Sunday, July 6, 2014

weekend morning hiking club

This summer, a few friends and I have decided to get back to working out outside, so we started a weekend morning hiking club (#wmhc :p) and have spent the last few Sunday mornings hiking two spots that were new to me, but still close to home.

If you have any recommendations for new trails to try, please leave them in the comments! 

Griffith Park / The Old LA Zoo

What I Like About This Hike: 

- Easy parking up the hill from the Griffith Park Carousel

- Not a lot of people, especially once you get past the Old Zoo/picnic area

- A good workout: We went two miles up to a "landing" area at the top of one of the fire roads which had some tough inclines along the way, reminiscent of the not-evil side of Runyon. So the total hike was four miles-ish (we walked in some big circles at the top and bottom to get to that nice number. LOL ;)

- Great views of both the Burbank/Glendale area as you ascend ...

...and the Silver Lake Reservoir and Downtown LA once you get to the top:

What I Don't Like About This Hike

- Not much shade at all once you leave the Old Zoo area.

- The Old Zoo is creepy.

Studio City/Fryman Canyon*

(*unofficial name.. the Betty B. Dearing trail in Wilacre Park is the official name.. I think)

What I Like About This Hike: 

- Easy parking either in the pay lot at the corner of Laurel Canyon and Fryman Road OR free in the neighborhoods around Laurel Terrace Dr. 

- Not a ton of people It's a busy trail, but nothing like Runyon.. and while dogs are allowed, this trail doesn't have the eternal odor of dog poo that Runyon has.

- The incline is right at the beginning, so you get your heart rate up first thing and can then chat, chill and enjoy the views the rest of the way.

- Lots of shade so you don't feel like the sun is trying to personally defeat you like I sometimes do after a few hills at Runyon. And the end of the trail dumps you out on a residential cul-de-sac where you can do your cool down on paved, shady streets while admiring lovely houses and picking up new landscaping ideas ;) 

What I Don't Like About This Hike

- It's only 3 miles. I love everything else about this hike, so I wish it was longer... although that is about the same length of the Runyon loop on the stairs side. (I don't think I will be fighting the parking and dog poo at Runyon again anytime soon... can you tell? ;) 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

oh hi ojai

So I've been wanting to go to Ojai, CA for years... ever since I read about the amazing Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in In Style Magazine a long,  long time ago.

While I haven't made it to my weekend getaway packed with wine and massages surrounded by lush green hills, today I did finally make it to Ojai, for the happens-once-a-year (usually on the hottest day of the year) Ojai Valley Lavender Festival.

Luckily, I was with friends who'd been to the festival before. So we left the San Fernando Valley for the hour or so drive north to the Ojai Valley at 8:30am and arrived just as the festival was opening at 10am. It's not a large event... it takes place in Libbey Park on Ojai Avenue and consists of about 40 booths with local artists and vendors. But once it hits about 11:30 the place is packed.

Since we arrived early, we were able to buy delicious lavender sugar cookies and pound cake before the Island Breeze Macaroons and More booth -- that makes lavender infused baked good just for the festival -- sold out (which they looked close to doing when we passed by again around noon on our way back to the car).  I'm enjoying one of the cookies right now with a cup of hot tea :)

I was also able to be choosy about the bunches of fresh lavender I bought (2 bunches for $9) from the Rivendell Aromatics booth, which was mobbed as we left.

My final lavender purchase of the day was lavender lemonade -- delish! The nice woman at the Lori's Original Lemonade booth even suggested mixing it with vodka to give it a kick. A woman after my own heart :)

At the festival, we also learned that owls are still trendy... at least at the Ojai Raptor Center, where they rehab and release birds of prey... like this real owl and hawk who were just hanging out, staring and being stared at all day.

(Sidenote: While I know they were there to educate people, I could've done without seeing the stuffed and mounted birds [or in some cases, just their big beautiful wings] in the booth :(   )

Once we were done walking the festival in about an hour, we did a little shopping across the street and enjoyed the small town feel a mere hour and a half from cray-cray LA.

It was amazing to see that people in town had already put out their folding lawn chairs along the main boulevard, claiming their spots for the 4th of July parade. And, while they were roped down/together so no one could walk off with them, I got the feeling that, except for all us out-of-towners-from-the-big-city, no one in Ojai would even think of doing such a thing.
We ended our day trip with lunch at a lovely local Italian restaurant, Boccali's, which had amazing cheese bread and pesto, and huge helpings of homemade lasagna and spaghetti with meat sauce and homemade meatballs. But the absolute BEST thing they had was homemade strawberry shortcake! The perfect way to end a day that started with things of my favorite color and ended with my favorite fruit/food on the planet :)  

great day for a parade... the 2014 championship edition

Been a little busy at work since I played hooky on June 16th to go downtown and cheer on my TWO-time Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings, so here's a bunch of the photos I took two weeks ago on an awesome Southern California Monday-Funday :)

Ranger Hater Juanita and Me waiting for the Parade

Jeff Carter (77), Marion Gaborik (12) and Mike Richards (10)

Trevor Lewis (22), Drew Doughty (8) & Alec
Martinez (27) with the Campbell Bowl

Tanner Pearson (70), Tyler Toffoli (73), Martin Jones (31),
Jeff Schultz (55) and Dwigtht King (74)

Jarret Stoll (28), Matt Greene (2), Willie Mitchell (33) and Justin Williams (14)

Conn Smythe Trophy Winner Justin Williams (14)

Jonathan Quick (32), Dustin Brown (23), Anze Kopitar (11) and Lord Stanley's Cup

Jonathan Quick (32), Dustin Brown (23) and Anze Kopitar (11)... with confetti 

The party bus... Alec Martinez (27), Drew Doughty (8) and Trevor Lewis (22)

Team photo with lots of trophies :) 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

the morning after... things to save for posterity :)

Thanks to for this great wrap up of coverage of last night's win, including a 2 minute, 55 second video nicely summarizing what happened over 80 minutes and 28 seconds of play last night.

But here's the most important thing that happened:

Then this happened, which was the BEST thing:

I can't wait for the Kings "Stanley Cup Moments 2014" video series to start rolling out!

stanley cup champions ... again!

Approximately two years ago, I wrote a blog post here about the LA Kings first Stanley Cup Championship. As a long time Kings fan, that was a night I'd waited more than two decades for. It was unbelievable and amazing.

Tonight, on Friday the 13th, those same (for the most part) Kings did it again, becoming the 2014 Stanley Cup Champions.

This year, it was a lot harder. They were down 0-3 in the first round. They won in seven games, becoming only the fourth team in Stanley Cup history to come back and win from that deficit. They won rounds 2 and 3 in seven games too, with round 3 vs 2013 Champs Chicago being a double overtime win, courtesy of defensemen Alec Martinez.

In these Finals vs the New York Rangers, the Kings won Game 1 in OT. They won Game 2 in Double OT. They shut the Rangers out 3-0 in Game 3, and then lost Game 4, 1-2. The Rangers would not go down easily. Tonight, proved that point. Game 5 of the Finals went to Double OT too, with Alec Martinez once again scoring the double OT winner in what was the longest game in LA Kings history.

2012 was, after decades of trying, a remarkably easy playoff run.

2014 was hard!! And it proved you should never give up. And that if you #believe, anything is possible, even winning the most special trophy in all of sports.

Being present in the building for Double OT with that great trophy in the building... that close.. just waiting to be won... was mentally draining.

So rather than pontificate further about how special this win is (trust me, it is). Or how awesome this team is (cuz they are), I'm just going to post some photos and then go have a celebratory cocktail made from my legit Russian vodka I only break out on very special occasions... because being a Kings fan this year was awesome, but totally exhausting :)

Celebrating the double OT winner! (Well, the Kings and the crowd are. Lundqvist is likely not.)

Dad and Me. He's now 2-0 in Stanley Cup Championship games :)

The Conn Smythe Trophy

Conn Smythe Winner as Playoff MVP, Justin Williams, is congratulated by Anze Kopitar (#11)

Here comes The Cup!

The Stanley Cup!
Kings Captain Dustin Brown raises the Cup for the second time in three seasons!

Anze Kopitar raises the Cup!

2014 Stanley Cup Champions!


Jonathan Quick (#32, center holding his daughter) and Anze Kopitar (#11, background) celebrate with their families on the ice.

Monday, June 9, 2014

one more win to believe in...

Two years ago the LA Kings coasted through the first 3 rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs to face the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals.

They won games 1 and 2 in overtime. Game 3 was a shutout at home. Game 4, the would've-been sweep was an anxiety-ridden mess. Game 5 in NJ was also a loss as the Devils fought for their lives. 

Game 6 was back in LA. In the 1st period, the Devils smashed Rob Scuderi's face into the glass, resulting in a 5-minute major penalty that the Kings scored three goals on. Before the night was over, they would score three more, giving up only one to the Eastern Conference Champs, on their way to their first-ever Stanley Cup Championship in 45 years.

That was June 11, 2012.

The 2013-14 LA Kings spent the first three rounds of the 2014 playoffs making history by coming from 0-3 to win Round 1, and then making more history by winning all three series in Game 7 on the road. Tonight, they shut out the New York Rangers 3-0 in Game 3 of the Finals, to take a 3-0 series lead.

They have now won 15 games this post-season. They need to win one more game to take back hockey's holy grail.

Stanley Cup Finals 2014, Game 4 is this Wednesday night.

This Wednesday is June 11.


PS: If needed, Game 5 in LA is on Friday the 13th. My superstitious self kinda feels that's when the 16th win will come. It would only be appropriate for such a superstitious sport (and superstitious Kings fans like me, who have tickets to Game 5 ;) #knockonwoodnowhammiesnojinxes #gokingsgo