Day Trip to Hike Pinnacles National Park

After weeks of feeling drained, physically and mentally exhausted to my limit from finishing parent-teacher conferences (with 26 students, that’s more than 13 hours of talking on top of teaching!) and being on the go with my busy life outside of work, yesterday was rejuvenating! Opting outside, being active, having fun and good conversations with some of my closest friends on a day trip to Pinnacles National Park! We were on perfect timing all day, and everything went according to plan. We made it back in time for me to make Women’s Group last night. As we closed the discussion on our book this year, my soul was encouraged and perspective was refocused. It was such a great, productive day off from work for Veteran’s Day! Praise God, and thanks to my friends for sticking with the original plan even though we almost canceled our hike. After we purchased the national park annual pass on our Utah and Arizona hiking trip over Fall Break, which was so worth $80, we are trying to hit up more national parks this year!

So about Pinnacles National Park! It’s the closest/most local national park to my house, 80 miles southeast of San Jose. It’s one of the newest national parks that Obama established in 2013. It’s known for the eroded leftovers of an extinct volcano as well as talus caves. Pinnacles has a bit of everything – cool rock formations, a serene reservoir, pretty green landscapes, awesome CAVES where flashlights are required to adventurously explore in the dark and see bat roosts… and the largest spiders/tarantulas I have ever seen in my life. Thanks to the recommendation of a friend, we hiked 9.5 miles round trip around the perimeter trails in a clockwise fashion starting and ending from Old Pinnacles Trailhead. We saw the whole park and both the lower Bear Gulch cave and Balconies cave that were open, and we didn’t have to go back on the same route at any point. I’d say Pinnacles National Park tops my list for most fun hike in California so far!

8:30 AM – Left my house for 1.5 hours drive from San Jose

10:00 AM – Arrived at the Visitor Center to get a bathroom break, pick up my souvenir postcard, and show my annual pass for a free parking permit

10:45 AM – Parked at Old Pinnacles Trailhead and started the hike

5 minutes into the hike, tarantula #1 (see the gum that was spit out when someone with real arachnophobia screamed HAHA for scale)IMG_2799.jpg

Bench TrailIMG_2803.jpg

Bear Gulch TrailIMG_2805.jpg

Moses Spring TrailIMG_2809.jpg

Bear Gulch Cave TrailIMG_2815.jpgIMG_2817.jpgIMG_2818.jpg

12:30 PM – Ate our pb&j sandwiches for lunch at Bear Gulch ReservoirIMG_2823.jpgIMG_2855.jpgIMG_2821.jpg

High Peaks Trail / Juniper Canyon TrailIMG_2829.jpgIMG_2833.jpg

Tarantula #2 (see shoes for scale)IMG_2836.jpg

Balconies TrailIMG_2840.jpg

Balconies Cave TrailIMG_2843.jpg

4:00 PM – Left the park sore and tired, but we survived 9.5 miles and it was so fun! IMG_2846.jpg

Up next, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon!?


10-Week Training for the SF Half Marathon

The SF Half Marathon is coming up on July 23, and it will be my FIRST half marathon, finally!! Finishing 13.1 miles will accomplish one of my 2017 New Year’s resolutions, and I can check it off my bucket list! I have a goal to beat 2 hours, which is about 9 minutes per mile. I started running once a week on Sunday morning with Anita or Joy. Then I found this 10-week training plan for a Sunday race on even though I had 11 weeks left until the race. I have been asked about my mileage and pace, so I’m blogging my training plan now that I have gotten into the habit of running 5 days a week and stayed on schedule to Week 4. See my Workout Log.

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I am dreading that I will have to keep up my training in Hong Kong for 5 weeks this summer, my last month before the race. I will have to make it happen, whether paying for the gym or waking up in the wee hours to run outside before it gets uncomfortably humid. Also, I only have a week after returning from Hong Kong to adjust to the weather back home and recover from jetlag before the race. I realized it takes hard work and discipline to train for and run a half marathon, especially having to push past mental laziness after an exhausting day of teaching first graders. I have nooo interest in running a marathon and don’t know what people think about for such long runs. It hasn’t gotten any easier or any less painful to run after 3.5 weeks, but I am slowly chipping away at my pace, getting faster and stronger, and it will be worth it once I’m done. On another but related note, I just signed up for my second 10K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day!

Some random photos from my training over these months…

Day Trip to the City with My Bestie

On Saturday, I took a day trip to the city with my bestie! It was a FULL fun day, we were out from 9am-12am! We used to go up to SF more often a few years ago with our mommas and families. Our busy schedules with work, travels, church, and other friends are different from each other, so lately we have made it a point to schedule our next hangout a little farther in advance. This way we are purposeful about making sure we spend time together even when our lives are busy! We both just came home from traveling and having really good eats so even though we were in SF surrounded by what we thought would be good eats everywhere, we were indecisive and picky about what we wanted to eat, plus our day wasn’t really planned out so we ate at odd hours. Also, I took my DSLR with me, but the tungsten light was turned on by accident, which made all my photos have a weird blue filter on it, so these photos from my phone will have to do!

10:00 AM // Hike at Mori Point: Mori Point Rd, Pacifica, CA 94044

I couldn’t find a hike in SF that was longer than one mile or one hour, so I started looking a little south of the city. I found Mori Point on bahiker, and it was going to be a 2-hour hike with 4 miles of ocean view and wild flowers. We didn’t realize it was Earth Day, which made it a perfect day to opt outside and enjoy God’s creation! This place felt like a piece of Ireland or Lord of the Rings with all of the green fields and valleys. I’d come back to see other flowers in bloom!IMG_7530.jpgIMG_7546.jpgIMG_7547.jpg

2:30 PM // Lunch at Marufuku Ramen: 1581 Webster St #235, San Francisco, CA 94115

We were so hungry that I didn’t look around for free parking when we got to Japantown. We paid for street parking at $5.25/hour and wasted the first hour waiting in line at Marufuku Ramen, but I also checked out some shops in the Kinokuniyo Building. We were on both waiting lists for Marufuku Ramen and Udon Mugizo, but decided to go with Marufuku because it had 4-star reviews and it was “Hot and New” on Yelp. We ordered the Hakata Tonkotsu and Hakata DX and shared the corn in the Hakata DX and tried the simmered pork belly in the Hakata Tonkotsu versus braised pork belly in the Hakata DX. The ramen tasted like Shin Sen Gumi, and the broth was tasty, not too salty or oily like some other places. The egg was cooked just right.


4:00 PM // Boba Guys Fillmore: 1522 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

I hear mixed reviews about their milk tea, so we went with the Strawberry Matcha Latte, and it lived up to the hype. It cost $5 for 16 oz and $6 for 24 oz, which is more expensive but they use quality ingredients like Straus organic milk. We got the 16 oz to save room for whatever we were going to eat later. Next time I’d go back for the 24 oz to have more of that delicious strawberry puree with matcha! They also have some nice furniture, so we lounged on the sofa chairs and took turns asking and answering TableTopics questions. This turned out to be a fun “game”, getting to know my bestie of 27 years even better with random questions like what you would look for in a yard sale, what historical sporting event you would most like to go to, what concert you would like to watch, and 3 adjectives your family would use to describe you.


6:00 PM // Shopping at Union Square: 865 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

We found an amazing free parking spot right down the street from Union Square Macy’s and walked into some shops along our way to Westfield SF Centre. I bought an eyelet skirt from Madewell and knee-high boots from Francesca’s on sale!

10:00 PM // Dinner at El Farolito: 2779 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

By the time we were done shopping at about 9:30, every possible place we wanted to eat at from San Tung to La Taqueria to Hong Kong cafes in Chinatown were closing at 10 and we wouldn’t have made it in time. We were surprised to find places in SF close so early!! El Farolito was like our only option at this hour because it thankfully closes at 3:30 AM. We shared the highly reviewed carne asade super suiza burrito, but for being so hungry which makes all things taste better, it wasn’t anything special. I want to try La Taqueria just down the street next time!

10:45 PM // Ice Cream at Humphry Slocombe: 2790 Harrison St A, San Francisco, CA 94110

Lots of ice cream shops also close at 10, so I wonder where people in SF go for their late night dessert runs. I understand that places like Bi-Rite make so much business that they don’t need to have their workers work so late in order to make ice cream available past 10. Even though I have been to Humphry Slocombe before and didn’t think too much of it, I came back because it was open until 11. I also wanted to satisfy my ice cream craving after something spicy in my burrito. Some of their flavors were not to my liking when I taste tested them, but I went with the Matcha Doodle (Snickerdoodle overpowers matcha) and flavorful Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee.

Until the next adventure…

Snowy Weekend in Tahoe

This past weekend was my annual ski trip to Tahoe with Pillar family plus a few of their coworkers and friends! It was a SNOWY weekend, the most snow I have ever seen in my life. I had so much fun from skiing, building my first snowman, making snow angels, having a snowball fight, and throwing fluffy snow in the air. But then the reality of the snow came in. While trying to leave early for church, we got stuck at our cabin because the small cars couldn’t get through the unplowed neighborhood streets. After waiting it out for a few hours and scraping ice off windshields, pushing stuck cars, and shoveling our way up the street, we finally got on the main road, but the drive was so dangerous! We could barely see the tail lights of the car in front of us and the snow banks on the side of the road, let alone the oncoming traffic in the snowstorm. So thankful that all 6 cars and 22 people made it home safely last night after our fun-filled weekend in Tahoe!

Friday night dinner at Burgers and Brew in Davis with my awesome car and a stomachache for the next few hours from eating too much, too late, too fast haha

7 hours later with traffic and the dinner stop in Davis, we were second to arrive at our cabin around 10:30pm and the other cars arrived within the next two hours

Enjoying the serenity of the winter wonderland at 7am on the porch to the backyard

Saturday morning breakfast: eggs and avocado toast, bacon, yogurt, juice, coffee

Skiing and snowboarding at Sierra at Tahoe

Back at the cabinwp-image-1780615546jpg.jpg

Fancy dinner: steak, lemon pasta, roasted brussel sprouts, italian chicken salad, kale salad

Allen’s specialty milkshake

Avalon and games


Sunday morning snow fun

Checking off Amanda’s bucket list – seeing falling snow

Attempt #1 to leave the cabin

Back to the cabin

All 3 small cars left behind plus Wilson’s SUV who paved the way out

Thank you to Wilson for planning the ski trip and making it happen this year!! To the drivers Chris, Alex, Allen, Jon, Wilson, and Jono for driving and bringing us home safely in traffic and the crazy snowstorm. To Gloria, Peter, Allen, and others for cooking delicious meals. To everyone in the group for the fun times in the cabin, on the slopes, in the car, and in the snow!!!

An Eventful Two Weeks

Back to my blog! Since my last post, I had an eventful two weeks with something or a few things back-to-back almost every day that kept me busy out of the house and away from my usual blogging, cooking, and reading that I have been busy with in this new year. Even with this post, I feel rusty after not writing for two weeks. The first week was unusually busy in the evenings for a work week. The second week was Ski Break! I have been asked so many times what Ski Break is, but I grew up in Saratoga having this Presidents Day week in February off too. My coworker said they started giving this holiday because so many families would miss school to go up to the snow? Anyway, these two weeks were filled with LOTS OF HANGOUTS and getting my to do list done to catch up on life outside of work. Thankful for Ski Break, my friends, and the opportunities to have fun, catch up, and spend time with so many of them!! For being absent from my blog, here is a recap of my last two weeks with an overload of selfies and food photos…

Monday, 2/13: Purposeful run to the local library to borrow DVDs for a class rewardscreenshot_20170227-201229

Monday, 2/13: Discipleship with Deb at Men-Bei Ramenwp-image-1593941029jpg.jpg

Tuesday, 2/14: Feeling loved by my students on Valentine’s DayIMG_20170214_180528.jpg

Tuesday, 2/14: Valentine’s Day dinner with Pillar friends eating jajangmyeon at Tong Soon Garden

Wednesday, 2/15: Happy hour at Opa! and red velvet/chocolate mint cupcakes from Susie Cakes for a long overdue catch up and early birthday celebration, HBD Brittney!

Thursday, 2/16: Luzia by Cirque Du Soleil with my bestie Serena who won free tickets from work and the show was so good, most notable act was the most flexible guy on the planet

Saturday, 2/18: Mom and me’s Saturday morning tradition of coffee and bagel breakfastIMG_20170218_102218.jpg

Saturday, 2/18: Ed’s last-of-his-twenties birthday at Dave & Buster’swp-image-321886739jpg.jpg

Discipleship got us ordering the same food 😆

Why so serious, Jo? 😂


My coworker Ursula spotted me in the crowd of people at D&B

Bumped into my coworkers Binh and Ursula on the first day of Ski Break!

Saturday, 2/18: Dinner with family friends at Koi Palace in Dublinwp-image-88107980jpg.jpg

Sunday, 2/19: Run with Anita – Same 3 miles around Quarry Lakes without breaks this weekscreenshot_20170227-201511

Sunday, 2/19: Book Club with Grace and Rebecca discussing Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller and eating delicious breakfast croissant sandwiches

Sunday, 2/19: Dinner with relatives at Golden Palace

Monday, 2/20: Lunch at the Bae’s with Berean friends (Chois and Tsengs) and all 3 Pillar pastors and families, so nice having my two worlds together and HBD Tina and Silas!pixlr_20170220165829319.jpg

Monday, 2/20: Dinner and nails party with Pillar girlswp-image-1502831843jpg.jpgwp-image-372322069jpg.jpgwp-image-1224780976jpg.jpg

Tuesday, 2/21: Dentist appointment. Got my car maintenance and some parts fixed in the shop. Thankfully Sam saved me from the long wait and picked me up for ramen at Shalala and boba at Teaspoon in Mountain View. Finished a book at Starbucks

Thursday, 2/23: Back to the dentist for a cavity filling. Hangout and dinner with the Lo FamilyIMG_20170223_181415.jpg

Thursday, 2/23: Missing photo of Denny’s hangout with Pillar friends after midweek

Friday, 2/24: National Clam Chowder Day – Boudin BOGO clam chowder bowl with MomIMG_20170224_132807.jpg

Friday, 2/24: Small Group hangout over dinner at Krung Thai and my first escape room which was so much fun even though we almost escapedIMG_20170224_191738.jpgIMG_20170224_220632.jpgIMG_20170224_220708 (1).jpg

Friday, 2/24: Missing photo of game night with Pillar friends

Saturday, 2/25: Homemade brunch with Pillar friends and rewatched La La LandIMG_20170225_114809.jpg

Saturday, 2/25: Dinner with family friends, seeing them two Saturdays in a rowIMG_20170225_191428.jpg

Sunday: Run and lunch with Joy at Demiyascreenshot_20170226-112029-1img_20170226_110536img_20170226_124612img_20170226_124630

Sunday, 2/26: Dinner with Pillar friends at QQ Noodleimg_20170226_182158

Now back to reality and work, but looking forward to Tahoe this weekend! Work hard, play hard!