I’m Baaaack!

You just can’t get rid of me! I’ve been on a moving/travel sabbatical for the past few weeks and I’m excited to be back blogging because I’ve got plenty to share. Before I introduce my new work digs (I have my own studio workshop!), explore my research on how to move cross country on a budget, and of course my last minute road trips and Los Angeles excursions, I want to start by sharing my trip across the US.

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Los Angeles to Hamden, CT is quite a journey. I took my time, but didn’t “dilly-dally”. As the map shows, I started in LA and drove to the Grand Canyon. From the Grand Canyon I passed through 4 Corners (where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all meet) and headed on to Durango for the night. From Durango I went to Denver, CO where I stayed for several days over the Thanksgiving holiday. After Denver I spent a night in Omaha before connecting up with RISD friends in Chicago for a couple nights. I continued on to Cleveland after that, and then made my big push with the longest driving day getting me into Connecticut. This is the short story.

Here is the long story:

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My friends through me the sweetest going away party at Golden Road in Glendale. So many people came and of course I was crying. After I went out for sushi at Octopus (one of my LA favs), then I spent some time freaking out and panicking instead of sleeping. I left Sunday morning after packing up the car, going for my last regular Toluca Lake walk (not my last ever- no lasts!) with my friends and then I hit the road. I cried/weeped for most of my ride to the Grand Canyon. My cheeks had the ultimate cry bath and were very pruny upon arrival.

When I left LA it was 75 and sunny and when I arrived at the Grand Canyon, it was about 22 degrees and pitch darkness. I was poorly dressed in my tee shirt and yoga pants (perfect comfy driving attire but not perfect winter clothing). But this was all fixable with a winter jacket (thank you, Uniqlo!), a hot meal and a cold beer.

10326415_1505040636434287_1730050933_n10817857_805660969480510_2017350428_nI was very proud of myself, as the following morning I woke up at 6a to get dressed (in many many layers) and make the 7am sunrise at the South Canyon rim. As the child next to me said “I’m freezing my eyeballs off!!”. My sentiments exactly.

After watching the sunrise and tracking down a warm english muffin and coffee, I hit the road as I had a 7 hour drive ahead and so much to see along the way! One thing I didn’t realize is that the drive through Arizona takes you right by Monument Valley. It didn’t make sense for me to go there (the entrance was actually still a drive away and it would add many hours to my day), but it was fun seeing some of the “monuments” along the way. And this way I was seeing them for FREE! I cheated the system.

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As I made my way out of Arizona and onto Colorado, I had to stop in at one of my favorite childhood vacation spots: 4 Corners. 4 Corners is where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet and it’s gotten a whole lot fancier since I was a kid. As a child this was all dirt with a plaque in the center (where of course I sat, so my butt was in 4 states at the same time), with wooden shopping stalls surrounding the plaque. It has gotten a whole lot fancier:

10809543_1501063186840049_1570193732_nIt was freezing and windy so I didn’t spend a whole lot of time walking around.

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As I got closer to Durango, the weather and landscape changed pretty dramatically.
Thankfully while it was snowing in the air, not much was sticking so the roads weren’t too bad. I made my way into Durango after dark and enjoyed a beer and dinner at Steamworks Brewing company before making my way to my hotel and crashing for the night. Durango is an adorable town and I highly recommend visiting it.

The next morning I left around 9am and made the trek into Denver. I was most nervous about this day, so I allowed a lot of extra time and took a not-very-direct route to avoid snowy mountains. If this was summer I totally would have gone to Aspen and driven in through the Rockies and it would have been beautiful. Since this is December and I had all my belongings crammed into my little mazda 3, I opted for the longer but less mountainous route.

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But I made it! And in record time too. No snow and no ice, yesss! Above you can see some images from my several days in Denver. I stayed with my uncle (bottom right) who was very generous and always the perfect host. We even got to go to a night showing of the Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanical Gardens (top right). It was a really fun visit. I even got to meet up with a childhood friend who just moved to Denver, and I’ve known her since nursery school days. Ah, to be young again.

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But alas, I had to continue on my journey so I cleaned off the mazda and drove through Nebraska (above) to get to my destination for the night, Omaha. The following day I was up early to continue through more of a similar landscape as I went through Iowa and eventually made my way to Chicago!

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In Chicago I have some RISD friends I was excited to see. I also stayed at this awesome, cute and cheap airbnb in Wicker Park (message me if you want the info on it). Since I love walking and had been cooped up driving the past few days, it felt so good to park my car and just spend the day walking around the city and poking my head into the cute shops.

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I ended up walking all the way to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and saw the David Bowie exhibit. They were very fussy about cell phones/ cameras since this is the  only US stop for the exhibit, so sadly this is the only photo above. It was a very fun exhibit featuring a lot of his most famous outfits/costumes, Bowies lyric notes, and footage showing his progression as an artist. This exhibit really is only about Bowie as an artist and I wish we got more of an idea of his personal life. I would have loved to see photos of David Bowie eating breakfast in his kitchen on a Saturday morning, or anything to show that he’s human. Does he shop at Ikea?

After 2 fun nights visiting with friends in Chicago, it was time for me to continue onward to Cleveland. Why Cleveland? I’m glad you asked. In the tv show 30 Rock, Liz Lemon visits Cleveland and everyone asks if she’s a model because things are just different there. I was hoping to have my Liz Lemon moment in Cleveland. Also they have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and were the natural place to stop and spend the night before getting into Connecticut.

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is right next to a sport stadium (football I think??) and is an awesome pyramid architectural shape. I took SOOO many photos in there, but I don’t want to bore you so I figured I’d share he most impressive iconic item they had (in my opinion): Michael Jacksons glitter glove. They had much more Michael Jackson clothing, about 8 of Beyonce’s outfits from different music videos and events. They also have a wall dedicated to the Rolling Stones and to the Beatles. This was a very fun place to visit and I highly recommend it to people driving through Cleveland. As for the sporting arena… sure, I bet you could visit that too.

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I made my last drive from Cleveland to Connecticut, which was the longest stretch. I knew it might be an 8 and a half hour drive but with traffic in New York and bathroom/coffee stops, it took about 10 hours. Bummer. But at least when I made it to CT I got to sleep in my own bed, and get started on all of the projects I have going on and there are SO MANY! Now it’s time to apartment hunt (anyone know of any apartments for rent in East Rock, New Haven?), setup my shop in Meyer Wire, and get going on all my design projects!

Next up: This week I’ll be back-tracking a bit to tell you about my road trip up the coast from LA to Portland and back. I’ll also do a post dedicated to the cheapest way to move cross country. And lastly, I’ll introduce you to my new digs: Meyer Wire. I’ll share all of what it entails. I hope moving forward to start updating you about Connecticut events and doing “Do This Today” posts, although it’l take me some more time to amerce myself in the scene to pass along all the details.

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Ronna and Beverly’s Podcast

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Since it’s Comedy Wednesday, I’d be a terrible friend and comedy connoisseur if I didn’t mention that my friends Alison and Mark were mentioned in the newest podcast by my two favorite Jewish mothers, Ronna and Beverly. Check out their podcast HERE to learn more about them and PLEASE listen to the episode “Hometown Hero” to hear the awesome shout out to these awesome people (@ the 59 min mark). Remember Ronna and Beverly from THIS post? Remember Mark and Alison from THIS post?

2012 Resolution Recap

It’s that time! Time to see what I was able to get done over the last 365 days. I’ll start by going through my 2012 New Year Resolution List. (Sorry for another pictureless post)

Life Absorbed’s 2012 Resolution List

– Complete all 42 walks in “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA”
I wasn’t able to finish the entire book due to some health issues, but I certainly did 80% and now I have the pleasure of enjoying the walks as I complete the rest in 2013.

– Go rock climbing! I got to go indoor rock climbing with Amber, Lindsey and Adam thanks to a groupon to Hangar 18. Despite my crazy fear of hieghts, I was actually pretty good and got into it. I’m no pro, but I would gladly go again.

– Do at least one “monster” walk in 2012. Use my new “Car-Free LA” book to find a good really long walk and make a day of it. This didn’t get to happen. I’ve done monster walks alone, but they are more fun with a friend and my walking buddy Michelle had a wild year of getting pregnant and giving birth to lovely Cole. This goal will have to pushed to my 2013 resolution list.

– Resume hikes from my hiking book! Give those new hike boots a work out. I wasn’t too successful completing a ton of new hikes from my hike book, although I did complete a handful from the book in 2012. Bigger than that, I hiked Mount Whitney! That’s a pretty big goal for 2012, in fact I was so concerned I wouldn’t follow through with it, I didn’t add it to my resolution list from 2012. And I did it! 

– Go camping! Camping happened for a few days around Mt. Whitney as well as on The Channel Islands and when I went tubing the Kern River. 

– Hike (or ski) Mt. Baldy. I got to complete this with weights as I was training for Mount Whitney. I actually found this to be more of a challenge. 

– Go back to Catalina! When my parents came to town in September, we got to take them to Catalina and took them parasailing. My sister and I had so much fun doing it last year, that when another groupon deal came up, we bought enough for all of us to go as an anniversary gift to them. 

– Keep filling my nights and weekends with fun activities, even if it means being tired the next day. It’s worth it! This is of course hard to gauge, but I think I did a really good job at going out a lot after work and on weekends. In fact I went out so much didn’t get a ton of my night walks in. It’s about finding a balance and I have to be better about that in 2013. 

– Visit Hearst Castle. Check! I got to go when my parents came to visit and loved it. As a family we took a weekend trip up there and drove back along the coast stopping at the small beach towns. 

– Go cross-country skiing for the first time. I wasn’t able to complete this (due to lack of snow last winter) but the groupon was extended into 2013 which means I’ll be going this winter and already Big Bear has gotten some great snow. 

– Go white-water rafting. Another side-effect of no snow in the winter, is that the run-off over the summer is so depleted that there’s not enough water to make it “white water”. But in place of rafting, we got to enjoy tubing down the Kern. I’m looking forward to white water rafting in the summer of 2013!

– Go kayaking. I got to do this during my weekend excursion to the Channel Islands as well as doing it about 3 times when I was visiting my parents in Cape Cod this past summer. I love it.

– Try yoga. Did it repeatedly! I love the Core Power Yoga free Sunday noon class. Although I didn’t realize you needed to pay to borrow the mats, so I didn’t realize I was stealing every time I went. But now that I’ve realized it I will be investing in a yoga mat in 2013 🙂

– Try spinning. I did not do that this year, although I really need to. I ended up canceling my gym membership this year, so now I’ll have to pay to go to a class but I still want to do this. The only reason I didn’t complete this goal was because I was busy, and frankly I forgot about it. This is why it’s good to do midyear resolution recaps, to remind myself what I still need to complete. 

– Make new recipes to last during the week. This I did only a few times. It’s hard to make meals for one. Also my job often provides meals that are around dinner time, so it’s nice to save money by eating that food and leave the cooking to the professionals. 

– Go to Chicago to visit my good friends and see a new city. CHECK! This was a really fun resolution. I got to lump a short stopover in Chicago onto my summer trip to Cape Cod. I had such a great time visiting friends and seeing the tourist sights (the FLW House!). 

– Keep up my nightly walks. An hour a day does so much. As I explained above, I did this but not as regular as I used to (since my walking buddy was busy having babies and I started doing more event stuff at night). But in 2013 I’m going to go back to doing this a solid 5 times a week, if not more. 

– Try new bars, restaurants and museums from my “L.A. Bizarro” book. (As Amber pointed out to me, we don’t have to see any of the porn-esque stuff and that is agreed). I got to do a bunch of these with Amber earlier in the year, although they did take a back seat to all of my other goals as the year went on. It’s worth digging this book out again and going more in 2013. 

– If someone says, “try this hike with me” or “lets do this sport” or any other physical activity, say yes! So far so good. Saying yes to life has only meant good things.

– “Grow a Pair!” In 2012 I need to face the little fears. I successfully faced giant fears in 2011, so this should be easy right? I’m always working on that, and that’ll continue into 2013. 

– As a part of “Growing A Pair”, I’m going to go on dates in 2011. It’s something Ive been putting off because I hate doing it, but why not? If it’s the worst, then oh well. If it’s great then maybe I get a new friend out of the deal. I’ve jumped out of a plane, I think I can handle a silly little date. So send your single, outdoorsy, male friends my way. This remains true in 2013. Also, I’ve decided that “date” is too scary a word, and only call them “friend meetups” in an attempt to making dating less scary. 

– And of course I will work hard to maintain you, Life Absorbed. I wish I had started you last Jan. 1st, so now I must make up for lost time. I feel like in one year I did a lot to improve the blog. I tried (and I’m always trying) to come up with new features like Font Friday and Do This Today. I try to blog 1 or 2 times daily midweek and once on the weekends. I also designed a business card for the blog and changed the layout a bit. The “Life Absorbed” logo photo shoots where fun, and I hope to do more in 2013. Now all my photos have watermarks and I really work hard to make improvements as I get feedback. I’ve gotten retweeted by Scott Aukerman this year. I’ve gotten “shared” on facebook by some of my favorite comedians and even CBS included me in an article about the Secret Stairs of LA. It’s been good progress and I’m looking forward to more improvements in 2013!

This completes my resolution list for 2012. I can honestly say I gave it 110% and filled my time to capacity. There’s only so much time to get things done and I have no regrets with how my time was spent in 2012. I also want to share some things I did that weren’t on my 2012 resolution list:

A big Hawaii trip that included zip-lining, snorkeling, and hiking around an active volcano. Visiting the Queen Mary with my parents. Sitting in the UCB green room with Doug Benson and Zach Galifinakis (thanks Gabe!). The 1 million comedy shows I saw this year (I’m only exaggerating a little). Finally seeing David Cross do stand up! A fun weekend getaway to Palm Springs. My first hospital visit (not a good situation, but it could have been so much worse). Running the Denver Turkey Trot and getting to enjoy Denver fun. Getting to be Shari Lewis for the day. Doing all my DIY projects. Brunches with the girls. Visiting the JPL and going to about 5 neighborhood festivals. Doing the Color Run with Lindsey. Having my celebrity crush, Harris Wittels, comment on my blog. Tubing Mt. Baldy with Michelle and Lindsey. A weekend getaway to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear. Visiting the horse racing park for Tom’s birthday. Going to a Beer Collaboration event. Magic Castle with the girls. Celebrating Chinese New Year in Chinatown. Gosh, this has been a busy year!

Palm Springs Weekend Getaway

I have no excuse as to why it took almost 4 years of living in Los Angeles before I decided to take a weekend trip to Palm Springs. It’s only about an hour and 45 minutes outside LA, and super easy to drive up Saturday morning, stay one night and head back on Sunday. Spending only 1 night in a hotel saves money for food, because you must know the highlights for us were the food and the outlet shopping.

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It’s a beautiful drive out there, once you leave the Los Angeles area. The mountains rise up and you pass a ton of these wind turbines.

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We got into town a little too early to check into the hotel so we explored the main drag and had a delicious lunch at Trio. We of course stopped at the outlets on our way into town, which was needed because the unexpected cold weather meant we needed to load up on layers. I must say, even a chilly Palm Springs is a fun Palm Springs.

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Given the chilly temps, we weren’t exactly jumping in the pool but it meant guilt free exploring the town and all the cute independent shops.

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This photo above was taken from our hotel room at the Hyatt Regency Suites, right on the main drag. It was perfect walking distance to everything. We had a super nice modern huge room, huge bathroom, and even a sitting room and deck. We even got it through a special Travel Zoo- type deal, so it’s was super discounted.

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The rooms all line hallways that open to an atrium overlooking a dining room. This was the view right in front of our door. The hotel had a beautiful pool (photos below), and a big jacuzzi with fire pits around it. They also had a fun bar on the first level with a wall of fire.

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Sunset on our balcony.

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After a dip in the jacuzzi we decided to explore the town before dinner. This Marilyn Monroe sculpture was in Chicago, but was recently moved to Palm Springs, where it completely fits in.

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I couldn’t resist.

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We ended up having such a great meal at LuLu California Bistro. There are so many food options that we decided to walk until we found something we couldn’t pass up. Sure enough Lulu’s was a giant filled restaurant that looked hip and modern. The best part was their prices were super reasonable and they had a huge menu. We both ate like kings, and I can’t recommend this place more.

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The next morning it was a tad warmer, so we got to enjoy laying out by the pool until check out time.

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We also had the joy of being their on Veterans Day Weekend, which means the closed down the main drag for an afternoon parade. It was fun to see the town come out.

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Oh, Palm Springs.

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After a short visit to The Parker House (coming up in a post next) we made our way back to Los Angeles. It’s funny how less than two days outside of LA really feels like a vacation.

Chicago 4: Frank Lloyd Wright

To catch you up to speed with my Chicago adventures…
Chicago 1: Bloomingdale Trail + Street Art + Antique Taco
Chicago 2: I Love the ZOO!
Chicago 3: Millennium Park + The Art Institute of Chicago

Since my trip here is so short (2.5 days), we are approaching the last .5 day. How could I leave Chicago without visiting Oak Park, home to Frank Llyod Wrights home, office, and many of his designs. We arrived at FLW’s home and got tickets to go on the 12:15p tour. While waiting for the tour to start we walked around the block which is filled with other examples of FLW architecture.

The house above is called the Arthur B. Heurtley House designed in 1902. The house below is the Nathan G. Moore House.

I think the FLW house offers walking tours aroudn the neighborhood, but if you wanted to go at your own pace just print the map HERE and read up on the sights ahead of time. This is a beautiful walk and you can even stop an grab some delicious pizza (like we did) at Giordano’s on Chicago Ave, just down the block. Once it hit 12:15p we were back that FLW’s house for the tour. I opted not to get the photography pass (aka more $), but I got these photos of the outside of the property.  Below is the front of his home, and behind the greenery to the left of the photo, is where his architectural studio/office was.

The photo below was his carriage house, which has been converted into a gift shop and main office for the museum.

The photo below is looking toward the entrance to his offices. I really enjoyed this tour and highly recommend it to be able to see the inside and learn more about his design decisions. I’m so glad I could to stop here before I headed to the airport.

Check out the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust website to see better images and learn more about his architecture, events, and different types of tours offered.

Chicago 3: Millennium Park + The Art Institute of Chicago

Catch up on my Chicago adventures!
Chicago 1: Bloomingdale Trail + Street Art + Antique Taco
Chicago 2: I Love the ZOO!

I know this would normally be the weekend guide, but given my west coast absence this week, I don’t feel I can adiquately tell you about local events. Instad I’ll continue with my Chicago posts. On to a big day exploring Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. I took so many photos, it was hard to whittle it down to just a handful.

I included the photo above because while walking around I saw these free book stands. This is meant for the community to leave-a-book-take-a-book and share with each other. When I opened this one it had several children’s books inside. What a great idea for a city. Well done Chicago. They do the same thing with videos.

This art installation was done by kids working with the elderly (if I remember correctly?) and they created a series of life size human cut-outs made of metal. I like this one for the mustache.

We took the “L” train down to the loop for our city exploration day. This looks like the Warner Bros backlot… or does the backlot look like Chicago. It’s the chicken and the egg.

Once we entered Millenium Park I got to see the faces fountain! Well it’s actually called Crown Fountain but that’s not as fun sounding.

There is my friend Mark and I reflected in the world famous Bean! Everyone needs a Bean photo.

I love the reflection of the city in it.

Next up, we walked through the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. There was a musical orchestra practicing in there. At noon midweek this space was being used as a lawn to picnic on and I imagine at night it’s a great place to see concerts, a very fun outdoor venue.

Frank Gehry designed this bridge and walkway system carrying you through the park. If I lived in Chicago I would run through here everyday and then end it with a lunch at the zoo by the gorillas.

We headed down toward the water because I really wanted to see Lake Michigan.

This lead us to a big fountain with excellent city views.

Time for the Art Institute of Chicago!

There is an art auctioning game that I played growing up (and even as an adult because I love it) called Masterpiece. it’s a game about buying and selling paintings all of which are located in this museum. Getting to see these paintings in real life was such a joy. Poor Mark had to deal with me wanting to see EVERYTHING!

Another classic only in Chicago, Van Gogh’s bedroom. He lived a very shabby-chic style, wouldn’t you say?

Above is part of the old museum and below is in the new modern wing of the museum. This dude is probably 12′ tall? It’s hard to tell, but he’s huge. We also visited the Roy Lichtenstein exhibit in the new wing. We really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Happy 4th!

Greetings from the Cape! I’m taking a day off from Chicago posts to wish you a happy 4th of July! Don’t worry, tomorrow I’ll get back on my path of telling you about my Chicago adventures. In the meantime I’ve had a very East Coast style week (aka very patriotic). Now get the sparklers out, grab a cold one and chow down on some (soy)dogs, Life Absorbed style!