You never know what you might find when you visit Anza Borrega. Anza Borrega is located in San Diego County about 2 hours from SanDiego, Palm Springs, and the Inland Empire. The area is known for hiking trails, wildflowers, remote camping, and art. The ideal time to visit is during the Winter and early Spring. The summer months bring the scorching desert heat.
The Art of Borrego Springs
The small town of Borrego Springs is home to over 130 larger than life art sculptures in the middle of the desert. Artist Ricardo Breceda created these sculptures to resemble the creatures that might have roamed these deserts millions of years ago. The sculptures are made from welded metal and some of the intricate details such as whispy hair. The late Dennis Avery owned the land that is now referred to as Galleta Meadows and he had visions of free-standing art doting the property.
Locating the Sculptures
The sculptures are spread out and you need a car or possibly a bicycle to visit them. Most of the creatures are located off of Palm Canyon Drive. The Chamber of Commerce and some of the local businesses have free maps to help you locate the sculptures. To reach some of the sculptures you will need to drive on unpaved roads, however, the roads are fine for a 2 wheel vehicle.
After Seeing the Sculptures
If you are not camping at Anza Borrego State Park or remote camping in Anza Borrego there are a few hotels located in Borrego Springs along with some restaurants. After a long day of exploring we ate at Carlee’s Place. Carlee’s is a typical “Dive-Bar,” however, the service was spot on and the food and drinks were both good. The night we ate at Carlee’s there seemed to be a good mix of both locals and tourists.
Las Vegas is not only about drinking and gambling. While visiting in January with my daughter and my best friends we stumbled upon something unique and fun. We read about old cigarette machines that have been refurbished into dispensers for original art.
Artist Clark Whittington came up with the idea of the Art-0-mat in 1997 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. He used the vending machine to dispense his art for $1. There are now vending machines scattered across the United States. Each machine dispenses original works of art.
An Art Scavenger Hunt
There are Art-o-mat machines in the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. We were staying at Treasure Island and we chose to walk down the strip to the Cosmopolitan and although it was 40 degrees outside we stopped at Fat Tuesday for frozen drinks. I had a drink that tastes like a creamsicle. They serve the drinks in a cute acrylic to-go cup. And Vegas being Vegas, I took my drink with me on the walk.
Finding the Art-o-mat Machines
There are six refurbished cigarette machines in the lobby and hallways at the Cosmopolitan. Finding the machines is half the fun. After walking around we found the first one. First, we made change, because the machines only accept $5 bills. With money in hand, we had the hard choice of what artist to pick. I inserted my $5 and pulled a lever. The art comes out in a small 2″ x 3′ box. My first piece of art was an abstract mounted on a block. Nicole put in her $5 and got a pair of cork earrings. Feeling successful we wandered on a looked for the next machine.
Art At The Cosmopolitan
The Cosmopolitan is filled with art. The walls have large-scale murals, photographs, and sculptures. The Cosmopolitan wants their art to be interactive and accessible. In other words, some of their art is in the middle of the hallway and it looks like it is meant to be touched consequently, we enjoyed walking around looking at all the art while we were looking for more Art-o-mat vending machines.
Hunting For More Art
As we continue on our hunt for more Art-o-mat vending machines, but we have better luck with some machines than others. A few times we put in our $5 bill and we get nothing in return. We don’t let it deter us. Nicole is in charge of locating all six of the Art-o-mat machines and I’m happy to say that we found them all. We love the pieces of art that we collected. The Art-o-mat is helping to make art accessible for everyone. For $5 you can be an art collector too. Therefore, now that we experienced a fun scavenger hunt, our interest is piqued and we are planning more trips to find Art-o-mat vending machines in other states.
Riverside, California is located in the Inland Empire about 55 miles East of Los Angeles. Downtown Riverside is home to the University of Riverside, the famous Mission Inn, and Mount Rubidoux. There is plenty of street parking and parking garages or there is a Metro Stop that offers shuttles to local downtown areas.
Mount Rubidoux has been designated as a park and a landmark. At one point the land was purchased by the owners of the Mission Inn. The land is now owned by the city of Riverside. Mountain Rubidoux is known for its Easter Sunday services. In 1909 the first non-denominational outdoor Easter Sunrise Service in the United States was held at the top of Mount Rubidoux.
Parking at Mount Rubidoux
It is easiest to park your car at Ryan Bonaminio Park. The address is 5000 Tequesquite Ave, Riverside, CA 92506. Ryan Bonaminio is a sports park and it has a lot of parking spaces. From the park, there is easy access to the mountain. Head up the street about a quarter-mile from the parking lot, and you will reach the start of the trail. There are no bathrooms at Mount Rubidoux, but there is one at Ryan Bonaminio Park. At the beginning of the trail at Mount Rubidoux, there is a place to fill your water bottles and there are trash cans along the trail.
Hiking in the City
Mount Rubidoux boasts over 3 miles of hiking trails. There is a 2.7-mile round-trip trail. The trail is paved which makes it a great choice for days when your normal trails are covered with mud. The trail only gains a little of 350 feet in incline, so it is rated as easy. I have seen numerous people pushing baby strollers up to the top. When you get to the top there are a few areas to explore. The World Peace Bridge is a beautiful place to stop for a photo.
The Top of Mount Rubidoux
Once you reach the top of Mount Rubidoux there are plenty of places to stop and take in the view. There is built-in seating in the rocks for the sunrise services. We climbed up to the stairs to the base of the cross. The cross is dedicated to Father Serra. According to some old newspaper articles there was some controversy about the separation of church and state and now the small plot of land that holds the cross is owned by a conservancy that is responsible for its upkeep.
Lunch at Tio’s Tacos in Riverside
After hiking back to our car we decided to drive over to Tio’s Tacos. I had driven past Tios when I was on the way to The Mission Inn and the large art out in front of the restaurant piqued my interest. The restaurant is located at 3948 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501
Eclectic Art in Riverside
We found street parking across the street from Tio’s Tacos. We wandered around the entire outside before we ordered out lunch. The art is all made from upcycled materials. One of my favorite pieces of art at Tio’s is a Christmas tree made from recycled Dos Equis beer bottles. There is a little chapel complete with an altar and pews. I could have spent hours wandering around looking at all the little details.
After hiking and walking around Tio’s looking at the art we were hungry. There is both seating inside and outside at Tio’s and the day we were there it was chilly and extremely windy so we opted for inside.
We went to the counter to order and although it was after 1 pm, I asked if I could order breakfast. The good news is they serve breakfast all day. I ordered Chilaquiles with green sauce. Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican dish with fried corn tortillas simmering with green or red sauce topped with an over-easy egg, sour cream, and cheese. I was happy to see an Aqua Fresca Bar at the front counter therfore I ordered a Mango Agua Fresca and it was very sweet but tasty. After ordering they give you a number and you seat yourself. I am a Chilaquiles connoisseur and my lunch was good, but definitely not the best Chilaquiles I’ve eaten. I would go back to Tio’s again just to see the art and maybe I’ll try a taco next time.
We had a good morning exploring Riverside. Mount Rubidoux was a scenic place for a hike and we all enjoyed the art and our lunch at Tio’s Tacos. We will have to plan another day to see some of the other things Riverside has to offer.
When you think of Parisian museums you probably only think of the Louvre. The Louvre is everything you have heard of and more, but the Musée de l´Orangerie and Musée d’Orsay should also be on every tourist must-see lists as well.
The Most Popular Museum in The Worls
The Louvre is as large as some small towns. It would take you days to see it all. It would be ideal to be able to see small parts of it on several different days. We chose to go on a day that the Louvre stayed open late. We had a museum pass so we were able to queue up next to the pyramid. This was a definite benefit to the museum pass. Our line was not long and it moved rather quickly. Security in all of Paris is no joke, so be sure and plan extra time for it. If you are only going to visit for one day as we did, I suggest you do a little research and make a list of your must-sees.
The Mona Lisa
Of course, we wanted to see the Mona Lisa. We headed there first assuming it would only get more crowded. First of all the painting is small. Secondly it is behind glass and lastly, the amount of people cramming in to see the painting is crazy. It’s not possible to spend any amount of time studying the painting. To stand in front of it you risk getting trampled to death. After inching my way up close, I took a quick look and then a quick picture. As hard as it was to make my way in front of the picture it was twice as hard to squish my way out.
Next, we took a breather and saw my favorite piece the Victoire de Samothrace(Winged Victory.) It is located at the top of a grand staircase. It is possible to get a good view of this fabulous sculpture from many different angles.
Venus de Milo
The Venus de Milo is another sculpture that can’t be missed. The Venus de Milo is assumed to be Aphrodite the goddess of love & beauty. The sculpture is large. She is over 6 feet tall. They believe she was sculpted between 130 and 100 BC. Other than her missing arms she’s in good shape.
We took a walk through the Apollo Gallery. The Galerie d’Apollon is famous for its high vaulted ceilings and painted decorations.
The Musée de l´Orangerie
The Musée de l´Orangerie is a small museum that is known for its eight large water lily panels painted by Claude Monet. There are also other impressionist paintings. The museum is on the edge of the Tuileries Garden. The entrance is also included in the museum pass. The Monet panels are the highlight. They are floor to ceiling in a round room. There are benches in the middle of the room and the panels depict Monet’s garden in all four seasons.
The Musée d’Orsay
The Musée d’Orsay is my favorite museum in all of Paris. The museum is located in an old train station. It holds mostly French art from the impressionist area. It has paintings, furniture, sculpture, and photography. The highlight of the building is the old clock.
The building itself is as beautiful as the art that it holds. It is two stories and has grand staircases at each end of the building. There are many galleries filled with amazing art.
These are the three museums that can’t be missed in Paris. It would be possible to spend multiple days in each one. I think that is a great excuse for another trip to Paris.
I landed at JFK on a gorgeous spring day in April. After dropping my suitcase at my daughter’s apartment in Brooklyn we set off on a walking tour of Bushwick. I wanted to see the graffiti and street art that is part of The Bushwick Collective.
The Bushwick Collective
The Bushwick Collective is located off of Flushing Ave. in Bushwick. There are blocks and blocks of murals that you can visit by just walking around the neighborhood. There really is something for everyone. We saw both portraits and cartoon type murals. It appears that this area of Bushwick is up and coming. We walked past fancy new coffee shops that we were next to functioning machine shops. We were also able to peruse a couple of eclectic vintage shops.
Finding a Lunch Spot in Bushwick
After walking around we decided it was time to eat. I had heard about a restaurant in Bushwick Called Dock. We weren’t sure they would be open because we were there during the weird hours after lunch and before dinner, however, when we go there we found that they were still serving lunch specials for another 40 minutes. Dock is a busy restaurant and reservations are usually a must, but this was the perfect time to try it. Dock was started by three chefs that have different backgrounds. They have combined their talents into one fabulous restaurant. Dock has 3 different head chefs one for sushi, one for Thai cuisine and one for ramen.
Our lunch special was $10.95 and included a soup, egg roll, or salad and one entree. I had the Oyster Soup and Pad See Ew. Nicole had an egg roll and Ramen. We split a Kyoto Matcha IPA . I’ll start with the Matcha IPA. I’m not a fan of IPAs they are usually too bitter for me, however, this one was great. I could taste the bitter hops, but it was balanced out by the matcha. The color was fantastic. It was a deep grassy, green. My oyster soup was delicious. It had the perfect amount of heat and sourness mixed together. It lots of fresh oyster mushrooms and fresh vegetables. My Pad See Ew was also good. I had it with tofu. It wasn’t overly spiced and that allowed me to add my favorite chili oil to enhance the flavors. Nicole’s egg roll was ok. Probably not the star of our meal, however, she liked her Ramen. I give The Dock 5 stars out of 5 and I will be going back to try something else on their extensive menu next time I’m in the area.
Exploring Cobble Hill
After lunch, we headed to the subway and went to the Cobble Hill area of Brooklyn. I wanted to go to an independent bookstore that I follow online called Books Are Magic. Of course, I loved it. They have the cutest mural painted outside and inside is filled with books. Their staff has curated sections and titles that they recommend and they have an amazing section for children’s books. We spent a long time looking at books and I had to buy a Books Are Magic t-shirt before I left so that I can wear it at home in my library.
Heading to Dumbo, Brooklyn
After the bookstore, we hopped back on the subway and head to Dumbo. For those not familiar with Dumbo it is an acronym for down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass. It is one of my favorite areas of Brooklyn because of the amazing views of Manhattan. We went to the Empire Store on the waterfront. We walked up the stairs to the top and had an amazing view of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and the Manhattan skyline.
Perfect Views in Brooklyn
Walking along the waterfront is always entertaining. The views are amazing. There are always lots of photoshoots going on. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops to stop at. Because it was April as soon as the sun went down it got very chilly. We decided that it was time to get back on the subway and head back to Nicole’s apartment. We had an amazing day wandering around Brooklyn.
French street artist know as Invader has returned to Los Angeles. Invader is know for his rogue tile art that is hidden in plain sight in large, urban cities. His pieces are based on the old school video game, Space Invaders. There are approximately 200 pieces of his art in Los Angeles. Over the Influence Gallery in Los Angeles is currently hosting an exhibition, Invader, “Into the White Cube.”
The show runs through December 23, 2018 and it is free to the public. Invader has reproductions of his pixelated art hanging on the walls along with photos of his art in cities across the world. In addition to the art there is a continuous video that was playing about how Invader sent a “space invader” to space in Florida in 2012. FYI: It was a success. I took pictures of my favorites like the invader with the avocado and I Love L.A. There is a store front next door that sells kitschy and very expensive knickknacks.
Invader also has his own app that you can download from the Apple Store. It is called Flash Invaders. Basically, you take a picture of an invader that you find in the wild and if it is one that has been authenticated you receive points as if you were playing the video game. The app has a leader board and you can see other people’s pictures and what city that they found the invader in. It is along the same vein as Pokemon GO. I am pretty bummed that I did not know about this app when I was in Paris, because we saw lots of Invaders while we were walking around there.
The Best Ramen in Town at Daikokuya Little Toyko
After visiting the gallery we walked to Little Tokyo to get some Ramen. Dylan knew of a place that he had been to with his friends, Daikokuya Little Toyko. When we turned down the street we knew it must be really good, because there was a long line waiting for a table.
We went in and added our name to the list which was on an iPad. This system is genius, because it allows you to use your phone to check back in and see how many people are ahead of you in line. There were 29 tables ahead of us, so we went across the street to Tokyo Plaza and went shopping. It took a little over an hour for our table to be ready. The inside of the restaurant is small and no thrills. We were starving. We ordered iced Oolong Tea and a Spicy Tuna Role as an appetizer. Nicole and I both ordered their #1 best seller the Daikokuya Ramen with tonkotsu soup base infused with their secret blended soy sauce. Dylan ordered a teriyaki chicken bowl. The broth in the ramen tasted rich and full bodied. The ramen was delicious and definitely worth the wait. I googled Daikokuya after we ate there and found that they have won a ton of awards and we all agreed they deserve the accolades.
Shopping at Tokyo Plaza
After dinner we went back to Tokyo plaza for a little more shopping. We stopped to take a picture by the Christmas Tree and got sucked into watching karaoke. We watched a guy that was so bad, he was good. He was having such a good time it was contagious.
Ice Cream at Bae
We decided that we would get some ice cream before headed back home. We settled on bae. baeis a new soft serve ice cream shop on 2nd street. The inside is swanky, chandeliers, leather seating and a black wall with a cute saying that is Instagram ready.
They are know for their activated charcoal pineapple flavor which is pure black. I had the Earl Coco, a swirl of Earl Grey & Coco Puffs. Dylan had the Matcha Chocolate, a swirl of Matcha & Chocolate. Nicole had the Heartbreak which is the Activated Charcoal Pineapple with a charcoal sugar cone. The heartbreak taste very similar to the Dole Whipped at Disneyland. The Matcha was not sweet and paired nicely with the chocolate. The Earl Coco was a nice combination because the tea flavor kept the coco puff flavor from being too sweet. Ice cream is $6.00 in a cup or for $1.50 extra you can get it in a cone. They have a red sugar cone, a black activated charcoal cone, and a green Matcha cone. Street parking is available or you can find a parking garage attached to the Tokyo Plaza. Both the art district and Little Tokyo are accessible to the Gold Line as well.