Adventures for the Soul: Solvang & Santa Barbara

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Mine started out pretty fantastic. After celebrating my birthday on Friday night with the Bear and close friends, I woke up early Saturday morning for a mini triathlon with some of my Cal Tri buddies. It was a blast and great practice for open water swimming.

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We may have gotten in trouble with the lifeguards for swimming outside of the buoys to a dock about 250 meters away from the shore.

20140524_114646-sTo our defense we asked if we could swim outside of the buoys… though we may have left out how far outside the buoys we planned on swimming! ;-) Totally worth it!

My Memorial weekend adventures didn’t stop there. On Sunday the Bear and I drove north to a little town called Solvang, a great little Danish community that was founded in 1911. 20140525_144052-sWe strolled through the town enjoying all the little shops and eating a  few Danish pastries…

20140525_144842-s… and pretending to be a Danish soldier!

IMG_3913-sAfter our trip to Solvang, the Bear and I stopped by Santa Barbara on the way home. As it turns out, every Sunday there is a Art Show right on the boardwalk.

20140525_165001-sThe Bear and I cruised the pier where we ran into this little guy…

20140525_163526-s… the Bear likes to take pictures of me taking pictures.

IMG_3950-sFrom the pier, we may have spotted the Little Mermaid walking on land.

20140525_162417-sAnd I finally got the Bear to pose for the camera!

20140525_163159-sOverall, we had a wonderful weekend! I wouldn’t have changed a thing!

One Year Ago Today…

… A girl started a blog called Chasing Raspberries. Little did she know that it would change her life. You see, this girl would go on to run her first 10k, two half marathons, a full marathon, multiple duathlons and a few triathlons leading her way up to training for a half Ironman.  All because of a silly little blog that this girl started a year ago today.

IMG_3118A year ago, a girl found this blog, and thought “I can do that!” She started to eat real foods. Foods that come from the earth without processed chemicals. She experimented with new recipes, and discovered what fresh tasted like again.

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A year ago, a girl discovered what having muscles looked and felt like after she started going to a personal trainer. She gradually went from working out three times a week to six times a week. She completed a 50 push up challenge, flipped 300 pound tires, and learned to stand on her hands.

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A year ago, a girl started to document her journey toward a healthy life. She started to run. Not because she particularly enjoyed it at first, but because it made her feel powerful and alive. She created new friends along the way, and discovered new sports like swimming and cycling.

IMG_5789_smA year ago, a girl discovered a new passion that would completely change her life forever!

A huge THANK YOU to all the Chasing Raspberries readers. I look forward to sharing another year of Adventures for the Soul with you!

Month of Love: Sydney, Australia

For the final leg of our trip to Australia, the Bear and I stayed at Darling Harbour in Sydney. We arrived late in the evening, and the views of the Harbour at night were just gorgeous! February was the Month of Love in Darling, so romance was in the air the minute we stepped outside of our hotel room.
IMG_2425-s(The Bear took all the photos, unless he or food are in it!)

This wall was covered in chalk paint where lovers could leave a message. I adored reading all the love notes. IMG_2434-s The city lights were stunning as reflected on the Harbour waters. IMG_2438-s IMG_2424-s Hearts could be found at every nook and cranny! IMG_2453-sCouples could even take a private boat ride in these little love boats above. IMG_2444-sAfter dinner the Bear and I stopped for desert at N2 Gelato, where a bunch of mad scientists made gelato before your eyes by using liquid Nitrogen.
IMG_2456-sThe following day we spent cruising the streets of downtown Sydney.

20140224_083748-sWe stopped by the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Can you believe that people actually climb the top of that bridge?! Talk about scary!IMG_2182-s I was happy enjoying the views from the ground. IMG_2206-s IMG_2301-s 20140224_122947-s Later we enjoyed lunch at Yuki’s at Quay, as recommended by Brittany.  The sushi was incredible and you can’t beat that view of the Opera House!  IMG_2258-sAfter lunch we waddled around the Circular Quay for a close up of the Sydney Opera House.

IMG_2325-sAfter wandering around the Sydney Botanical Gardens, we decided to discover the city from above so we went to the Sydney Tower Eye.

IMG_2359-s Sydney is known for it’s blue and green… that’s blue sky and green trees. IMG_2384-s IMG_2370-sThe only way to top our day in Sydney, was to go to Bondi Beach the following day! I am sure you have heard of Bondi because it’s one of the most famous tourist beaches in Australia.

IMG_2557-sEven though it’s a tourist beach, it’s still absolutely beautiful!
IMG_2504-s IMG_2477-sIMG_2535-s Plus, a short walk around the corner you can find some of the most beautiful ocean waters and cliffs.
IMG_2575-s IMG_2584-sIn the middle of the above picture, you can see two of the smaller beaches within walking distance from Bondi. We spent an hour or two on Tamarama Beach, as seen below.

IMG_2593-sAfter a lovely beach day, the Bear and I spent our final evening in Australia at Darling Harbour. As you know from the previous pictures, it is simple beautiful, and they also have some of the best dining experiences along the Harbour. Let’s just say it’s a good thing I am running a marathon this weekend!

IMG_2610-sI already miss my time in Australia. The people are among the friendliest, the beaches are among the bluest, the cities are among the cleanest, and the reef… oh the reef and it’s glory! My next trip to Australia cannot come soon enough!

Reef and Wildlife in Cairns, Australia

Today we are going to talk about my adventures at Cairns, Australia! I know you probably just want to see my Great Barrier Reef pictures, but stay tuned! There is so much more to see from Cairns! 613-sJust my little blue friend from the reef!

The first day the Bear and I arrived in Cairns we spent poolside enjoying the ocean (not swimmable) view at the Esplanade.

IMG_0915-s(All land pictures were taken by the Bear, unless he is in it).
IMG_0922-sAs I told you yesterday, I was keeping up on all the blog and Instagram posts while in Australia. The Bear caught me in the photo above.

IMG_0985-sThe following day we took the railway to the Kuranda Rainforest, where we spent the day enjoying the scenic views and wildlife. IMG_1000-s IMG_1060-s 20140221_092923-sIMG_1170-s IMG_1199-sJust a little waterfall!

IMG_1371-s Once we were in Kuranda, we hung out with a few tropical birds. IMG_1248-s The birds will do just about anything for a peanut or sunflower seed. IMG_1246-s IMG_1377-sOn our way down from Kuranda, we took the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway…

IMG_1440-s IMG_1417-s …where we saw wild birds in the tree tops! IMG_1411-sThat evening we spent in the small town of Cairns. I may have even done a handstand backbend in graffiti alley.

IMG_2095-sOn our final full day in Cairns we went to Green Island and the outer Great Barrier Reef. At Green Island, I saw…

GOPR0071-s…claws the size of a medium dog…GOPR0065-s …a giant blue starfish…GOPR0080-s …turtles…GOPR0079-s GOPR0078-s …lots of turtles…GOPR0034-s …a jellyfish, eek!…GOPR0040-s…and a little stingray looking up at me!

After snorkeling at Green Island, I was beyond excited to go to the reef!

IMG_1943-sAnd it didn’t disappoint! GOPR0145-s Oh the colors!G0430311-s And the fish!G0260255-s G0900517-s Such blue water!G0250251-s And blue fish!GOPR0173-s GOPR0160-s GOPR0109-s I may have even touched a turtle there! Shh! Don’t tell!G0090203-sI couldn’t leave the reef without saying goodbye to my giant blue fish friend!

One thing I learned while in Cairns is that fish and birds can be quite friendly. I never realized how pet-like they can be. Plus, the city and reef were absolutely gorgeous! I am already planning my next trip.

Upside Down in Down Under Melbourne

Hello!!!!!!! It has been too long! While I have been enjoying my time in Australia over that last two weeks, I have not forgotten about you! I have been reading all your blog posts silently while traveling along the Great Ocean Road. No big deal!

IMG_0736I have decided to recap each of the three cities the Bear and I visited in separate posts this week. Today we start with Melbourne, Australia.  It was a long 17 hour flight from LAX to Melbourne, but every hour on the plane was worth Australia’s glory.  It was absolutely magnificent!  Once we landed, the Bear and I went exploring the city.

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All of the photos were taken by the Bear, unless the Bear is in the photo! ;) 20140217_140504 IMG_0250

Melbourne is a wonderful city. I just love the combination of modern and old world architecture.

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All of the locals were young business people, who were absolutely fabulous.20140217_161609-s 20140217_142425-s

Melourne is filled with little arcades and alley ways with endless amounts of dinning and shopping.

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And I just love the Melbourne style!

After a little shopping, the Bear and I went to the Skydeck 88, where we could see the entire city.

IMG_0292-s A view from the Skydeck. IMG_0256-s

A view of the Skydeck and Yarra River. I later ran a few miles along this river.

20140217_150201-s Capturing the Bear in his natural form. :-) IMG_0258…And the picture he captured.

The following day, the Bear and I visited some Kangaroos on the way to Philips Island for the Penguin Parade.

IMG_0418 (2)-s They just wanted a bite to eat and maybe a little shade from the hot sun. IMG_0403-sThat evening we arrived at Philips Island where little blue penguins waddle up the shoreline to lay eggs in burrows along the cliff-side.

IMG_0527 IMG_0532Urban development began to destroy the penguins’ natural habitat. In an effort to resort the penguin population on Philips Island, they started to install little boxes like the one below.  On any given night, you can see between 500 to 5,000 penguins at the parade.
IMG_0531-s IMG_0533-sIn the picture above you can see the “stadium” for the penguin parade.

Although we weren’t allowed to photograph the parade, it looked a lot like the picture above. (picture source)

IMG_0670On our final day in Melbourne, we went on a tour of the Great Ocean Road to the 12 Apostles. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

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I finally mastered the handstand without a wall! Sure, it may have only lasted a few seconds!IMG_0654-sWe stopped at a few beaches and the rainforest before making our way to the 12 Apostles. IMG_0724 IMG_0702The view at the 12 Apostles was breathtaking! Fun fact: there are only 9 apostles left due to erosion.

IMG_0798-s Just another handstand at Loch Ard Gorge! There always seems to be a love story behind the names of these ocean landmarks. This gorge is named after a ship called Loch Ard, where it was ship-wrecked, with only two survivors: Tom and Eva. It is said that Tom never married in his lifetime because he fell in love with Eva the night they were stranded together at the gorge.

IMG_0804Finally we went to the London Arch, which was formerly called the London Bridge before it fell down and stranded two young girls on the arch before they were rescued. Naturally, we couldn’t finish our time in Melbourne without another cool story!

Pasadena Rose Parade

Happy New Year!!! I hope you all had a fabulous night and are having a wonderful day. Since I have moved to Pasadena, I walk down the street with a stepladder to watch the Rose Parade very single new year. By the time the parade arrives in my hood, it’s been on TV for an hour so I scope out all the beautiful floats for pictures.

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Typically this means I look for the floats with animals and butterflies.

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I just love all the horses! They are so well behaved. I wish my dogs could learn a thing or two from them. :)

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IMG_7015-smThese ladies were so beautiful!

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I’ve been told that even the ickiest of motels go for $600 a night during this time of year. I am very lucky to live in Pasadena year round!

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Apparently there is tough competition to become the Rose Queen. I heard that about a thousand young ladies applied this year.
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This was the party float! Everyone was dancing and singing…naturally it was the wine float!

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This was my favorite float! I wish I got a full picture. The ladies were beautiful too.

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Every year hundreds of thousands of people come to watch the Rose Parade. Last night the Bear and I decided to attach the GoPro to our car and drive through the streets to see the crowds. Little did we know that people would throw food and silly string all over our car and GoPro! Lesson learned for next year: don’t drive down Colorado!

One thing to note is that the parade is definitely for the young or young at heart. I typically only watch the parade for an hour (lasts 3-4 hours) before heading back home.

IMG_7129-smI stood next to these little girls during the parade. It was a truly magical experience for these two as they kept saying “WOOOOOW” to each and every float. If you live in the area or are planning to come out next year, be sure to bring the littles along. They will never forget the experience!

I hope you enjoy the photos! Happy New Year my friends!!!

Fitness Adventures for the Soul

Long time no see! I have been a little MIA lately since the Holidays are a busy time of the year. All of you can relate I am sure. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with friends and family.  Mine was fabulous! The Bear and I kicked off the season with a quick trip up Mt. Wilson to see the city lights.
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It was beautiful!!!

On Christmas Eve my mom and brother came up to Pasadena for dinner. The four of us walked around The LA Arboretum to burn off a few of the calories we were about to consume.

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We even saw a few peacocks. They are a common sight at The Arboretum.

The Bear and I have a tradition to open gifts on Christmas Eve instead of on Christmas morning. It’s great and makes Christmas morning a little less stressful prepping for the day. I received a LOT of fitness gear this year!!!
imageIf you have been following me on Instagram, you know I have been putting my new fitness gear to good use lately.

There was running…
image imageswimming…
image and cycling!
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imageA funny thing happened since my first triathlon! For some reason my Instagram followers tripled and I am not complaining! I have gotten a ton of triathlon advice and even met a few new friends. I might be the only weirdo who meets people from IG. Though I am glad I did because I now have a new triathlon Jedi Master, who shared with me a ton of new tips and tricks! (Be smart! If you meet a stranger from the internet, do it in a populated area!)

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Finally, the Bear and I went shooting for the first time. About a year ago, I finally gave in and let the Bear get a few guns. Don’t worry, they are safely taken care of and properly locked up.
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No animals were hurt in the making of this photo. :)

Questions: How were your Holidays? Did you try anything new this season? 

 

Hollywood Sign Hike

In addition to having a fabulous weekend with Brittan, we also hiked to the Hollywood sign. This has been something on my bucket list for the last few years, so I was thrilled to finally cross it off the list. The hike definitely lived up to our expectations.
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After a little research, I discovered that there are three different hiking trails to the Hollywood sign. All three hikes are of different difficulty levels, which is great for everyone from beginner hikers to the more experienced. Brittan and I decided to take the hardest hike, which is actually shorter than the other two but much, much steeper.
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It took us about 45-50 minutes to get to the top of the mountain. The view from the top was worth every drop of sweat (TMI?) and burning glutes. We were lucky that it rained the day before our hike because it cleared up most of the LA smog.

imageJust putting my feet up and enjoying the view.

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image Brittan likes her subjects to pose for the camera. This is my “let me outta here” pose but really it’s more like “I want to stay here forever!”

imageOn the way down the mountain, Brittan and I were talking about how we wanted to try out aerial workouts like we saw the night before at The Edison. Naturally five minutes later, we ran into two arco yogis performing on the mountain side. Only in LA would this happen!

imageThey were truly incredible! imageBoth of them had abs of steal! Arco yoga does wonders for the body. imageIf any locals are interested in learning the acro yoga practice, they meet in Santa Monica on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and accept people of all experience levels!

I highly recommend the Hollywood sign hike to everyone, whether you live here or are just passing through LA., because you never know what you will see! The total hike took about an hour and a half and we took our sweet time and chatted with some arco yogis.

Question: Have you ever hiked to the Hollywood sign? What is your favorite hiking trail? 

Weekend Shenanigans – LA Adventuring

Why hello there! I have missed you my friends. It was another busy weekend with my college friend Brittan and her sister Megan. One thing that I love about Brittan is that she never tires. She is always going, going, going. Now I understand how she ran a half marathon with only training 3 miles beforehand. We both are shopaholics and the weekend started with Pre-Black Friday shopping down in San Diego.  We scored some awesome deals at the Carlsbad outlets.

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Love my new Kate Spade!

I have lived in Los Angeles for almost 5 years, but I have yet to explore the nightlife here. In a effort to see what LA is all about, Brittan and I went to The Edison, which is a very cool jazzy roaring 20s lounge in downtown. They have the most amazing snacks too. We munched on mac and cheese and fries. Not very healthy but delicious! The Edison didn’t disappoint with a beautiful aerial performance.

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We also tried out a few clubs in LA but weren’t satisfied. People don’t dance as much in LA as they do in Vegas. However, Brittan and I did discovered that GU Energy gives the perfect boost while dancing the night away.

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I know you love the awesome blue glow I have got going on in this picture above.

The rest of the weekend Brittan and I spent exploring Westwood and West Hollywood. Both areas are beautiful but we especially loved West Hollywood. It’s a manicured neighborhood and the locals are the friendliest!

imageThis shop below was hilarious!
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We stopped to eat at Tender Greens and Urth Caffe. I was happy to discover that both of which have locations in Pasadena. Score!image

After a very late lunch (more like dinner) the sun was starting to set, so we drove up Sunset Blvd to take pictures of the sun setting among the mansions. We parked along the steep winding road and then sprinted up the hill after we were done with pictures.

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After the sun set, we went to The Grove for some more shopping. We were so impressed with the holiday decorations. They even had fake snow!

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After shopping, we sprinted up 8 flights of stairs back to the parked car. Brittan has a way of making me do sprints!

Question(s): Do you enjoy Black Friday shopping? What do you think about Pre-Black Friday shopping?

Las Vegas Recap

I am so excited to be home again! Over the last 5 days I have been in Las Vegas.  Let me tell you, 5 days in Las Vegas is a lot! I think 3 or maybe 4 days will do in the future. Since I have nothing else planned to post for the week I thought I would give y’all a recap of my trip.
imageThis was Brittan’s and my third time in Vegas this year but it never seems to get old.  We arrived at the Cosmopolitan Casino and it was beautiful to say the least. I have to give the Cosmo credit for having excellent air circulation, which is great considering people smoke in the casinos.

imageAfter our arrival we ate, shopped, and then danced. Except for the night we ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, all our days in Vegas looked alike, with the occasional show or two. image(Photo taken by the beautiful Brittan)

Some of my favorite meals were from Mon Amy Gabi and a Thai restaurant just off the strip. Lotus of Siam actually has the reputation of being the best Thai restaurant in the nation!
imageWe had more than one meal from a pizza joint inside of the Cosmopolitan on the third floor.  The entrance is un-marked as the restaurant doesn’t have a name. We call it “secret pizza” and it seriously has the most amazing New York style pizza.  Like I said, we went there on multiple occasions.
imageOn Saturday, we went to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Expo.  It was the biggest race expo I have been to so far.  Some of my favorite vendors were Flip Belt, Nuun, and Sparkly Soul Fitness Headbands.  I just discovered Sparkly Soul and I absolutely love the headbands! Brittan and I ran the entire half marathon without needing to adjust the headband at all!
imageOn our last night in Vegas, I met up with the lovely Sara from Fit.Fun.Femme, who happened to be in Vegas for work. She was even more bubbly and beautiful in person.  We had a blast getting to know each other over a drink. I always felt like I knew Sara just from reading her blog, but it was nice to see her personality come to life in person… such a sweetheart!
imageIt was a long Vegas weekend. I truly had the time of my life, but I am ready to be home with my pups and husband!

Question of the Day: What is your favorite restaurant in Vegas?