California

Ennisbrook Trail in San Ysidro Creek Reserve of Montecito, California

Ennisbrook Trail in San Ysidro Creek Reserve of Montecito, California

The months of December and January rocked the communities of northern Ventura and southern Santa Barbara counties. A wildfire raged through the hills and communities, tearing through areas that hadn't burned in almost a hundred years. It burned 281,893 acres, making it the largest fire in modern California history, and its seventh most destructive, destroying over a thousand structures, including a large apartment complex several blocks from my home, and two people lost their lives. You'll still find signs around the cities declaring "Ventura Strong", "Santa Barbara Strong", and "805 Strong." 

The Best Tacos in Santa Barbara: Lilly's Taqueria vs. La Super-Rica Taqueria

The Best Tacos in Santa Barbara: Lilly's Taqueria vs. La Super-Rica Taqueria

I'm on the search for the best tacos in Santa Barbara, and I started my quest at two of Santa Barbara's favorite taquerias: Lilly's Taqueria on Chapala Street and La Super-Rica Taqueria on Milpas Street. Both popular taquerias (you'll often find a line out the door at both) serve their tacos on soft corn tortillas, but I think that's where the similarities end. But who has the better taco in Santa Barbara?

A Day of Eating Cheap in San Francisco

A Day of Eating Cheap in San Francisco

San Francisco is a great food city. There's plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants helmed by celebrated chefs. Locally sourced ingredients feature heavily on most menus, and you can find excellent examples of cuisines from all over the world there. It's a city where like to spend money on food, and dining out is a form of entertainment. But is it possible to eat well and cheap in San Francisco?

Riding the Coast Starlight: San Jose to Seattle

Riding the Coast Starlight: San Jose to Seattle

Earlier this month, I rode the Coast Starlight, an Amtrak bi-level Superliner, from San Jose to Seattle. The entire route goes from LA's Union Station to King Street Station in Seattle. Each way, the trip from San Jose to Seattle takes around twenty-four hours and costs about $111 each way. Certainly, it's a longer ride than flying and costlier, but there's a certain romanticism attached to train travel. The slow and steady chug of the wheels, the sweeping vistas that in a car you're passing too quickly to truly absorb. But there are other reasons to take the train beside great views. 

A Day at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

A Day at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Located in south Los Angeles is Exposition Park. The 160-acre park and future site of the summer 2028 Olympics is home to the John C. Argue Swim Stadium, Banc of California Stadium, the future Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, California Science Center, Exposition Park Rose Garden, California African American Museum, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. 

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: Redwood Grove

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: Redwood Grove

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park preserves mainly forest and riparian areas in the San Lorenzo River watershed, including a grove of old-growth coast redwood. Established in 1954, this 4,623-acre park is located near the town of Felton in Santa Cruz County and includes the non-contiguous Fall Creek Unit. 

Pt. Lobos State Natural Reserve

Pt. Lobos State Natural Reserve

With its sparkling jade waters and forested white cliffs, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is often called the "crown jewel" of the state park system. The reserve covers a little over 5 square miles and protects all marine life in the reserve; no fishing within its boundaries is allowed. 

Top 10 Northern California Places to Visit

Top 10 Northern California Places to Visit

Southern California draws visitors from all around the world with its many urban attractions (Disneyland, Hollywood, Los Angeles) and its world class beaches. Central California has the giant sequoias and the big granite walls of Yosemite. Northern California brings wild beauty: volcanoes, endless miles of redwood forest, and waterfalls. This is a guide to my ten favorite northern California spots. 

McCloud Falls: The Three Tier Waterfall of Northern California

McCloud Falls: The Three Tier Waterfall of Northern California

I walk the short paved path to Lower Falls. Pushed into a narrow slot between basalt columns, Lower Falls is the smallest of the falls but has the best swimming area above and below it. Even in the early morning, people are out fishing right at the edge of the falls. I follow a stairway up to a picnic area to get an overlook of the entire area. Later in the day, we follow the dusty River Trail to a secluded swimming area. 

Tar and Honey: A Look into Carpinteria, a Southern California Beach Town

Tar and Honey: A Look into Carpinteria, a Southern California Beach Town

Just a few miles southeast of Santa Barbara is the foggy beach town of Carpinteria. Overshadowed by its larger and better-known neighbors of Santa Barbara and Ventura, Carpinteria has more to offer the traveler than a quick pass through on the 101 would initially reveal.

Paradise Meadows Trail at Lassen Volcanic National Park

Paradise Meadows Trail at Lassen Volcanic National Park

An hour east of Redding are the towering volcanic peaks of the lower Cascade mountain range and green meadows of Lassen Volcanic National Park. One of the least visited national parks in California, Lassen Volcanic National Park is an excellent choice for hikers looking to get away from the crowds of Yosemite and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks. With a number of different landscapes to offer from sulfur vents to mountain peaks, Lassen is one of my favorite national parks.

Ten Best Ways to Spend a Layover in San Jose

Ten Best Ways to Spend a Layover in San Jose

Don't spend your next layover at SJC hanging out in the airport lounge or in an uncomfortable plastic chair. Learn about ten ways you can spend your layover in San Jose, California with this guide to cheap and family friendly destinations and activities. 

Food Guide: Ventura

Food Guide: Ventura

My time in Ventura is coming to an end. I will be gone for almost the entirety of May visiting friends in Croatia and we move up to the Redding land in June. With my move-out day growing closer, I wanted to write a smidge about my time spent eating in Ventura. While the list is not exhaustive of every place I've eaten here, it's pretty close. If you're not up for an extensive review of seventeen different Ventura restaurants then I would skip this post. Or if you're hungry and the only thing left in your cupboard is an expired can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup. 

Frog Lake, A Hike in Henry W. Coe State Park

Frog Lake, A Hike in Henry W. Coe State Park

Hiking is my favorite form of exercise. I can't think of anything better than enjoying beautiful nature, breathing fresh air, and the exhausted feeling of accomplishment when I finish. I don't hike nearly enough anymore. The rain this season put a hamper on a number of weekend days that I could have been hiking. Then there's my general laziness since I got a desk job. The only way to remedy that is to get out and do it more. 

Fall Creek Unit: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Fall Creek Unit: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

There's another post dedicated to my love of Fall Creek Unit in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. I can wax poetic about the verdancy of the ferns, the towering heights of the second-growth coastal redwoods, and the rushing creeks forever. I love taking people to Fall Creek and manage to get out there at least several times a year, even though I don't live in Santa Cruz anymore. 

Inspiration Point, a Hike in Santa Barbara Frontcountry

Inspiration Point, a Hike in Santa Barbara Frontcountry

I recently reduced my work schedule from five days a week to four days a week due to mental burnout and feeling like I never get away from my computer screen (yes, I am typing this on my computer). This affords me the time to get up out of my uncomfortable secondhand store chair and out into great outdoors. I'm slowly building my hiking abilities back up again. There's nothing like a desk job to decrease physical stamina and increase lethargy. 

Carrizo Plains National Monument

Carrizo Plains National Monument

A 250,000 acre enclosed grassland plain, Carrizo is the largest single native grassland remaining in California. Gazing over the wide expanses of grasses and wildflowers, it is a look back at the Central Valley three hundred years ago, before grazing cattle and industrial agriculture pushed out native plant species and invasive monocultures took over. 

The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

Almost ten years ago to the day, I graduated from UC Santa Cruz. More known for its radical politics and drug culture than academics*, Santa Cruz is not the most traditional of college campuses. This applies not only to its politics and choice of mascots (go banana slugs!), but to the physical layout of the campus itself; it's not what you see in college movies. Buildings sometimes resembling Soviet space bunkers hide amongst towering redwoods. In the morning, fog creeps down the bridge covered gullies and canyons, making it a magical walk to those 8 a.m. classes. It is the complete opposite of Stanford University.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Sitting in the shadow of the Santa Ynez Mountains tucked between the Santa Barbara Mission and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, the 100-year-old museum houses collections of mammals, birds, insects, and marine animals; a planetarium, several gardens; an auditorium; a research library; and a rotating exhibit (an exhibit of the history of botanical drawings were there when I visited).