Jaunts With Jackie

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Category: Southern California

Beautiful Art Deco

A Walking Tour of DTLA

One Saturday in February I decided I would be a tourist and do a walking tour of DTLA. To avoid trying to find a parking place I decided to take the Metro. I boarded the Gold Line at the Azusa/Citrus College stop and because it was Saturday parking wasn’t a problem. After I parked I used the vending machine to pay $3 to park for the day. Next, I used another machine to refill my TAP Card and I decided on the all-day unlimited pass for $7.00.

First Stop: Union Station

I rode the Gold Line from Azusa to Union Station and when I arrived I chose to look around instead of immediately transferring to the Red or Purple line. Union Station is a busy place. Over 100,000 passengers pass through on a daily basis. The architecture is beautiful it is a mix of Art Deco and Mission Revival and there are some restaurants and bars in case you want to hang out and people watch.

Second Stop: Bottega Louie

My next stop on my walking tour of DTLA was Bottega Louie. Bottega Louie is a gourmet market, patisserie & cafĂ©. The patisserie part of Bottega Louie is filled with delectable treats. The restaurant portion is large and they don’t take reservations. I stood in line at the counter to order my cappuccino and pain au chocolat. After paying I received a number and I picked a small table for two in the section that has open seating. A waiter brought out my drink and croissant and for a few minutes, I was able to pretend I was back in Paris.

Third Stop: The Biltmore Hotel

My third stop on my walking tour of DTLA was the Biltmore Hotel. I was curious to take a peek inside because the popular Disney ride Tower of Terror is modeled after the Biltmore. Stepping inside definitely reminds me of the Tower of Terror. I wandered around the lobby and hallways checking out the photographs of all the dignitaries and celebrities that have all stayed at the Biltmore.

Fourth Stop: Los Angeles Central Library

The Los Angeles Central Library was my fourth stop on my walking tour of DTLA. Saturday was my lucky day because I was able to join a free docent lead Art and Architecture Tour and I learned that the library was built in 1926 and its theme is the light of learning. The inside walls of the library are covered in murals and the ceilings are painted to resemble wood, although they are actually made of concrete. A fun fact about the library is that the entire building is made of concrete and that is what kept the library from burning to the ground in 1986 in the most epic fire in Los Angeles history. On my way out of the library, I ran into a machine that prints out either a 1 minute, 3 minute or children’s story for you to take with you.

Fifth Stop: Grand Central Market

If you are walking around DTLA, do yourself a favor and stop at Grand Central Market. The market is a Foodies dream. You can get every possible type of food there. Grand Central Market is perfect if you are with a group of friends because everyone can pick out what they want to eat and then you can all meet back at one table and enjoy your food. Today I tried Egg Slut for a late lunch and McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream for Dessert. Egg Slut is having a moment and the line is usually long. I waited 30 minutes to order. I ordered a regular breakfast sandwich without the bacon and I was lucky to find a barstool at the counter and I was able to watch them make my sandwich, which was an over-medium egg with cheese sandwiched between a brioche bun that is toasted with butter. Delicious!

Sixth Stop: The Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building is across the street from the Grand Central Market. In 1971 the Bradbury Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Currently, the building is used as offices and tourists are allowed only in the lobby. The Bradbury Building is famous for its ornate ironwork and atrium and it has been the location for several movies including the original Blade Runner.

Stop Seven: Angel’s Flight

The entrance to Angel’s Flight is across the street from the Grand Central Market. Angel’s Flight originally opened in 1901 and is the shortest operational railroad. It is possible to board the cars at either the bottom or the top of Bunker Hill. I rode it both ways and it was free with unlimited TAP card without a Tap card it is $1 to ride each way.

Stop Eight: Little Tokyo

I walked to Japanse Village Plaza at 335 E. 2nd St. The plaza is busy and there are many shops and restaurants. In the plaza, there is usually some sort of entertainment going on such as karaoke or a performer. I watched a woman though a window making little cakes and I went inside to ask what they were. The man at the counter told me they were Red Bean cakes and he assured me they are delicious. I bought one for $2 and took it to go. I was too full this trip, but my favorite Ramen restaurant Daikokuya is across the street from Japanse Village Plaza and I highly recommend stopping in there for some amazing ramen.

Heading Home

After Little Tokyo, I decided it was getting cold and I was tired so I walked to the corner of First and Alameda and I waited for the Gold Line. There is lots more to explore in the area, but it will have to wait for another day.

Camping tent Anza-Borrego State Park

Desert Camping Anza-Borrego

Anza-Borrego Desert offers a multitude of camping options. There are four developed campgrounds with over 175 sites. These campgrounds also include group sites and Tamarisk Grove has primitive cabins for rent and if you really want to get away from it all Anza-Borrego allows roadside camping.

Camping amongst the cacti.

Anza-Borrego State Park

Anza-Borrego State Park is located about 2 hours away from both San Diego and Los Angeles. The park is open 7 days a week and there is a $10 fee for day use. After paying the entrance fee your first stop should be the visitor’s center. Inside volunteers and rangers have a wealth of information about the wildflowers, cacti, palm groves, and wildlife you might encounter in the park. They can also provide maps and current conditions for hikes. There are a small gift shop and restrooms located outside the doors.

The Cactus Bloom in the spring.

The Best Season to Camp at Anza-Borrego

Winter and Spring are the preferred seasons to camp at Anza-Borrego. Reservations can be made through Reserve California. Weekends in February book up far in advance. A regular site is $25 a night. Each site includes a picnic table, a shade awning, and a fire ring. There are a variety of bathrooms spread amongst the campsites including some pit toilets, some flushing toilets, and a few you just have to see to believe.

Tamarisk Grove in Anza-Borrego State Park

I have camped in Anza-Borrego State Park two times. The first time the only reservation I could find was at Tamarisk Grove for a cabin. I was leery about the definition of a cabin, but I made the reservations. The cabins cost $60 a night and are basically a large shed with a door and two windows. There is room for 8 to sleep and inside are bunk beds and a loft, however, there are no mattresses provide. You need to bring an inflatable or you will be sleeping on plywood. There are a table and two chairs, no electricity or running water and the door locks. Overall, the cabin provided protection from the howling wind and it was a cozy place to spend the night.

A Cabin in The Desert

We were able to hang our hammocks outside in between the poles of the shade awning. The hammocks were a perfect place to relax and read a book. When it was time for dinner we set up my jet boil on the picnic table and cooked ontop. After dinner, we made a fire in the fire ring and made s’ mores. The bathrooms at Tamarisk were nice, clean and they flushed. Because we only stayed one night we didn’t try the coin-operated showers. There are two easy hikes that start across the street from Tamarisk. They are the Yaqui Well Nature Trail and the Cactus Loop Trail.

Desert Camping

For our second overnight, we stayed in the main campground for Anza-Borrego State Park. We stayed in February during the rainy season and we didn’t make reservations, because we thought it was going to rain and we would have to cancel. When we arrived at the main gate they told us that they were completely booked for the night. We asked them lots of questions about the group site or the hike-in site and the ranger decided to let us camp in a hike-in site. Again at this site, we had a picnic table, a shade awning, and a fire-pit. The bathroom by our site did not have a roof and it had two toilets with a wall in between, but no doors. Not a toilet for the modest. We decided it was best to go to the bathroom in pairs and use one person as a look-out.

The craziest toilet I have ever seen.

A Hike That Leaves From The Campground

There are various hikes that start throughout the campground. One of the most popular hikes is Borrego Palm Canyon Trail. It is a moderate 2.9 miles roundtrip hike. There are signs warning you of the importance of bringing enough water with you for this hike. There is no drinkable water and you wiil not find any shade until you get to the palms. In the spring if it has been a rainy year there is a stream that runs down along the trail. It is possible to see a variety of animals on this hike including iguanas, Chuckwallas, and Bighorn Sheep. Once you get to the palms you will feel like you have made it to an oasis. The palms are huge and tower over you. They provide the much-needed shade from the scorching desert sun.

A Small Desert Town

The little town of Borrego Springs is right outside the entrance to Anza-Borrego State Park. In the center of town is Christmas Tree Circle. Here you can find a grassy common area, bathrooms, and free wi-fi. There are a few restaurants, gas stations, and little stores, however, be sure and check the hours, because of some of the places close early.

The Ocotillo were almost ready to bloom.

Dragons in the Desert

During your camping trip make sure you leave time to visit some of the 130 life-size art sculptures that are located around the town of Borrego Springs. The Chamber of Commerce has a map that shows the locations of the sculptures and because they are spread out you will need to drive to see them all. If you are camping with kids, this should be on your list of fun things to do.

The Sea Dragon

Free Dispersed Camping in Anza-Borrego

If you would like to camp in Anza-Borrego and are not able to get reservations you are allowed to camp for free as long as you follow the rules. Your car can’t be park more than one car length off of the road, however, your tent can be further you just need to walk. Another rule to remember is that you need to be at least 100 yards away from a water source. Furthermore, if you plan on having a campfire you need to have it in a metal container. No ground fires are allowed and lastly, you are responsible for hauling out your trash.

Staying in Anza-Borrego

Anza-Borrego has a lot to offer. There are plenty of both hiking and 4 x 4 trails. If you plan your visit right you might see the desert wildflowers in full bloom and at nighttime, you will get an amazing view of the stars. The desert just might surprise you, so get out there and start exploring.

Anza-Borrego Desert
Anza-Borrego Desert

Life-Sized Art Sculptures in the Desert

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.

On the road to Anza Borrega

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.

A lone horse
Lots of Jeeps in Anza Borrego

Grasshopper vs. scorpion.
The Chief
A prospector and his mule.
The Sea Dragon

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.

Out and About in Riverside, California

Riverside, California

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

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 World Peace Bridge
Under the World Peace Bridge

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

Tio’s Taco

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.

You can’t miss the art from the street.
A Christmas tree made from Dos Equis bottles.
Popeye The Sailor Man
Inside the chapel
Information about the artist.

Lunch at Tio’s Tacos

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.

Chilaquiles Verde

Exploring Riverside

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.

Lessons I learned From a Bad Backpacking Trip…

About a year ago my friend Sally and I decided to start backpacking. We are both hikers and there are places that we want to explore that you can only get to if you backpack. We went to REI and got fitted for backpacks and slowly started collecting our gear. We’ve been on some overnight trips and recently we have been practicing for a through a hike in the Sierras. On our latest backpacking trip, I learned some lessons the hard way.

It Was Supposed To Be An Easy Overnighter.

Our latest trip was to Little Jimmy Campground. It is located off SR2 (Angeles Crest Highway) in the Angeles National Forest. You can only reach the campground by hiking in. There are 16 sites, picnic tables, fire rings, bear boxes, and a vault toilet. There isn’t running water, but Little Jimmy Spring is just 1/4 mile away.

The parking lot is at Islip Saddle.

Lesson #1: Watch Out For Detours

We started our trip around 11 am so that we could avoid the commuter traffic. Unfortunately, they were doing road work on SR2 and we had to make a major detour. We found some friendly firemen that were able to give us directions to detour around the road closure. There is no cellphone signal in the canyon. Our detour took us 2 hours.

Heading up the switchbacks.
Hiking on the PCT

Lesson #2: Eat Breakfast

We finally arrived at Islip Saddle Parking lot. The trail is part of the PCT and it follows steep switchbacks for the first mile. I wasn’t feeling it. Some days your body just doesn’t feel like hiking up a steep hill with a 35-pound backpack on. Looking back now, I realize it was probably because I didn’t eat breakfast and it was afternoon time when we actually started hiking and I had only eaten a protein bar on the drive up the mountain. I munched on a few sour gummy worms on the way up hoping it would give me a burst of energy. Luckily, after the first mile, the trail levels out a little bit.

We saw butterflies the whole way up.

A Hammock & Book Are Backpacking Essentials

We made it to camp and there was only 1 other camper there so we had our choice of spots. After putting up our tents, unpacked and set up our hammocks, we decided instead of hiking we would just relax in our hammocks and read. It was peaceful and relaxing for about 30 minutes and then it got windy and cold. After 45 mins we had to get out of the hammocks because it was too cold.

Hammock time.
My favorite part of camping is reading in my hammock.

Little Jimmy Springs

One of the best things about camping at Little Jimmy is the proximity to Little Jimmy Springs. The spring runs year-round and the water comes out fresh and cold. Some people filter the water, but numerous Boy Scouts and a ranger have told us that it isn’t necessary. We walked down to the spring and filled up our empty water bottles for drinking and cooking.

The trail to Little Jimmy Springs.
On the way to the spring.
Filling up my nalgene from the spring.

Lesson #3: Make a List

When we got back to camp I decided it was too cold to be sitting around in shorts even with a fleece top on. I climbed in my tent to change and found out that unfortunately, I packed a long sleeve shirt instead of my long pants. They are both black and made of the same material. unfortunately, I made the very bad decision to put on my sleeping fleece pants even though it wasn’t time for bed. I came out of my tent in my fleece top and bottom that I sleep in and a fleece hoodie. I was warm and cozy for a few minutes. We started dinner.

Lesson #4: Accidents Happen

Sally found out that she had forgotten her backpacking stove. Luckily it wasn’t a problem, because we just used mine. Over the last year, we have narrowed down our backpacking dinners to what we like and what we can eat without having leftovers that we have to pack back out. I had picked up a lentil soup at REI. We boiled the water I added water to Sally’s couscous and then I added two cups of boiling water to my package. After adding the water I realized the package didn’t come with the standard top that allows you to reseal it after you add the hot water. Generally, after adding water the food has to sit for 10 minutes while it rehydrates. I use a mailing envelope as a cozy to put my food in while it’s rehydrating. It helps retain the heat. Somehow while I was transferring the package to the cozy I knocked over the soup onto myself. I was sitting at the picnic table and the soup poured onto my ribs, thigh, calf and inside my camp shoes. I let out a blood-curdling scream, but I couldn’t do anything. The hot water was trapped between my fleece and my skin.

A Long Night

When I calmed down I pulled my clothes off and realized how bad it actually was. I had to leave all my clothes outside the tent. Inside the tent, I put on my long sleeve shirt and a puffer jacket. Unfortunately, I only had my shorts to put back on. I opened my first aid kit and slathered myself with antibiotic cream. My dinner was all dumped out on the ground so, I ate a small baggie of trail mix that I had packed. Sally made a fire and I sat with my burned side of my body away from the fire, because I was cold! I remained fairly calm. I made some trail margaritas and took some Advil. When it came time for bed I had to put all my fleece clothes in the bear box. We were in bear country and my clothes all smelled like lentil soup. I had to sleep in my underwear and I was cold all night.

Trying to dry out my clothes on the tree and the bear box.
Backpacking Margaritas
Sally made a nice fire.

Packing Up

After a rough night of trying to not pop my blisters, trying to stay warm and trying to sleep I was ready to go home. We had planned to hike up to Islip Saddle in the morning. It has a beautiful view and both times I’ve been up there I’ve seen Bighorn Sheep, but I didn’t want to hike anywhere. We had coffee and then packed up. While I was packing up my tent, I felt something on my leg. I looked down and a spider almost as big as a tarantula was climbing on it. I again started screaming and somehow got it off my leg. Thankfully, Sally came to my rescue and relocated it with a hiking pole.

Hiking Back To The Car

All packed up we hiked back out to the car. I was so happy that I made it to the car. I leaned my hiking poles against the trunk and hoisted my pack in the backseat. Later after we had been driving for over an hour I realized that I had left my hiking poles against the trunk and now they were laying in the parking lot. I went to the doctor the next day and I have 2nd-degree burns on my rib and thigh. The burn on my thigh is worse and will leave scarring.

Backpacking down the mountain.

Lessons Learned

Here is a list of things I learned from this backpacking trip.

  • Google Maps and Waze are not always up-to-date for road construction.
  • If you are in Southern California and using route SR2, good luck. This isn’t the first time we’ve run into road closures and I even called Cal- Trans the morning we left to check for closures.
  • It’s a good idea to have a permanent packing list. This would have helped with the forgotten stove and missing pants. I’m thinking of making a list of things I have to pack in my backpack and then laminating it.
  • Never change into your sleeping clothes until you are ready to climb into your sleeping bag.
  • When buying dehydrated food check the top to make sure it’s resealable or have another way to cook it. If I would have realized about the top before we got there I would have dumped everything into a ziplock freezer bag. You can pour boiling water into the freezer bags and cook that way.
  • Ice cubes will stay in your Hydroflask. Perfect for trail margaritas.
  • Accidents happen, not much you can do about this. I told Sally this trip was to teach us humility. We’ve been on so many backpacking trips where nothing went wrong something was bound to happen eventually.
  • Make sure all your gear is in the car before you drive away.

Little Jimmy Trail Camp

Seal Beach

My first day of summer break and I decided I needed a day to decompress at the beach. Seal Beach is a small sleepy community that is also the home of a Naval Weapons Station and the large retirement community of Leisure World. To get to the beach you turn onto Main Street off of Pacific Coast Highway. The main street will give you the hometown feel. Main Street is lined with small boutiques, shops, and restaurants. There is street parking for all the shopping. Continuing on to the ocean and there is a large parking lot for the beach. They have implemented a new parking system. You first park and then pay at a machine. Make sure you know your license plate number you need to type it into the machine before you pick the amount of time you want to stay. It is $2 an hour or $8 for all day.

You have to pay for parking at the machine. It accepts credit cards or coins only.

The Water Is Close To The Parking Lot

The water is close to the parking lot which is important if you are hauling a lot of stuff. When I was there we were still experiencing June-Gloom and it was chilly, but that didn’t stop people from getting in the water. A large surf school that operates at Seal Beach and their truck is usually parked in the beach lot. It’s always fun to watch the lessons going on. There are lifeguards on duty and there is a bathroom. There is also a playground for the kids. Although, there isn’t a snack bar on the beach, however, there are many restaurants within walking distance and some provide a walk-up surfers menu.

Seal Beach during June Gloom.
The surf report.

The Pier

Seal beach has a pier. It is a popular with fishermen and people strolling. At one time there was a Ruby’s at the end of the pier, but they vacated and then in 2016 a fire destroyed the vacant restaurant. There are talks that permits have been secured to rebuild the end of the pier.

Seal Beach Pier.
A Dedication to Seal Beach

Sweet Treats on Main Street

I brought my lunch to the beach, but before heading home I decided to check out some of the fun shops on Main Street. I have fond memories of taking my kids into Sweet Jills. It is a Seal Beach institution that is best known for its delectable cinnamon rolls. I bought some cookies to take home for my son and I got a peanut butter cup cookie for myself. The bakery has a wide variety of baked goods including cupcakes. Sweet Jill’s is cash only so come prepared.

Sweet Jill’s Bakery
Some of Sweet Jill’s many treats.

Coffee, Tea, And Boba

I stopped to get a drink at Honeybees. They serve tea, coffee, boba, and fresh juices. I ordered their special Vietnamese Coffee with boba. It was $4.95 and there wasn’t an additional charge for the boba. Vietnamese coffee is very strong and bold and then they add sweetened condensed milk to round it out. Their coffee was very good here and I would definitely order it again.

Honeybee’s

A Snack With A View

I took my coffee and cookie to the pier. I walked along until I found the perfect bench to have a seat and watch the surfers. The sun had finally came out and it was a beautiful day.

Poppy Fever & Waterfalls

Southern California has received a significant amount of rain this winter and as a result there is  a “Super Bloom” happening and lots of water in our local falls.  The poppies are looking amazing. The hills are a lush green and in some spots they are carpeted with poppies.

When the sun is out you can see them glowing a brilliant orange from the freeway. You can get up close and personal with the poppies in Lake Elsinore at Walker Canyon Ecological Reserve.

The land is owned by the preserve, but there is a 4 miles loop that you can walk around and see an amazing display of spring flowers. It seems that most of Southern California is trying to talk selfies with the poppies. If you visit on the weekend, I suggest you go early and bring plenty of patience. Exit at Lake St. off of the 15 Freeway and head towards the poppies. You can park along the side of the rode in either direction. The city of Lake Elsinore has put out a few porta-potties and trash cans. The first part of the trail is a little steep, but we saw ladies in sundresses and fancy shoes heading up along with several people with canes and one man with a walker. The further you walk up the trail the less people you will see.

A Common FIddlehead

We wanted to see the poppies up close, but soon realised there is a variety of different flowers to enjoy as well. It was partly cloudy the day that we went, so we spent some time waiting for the sun to poke out from the clouds. To get the full effect you should try and go on a sunny day. Poppies only open up when it’s sunny. 

Look closely to see the flowers close to the ground.

Hiking San Juan Loop

After walking around and enjoying the flowers we decided to leave and try and hike to a nearby waterfall. When we got to the car it was a complete zoo. There were people parked on both sides of the rode for over 1/2 mile. Again, go early. We drove up Lake to Ortega Highway. It is about 15 miles from the poppies to the parking lot for Ortega Falls. There is a parking lot across the street from the Candy Store. This is part of the Cleveland National Forest so you need to display your adventure pass. If you didn’t bring one they sell them at the candy store for $5.00. To reach Ortega Falls you start out on Old San Juan Loop. It is only .3 miles to the top of the falls.

Ortega Falls

We only stayed up top, because the water was roaring and muddy. It was too cold for us to make our way down to the bottom and playing in the water. We decided we would continue on the trail and head to Chiquito Falls.

A little plant growing on a rock.

This is as close to the water as we got.

Time Time To Turn Around

It was 3 miles further, unfortunately after a mile we came to an impasse. San Juan creek was roaring from all the rain and there was no safe way for us to cross. We walked upstream and found a log, but it didn’t look like we could make it across. We figured it would be a bad idea and we didn’t want to be one of the people that rangers are rescuing every weekend. We continued hiking on San Juan Trail and ended up back at the parking lot. 

Ortega Oaks Candy Store 

We were back so early we went across the street to the Ortega Oaks Candy Store. When it’s warmer they serve refreshing rootbeer float, but the day we were there it was way to cold for that.

Ortega Oaks Candy Store

We settled on coffee and brownies. We browsed all of their candy selection and I settled on sour watermelon gummy bears. 

Jawbreakers

We had a great adventure and because we didn’t make to the falls we have an excuse to go back again soon. 

Invader Hits Los Angeles Art District

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. bae is 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.

https://baebae.co/

http://www.daikoku-ten.com/locations/littletokyo/

http://overtheinfluence.com/exhibitions/

Chinese Lantern Festival

I have been seeing ads pop-up on Instagram and Facebook for different lantern festivals. Sunday night we went to the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Pomona Fairplex. Originally I had wanted to go to the Moonlight Forest at The Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, but all the discount tickets for Sunday were already sold. Same day tickets are $28.00 for adults plus a $4.95 online fee. I was taking my reluctant son and could not justify buying tickets at that price. I settled on the Lantern Festival, because discount tickets were still available. I was able to buy 3 tickets on Groupon for $17 each and no service fee.

Parking

We arrived at 5:30 p.m. With the time change, it was definitely dark enough for the lanterns. We entered at Gate 17 and had to pay $12 to park. Probably because it was opening weekend it was not crowded. We parked close to the entrance and only had to wait in line for 5 minutes to have our tickets scanned.

Welcome to “The Wild.”

My dates for the night.

Experience The Wild

This year’s theme is “Experience the Wild.” The majority of the lanterns are animal themed. The promoters promise that there are 1,0000 lanterns at the festival. They are lit up with LED lights. Most of the lanterns are stationary, but some move. The lanterns are beautiful when lit up. The most spectacular lanterns were the underwater themed ones located on the water. The reflection of the jelly fish on the water was magical.

The jellyfish.

The elephant

Don’t Go Hungry

Now for the negatives. We went to the festival hungry, because we saw pictures of delicious looking food. Unfortunately, there is only one small booth selling food and the lines were long. The online information about the festival says that there are unique hand-crafted keepsakes. They were there, but there were only 4 artisans at one small table. We sat down to watch the Kung Fu show, but the sound was not working and we could not hear anything, We left after about 10 mins. The last negative is people do not follow the rules. So many people disregarded the no touching signs and touched the lanterns. They also climbed up over embankments and took selfies with the lanterns.

The only place to get food.

In Conclusion:

Over all, I would recommend the Chinese Lantern Festival. The lanterns were beautiful and the setting at the Fairplex made walking around enjoyable. I would not pay full price for the tickets. A quick google search will show you all the available discounts. The festival runs through January 6, 2019. It is held Thurs – Sunday nights and there are some special dates that they are open for the holidays.

These elephants were made of cups, saucers and spoons.

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