Christmas Trip to Salvation Mountain and Salton Sea

On Christmas Eve, we woke up and decided to head out for an overnight Christmas trip to visit Salvation Mountain and the Salton Sea.  We both worked the morning, and then we booked a last-minute room at La Casa del Zorro in Borrego Springs.  It ended up being just the vacation we needed.  We were worn from the year and wanted to spend some time together before I headed off to Mexico with my family.

First off, La Casa del Zorro is an amazing resort.  We randomly found it on hotels.com based off of location, but it was surprisingly very luxury and the perfect place to catch up on some rest and relaxation.

On Christmas day, we drove through the Colorado Desert to get to Salvation Mountain.  We stopped along the way to take some photos of the desert.  I just love road trips.

For awhile, I have wanted to visit Salvation Mountain, but I hadn’t blocked off a good time to visit.  Kelvin, on the other hand, had no idea what Salvation Mountain was about.  When I tried to describe it, I told him it was an art installation that consisted of a painted hillside in the desert… this is why I’m not in sales.  He was confused.  “So, we are driving out here to look at a graffitied rock?  This better be the best graffitied rock I’ve ever seen.”, he said.

When we got there, he agreed that it was for sure, the best graffitied rock he’d ever seen.

 

After Salvation Mountain, we drove through Slab City, an unincorporated community for “snowbirds” and squatters.  I thought it would be disrespectful to take photos, but it was pretty interesting to visit.  They even have their own night club and pet graveyard.

Afterwards, we drove to Bombay Beach to visit the Salton Sea.  The Salton Sea was created by accident.  In 1905, the Colorado River swelled and breached its levees, creating the Salton Sea from what was originally the Salton Sink.  Bombay Beach soon became a resort destination for water recreation.  Fish and birds thrived in the area.  In the 1970s, the ecosystem began to deteriorate since there was no drainage outlet for the lake.  Runoff from nearby farms caused the lake to become saltier and polluted with pesticides.  The city was also hit with several floods, damaging the development on shore.  Every few years, the fish die off from the lack of oxygen in the water, causing rotting fish to come to the surface and shores.

Today, Bombay Beach is a living ghost town.  It was an interesting place to visit and to learn about the history of the Salton Sea.

PHOTOS BY MELODY KUO

Joshua Tree: The Unsuccessful Search for Comet Lovejoy

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Joshua Tree National Park is only two hours away from LA, and for me, it’s a sacred escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.  This desert has an otherworldly feel, and I love it.

On Sunday, we packed up our bags for a day trip to Joshua Tree.  Our plans were to meet up with Tushar and Vinh to explore the night sky with a telescope and search for comet Lovejoy, which we had attempted to view last weekend from our rooftop.  There’s never a dull weekend with Kelvin!

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The morning looked promising.  The skies were clear, and we headed out to the desert stopping at Cabazon for some outlet shopping.  Before long, the clouds rolled in, which inevitably ended our hopes for seeing the comet that night.  The good news was that it made for some beautiful desert lighting.

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Kelvin’s sad this fist rock got the best of him.  Until next time!

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The rock formations at Jumbo Rock are super interesting.  It was fun exploring the area for the first time.

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The sunset had incredible color.  Joshua trees are the coolest looking trees.

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PHOTOS BY MELODY KUO

Mexican Riviera Cruise

My family and I went on a cruise to Mexico over the holiday.  I had a great time spending time with my family and cousin, Mandy.  The cruise was seven days, and we visited Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta.  There were three days at sea, which I was originally concerned with, but I loved them.  I finished reading The Book Thief, which I borrowed from the ship’s library (my favorite place on the ship), hung out with my siblings and my cousin, and I went to the gym like three times a day.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels

M/S Veendam, our home for seven days

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels

In Mazatlan, we visited a turtle sanctuary, where we released baby sea turtles that had just hatched within the last few hours.  I named mine, “Queso”, and the turtle was so cute!  It was such an amazing experience watching the little guy sprint for the waters.

We also learned how to make tortillas.  The hardest part was flipping the flattened dough onto the pan.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels
MLB: Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels

In Cabo, we went on a snorkel trip, where the waters were crystal clear and the fish were plenty.  It was my mom’s and Mandy’s first time snorkeling.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels

 

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels

In Puerto Vallarta, Marisa and I went on an excursion titled “outdoor challenge”.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It ended up being way crazier than I ever imagined.  We went zip lining through the jungle, rappelling down waterfalls, and wearing hockey helmets down the most intense water slide I’ve ever seen/experienced.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels

Family vacations are still as fun as I’ve always remembered them!

Locally Grown

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There’s this tall, skinny orange tree that came with our house.  It calls the small plot of land between our duplex and the apartment complex next door home.  We hadn’t thought much of it when we bought the house; except that we had to keep trimming it down for various reasons: when our house got tented for termites, when we got our house painted, when we got our windows replaced, when our neighbors got their building tented, etc.

Despite all that, it’s ridiculous how well it thrives in our tiny side yard.  From the time we’ve owned our place, it’s produced hundreds of oranges.  The tree is so tall that we can only reach the oranges from a ladder or our 2nd floor window.  Picking oranges from your window is more fun though, so we decided to try that out today.

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Having this fruiting orange tree makes me feel like an industrious, organic orange farmer.  I feel so accomplished, but really, I did nothing.  Literally nothing.  We don’t even water the tree.  Hearing stories about how less water makes for sweeter fruit, we decided that the tree probably didn’t need much more than it was living off of before.  Plus, doing nothing is easier.  But, maybe we should be doing something?  It’s the least we can do for all the fruit it produces for us.

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Now we have oranges for days (we picked around 45 oranges today), and those were just the ones we could reach from our window!

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Hello, 2015!

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My blog writing has gotten super rusty.  I love when bloggers are open and share a glimpse of their normal human lives in their blog posts, but it doesn’t seem to come as easily to me.

In 2015…

I’d like to focus on letting go of worrying about what others think.  Looking back, I realize how often I torture myself over-analyzing a situation repeatedly or feeling guilty about something I said or did (or didn’t say or do).  This year, I plan to focus my attention on the things I can change rather than mulling over the things I can’t.

I’d like to get more sleep and learn the art of waking up.  Sleep (and stress) hugely affects my mood.  Ideally, I’d start each day pleasant and prepared.

I’d like to spend more time documenting my adventures.  At the end of last year, I finally put together our wedding album, and it was so nice to be able to look back on the photos and reflect on our wedding.  I’d like to do more blogging on the trips we take and get better at taking photos and editing them.

Finally, I’d like to stop my habit of mindless Facebook scanning.  It’s not productive.  I’m always wishing for more time in the day, so here’s my opportunity.

- Image taken at Pelican Bay in Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park

Mt. Whitney: Forester Pass to Onion Valley

Day 3 was our last day.  Our final challenge was Kearsarge Pass (elevation 11,760 ft.).  We left our campsite extra early at 5AM with the “best burgers in Lone Pine” at the Whitney Portal Store on our minds.  We watched the sun rise as we set off, and from a safe distance, observed an avalanche (first photo).  It started raining along the way, but cleared up before we started the climb up Kearsarge Pass.  We celebrated at the top before we headed down to Onion Valley.

When we first went to pick up the permit in Lone Pine, the ranger seemed surprised that we were attempting Whitney Portal to Onion Valley in 3 days.  After that, I didn’t know what to expect from this backpacking trip.  All I knew was that we had good company and that I was up for the challenge.  Three days in the Sierras, and I’m completely sold on this gorgeous part of California. The mountains look relentlessly steep from the valleys, and the elevation plays with your mind; but when you make it to the top, you feel infinite, as if you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.


 

 

 


PHOTOS BY MELODY KUO

Related Recaps: Day 1 and Day 2

Mt. Whitney: Guitar Lake to Forester Pass

Day 2, our goal was to summit Forester Pass, elevation 13,200′ and find a good place to camp.  It was another long day with lots of mileage.  The hardest part was knowing that the toughest climb was going to be towards the end of the day.

Everyone was hugely relieved when we reached Crabtree Ranger Station.  We dropped our empty wag bags into the storage bin and immediately dug our holes.  We met a man who was making a day trip trail running what we had planned to do in 3 days (and we thought we were crazy!).  There were quite a few PCT hikers.  One man told us that he was attempting the Triple Crown (when you hike the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail).  You meet the most fit and inspiring people out in the wilderness.  After Forester Pass. we encountered our first patch of snow on the trail, which I proceeded to immediately slip on.  After a long day of backpacking, we were all excited to crawl into our tents and sleep.

PHOTOS BY MELODY KUO

Related Recaps: Day 1 and Day 3