Five Quotes

I struggled to title this post. Thoughts ricocheted around my head. Phrases plopped out of my mouth. Cliches fell deaf on my ears. Nothing felt quite right. “Five Quotes Every Runner Will Understand” was too specific. “Five Quotes for a Meaningful Life” was too vague. Surely, all quotes contain meaning. But why should these five be the only set to guide one’s life? Why should this set target only a small portion of individuals? Ironic that a post about quotes, the encapsulation of so much meaning with so few words, is taking me so long to unravel to you. At the same time, that’s exactly my point. Quotes astound with immediate connections and clarity. No one needs to deconstruct a quote. The words speak for themselves—and directly to you. As such, here are five quotes you may or may not have stumbled upon in your time stumbling through life.

Five Quotes

“The best way out is always through.” —Robert Frost

“The more you know, the less you need.” —Yvon Chouinard

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” —George Bernard Shaw

“Don’t work towards freedom, but allow the work itself to be freedom.” —Dōgen Zenji

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” -—Ernest Hemingway

Hollywood Sign Hike

Hollywood Sign Hike | Beachwood Drive to Hollywood Sign

NOTE: Hiking to the Hollywood Sign from Beachwood Drive is no longer possible.

Situated on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Hollywood Sign rests high above Los Angeles. Both a landmark of American culture and an icon associated with the City of Angels, the Hollywood Sign offers casual hikers magnificent views and an opportunity to cement their place alongside a globally recognized symbol of American cinema. In this post, I highlight the Beachwood Drive to Hollywood Sign hike.

Difficult:

Easy

Mileage:

4 miles
Time:

1.5-2 hours

Parking:

Fair. During the week, parking in the residential area near the trail head is easy and legal. On weekends, be prepared to walk a distance of anywhere between .5 and 1.5 miles depending on how many cars arrive early in the morning.

Notable Features:
  • Hollywood Sign. Perhaps the most famous gem associated with Los Angeles.
  • Panoramic views of distinct Los Angeles regions: DTLA, LA coastline, Burbank, and many others.
  • A diverse selection of fauna and flora. Horses at Sunset Ranch!
Directions:

3000 N Beachwood Dr, Los Angeles, CA, 90068, USA. Use this address to navigate toward the trail head. If on weekends, be prepared to do some backpedaling to find parking along Beachwood Drive.

The Hike:

Begin trekking up the fire trail. After a short distance, Sunset Ranch will appear. More likely than not, its charming smell will reach noses before coming into sight.

Sunset-Ranch

After stopping to admire horses within the ranch, continue right and up along a dirt path. This dirt path will provide multiple chances to overlook Los Angeles. Eventually, a fork in the road will steer hikers along a left or a right path. Take the left path which will wrap up and around. A clearing to the left will appear after a brief ascent. This location enables hikers to view the Hollywood Sign from a close vantage point.

Hollywood-Hike-Sign

After stopping for a quick water/picture break at this clearing, hike onward and upward towards the tower pictured on the right. This path will take hikers above and behind the Hollywood Sign to an open hilltop near the tower. From here, enjoy a 360° view of Los Angeles! Take a beautiful landscape shot of Burbank (left), DTLA (right), or (below) a fun picture of strangers taking a selfie with LA as the backdrop!

Burbank-Hollywood-Sign-Hike DTLA-Hollywood-Hike Hollywood-Hike-Selfie

Hiker’s Hint #02:

Invite a coworker, chat, and seal friendship over delicious food.

Thanks Mita for the hike, photo, and brunch! Follow her amazing adventures, discoveries, and insights on all things LA at https://meetla.wordpress.com/author/meetla/

 

breakfast burrito

Beer and Breakfast Burritos with Bob

Keeping this post short and sweet just like the time I spent with my big brother this past weekend. Bearing few physical similarities, my brother and I often joke as to who was adopted in our family. My brother uncannily resembles a younger version of my father while I share the same demeanor and Testa looks as my mother. Despite outward differences, however, I have grown closer to my older sibling in the past few years and attribute this brotherly bond to time spent over shared drink and food. Finding time to catch up with Bob is difficult as we both work full-time jobs and live in different cities. Spending cool nights together in the backyard at our home in Newport Beach while sharing a few (maybe more than a few) beers, such as this past weekend, gives us the perfect opportunity to dive into each other’s lives after time spent apart. Although the hours are brief and fade quickly into the darkness of night, I awake the next morning brightened by the host of commonalities I discover between Bob and myself. Similar experiences, coinciding interests, parallel fears and a deep love for IPAs. Put simply, time spent together with Bob over beer makes me happy and strengthens our brotherly bond into something infinitely more—a mutually supportive, respectful and caring friendship that reaps bountiful benefits, such as ridiculously large and delicious breakfast burritos the following morning. Oscar Wilde wrote, “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” Mr. Wilde speaks the truth. I, however, prefer to view drink and food as a proactive means of growing closer to the thoughts, actions,and being of my brother rather than distancing myself from any apparent or subtle differences that define us as individuals. For in spending time with and growing closer to a relative, one is able to create incredible opportunities in ensuing days.

Las Vegas Opportunity Risk Reward

Las Vegas, Nevada | Opportunity, Risk, and Reward

Opportunity 

Approximately forty-two million visitors traveled from around the world for an opportunity to stay in Nevada’s most populous city in 2015, and I numbered into that statistic. Driving back last year on I-15 after my brief thirty-six hour trip’s end, I vehemently vowed to never return to that desert city. Yet, I just contributed to the grand total for 2016 and found myself reflecting on an amazing experience full of fun times with old and new friends. Had the city changed? Or had I? In truth, both.

As in travel as in life, change is truly constant. Like a river transporting water slowly shaping its environment, change creates new opportunities out of the familiar. A wise old Greek philosopher once typed wrote “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man.” Although Heraclitus might frown at the lack of running water cutting through Las Vegas today, adopting this attitude underlines the importance of opportunity in revisiting familiar locations. Besides, with opportunity comes something more compelling than water that gushes throughout this arid desert city.

Risk

Coursing through shimmering pools towered by glass hotels that reach for the bright sky to neon lit streets bustling and capturing the night, Las Vegas flows with an undeniable frenetic energy. At the heart of the city one will not discover a casino, day pool, night club or restaurant that pumps such vitality to the body of Sin City—one will encounter risk. Risk embedded in these various institutions is equally exciting and terrifying. Will I win or lose money at the casino? Will he/she notice me at the day pool/night club? Will I be happy or sad with the cost of my buffet (Bacchanal!)?

Such conflicting thoughts surround risk. How, then, does one capitalize on the opportunity of risk and overwhelm its negative side? Take a leap in doing something meaningful outside one’s comfort zone while surrounding oneself with good friends old and new—go ahead and gamble. Take a risk that excites you and offers the potential of a positive experience. Overcoming risk while traveling, particularly with the support of close friends, infuses a sea of electric energy into every aspect of a trip. It also produces an incredible, individual present.

Reward

Letting the unknowns of tomorrow and the complexities of yesterday yield to the realities of today. Simply existing while dancing in the here and the now surrounded by many of my favorite people this past weekend truly was an incredible reward. The present of being present. Gained through overcoming risk inlaid in opportunity. Afforded to me by a desert city from which I was self-exiled. Purposeful in its shared quality and euphoric nature. Thanks Las Vegas.

Back Bay Hike Newport Beach

Back Bay Loop Trail | Back Bay Lookout to Muth Interpretive Center

Situated between Newport Harbor and the 73 Freeway, Back Bay provides runners, walkers, cyclists, hikers and many others trails to enjoy beautiful, scenic views at the heart of Newport Beach. 10.5 miles of trail wrap around the bay creating a wide range of possibilities for the frequent visitor. In this post, I highlight the Back Bay Lookout to Muth Interpretive Center trail.

Difficulty:

Easy

Mileage:

3

Time:

1-1.5 hour(s)

Parking:

Good. Plenty of street parking on Eastbluff Drive near Back Bay Lookout. Crowded on weekends, particularly in the morning.

Notable Features:
  • Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center features estuary history exhibits and interactive displays (open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.).
  • Cyclists galore! Keep eyes and ears open for speedy (and friendly) cyclists.
  • A diverse selection of fauna and flora. A beautiful and well-preserved wilderness area.
Directions:

From the 73 freeway, take Jamboree Road (Exit 15). Continue on Jamboree Road for 1 mile and make a right onto Eastbluff Drive. Park along Eastbluff Drive near Back Bay Lookout. From P.C.H., take Jamboree Road for 3.2 miles to Eastbluff Drive. Make a left on Eastbluff Drive and find parking near Back Bay Lookout.

The Hike

Begin trekking slightly uphill to the Back Bay Lookout. From here, enjoy an expansive view of the Bay (truly an inland delta). After grasping the scale of the area, as well as its distinct odor, head down Eastbluff Drive to Jamboree Road and make a left while continuing on paved trail paths.

Cross the overpass which connects one side of Jamboree Road to the other and then make another left while enjoying a brief shady section of gravel trails. This section widens into an unprotected trail followed by a narrow wooden bridge. Give cyclists the concrete path while taking the wooden section of the bridge for yourself and your hiking companions.

Head slightly uphill after the rolling bridge and gaze upon the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center. This center not only marks the turnaround location for your hike but also gives a different yet still expansive view of the Back Bay!

Check out the interactive displays and educational estuary historic exhibits located within the center. All are quite entertaining! Restrooms and water fountains are located within the center for public use. When done, simply hop back onto your path and return back to Back Bay Lookout to conclude the hike.

Hiker’s Hint #01:

Invite a friend and use F.O.I.L. to catch up from time apart.

Family, Occupation, Interests, Love. F.O.I.L.

A Reflection On Weekends

On Weekends

“Thank God it’s Friday” — Restaurant and phrase expressing gratitude for the end of the week

“Working for the Weekend” — An anthem to Saturday and Sunday sung by Loverboy

“Ready for the weekend” — A verbal shrug and common sentiment shared by millions

Including myself. Why are weekends held in such high praise? More importantly, how does this perception affect our understanding of the week? Hopefully, reflecting upon these questions will yield a healthy discussion on the nature of weekends as well as insight into how to positively change perceptions of the week.

An Extended Metaphor 

As of late, weekends have been the light at the end of the tunnel. Distant yet within sight. Holding promises of excitement and joy. Bright opportunities with friends and loved ones. Entirely framed by the damp and restrictive walls of the week. Stumbling through darkness with head held low a puddle comes into sight. Catching just enough light to create a reflection. Revealing a face. A fatigued face weighed down by engulfing shadows cast by Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This face and its owner trek the dark tunnel towards the light each and every week. Hoping that a brief stint outside will rejuvenate, reinvigorate and inspire change in this cycle. Yet, as Sunday bleeds into Monday, this face reenters the tunnel once again. Quickly consumed and lost within the darkness…desperately looking for itself in the light of the weekend.

This face belongs to me. Perhaps to you as well.

Guiding Light 

Running, hiking, writing, reading, exploring, volunteering, family and friends. All parts of my identity guiding me through five days of work. All parts of my identity that brighten my day and put a smile on my face. All parts of my identity primarily reserved for weekends. Weekends are amazing periods of time when we can invest in things that truly make us happy and feel alive. Time away from heavy responsibilities and pressures. Time away from school. Time away from work. Time to act on the light within ourselves while enjoying sunshine outside. It’s time well spent. And all too short.

Thus, a call for change is necessary. A change that undermines weekends as the be-all and-end all of the week-weekend cycle. This change, of course, involves math. Conducted by an expert such as myself with the utmost qualifications.

Math by a History Major

Math has never been my strong suit. Numbers are strange. Beyond analyzing charts, calculating rent payments and figuring out Venmo charges, I’ve had very little interaction with anything resembling math in the last four years. Despite this, I’m able to do some basic arithmetic that supports framing the week in a more positive light.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday = the week = five days

Saturday, Sunday = the weekend = two days

5 > 2

More days. More time. More life. Chock-full of opportunities, the week should be cherished rather than endured. This, however, is rarely the perception adopted by many in life. The length of the week often becomes its greatest hindrance rather than its best feature. Yet, as indicated by the intricate proof above (and some personal experience), I refute this claim and mathematically argue in favor of the week holding incredible potential just waiting to be unleashed. To positively perceive and make the most of the week, consider any (or all) of the following:

  1. Forty Hours. Dedicated to work, studies or skipping either of the former, forty hours a week generally contribute to professional or educational development. Almost matching the length of an entire weekend, these forty hours preciously shape who we become and how we experience life. Spending forty hours on the weekend (leaving only four hours of sleep per night) on things related to your current job or area of study? Most likely not. So why invest such a hefty amount of time during the week to such things? Use the freedom of the weekend to discover your light. From there, let it radiate your week through aligning it with the forty hours you already dedicate to self-development in its various forms.
  2. Five Sunrises. Millions despise mornings. Mornings involve cold showers after late nights, only to arrive late to an 8 A.M. class with an unknown quiz thrown in one’s face…again. Or to sit through unwanted traffic on the way to an equally unwanted job bound to produce unwanted results by day’s end. Break the cycle. Wake up early. View the sunrise. See beauty begin each of the five days of the week. Visually understand the importance of starting anew with limitless possibilities. Refresh the mind, body and soul. Watch five sunrises each week.
  3. One Life. The simple truth that binds all humans together. We all have one go at this lovely, beautiful, chaotic, mundane and paradoxical experience called life. A majority of this life will be lived during the week. Make the most of the week and one makes the most of life. That’s it. Start now, champion life during the week and live to the fullest.
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park | Snow, Boots and Socks

Snow

Crunch, crunch, crunch. Treading along Valley Loop Trail, the foreign sound of snow beneath boots rang through my ears arriving at its final destination. A SoCal noggin near the brink of disbelief, grinding gears to process the c̶h̶i̶l̶l̶y̶  freezing reality of weather that actually fell below 32° Fahrenheit. Brain freeze! But more so numbing beauty. Topping rocks, trees and everything in between, snow powdered Yosemite Valley like sugar on a cake. Making the feast before my eyes white and sweet. Perhaps this unexpected appreciation for the cold stuff explains my blissful ignorance regarding my boots. Perhaps it was the cold truly getting to my head.

Boots

Boots are amazing. Boots insulate feet. Boots provide traction. Boots fall apart. But not all at once. Returning from Mirror Lake, an odd plop accompanied a now familiar crunching of snow. Behind and rushing to catch up with the rest of my group, I paid the sound no real attention (the reality: it was cold…got to keep moving!). Thankfully, an astute companion noticed I dropped something. Except…my camera and its case still snugly hung from my neck. Confused, I turned around to see my friend examining a dark object. He tossed it my way. A connection was made. A disconnection between boot and sole left me in aid. Without traction on one foot and about two inches shorter to boot!

Socks

The fuzzier the better. A phrase aptly used when discussing puppies, dogs, blankets, kiwis (what just me?) and of course, socks. Little did I know how important the fuzzy factor would be in saving my feet from frostbite one particular morning. Waking up at 2:30 a.m. to use the restroom is never fun. The timeless inner battle of deciding to leave the comfort of one’s bed against the off chance one falls back asleep only to hurry to the restroom upon awakening. Neither is a pleasant option. Now imagine the same situation but in a four person tent packed with five people, boots wedged in a distant corner, pitch black darkness and a temperature of 19° Fahrenheit standing in between you and relief. Clearly, two reasonable options arise: get the boots and wake up tent mates in the process or struggle to join the other slumbering souls in an attempt to fall asleep until morning. Fuzzy socks, however, granted me option three: walk through the freezing darkness and snow of Campsite 4 without the fear of frostbite and more importantly wrath of friends awakened. Fuzzy socks, I thank you for all our good nights’ sleep (and the warmth too).

 

Pacific Ridge Trailhead

Pacific Ridge Trailhead|Bommer Ridge to Moro Ridge Lookout

Situated between the Pacific Ocean and the 73 freeway, the Pacific Ridge Trailhead sits high above its surrounding cities of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. Officially located within Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park (both subsets of the larger South Coast Wilderness Area), the Pacific Ridge Trailhead offers hikers as many amazing views as it does hiking trails. In this post, I highlight what I call the Bommer Ridge to Moro Ridge Lookout trail.

Difficulty:

Easy

Mileage:

3

Time:

1-1.5 hour(s)

Parking:

Good. Plenty of street parking near Coastal Peak Park as well as a parking lot. Crowded on weekends, particularly in the morning.

Notable Features:
  • 360 ° view – Santa Ana Mountain Range, Pacific Ocean, Catalina and San Clemente Islands, cities, and more all to be seen on a clear day.
  • Mountain bikers galore. Keep eyes and hears open for speedy (and friendly!) mountain bikers.
  • A diverse selection of fauna and flora. A beautiful and well-preserved wilderness area.

Directions: From the 73 freeway, take the MacArthur exit (last exit before toll road).  Merge onto MacArthur, go 2.3 miles and turn left on San Joaquin Hills Road.  Go 2.5 miles, turn right onto Newport Coast Drive, take a left on Ridge Park Road and drive 1.8 miles to the end, and access the trail from Coastal Peak Park.  From P.C.H., take Newport Coast Drive north for 2.4 miles, turn right on Ridge Park Road, and drive 1.5 miles to Coastal Peak Park.

The Hike:

Pass the gate at the beginning of the trailhead. Take the left path indicated by the Bommer Ridge Post 9 (plenty more of these posts for guidance along Bommer Ridge). Cacti everywhere!

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Continue down Bommer Ridge for a mile until reaching Bommer Ridge Post 8. Check the map and keep hiking along Bommer Ridge.  Pass Bommer Ridge Post 66 and the turn off to Lizard Trail.

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After hiking for a few minutes, a junction will appear. Take the left route and continue on Bommer Ridge. Pass Bommer Ridge Post 7. Another junction will appear. Stick to the same drill – take the left route.

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Keep trekking along Bommer Ridge. Look left to see amazing views of the Santa Ana Mountain Range. View right to witness rolling ridges, small valleys, the beautiful ocean, and power lines running through the wilderness area! Pass Bommer Ridge Post 6 and continue on the now slightly uphill route. Here, a first glimpse of the Moro Ridge Lookout appears.

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After a few more minutes of hiking, another junction will appear alongside Bommer Ridge Post 5. Take the route behind the gate to begin the Moro Ridge path. Another right up the hill and the Moro Ridge Lookout will be a in sight. Enjoy the 360° view and relax! Head back via the entrance route or a bike path down the side of Moro Ridge Lookout. The bike path will offer a slightly more strenuous hike back and different vantage points. It eventually connects back with the Bommer Ridge route.

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