Tag Archives: vacation

Visiting the North Pole

I went to the North Pole. Santa has been living in Alaska my entire life and I had no idea.

I should preface this post by saying that I LOVE Santa. When I was a kid, I was encouraged to leave cookies for Santa and was always so excited when he would leave me a note in return. Some years, he would leave one of the cookies behind with a perfectly shaped bite taken out of it; this filled me with a wonder beyond my wildest imagination. Fast forward thirty plus years and you have a grown woman in Alaska who sees “North Pole” on the map. How could I have missed this? When my friend told me that not only did the North Pole truly exist but Santa was there with his reindeer, I had to go.

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Two Minnesotans Meet Angel Rocks

One of the hardest parts of vacation for me is being away from my little dog, but he’s having his own adventure with his new best friend – the house sitter. When she arrived, he greeted her with an enthusiasm and zeal that he reserves for those he truly loves, I knew he would be in great hands. After a quick check to make sure their vacation was off on the right foot, we headed into the Alaskan wilderness to find an adventure of our own.

angel rocks fairbanks
The Angel Rocks

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The Secret Garden

“I said to myself, ‘This is really ugly. Somebody ought to build a garden here.’ So I said, ‘I’ll do it’ …and I did.” – Amir Dialameh

Amir Dialameh was hiking the trails in Griffith Park in 1971 after a major brush fire ravaged the area when he decided to start a garden.
desert garden

He obtained permission and then spent years working alone, clearing approximately 200 carbonized tree stumps with a pick and shovel carried from home.
desert garden

He could be found working in the garden nearly every day for up to eight hours at a time terracing the slopes, building stairs and adding benches.
desert garden

Amir had challenges along the way. People stole plants, demolished saplings, he was once beaten and robbed, and two major brush fires damaged the garden. But those incidents didn’t keep him away and he patiently restored the losses.desert garden

Volunteers began helping maintain Amir’s Garden in the late 70s and continue to do so after Amir’s unexpected death in 2003. Amir once said, “There are so many problems, so many pressures. All people do is complain. They need to get away from that.” Amir’s Garden is just the place people could do that; under his care, it became a five-acre oasis in the city.

desert tree
“…what you need first and foremost here is shade,” Dialameh explained in 1989. “That’s why I planted trees like the jacaranda. In ten years, this place will be covered with their branches.”

Los Angeles Flavor

I love eating in Los Angeles because there are so many vegetarian options. Here are some of the highlights from our visit.

One of our favorite stops was Mohawk Bend in Echo Park. Retrofitted into a 100-year old Vaudeville theater, they use Californian ingredients to create food for all types of appetites. They have 72 taps of craft beer, 6 stainless steel wine taps, and artisanal spirits.

You can’t visit Little Tokyo without ramen and sweet treats. We sat outside the Yamazaki bakery eating our goodies and people watching.

And then went to Shojin for their Japanese vegan cuisine. It was delicious, definitely one of the best meals we had.

If you need the comforts of home, stop at Home in Silverlake. I loved my Huevos Rancheros.

We had breakfast in Santa Monica at Jinky’s. The food at the table next to us looked so good, we ordered the same thing!

Our last meal was the best sushi The Husband could find. It was at Sugar Fish, he had the “Trust Me” selection featuring Tuna Sashimi, Albacore Sushi, Salmon Sushi, Yellowtail Sushi, Halibut Sushi, Toro Hand Roll and Crab Roll. Sugar Fish restaurants serve only traditional sushi of the highest quality based on Chef Nozawa’s style of sushi.

And I had the cucumber rolls, they were the best I’ve ever had:
sushi

Los Angeles Through Pictures

I love Los Angeles because California Girl has the best ideas for daily adventures. This was The Husband’s first visit, so there was a lot of ground to cover in three days. Here are some of the highlights of what we saw and what we did.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory
Took in the night views

Griffith Observatory
Raced through the exhibits at closing time

Griffith Park

griffith park
Climbed switchbacks

view from giffith park
Took in the views
griffith park
Risked dangerous animals
amir's garden
Lost track of time in hidden gardens
griffith park
And on vibrant pathways
allen's hummingbird
Observed wildlife great (Allen’s Hummingbird)
honey bee
And wildlife small

Did I mention the views?
griffith park

griffith park

Little Tokyo

paper art
Found treasures like this handmade 3-D paper art

We couldn’t leave California without heading to the beach, so our last day was all about the ocean.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica
Saw the future, it is in a Santa Monica parking ramp

sailboats
Were on the Santa Monica Pier before the fog cleared
fishing poles
Just us and the fishermen
santa monica pier
Then suddenly, it was clear
magician
Took in a street performance (SPOILER ALERT, he did get all the eggs into the cups)
Pacific Ocean
Splashed in the Pacific Ocean
santa monica promenade
And then walked the streets with dinosaurs

There was just time to drive to Malibu before heading for home

malibu
Cue the M*A*S*H theme song

More of our adventures to come….