Monday, December 25, 2017

Being Present at Echo Mountain

We literally are such dorks.  This Christmas Day, we decided to be completely "present" in the moment.  Yes, we did the whole 5-mile hike like this.  I had only suggested maybe decorating our trekking poles for our Christmas hike, but Wes went all out and punched out head holes into two cardboard boxes that we had lying around, wrapped them, and adorned them with bows.  We looked ridiculous but it was fun seeing people's reactions throughout the hike!  We'd round a corner and people would just laugh at us and we'd say, "Happy Holidays," just to be politically correct in case people don't celebrate Christmas.  It turned out to be a really spontaneously memorable way to spend the holiday!  We took so many photos because even we couldn't get over how silly we looked.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Big Santa Anita Canyon Thanksgiving

Got leftovers?  We did, and we had some big plans for them.  We decided to go backpacking after Thanksgiving to burn off the feast and just to ditch the Black Friday madness and get some much-needed time to ourselves.   Just the week prior, we were hiking in the Big Santa Anita Canyon (Chantry Flat) area and came upon the Spruce Grove Campground.  It was so perfect-looking, with a leafy orange carpet and a canopy of evergreen spruce branches, a creek running to the left and hiking trail to the right.  Apparently, you don't need a permit to camp here at all.  Since we had everything that we needed for backpacking already (thanks to Wes's research and deal-hunting skills), we immediately planned to head over here ASAP.   It was very exciting for us because not only was this going to be our first extended backpacking trip, but also a good opportunity to enter in this Outdoor Research contest that I found out about...

For the contest, all you had to do was take a picture of your leftovers in an outdoorsy situation and post it on Instagram with the hashtags: #leftovers, and #optoutside.  They pick twenty winners to receive a free Outdoor Research active hoodie.  I really didn't need another hoodie, but the contest sounded easy enough - we always take photos of our food during our hikes anyway, so I made Wes get on board with this (it took a little convincing).  Yeah, I felt like a bit of a sellout entering a contest, but why not give it a try if it's something that is up my alley already?  So the night before, we had vacuum sealed and frozen our Thanksgiving leftovers and even some pumpkin pie (which didn't collapse because it was already frozen).  Wes stuck a water bottle into the freezer to use as a small ice pack, which was smart because it also served as yet another water resource after it melted. 

The best part of this trip into the Big Santa Anita Canyon was stumbling upon a group of people who not only shared their leftovers with us, but also their perspectives on our many common interests.  Quickly after we all sat down together and introduced ourselves, there was much name-calling, finger-pointing, and table-slapping good humor.  We talked about lots of things, but they told us so much about their adventures as experienced backpackers who have been doing it long "before it was cool," and it was great to have some stories from our own encounters around the world to share too.  It was great to meet likeminded people who are from the generation before our own - truly serendipitous and not taken for granted.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Night Hiking at Echo Mountain

We started routinely doing the same 5-mile hike up to Echo Mountain in the summer of 2017 to train for our big trek in Machu Picchu in Peru.  This trail close by our place is where we took all of our new gear to get tested--jackets, pants, boots, trekking poles, hiking packs, head lamps... and yes, we did accumulate a lot of gear over this past year!  It gets to be over 100 degrees in Pasadena during the summer months, so to avoid the heat, we would have to either wake up at the crack of dawn or go out after sundown to hike.  Since we're both late risers, we choose the latter.  Honestly, I think it's more fun hiking at odd hours than at midday anyway. We've seen beautiful sunsets and had dinner picnics at the top of the old railway ruins, watching as the city lights blink on for miles and miles.  We've also run into some creepy crawlers in the dark!  This trail is really straightforward so going down in the dark is not dangerous, as long as you have a headlamp and trekking poles.  After we returned from our trip to Peru, we continued to come here on the weekends.  It's always an adventure after dark!  This one time, Wes brought the camera along to document our little tradition, so here are the pictures!

Saturday, December 9, 2017


I just wanted to take a moment to sit here and be truly thankful.  I take pictures almost every day, so I am incredibly, if not overly, accustomed to casually exercising gratitude.  But pictures make everything look so perfect, when in fact it's no secret that married life is far from "perfect."  As time goes on in our still-young relationship, it gets unfortunately easier to point out each other's flaws and to blame one another for things that don't go right.  We've both got headstrong, stubborn personalities, so of course it's never been easy to meet in the middle when we disagree.  And the vicious cycle goes like this: the more time you spend coexisting with someone, the more stubborn and unforgiving you become around him or her...because naturally, you've begun to take each other for granted.  We've been there already--it happens between family members, roommates, best friends, coworkers.  We easily take another person's love and loyalty for granted, and nitpick our way through our days.  So, Thanksgiving comes around every year to remind us of the grand scheme of things.  There's really so much to be thankful for.

I might not show it enough as we go about our days in a blur, but I have so much warm-fuzzy-teary-eyed gratitude for our life together and how it has shaped me.  I am thankful for the opportunity to be with each other and to serve one another endlessly.  I am thankful for the opportunity to bicker and to fight (endlessly too), because it shows that we don't fear each other's judgment and it gives us a chance to try to be better versions of ourselves.  I am thankful for having a partner who is willing to drive anywhere, learn anything, and cook anytime for our family and friends.  Wes inspires me to be more generous, more informed, and more reasonable; less guilty, less rigid, and less worried.

While I do have mixed feelings about blogging a bunch of standout good times, I am thankful for the ability and opportunity to blog at all.  I get stuck on how blogging can be seen as annoyingly flaunting or unnecessarily putting my wonderful life on display, but when it comes down to it, blogging is a healthy practice.  It's not every day that we stop to reminisce about those good times and to make an effort to record what we can while we still remember.  With only gratitude on my mind and nothing else, I share a random collection of recent photos from this summer that resonated with me.  For this post, I picked only photos of places close to home / at home rather than the ones from our travels or major culinary undertakings.  Due to lack of time to keep updating, I've only chosen to blog the big events mostly, but the small triumphs of each passing day deserve recognition as well.  So that's what this post is for.