All posts filed under: Explore.

nearcation’s all I ever wanted.

For our second wedding anniversary, Hubs and I planned an almost 24-hour nearcation adventure across the Bay in San Francisco. Since we thoroughly enjoyed last year’s SF nearcation, and there is so much to see, do, and eat in the City, we decided to do it again. Plus, we lazy and didn’t want to drive or fly far away. 😉 This time, we stayed at Hotel Nikko. I love the art in the rooms and throughout the hotel, and the squishy beds, and the touch pad on the nightstand that welcomes you by name. They have the most amazing line of bath products, too; the custom scent is bamboo lavender, but to me it has notes of chai spices which I love. Also, I’m into the separate stand up shower and bath options. Note to self for future home. The hotel sits between Union Square and the Tenderloin. I made sure we stopped to see some of the mural art nearby. A lot of the ones I wanted to spot were either painted over or …

cactarium!

Also on my Palm Springs weekend wish list: a visit to the Moorten Botanical Garden, a privately owned garden with over 3,000 cactus species. This garden is everything. I never thought I’d enjoy a botanical garden without flowers. There is a small fee to enter garden, and you can spend however long you want strolling the grounds. The garden is organized by region, and most of the plants are labeled. There are so many kinds of cactus varieties that I’ve never seen before. One of my faves were these Giant Golden Barrel Cacti. Another special treat – the garden’s cactarium (the first of it’s kind) which houses rare cactus varietals. We weren’t allowed to touch any of them. I wouldn’t want to anyway; look at these spikes. The Moorten residence is on the garden grounds… And look! Garden crafts – natural dye! You can take a piece of the garden home with you, too. They had lots of plants for sale. Hubby and I brought home four mini cactuses. Super cute! We hope the Bay …

joshua tree.

Joshua Tree!!! I’ve been looking forward to an adventure here to see an actual Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree. They come in so many shapes and sizes. I couldn’t help but take photos of all the trees. We followed the Burnt Hill Trail for part of the way, perfect for all levels of hikers. There were lots of signs to guide our hike, and paths are clearly marked. There isn’t much shade around but we all had our adventure hats on, plus, to my surprise, the weather was much cooler than the Palm Springs area and there was a nice breeze blowing throughout our hike. Side note: Other than all the awesome plants, I found desert clouds to be interesting  to look at, too. I spotted this thought bubble cloud as we begun our hike and we all took photos under it. …And now, all the Joshua Trees, plus a dash of other desert finds like berry bushes, rocks and cactuses. I want to go back! Once we got into the ‘deeper’ parts of the …

fogrise.

I’m a big fan of sunrise adventures. They are glorious! Behold, our sunrise adventure to Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands. We started our adventure walking through a tunnel and entering what seemed like a scene out of Lord of the Rings… It was super foggy and we didn’t expect to see much… So I took to taking photos of the plants. It was already bright on Hawk Hill… But then nature pulled through and we saw the most amazing sunrise, beginning with a peachy/orange glow. Pictures, of course, don’t do this sunrise justice. Which is probably why my camera battery decided to die midway through my photo taking so I could simply enjoy the view. 😉 Above: the tunnel we came out of + the trail we walked to see the views. Below: early morning wefie filled with excitement because coolest sunrise ever! West Coast, where are your favorite spots to see sunrise? Share, share, share!

garden apothecary.

Any place with the word apothecary in the name and I must go to there. My friend took me on a shopping adventure in Half Moon Bay and we stumbled upon Garden Apothecary. Filled with items for gardening, teas, glass bottles, succulent arrangements, and a handful of locally made items, there’s a gift idea for every occasion. They also carry what they deem foraged curiosities, like these spectacles! Even when you look up, things! On our visit they were sampling a red rooibos tea and handing out copies of the gather journal…Fun, fun, fun. I ended up gifting myself a bag of dried elderflower and a bag of cacao powder for steeping. The cacao is the shopkeep’s fave to use for iced tea. I must try it for myself! What a lovely find in a cute part of town. Where have you explored lately? Share below!

dim sum and den sum.

One if my wishes for this year and for life in general is to spend more time outdoors. Lucky me I’ve got friends who love the outside, too. My grad school ladies and I explored Ed R. Levin park in Milpitas earlier this month. It was gorgeous out. There were only a handful of people roaming around; it was so peaceful. There are lots of trails and fishing areas, and apparently it’s a great spot for hang gliding… After our trek we ate adorable dim sum just a few minutes down the road. Nature (and dim sum) day complete. Have you explored the outdoors lately? Share your new favorite playgrounds below!

butterfly in the sky.

I was lucky enough to see the monarch butterflies while they were at their overwintering site at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Newark. As part of “butterfly season” the farm hosts monarch butterfly info sessions in December and January where you can learn all about monarchs, their life cycle, their migration patterns, and how we can help sustain their habitats and food sources. I probably learned about the life cycle in grade school, but hearing about the different stages from an Ardenwood docent was a different experience and I learned so much! After the lesson, docents take you out to the overwintering site to see the butterflies in person. Butterflies in the sky! And they’re up in this tree, I promise! I’m not one for insects, but butterflies are a definite exception. Monarch butterflies are fascinating! They migrate from Canada down to California or Mexico (depending on what side of the Rocky Mountains they reside) and back. It takes 3-5 generations of butterflies to complete the full migration loop. Each generation lives for 2-8 weeks, but …