Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Fourth of July Feasting and Hiking

Fourth of July - it was supposed to be a low-key Wednesday off this year, but as always, that is never the case with us.  We rarely have a low-key day, even weekdays after work have been packed with exciting things to do, like cooking extravagant dinners to reward ourselves for the long day's work.  So with an obligatory mid-week day off on the horizon, I was both anxious and excited that we had nothing planned, but then when I heard that my brother was going to be coming back to Southern California that day, it all changed.  I guess Wes could have guessed that it would be inevitable that we'd end up making big plans.  It's been a trend for us - we've never had a quiet Fourth of July.  I'm glad that this year was full of laughter, good food, and family time, even though it took some last-minute scrambling.  And after the party, we tried something new.  We headed up to Echo Mountain at sunset to join the hoards of locals who also were crazy enough to put in 5 miles of hiking on a national holiday.  The view was worth it and the people were fun!  We were really glad that we dragged our butts out to participate in this Pasadena tradition this year.

We managed to throw together a grand old feast for seven adults with what we already had in the freezer by happenstance.  The only thing we had to go out for was two tablecloths from the dollar store and tortilla chips.

We had some bone-in rib-eye in the freezer, so we took that down, and Wes grabbed some scallops from the market, for a special treat.  My mom happened to be gifted a whole wild-caught salmon, so she brought it over and we stuffed it with herbs and lemon and grilled it.  Wes's parents brought delicious Cantonese sweets, my childhood favorite dan ta (egg custard tarts) and his childhood favorite bu jai go (rice flour pudding cakes with red bean).

And to be even more spontaneous, this year we decided to put the icing on the cake and hike up to the top of Echo Mountain after all of our family had gone home.  We knew of this local tradition, and figured that we would try to squeeze it in depending on how we felt after our party ended.  Since we've been doing this hike so much to train for our trek, we were used to the trail.  We've been doing it at night too, to beat the heat.  So I guess since we weren't food-comatose enough to sit out, we got together our water, trekking poles, head lamps, Z-seats, and binoculars, and drove up to the trailhead. When we got to the top 2.5 miles later, there was music, dancing, food, decorations, and lots of people!  It was super cute to see the hiking community celebrating Fourth of July up here.  We really felt the holiday spirit at our usual spot.

There were already fireworks going off everywhere below us - they were a lot smaller than I imagined, since we were so far up!  It was amazing to get this panoramic view of LA and all of the little fireworks - legal and illegal - popping up as far as the eye can see.  We also saw the Rose Bowl firework show from up here, way off in the distance.  The binoculars were really fun to look through.

It was dark when we were ready to leave, but we had our head lamps and tried to hurry out of there before the masses descended.  The trail was narrow, so we had to go in single file when we eventually caught up with people in front of us.  Somebody had slipped and the entire caravan waited for him to dust himself off and get back on his feet.  I'm glad that nobody got hurt though, and the camaraderie was really there amongst all of the hikers.

Of course we were super tired by the end of this, as it was a Wednesday (ugh) and we had to go back to work the next day, but it was such a fulfilling day with family, food, fireworks, and even a healthy dose of hiking!  Definitely another great Fourth of July for the books.

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