Living Life in the Mountains: Mount Baldy & Mountain High

The final thing that I did when I was in California was go to the mountains. For someone who grew up at/below sea level (and has continued to live at/below sea level), the mountains are fascinating to me. I've always wanted to learn how to snowboard, much to my family's dismay (I'm very accident prone). So two of my best friends (A & M) took me to the mountains to do just that. 

The only thing? Mother Nature didn't want to cooperate with us. We knew that the weather was crap on the ground, but we decided to go to the mountains anyways, hoping for the best. Unfortunately we got the worst. We knew that Mt. Baldy was closed so we decided to head up to Mountain High instead. The entire way there, I was in awe of everything. It was rainy, then we went through a desert portion, and finally we got to the snow. That is what I love about California. So many different weather conditions in one small area. 

When we got to Mountain High, we all got out the car and it was rainy/sleety and cold. We didn't think it would be too bad...until we got up to the lifts. The wind was so bad I was being pushed over...we mulled it over and decided (after the lady at the window told us to go home) to turn back and go play in the snow somewhere else. It was super disappointing, but there wasn't really anything that we could do about it. 

We ended up deciding to go to Mt. Baldy because the weather was crap at Mt. High so we figured it may be a bit better there. We ate at Mt. Baldy Lodge which is the cutest little diner at the bottom of the mountain. Because of the crappy weather earlier, the restaurant was absolutely dead. The coffee was amazing and the food was great. Plus, I couldn't beat the company. While A & M have been friends for a while, recently they've become even better friends. I couldn't imagine not having them in my life. 

After we ate lunch, we ended up going up and playing in the snow for an hour or so. It was absolutely insane and so much fun. I have never felt more out of shape in my entire life - though I didn't realize that altitude was a thing I had to account for. We used our arms to pull ourselves out of steep inclines because the snow was over our knees in some places (I'm about 5'7"). We climbed up the mountain a couple of times and slid back down. It's the most fun I've had in quite some time.  

While I don't know where I'll end up next, I hope it's somewhere near the mountains (and beach...and desert).

My trip back to California begins here, we get the best first meal ever, I forgot to take pictures (per usual), I got really bitter about how California has three Canes, we got really toasty at The Cove Bar, and had a blast at Six Flags
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The Perfect Day for Six Flags

Another day that I don't have pictures from is the Saturday we went to Six Flags Magic Mountain. I am a very cautious person when it comes to roller coasters. While I love them, going on them absolutely terrifies me. I had been to Six Flags Magic Mountain one time before. Last year they had this crazy flash sale and buying an annual pass for the rest of 2016 and all of 2017 was actually cheaper than buying a one day ticket so my ex bought it for me. It was incredibly kind, and the gift that keeps on giving.

We woke up early the morning after getting toasted at Disney to go to Six Flags. Luckily it was three of us going and we all weren't hung over (thank god). Traffic to get there wasn't too bad and we had killer views of the mountains (hills, whatever) on the way in. We went on a Saturday which can usually be hit or miss depending on the crowds. Thankfully for us, the weather was good and the crowds were pretty much nonexistent. 

I think we only ended up going on three or four rides before calling it quits. Two of us had passes, but the third person didn't mind leaving at around 3pm. We went on my favorite ride, Twisted Colossus, which was the most important part to me and X which was important to the other two that I went with. Me riding roller coasters consists of shutting my eyes from the moment we get on the ride and laughing and smiling the entire way, only to reopen my eyes when the ride fully stops. Though I have been known to open at false stops. 

The most terrifying part of the day? Going on Lex Luthers Drop of Doom. I'm all about rides and roller coasters but free falling rides scare me to no end. I don't have a huge fear of hight's more of a fear of falling. The entire time waiting in line I just kept looking at my two friends being like WHAT DID YOU GET ME INTO and they just laughed and congratulated me on conquering a fear. I refused to open my eyes, even though they both kept telling me the view was beautiful (I'm sure it was). 

All in all going to Six Flags was so much fun for me. I'm so thankful that I can just go in for a few hours whenever I please (when I'm in California that is). 

My trip back to California begins here, we get the best first meal ever, I forgot to take pictures (per usual), I got really bitter about how California has three Canes, then we got really toasty at The Cove Bar
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Disney's Cove Bar: Worth Every Penny

One thing that California has that Orlando doesn't is Disney's California Adventure & The Cove Bar. Florida also doesn't have my best friends, so there's that too? One of my favorite things to do whenever I come back for a quick trip is to go to Disneyland & California Adventure. Most times we'll get to California Adventure around 11 when Cove Bar opens so we can all sit around, have a couple drinks, and eat some good food. 

This time, we grabbed a quick margarita at the margarita stand on their pier, then went to head in line. Because it had been raining that day, they were only opening a little bit of their restaurant so it was a little bit more of a wait than normal. The last time we went we got Fun Wheels & Lobster Nachos and while it was good, it wasn't anything that I really wanted to get again. This time? Earthquakes & Wings and oh my goodness was it good. 

After sitting for a few hours & talking we decided to go meet a friend who had just gotten off of work in the Pier area. Because there was a festival going on at this time for the Lunar New Year we decided to get a couple more beers and just hang out a little bit. Because it was a weird misty day, the parks weren't too crowded. We rode Screamin', Heimleich's Choo Choo Train, and Maters Junkyard Jamboree before heading over to Disneyland. 

In Disneyland it was getting cold, rainy and a little more crowded (and we were getting exhausted) so we went to ride Autopia & Space Mountain, then got some food and headed out. It was such a good day and so worth every penny spent. 

My trip back to California begins here, we get the best first meal ever, I forgot to take pictures (per usual), then I got really bitter about how California has three Canes
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I'm Bitter About California: They Have Canes

One of the things that I'm most bitter about leaving California is the fact that they have THREE Raising Canes locations in Southern California near where my friends/I used to live. THREE LOCATIONS. How many do they have in Florida near where I live? NONE. Fun Fact: the closest one they have to where I live is in Mobile, Alabama. That is about 7 hours away from me. Cane's was founded on my college's campus, LSU, where they serve chicken. Yes, that's right just chicken. 

Cane's has been my guilty pleasure for forever. Now, I know people say that Zaxby's or Popeye's or KFC are pretty much similar. Wrong. There's seriously nothing that I've found like Cane's. One of my favorite things is the fact that all locations feel the same. They're decorated differently, with the memorabilia from the different surrounding local teams. The food tastes the same & the sweet tea is just as sweet. 

Whenever I go back to California, I have to eat here at least once if not more than that. This trip, I got very lucky and we ended up going twice. Once for lunch on Thursday before heading to nannying and the second time right before I got on the plane. Sharing a little bit of my hometown food with the people I love in a place that feels like home is one of the greatest things. Almost all of my friends back in California are obsessed with Canes so it feels like I did something amazing for them. 

My trip back to California begins here, we get the best first meal ever, then I forgot to take pictures (per usual)
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California Without Pictures: Coronas & Ceviche and Super Bowl Sunday

There's a lot of things that I did in California that I don't have pictures of (which sounds way dirtier than it actually is haha). There are two days that I loved more than anything that I didn't actually take pictures of: Coronas & Ceviche and Super Bowl Sunday. 

On Thursday, after helping nanny for a little bit we had Coronas & Ceviche night at one of my good friend's apartments. We all sat around drinking corona's & eating ceviche (which I'd ever had before) and just talking and laughing. We were going to watch The Road to El Dorado but we all couldn't stop laughing and talking instead. We ended up listening to the Moana soundtrack and dancing around the room. It was such a good time. After, M & I were going home and had a fun jam session in the car. It reminded me so much of when I used to live in CA.

Friday we went to Disney & Saturday we did Six Flags -- they both deserve their own posts because oh my goodness it was crazy. 

Sunday however, was Super Bowl Sunday and oh my goodness was it a good day. It's probably best that there are no pictures from that day considering just how much we drank that day. M's dad laughed because every time someone or a couple walked into the house they came carrying a case of beer. At least we all know how to have a good time? I probably spent the majority of the game outside playing Flip Cup, Beer Pong, and all other kinds of crazy drinking games with the majority of people there. We laughed and had a good time, until the carne asada tacos ran out. Then it got serious as we all had the munchies so we ordered pizza. Best decision by us, hands down. Spending Super Bowl Sunday at M's house surrounded by friends - probably the best Super Bowl I've had in a long time.

My trip back to California begins here, then we get the best first meal ever
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My Forever First Meal in California: In-N-Out

I decided to go to California in early February right after our traveling blackout was lifted from work. After a crazy end to the busy easy season, it was a much needed vacation. I flew in on Virgin America, which was actually not too bad this time around. It was a packed flight, as it usually is flying MCO to LAX, but I didn't find it to be too bad. Getting out the plane was the hardest part. When I fly Virgin I usually only pack a carry on bag, which was a challenge because I am hands down the worst packer known to man. 

I was flying to California (into LAX specifically) when the protests of the Immigrant Ban were happening. I wasn't quite sure what this meant for me or for my friend M coming get me, but it had actually cooled off a lot by the time I got there. I didn't actually see any protestors when I flew in late on a Wednesday night, however when M was trying to come get me she saw them in Terminal 1, coming toward me in Terminal 3. She was able to pick me up really easily (after she got through the horrendous traffic) and we were Anaheim bound. 

My first request, even after having been awake for 18 hours at this point, was for In-n-Out. There's a long standing tradition that I have (for almost two years now) that every time I go back to California, my first meal is In-N-Out. M was more than happy to oblige me so we stopped by one on the way to her house. We got to sit and chat and just act like it was old times. Personally I always get the double double. I eat pretty much the entire burger, and about four fries and I'm good. If you ever want a really good chocolate shake, they have a bomb one. All in all my first meal in California was the best, plus then I got to go home and snuggle my best friend and be loved on by her family. 

My trip back to California begins here
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Going Back to California

I used to go to California on a schedule - every four months - to visit my ex-boyfriend. However, after we broke up I realized that when I went back, it wouldn't be to spend time with him but to spend a lot more time with friends. Plus, I wouldn't be going back on a four month schedule anymore...I would have to decide when I wanted to visit. Don't get me wrong, I saw friends when I was there but it was mainly to see him. 

To be quite honest, the idea of going back terrified me. Although I had a life in California before C, it's weird going back to a place that you spent so much time with one person. I was nervous & terrified to go back, but most of all I was excited. Going back, I went to spend a week with my best friend M. She's the kindest and realest person you will ever meet. Her family welcomed me with open arms & I am so grateful for that. 

I spent five whole days there (a Wednesday night - Tuesday afternoon trip) and we did so much. Every minute was filled to the brim with people that I adore & memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. In the short time I was there I ate more comfort food than I have in the past month, went to Disneyland, Six Flags, watched the Super Bowl with some amazing people, and attempted to go snowboarding. There will be more in depth posts about each thing because one post here just wouldn't do it justice.

California means the world to me. It's the one place I keep going back to time after time, wondering why I never gave it more of my time. Each time I go back, I'm greeted with love, and surrounded by laughter. Not only the people, but also the landscape awes me time after time. While I'm not quite sure (right now) where I'll end up in August, I know that California is definitely a possibility. 
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Our Final Stop: The Shedd Aquarium

After the Cubs won, we walked back to S's apartment and promptly fell asleep. It's crazy how much we crammed into two short days, but we did as much as we could. When we woke up on Sunday we decided to take it slow. We ended up getting breakfast at a place near S's apartment, and then went back to the apartment to pack up. 

After we packed up all of our stuff, we went and dropped it at S's work so that we could go to the Shedd Aquarium before heading back to Florida. We took the bus there which was very cool for me because then we got to see the Field Museum & Soldier Field on the way. We briefly walked by but hurried to the aquarium. 

While the Cubs winning the NLCS game will forever be the highlight of the trip, the second best part of the trip (besides being able to spend so much time with S) was going to the Shedd Aquarium. My two favorite animals are elephants & sting rays. At Shedd they have a huge sting ray touch pool (thankfully that was open) that they let us spend as much time as we wanted there. 

I absolutely love aquariums & like to visit them in every city that I go to, add that with the fact that they have a huge touch pool this easily became one of my favorite aquariums that I've ever been to. It's located on Lake Michigan & has amazing views of the city. This happens to be one of the bigger aquariums that I've been to. They have a ton of different species of fish, and in the middle of the aquarium they have a huge Wild Reef which was amazing to sit and watch. If you have time to go to the aquarium while you're in Chicago I would definitely say go - for the stingray pool alone. 

To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself, goes on a with a walking tour to see Millennium Park & Navy Pier, continues with a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo & Oz Park, and then we watched the NLCS game in Chicago (nbd)
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The Day the Cubs Won the NLCS

One of the coolest memories that I have is the night the Cubs won the NLCS game. Funnily enough, my ex and I had joked around about the series before we had broken up. I bet that there would totally be a game 7 (wishful thinking) solely because I was going to be in Chicago for it. I would just like to point out here that I was totally right, but not for the reasons I had originally argued. There is absolutely nothing that can compare to that night, especially for a newly minted baseball fan like myself. 

After a long morning/afternoon of walking, we decided to head back to S's apartment for a little bit before going out later that night for the game. It was a good thing we did too because we were all exhausted. After recharging our phones and refueling a little bit, we decided to go walk down to Wrigley to see what was going on/how the bars were. Some bars were charging $100 just to get in - not guaranteeing you would get a seat. That was insane to me, but baseball is a huge thing in Chicago that is taken very seriously. 

We walked through just to see the craziness of the crowd, and to buy a hat (M & I's request for them getting into the championship), then we bolted because it was insane. I am all about being there and being in the moment, but also being claustrophobic did not help at all. We headed to a bar about a mile away from Wrigley to meet up with some of S's work friends. We got there and the bar was slammed. Luckily enough, we were able to find a couple bar stools to pull up to their table.

I cannot even describe the feeling of watching the cubs play in game 7, in a bar, in Chicago, surrounded by cubs fans. It was honestly surreal. As the game began to come to a close we all closed out our bills to be safe. As soon as they won we all charged out the bar, with everyone else in there, and ran down to Wrigley. Holding onto each others hand's & purses we went with the crowd. By the time we got there everyone was filing out of the field & into the streets. It was the most joyous scene. We sang Go Cubs Go & gave high fives. It was only when someone lit fireworks into the crowd that we decided we liked our lives a little too much & headed home. 

I cannot even begin to describe the feeling & I'm not sure I'll ever be able to have it to compare it to. I am so grateful for S's hospitality & letting us come and take over that weekend.
To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself, goes on a with a walking tour to see Millennium Park & Navy Pier, then continues with a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo & Oz Park
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The Parks of Chicago: Lincoln Park Zoo & Oz Park

After walking for what seemed like hours, we grabbed our stuff from S's work and then got on the bus to head to her apartment. S lives about four blocks from Wrigley Field, it's insane. You can literally see the field from her window. She's so nonchalant about it and I'm over here freaking out. The first day we were there after heading back to her apartment, we ended up playing cards until about 4am...only for me to wake up the next morning around 8am ready to go. What can I say I was SO excited. 

The second day we were in Chicago we spent a lot more time walking around during the day. I was determined that we would go and see Lincoln Park Zoo so that we could see Alexander Camelton, their new camel [who ended up not even being outside - so disappointed]. Lincoln Park Zoo is a free 35 acre zoo located in Lincoln Park in Chicago. If you have the free time, it's definitely worth a walk through. They have a lot of animals there for it being free, but one of the coolest things they have is a show with their seals. Luckily we walked upon it just as it was beginning and we actually stayed for the entire show. It's crazy to me that you can just walk around this free zoo in the middle of downtown Chicago. 

Not too far from Lincoln Park Zoo is a smaller park called Oz Park. It's about a mile away so you can walk from one to the other, if you want. Oz Park is in the North Side of Chicago and has many different statues from The Wizard of Oz in it. The park allows animals, which was fun for us because we got to see a lot of dogs walking around. The park is relatively big so if you have spent the entire day walking, like we had, you walk half of it and then decide you want to take public transportation back to the apartment to prepare for the night. 

That night was the final game of the NLCS for the Cubs at Wrigley, so needless to say that needs to get its own post because boy was it a night. 

To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself, and then goes on a with a walking tour to see Millennium Park & Navy Pier
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A Walking Tour of Chicago: Millennium Park & Navy Pier

After we got pizza, we felt a little rejuvenated and decided to explore a little more before heading back to Sarah's apartment. There were two places that stood out to me the most that are typical things to do if you're visiting Chicago: Millennium Park [where Cloud Gate aka The Bean is] & Navy Pier. 

Millennium Park is where Cloud Gate, aka The Bean, is located. The park is located in the Loop area of downtown Chicago. The park is actually a lot bigger than you think it is, but from what I could tell most people go there for The Bean. Cloud Gate is the giant metallic sculpture located in the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park. To be quite honest, it was cool to see it up close and personal but I wasn't incredibly impressed by it. Yes, I am glad that we went to see it but I was more stunned by the views of downtown, which were absolutely beautiful. 

Once we were done staring at The Bean (which didn't really take that long to be quite honest) we decided to take a walking tour of Chicago. It's only about 1.5 miles to Navy Pier from Millennium Park and it's really quite a beautiful walk. We passed by The Riverwalk on the way, as well as Trump Tower (which was comical at this time because it was still before the election), and through a couple different parks. 

When we finally saw Navy Pier we were so relieved. Although it wasn't FREEZING yet, we were pretty cold (hello, we live in Florida). We walked inside to warm up just a little bit before heading outside to see the views from the Pier. Inside Navy Pier there's a bunch of different shopping opportunities as well as this amazing botanical garden. It was really cool because everything was decorated for Halloween since we were there the weekend before Halloween. While we didn't actually do anything there (they have a Ferris Wheel but it was shut down due to the wind), it was still an amazing place to go and visit. The views of the city are stunning, as long as you bring a jacket and some gloves you should be good because the wind is no joke on the pier.

To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself
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I Have No Sense of Direction & Can't Read a Map: Chicago Edition

If you ask anyone in my family, or any of my close friends, they'll all tell you the same thing: I cannot read a map and I am TERRIBLE at traditional directions. Now, keep this in mind & add in a city I've never been to and didn't think to look at a map ahead of time. M & I were going to take the metro into the city from the airport & drop our bags off at S's work so we could explore until S could get out of her meeting.

Our old roommate S [aka a literal saint] had sent us a Metro card ahead of time that was linked to her account so we didn't have to worry about buying one, which was incredibly nice of her. So, we put on google maps & followed S's directions as best as we could. We got off at the proper Metro stop, but that's about where our "following directions well" ended. We ended up going the wrong way down the street so what should have been a two block walk ended up being about a 30-35 block walk. We walked a good 9-10 blocks in the wrong direction before we realized we had done. In the end, we found S & her building and then laughed it off. We dropped our bags and headed out (in the opposite direction) to explore a little bit more.

S's meeting only took about another hour after we were done so we just wandered around popping into a few different stores. One of the first things that we wanted to do (me, mainly) when we got to Chicago was get true Chicago deep dish pizza. For this, according to S we HAD to head to Giordano's. Luckily, there was one right around the corner because we were starving. We only had a little bit of a wait, which was awesome because it was lunchtime on a Friday. While the pizza was really, really good deep dish isn't my favorite type of pizza. I'm more of a thin crust kind of girl. 

After eating, we dropped off our leftovers & then went to explore the city a little bit more. There's seriously SO much to see in downtown Chicago. S showed us the underground tunnels (that are probably lifesavers in the winter time) between the buildings, and up and down the area. I swear you could probably walk for hours and still not see everything. 

To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here
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