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Ramen “Museum” in Yokohama, Japan

Hmmm … I can’t remember the last time I did a post related to food.

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Yokohama is practically the closest big city from where I currently live. So whenever I have short time to spare before going home, I sometimes end up exploring Japan’s second largest city by population. Being it nearby, it is also a good destination for me since weather here is so unpredictable, and September here in Japan means a lot of rain.

I first went to see the Cosmo Clock….

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… and to see the pretty lights of Yokohama’s skyline.

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*All images are taken with a cellphone.

Then I boarded back on the train to Shin-Yokohama and visit the Ramen “Museum”, which is 30 minutes away. I say this not to confuse it with the nearby Nissan Cup Noodles Museum which is in Minato.

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I’m air-quoting “museum” because it is barely a “ramen museum”.

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The whole basement is a recreation of Tokyo in the year 1958- the year when ramen started to become popular.

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Visitors can walk around  this made antiquated narrow alleyway with one complete loop of the basement area. The whole area is not big at all. And that pretty much is the museum part of the Ramen “Museum”.

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It has 9 ramen restaurants you can pick from. They have lots of ramen varieties which include dishes from other regions in Japan and even the ones with influences from other countries. The neat part is that the restaurants offer small bowls so you don’t have to order just one kind of noodle dish. And that’s the ramen part of the “Ramen Museum”.

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I have to say that the ramen I had was pretty darn good! I was slurping away like no one’s around me.

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I’m shrugging my shoulder on this one. It’s barely a museum. And the other unsavory part is that you have to pay about $3 to get inside. That’s like paying a fee to go inside the mall to order your meal in the food court area. I hate to be frank, but it looks more like a ramen business museum to me. And if you really want to visit old town settings in Japan, there are some much more authentic places like the ones in Kawagoe and Narai. That’s without paying an entrance fee.

People come here for the ramen part of the Ramen “Museum”. People try out the different varieties, flavors, or influences. I guess that’s the savory part of this place. Then again, you can find ramen pretty much anywhere in Japan to have that much variety.

Last Call …

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Seikenji Temple and Kakegawa Castle in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

First, I am proud to announce that one of my images I entered for a monthly photo contest won!

This was the picture…

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I am even more proud because this is the very first time I entered a photo to a contest. Soon, I’ll be entering another one. Hopefully I win and get one of my pictures be seen on a magazine.

So now that I start boasting about winning a photography contest, I think I have enough “say” about photography…

I would beg to differ that, in photography…

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…. the whole is not always greater than (the sum of) its parts.

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Don’t you agree?

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When I went on a day tour to Shizouka Prefecture, I found myself wading in closer to my subjects than shooting wide.

That’s the thing with Japan, the more you go to temples and castles, the more it starts becoming the same and the more you start experimenting with taking pictures of it.

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In Seikenji Temple, one distinction is that I get to see here 500 disciples of Buddha.

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500 is not that many so I started counting them. I stopped at  51 because I got bored, and I lost count.😀

We also went to Kakegawa Castle…

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… where we had a ninja for a tour guide.

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Cool!

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Of course, I won’t tease you with only the parts and not give away the farm.🙂

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Such a beautiful castle!

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Here are some more … “sum” …

 

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We also went to a tea plantation. Shizouka Prefecture is the largest producer of green tea in Japan.

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I got me a green tea-flavored ice cream. And …

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… it was tea-licious!😀

Take it from a photo contest winner😀 … In photography, you don’t always have to always look at the big picture.

Last Call…

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Then again, I would also argue that “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a letter J.”😀

Street Food Cinema

I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may.

Street Food + Street Cinema = Street Food Cinema

That is, a movie played outdoor with a street lined with food trucks.

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See if you can guess the movie (in case you’ve seen it).

I’m taking a breather on composing special posts. I want to post this in case people near the area are interesting in coming to this event.

We got to destination, The Exposition Park, very early. And so, I had plenty of time to explore the area. California Science Center and Los Angeles Memorial Museum happen to be in the same vicinity as The Exposition Park.

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You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your f***ing khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

The walls of California Science Center looks cool.

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The liberator who destroyed my property has realigned my perceptions.

When we came back, people already laid down their blankets listening to a live band while waiting for the movie to start.

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We arrived and headed straight to the food trucks.

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You wanna make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs.

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There’s a food bus too.🙂

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I got me Indian food from the India Jones truck while my friend ordered from Baby’s Bada$$ Burger.

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Baby Bad@ss Burgers have Hot Mama, She’s Smokin’, Cover Girl, The Other Woman, etc. on their menu.🙂

We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.

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It’s getting dark, a hint that the movie’s about to start.

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Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.

Before the movie started I noticed a lot of people are on their cellphone to kill time …

The things you own ends up owning you.

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Are you getting what the movie is?

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If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think every thing you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.

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The movie is from the great mind of David Fincher. It stars Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer.

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The quotes are words of Tyler Durden.

The movie is …. Fight Club.

Normally, people hate distractions while watching the movie screen. With an outdoor movie theater, I loved it when I hear cars, airplanes, people shouting, and helicopters during the movie.🙂

Delicious food, brilliant brilliant brilliant movie, cool theater setting … awesome event!

This next movie quote is one of my all-time favorite movie lines:
It is only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.

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For future Food Street Cinema screenings … www.streetfoodcinema.com The Dark Knight, Pulp Fiction, Bridesmaid, The Garden State, etc. are in the line-up.

There are also more other outdoor movie screenings happening all over California (maybe your own state) all summer long.

 

Memory Monday: Sushi, or Giving Chances

*All images are taken with Samsung S3 except for Last Call.

Other than recalling eating different kinds of sushi in Okinawa, Japan, I also want to talk about giving things another shot.

At first taste, I didn’t like wine. When I got to Italy, I tried some of their great tasting wine and now I love it. Same thing with dates, beets, Jagermeister😉, brocolli😀, and really a lot of things of those I tried eating for the first time. It’s not that I got weirded out eating sushi, the taste just didn’t appeal me at first. There’s a restaurant called Sakura in Mississippi that completely changed my perception of sushi. They have a bento box that includes small pieces of sushi. After that, I have gotten quite an acquired taste for sushi.

I love sushi. Though to me, it gets expensive for food that doesn’t really fill me up after eating. In Japan however, they have cheaper price for sushi. Not only I got some spare change, I also got the authenticity so I was chowing away with sushi and ramen when I was in Okinawa.

I brought this up before on my Food and Travel (Part II) post. When I first ordered sushi in Okinawa, I was expecting to get the usual traditional sushi roll. Instead, they served me this …

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… A slab of raw fish on top of the rice part. It was a challenge for me to eat the whole set because it is hard for me to eat raw fish. Even given that I loathe wasting food, I still shamefully didn’t finish that plate.

Although… I enjoyed it after few more tries.😀 What converted me from nigiri-sushi virgin to a nigiri-sushi lover is this sushi go-round place …

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I gooooooogled it in the internet a lot of times but I really can’t figure out the name of the place. It is leading me to believe that this place really is amply and simply called “Sushi Go-round”.😀 This is in American Village.

Such neat idea. They make the sushi, put it on the carousel, and customers get to see to pick what they want from their selections of sushi. Plus, it also gives you variety instead of just one type of sushi in one plate like the ones in almost all sushi places in the US.

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They also have fish egg sushi. Not for me.

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Most plates have two sushi of one kind. The sushi there are smaller than the first picture up top. I think I walked away the most with 9 plates. My friend loves eating sushi that I think he had 13 plates (so that’s actually 26) in one sitting.

Moving on…

Of course, I also just want to bring back my experience when I ate a blowfish in the form of sushi.

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You can read my post all about the danger and “ethical dilemma” of eating blowfish here – To eat, or not to eat blowfish, that is the question.

Last…

I also love this display I brought back with me here in the US.

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He bobs his head continuously and his hand also moves continually tapping the sushi. I used to place it on my office desk so when I want my mind to drift off during work, I just look at it.😉 It’s a cool display.

….

You see, you shouldn’t really go off of your first tries. You should give things a second or third or so on chances as long as you finally had enough attempts before setting on a conclusion. You should allow them another shot. You should give people chances. People who get discreditted are better when they seek redemption. And they get even much much the best when they did find redemption and once they recovered.

Last week, I finally talked to a dear old friend that I ignored for such a long time because of issues we had.😉

Last Call…

Some of you may remember this sushi master from my black and white post titled Blaque.

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Food and Travel II

How much is food a part of your travel? What’s your most notable food exploration amongst all your travels?
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Some people would say, “What is travel without food”. I say it’s still a travel. My blog shows evidences that food is not a big part of my travels. Being a very spontaneous, shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy I just let the chips fall where they may. I don’t plan on what I was going to eat when I travel. I’m actually stingy with food when I travel. I sometimes just bring a lunch box before I head out. I am no epicurean. I even buy those taquitos, hotdog or small burger at gas stations because they’re filling for such small price. If you eat near your travel destination, you expect the cost to be higher than regular. I sure can sacrifice food in replacement to other travel expenses.

There’s an exception to every rule, of course. That means, there must also be an exception to the rule that every rule has an exception. Unless the food exploration is the travel destination itself, then I’m all for it!

Itadakimasu! (Let’s eat!) This is Food and Travel, Japanese version.😉

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One of the most well-known festival food here in Okinawa is takoyaki or octopus balls. Don’t get excited. These are not actually “crown jewels”.😀 They are just octopus meat in a shape of a ball. These balls don’t dribble either. However, these balls do come in a very satisfying package.😆 Not my liking, but definitely worth the try when in Okinawa. The takoyaki, that is.😀

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Most festival stalls also sell churros (better believe it, although it’s more like a snack junk food) grilled meat on a stick, fries, corn, and this delicious noodles …

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Moving on…

One of the biggest surprises for me coming here in Japan is their sushi. Apparently, I don’t pay too much attention to details when I watch Japanese movies or movies set in Japan. When I first ordered sushi here in Okinawa, I was expecting the typical traditional sushi roll. Instead, they served me this…

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… A nigiri-zushi. To me that is sashimi (raw meat), which I didn’t really eat, up to that point. The only thing that separates sashimi and sushi is that sushi has rice with it. One thing you must know about me is that my biggest pet peeves is wasting food, so it was a big challenge for me to eat that plate. It even has wasabi in between the raw fish and the rice.

I shamefully didn’t finish that set because of the raw fish. Although, after a few more sushi places I’ve grown to love this kind of sushi.

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That’s my shrimp sushi on a boat. When one sushi jumped out, I called out “Sushi Overboard!”.😀

I love sushi but they are expensive in the US. Over here, it’s cheaper, and they offer more combinations in one order.

Last one…

Mochi! (Rice Balls!) It’s a traditional food usually served during New Year. The first time I tried it, we actually made it from scratch. It was so much fun. We pounded it, dipped it in kinako (grains of soy beans), formed it into balls, stuffed it with anko (sweet beans), and then we served it to Japanese school children.😉 I took home some for me…

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That day, some Japanese men also offered me to eat sweet azuki bean soup with mochi balls in it. It’s a familiar warming soup for the winter breeze.😀 I rubbed my belly to show how I’m loving the food and how full I was, but they immediately freaked a little and pointed me the direction to the restroom.😆

Last Call…

Just my girly dessert from a buffet…

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All images are taken with Samsung S3.

To eat, or not to eat blowfish, that is the question –

There’s a Japanese phrase “Itsuyaruno? Imadesyo!” which roughly translates to “When are you going to do it? Now, right!?”

To eat or not to eat blowfish? For those of you who are unacquainted, eating fugu or blowfish can kill you if it’s not properly prepared. Only certified chefs can deal with this fish prepation.

There are plenty more things I’d like to do before I exit out. Plenty of places I still dream of going to. Realistically speaking, I like to see, amongst many, The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and New York. I like to go back to Chicago and Texas since I didn’t really have the chance to explore it when I was there years ago. Hopefully by the end of this year I get to go to either Greece or mainland Japan. I hope to one day organize a big charity event. And if we’re talking brainstorms and daydream I’d like to have a dinner with my lifelong celebrity crush, Jessica Alba. I promise myself to get one or two college course done this year.

To eat, or not to eat blowfish? That question’s been “eating me alive” for months. Long I contemplated whether to do it or not. So much more I want to do in my blessed life, and I’m dancing on the razor’s edge for a single dish? It’s like diving into the deepest part of the ocean with only the hands of the supposedly expert stranger as my breathing apparatus. Eating a blowfish is not just a challenge on courage, it really is also an insanity test!

Then again, people do live dangerously. Some do it more adventurously like skydiving, swimming with whale shark or bunjee jumping. Most of us in our daily lives, it starts when we hop on our cars to when we enter a public restroom. Even a ride in the “happiest place on Earth”, Disneyland, is associated with risk that involves trusting others for our safety.

According to my friend Wiki…

Statistics from the Tokyo Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health indicate 20 to 44 incidents of fugu poisoning per year between 1996 and 2006 in Japan (a single incident may involve multiple diners). Each year, these incidents led to between 34 and 64 victims being hospitalized and zero to six deaths, an average fatality rate of 6.8%.

To eat or not to eat blowfish? That is the question. Not only it is deathly, it also raises moral dilemma for others. Fishing grounds for pufferfish are being depleted. However, there are regulations set in place. Most fugu are now harvested in the spring during spawning season and then culturing the fish on aquafarms.

Despite its danger and the ethical dilemma it imposes, brave and curious millions have bet their bottom dollar eating fugu.To be honest, my confidence in seeing the next daylight after eating blowfish was more and more greatly boosted by those I know who lived to tell the tale. They go out to eat blowfish with zero worry, and come back from a restaurant with bellies full and tastebuds satisfied. And I do live vicariously. I, personally, do feel that the fatality of eating fugu is like chancing to pick one country out of all the countries in the world.

I’m not a vegetarian and will never be one. No, I won’t ever eat shark fins because they really are endangered. I’ve eaten dog as a kid in the Philippines, but won’t ever do it again. Yes, the adventurous in me did try eating blowfish. It was satisfying and fulfilling, and it gave me a new lease on life. It is off my list, and off my mind. I won’t do it again as well. As long as I can stomach it, I want to try more exotic food and preparations. One day, I may eat an animal that I fear like a snake. There’s a ruling, stubborn, fat kid in me who basically eat whenever whatever. Remember when you were so young and you dropped a food on the ground and still ate it. That’s what my mindset is whenever I try more feared or unique dishes.

We really are savage indidviduals. Gluttony is our friend especially when we are down and blue. Sometimes it’s not even the flavor that we savor but the idea of eating. They have sailed seas to find spices and trades, which we continue to do. We will never run out of choices. All types of cuisines and gastronomy readily available for us. We explore food. We will never ran out of taste, of food to try out of our own preferences. Meals that were fit for the king are deduced down to lower level which we now eat as long as it’s accessible. And given the time and opportunity, we might eat whatever is in front of us. That’s whether it’s for survival or for guilty pleasure.

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We eat just because. No longer it is just for necessity. It’s a pasttime, a craving, a habit. It’s for entertainment, an indulgence.

I did say upon arrival here in Japan that ‘these are my  moments’. I promised that I’m going to bask in the different experiences in this unique culture. I’ve tasted pig feet here as well as meats of kangaroo, crocodile and camel. I had some culture food and drink like octopus balls, habu sake (snake wine) and mochi (rice balls). I just couldn’t let go of this constant prodding temptation andnagging question of eating blowfish. I’m ready for more risks, opportunities and whatever adventure 2014 brings me.

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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😀..

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.😀

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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