Monday, April 15, 2019

Joshua Tree - Day 3

After a good night's rest, I drove down the street to check out Joshua Tree Coffee Company. Their outdoor patio was the best - the latte was good too!
Today was spent adventuring all over Joshua Tree National Park - and here's my proof of entry photo. I've always wanted to see this park - where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet.
We drove around the park - which is mainly Joshua Trees, rocks, and some small mountains. It was kind of surprising how few cacti we could see, at least from the road. We visited the Jumbo Rocks which prompted the need for a jumping photo, obviously.
I was on an epic search for my favorite Joshua tree - this one along the Hidden Valley trail was today's winner.
Hiking is my happy place - and the Hidden Valley Trail was a good one - even though it was 77 degrees outside (hence my red face).
I also hiked the Barker Dam Trail - the dam is just a concrete wall - but I liked to think that this little concrete set of circles was something related to it too.
A little further down the trail I found some cacti - just in case you were worried.
And back towards the parking lot of the Barker Dam Trail I saw some petroglyphs.
I feel lucky to have found this beautiful Mojave kingcup cactus in bloom (and identify it through a Googling rabbit hole) - the rainfall the winter prior has to be abundant enough for them to bloom and when they do, it's only for a couple of weeks.
I know some of my (iPhone using) friends are tired of me talking about how much I love my Google Pixel 3 phone, but this photo using Night Sight just brings me joy.

Tomorrow we're headed back to reality--flights, work, shoes--but it was such a nice long weekend getaway. Special thanks to my travel buddy and friend, Dynasti. Until next time!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Joshua Tree - Day 2

After a good night's rest, I made it up in time (or two hours before if I'm being technical) to see this beautiful sunrise right outside the front door of our Airbnb. To see the sun just slightly before this, check out my Instagram post.
After a yummy breakfast biscuit that I made myself (with a gas oven, no less!), we headed to Landers, CA to experience a sound bath at the Integratron. The Integratron is described as a "uniquely resonant tabernacle and energy machine sited on a powerful geomagnetic vortex in the magical Mojave Desert."
The grounds were very pretty and serene - lots of hammocks and comfy chairs - and this little spot that we couldn't resist getting our picture taken in.
Inside the white building, we climbed up to the second story to the dome. The entire structure has a fascinating story (see link in the photo above) and it was constructed with no nails or screws, just thousands of wooden pegs. We laid in a circle with our heads towards the middle of the dome.
As we laid on the floor with blankets, a woman played about 20 pure quartz singing bowls - sometimes four tones at once - for 30 minutes. We laid in silence listening to the sound move around the dome. The one rule they said not to break, besides having your phone off, was no snoring because the acoustics are so incredible, you can hear the tiniest noises from everywhere. Unfortunately, a couple of people still snored, despite being nudged by others - they said we could just talk out loud and tell them to stop, but that was way too weird with a group of 25 strangers.
After our sound bath experience, we headed to Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Museum. We walked through aisles of sculptures made from found objects. I liked this one with the glass bottle walkway.
We drove back into Joshua Tree and stopped in at the Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum (this is me doing my "beauty" face and body pose).
We met Jeff, owner of the Beauty Bubble and collector of more than 3,000 hair and beauty-related items, displayed all throughout the working salon. Jeff has been collecting the pieces for 28 years since beauty school and is headed to San Francisco in February for an eight-month show in Terminal 2 of SFO which will feature more than 100 of the objects, along with eight incredible hair sculptures Jeff made that depict classic hairstyles like the flip and the afro. Check it out if you make it to the SFO airport next year!
For dinner we headed to La Copine (which is open Wednesday through Sunday from 2-7pm, so plan accordingly, it's worth it). We started with this carrot, ginger, coconut soup with chili and fennel oil and the most delicious grilled bread with olive oil and garlic.
For my main course, I had this amazing Peruvian-style Ceviche de Camarón - wild caught rock shrimp, avocado, jicama, cucumber, roasted chile-coconut sauce, lime, cilantro, and purple potato. So incredible - with the best spiced kick finish.
We made it back just in time for a sunset photo shoot of the various cacti in our yard. I liked this one with the saguaros reaching up to the moon.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Joshua Tree - Day 1

My friend Dynasti and I were so proud of ourselves for planning a trip together for this spring to Joshua Tree all the way back in December. We only recently learned that we managed to book it during the same weekend as Coachella, oops. Oh well, we're on vacation so we had a nice lunch at Sugarfish (the Brentwood location) before joining the traffic driving East.

We had an amazing 10-course sushi lunch called the Nozawa. This was the tuna sashimi (above), which came after the edamame and before the albacore sushi, the salmon sushi, the toro hand roll, the yellowtail sushi, the sea bass sushi, the NZ sea bream sushi, the crab hand roll, and the daily special. Everything melted in the mouth and was delicious. 
After happily stuffing ourselves with sushi, we headed down to Caffe Luxxe for some caffeine (we were both up before the sun to catch early flights). This iced latte was the best.
On the way back to our car, I had to take a photo of this amazing succulent garden (if only it would travel well!). If you are ever need a florist in LA, check out Flowers with Love - really incredible flowers and plants.
We then hopped in our giant Ford F150, and headed to Joshua Tree. It took us about 4.5 hours, instead of the "normal" 2.5 hours we had planned on. The traffic was snarly but we had a nice smooth ride - and I've always wanted to drive a truck, so this trip seemed like the perfect chance, especially once we got on the hilly dirt roads to our Airbnb.
The backyard of our Airbnb property - The Saguaro Hideaway in Joshua Tree - is definitely one of its best features. I have always wanted to see a Joshua tree in person, so this yard had me taking photos like crazy.
I also love this sun porch that has big windows on three sides and cute little details all around.
We headed into town for some groceries and to pick up some takeout for dinner. We managed to make it back just in time to see the sun disappearing behind the hills. It looked like a movie set. Thanks for stopping by--more adventures await tomorrow!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Need an Adventure?

As you know from reading this blog, I am pretty obsessed with finding my next travel opportunity and/or destination. If you know me personally, you know that I LOVE free things. I have been seeing a trend (that I hope continues) with companies and countries' tourism boards using travel freebies as advertising. It makes sense, they pay for the travel expenses of one (or maybe a couple of) winners and they have gained a ton of mostly free publicity and everyone's email addresses in return. It's fun to dream about your odds of winning just the same. I have found a few gems that you might want to apply/enter to win:

"Belizesure" Deadline to Enter: April 9, 2019

I came across this opportunity to win a trip from Belize's Tourism Board to check out Belize's new over-water bungalow co-working space in Fast Company. At the time, all I could find was the email address to send your entry with an explanation of why you should be picked (I am terrible at those!) and now it's got it's own website, complete with rules and more photos. If you work remotely and feel like you might like a shot at doing it from a remote, private island, you should definitely enter to win. (Photo: Belize Tourism Board)
"A Night at the Louvre" Deadline to Enter: April 12, 2019

has been working on a new partnership in Paris with the Louvre museum. To promote some new experiences that you will be able to start booking in May (until the end of 2019) through Airbnb with the Louvre--concerts, behind-the-scenes tours--they are giving one lucky winner a trip to Paris to stay in the iconic Pyramid, complete with breakfast in bed, dinner with the Venus de Milo, and more. To enter, visit this link, log into your Airbnb account, and fill in the form. You must be able to travel April 28-May 2. Just imagine Spring in Paris, for free. (Photo: Airbnb)
"Rent a Finn" Deadline to Enter: April 21, 2019

For the past two years, Finland has taken home the prize of happiest country in the world in the UN's World Happiness Report, which is determined by how happy their citizens report they are. In celebration, Finland is offering the chance to "Rent a Finn"--which is a chance to win a trip to learn about the ways of Finnish life from one of eight individuals or couples who have signed up to be your happiness guide. The trip will take place this summer for three days - I only hope they let you extend your stay a little longer so you can explore the woods alone. You must create and submit a video along with your form submission.

Is the trip option not for you but you're wondering if your life is in balance? You can take their quiz and receive advice on how to reduce stress and improve your performance. (Photo: Rent A Finn)
Some of these trips are for two, so if you win and you need a travel companion, I'm your girl! Also, I realize that I am a tad overdue for my next blog winner weekend, but I am thinking about what it will be and will share details and a chance to win soon! Happy dreaming and traveling!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

What's New In Kansas City - 2018/19 Edition

Hey all! It's hard to believe we're sliding into April on Monday - mostly for those of us in Kansas City who witnessed snow this morning, will it ever end? Anyway, I know people are always looking for new spots to try out in Kansas City, whether you're a local or someone coming in for a visit. No matter if you're going out to dinner for the first time in forever (date night!) or you come in for business once a month, you know that our little city is growing up and getting cooler by the month. I still can't believe how much has happened not only downtown, but in all the 'burbs around it, since moving here 17 years ago. Without further ado, here are a few places that have opened in the last year or so (it's been 14 months since my last KC-themed post, okay, it was a two-parter, here's the other link):

For those of you who know me personally, you know I work from home (for more on that, you can read my Medium post). From time to time, when I am not traveling for work, I get a little squirrelly in my basement office and need to get out. Parlor to the rescue! This was my little spot working from there recently, which I realize doesn't give you an idea of what it really is, so I will tell you more. Parlor is a food hall in the Crossroads of Kansas City. It hosts six fast casual restaurants and two bars. There is a ton of seating and it's a great place to work for the afternoon (the wifi is fast) or meet up for drinks after work.
The Savoy was built in 1888 and has had a long history as a hotel and a restaurant (click here for more info). After suffering a major fire in 2014, it was sold to the 21c Museum Hotels and reopened in 2018. Downtown Kansas City now has a wonderful, renovated hotel, restaurant, and (best of all) bar all lined with art that you can explore at 21c Kansas City
If you're looking for a killer brunch spot, or a cozy dinner locale, look no further than The Campground. In the former home of Genessee Royale (I know, sad), this new restaurant is a treat - from the food to the drinks. I love the decor the most - which you have probably already seen on my IG feed - all retro and dark.
For those of you still mourning the loss of Justus Drugstore this year (I KNOW!), you can still enjoy Chef Justus at Black Dirt. You will find great food, as you might expect, just south of the Country Club Plaza.
If you are looking for the coziest spot to sip a glass a wine and read a book, you have to check out Afterword Tavern & Shelves (also, this is their photo). This adorable bar meets bookshop is right at the corner of 18th & Grand is not to be missed. I went for the first time to a bookclub meeting (we didn't know that there was sort of a quiet rule there) and it was great. One thing to note is that you need to order at the bar - I have been seated and served once and another time I waited until I figured out the deal.
Made in Kansas City Marketplace is up to six locations now, but I am obsessed with the Country Club Plaza location. If you are looking for gifts for yourself or others, this is the best destination for all things Kansas City - from books to food to clothing. I love that the Plaza location also has ice cream and crepes and beer and coffee - yum!
Along with the growth and the changes in Kansas City, we're also getting more kinds of cuisine. I am sure I am not the first excited Kansas Citian to hear of the opening of Freestyle Poké in the River Market (also their photo). This make-your-own poké spot is perfect for lunch, although it gets busy, so leave yourself some extra time on a weekday.
So, that's what I've been enjoying that's shown up in Kansas City over the past 14 months or so. Where have I missed? I know I need to check out kobi-Q soon, anywhere else? Happy traveling!