Summer Bucket List #2: Firsts

Summer Bucket List #2: Go to Catalina Island

Summer Bucket List #2: Go to Catalina Island

Summer Bucket List #2: Go to Catalina Island

Summer Bucket List #2: Go to Catalina Island

 

I was starting to think I might give in to this whole, “it’s technically fall now” idea, but it seems at least in Southern California, Mother Nature isn’t quite ready to accept that idea either. Summer is still here, my friends – and so is my Summer Bucket List.

My latest adventure (Summer Bucket List item No. 2) took me for the first time to the shores of Catalina Island. While I’ve spent many a lazy beach day staring at the island from afar and even taken several SCUBA diving trips to waters just off of its coastline, in my 10 years as a SoCal resident, I’d never actually set foot on shore.

Being that it was the boy’s and my anniversary, we opted for the quieter Two Harbors side of the island and spent the day kayaking (which I’m happy to report went swimmingly despite my tendency to be overbearing in kayaks), checking out the scenery and eating at the only restaurant in the town.

At dusk, we hiked up to a viewpoint above the back side of Two Harbors’ two harbors. The sun began setting over the mountains and I whipped out every camera in my possession while the boy tried to usher me up another hill to a second lookout area. After two dozen photos and many more urgings from the boy that we climb to the higher lookout, I relented. We climbed to the top – me singing “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria” the whole way (this isn’t as weird as it sounds if you consider that the epic scenery pretty much forces you to go straight to “Sound of Music” references) — and then this happened :)

I said yes.

Summer Bucket List #2: Go to Catalina Island

Hammock Dreams

Me napping in a hammock at the Red Sea in Egypt

All my life I’ve loved hammocks. My all-time dream is to travel to a beachy destination that stays nice and warm through the night, sleep in a hammock right on the beach and then wake up in the morning, grab my surfboard and hit the waves! I’ve had some experiences pretty close to this in Egypt and Colombia, but so far, I’m still waiting for my full dream scenario to come true. In the meantime, I’ve decided that I need to quell my hammock obsession by taking a nap in one at some point this summer (thus Summer Bucket List item No. 18). But even that poses a bit of a challenge as my apartment, while nestled in a nice little courtyard, isn’t quite set up for a permanent hammock. And my other option – sneaking into a hammock display at the local World Market store – doesn’t sound too appealing or relaxing.

So I was very excited to see this DIY hammock idea from Design Sponge, which not only gives me an excuse to buy some of those fancy towel/blanket/things I’ve been seeing around lately but also a fun way to check No. 18 off my Summer Bucket List.

Summer Bucket List #19: A Plant Even I Can’t Kill?

Air Plant Terrarium from Terrarium Shop - $10 with stand

Terrarium care instructions

I did manage to make it to one event on my whirlwind weekend list, even if it was for the last hour of the last day. I just can’t stand to miss the Renegade Craft Fair — or manage to leave without buying a thing or two. In addition to finally purchasing an adorable narwhal portrait from one of my favorite illustrators, Ryan Berkley Illustration, and discovering the stunning and whimsical work of Lela Shields, I figured out how I’m going to complete Summer Bucket List item No. 19 (buy a plant and keep it alive all summer long): by purchasing a premade mini terrarium containing a plant with no roots that can essentially be carried around like little pet succulent and only needs to be watered once a week! It was only $10 from Terrarium Shop — with a cute little stand to boot.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Kim, you must be able to take care of a plant that’s higher maintenance.” Nope (Chuck Testa). It has to be just a step away from artificial for it to survive me. I think me and my epiphyte (that’s what it’s called according to Wikipedia) will be very happy together.

Summer Bucket List #1: Paddling Pretty

Summer Bucket List #1: Go Paddleboarding

On Sunday, the boy and I ventured out to Newport Harbor to try our hands (and feet) for the first time at paddleboarding (Summer Bucket List item No. 1!). Thanks to a paddleboarding Groupon, which seem to pop up almost daily, I bought us each a $20 2-hour session at Wayward Captain Paddleboards, headquartered in a small stand easily missed among a giant trampoline bungee apparatus, the iconic Balboa Ferris Wheel and dozens of shops and pizza joints at the Balboa Fun Zone. We were told the best time to rent the boards is between 9 and 10 a.m. before the tourists are out in full, so we arrived promptly at 11:30. As such, it was a bit of a wait for some boards to become available, but the beach is right across the street and Wayward Captain will text you when your turn is up. Perfect.

After a short, five-minute lesson on the rules of the road and some paddleboarding essentials, we were off! And it was pretty awesome. And definitely not as difficult or taxing as I imagined. In fact, it was quite relaxing. With a nice sea breeze on our faces and the mostly calm waters of the Harbor gently rolling by, we were zipping around, from the Peninsula to Linda Island to the mouth of the Back Bay and back again. The hardest part for me was picking up enough speed to not get a little anxiety at crossing the busy harbor turning point to get from here to there. But we made it in-tact — with only one fall in the water. (My lips are sealed on who that was :) .)

If you’re thinking of venturing out yourself, I highly recommend it. Unless you’re planing on getting barreled during your outing, no need for a lesson either. The five-minute spiel was plenty. Wayward Captain charges $20 per hour and offers a punch card with a free rental on the fifth visit! And, of course, you can always find a deal by pursuing Groupon.

(Also, for those of you wondering, I found out I just may have a free moment to visit the U.S. Open of Surfing during my favorite time next Saturday morning, so I held off for this weekend. Report to follow next week!)

Whirlwind Weekend Ahead

U.S. Open of Surfing from Nikeblog.com

You guys, there are just too many fun things happening this weekend, especially outdoors. As much as I would love to get to them all, I just don’t think it’s physically possible!

Since my Summer Bucket List says so – and I must abide – I’ll definitely be making my way to Huntington Beach (probably via bike) to see the start of the U.S. Open of Surfing. While I prefer to catch the tail end of the event next weekend when all the pros are out in full, I have something ultra important to attend to for work: our rover Curiosity is landing on Mars! (If you’re not privy to all the excitement with THAT little chestnut, watch this. And I’ll post more on how to watch all the landing excitement next week.)

Here are some of the other fun, outdoorsy things happening this weekend – and beckoning me to do some major multitasking/commuting.

  1. Renegade Craft Fair – July 28-29, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Los Angeles Historic Park, free
  2. Cinespia presents The Big Lebowski – July 28, gates: 7:30 p.m., movie: 9 p.m., Hollywood Forever Cemetery, presale reservations sold out
  3. Eat | See | Hear presents The Princess Bride and band State to State – July 28, doors: 5:30 p.m., movie: 8:30 p.m., Brentwood’s Paul Revere Charter Middle School, $10-$20
  4. Downtown Grand Park partial grand opening and National Dance Day Celebration – July 28, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.,  Between Grand Avenue and Hill Street along 1st Street, free
  5. Shakespeare Under the Stars presents As You Like It – July 25-29, 8 p.m., VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center Campus, $12.50-$20 on Goldstar

Sounds fun, right? Which one of these events or others will you be attending this weekend?
{Photo via Nikeblog.com}

Summer Bucket List #8: Back in the Newport Groove

Back Bay bike ride: Northside

I’d never really understood the appeal of Newport’s Back Bay. I’d always driven by the swampy grasslands staring  at the multimillion dollar houses up on the cliffs and wondered, “Why would anyone buy an outrageous house overlooking a swamp when the beach is right there?!”

So I decided to kill two birds with one stone and cross off Summer Bucket List item No. 8 (ride my bike someplace new) while also finally give the Back Bay the chance it deserves.

I must admit, I’m still a little stumped about why people buy multimillion dollar homes overlooking the bay, but I do think – for the first time – I finally started to understand why people visit it at all. There’s actually quite a bit of beauty to be had there. Lots of birds and grasslands. It almost feels as if you’re taking a jaunt through the bayou rather than opulent Newport Beach – that is until you reach a clearing with a perfect view of Fletcher Jones Motorcars (said with an affected British accent) and its fleet of Mercedes. Still the Southern end of the bay is a quiet refuge with only the occasional reminders of civilization. During my 15-mile bike ride (making the loop from my house in Corona del Mar), I came across joggers, couples and their newborns out for a stroll, bikers both accomplished and amateur and a cute little group of ducks. I finished my ride at an RV park beach that seemed straight out of a movie – complete with giant water slides, a plastic whale, all kinds of rentals and a swing set.

All in all, it was the perfect afternoon adventure – and I think I’ll look at the Back Bay with just a little more admiration from now on.

This Will Be My Summer

One of the many candidates for that "cool graphic" I was telling you about. Still ... not quite right.

My goal was to post this on Wednesday, the official first day of summer, but that didn’t quite pan out. (Not a good start to my jam-packed, goal-filled summer.) I have an excuse, though: I wanted to find the perfect background picture with which to create an awesome graphic that would surely inspire me to zoom right through my 30 summer bucket list items. I’m still working on that part, so in the meantime, I’m making this official …

I’m doing a summer bucket list!!!

Summer has a way of biting me in the butt and making me want to go on a thousand adventures. I think it’s the extra sunshine. I pretty much run on solar power. So I decided to create a list of all the fun things I have in store for myself  this summer. The best part is I’m planning to blog about all of it, so you’ll have a front-row seat to my adventures and, I’m sure, misadventures. And maybe you’ll even create a bucket list of your own and post it in our comments. Wouldn’t that be just delightful?! Before I use any more exciting punctuation, let’s get to this list:

  1. Go paddle boarding
  2. Go to Catalina Island
  3. Take a SCUBA diving refresher course
  4. Learn to windsurf
  5. Host a retro beach party
  6. Find a cute retro swimsuit to wear to said beach party
  7. Go sailing
  8. Ride my bike somewhere new
  9. Wake up early to see the pros surf at the U.S. Open of Surfing
  10. Go surfing
  11. Read these books: Girlchild, The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir), The Violin Face, Atlas Shrugged
  12. Become a better photographer
  13. Attend at least one outdoor cinema and one beach concert
  14. Start writing a story (or maybe write a whole short story)
  15. Do something with that canvas that’s been sitting against my wall all year
  16. Check out some local markets
  17. Make some of Real Simple’s fabulous-looking summer cocktails
  18. Take a nap in a hammock
  19. Buy a plant – or create an herb garden – and keep it alive all summer long
  20. Give back
  21. Try as many of Los Angeles Magazine’s “Cheap Eats” as possible
  22. Give an unexpected gift
  23. Indulge in a local tourist trap
  24. Learn a new skill
  25. Figure out what to do with all my travel photos
  26. Take a spin in some new car possibilities
  27. Start learning a new language
  28. Write a letter to someone special
  29. Spend an entire day disconnected from all technology, and see what happens
  30. Blog about it all …

Sounds pretty cool, right? I think so. Let the summer officially begin!

Hiking in LA

East Side Loop - Griffith Park

It seems I’ve been hearing quite a bit about great LA hikes lately. Back when I lived in Arizona, I had a strong aversion to hiking, mainly because you don’t get a whole lot of visual diversity in the desert — and it’s really hot. But in California? Now, that’s an idea!

So far, I’ve really only done one true hike in Southern California and that was to the lovely waterfall in Eaton Canyon Park, which I highly recommend. That’s why I’m really excited to have discovered the Nobody Hikes in LA blog, which not only has an excellent name, but also some really great-sounding hike ideas.

Maybe if weather permits, I can even try one this weekend! What about you guys? Do you have any secret — or well-known — trails that you frequent?

{Photo via Nobody Hikes in LA}

Colombia: A Diamond in the Rough

Hello again! I’ve just returned from what turned out to be an incredible trip to Colombia. Now before you start imagining drug gangs and kidnappings, let me put your mind at ease. (Although, I’ll admit, I imagined those things too.) Colombia was such a gorgeous country full of stunning scenery, kind and helpful people and just an amazing diversity of settings. I only spent eight days exploring the northern Caribbean coast — from Cartagena all the way to the tippy top of South America — but I left dreaming of one day seeing more.

For the purpose of sharing my experiences and encouraging you all to visit this amazing country, here are just some of the highlights. In order of appearance …

Cartagena: A beautiful, vibrant and bustling colonial city contained within castle-like walls.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Santa Marta: While there’s less area to explore than in Cartagena, the teeny touristy area still feels relatively undiscovered by the masses and even more charming (don’t let the crowded beach fool you).

Santa Marta, Colombia

Santa Marta, Colombia

Taganga: Arriving in Taganga feels like stepping into a Cirque du Soleil performance. Hippy backpacker types abound, but the whole scene feels somehow intriguingly mysterious.

Taganga, Colombia

Parque Tayrona: The small part that I saw seemed like a great way to “rough it” with a little bit of comfort intact.

Parque Tayrona, Colombia

La Guajira: Words (and photos) can’t describe this magical place. You have to experience it for yourself. It’s not easy to get to, but believe me, it’s SO worth it.

Punta Gallinas, Colombia

Punta Gallinas, Colombia

Punta Gallinas, Colombia

Did you buy your plane ticket yet?

Christmastime is Here?

Copyright Rune Guneriussen

Copyright Rune Guneriussen

Copyright Rune Guneriussen

Copyright Rune Guneriussen

Having spent most of my formative childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, I often miss the dramatic change in the seasons from fall to winter. There was something magical about waking up to a snowy day and getting bundled up in front of the fire, especially on Christmas morning. These days, I barely even realize it’s Christmastime until the malls start overflowing with people and traffic becomes a nightmare.

This year to get into the Christmas spirit, I think I’ll just spend some time gazing at these dreamy photographs from Norwegian artist Rune Guneriussen. Guneriussen builds and photographs these stunning scenes all over Norway – and then unfortunately deconstructs them. I just love the magical winter-like vibe they produce. I could stare at them for hours.

See more of Guneriussen’s work, here.