Millard Canyon Falls

8:05 PM Posted In , Edit This 3 Comments »
This morning I finally convinced Caroline to go for a hike with me, after asking every other family member several times. It's the first time I've successfully convinced a family member to hike with me since we moved here; it's as if they're all above hiking, that it isn't up to par for them. My dad thinks only biking at high speeds in realllllly tight shorts, or running on the treadmill in reallllllly short shorts (or Allie in bright pink spandex) is worthy of their time for exercise. Thankfully, Caroline hiked with me. I had been planning on trying out several local trails, since my house is on the beginnings of the slopes of the Angeles National Forest. So we set off, driving 20-ish minutes to the trail head in Altadena. The hike was only 1.4 miles (according to a website I found, Dan's Hiking Pages.) It has lists of several hikes around here. So anyway, Caroline and I jumped up quickly. It was a very pretty hike, fully shaded by trees and following along a small brook. When I felt like I was just getting warmed up, we hit the falls, and the trail stopped. It was a little disappointing two senses: 1, we were just getting started when it ended. 2, the falls were less than spectacular. I should have realized that it was a super-short hike, because the website says it is, but I didn't foresee how un-fulfilling that would be. It's cool though. To add a little depth to our journey, we (I, with a reluctant Caroline in-tow) decided to scale some rock walls to get to the top of the waterfall. Here's Chica coming down a trail that we improvised, since we weren't too keen on scaling back down. Anyway, I would mention for any that would feign to attempt such a treacherous and all-consuming hike, it's pretty crowded (there were 25-30 other people on the trail) and there was a lot of man-made junk around, or at least more than there should be on any hike. All of this man-made junk was of the metal variety, and rusting. I at least enjoyed this random hunk of metal, it seemed... poetic. Please indulge this photo. There wasn't anything scenic on the hike, as far as sprawling vistas go, but on the drive out there was just such a scenic sprawling vista. Here's a photo, labeled for your enjoyment: It'll be a longer hike next time!

Awww... put a ring on it!

10:52 PM Posted In , , Edit This 1 Comment »
So, some of you might know that my mom likes Beyoncé. In fact, a few months ago she said "Lauren, I need to know more about this Jay-Z. I'm tight with Beyoncé, but I just don't know much about Jay-Z!" It upset her that she wasn't on a first-name basis with her BFF Beyoncé's new hubby. She's the one who informed me for the first time that they had tied the knot.
To back-track a bit: when I was a teenager, I used to think that my mom was like the most un-hip person on the planet. She knew nothing about 311, or the Spice Girls, and she hated my Everlast poster. She tried to make me take it down! But ever since Beyoncé hit the scene, things have been different. I sort of consider Beyoncé the family's ambassador to Pop Culture, and here's an anecdote or two describing why.
I'm not sure why, either just randomly or when she has some secret prerogative, my mom will out with "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)" by Beyoncé. If you haven't heard it you must live in a cave. It's all over the place. So anyway, she'll just out with it. But she never gets the lyrics right, no matter how much we try to coach her! Correctly sung, it would sound like "if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it, if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it, oh oh ohoohohohohohohoh" (I didn't count out how many "oh"s I would need, I just threw them in there). Instead, she sings "if you like it then why don't you put a ring on, put a ring on it." It's funny in and of itself, but then she'll get my dad involved. "Brian, come do this with me" and they'll stick out their ring fingers with their wedding rings, and do this creepy little hip-shakin' dance while my mom sings her version of the lyrics and my dad beams with pride at being part of a spectacle that makes us laugh. A veritable freak-show.
So today we were in the car, and my dad doesn't like the conversation. So he says "aw, put a ring on it!"
When I got home, I had a text message from Tracie that says "now every time I hear Beyoncé, I think of your mom!"
Freak show.

10:15 PM Edit This 1 Comment »
So... I accidentally died my hair black. Don't ask how, more details to follow.

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays!

11:12 PM Posted In , , , , Edit This 1 Comment »
No matter how far away you roam...
My sister Alexandra is coming home from the Middle East tomorrow for Christmas break (we're all basically peeing our pants in excitement) and my brother and his wife are coming in a little over a week from Boston, so I've been thinking about my most exciting journey home. It's too good a story not to tell.
In 2005 I spent 2 months in Senegal, West Africa on a BYU Study Abroad with the French department. I could write a book about the experience, like how to turn down marriage proposals politely (especially when they're asking you to be the second or third wife...) but one of the most adventurous parts of the whole trip was trying to get home. After the 2 months, a lot of my fellow students and I planned a 3-day stopover in Morocco, kind of a last hoorah before leaving the motherland for the good old USA. We flew from Dakar, Senegal to Casablanca, and then took a 3-hour train ride to Marrakech. Marrakech, by the way, is a very fun place to visit for a few days. We spent lazy hours by the pool of our hotel in the nice weather, walked to some cool mosques and other buildings, and spent a good chunk of our time in the souq (marketplace commonly found in Arab countries) drowning ourselves in the most delicious fresh-squeezed orange juice known to man, narrowly escaping death by crazed henna artist, and even being assaulted by domesticated monkeys (that's a whole new story for another day.) Well, after our pleasant sojourn to transition from third-world conditions in the villages of Senegal to iPods and malls, we had to get from Marrakech to Casablanca to catch our flight home. No problem. Our plane left some time in the mid-morning... maybe 9 or 10:00 am? so we took the earliest train out of Marrakech (around 4 or 5:00 am) to make it to the airport with enough time to check in and board. With a 3 hour train ride and then the hour minimum for international flights, we were cutting in close, and there was no room for egregious errors. But we had no choice, the trains didn't run all night.
So... we got our butts on the train with our 2 months worth of Africa-smelling laundry and souvenirs. No problem there. We had to switch to another train line in the middle of Casablanca to get to the airport, so the train stops, and we all start getting off the train. Here's where the fun starts: half of our group is off the train, half is still on. We're trying to negotiate baggage. The train starts moving, leaving the station. Panic. Our connecting train comes into view, further panic. After the last of us jump off of a moving train, we realize that we have to go down a flight of stairs, under the track, and up another flight of stairs to get to the other platform. Our connecting train is already at the station... we have seconds to make these trips, which would have been a feat with ourselves alone, forget about our baggage! Luckily, Africa is full of friendly, helpful people that contradict our inherently chaotic way of looking at things. A bunch of guys just jumped off the train, looked both ways before crossing the tracks, picked up our bags and walked across the tracks (totally illegal, I'm sure) and got us on the train. Thanks guys! You saved us!
(this says never get on or off the train until it's made a complete stop...)
For some of the travelers, the excitement ends there. Chrissie Tsaturyan can tell you the story of being detained in Salt Lake with a sword herself... as for me, I got to JFK and split from the group continuing West to Mecca (aka SLC) and I just had a short hop to Boston. Funny thing was, it was raining. My flight was canceled. So here I am in JFK, smelling like mother Africa (sweat, dirt, body odor, fruit...) and completely out of money in anything but obscure African "francs CFA" with no cell phone and no way to get home. Hilarious. So, I eavesdrop into what the other passengers are doing. Before I continue, I should note that I'm the person who gets really really stressed out about little things, but things that should worry me don't bother me a bit. So I walk straight up to a group of young professionals, and say "hi, I couldn't help but overhear that you're going to rent a car. Do you think you could drive me to Boston too? You could drop me off anywhere, if I can just use someone's cell phone I'll arrange a pick up." I'm sure I looked like hell, all haggard and unkempt. Luckily for me, someone who looked even more like hell also wanted to solicit a ride (the guy was freaky, I'm telling you) so they took me as the lesser of two creepy evils. Yay! I heard "Holla-back girl" for the first time on that car ride--these accountants on a business trip were amazed at how culturally behind I was. Bah. They dropped me off at the car rental place at Logan, daddy picked me up, (I saw his Jag for the first time) and I got home and took a serious shower.

Mucking around in a spice stall in Marrakech

They keep me around because I ask the hard questions.

3:41 PM Posted In Edit This 1 Comment »
1.) Are you texting the same person that you're sending a facebook message to right now?