Do This Today: Ghosthunting in Southern California

Since it’s Halloween Eve (aka Mischief Night), it’s only fitting that they Do This Today be spooooky. Los Angeles has a crazy history, including ghosts. Tonight author Sally Richards is doing a book reading/signing/discussion of her book, Ghosthunting In Southern California, at Vroman’s in Pasadena. Why not go and learn about paranormal activity in your backyard?

Event: Sally Richards book signing of Ghosthunting in Southern California
Location: Vroman’s, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, PAsadena, CA 91101
Time: 7pm
Cost: FREE but the book will cost you

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Catalina Getaway

In addition to the Huntington Gardens, another great place to take visitors (or if you need a local getaway) is Catalina! The beautiful island is just an hour ride away, but it feels worlds away. Leave the smog behind and just relax at the fun beach town of Avalon. We recently took our parents visiting from out of town here, and had a great time.

For our Catalina getaway, we took the Catalina Express out of the Port of San Pedro. I’ve used them before and it’s an excellent line. They have parking (for a fee) and it’s not too far outside of Los Angeles. We also tend to take the ferry out early, which means avoiding rush hour traffic. This ferry just redid it’s offices and is now very luxurious, with clean bathrooms and food options. I highly recommend this company.

Anticipation building, as we get closer to our arrival.

Arriving at paradise.

Catalina has strict rules, making it difficult to bring a car out to the island. Golf carts are their form of transportation and you can rent them on the island. We didn’t really find this necessary, as we stayed within Avalon (the biggest town) the entire time.

The Pier.

This is a popular cruise ship stopping point, but that’s not why I included this picture. See that parasailing person high above the ship? That was us about two hours after this photo was taken. We got a good groupon deal for parasailing and our parents agreed. I don’t have photos from the boat (as I was worried about splashing and ruining my camera). But yes, this was my second time parasailing and my parents first time. We all really enjoyed it.

This reminds me so much of Hawaii. When packing for your trip to Catalina, be sure to include beach stuff, as well as water shoes (or at least flip flops) because the beaches are rocky. My feet were aching. We brought our own snorkeling gear and got to see many colorful and large fish. There are places to rent gear if you don’t already own the gear.

It’s hard to believe this paradise is only an hour ferry ride away!

It’s time to head back to Los Angeles, as our day-getaway came to an end.

Bye, bye Catalina!

This last photo was taken as we reached San Pedro. I find these vessels so fascinating. Each of those colorful boxes, when off loaded, becomes a giant truck. The coordination in must take to move and track each of these shipments is mind boggling to me. I really could spend all day watching how these companies work.

Tubing the Kern River

This past weekend I was invited to rapids/lazy river that is the Kern. My last experience with the Kern River was 2 years ago, when my boyfriend at the time and I joined a meetup group to experience a whitewater rafting adventure. Doing these type of meetups (through meetup.com) are awesome. You get to meet a group of cool people who also live in Southern California and want to experience adventure. It’s like a weekend at summer camp, and when you leave you’ve made life friends. This first trip is where I met Amber (who I’ve written about here before and who was also on this trip) and many others I still keep in touch with. If you want to explore the outdoors but don’t have anyone to do it with, join these trips. They are often lead by super experienced guides who want to teach you, so newbies are very welcomed.

This trip, almost exactly 2 years later, was less of a whitewater rafting trip and instead a tubing adventure. This past winter Southern California got very little rain/snow in the mountains and this river is powered by that melting snow. You can imagine, the water was very low.

We camped at the Frandy Campground, which is a great place to stay. It’s right along the river, so if you drive up the road and get into the water you can end at the campsite (where you have another car waiting to pick-up the other car). It’s a lot of coordinating to make sure the pick-up/drop-off works out.

Here you can see the challenge of getting the tubes to the launch site. The Frandy
Campground has a very powerful pump, which makes blowing up tubes fast and easy. But this also means you have to bring them to the river blown up. The photo below was taken by a member of our group. This was also a successful ride with the tubes. We had one drive where they all came undone in the street. Oh well, we did your best.

The next two photos were also taken by people in our group. I was too worried about my camera to bring it since it’s not waterproof. Their GoPro’s got some great shots! You can see the river is perfect for lounging…

…and then it gets rocky and wild! That’s me folks, and I LOVED taking on the rapids in the tube. So much fun. And yes, I did fall out once, but it was worth the bruises.

After a Saturday full of tubing (we did 2 long runs) we washed up and decided to take a tour around the cute little town of Kernville. It’s not very big so it didn’t take long at all, but there’s something really fun about a small town. And you know how I love to walk.

See, it’s like a ghost town! Doesn’t it look like a movie set? I should mention that my car registered it was 112 degrees at high noon on Saturday. It probably averaged around 100 for the weekend. This meant you needed to be in the water because the bathwater temperature of the river felt so refreshing. I mention this now, because the above photo of the “ICE” sign was taken when we would have loved to pour it over our heads.

A western easily could shoot here. Swap the cars for horses and maybe we’d catch a glimpse of John Wayne.

We stopped in what looked like a tiny gift shop, which ended up being quite large as it just kept going and going. “Howdy,” says the bear.

That night we had a celebratory dinner at the Kern River Brewing Company. If you like dark beer, try their Class V Stout. Quite tasty!

This was the place ot be on a Saturday Night and you could tell the locals love this bar/restaurant. They even had live music. You can see below, Jacqueline Taylor (a mother of two) was raising money to audition on American Idol in Oklahoma. She was a fine singer but I don’t get why she couldn’t audition in LA. It’s a three hour drive away, which is basically a half a tank of gas away. She was trying to raise $3000 (?) to get to Oklahoma. Why? Well, good luck to Jacqueline. Maybe you’ll be the next American Idol.

I had to add this photo, as all of the food we served in bowls, so we had a table full of bowls. I got the fish tacos with a side of the cheesy garlic fries. It was I’m sure high in calorie, and totally worth it. The fries were especially tasty. After getting such a workout on the river (hand-paddling takes a lot of arm work) this was a nice celebratory meal.

It’s campfire time!!

We played The Cards Against Humanity (like I played in Chicago) and I tied for first place. I must have a sick mind. We played while wearing headlamps. I’m sure we looked like geeks but we had a blast. And of course, no camping trip would be complete without s’mores!

I had such a great trip and I hope to do many more activities with this group of people. Maybe even some canyoneering! Getting out of LA was so easy and camping is so cheap once you own the gear (which I do). It’s shocking to me that this was my first camping trip of the year and I hope to go on more this summer. This was also on my list of goals for the year, so already I’m crossing things off. At the end of the month I’ll take another look at that list of goals, since 2012 is flying by!

Hike #20: Millard Canyon

If you’re new to the blog, I must explain that not only do I walk all over LA but I also have a great hike book (101 Hikes in Southern California by Jerry Schad). Today I decided to venture out into the great outdoors and do hike number 20 in the book, Millard Canyon. I must say, the loop was incredibly difficult and Im so thankful I had my new hike boots. Well let me take you through it…

I started at 10:15am today and it was a perfect hiking day. It was partly cloudy, which gave a cool breeze and kept the temperature down. Unfortunately, it made for some washed out photos. But I’ll just show you the best of the best. I parked along Chaney Trail and be sure to bring your Adventure Pass.


I followed Sunset Ridge Trail which is popular with mountain bikers so keep an eye out for their bells when you’re traversing up the ridge.

This is Millard Canyon’s 50′ waterfall.

There were 6(?) Northeastern guys that just moved to LA to begin 6 month internships who were very nice. I ran into them several times throughout the hike. While on the Dawn Mine Trail I felt so relieved to hear their voices down below, as many parts of this trail were nonexistent and just straight drops to the canyon below. I should note that this hike was only 3 stars in my book, so I figured it was a safe one to do alone although I do not recommend it with this hike. There were several “hail mary” moments, and I was grateful to have these guys around for the parts of my hike that overlapped their trek.

This is Dawn Mine (at 3100′), which I didn’t enter (as my book didn’t encourage it).

This made me smile as I left Dawn Mine, so I thought I would share it.

The last leg of the hike (from Dawn Mine through Millard Canyon) was much less steep and high than Dawn Mine Trail, but equally as treacherous. There was no real path and it was a relief to see the occasional footprint in the sand to know you were following human life somewhere at least. There were a few steep drops off some giant rocks and many times I sat and slid because it was so steep. My shoes really held up and gripped well to the edges of some pretty smooth boulders. My photos don’t show the depth that I was facing.

This was comforting and let me know I was still on the right track.

Am I getting closer to the end of these rocks? If I missed a very hidden path along the left, I was warned that it would put me on top of the 50′ waterfall and I didn’t want that to happen.

Just a little further…

I’ve never been so happy to see a cabin! It was my marker to know when I was close to the last loop back to my car on Chaney Trail. The hike was an excellent adventure and I recommend it, but don’t make my mistakes. Bring a friend, bring snacks (which I left on my table at home), and when the book says to take the fire road, take the path that leads up by the Cape of Good Hope (as I added an extra mile+ straight uphill by misreading the map). Also, as my Northeastern friends experienced today, always bring a map because many LA trails are unmarked and confusing. Even the map in the book was better than having nothing at all.

I hope you checked out my WEEKEND GUIDE on this lovely three-day weekend, as there is much to do. I can even add to Saturdays events the Eagle Rock Art Walk (aka NELAart). HERE is a map to the walk. Now will I see you at the Golden Road Brew Pub Opening tomorrow? I can’t wait!

I will leave you with this image of the sun slowly setting as taken at the end of my Millard Canyon hike.