completely made up for it. With this scenery, I was certainly relieved.

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