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!?

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Mother’s Day 2017

Belated happy Mother’s Day! I am thankful for my mom and another opportunity to show my appreciation for her display of God’s love, selflessness, generosity, humility, and care towards me!

I had plans on Saturday to take my mom on a day trip to go hiking and explore and eat in SF, but it didn’t work out because my mom had some business to take care of. Instead, I stopped by the Sunnyvale Farmers Market after my doctor’s appointment and picked up some groceries, a bouquet of snapdragons and mums that I paired together, and Philz coffee to surprise my mom!

After running 5 miles on Sunday morning to finish week 1 of my 10 week training for my half marathon, I made breakfast with what we had at home – avocado egg toast and coffee!

About a month and a half ago, I made a dinner reservation for two at 6:00 PM at Black Sheep Brasserie in Downtown Willow Glen. When I bookmarked this place on Yelp a long time ago and even when I made the reservation, it was rated 4 stars, but recently dropped to 3.5 stars.

Decor and Ambience: A modern restaurant with light bulbs from the ceiling, succulents, a nice bar, and spacious seating indoor and outdoor. For Mother’s Day, the restaurant had a few tables occupied with early reservations, but some that weren’t filled until later reservations. The noise level was reasonable and ambience was casual. I liked the decor and ambience!

Service: Our server was so good! She was very nice, well-mannered, and gentle. She served our table, but had many other tables to serve and still did her job with calmness and politeness. The busboys were also attentive to our tables and cleared dishes off the table right away.

Food: While ambience and service was great, this meal was pretty good but the food was not good enough to want to come back. I would only order the mussels and fries again.

“Burnt” french onion soup with rich beef broth, gruyere crouton ($9) — I love cheese but this was too cheesy that it got really tiring to chew the gruyere so I didn’t eat all of the cheese in it

Mussels in saffron cream, pommes frites, aioli ($16) — best dish, mussels were big, generous amount of about 15 mussels, fries with aioli were so delicious

Pan roasted duck breast with peas and carrots, pearl onions, marcona almonds and mint ($29) – duck was good but a little fatty, we didn’t like the pairing with peas and carrots that weren’t cooked thoroughly. I mean who especially likes peas to have that be the side in an entree…

Despite what we thought about the food, Mom and I enjoyed our dinner! We checked off trying another restaurant in the South Bay, even though Nick’s Next Door will remain our favorite!

Black Sheep Brasserie: 1202 Lincoln Ave, Ste 30, San Jose, CA 95125
www.yelp.com/biz/black-sheep-brasserie-san-jose

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.

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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.

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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…

East Bay Eats: Seoul 2go

Seoul 2go: Warm Springs Plaza, 46695 Mission Blvd, Fremont, CA 94539
www.yelp.com/biz/seoul-2go-fremont

ordered – bibimbap ($9)
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Haven’t been back to Seoul 2go since a church friend’s family who opened the restaurant sold the business, but I was pleasantly surprised by the deliciousness of the bibimbap. I ordered the multi grain rice with a choice of 2 meats: bulgogi and pork belly. When you order it to-go, they give it to you in a two-tier bowl container. The banchan of 10 different side dishes is on the top layer. The rice, a generous amount of meat, and a sunny side up fried egg are on the bottom layer. The meats were tasty, and I really liked the bibimbap. Since the food was good and they have a different menu with dinner only items, Seoul 2go can easily become a quick place to grab a meal before or after church since it’s conveniently close by.

South Bay Eats: St. John’s Bar & Grill

St. John’s Bar & Grill: 510 Lawrence Expy, Sunnyvale, CA 94085www.yelp.com/biz/st-johns-bar-and-grill-sunnyvale-2

ordered – Mushroom Burger ($4.67), Guaco Burger ($4.67)

In a plaza with many other restaurants near lots of office buildings, St. John’s Bar & Grill probably caters to lunch for the working people around the area. What is unique is its specials from Monday through Saturday, including half off burgers on Wednesday nights and all day Saturday. For the price of a burger at other fast food places, I’d much rather come here for a quality burger. Plus spacious seating with TVs makes it an affordable hangout spot for large groups!

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