Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lonely Adventuring in Lone Pine

It’s funny to think that when we went on our first trip to Mammoth in February of 2014, we thought that it was going to be a dreary 6-hour drive through the boonies, passing cities with thrilling names like Lone Pine and Big Pine.  But as it turned out, the entire drive was full of these I-wish-I-had-my-camera moments.  There were lots of cool and random things to stop by and discover.  A few points of interest that we've pulled over for so far were Manzanar, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Pine Creek, Bishop, Convict Lake, and other roadside vistas and restaurants.  We've barely scratched the surface of what other odd and interesting landmarks line the Highway 395 – ghost towns, a wind farm, rock formations, hot springs, quirky museums and shops.  It is great that there will always be something new to see, and that the drive to Mammoth can be an adventure in its own right.

The Alabama Hills is a collection of strange and rather sinister rock formations at the base of the Eastern Sierras in the Owen Valley.  I saw that it was only 10 minutes off the beaten path, right in Lone Pine.  I had to use the promise of four-star Yelper-reviewed barbecue as leverage to bargain for a mid-drive hike.  Unfortunately for us all, there was no barbecue to be had, as the pit was closed for the season (but why??).  Well, just as I thought, Wes was willing to see the Alabama Hills anyway, barbecue or not.

 Perhaps the best thing about this place is that if you weren’t looking for it, you would never know that it was there.  It was even more magical because very, very few people were there.  It's just so random of a place, and so small.  I realize now that natural wonders are everywhere, not just in the national parks.  It's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, with eyes wide open.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Chilling in Iceland (Part 5): Road Trip on the Southern Coast

Iceland is truly a legendary place to go--now. It has been eight months since our return from this faraway land of astounding landforms, happy humans, unadulterated food, and just endless stretches of solitude. It's tempting to think that the place hasn't changed since we left, but we learned--and saw--that glaciers lose 11 billion tons of ice a year, the Silfra fissure widens by 2 centimeters a year, and the ice caves can retreat 100 meters over a summer and essentially disappear in too-warm conditions. Despite feeling like the wind could knock us off our feet, that the icy roads could overturn our car, that a wave could engulf us, that a glacier could swallow us, or that our toes had disappeared into frozen oblivion, we are nostalgic of Iceland and what our experience traveling there felt like. Overall, we felt refreshingly insignificant and became very aware of our coexistence with the forces of nature. We were just talking about how we still get the chills (literally and figuratively), thinking about the stuff that we saw, especially on the day that we took a roadtrip into the Southern Coast.

Aurora Borealis in Skaftafell

Reynisdrangar, the basalt sea stacks of Reynisfjara

Gardar, cliff of basalt columns at Reynisfjara


Glacial tongue of Solheimajokull

At the top of Skogafoss
Anyway, this blog post is the second to last one in this long Iceland trip series (finally!).  We took two days out of our week-long stay there to go on a roadtrip across the scenic Southern border of the country, following the one and only freeway Southeast.  So, here are the details of that day-long road trip, and all of the feels that came with it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Operation Pasta Extrusion

Another kitchen contraption somehow made its way into our place... Hello, KitchenAid Pasta Extruder.  I didn't want it to have the same fate as the poor sausage grinder, or the hapless tortilla press or cream whipper, so as soon as it arrived, I asked my friends to come over and help make use of it.

Between bites of meat, cheese, fruit, smoked trout dip, and fresh olive bread, we somehow got four batches of pasta dough made.  (Bread and pasta dough recipe to follow.  No recipe on the trout dip, we forgot to take photos of it, haha)

Then, we (seven girls) all crowded into the (tiny) kitchen and made everything from bucatini to ravioli.  We were quite literally rubbing elbows in there!

Somehow, we pulled it off.  The joint effort of all party attendees resulted in five delicious pasta dishes.  The best part was everyone's enthusiasm (or fear?) about getting hands on, as depicted in their facial expressions.  Operation pasta extrusion was a success!