Rocking along Swami's Beach in Southern California

I love them California beaches, from south of San Diego to the north of Crescent City. I’ve explored a good many, appreciating for each stretch of sand locale feels a little different and unique in some special way.

Being away from those beaches for too long, I miss that exploration, and rediscovery. I miss the freedom, and escape that California beaches often provide, and knowing what’s special about each.

Thus, I feel the love again in my periodic return to southern California. For my last trip, though I did something different in escaping the old, yet still familiar areas of San Diego, and Los Angeles/Orange County regions that sometime feel stuck with for too short the time.

So, I shared an nice adventure with an old, very dear friend who drove me to the in-between town area of Encinitas (northest San Diego County). We first enjoying some great Mexican food (huge shout out to the La Especial Norte restaurant, with my highest recommendation for hungry people there). Then, checked out a beach area, less familiar with and not been.

After a short drive, and a walk down to an opening between the nearby cliffs, and I found a pleasant little beach land, known as Swami’s Beach…

This first appears as a little beach, with very limited access through its north end via small open area. But then, walk down the sands a little further, around some crooked cliffs, and there you will see, much more coast with exploring by foot to be done.

But first, who is the Swami, you might ask… That would be Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, and you should check out his Wikipedia page. He stayed in Encintas for some time, at his Self-Realization Fellowship ashram nearby upon a cliff, built in 1937. The beach was eventually named after him unofficially by the surfer community, as his presence became well known, and respected. Much of that known beach, still public, was considered part of the long stretch, further down to San Elijo State Beach (another beach on my list to check out someday).

So, walking down, I noticed right away those wonderful waves of the San Diego shore, which were calming down after the high tide earlier. But still mighty for the surfers here to appreciate during our visit. It’s everything I still love about best about these slightly out of town shore spots. Plenty of room for free-minded people to bond with the waves, dig deep into the sand, led the oceanic breeze brush your face.

But what makes Swami’s Beach memorable and special? There’s much to admire here. At first, its the coziness and peaceful seclusion below the high cliffs (when the high tide is gone). Then, you would notice the many small rocks upon the shore.

These beautiful pebbles, are many and embedded against the waves, scatter, leaving a natural decoration upon the sand for some parts…

Then going forth, there are more rocks…

And then more,

And then, you just have to stop and admire, see what your shoes are stumbling over as you look down. I love these colors together.

These rocks are plenty enough feature to take in for now. I have much more to share, and they deserve another post. For that, I will be back with more on Swami’s Beach.

Orion T

Return to Little Tokyo

One of favorite places to visit in the central Los Angeles is within its historic district of Little Tokyo.

Little Tokyo is the cultural hub and concentration of Japanese culture, accelerated by the settling of Japanese immigrants in the late 19th century. Much of this was due to increased labor needed, resulting from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barring Chinese laborers. Little Tokyo grew from the opening of the Kame Restaurant on East First Street in 1885, which attracted many immigrants to the area, and eventually settled.

Through tough times, the area thrived until World War II, with Japan then at war with the US. This led to the signing of Executive Order 9066, where a mass relocation and confiscation of property of Japanese immigrants across the U.S West Coast would devastate the local community. The area was nearly lost to the Japanese business owners. Eventually, the war ended, and the Japanese community would slowly regain their lost area, growing Little Tokyo through the decades once again to the wonderful cultural spot it is now.

The Japanese Village Plaza

I gained a heartfelt love for Japanese culture, growing up near San Francisco’s Japantown in my teenage years. I enjoyed its history, food, and unique architecture. And with that and foremost, its stylized art then known to me as Japanimation (and later anime, and manga in printed form) applied to visual media in all forms.

Eventually living in South California, I would visit Little Tokyo often with friend of my college anime club, spending many hours going through shops, eating its specialized food, visiting art museums, and feeling further ingrained to its unique and awesome culture. This area, I would greatly miss as I left my old life in Southern California over 10 years ago.

Coming back, I was happy to see it all still very vibrant with all the crazy silly things that I grew to love about Japanese culture since my youth. Here are some recent pictures more reminiscent of that childhood part…

It’s thriving now, far more than I recall in my many visits over a decade ago. There are definitively more more businesses of Japanese influence here. The central area seems cleaner as well, with fresher paint and better details than I recall before. Pretty much all my favorite stores were still there, and packed. The anime/manga influence is also vibrant, with the Jungle Hoppy Shop store being my favorite and doubled in size now.

I also noticed a plentiful choice of Japanese restaurants, with a variety of specialties and appeal. Some showed their pride in preparation of eats, to public eyes, which I would enjoyed a moment in watch…

I would remain in Little Tokyo for only a couple hours with an old college friend, reminiscing of our time spent in this wonderful district. For lunch, we picked upon Daikokuya, a popular rice and ramen-noodle restaurant in the area. There was a 45-minute wait to this small, yet very cozy place. Eventually, the wait was worth it, and I enjoyed their prized Daikaku Ramen bowl and some takoyaki (octopus balls)…YUM!

An overall, I will surely return to Little Tokyo, again and again. You should too.

– Orion T

Happy New Year, 2019

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Happy New Year everyone!

Yes, it’s the 2nd day but still shiny new, barely a scratch. 2018 is gone, out and past away. But, there had to be a better transition to end the year on a better note than it began. Something, to begin the new grand cycle around the sun with a motivational high note. Focus more on what makes me happy, and sharing it with others. That’s how I will enter this new year while seeking something a little extra along the way.

And that I did, by leaving the US and going to Canada for four days. I spent last weekend and more in Vancouver, Canada. There, staying at a hostel and planning as I go. I have done this twice before, but I still treat it all like something new. Because, there is still a vast amount of unexplored areas, things to do, experiences that I have yet to check out. Being that’s it’s close to my otherwise hectic and jumbled life by a few hours, such the escape is still a completely different dream, of which I welcome when I have time.

O, Canada. I missed thee. There, gained many new experiences and revisited simple joys. Through things learned and smiles exchanged, it’s been a wonderful breath of cold air throughout. Some of it was also very wet, and my only loss was my green wool cap. That was a good one, keeping my head warm in tough times. Now, perhaps forever lost, and left behind in the streets of Vancouver. Or better yet, someone else will find and wear it, with a fresh smile.

Meanwhile, I will share more details on memorable moments and findings in the days ahead soon. Look forward, and again…Happy New Year!

Orion T

The shot above is unfocused on the New Year’s fireworks in Downtown Vancouver, at its Convention Center. This moment was accidental, not knowing the lady in my cam sight holding the camera. But, I like the shot as something different from an interesting perspective that holds a different story, maybe. I think I will aim for more different perspectives, in 2019.

 

Along the way, deep into the forest trail

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I recently posted about my hike to Annette Lake, a serene lake high in the mountainous region of the Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie forest.

The lake being serene and amazing, was enough to behold for its own posting. Now, I would like to share a bit more on its trail to and back. It’s a path as awesome as its destination.

The 7.5-mile round trip Annette Lake trail has wonderous sights, rich in the best of the Pacific Northwest nature land preservations, and another reason I love the Washington State. Here, dedicated hikers will step across towering huddled trees, fallen trees with new life taking upon, rocks of all ages, countless waterfalls, old wooden bridges, and patches of snow along the top in this late spring.

The sunlight through the blue sky intensified the green, illuminated darker pathways partially covered full-grown branches, and gave sparkles to the streams of water running down. You can also enjoy the sounds of the trail varied from noisy waterfalls, chirping birds up high, and peaceful void of preserved stillness.

Here are some choice pics along the path…

 

Overall, the Lake Annette Trail is a good hike I highly recommend for those physically able to withstand a moderate uphill exercise binge, with a worthwhile destination of the lake itself to rest for a bit.

My tips for the trail: go early, so you’ll have time to rest and enjoy some views. Bring a water bottle or two, with snacks of nuts and dried fruit. Go in a group, and maybe bring your dog (allowed on the trail). Wear good hiking shoes fit for stepping over small rocky pathways and snow patches. Don’t rush, as parts of the path are narrow, and other hikers will be frequently passing on the good days. Much of the path is upon step hillsides, with an easy fall into deadly grounds. Rest easy at the lake for a good time before heading back.

For more on the Lake Annette Trail, visit the official Washington Trails site at www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/annette-lake.

– Orion T

Colorful Gardens at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

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I recently visited the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Northern Washington State on a gray day this April. Some of that was detailed in my previous post, Colorful Views…). As amazing as the tulip fields were, I was also impressed by the Roozengaarde display garden area. Here, there are “90+ varieties of tulips and over 150 flower bulb varieties in total. Included are tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, muscari and other specialty flowers.”

The colors this time of year stand out, and a worthwhile attraction for tourists and locals in the Pacific Northwest. According to its website at tulips.com, the display garden is open all year round. Seeing these with the fields during the festival, is just an added bonus.

I now share some pics of the wonderful display garden below (click on each for the bigger picture):

The admiration and picture-taking was a joy, but personally seeing this for yourself is the best experience, especially with friends or family. For more info, click here and check out the Roozengaarde official site at Tulips.com for more info about tulips and purchase options

– Orion T

 

 

Colorful Views at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

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A few days ago, me and local friends ventured out north in the Washington state to the rural area of Skagit Valley by Mount Vernon, to check out its annual Tulip Festival. This wonderful time throughout April is when the tulip farms are at their colorful peak, growing miles of freshly blooms tulips and daffodils. Designated areas for up close viewing are open to the public, with a small admission charge

For the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival of 2018, there are multiple areas to visit and check out, as I entered the Roozengaarde Display Garden and Fields. Stunning place it is, even with the gray weather and muddy grounds (rained hard the day before). I admired and learned much of the tulip life and care that goes into them. I also took some pictures, of which the fields are shared below (click on each to fully appreciate):

The festival time goes on until the end of the month. The tourism on the weekend can be a bit heavy, especially if the rain is gone and the sun is shining. So, be ready for a slow drive when close and lines at the entrance and foot court. It’s all well worth it with friends and family.

For more info, check out tulipfestival.org.

I meanwhile, also show many great up-close shots of the tulips in their enclosed garden area, of which I will share in another post. Look forward!

– Orion T

 

 

 

Wandering Nights of Ocean Beach

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Time for a rewind, till almost a month ago in San Diego, California. The place, Ocean Beach

The place is Ocean Beach, a wonderful beachside town in Southern California. The time is of two weekday nights, with a few hours to spare before some business downtown. The temperature was fairly warm, with the nearby breeze of the mighty Pacific Ocean nearby. The time was well spent, with light drinks, ruminating, and small talk with local strangers. Such is the wonderful atmosphere of Ocean Beach, where the time is just before midnight.

Here are some pics I took between destinations on the main Newport Ave. Look…

A cool two-dimensional display, guarding a parking lot

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A very colorful hostel, of which I would like to stay at someday.

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A colorful place to express one’s image.

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The upper interior of The Electric Chair, seen through the front window.

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The front of the famous Burger spot, Hodads…right before closing.

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A peek inside Hodads before closing. No space is wasted…

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Another peek into Hodads before closing…

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An awesome window display of one of many shops on the main street…

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Another store display of Ocean Beach, but on the outside.

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A cool neon sign…

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An alleyway by a bar I visited. Johnny Cash and Jimmy Hendrix welcome you.

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And past the stores of and streets of Ocean Beach, is an amazing pier that doesn’t close. More on that, I will share in another posting…

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