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

Summer Bucket List #23: Disneyland Daze

Summer Bucket List #23: Disneyland


The last time I went to Disneyland, I was 16. I was on a trip with my high school orchestra and justifiably (I think) confused about why we weren’t visiting the beach during our short reprieve from the Arizona desert.

I’ve never really been Disneyland’s No. 1 fan. I think it’s an amazing place full of fun rides and inventive lands, but when the cost easily competes with what I’d pay to go on a trip to one of the real places depicted in “small world,” I have to draw the line.

But despite my ambivalence toward “The happiest place on Earth,” my interest was recently piqued when I remembered I still had this on my Summer Bucket List: “23. Indulge in a local tourist trap.” Even more enticing, my best friend and favorite theme-park companion was in town and my fabulous “cast member” roommate was able to get us in for free! Sold.

Arriving late (for Disneyland standards), we were thrilled to discover it was actually a pretty quiet day at the park and quickly bebopped around from the new Cars Land in California Adventure to Disneyland classics like Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean. We also discovered, after seeing several people dressed in swanky retro attire, that it was “Dapper Day” at the park and spent a good amount of time drooling over the various ensembles. (I was smarting a bit about that one since I love to take any excuse to dawn a retro outfit.) We ended the day with a bang, first watching the fireworks display and then the spectacular World of Color show.

While I don’t think I’ll ever become an annual-pass-holder, I was completely and utterly smitten with my day at the park. I didn’t realize what a treat it would be to experience Disneyland as an adult. Taking moments to consider all the amazing ingenuity and creativity that has gone into the place, I appreciated it that much more. In its own small way, Disneyland may have made a No. 1 fan out of me after all.

Faces of the City

One of my favorite things about walking around Downtown L.A is eyeing all the impressive and often really beautiful street art. Here are a few murals in particular that I never seem to get tired of and wish I could somehow shrink to a size that might fit in my apartment.

Spring Street between 6th and 7th:

Mural by JR on Spring Street between 6th and 7th Streets - Photo by Julie Faith via Flickr

Mural by JR and VHILS on Spring Street between 6th and 7th Streets - Photo by Julie Faith via Flickr

After doing a little investigative work, I discovered a nice piece in Curbed Los Angeles about this street artist, JR. There’s a great video to go along with the article and it managed to make me even more enamored of his beautiful artwork and project, called “Wrinkles of the City,” which highlights the often overlooked beauty that comes with age. The mural in the first image was actually a collaboration between JR and another street artist, VHILS, whose work can be found here. {Photos by Julie Faith via Flickr}

Main Street between 4th and 5th:  

Mural by Claudio Ethos on Main Street between 4th and 5th Streets - Photo via Love and Hate Los Angeles blog

While there’s plenty to appreciate about the murals downtown, this one has always struck a chord with me more than any other. It’s sad and beautiful all at the same time and it makes me want to just sit and stare at it for hours. It took some searching, but I finally found its creator, Brazilian artist Claudio Ethos, whose artwork and murals can be found on his website, here. {Photo via Love and Hate Los Angeles blog}

Broadway between new 4th and 3rd (new location TBD):

Mural by Johanna Poethi on Broadway between 4th and 3rd - Photo by me

I took this photo during one of my first real walks around downtown a couple years ago and it was one of my favorites of the bunch. I just love the way the hands on the mural – called “Calle de la Eternidad” and created by artist and muralist Johanna Poethig — reach up to the sky, mirroring the buildings behind them and giving onlookers a wonderful sense of pride and optimism. BlogDowntown has an interesting article about how this mural is actually being moved and reconstructed piece by piece nearby to allow its current home to be restored. {Photo by me}

The Bikes Are Coming

Susan Peters - Photo from Hollywood Rides a Bike by Steven Rea

You guys, it’s happening. After I’ve waited practically a decade for bike sharing to head west, Bike Nation is finally bringing a bike-share program to Downtown Los Angeles — plus Hollywood, Playa del Rey, Westwood and Venice Beach. You’ve probably seen these programs in other cities. They’re super nifty. Basically, they allow you to rent a bike out of a totally automated station, ride it around and drop at off at any other station nearby. I’m already dreaming of all the fun biking adventures I’ll be going on very soon.

In the meantime, I’m swooning over Steven Rea’s newish book, “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and its collection of romantic photos of Hollywood stars from the ’30s ’40s and ’50s riding their bikes around town. The one above is Susan Peters. Isn’t it just lovely?

Is This Real Life?

Myrtle Avenue Panorama -

Sometimes when I go to places like Ojai or Los Olivos or watch Gilmore Girls or basically any show about suburban life in the ’50s, I wonder what it must be like to live  in one of these tiny towns where everyone knows everyone and people spend lazy afternoons eating ice cream in the park. I think I might finally know.

Last week, I started house sitting in Monrovia, a hidden gem (and virtual time warp) just off the intersection of the 210 and 605 freeways. I don’t know if it was just the particular weekend I spent there or if this is the norm in Old Town Monrovia (a stretch of small businesses, shops and restaurants extending down Myrtle Ave), but over the course of a single weekend, there was a street fair, a farmer’s market, a parade, music in the park, a clown on stilts blowing balloons, a woman playing a violin outside the local movie theater  … I mean, everything was just so pleasant it was hard to believe it was actually real. I had to resist the temptation to walk up to random strangers to ask if they were actually just extras in an elaborate remake of The Andy Griffith Show. The town is charming to say the least. And it seems so tucked away yet it’s barely 10 minutes from the freeway. Leaving Monrovia for a friend’s birthday party in Beverly Hills on Saturday felt like entering a foreign land — or maybe leaving one, I’m not sure.

Jury’s still out on whether small town life is for me. Perhaps if there were a beach nearby? I’m certainly a fan of the local eats. Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

The Peach Cafe – The Monte Cristo is to die for!

Cafe Massillia – A great spot for classic French dishes at reasonable prices — and they just opened a new location in Yorba Linda.

Mediterranean Garden Grill – All my favorite staples (tabbouleh, kibbeh, shawarma, kabobs, baklava) and a hookah happy hour if you’re so inclined.

I’m still eating my way through this quaint little town and trying to understand exactly how it can stay so quaint, but I would highly recommend a visit if for nothing more than to marvel.

{Photo via Gem City Images}

Keeping Up With the Jones

It wasn’t until this year that I came to the realization that most of my “dream vacations” are drawn from Indiana Jones movies. A few years ago, my sister and I went to India. At the time I thought I wanted to go simply because it had always, for some inexplicable reason,  seemed like a mysterious and intriguing place. Actually, it was because the second Indiana Jones movie takes place there. I’m not going to lie, that trip wasn’t my favorite. So I was a little nervous when just two weeks ago I took off on a plane toward the one Indiana Jones location that had delighted and intrigued me beyond all others: the monuments of Petra, Jordan.

And, guys, not only was Petra incredible, but also Jordan itself and neighboring Egypt (both visited on the 9-day tour I participated in through Intrepid) were full of more amazing sites than I can do justice. So — as usual — I’ll let my photos do the talking. (Below are just a small selection of the photo highlights. To see more, visit my Picasa gallery.)

Petra, Jordan by Kim Orr


Dead Sea, Jordan by Kim Orr


Wadi Rum, Jordan by Kim Orr


Nuweiba, Egypt by Kim Orr


Giza, Egypt by Kim Orr


Alexandria, Egypt by Kim Orr


Traveling State of Mind

Why We Travel Slideshow - The New York Times

I don’t know if it’s Spring Break or just the fact that everyone is tired of the “staycation,” but it seems travel bugs are everywhere lately. It used to be that I’d go through my extremely short list of equally travel-obsessed friends trying to find someone (anyone!) who might want to jet off to somewhere exotic. Now, I can’t even keep up with all the travel ideas that have been tossed my way — and I love it!

With travel constantly on the brain (as is my usual state) I’ve recently come across some fun travel features that have a perfect place in today’s travel-mania. Here are just a few:

1. Why We Travel – A beautiful collection of reader-submitted photos and travel anecdotes curated by The New York Times. (I’m in love with photo No. 16 — shown above. Wish it were me!)

2. The Ultimate Travel Hacking Guide – And I thought I was an expert in the art of getting cheap flights. So much to learn …

3. Bike-friendly LA – For those who aren’t quite ready to relinquish the staycation or just want something fun to do for the weekend, Lonely Planet has this great little rundown of some of the best casual bike adventures in LA.