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Hello From the Balkans!

That’s right, big trip 2016 is here. It actually began September 9, when I shut my computer down at work and hopped on the train to Newark International Airport, completely…

That’s right, big trip 2016 is here. It actually began September 9, when I shut my computer down at work and hopped on the train to Newark International Airport, completely ready to be finished with Philly. Just for a while. I love work, I love home, but my schedule for the past few weeks have been insane with willing obligations, and like clockwork. I was ready to turn off, go on an adventure, and sleep. I love to sleep.

Since day 1, our schedule has been packed with a mix of activities, mostly surrounding the exploring-ancient-ruins variety, but mixed in with canyoning in Slovenia, and motorcycling from the mountains to the Croatian coasts. We started off big (that includes eating just so much heavy local food) but are now starting to take it easy along the coast. Right now I’m writing from Split, in an Airbnb just steps away from Diocletian’s Palace. Tomorrow we move along to enjoy more of that island life, and then we eventually end up in Mostar, Bosnia, to catch what started this mad journey in the beginning: the Red Bull Cliff Diving Championships.*

I’ll try to update more along the way. Most of the time, it’s easier to post pretty pictures up on Instagram to let people know I’m alive, but traveling is never as easy or as glamorous as it may seems, and I obviously enjoy capturing that. And sometimes it is! Either way, having a blast, not doing too many stupid things, and am somewhat sleeping as much as I’d like. See ya’ll.

* I don’t really drink Red Bull. I don’t like sugary drinks. But I’ll be darned if they don’t have cool events.

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Choose Your Own (Short-Lived) Adventure

A few weeks ago, I found myself on a red-eye back from a work conference in California. Two chatty folks next to me upheld their zesty conversation while I tried…

A few weeks ago, I found myself on a red-eye back from a work conference in California. Two chatty folks next to me upheld their zesty conversation while I tried to pop my ears through my nose and stay sleepy at the same time. I wanted to sleep so badly — back in February, I bought a ticket to attend the Fox Run ladies’ motorcycle weekend, and I had met a bunch of really fun ladies who also planned on attending. I was excited to make more friends and go on group rides in Lancaster. When the week-long California conference popped up unexpectedly, I hesitated canceling only for a second before devising this plan: Go to conference. Grab red-eye, sleep. Jump on motorcycle. Party time.

But I didn’t sleep. Not a dang wink.

The gray sky looked threatening when I arrived home from the airport. But I more or less ignored it; it was 6:30 AM, and I had to keep moving if I wanted to see my new gal pals. No excuses. It was the PLAN.

After showering, loading up my luggage (filled with Frogg Toggs rain gear, extra boots, dry layers) and wolfing down a banana, I bid my boyfriend good morning and good bye, and jumped on 95, on to Route 1. My heart was hammering for two reasons. 1) Excitement, obviously, and 2) this would be my very first solo highway ride. Backroads would have added extra an 30 minutes or so and I didn’t want to be late. Besides, what could go wrong?

A few miles down the road, I couldn’t ignore the cold rain that was starting to pierce my legs repeatedly. I pulled over in a Harley Davidson parking lot, hoping for solidarity in my next actions.  I waddled around my bike and pulled out my next rain layer, pants, and awkwardly wriggled into them, like I was doing some sort of rain dance. Before hopping back on the bike, I pulled out my water bottle for a swig, and immediately the cap snapped in half. I stomped over my marshmallow body to the garbage can at the store entrance, and hurled the metal container in with all of my might.IT RAINED THE WHOLE TIME. And not just a cute spritz. Twenty minutes into my ride, I pulled into a Wawa and threw my rain jacket over my Rev’It armor, and immediately felt warmer and dare I say fuzzier. I looked super cool, don’t worry.

Back on the road. I felt pretty good, like I was taking care of myself by keeping dry and not dying.

In the middle of patting my back, my ankle suddenly started to feel cold. I glanced down and saw that I didn’t fully cover one, just one boot when I put my rainsuit on. I didn’t want to pull over on Route 1, but instead halfheartedly tried to reach down while riding, to pull down my pant leg, to no avail. I should have stopped. One boot was slowly starting to soak and fill with ice-cold water.

I somehow convinced myself that it’s cool, it wouldn’t be a big deal in the next hour, and kept on riding.

Finally, I pulled into familiar farm country and realized that I was only moments away from the camp site. The rain tapered down as I zipped through the loopy, quiet roads, not another car or bike in sight. Everyone was still sleeping, like smart people. I whooped behind my helmet as I went up and down, up and down.

Now, the Fox Run organizers were very good about warning riders about the road leading up to the Tucquan Park Family Campground — gravel, a motorcyclist’s obnoxious enemy, followed by hidden oil. Add to that, mud and rain, oh it was a ball pulling in. I passed a woman leaving in her van and she gave a lovely, knowing smile. I was so excited!

Past the gravel (I didn’t drop my bike, hurrah!) I followed the road into a lush green field filled with the revving of engines and badass ladies of all ages tending to their bikes. It was marvelous sight, like warriors preparing to go into a battle! Early on in the day, I had decided not to camp, rather just hang out til my jetlag catches up, so I pulled up on a side of a hill to stay out of any campers’ way. Turned off my bike, and…

Damn. Kickstand won’t go down!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a new problem. My kickstand has gotten stuck in the past, the only difference is that Michael was around to help me adjust the gears, and I was on my way. I should’ve pointed it out to my mechanic the week before, but well, there I was. On a big stupid hill. Covered in mud and rain. On a bike that I can’t get off of.

I saw some ladies in rain suits prepping to ride out nearby, so I waved my hands and called over. “Hey, I can’t get off…”

They were from Ohio, and plenty prepared. One of the ladies hauled over a rusted toolbox and threw it down next to my bike, setting to work immediately. Two other ladies followed, and at first all I could do was sit tight and hold the bike up. They fussed with a set of pliers and popped…something out, my spring, included. The kickstand fell down. Which left the issue of it now not being able to ever go up again. I gripped my bike and pulled one way while the ladies all pulled on the spring another way, all of us using every bit of strength possible.

“Shit, is that me?” one woman asked. Blood was streaking down her hand; I felt so bad, but thankfully (maybe?) it was an existing cut that broke open. What a badass chick.

After minutes of pushing and pulling, it was time to call it. The bleeding woman handed me a fistful of zip ties and said I’ll have to secure my stand the next time I go. My mind suddenly caught up with my exhausted body. That sounded terrible. Zip up when I go, zip down when I stop.

I thanked the ladies, and walked around the camp ground. Many riders already took off, earlier than scheduled, and I couldn’t find my friends. We only kept in touch via Instagram — genius, no cell phone reception! I chatted with anyone I could, but mostly everyone left looked a bit pooped from the previous night, and oh, the rain they slept in all night.

Time to run into town. I stuffed a pair of borrowed scissors into my gear bag, and two kind Canadian ladies helped zip my bike. Over and out.

“Into town” in Lancaster can mean different things to people. There is definitely a “proper” downtown area, with modern restaurants, concert venues and rowhomes. It was tempting to take a break into dry civilization where I could pretend I’m not wet or muddy, but the smaller strip mall experience in Amish country was what I had in mind. Ideally, I was looking for  a Good’s Store, or what Michael calls the Amish Target. All the Carhartt you can dream of, and more. Unfortunately, again, T-Mobile was crapping out on me and I couldn’t navigate one specifically; instead, I just rode for 20 minutes until I ran into something or got reception, whatever happened first. Tried to enjoy going back out on the road. Did for a little bit, especially finding smaller backroads in a woodsy area, but then it started raining. Again.

gear

Sexy hotel room mess.

I pulled into a gas station/strip mall parking lot (sans Amish Target), dialed Michael, and wailed my woes (never getting off my bike, of course.) I was so anxious, so annoyed, so cold, so tired. But there was a weird part of me that loved being forced into this physical frustration, chilled to the core, parts of my body aching. I felt so challenged and pained by choice. Part of me wanted to keep going on. Part of me wanted to collapse. Michael listened but gave no strong opinions either way. But I think we both knew that I was running on a minute’s sleep at 2 PM and a banana, and that the journey was just about over.

I hung up and hit the mall pizzeria, then the dollar store for a pair of shitty scissors and a huge bag of zip ties. I was seriously planning on heading back to camp until it was time to actually move on. Leaning my bike against the concrete base of a light pole, careful not to scratch her up, I zip tied her stand as if I was tying a delicate child’s shoe. What a pain. This was stupid. And it started to rain again. I finally gave in, and drove up the road to my backup reservation at the Double Tree Hotel. Friends and family discount, hollah!

*     *     *

I buried myself in thick white sheets while listening to the rain pound against the window of my warm hotel room. Helmets off to those awesome ladies who stayed and stuck it out, seriously. I felt pretty disappointed in myself for not going back, but then again I have a firm rule to not ride when I’m not 100% coherent (this was also taught in the PA Motorcycle Safety class; it just makes sense.) It’s almost as bad as drinking and driving; if you’re tired, who knows what will happen. Despite my mild regret, I still felt kind of proud. I still got to meet new people, figure out disasters on my own, build riding skills, and you know, didn’t end up killing myself.

My second firm rule is to be comfortable, and not to push myself to misery. I’m at a place in life where I can pick and choose my adventures (hey, if I want to ride in the rain, that’s my prerogative), and I’m grateful, and lucky for it. Besides, I saw some other motorcyclists check into the hotel, and felt better — more hot tub for all of us! More hot tub, clean sheets, and sweet dreams.

By the way, the next morning, it totally rained while riding back. Not that much, thank goodness.

goinghome

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When in Cali: Sutro Baths

I’m in town for the Google I/O 2016 conference, and by in town, I mean I am gloriously close to the kind of nature you just can’t find in Philly….

I’m in town for the Google I/O 2016 conference, and by in town, I mean I am gloriously close to the kind of nature you just can’t find in Philly. The kind of nature you have to fly 3,000 miles across the U.S. to see. Despite my jam-packed schedule over the next few days, I knew I had to squeeze in something good in my off-hours. Some people go to bars. I opted for hiking.

After we landed and picked up our conference packets, my travel buddy and I rented a car and explored an hour outside of Mountain View. We had two items on our simple agenda: hiking, and Mission burritos.

Tell you what, spending nine hours on two planes for a journey that began at 3 AM made our first glimpse of the coastline all the more magical. It wasn’t just the soothing scenery of endless crashing waves and blue skies — the whole vibe of Western San Francisco was totally active and fit. Our car was surrounded by joggers, hikers, and dog walkers, making their way to the beach. We were delighted to see surfers push off to catch their final waves, and, a little further out, a whale blasting mist into the air.

Parking was not an issue. I read on the NPS website that there was decent parking in Lands End. Despite our Uber driver’s warning this morning, parking attempts in Lands End and San Francisco were indeed free.

The sight, however, was worth a million bucks.

And the burrito was $12.

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Cheap Thrills: Riding in the Rain

Motorcycle season had a freakishly early start this year, and it’s something you definitely take note of once you get a bike of your own. I have a freebie mug…

Motorcycle season had a freakishly early start this year, and it’s something you definitely take note of once you get a bike of your own. I have a freebie mug from a moto gear shop that reads loudly, “Sunshine and chrome, the best alarm clock!” When I first got it, I thought it was incredibly goofy, but after experiencing months of cold-weather wiggles from not riding, I drink from it with respect.

Luckily, thanks to a few unseasonably warm days starting in February, Michael and I have gotten quite a few trips out of town already, mostly to see family and friends an hour or so outside the city. However, to me, this past weekend’s ride to Lancaster truly felt like an official kick off to my favorite seasons — spring and summer — as well as months of travels and adventures to come, on wheels and off.

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We were testing out a backroads route from Philly to Lancaster, a ride I’ll be doing this weekend, solo. The forecast was perfect that morning, 70s with a slight breeze, with a storm rolling in around the evening. We figured we had hours to play before things got ugly, so we tore through the hills, every so often checking our phones for storm updates.

Every time we roll through Lancaster, whether by motorcycles or car, a new road always seems to appear. You’ll always be treated with stretching views of green farmland, drive around horses and buggies, and honk at unimpressed livestock chewing cud at the side of the road, but there’s at least fifty different ways to get there – which explains why we may never tire of exploring our beloved Amish country. Even in the rain.

It was so literal – we rounded a curve in the road and the blue sky was instantly replaced with ominous dark clouds, rolling in fast. The temperature dropped instantly. We drove a few more miles before agreeing that the forecast wasn’t syncing with reality, and it was time to high tail it back to Philly.

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Rain started sprinkling on our bikes when we stopped for gas and momentarily debated grabbing ice cream cones. I wanted to stay put and wait it out; earlier in the week in the city, I wiped out on a long patch of oil. The idea of hitting slick roads at high speeds scared me. But Michael had a plan – we could outrun the storm if we took the highway and skipped the backroads and intersections. Consistently pushing forward at a higher speed was safer than the stop-and-go in this weather. I reluctantly, but quickly agreed.

It started pouring, It’s worth noting that you should always wait five minutes into a rainstorm before riding your motorcycle. Five minutes should be enough time for the oils on the road to rise and wash away. We didn’t wait, tsk tsk. We kept going, to attempt the plan, cold, chilled, and soaked (Michael had worn a mesh armor, and I could feel my padded elbows fill with pools of rain coming through my cuffs!) On top of those conditions, it took me a few nervous minutes to wrap my head around the task of hitting 65 on slick roads, and not wiping out like I had done in the city, at a far slower speed.

lancaster_ride_051416 (1 of 4)But, call it intense trust in my riding buddy, plus a tried and true sick penchant for wrangling adrenaline, I eventually got there, and I’m so glad. Riding in the rain was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve taken in on a bike. It was a sun shower, my favorite kind of rain. Beams of yellow split through the wet sky, highlighting the glistening trees and hills flying past us. I’ve always loved the green, lush highways in Pennsylvania, especially at the peak of spring, but never before experienced it this way.

It was heaven, a feeling prolonged the second we managed to indeed, out-ride the storm and roll into Philly. A feeling immortalized the second I threw off my soaked layers and blasted on a long, hot shower.

If this is the kind of thrill I’ve been waiting for all winter, bring it on. There’s obviously no backing down here.

Side note, I look like a giant dork in this photo.

 

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Wasting Away in Koreatown, and Island Spa

While I live for spring and summer (basically warm weather days), I will never forget that fantastic winter day we accidentally killed six hours at a Korean spa. It started off with…

While I live for spring and summer (basically warm weather days), I will never forget that fantastic winter day we accidentally killed six hours at a Korean spa.

It started off with a little cabin fever. At this point in the winter season, we had nothing to look forward to for major travel, so the days seemed unbearable (a good problem to have.) Our solution bloomed organically: Michael and I both craved some comforting food to battle the bitter cold, Michael sought the bustling atmosphere where he once lived, and I wanted to replenish some beauty products I bought overseas. This brought us to explore the reputable Koreatown in Queens, New York. It was our first visit to this location, but I have to be honest. Ever since visiting Korea last year, and comparing to how it is done here in the U.S., I was pretty much expecting my socks to be knocked off.

We drove in from our friends’ apartment in Brooklyn, so it took us about 40 minutes to get through the city and find parking on a residential street. It didn’t take long, however, to be surrounded by familiar signage and exciting atmosphere. We had arrived! OK, on the outside, it’s a grittier Koreatown than what you’d find in the ritzy Jersey ‘burbs, but to be fair, it’s New York. Actually taking time to walk through the large malls and cute boutiques, the grit washed away and we were back in Korea again!

grocery_koreatown koreatown_street_food

First, we explored the grocery, which was a mix of the always-impressive H-Mart and the Reading Terminal Market. Row after overflowing row fresh produce and seafood had my mouth watering and my imagination running wild with recipe ideas. As I inspected a large $2 bag of clementines, my eye caught Michael in line for a hot egg tart. Soon after, he found the line to enjoy freshly-pressed cream-filled pastries shaped like little fish, as seen on our travels. His snackmastery is nothing to scoff about.

fish_cake

We ducked in and out of clothing boutiques, too pricey for my wallet. I bemoan constantly that I didn’t buy as many cute and extremely affordable styles as I wanted to while in Seoul. Finally finding the trendy styles with incorrect grammar and spelling (not ironically) in the U.S., the prices shot up. “It’s from Korea,” the vendors would explain unapologetically. No, thanks.

One thing we didn’t compromise on that day was FOOD. After hitting a few beauty shops to grab a miracle hair product I adored (as well as some experimental “horse fat hand cream”), we grabbed lunch at Kimganae, a recommendation from a local-by-way-of-South-Korea friend. We went easy on breakfast — and by that I mean we split a gigantic egg/cheese/broccoli rabe bagel just a few hours before — so it just made sense that we easily battled the bitter January cold with some nostalgic staples: cheesy ramen (I learned that Koreans love their processed cheese), beef kimbap, cheesy dukbokki (thinly-sliced fish cakes and chewy rice noodles cylinders, drowning in chili pepper sauce), and hot, delicious barley tea. Michael has introduced me to many good things, but I say Korean street food is high up there!

kimganae_lunch

We left soon after lunch. I passed out in the car, emitting chili sweats, and woke up to the parking lot Island Spa in Edison, NJ, a Yelp find. It’s fairly new, and on that day we reaped the benefits. The place was practically empty!

When I visited Seoul last year, I enjoyed the amazing experience of Dragon Hill Spa, a jjimjilbang (Korean spa) that some locals actually scoffed at as “unimpressive”! I’d gone to a jjimjilbang in Northeast Philly before the trip; based off of that comparison in my head, I didn’t think I could find one that could genuinely remind me of Korea. I’m happy to say that Island Spa is the real deal!

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I didn’t get a full naked body scrub, though I’ve been jonesing for one! It’s much pricier here. I was happy to pay my Winter Deal admission to the facility of $28. That gave us access to the split gender hot/cold tubs, showers, and steam rooms (naked here, clothed in the common space), as well as the communal area’s relaxation area, restaurant, multiple hot saunas, study cubbies, sports TV room, movie theater room, sleeping area (HEATED FLOORS)…takes deep breath…I’m pretty sure that’s it. I love a bargain, and it seems that in any part of the world, the jjimjilbang is something I can’t turn down.

Aside from the price, it’s the history of the jjimjilbang that I love. Korean bathhouses once existed as a public need — not every family had a bathing facility. A public bathhouse was an affordable necessity that has transformed into a bigger luxury, indeed; yet even so, in Korea, our payment was $12 for the evening, and something absurd like $30 extra for a full-body scrub. The lingering scene of nudity and of family and peers scrubbing each others’ bodies without hesitation is a beautiful reminder of the history, tradition, and community.

We spent six hours in that paradise of memories and warm, fuzzy feelings. We read books, took naps, and baked in the saunas. We each bought a bowl of spicy tofu soup and rice, and shared an amazing dish of shaved ice cream, which was pretty much shaved ice, layered with fresh fruit and beans, and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Kind of like the Vietnamese che ba mau, my childhood treat.

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There’s no denying it, this find is definitely a keeper. I foresee multiple visits back throughout the year (maybe they have a spring special price, or summer, or fall…) I never thought I’d be a spa person, but take my money and take my clothes, and I’ll be set for six+ hours. Did I mention it’s 24 hours? We’ve definitely thought about pulling an all-nighter…

BEST. WEEKEND. EVER! If you’re looking to experience a world away from home without shelling out a $2k and vacation time, just go to Queens and Jersey with your BFF. That’s my professional recommendation.

Where to?

Kimganae: 3912 Union Street | Flushing, NY 11354
Island Spa: 1769 Lincoln Highway | Edison, NJ 08817

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Kept Calm: Blizzard of 2016

The dilemma of a blizzard as an adult: If it were a week day, most people would feel complacent with sleeping in and loafing around in sweatpants before returning to the rat race…

The dilemma of a blizzard as an adult: If it were a week day, most people would feel complacent with sleeping in and loafing around in sweatpants before returning to the rat race in 24 hours. On the weekend, it’s different; the timetables have turned and the obligations are high. Sledding is to be had. Snow forts are to be built. Booze to be salvaged. We only have a small window of time to revisit childhood, people, so chop, chop!

At least I used to fee that way. Now I’m just tired. Maybe it’s the winter. All I could think about was where to buy or pick up free excess rock salt on the street. I’m losing my touch.

While I barely grazed the above-mentioned obligatory to-do list, rejecting invitations for snow-ball fights at various parks around the city (aging brings decisiveness and I love it) and feeling like, meh, hangovers are long overrated, here’s a couple of shots of what I did do yesterday, a compromise between college and adult Kim. Selfies of sleeping-in are nonexistent — also impossible — but it did happen. Check.

Michael tests out snowshoes in the A.M.

Michael tests out snowshoes in the A.M.

We made our way across Marconi Plaza, wind whipping our faces.

We made our way across Marconi Plaza, wind whipping our faces.

After hours of Making a Murderer, we venture out to meet friends for dinner, by Broad Street Line and snowshoes.

After hours of “Making A Murderer”, we venture out to meet friends for dinner, by Broad Street Line and snowshoes.

 

 

 

Happy hour at Sampan, GREAT IDEA on any day!

Happy hour at Sampan, GREAT IDEA on any day!

Onto the next.

Onto the next.

 

 

 

Checked out new place, U-Bahn. Looked like nerds with giant coats and snowshoes.

Checked out new place, U-Bahn. Looked like nerds with giant coats and snowshoes.

Michael quickly found the good parts of U-Bahn.

Michael quickly found the good parts of U-Bahn.

Back to home. Back to Making A Murderer.

Back to home. Back to Making A Murderer.

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Northern California, And How!

In October, we touched down in San Francisco to start a road trip — my first time in Northern California! We were in the area to visit family and friends,…

In October, we touched down in San Francisco to start a road trip — my first time in Northern California! We were in the area to visit family and friends, exploring touristy spots to get my toes wet, then hiking of course, and in the process, actually getting my toes a little wet, literally, because it did indeed rain.

From San Francisco to Mendocino, here are my more notable spots to check out.

Blog Posts
Murder-She-Wrote-Tourism N’ More: Mendocino, CA
We’ll Always Have the Redwoods

Where to?

GoodLife Cafe & Bakery: 10483 Lansing Street | Mendocino, CA 95460

Glass Beach: Elm St & Old Haul Road | Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Jughandle State Natural Reserve: Highway One, one mile north of Caspar

Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve: 15825 Orr Springs Road | Ukiah, CA 95482

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We’ll Always Have the Redwoods

When I was a kid, it seemed as if every family except for mine completed the must-see road trip classics, such as the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and of…

When I was a kid, it seemed as if every family except for mine completed the must-see road trip classics, such as the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and of course: the Redwoods. Like every raging adult nerd robbed of childhood summers crammed in a hot car with no AC (OK, we had that part, but it was mostly to Philly for the Asian grocery stores), as a big, fancy grown-up I can now smugly check off the above-mentioned three, and then some. My favorite, by far: THE REDWOODS!

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It’s not entirely because of the whole Endor/Ewok thing, it’s simply hands-down the most majestic, otherworldly place I’ve ever visited — followed closely by, in regards to fantastical scenery, Watkins Glen in New York. When we arrived at the Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, it was startlingly quiet. Every so often you’d hear some group chatter in the distance, but otherwise it was almost as if Michael and I had the forest to ourselves. It was like a giant playground, running up and down the uneven roots, climbing tipped over trunks. At one point, even through the canopy of trees we felt steady raindrops, so we took shelter in a hollow tree, munched on trailmix and breathed in our blessings.

Such magic! There’s just something about finally seeing a place you’ve only read about in school, or watched in a documentary. Seeing the redwoods made me feel like I had reached the big leagues, circa #kindergartengoals.

Who am I kidding, it’s still big leagues for me today.

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Murder She Wrote-Tourism N’ More: Mendocino, Ca

Mendocino isn’t only known for being the filming site of Murder She Wrote, the hit TV mystery religiously followed by my drama-loving mama and sassy sleuthing-types across the U.S., but I’ll be…

Mendocino isn’t only known for being the filming site of Murder She Wrote, the hit TV mystery religiously followed by my drama-loving mama and sassy sleuthing-types across the U.S., but I’ll be damned if that factoid didn’t intrigue me enough for an overnight pilgrimage while on the west coast. Hats off to the location scout who put on the map this peaceful artist town, an idyllic replica of life on the east coast.

A morning stroll among the misty small town was straight-up charming, perfected with slabs of quiche and hot lattes at the tightly-packed breakfast spot, Goodlife Cafe & Bakery. Surrounded in the daytime by young blondes in Hunter boots and fashionable outdoors gear built for comfort rather than function, you’d be doubly impressed that the night before, the town center was a-bustling with men, women, and children in elaborate Halloween costumes, loud music and entertainment blaring from the speakers.

A short drive on the edge of town is the crown jewel, in my opinion: a breathtaking view of crashing waves rolling out to the Pacific Ocean (pictured above.) Michael stopped to record some waves, and I just basked in my mix of post-breakfast carb crash/blissful haze.

The air was getting thicker; I could see clouds rolling in and misty droplets settled on my face. We quickly zipped out of town to Jughandle State Natural Reserve, where I almost leaned against a horrifying moving wall of sea cockroaches, and got soaked by a tumbling wave while trying to snap a photo of the famous bridge. It started to rain, I was drenched and cold, but hey, at least we had the view to ourselves.

Next stop, because we can’t stop won’t stop, the Glass Beach. We left the car in the parking lot, next to a drifter’s small trailer — he or she was blaring 70’s music and probably taking a snooze behind that rickety door. We followed a map to find the exact spot. Michael filmed more sounds while I poked alien-like tentacles of sea cucumbers washed ashore, and dug my hands into the round pebbles of glass, smoothed out by years of waves crashing into thoughtless litter.

By now, it’s was the early afternoon. Still time for more. Next stop: Endor.

Where to?

GoodLife Cafe & Bakery: 10483 Lansing Street | Mendocino, CA 95460

Glass Beach: Elm St & Old Haul Road | Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Jughandle State Natural Reserve: Highway One, one mile north of Caspar

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Halloween Fun

If you didn’t know, I ride a motorcycle, and it is a marvelous thing. Another fun fact about me is that I have a remarkably corny sense of humor, which…

If you didn’t know, I ride a motorcycle, and it is a marvelous thing. Another fun fact about me is that I have a remarkably corny sense of humor, which works out for me because my boyfriend seems to enjoy it, and I’m a hit with the niece-and-nephew-13-and-under crowd.

This Halloween, we didn’t dress up in costumes, but instead roadtripped Northern California (my first time.) I couldn’t let the holiday pass without doing some mischief, so one night I did a little crafting. More accurately, I used craft tape to transform my very first motorcycle helmet (an oldie) into a Headless Motorcycle Woman!

Having witnessed a grotesque motorcycle accident a few years ago (two show offs, two passengers, one rock wall, zero gear), I thought about how it would be a good PSA to maybe put a sign on my back about helmets and loss of heads. I decided to let my obvious safety speak for itself, and just have fun with it.

From home to work is a short three miles, but busy enough to catch the eyes of fellow commuters entering the so-called Financial District. I got a couple of smirks, some points, a few bicyclists telling me as they passed that my helmet was “clutch.” The best reaction came from the kids. Some were walking and jumped up and down. Others lost it in the backseats of their parents’ cars.

Perhaps next year, I’ll wear it for much longer. A jack-o-lantern isn’t quite a year-round look. But you know what, I don’t do it for fashion.

I do it for the kids.

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