BLOG MOVED!

Dearest Readers,

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my ramblings and travel adventures on my small adventure so far.

I started this blog 2 years ago, and have always thought about updating my account someday so I can have more control over the content, design, layout, you-name-it.

It took me a reallyyyy long time to finally make the move, but yesterday I finally did it.  Same content, different name.  I feel it’s time for a fresh, and what better time is there than now?

Follow my journey here: http://theminimalistmonster.com.

Catch you on the other side,

Jenny

 

 

What It Feels Like to Climb Outdoors: A 36-Hour Trip to Yosemite

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After 10 hours on the road, we finally arrived at Yosemite National Park.

If you’ve never been to Yosemite, I’d advise visiting during the off-season. Or any season other than summer. Sure, you get 10+ hours of sunlight, great hiking weather, and can eat ice cream every 2 hours if you wanted. But you’re also going to be surrounded by hundreds of people, and their cars.

Sure enough, upon our arrival at the west entrance to YNP, there was a sign warning visitors of 3-hour delays in the park.

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Secretly, I was hoping that the sign would deter visitors away.

It did not.

Our first day in Yosemite consisted mainly of driving to view points and taking photos. We were in Yosemite Valley, and drove up to Glacier Point after stopping by a number of viewpoints below.

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The boyfriend and I have been to Glacier Point before, but it’s one of Yosemite’s most visited sites for a reason. At 7,000+ feet above ground, there are incredible views of Yosemite’s well-known landmarks including Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Fall, and Nevada fall.

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After snapping photos, videos, and taking in its breath-taking beauty, we headed back down to the valley for dinner. Fortunately, the pizza station at Curry Village, er, Half Dome Village (last time I was there for my cousin’s wedding, it was still named Curry Village) was still open, or else we’d have cold sandwiches for dinner.

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The three of us shared a large pizza, topped with all the necessary goodies: pepperoni, sausage, veggies, and cheese. Lots of cheese.

After we filled our tummies, it was time to head back to camp in efforts to sync up with the group from up north.

 

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We camped in a town called Coulterville, about 30 miles east of Yosemite. It was the next best thing, since we weren’t able to reserve a campsite in Yosemite. In order to do that, you’d have to reserve a site 6 months in advance.

Back at the Coulterville campground, we caught up with the others. Our conversations were short, as everyone was pretty tired from the day. We said our goodnights and goodbyes soon after, and called it a night.

 

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Our group headed back to Yosemite early the next morning, to avoid morning traffic. That was a good idea; we avoided much of the traffic from the day before, and were able to find parking by Yosemite Lodge.

 

 

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From there, we grabbed our gear: climbing shoes, chalk, crash pad, camera, and headed to Camp 4.

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Well known as the hang out spot for climbers, Camp 4 is located near Yosemite Falls on the north side of the valley.   It’s easy to understand why it’s a popular climbing location, once you’ve arrived, you’ll see about 10-12 boulders in the area.

 

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DSC_0317.jpgThe boyfriend and I climbed, while our friend took up the role of photographer for the day (he doesn’t climb).

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Final thoughts: Climbing outdoors is very different compared to climbing indoors. It’s more difficult, as there are no colored holds. There are no jugs. The only padding you have is the crash pad you bring. It’s warmer. Down-climb is trickier.

 

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But,

I can see why it’s thrilling to climb outdoors. After I sended that one-route-I-can’t-remember-the-name-of, it was an amazing feeling. I was pretty scared, but proud that I completed the route. And that, was the highlight of my trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend at Mount Rainier

 

 

 

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Visited my 14th national park this Memorial Day weekend (yes, I counted), and it was an incredible experience. Most of Rainier was still snowed in, but half the park was still accessible. Did you know? Rainier is one of the most snowed upon places on Earth! Yeah, I didn’t either until this weekend.

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So, instead of having the entire park to explore, we’re only left with the southern half (e.g. paradise) of the park that is still accessible. The northern half (e.g. Sunrise) won’t be accessible until June or July.

 

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We took things slow our first day. Mainly because we took a red eye into SeaTac, and only caught about 2 hours of sleep.

Narada Falls was a sight to behold. Crisp, cold alpine air around, rushing river water beneath, evergreen trees lining the mountains, bright white snow, and the sun peaking from behind the mountains.

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Picture that, along with a stone bridge in the foreground and you can picture our next stop: Christine Falls.

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After we got our photos, we drove up to Paradise, one of the most populated areas in the park. Unfortunately for us, most of Paradise is still snowed in.

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At least we the roads were open, and we were able to check out the visitor center. Trails were closed off, so we weren’t able to do much besides walk around in the snow.

 

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Some visitors were shoe shoeing, but we were didn’t have the energy or desire this time around.

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After a nap, we drove to a small nearby town named Elbe. In 2010, Elbe has a population of 29. Twenty nine. Incredible considering I come from a city of 8 million people. There was an annual festival going on, so we stopped to check it out. Food and merchandise, think county fair type of thing, and that’s the event at Elbe. It’s a two lane highway, with rows and rows of booths lined up alongside – you can’t miss it. Tons of fried food, and elephant ears were very popular. It’s similar to funnel cake- fried dough topped with powered sugar, berries, or chocolate. So were shaved ice, corn dogs, hot dogs, burgers, sodas, and ice cream. Typical fair food.

 

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Surprisingly, it was 90 degrees that day. Didn’t think it could ever get that warm anywhere in Washington. We grabbed a corn dog, philly cheesesteak, and Pepsi (Washington seems pretty keen on Pepsi, even though we all know Coke is better) for lunch. Literally couldn’t stay out there any longer, so we walked to the nearby coffee shop for some iced drinks and A/C.

 

 

 

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Dinner picnic style at the nearby restaurant where we lodged. Simple all American burger, hits the spot after a long day. A customer saw poster on the wall of a guy holding a rainier beer and snapped a photo. Owner asked if she knew who that guy was, she said no. Owner said that’s his dad- years ago he was asked to do a promo for Rainier beer, he did, and used the money to open up the restaurant. Pretty cool, huh?

Also, there’s a mountaineering day school offered at the nearby lodge.  Guides lead climbers around Rainier, preparing for other summits such as Kilmanjaro or Everest.

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To illustrate how Rainier compares to other summits, picture this: Rainier is about 14k ft, and Everest is 29K ft!! I can’t even imagine what it’s like to up.

.. So for now, I’ll stick to my indoors climbing.

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We called it an early night after dinner, and prepared for day 2. Post coming soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Trip to Death Valley

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When we visited DV last year for the super bloom, I wasn’t expecting much. Aside from flowers, I didn’t think DV had much else to offer but the blazing sun and miles of brown and browner rocks. Needless to say, I was proved wrong.

This past weekend, a couple of friends and I made a trip to DV for this year’s “super bloom”. And, I use “quote”, because there wasn’t really a bloom this year (sad face). Regardless, it was still a blast getting out of the city!

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After fueling ourselves with iced lattes from Blue Bottle, our trio was ready for a weekend of adventure at the hottest, driest, and point in the country.  Super bloom. Dark night skies. Night programs.

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I’m a big fan of the night sky, stars, astronomy, and the stories behind constellations. As DV as certified as an “International Dark Sky Park”, you can only imagine what the sky would look like at night. Actually, don’t try to image it. Just go there and experience it yourself!

Being there a second time, I had a chance to take thing slower, and just enjoy being present at the park. But let’s be honest, it’s a little difficult to enjoy yourself when it’s 100+ degrees dry heat. My boyfriend says I’m a reptile, because my skin pretty much was burning up the entire time.

Since we had less than 48 hours for our shotgun trip, we weren’t able to do much hiking. But let’s be honest, hiking in 100 +degrees weather isn’t my type of thing anyway.   It was mainly a drive up to the viewpoint, walk around, snap some photos, and off to the next destination type of weekend. Not exactly our ideal trip, but we’ll take whatever we can get!

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One of my favorite areas in DV is what I call “Cars lands” aka “Radiator Springs”.  Disney fans- you’ll know what I’m talking about.  While driving through DV, there’s an area that’s pretty much Disney’s “Radiator Springs” ride, but IRL.

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The “Salt Flats” at Badwater Basin is a must see while in DV. Dubbed the “lowest point in N. America”, it’s about 282 ft below sea level. Walking around, you’d think you’re in a winter wonderland, as the ground looks like snow.  The “snow” is actually salt.

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If you’re still looking for more adventure, you can sand board at Mesquite Flat Dunes.  We didn’t board, but still enjoyed walking around and exploring the area.

 

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We camped out at Furnace Creek Campground, just as we did last year. We had a good number of fellow campers, so it was a while before the skies were dark enough to see the constellations. It was faint, but I was pretty sure I spotted the Milky Way. And if you don’t know the story behind the Milky Way.. then you have to attend the park’s night program called “Myths & Legends”. You’ll hear stories of not only how the Milky Way came to be, but stories of early settlers who discovered the park.

So where’s that super bloom?

Good question! We weren’t able to locate the super bloom this year, but we did see a few yellow and purple flowers scattered around the park. Sorry guys, but apparently the best bloom was in the past decade was in 2016- guess we were lucky!

Super bloom or not, DV, just like all national parks, is worth visiting. Every park has a unique story, worth being explored and shared.

If you want to read about my first experience in DV, check out my previous post here: LA x Death Valley

 

 

 

 

Climbing: A New Love

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A little over a year after I start climbing again.   More consistently
this time, and I’ve finally completed my first v4 last week! Now, the first time I
climbed was years ago, but it was very infrequently. Gradually, I
climbed once a month, or once every few months, until I started my gym
membership at hangar in 2014. Toward the end of 2014, I finally
completed my first v3, but fell and sprained my ankle bouldering.
Falling 8 feet, that really sucked! It took about half a year to
recover, and my confidence was shot to hell. Honestly, I didn’t think
I’d want to continue climbing again. I’d never broken or sprained
anything to this extent, and I was pretty scared. For month, that
meant no gym, no running, no yoga.. and no climbing.

Fast forward to beginning of 2016, my ankle felt much stronger, I moved
close to the rock gym, and I kind of missed climbing.  Started my gym
membership again, and started from the bottom: VB. This time around, I
was super careful, very afraid of falling and injuring myself again.
It was a much slower progress this time around, but my technique was
better, so I had confidence in that.  In the past 2 weeks I finally
climbed a v3 again, and completed about 3 or 4 routes.  My goal was to
complete a v3 by the end of the year, so naturally you can imagine how
excited I was to complete that v4.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t even
planning for that route, but saw a good beta and it seemed doable.  And if
it seems doable, it’s probably is.

I’m really starting to enjoy climbing, to my surprise.  Then again, I never expected to enjoy the outdoors either.  It wasn’t until that one weekended I snow camped in the middle of winter at Grand Canyon back in 2010.  I can still remember how in awe I was of the world we lived in, gazing up at the million of stars twinkling in the dark, dark sky.  It was an incredible feeling, one I won’t ever forget.  And that was 7 years ago!

This year, my goal is to finally climb outside, and to continue exploring the outdoors.  We have Banff on the schedule for this Spring, and I can’t wait to see what’s out there.

 

Hello, 2017!

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Each year, my resolutions are pretty much the same: eat better, become healthier, lose weight, get a better job, save more, pay down debt, and improve relationships with friends and family. All important stuff, right?

2017 is no different. My top priorities are still becoming a healthier person, improving my financial situation, and establishing healthy relationships. But this year, I’m going to add another resolution to the top of the list:

Be Braver.

I think many of us hold back a lot, myself included, mainly in fear that something horrible may happen.  Worrying those things may not work out. Staying in a comfortable job. Staying in a comfortable relationship. Staying in your comfort zone. But being comfortable doesn’t allow growth. Stop worrying so much, and just go for it!

Realizing that you cannot change the past, and worrying about the future takes away from being able to enjoy the present. Cliché, but true.   Face your fears, and being more confident in yourself. Be confident in your ability to overcome any obstacle that you may face, and that in the end, you will be okay. I’m going to keep this in mind as I look forward to 2017, in every aspect of life: health, career, love, etc.

A few resolutions for 2017 in no specific order…

  • Visit a new national park
  • Visit a new country
  • Finish climbing V3
  • Complete my second half marathon (in under 3 hours)
  • Practice yoga weekly
  • Pay off high interest debt
  • Blog regularly
  • Volunteer for a new organization

Be Bolder. Be Braver. Live Louder.

Cheers, 2017!

Dubrovnik, Croatia: King’s Landing (Game of Thrones)

Our last stop in Croatia, Dubrovnik!

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View of Dubrovnik from the top of the walls

At DBV, having another cup of cappuccino while for my flight back to Zagreb.  Coffee is much cheaper here, cappuccinos run about $1.50-$2, compared to $4 in the states.  Don’t expect much for iced drinks though, they don’t typically serve iced lattes. As for iced coffee, I paid 90kn for 2 at the old city, which equals to about $14, $7 per drink! Next time, don’t purchase anything without asking the price first.

The boyfriend already boarded, as he has an earlier flight and I’ll meet him there.  After dinner tonight, he’s boarding a train to Switzerland then Austria for another week, while I take a flight back to the states.

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Tickets to walk around the wall in the old city

Dubrovnik is a beautiful, old city, but very crowded.  We were able to walk the walls of the old city as planned, and it was quite an experience.  Of course, there were multiple GoT (game of thrones) walking tours, but we opted to have our own walking tour.

 

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It took us about 2-3 hours to finish the walls, including breaks for fruit drinks and ice cream along the way.  The weather was humid, and in addition to the thousands of visitors, made it for a very hot, sweaty day.
Previously, we stayed at Airbnbs for the trip, but we opted for a luxury apartment near the coastline for Dubrovnik.   The lodging was nice, and in a great location- about 3km by bus to the old city, and walking distance to the promenade and beach.

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Our stay at L’Orangerie

 

We discovered a natural cave bar at the nearby beach, which was one of the most unique places I’ve ever seen.

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Cave Bar More, a natural cave!

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We had fruit drinks there during the day, and dinner at the promenade at night.  For dessert, we had tiramisu at the most amazing restaurant overlooking the sea, Sphere.  After discovering the coastal walkway to the cave car and Sphere, I’d have to say the view it’s even more amazing than Split.  Definitely a highlight of the trip!