LA Trip: Universal Studios/ Adele Concert!!!

My birthday weekend was coming up and I had originally wanted to go on a 3-day hiking trip at Haleakala which I had planned a month in advance. Little did we know those plans would change just a few days before the trip. It started with a phone call at work. Toni asked me, “How bad do you want to hike at Haleakala? How bad?”. Confused and curious, I was a little agitated by his question because he knew how excited I was about our upcoming adventure. When he finally told me, I was in disbelief; I thought he was joking. After verifying he wasn’t playing a horrible prank on me, I immediately agreed to cancel the Haleakala trip to go to Los Angeles for the Adele Concert! Easiest decision I made that week!

The trip was an all-expense paid trip, which was freakin awesome! Our rental car, hotel, plane tickets were all paid by Verizon! Toni’s name was placed in a drawing for each business-related account he sold and won the luck of the draw. Six winners were chosen from the western region to attend the sold-out Adele Concert at the Staple Center, and we were one of them! Yasss!

We flew to LA on a red-eye flight and arrived at 5 am in the morning. This was supposed to be a one-day trip, but Toni was fortunate enough to schedule our flight back to Maui late the next day (which was my birthday). Fortunately, we already explored Los Angeles earlier this year (which you can check out here: Little Tokyo/Santa Monica, Downtown LA, Lakers/Celtics Game, Disneyland & Getty’s Museum). Other than the Adele Concert, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was on the top of our must-see list. Strangely, it opened at Universal Studios the day after we left earlier this year…so it seems we were given a second chance!

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During our first day, we drove up to the Griffith Observatory to kill sometime before spending the rest of our day at Universal Studios (Hollywood). The view from the observatory was great. We could see DTLA in the distance, the Hollywood sign and nearby hiking trails. For how early we arrived, there was surprisingly a ton of people at the observatory. A ton!

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was pretty amazing. I loved the detail in everything – from the crooked chimneys to the Hogwarts castle! The butterbeer was delicious; it’s non-alcoholic and has a butterscotch sweetness to it! It was definitely one of our favorite parts of our Universal Studios adventure.

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Adele. What can we say that isn’t already known about this talented singer? She is absolutely incredible. The concert was a blast and she is also quite the comedian. It was a pretty entertaining show and we feel so lucky to have gone to one of her concerts. Extremely lucky!

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Maui: Haleakala (Sliding Sands to Halemauu Trail)

Hiked in and out of the volcanic crater at Haleakala from Sliding Sands to the Halemauu Trail to start off my birthday weekend! We began our journey at around 10 am at Sliding Sands Trail and ended our hike at the Halemauu Trailhead just before sunset. We were able to enjoy approximately 9 hours in the crater and trekked 11 miles from start to finish! This was definitely one of our most memorable hikes yet on Maui.

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Maui: Birthday Poke

We have decided to start a VLOG on our YouTube Channel! Yay! So far we have “vlogged” two of our hikes (here and here)…but recently we thought it would be fun to create a weekly video diary of our everyday activities.

Maui: Mahana Ridge Trail

Last weekend we revisited the Mahana Ridge Trail. It was a rainy, yet very humid day! We weren’t too thrilled about the weather, but as we climbed further up the ridge the humidity was more tolerable and the air was nice and cool. We could have turned back and not hike that day, but I was so determined to get some practice in before our 3-day hike at the Haleakala Crater for my birthday!

The Mahana Ridge Trail is a 17-mile roundtrip hike, but we ended up hiking 3 hours from D.T. Fleming Beach and back. To our surprise, we were able to get in about 10 miles in 5 hours (2 miles per hour!) and climbed approximately 1,500 feet in elevation. Yay! This made we more confident that we could survive our first day at Haleakala which will be a little less than 10 miles. Anyhow, check out our vlog above to see how our hike went and scroll down to see our nature photos!

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Maui: Kapilau Ridge Trail

DSC01494.JPGKapilau Ridge Trail, better known as the St. Anthony Cross Trail or Wailuku Cross Trail, is a short, steep unmaintained footpath that starts just up the street from Wailuku Town. The cross was placed up there by the students from St. Anthony School back in the 1950’s and I believe it is still maintained by the students. The trail follows the spine of the mountain and is a straight path up to the cross (no switch backs here!). The hike is a steep climb up which made for a good workout. However, on the bright side, the path is covered by trees so it was nice and shady.DSC01470.JPGDSC01469.JPGDSC01473.JPG

The hike to the cross was shorter than I remembered. We hiked this trail a couple years ago and I ended up not liking it because I didn’t feel that the views were worth the hike. One day my coworker told me that the trail continued pass the cross and I just had to check it out. The views pass the cross were pretty amazing and definitely worth it to me. The path pass the cross were not as steep – although, it was still a straight climb up.DSC01477.JPGDSC01475.JPGDSC01475.JPGDSC01482.JPGDSC01480.JPGDSC01483.JPG

We were hoping to reach the top of the mountain following this ridge, but didn’t realize there was a fence for the West Maui Forest Reserve Boundary – which prevented us from hiking any further. We thought about going pass the fence through the gate, but there were signs that clearly wanted people to keep out in order to protect the sensitive environments within the watershed. If this was a matter of safety, we would normally assess the path and continue up at our own risk – but since this was an environmental concern we didn’t want to be responsible for harming any endangered plants up there. So, we hung out by the fence and admired the view before heading down.DSC01492.JPGDSC01493.JPGDSC01487DSC01503DSC01515DSC01498G0050595.JPG Overall, we had climbed about 1000 feet to the top and hike approximately 1.8 miles in 2 hours. Which trail will we revisit next? Stay tuned!

Dog Day with Bordeaux and Roshe!

Dog Day! We celebrated Bordeaux and Roshe’s birthdays by dedicating a day of outdoor doggy fun. Roshe turned one on June 23rd and Bordeaux turned two on July 1st (8 days apart)!

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We started our Saturday morning driving to the Makawao Forest Reserve for a short hike at Waihou Springs Trail. It was a shady and cool hike, which was perfect for our frenchies!

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Next stop was the Upcountry Dog Park at the Eddie Tam Park. This is the newest and largest dog park on Maui and we were pretty excited to visit it for the first time. For some reason, not a lot of small dogs get along with Bordeaux – so we were relieved there were no small dogs during our visit.

The park was much larger than the one in Wailuku (Keopuolani Park). There was a nice shady tree in the middle of the park and a couple of really nice wooden benches for us humans! Bordeaux and Roshe played with the larger dogs by running up and down the shared fence. Roshe got tired after a few runs and hung out with Toni and I under the tree while watching Bordeaux run non-stop. Eventually, a couple of small dogs arrived and we decided it was a good time to head out.Dogs Day_5.JPG

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Before driving to the next dog park, Toni and I ordered a couple of Reuben sandwiches at Kula Bistro and drove to Rice Park to enjoy our lunch in front of the gorgeous panoramic view of west Maui.

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We stopped by Kilohana Dog Park in Kihei and had the park all to ourselves. It was a small fenced in area next to a play field. In addition to a bench and large tree, it also had a unique water fountain for humans and dogs. The gate was a bit confusing and didn’t seem secure – which made us a nervous since Bordeaux is a little escape artist. Eventually a family brought their greyhound (puppy) to play with Bordeaux and Roshe. The greyhound was extremely fast – but our frenchies really enjoyed chasing around their new friend.

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After Kilohana Dog Park, we checked out Keonekai Dog Park and found out that it was an open dog park (with no fenced-in area) so we didn’t stay there long.

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We drove down Kihei Road to visit Sugar Beach before heading back to town. It’s been a long time since we brought Bordeaux to the beach, but it was Roshe’s first time to one! It was a nice evening and the waves were smallish – so we thought it would be a good time to introduce baby Roshe to the ocean and sand. Roshe was obviously curious and a tad nervous. At one point he surprised me by jumping into a wave and swam toward the ocean! We had both dogs on a leash – so I was able to pull him back toward the beach. However, it was obvious that Roshe’s moment in the water had terrified him so we took a break from the water and sat on a large piece of drift wood…and did some people watching.

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We had some time to kill, so we walked around Keopuolani Park – which we visit every now and then. We took a nice walk around the park before sunset and then headed home.

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The dogs loved their Maui adventure! We ended the day by giving the dogs a bath and giving them treats to chew on while we finished the night watching a movie. It was a successful day filled with fun for both us and the dogs!

Las Vegas: Judy’s Bachelorette Weekend

A couple weekends ago, I traveled to Laasss Veegasss – aka “Sin City”. One of my dearest friends is getting married in September and we celebrated her Bachelorette Party in Vegas (#mrsdamndaniel)! We did a lot of sight-seeing during the day and danced the night away during the evenings. Big thanks to Jean and Alea for planning out the weekend! Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip.

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ALASKA: Crow Pass Trail

Crow Pass Trail_76A couple weekends ago, I flew up to Alaska to hike the Crow Pass Trail with my older sister, Malissa, and her fiancé, Jose, for Mandi’s 30th birthday celebration! We were also joined by Jesus (Jose’s brother) and friends, Nico and Justin. This was my first backpacking experience and I couldn’t imagine a better place to do it! I just love Alaska in the summer – it’s so beautiful!

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Here is a little bit about the trail: The Crow Pass Trail travels along a small section of the Historic Iditarod Trail. The Historic Iditarod Trail runs from Seward to Nome and was used as a transportation and mail route for early Alaskan settlers. The Crow Pass Trail is about 23 miles (one way) with an elevation gain of 2,100 feet from Crow Creek Trailhead or 3,100 feet from the Eagle River Nature Center. We started at the Eagle River Nature Center.

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Warning: Buying camping/backpacking gear is an investment. Since I didn’t have a lot of gear in the first place, I ended up spending hundreds of dollars buying just the essentials! However, I plan to go on more backpacking adventures – so it will be all worth it in the end.

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We began our journey at the Eagle River Nature Center and parked our cars overnight for five dollars. It was raining on our first day – yet, I didn’t mind. Hiking and carrying a heavy pack was quite the workout. With summer in full swing in Hawaii, I really missed the cold air and rain.

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We intended to hike 13 miles on the first day, which was halfway toward the end of the trail (in Girdwood). As first-timers with backpacking and hiking the trail, we didn’t anticipate the many obstacles that were ahead of us – which slowed down our hiking pace. Many portions of the trail were muddy and wet. We hiked through a rock scree, rocky paths covered in tree roots (which required careful footing), a small creek, eroded slopes, and technical sections using ropes and ladders. We also walked across wet logs and crawled under fallen trees! The trail definitely took a toll on some of us, including myself.

We decided to stop and set up camp 9 miles out from the Eagle River Nature Center. Although time wasn’t on our side and fell short of reaching the Ford Site, it was still a very adventurous experience!

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Camping was one of the highlights of the trip. I didn’t expect to love it so much. After hiking with a heavy pack for 9 miles, it was so relaxing to sit by a warm fire and eating surprisingly good camping food. There’s something about the wilderness that makes me feel so alive even with a sore knee, numb feet and being utterly exhausted. 

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It was a gorgeous morning the next day. The sun was peeking out from the majestic mountains surrounding us. I woke up in a chipper mood, because I was super excited to be waking up in the beautiful outdoors.

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I realized that I had overpacked…and wasn’t looking forward to carrying my backpack for another 9 miles. On our way back, we decided to split into two groups to make sure Mandi could make it to her birthday dinner. I stayed back with Malissa who needed to go at a slower pace due to her knee – but I didn’t mind at all.

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The hike back was awesome! The sun was out and we made lots of stops to relax and take photos. It was such a perfect day to hike in Alaska and everything was so breathtaking from the wildflowers to the snow capped mountains. I wish we had planned a longer trip – because I could get use to this…even with a heavy pack.

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We saw some wildlife and evidence of wildlife. We had seen a frog, squirrel, mountain goat, a moose with her calf, and a couple beaver dams. There were plenty of animal scat on the trail – including bear poop.

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Overall, it was a great backpacking experience. I had fun, but I also learned a lot. I can’t wait for my next backpacking adventure and I hope to to reunite with the crew on another hike…maybe in Kauai? Who knows! Until next time!

LA Trip: Last Day (Getty’s Museum & The Park’s Finest)

We started our last day in LA at The Park’s Finest! It was recommended by a friend of ours who currently lives in California. The Park’s Finest is a BBQ restaurant infused with Filipino flavor. We basically ordered all the popular items and had a feast – it was delicious and we definitely recommend it to those who like BBQ and Filipino dishes.The Park's Finest_3.JPG The Park's Finest_4.JPG The Park's Finest_5.JPG The Park's Finest_6.JPG The Park's Finest_7.JPG

After a heavy brunch, we took an Uber to The Getty Museum before heading to the airport. The Getty is an art museum that feature artwork by various European artists…including Vincent van Gogh! We also enjoyed the modern architecture…and the breathtaking view of downtown Los Angeles!

Getty Museum LA_5Getty Museum LA_7Getty Museum LA_18Getty Museum LA_17There was so much to see, but we only had less than two hours to browse around. We spent most of our time viewing the paintings – which were absolutely amazing. The detail of some of these century-old paintings were out of this world! Toni took an art history course in college and he recognized some pieces from his class.Getty Museum LA_8.JPG Getty Museum LA_10.JPG Getty Museum LA_11 Getty Museum LA_13Getty Museum LA_19Getty Museum LA_20Getty Museum LA_21Getty Museum LA_22.JPGGetty Museum LA_23.JPGGetty Museum LA_24.JPGGetty Museum LA_25.JPGGetty Museum LA_26.JPGEverything from the architecture to the artwork made our experience worthwhile. We would have stayed longer if we had the time. Until next time LA!

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