Peruvian Grooving 2017

Machu Picchu may have been a tourist destination since the 80’s (or earlier) once it was noted as a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it seems as though everyone and their mother has been traveling to South America recently.  Really though – my own mom and dad took the trek this past summer to this New7Wonder of the World and I have four other friends who visited in the 12 months!  Meghan and I were lucky enough to plan this trip at the beginning of the year and despite accepting a new job and moving to California, we were still able to make the trek.  Of course, when you sign up and pay for the flights/trek, it really becomes a non-negotiable, even with a new job.

We both agreed that an active vacation would do us both good as we live our work lives behind a desk.   We also agreed to minimize our time in museums as our study abroad experiences had us in and out of museums galore.  After some perusing online, we decided to sign up for the REI Inca Trail Trek, a nine day adventure covering the Sacred Valley and four days of hiking the 27 mile Inca Trail until arriving at the “Lost City of the Incas”.  Sure, it was a bit pricier than some plans online but it was absolutely worth it.  Not only that but did you know if you sign up to be a lifetime member (only $20), you get a sick discount on adventures, special offers, an annual dividend, and have access to in-store garage sales!  Ultimately the best $20 I’ve ever spent.

** This is going to be a very long post but I hope it can help future trekkers down the line, entertain current readers, and remind me in a few years what we actually did. **

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Alaska Travels Part 2

Now you know that I wouldn’t come back from a two week vacation without hundreds of pictures, right?  In fact I wasn’t even the worst at being trigger happy because my dad had over 900 on his camera card!  Of course there were a few hundred that were just moving shots or blurry images thanks to the movement of the train and bus, but hey got to catch ’em all.

As noted on Monday, the first week was spent with Un-Cruise galivanting about Fairbanks, Denali, and then to the Knik River Lodge by the Knik Glacier.  This last spot may have been a favorite because of the glorious mattresses and the SLED DOGS!!!  If you ever have the opportunity to meet sled dogs and ride with them, throw caution to the wind and go.

Wednesday was one helluva travel day since we got up at the crack of dawn (5:30) to enjoy a 6 hour bus tour out of the park, 4+ hour train tour to Talkeetna for dinner, and then 2 hour bus trip to our final destination.  In the end it was all worth it because we witnessed several more bouts of wildlife, enjoyed a walk and tasty meal Talkeetna and made it to Knik River Lodge by bedtime.

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^^ Yep, this is downtown.  With a population of about 876 (back in 2010), no need to spend more than a meal in Talkeetna.  However, if you are interested in camping, that’s a different story.

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This was the view from our adorable little hut along the Knik River and Glacier.  Each hut could house up to one or two beds and I do declare they were the most comfortable beds I have experienced.  Meghan and I took to running two of the mornings that we stayed because well, it was week 1 of marathon training and I was already behind.

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Along with marathon training came some hiking or rather “bush-wacking”.  This entails one pushing through bushes without a very well defined path in order to reach your destination.  Rain pants are a must in this situation because otherwise you will have countless scratches, bruises, and even bug bites from the contact and exposure.

IMG_9079IMG_1810^^ 3 miles round-trip (1.5 up and 1.5 back with 1hr 20 up and 1hr back) for this beauty.  It would have been 10x better had there not been mosquitoes waiting around for us but who am I kidding?

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^^ Don’t you like my outfit?  Keeping things real attractive in the Alaskan countryside.

After our jaunt up the mountain, it was time to grab a quick lunch and then off to see the doggies!  There were about 4 groups visiting the group of dogs on the glacier throughout the day and we happened to be #3.  Fingers and toes were crossed that the weather would clear up because group #1 wasn’t able to land the helicopter due to the grumpy clouds chilling in the sky.  I know it’s for precautionary reasons but it would still suck to go all the way up and not be able to see them.  Not to mention hearts and souls crushed.  (minor exaggeration…maybe)

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Just take a look at that blue in the glacier!!  Fun fact – the blue color is actually what’s reflected within our eyes and not the actual color of the glacier.  Neat, right?

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Just two sisters getting along for 13 days of very very close proximity together.  😉  My dad actually asked me if I brought any clothing that didn’t have a November Project tag on it.  Um, yeah sorry no.  Guess it has to go in the Christmas card (again).

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Final dose of Alaskan adventure coming your way Friday!

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

breakfast at habitat, los angeles

recap for the week – sunday night red eye and rest of the week attempting to stay awake aka not too much happened this week.  so when in doubt, throw it back.  also I don’t feel like writing with capital letters today. sorry mom.

just over a month ago I flew home for a couple of friend’s wedding.  they have been dating since high school and are simply perfect for one another.  just too darn cute.  anyways, a trip home meant a trip to november project los angeles and since madre (what my sister and I like to call her) was taking the day off, it meant a trip to a new coffee joint. 🙂

IMG_3305we met up with the group at baxter street hill and ooooooo my, it was a doozy.  but check out that view. maybe not as good as the views in san fran, or so I see on social media, but it’ll do.  one of these days I’ll have to check sf out for myself. (funny because I was so darn close to sf all throughout college and of course the sf tribe started just as I left the bay in ’13)

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next up, cawfee.

habitat coffee
3708 N Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90065
~ la eater ~ facebook ~ time out ~

IMG_3351 welcome to los angeles, the land of hipster coffee spots

IMG_3353IMG_3355 IMG_3354 why yes, that’s my favorite number.  it must have been my lucky day.

IMG_3357 IMG_3356hi mom! look at you in your november project shirt and santa clara hat  🙂

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^^ more of an up and close view of the muesli because why not.  silly me thought that all muesli was the same and I was imagining the milk (more likely cream) soaked oats from zinc down in corona del mar.  no, these were served high and dry with just a dollop of almond milk.  I ended up going to the coffee station and dowsing it in milk, which made it a tad bit better.  I also think it could have improved with a hefty portion of berries rather than orange and green apple pairing.

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IMG_3359 ^^ the true winner that morning was my mom’s quiche.  just look at the layers of savory goodness. breathtaking with a spot of burnt cheese on top and enough protein to take on the day.

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do good l.a. do good

LA Eats: The Village Bakery and Cafe

Though I am from Southern California, I have spent very little time outside the realm of Pasadena.  No exploring of the hipster coffee shops, countless hiking trails, and nifty hole in the wall treasures.  Well, now that I’ve made that my life out in New York (exploring as MUCH as possible), I figured I would give California a chance to shine through, even in the unfamiliar territory across town.

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When I was home over the summer, I took my mom to the Wednesday November Project – Los Angeles workout at the Hollywood Bowl.  I was able to work via my cellphone (woohoo technology) and my mom was off for the summer, so we decided to splurge and find a breakfast treat nearby.

IMG_1026 ^^ Obsession with tiles much?  But really, these stones remind me of the architecture style you see all throughout Santa Barbara.  Something about that mission style and flair.

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^^ My mom had taken my grandma to this village bakery & cafe and thought I would love it just as much.  How can you not fall in love with the exterior and bright colors?

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Inside you will find an extensive menu and bakery items.  The menu is perfect for breakfast, snack, lunch, or dinner.  I was even eyeing some of the sweet treats for later, because #willrunforsugar. 

IMG_1037 ^^ Like I said, how can you not fall in love with this vast array of pastries?  Usually I pass up on some of the muffins and breads, but with an array like this, I could have sampled each and every one.

Some of the favorites include the maple bacon scone, olive oil cake, and various bars. Don’t they just look divine?

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^^ Even the interior has a certain charm with the communal tables, bright paintings, and iron-like chairs. In some ways, I want to say “it’s so L.A.”, but I’ll have to spend some time figuring out exactly what that means 😉

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^^ My mom stuck to a simple scone and latte, while I sampled the granola, fruit, and yogurt combo – filling and oh so satisfactory.

And of course it wouldn’t have been right to leave without sampling something extra buttery and delicious.  We did workout after all 😉 #s’moresbarearned

IMG_1043Village Bakery & Cafe
3119 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039
M-F: 8am-7pm
Sat-Sun: 8am-4pm

*Make sure you check the streets for information on street cleaning! You don’t want to find yourself with a parking ticket!

A Day in Baltimore

Happy Monday or happy summer to those who are on vacation!  #jealous.  Well, as mentioned on Friday, I was able to kick off my weekend with a summer Friday and quick trip down to Baltimore.  After taking a later Bolt Bus on Thursday night, I arrived around 10:15pm where Sarah was kind enough to pick me up 🙂  Both of us crashed and woke up around 6 to run over to the November Project Baltimore.

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I have to say, it was one helluva workout.  Sometimes Friday workouts can be somewhat short and uneventful but ours was not.  In total Sarah and I ran 7 miles, 4 hills, and added in a whole bunch of pushups/squats (whichever set of cards we drew).  She’s a doll and is going to get my passport shirt tagged for me 🙂

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^^ Can you believe the views?

After jogging home, Sarah got ready for work and I was on my own for breakfast.  I have to say, it was quite nice to just sit and enjoy breakfast – no obligations to go anywhere, see anything, or really move.  Sure, I could have done that at home, but I always feel the need to keep moving and accomplish something else in the city.  Overachiever?  Maybe.  No shame in that, right?  That or I need to take a chill pill.

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IMG_1573^^ Torn between two of the coffee joints nearby, I decided to get an egg bagel sandwich from one and cold brew coffee from another.  While not really a huge bagel fan, this everything bagel wasn’t half bad.  But it had a ways to go to meet New York standards 😉

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More of the morning was spent reading various newspapers that I had brought along, thumbing through the latest Runner’s World magazine, and attempting to read Christopher McDougall’s follow-up, “Natural Born Heroes”.  Doe anyone else have trouble concentrating when they read?  Maybe I haven’t spent enough time immersing myself, but I’m struggling to follow the plot.  Hopefully it picks up or I’ll have to start from scratch in attempts to understand what is going on.

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^^ Lunch at a local sandwich + salad shop (harvest salad + falafel)

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^^ Picture taken because the dog is adorable.  I will do anything for labs.

As you can see, a majority of my free time is spent running, eating, wandering, and spending money.  Yes, there are certainly tons of fun free things to do in the city and in any city (Time Out New York will tell you so), but it’s also fun to eat out once in awhile and travel.  So there, #worktospend.

Once Sarah got out of work, we wandered along the water and the stores, checking out Lululemon and wandering through Whole Foods.  My sister, the best saver I know, would be proud to know that I did not spend anything in Lululemon.  I held back but did end up walking out of City Sports with a pair of Birkenstocks.  I reason that they were 1) on sale because City Sports was going out of business and 2) obviously a necessity for my plantar fasciitis.  Runners need supportive footwear, so swipe goes the card.

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After a little bit of chill time at the apartment, it was off to dinner where we both inhaled our burgers.  It must have been the tough morning run because I was practically ravenous all day long.

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^^ Alexander’s Tavern Maryland burger with crab dip, cheddar/jack cheese, and sweet potato tater-tots.  I’ve been skimping on my protein intake lately, so a good ‘ol burger hit the spot.  Then, since I was in Maryland, home to the crab-obsessed citizens, I had to get that on top as well.  Outcome?  So worth it.

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The trip was finally made complete with a trip to Kilwin’s Ice Cream. I have seen Sarah post about this place for ages and well, may have been the basis of this trip.  That and of course to have some girl time with Sarah and work out with a new tribe.

IMG_1600 ^^ Quite possibly the most enormous single scoop of ice cream (and maybe one of the most delicious) I have seen in my life.  It’s certainly not something that I can afford (price or calorie wise) all the time but that scoop of marshmallow topped with sprinkles was a must.  #balance

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^^ Post-food-coma walk around the harbor

Always a blast to see Sarah and chit-chat the day away.  Loved running around and checking out a new tribe, hanging out by the water with few obligations, and one can’t forget the epic ice cream cone.

“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

There’s No Place Like Home

Home.  What in the world does that even mean?  Where you grew up? Where you live now? Does it have to be a full-on brick and mortar house with a yard?  Are you a roaming nomad?  For those of you who have graduated from high school and entered into the college or adult world, I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about.  We all reach a point (usually that big 1-8 birthday where you are legally considered an adult) where it’s time to live our own life.  You probably have left the nest and created a world of your own – you call the shots on when to go out, when to go to bed, what to eat, and how often you change your sheets.  Ok, that last one might be a little gross but it’s all about learning to live on your own.

When I went to college, I left a little piece of me back in Southern California.  I thought it was a given that I would move back to LA.  It’s where I grew up, where my family is, etc.  It was home.  I didn’t really give Santa Clara a chance and instead spent too much time worrying about classes and if I was involved enough or ready for the outside world.  I would just dip my toes in the Silicon Valley, never letting myself admit that I could adapt to Northern California ways.  I spent too much time looking back rather than in the moment.  But then something happened.  When I went home for the holidays, it no longer felt normal.  People had moved away, stores had changed and I didn’t know where I was supposed to fit into all of that. For some reason I thought that nothing would change, no one would grow older, and it would all stay the same.

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When senior year started, I decided I needed to change things up.  I wanted another shot at what my dad called “reinventing myself” or really just letting my true personality shine – no holding back and no worries if some people couldn’t relate. I decided to move to New York and there is where things fell into place.  I stopped worrying what people thought about me, I started focusing on the things I like to do – like exploring and working out – and started to make some really good friends.  I let people get to know the real me and stopped presenting a version of who I thought I should be.  It started to feel like home.  Every time I left to visit my family or explore another part of the east coast, I would get excited to see the NYC skyline or the tall skyscrapers from a distance.

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Living in New York has been one of the best decisions I have made.  I love the fast paced life style, the diversity of people, and the wide range of opportunities available.

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^^ It took me almost a year to find out about November Project but I am 100% certain it has contributed to my happiness here.

11221751_948895365133721_90525601569340533_o ^^ Then there are these people.  My np_nyc tribe.  I’m sorry but the np_lax just didn’t feel like home.  I’m sure I would fit right in after a few weeks of workouts and hardcore dedication – that’s after all how I started to make NYC feel like home – but I just missed my friends and the other familiar faces

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^^ So maybe my life is built up by working out and November Project.  That’s not too much a problem though since we are the work hard & play hard types of people.  I think life can be about finding people with common interests and making the most out of those relationships.  If it means you see them once or twice a week or maybe daily, then so be it.  But we shouldn’t force ourselves into situations that constantly make us unhappy or uncomfortable.  Even though I’m only 24, I feel as though I’ve experienced enough of that.  I’m done with feeling insecure and the odd man out.

Then I flew back to Southern California for the 4th of July.  I saw family, I went to the mountains, I went to the beach, and I saw friends who had just moved out to the west side of Los Angeles.

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Sure there was traffic, but there were views like this ^^.  We went running on trails and then had breakfast in a popular coffee spot (Urth Cafe – Spanish latte or Spanish granita – get it and you will not be sorry) by the beach.   Life was somehow easier in a way but more difficult in other ways.  My brain started to become muddled with what to do.

IMG_1025^^  Yes, this happens but then so does this:

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^^ For goodness sake I’m only 24 but I feel like the weight of the future is resting heavily on my shoulders right now.  There are people going to med school and getting engaged and even married with kids!  I know this feeling of confusion is going to be a long one – that’s why there are articles out there like Though Catalog’s “The Hardest Things People Had To Learn in Their 20’s“.  Yes, I admit, a lot of this is #firstworldproblems so I apologize if this seems trivial.  Let’s just say being back in California for an extended period of time was odd and I felt like I was in limbo.  No doubt I would like to move back there some day, but when?  The answer is I don’t know right now.  Maybe it’s a year or maybe it’s longer.

IMG_1022^^ Maybe the real decision should be based upon the wide variety of acai bowls offered?  I may have selected Santa Clara as my college of choice because they offered a “make-your-own-parfait” on the weekends. True story.

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I know that I like being close to my family – being able to golf or go for a hike or go out to dinner.  I know that I like having my own schedule and having a constant list of places to explore here in Manhattan.  I wish that Los Angeles didn’t rely so much on driving and the west side was closer together (wishful thinking).  I wish that New York was cleaner and that it was easier to escape the island and explore the coast (problem – I need a car/place to stay that’s relatively cheap…recent graduate problems).

I write for fun and to connect with people.  I read blogs to feel a commonality and have made some excellent friends through it.  I read blogs like Ali’s to feel validated in showing my quirky personality and that things work out, and I read posts like Sarah’s to know that we are all thriving and struggling at the same time.  We have become friends outside of the blogging world and are usually two peas in a pod.  (or insert dancing emoji) 😉

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^^ View from my run over the Manhattan bridge (accidentally on the biking-designated side) to NP in Brooklyn last Friday.

I’m fully aware that I don’t have to have my 5-10-15 year plan figured out right now.  I know that things change and the next year(s) will be life lessons in themselves.  I could learn to love the city and east coast even more or another winter could do me in.  Who knows?  For now, I’m happy in this crazy place I call home, at least for now.  I know my mom has heard this discussion too many times to count, so sorry mom.  Now that it has been written and published for the world wide web, I will let it drop and just go out there and carpe diem.  Let’s live it up for the moment, sound good?

Does anyone else feel the pull between comfort (often w/ family) and adventure (and growth)?  Does there have to be such a divide?