National Register of Historic Places: Aztec Hotel. Now closed for needed repairs since 2011, this route 66 historic building is an example of Mayan Revival architecture. It was designed by architect Robert Stacy-Judd and built in 1925-26. Just 5 minutes behind this building is another historic place. Upton Sinclair lived in a house in the neighborhood behind the building between 1942 and 1966. | Monrovia, California
Essential Los Angeles: Sharing a piece of Los Angeles history with my aunt. Her first time experiencing the magic of eating at Philippe The Original, which was established in 1908. Getting your "au jus" on the side for dipping your French dip sandwich is a must! My first time asking them to do it and totally change my mind about this sandwich. My aunt loved her pastrami French dip sandwich. She doesn't love their potato salad as much as I do. If they've been in business for 114 years, they must being doing something right! A much loved LA institution with locals and tourists alike. Some tourist said that they drove straight here from the airport.
You'll probably want to stop to try the food at any restaurant with a long line. It's either really cheap or the food is great or you'll be lucky if both! These days, it could also be food that is mediocre, but has gone viral on IG or TikTok so at least you can say you've tried it in the end. The square slices at Quarter Sheets are inpired by Detroit-style pizza and I would say a solid slice and the service by the team is memorable. | Quarter Sheets Pizza, Echo Park, Los Angeles, California
How I do Larchmont Village? I have a gibraltar at Go Get 'Em Tiger or come during the farmers market and walk around the block to people (or celebrity) watch. A locals only, low key neighborhood vibe where celebrities go with their kids to hangout without getting bothered. I recently spotted Jude Law with his baby and Joey McIntyre (of NKOTB for us grown folks) with his kid a while back at the farmers market on a Sunday. And if you see a celebrity, please act like you don't recognize them because that's an Angeleno faux pas. | Larchmont Village, Los Angeles, California
This was my first time exploring the Getty Museum solo. I've been here so many times before with friends and on a date with a (cheap) French man and it's a different experience being alone. Much like traveling, I much prefer visiting museums alone. I get to see what I want and leave when I want. | Los Angeles, California
National Register of Historic Places: Galleano Winery (founded in 1927). Galleano is the oldest Prohibition-era winery in the Cucamonga Valley still owned and operated by the same family. I've been curious about the history of wine in the Cucamonga Valley after learning about it during my winetasting trip in Sonoma | Mira Loma, California
I've been curious about this place while coming to the area to visit clients. Thet have been closed whenever I'm in the area. I finally made the drive just to visit the museum and gardens. I was told the docent-led tour for $25 is worth it. Next time. | Sam and Alfreda Maloof Historic Home and Gardens | Rancho Cucamonga, California
I haven't been on an airplane during COVID and it's been four years since I last step foot on an airplane. I know people who have traveled including one of my regular clients who recently convinced me to book the flight. I've hesitated for so long and kept my vacations limited to road trips because of everything I've been hearing in the news about flying these days. It's expensive. When there were mask restrictions, passengers were violent and combative. Luggages gets lost (which is still happening frequently). My cousin recently came back from a wedding in NYC and got COVID.
My mom and her husband were in West Virginia so I decided to look at my options for flights to Charleston, West Virginia. The rates were high as expected for the major airlines except for an airline I didn't know much about -- Spirit Airlines when running a Google flight search at airports surrounding Charleston, West Virginia. The surrounding city that looked most interesting was Louisville which I didn't know much about other than the Kentucky Derby.
The flight to Louisville would be only be four hours and a non-stop flight so it would minimize the risk of lost luggage. Being the adventurous person that I am, I was game to try this "questionable" bare bones airline because it was so inexpensive.
After researching Louisville, I discovered it is a serious food and drink city. There were plenty of local restaurants to explore and it's the epicenter of bourbon production. I've seen a few people venturing off to Kentucky for bourbon distillery tours, but it didn't sound appealing until now. I've given up drinking alcohol here at home for health reasons, but it was vacation so I made an exception to go on a distillery tour and tasting.
With inexpensive airfare and being vaccinated against COVID, I decided to take the leap with the following COVID safety protocol checklist while at the airport and airplane: N95 mask - check. Face shield - check. Hand sanitizer and wipes - check.
Once I got to the terminal at LAX, most people didn't have masks on and no one had a face shield on. Luckily, no one laughed or took an obvious double take at this point during the pandemic. It was my first time flying so taking these precautions was my security blanket.
The flight wasn't that bad on Spirit. I met someone in West Virginia from LA who callled a shith*le airline. I'm pretty low maintenance so I thought flying Spirit was fine with me. I can fly more often now since their prices are so low.
I wanted to see Nulu, one of the areas known for its nightlife in Louisville so I located Gertie's, a whiskey bar with a speakeasy (open on weekends). I wanted to try Pappy Van Winkle and the bartender told me they stock it inside the speakeasy. The area was quiet with a couple bars and restaurant packed with people.
My mom's husband, Dave, has been encouraging me to visit his homestate, West Virginia, so I finally booked this trip while they were there. They wanted to tag along with me on my road trip adventure. My mom's laughs at everything I say to make her smile for the camera. You don't know how hard it is to make that man smile for the camera! I drove 2 hours to the mountains to eat locally made cheese at a historic Swiss enclave in the Appalachian Mountains. The sacrifices I make for interesting experiences! | The Hütte Restaurant in Helvetia, West Virginia
Alma Bea in Shepherstown, West Virginia. This restaurant is too cool to put any signage outside (insert rolling eyes emoji here). I read that people drop old family Appalachian recipes in a mailbox outside the restaurant. Their menu is inspired by these old Appalachian Mountain recipes. The owner is Mary Ellen Diaz and her mom is from West Virginia and wanted to open a restaurant in her mom's home state. Diaz worked at Lettuce Entertain You, a restaurant group in Chicago and Las Vegas. Diaz is bringining her big city restaurant expertise to this small "cool" town. Diaz, spent time training for the restaurant business in the United States and France.
All I need at a hotel is for it to be spotless and clean! I don't care about luxury because I am never sitting in a hotel all day. The attractions are outside the hotel! The bed and pillows were very comfortable at this hotel. The room was very modern and updated -- stylish for design aficionados like myself. I usually book "design or boutique hotels" whenever I am in Europe. An excellent value for the the price! Perfect one-night stay to see Fallingwater.
Who did Fallingwater better -- Summer or Winter?
New River Gorge is America's newest national park established in 2020. Behind the visitor center is the view of the bridge. You can take the stairs down to the bottom for a view of the bridge from below or take a scenic drive that will probably take around an hour to 1.5 hours to complete with stops for photos. The bridge is known for base jumping and world-class whitewater rafting. There's also kayaking and ziplining available. It is a outdoor adventurer's paradise.
I was struck by the beauty at Grandview. It was truy grand and awe inspiring. I was not satisfied with the bridge view and the park ranger recommended driving to Grand View which is about 45 minutes away from the main bridge visitor center. This view did not disappoint! I recommend starting off here and doing a hike. Hardly anyone was here! We were the only ones here. I loved it.
Last stop before I boarded my plane to head back home was the famous Churchill Downs, the site the Kentucky Derby. There's a museum, but I'm not a fan of horse racing. If you're curious and have time, you can stop by the museum to learn more and take a peek inside Churchill Downs. There's also a diner across the street where all the jockeys and trainers eat.
My week in the South was an amazing travel experience. It opened my eyes to a different culture within the United States. Yes, visiting the South to me is like visiting another country!
Most of the people were (not surprisingly) warm and friendly except one "redneck" woman (my mom's husband called her that, not me) at the toll booth that gave me major attitude once she saw my LA Dodgers baseball cap. I've always been afraid to travel to this part of the country because I was afraid of possible hatred for people who look like me and where I'm from. It was not on my absolute travel list because I have been scared of the South. Maybe I was asking for it wearing that LA cap.
I really enjoyed visiting Kentucky and plan to return again one day to visit Mammoth Cave National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. My travel bucket list revolves around that UNESCO list. West Virginia seems to be on the verge of becoming a popular vacation destination with Lonely Planet shining the spotlight on West Virginia as a "Place to Visit in 2022."
I didn't have enough time to see Pittsburgh as planned so I already want to return to Pennsylvania to visit both Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and probably explore the Pennsylvania Amish culture. I only got a taste of Virginia visiting the historic Old Winchester area. There's still so much explore in Virginia as well. I don't think visiting Arlington National Cemetery when I was seven years old counts. I need to see more. I definitely need to plan a return trip to D.C. solo and as an adult.
With a taste of air travel again, I already want to see more of the United States that I haven't seen yet. I'm not brave enough to do any long haul travel during the pandemic as I'm taking baby steps right now. I definitely don't want to lose my luggage on a connecting flight. I've already experienced losing luggage and it really does ruin your first few days of travel plans. The odds of losing your luggage are much higher now than before.
My mom got COVID on her flight back to LA as she is an anti-masker like everyone else (but me). Everyone is tired of the mask. I am too, but I don't want to experience symptoms of never ending LONG COVID. Some people are experiencing symptoms after catching COVID in 2020. I don't want to deal with that and the chance of permanent disability. I'll keep using my mask in crowded indoor situations. I can buy mom boxes of N95s, but of course it's her choice to wear an N95 or not. I hope she learned her lesson not wearing a mask at the airport and on the airplane. I read that the most dangerous time to be unmasked is while entering and exiting the aircraft when everyone gets up at the same time while the HEPA filters aren't running. If someone nearby has COVID, you'll probably get it.
After returning from my first trip on an airplane in four years, I can't wait for my next travel adventure to eat good local food, learn something new, create memories with new experiences, and to meet new people. Perhaps I will get on an airplane again for my birthday coming up soon? Stay tuned..
Eastern Sierra Birthday Road Trip: Fall Foliage along June Lake Loop, Highway 395 & 108 + Schulman's Grove, Bodie Ghost Town & Yosemite National Park
For my birthday, I originally planned a road trip to Yellowstone National Park, but the weather forecast for the week was snowfall. I have driven in heavy snow in Utah and during snowboarding trips in Mammoth and Big Bear and I'm not a fan of skidding on the road.
The next best thing was a fall foliage road trip along the Eastern Sierra on Highway 395 to June Lake Loop just in time for the beginning of peak fall foliage. Visiting June Lake during fall foliage has been on my radar for a while now just to see the dramatic colors of autumn.
First thing on my mind before, during, and after vacation is always food. A stop to grab a bite at Copper Top BBQ has become a ritual on the drive home from Mammoth on past snowboarding trips along with picking up some bread at Erick Schat's Bakery.
I took my tri-tip sandwich and mac 'n cheese up to Schulman's Grove for a picnic lunch. I met a lady, her friend, and dog camping in the area also from the San Fernando Valley. She wanted me to text her wife a message of "thinking about you and I love you" when I got to June Lake because there wasn't any cell service around Schulman Grove. I thought it was so sweet that they are married couple still in love.
Along with me, some photographers trying to get the perfect shot of the ancient bristlecone pine trees during sunset -- these are the oldest living trees in the world at more than 4,000 years old!
The Whispering Pines in June Lake was my home for the next two nights. It was nice to have a kitchen in my motel room as I brought a lot of snacks and instant Asian soup bowls. Of course, I brought my own sheets again, pillow, electric hot water kettle for tea, and air purifier... and brought my disinfecting wipes to sanitize everything I was going to touch in the motel room.
This was the picturesque view outside the motel in June Lake.
Scenes from the stunning June Lake Loop.
This scenic fall morning drive around June Lake was a treat for my birthday.
A flock of sheep on my way to Bodie Ghost Town. I scared them off. :(
I spent a couple hours wandering and taking photographs of Bodie Ghost Town which was a booming town during its heydey during the California Gold Rush era.
This was an interesting find. It was a crate of soda bottles from Glendale, California inside one of the decrepit buildings.
It's a ghost town frozen in time. They haven't done anything to clean up the place, just made some reinforcements to some of the structures.
Some eye candy along highway 108 to Sonora Pass.
Fresh powder at Sonora Pass.
Marking my birthday at the historic and scenic Sonora Pass.
Fall colors on the way back down from Sonora Pass.
June Lake in the afternoon on my way to June Lake Brewery for craft beer and Ohanas 395 for Hawaii-inspired eats. The owner spent time in Hawaii and crafted a menu including poke, fish tacos, fried rice, and vegetarian food. She also has lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) on the menu. I ordered the mahi-mahi fried rice and mahi-mahi tacos to eat with my sour beer and pale ale. I realized that had a huge phone dependence problem when I realized that I left my phone in my car and couldn't take a photo of my fried rice and sour beer lol.
I caught some deer having dinner at dusk back at the motel.
I spent dusk exploring Hot Creek to see the geothermal activity there. It's like a mini Lassen Volcanic National Park.
There weren't many options in June Lake for dinner. This barbecue pizza at June Pie Pizza Co. seemed like the best option for dinner in the area. I didn't eat the crust so that tells you a bit about this pizza.
Due to high wind activity on the 395, I decided not to explore Whitney Portal and Manzanar on my way back down. Instead I returned to Yosemite for the day to take the 41 back down to LA.
The mountain range was beautiful covered in snow, but I dreaded driving over ice and snow. The people behind me probably hated how slow I was driving.
I think I was around 5 years old when I last visited the Tunnel View for a photo. Maybe I'll post it here when I have time to locate it.
I decided to explore the Wawona Hotel surroundings and hike in the area before heading out of Yosemite.
I cracked open this craft beer I bought at the general store near the hotel for my leisurely stroll.
More of a gentle stroll in the woods than a heart-pounding hike, it was peaceful and I enjoyed my time here without anyone around. I ran into only two individuals during my time on the trail.
View of the meadow towards the end of the trail.
I decided on a second round of hiking at Mariposa Grove to see the giant sequoia trees of Yosemite. I ran into deer who weren't afraid of me. Just like dogs, most animals love me!
I quickly roamed the sequoia grove and didn't go further a couple more miles to see the larger grove since it was getting dark. I took the service road back down to avoid hiking in the dark. It was about a 30-minute walk back to the welcome center.
There's so much more to see and do in Yosemite and can't wait for a return trip to explore more places away from the Yosemite Valley which is way overcrowded. I couldn't wait to escape the Valley the last time I visited. There wasn't any parking and too many people. It must be more worse now since my last visit as more people are discovering our national parks and "van life" Instagrammers during the pandemic.
The crowds ruin the experience for me at our national parks. I much prefer the hidden gem national parks. It's nice to know there are still spots to visit in Yosemite that are more peaceful. It also helps to visit Yosemite and other popular national parks during a less busy time of the year.
Now that I am fully vaccinated, I wanted to somewhat escape our current reality even for one week. The thought of no longer becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 made me feel a like celebrating during the second week after taking my second shot (when I am officially considered "fully vaccinated").
I have always been the type of person that values growth and experiences. I would much rather spend money on learning something new or meeting people from different places or cultures rather than buying expensive status symbols and material things.
I wanted to try Native American food or have really good pizza in Arizona, but I saw the Rudy's BBQ sign on the freeway, so I had to stop here instead. I absolutely loooooove their sides. Rudy's was part of my annual trips of Austin, Texas when I would visit for week for 5 consecutive years for SXSW. My colleague that would join me every year thought their brisket was "good enough," but their sides were amazing! None of the top barbecue places in Texas we tried had sides like Rudy's.
Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona was not originally a planned stop on my way to New Mexico. I saw the sign along the freeway and looked at the clock and thought I could fit in an hour or 2 to visit this national park. I create spreadsheets for my trips (such a nerd!), but I always allow spontaneity. This is how I like to roll when I travel.
The following morning, I visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park. You must pre-book before visiting. During these pandemic times, most places won't let people visit without advanced reservations or tickets so you need to be strategic when planning your vacations especially at indoor settings like a cave or museums. If you don't, you will be sadly disappointed that you won't be able to see these places. Research and reserve weeks or months in advance. I met people who could not get tickets into Carlsbad Caverns. This is one of the main attractions in New Mexico and I would be really sad and disappointed if I drove all this way and made the mistake of not making my reservation in advance.
Can you see my thrill, excitement, and happiness in my eyes? I was so happy to finally visit this cave which is one of the largest in the world. I went straight into the Big Room, which is "the best" chamber at Carlsbad Caverns if you're limited on time. Big Room is almost 4,000 feet (1,220 m) long, 625 feet (191 m) wide, and 255 feet (78 m) high at its highest point for some perspective. The Big Room is the largest underground chamber in North America and the thirty-first largest in the world! The immense size of the cave underground was a lot to take in. You can take the hike down taking the nature trail or go straight down to it by taking an elevator. I took the shortcut since I had so many places to see in one week. I wanted to explore all day, but there was still so much to see in New Mexico. I was told that your ticket grants you admission for 3 days inside the Caverns. I timed this visit to be on an early weekday to avoid crowds. There was hardly anyone along my path and it was very quiet inside. They tell people that noise easily travels through the cave so people were speaking really softly along the walking trail.
Two locals who worked at Carlsbad NP recommended hiking in Guadalupe Mountains National Park if I were to choose a hike in the area. I took the hike to the springs as recommend by the lady at the gift shop. She was a proud New Mexican who have me a lot of advice. I met friendly people along the route who also gave me travel advice. One lady from Albuquerque told me that there was much there. When I told her that I was staying in Santa Fe, her face lit up. There was one guy who was coming back from the hike that looked winded as he told me he was out of shape, but the hike wasn't too strenuous, but it was worth going to the springs.
That pen clipped on my shirt? That's my pepper spray to protect me from possible "Asian hate" during my trip. Luckily I had no use for it. Everyone was so kind -- I met locals and fellow travelers I had conversations with along the way.
Silly me. I thought I could fit in White Sands National Park, but I underestimated drive time between each attraction. I was only able to visit two national parks as by the time I would arrive at White Sands, they would be closed. I decided to drive to Cloudcroft for dinner and retire for the evening. You'll have to check the schedule for White Sands as they close the roads during missile testing.
Stayed at this budget motel. There weren't that many options in this mountain town. The interiors were really dated and not worth taking a photo. It was pretty bad, but it was clean and more comfortable than camping. Gotta turn the negative into a positive. It happened to be really close to Mad Jack's and within walking distance. The owner told me to get there early because a line forms before opening much like places in Texas.
Cloudcroft Brewing Company was a great place to buy canned beer from different local breweries. They were only about $2 each. I enjoyed the beer -- including pickle beer! Which was a novelty item. They recommended it as a must.
I wanted to stay and drink at the brewery. Even if I am vaccinated, I'm not ready to take my mask off and drink indoors. I brought so many cans to bring back home as a gift for someone (and myself).
The reason I stayed the night in Cloudcroft was to have some Central Texas barbecue. Some Texans I met in Cloudcroft told me that Mad Jack's Mountaintop Barbecue is better than any of the places in Lockhart, Texas where the pitmaster is from. Employees at Franklin BBQ told me the best barbecue is found at Smitty's in Lockhart which I've tasted several times before. Pitmaster James Jackson said that he has never tasted Franklin Barbecue, so he doesn't know if it is any good. His employee says Pitmaster James' barbecue is better than Franklin. Even someone I met in line told me Mad Jack's is better than all of the barbecue joints he has tried in Austin and Lockhart -- including Franklin BBQ. Pitmaster James is self taught and spoke to Aaron Franklin for advice via email.
The Texan I met in line recommended Trestle Recreation Area nearby where I could enjoy my barbecue outdoors. They have clean restrooms and you can take walk or hike after your lunch.
After lunch, I drove down to White Sands for about an hour for some photography and fun down the sand dunes. It's not as large as I thought it would be. I drove as far as I could with my car and parked it so I could walk around, take photos, and ride down the sand dunes.
My baby's last road trip before her engine started to fail when I brought her back home. So many memories and adventures over the past 9 years and I was sad to give her up. I am so glad that she made it back home and I didn't get stuck in New Mexico. My mechanic told me it was time to trade her in for a new one. When I bought this car, I swore I would drive her to ground and mission accomplished. It was a sweet feeling not have a car note for almost 5 years. I had a wealthy friend and what he told me stuck with me. This man owned a $20 million home and he told me German cars are a waste money. He had a Porsche and it was too expensive for him maintain. I had another friend who also had a Porsche and just to change a tire or repair the issue was $3,000. He ended up trading it in (for another Porsche). Another friend who had a BMW complained about the $1,000 to $2,000 he had to pay to repair a light issue. That just doesn't seem to make financial sense to me. I'm stuck with Toyota and Lexus as my car was inexpensive to maintain during her lifespan.
interesting !I wanted you to see at least one of the places I usually stay at. I like low budget motels with character (also clean and great reviews). I have found that mid-range chain hotels like a Hyatt can be filty for twice the price. This is the Silver Saddle Motel in Santa Fe, New Mexico which was away from the tourist zone and close to great restaurants and craft breweries. To me, it only makes sense to stay at a fancy hotel if you're spending most of your time inside the luxury hotel room or using the facilities of the beach resort. What the point of traveling and staying inside your hotel room? That's no fun. I value cleanliness and proximity to restaurants and siteseeing. I enjoy staying at Air BnBs as well during my travels either to meet locals or interesting places to stay in.
The other places I stayed at were budget motels with great reviews, but nothing charming about them. I would rather not share them as they weren't this cute. I really like parking my car near my motel room during road trips. That is why I prefer staying at interesting kitschy motels on road trips. Less walking to my room! Easy in and out.
And yes, I always bring my own bed sheets, a HEPA air filter, disinfection wipes, a hot water kettle, and tea bags for my comfort. Sometimes I bring a Ziploc bag for the TV remote. For this trip, I forget to bring Ziplocs so I used the ice bucket bag to shield me from the germiest item in a hotel room. I was not in a luxurious hotel, but I still had the conveniences of a clean bathroom and television. I recently stayed at a luxurious $800 a night hotel room and thought the experience was such a waste of money. Call me frugal and practical.
The close proximity to my car is key! The Silver Saddle Motel was my home base while I explored Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and northern New Mexico. I figured staying in one place would decrease my exposure to COVID-19 and make it easier by only disinfecting my room once.
I always research "where chefs eat" when I travel and one local chef loves the breakfast burritos at Sunrise Family Restaurant. It seems like a very "locals only" spot. I ordered my breakfast burrito with chorizo "Christmas style" -- half red and half green chili. Apparently the breakfast burrito was invented in New Mexico so it was on my "must try" list. They asked me if I wanted to hold it while I eat it. I told him to do whatever you want to it. He made me a wet burrito as his recommendation.
I will stress the importance of advanced reservations before traveling during COVID-19. I was not able to get tickets to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum, which is the top attraction in Santa Fe, so I "settled" for the next best thing... the better thing! I decided to visit her home and inspiration for her paintings for about 40 years! She traveled between New York City and her home here in Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. I can see why she fell in love with the New Mexican landscape. You can take a hike in Ghost Ranch, but you cannot visit her home which is operated by the museum for scheduled tours. I took the easy, but scenic hike and walked through the labrynth. You probably might recognize this area from the film City Slickers.
When you are in Santa Fe, do not miss Bandelier National Monument. You will get to hike and climb into ancient Ancestral Puebloan cave dwellings. If you have time, visit Valles Calderas National Park, the volcanic national park next door. I would schedule these back-to-back since they are close by. You'll probably want to try the local hot chocolate after your hike at Bandelier. The cookie and pastry they gave me was stale.
While I was walking the tourist zone at Old Town Santa Fe, I saw the Five and Dime General Store. This is where Anthony Bourdain ate frito pie at the place that claims to have invented it. He bashed it on his show, Parts Unknown, and later backtracked his words. They were closed so I wasn't able to try it. I have feeling he hated the feeling walking into this tourist trap of the store.
The craft breweries are open for indoor drinking, but I decided to again buy and drink in the safety of my motel room. In before times, I would much rather drink at the bar and chat up the bartenders. My motel was located in a great location! I recommend trying the award-winning Alien Burger (if a green chili cheeseburger is on your must-try list) and grabbing some beer to-go at Second Street Brewery. The beertender recommended their brewery at Rowley's Farmhouse Ales both near my motel.
New Mexico is know for its creative spirit and art. I drove past the famous Canyon Road to see the art galleries and decided to spend more time at SITE Santa Fe, the contemporary art museum and neighboring art galleries. I am fan modern design and enjoyed perusing their gift shop.
I recommend getting lost at the Petroglyphs National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit the visitor center for maps and advice on which sites to visit. There are some urban volcanoes and several other sites to see petrogyphs. The ranger recommend Piedras Madreas Canyon. This one has the highest concentration of petroglyphs. If you don't need a map or a stamp in your Natioanl Park Passport, you can go straight to this urban hike.
I met a retired couple from Los Angeles or more specifically North Hollywood along the trail. They moved to Albuquerque about a year ago. They wanted to be closer to hiking and live in a Pueblan-style home. They took the tramway up thelocal mountain and got sold with the view and hiking opportunities up there. They told me to go, but I was afraid of possibly catching COVID-19 on the enclosed tram up and how they told me is usually very crowded. On Trip Advisor, the tram ride up the mountain is the top attraction in Albuquerque.
I was able to go in but was shewed away as they were sanitizing the pews after mass.
Red chile enchiladas at Dulan's Pharmacy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This was the recommended dish. I was a bit enchiladad out. By the time they gave me the food, it ended up being room temperature. From the looks of the parking lot, this is where the moneyed set ate with the Range Rovers and Audis I spotted.
The beauty of travel is meeting new people and having conversations with them. I enjoy my solo time, but I am also a people person. I was to talking to some rangers and they told me to visit Petrified National Park. I wasn't complete sold on this park with all the options to see, but they told me I had to and there was more to see than the Grand Canyon. I just envisioned some old logs laying on the ground. The highlight is the striking lanscape of the Painted Desert and the other worldliness of the Blue Mesa. My mind was blown exploring this park. I would spend more time on it and visit in the morning. I visited close to the end of the day so I didn't get to do much walking and exploring other than driving around and taking photographs.
For breakfast (in my car), I ordered the eggs benedict and sticky buns from Brandy's Restaurant and Bakery in Flagstaff.
Located near Flagstaff, Arizona, you can visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Park and Wutpaki National Monument in one morning. You can also fit in Walnut Canyon National Monument and visit three national parks in one day. Since Walnut Canyon also had cave dwellings, I decided to skip it and spend more time in Sedona spiritual "vortex" hiking and buying someone who really likes souvenirs her "black rock."
If you haven't been part of the United States, it's definitely worth exploring. The food is different, the people are friendlier than LA (much like the people I met in Utah)... so to me, an enjoyable travel experience.
If you're able to bring a high clearance vehicle, it would allow you explore places I couldn't with my car. I wanted to visit the UNESCO Chaco Culture National Historic Park or the New Mexico badlands, but that would require a vehicle that can handle unpaved roads really well.
I recommend planning a "must see" list and find out if you need advanced reservations months in advance and definitely buying a National Parks annual pass for free admission and parking at our national parks and in places like Sedona.
Enjoy New Mexico. Much like New Orleans, I left my heart in Santa Fe.
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Hello, I'm Anne.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I love exploring Los Angeles like a tourist. I have as much fun in my hometown as I do traveling in another country. I live to eat (good food) and travel!