An evening fishing excursion at Hamilton Branch, a creek that flows into the northeast corner of Lake Almanor:
01 - A view of Hamilton Branch Creek from the bridge
02 - Peering down at our fishing spot, where we had to make our way down the trail to
03 - My happy angler fishing during the last hour of daylight
04 - Calling it a day at 8:28pm
Over Memorial Day Weekend, Clay and I finally made the trip out to Lassen, checking off our last national park in California! From Friday-Monday, we stayed at St. Bernard Lodge, a friendly Bed & Breakfast located about 20 minutes from the main park entrance. Each morning, we enjoyed a nice breakfast buffet prepared for us by the B&B's owner.
On the first day, we visited the Kohm Yah-mah-nee (Snow Mountain) Visitor Center, where we watched a short film and learned that Lassen is one of the few places on earth where you can find all 4 types of volcanoes: shield, cinder cone, dome plug, and composite! Then we drove out to Sulfur Works, an easily accessible hydrothermal area where we were able to get a good look at some bubbling mudpots and steam vents. Since the main road of the park was still closed (we were very lucky it opened the day after), we decided to drive to the Warner Valley trailhead and hike 1.2 miles to Boiling Springs Lake. The hike was beautiful and the trail took us through a lush green meadow and across a bridge, leading us to a bubbling lake! I was quite mesmerized by all the different colors that the lake displayed and by the sight of the steam rising up from the water. Boiling Springs Lake was probably my favorite from the weekend! After the hike, Clay and I spent the rest of the day in the small town of Chester at the Lassen Gift Company & Soda Fountain (where we got an ice cream sundae) and The Locker Room (where we ate dinner and watched the NBA finals).
On the second day, we were able to drive through the main road of the park. We stopped by Emerald Lake and Lake Helen, which were both frozen and just starting to melt. At Lake Helen, we could see people hiking the snowcapped Lassen Peak. Other spots we stopped to see or drove by were: Kings Creek, Summit Lake, and Chaos Crags. We ended our drive at the northwest end of the park, where we visited the Loomis Museum and hiked the self-guided Lily Pond Trail (0.6 mile loop trail). We also hiked Reflection Lake (0.5 mile loop trail) and Manzanita Lake (1.8 mile loop trail). Clay ended up bringing his fishing pole so that he could stop and fish during our hike around the two lakes. Though we didn't have enough time to actually wait long enough for any fish to catch, all of the fishing spots we found around the lake provided beautiful views of Lassen Peak. Reflection and Manzanita Lake pretty much wrapped up our time at Lassen, but we did end up visiting another fishing spot at Hamilton Branch, which I'll cover in a separate post.
Next time we return to Lassen, hopefully we will be able to check out Bumpass Hell (closed this time) and hike Cinder Cone! For now, I feel very content with what we were able to see and will consider it a good preview to Yellowstone.
A very rare Saturday with no class and no pre-scheduled events calls for a morning of sleeping in and a spontaneous day trip up to Berkeley, which we hadn't visited for a while. Our first stop of the day was Noodle Theory Provisions. This was our first time visiting the Oakland location. Clay ordered a kalua pork ramen with poached eggs, bamboo shoots, & nori, while I ordered my usual go-to, grilled niman ranch beef udon in a coconut lime curry broth. My favorite dish at my favorite restaurant in Berkeley - just looking at the photo makes me crave it all over again! Next stop, we did some work at Au Coquelet, a cafe in downtown Berkeley where I used to study all the time back in college. We then met up with some of our friends from church and walked around to get ice cream from Ici's, potato puffs from Gregoire's, and pizza from Cheeseboard (always a must!). After our friends left, Clay and I managed to squeeze in a visit to Games of Berkeley, where we learned a new board game called Kingdomino. (Love that they set up tables in their back room so that people can borrow board games to play!) Our day ended with a reunion with my college roommate, Hyuna, who I hadn't seen since she moved back to Korea in December 2012. It was so nice to catch up with her at Mr. Dewie's Cashew Creamery over in Albany after not each other for 5+ years!
Some photos taken while playing around with my new iPhone X during a hike at Mount Sutro in San Francisco! I couldn't help but portrait mode all of the flora and fauna we came across. After our hike, we decided to pick up one of Clay's favorites: chicken wings! These gochujang and honey salty pepper wings from Hot Sauce and Panko were so tasty and hit the spot. Nearby Lafayette Park was the perfect place to enjoy this mid-afternoon snack!
Clay and I spent five days taking in all the sights and sounds of Kyoto, the former capital city of Japan. Kyoto was a refreshing change of scene from all the crowded subways, busy shopping districts, tall skyscrapers, and sensory overload (i.e., Akihabara the electronics district) of faster-paced Tokyo. So much history rooted in the city of Kyoto to learn about! There was so much to see and do in Kyoto, that we didn't even get a chance to visit the neighboring cities of Osaka, Nara, or Hiroshima!
Our first day in Kyoto was spent visiting Yasaka Shrine (a shinto shrine located in the Gion District) and Maruyama Park, which had plenty of cherry blossom trees that were still in bloom. There were so many food stalls set up throughout the park. Clay and I bought some grilled tofu on a stick (with all the toppings, please!), as well as some sakuramochi-flavored soft serve to help us cool down in the warm afternoon. As the sun was setting, we walked down to Pontocho Alley (an ancient food alley that has been around for at least 500 years), where we had an omurice dinner at L'oeuf. Afterwards, we walked to Nishiki Market, which had lots of shops, restaurants, and night life.
Day two in Kyoto was spent in beautiful Arashiyama! One could definitely spend the whole day exploring this district. Early in the morning, we headed straight to the Arashiyama bamboo forest, a short but stunning path lined with tall bamboo. The grove, however, was filled with tourists and wedding photo shoots, as expected. After, we visited the Tenryu-ji Temple right next to the bamboo forest. We then walked across the Togetsu-kyo bridge to visit the Arashiyama monkey park, where we saw so many red-faced Japenese snow monkeys. Clay got to feed a baby macaque some apples. Lunch was spent at Yudofu Sagano, a restaurant (with the most peaceful courtyard) that Clay found for us. There, we were given a set course meal involving yudo, soft tofu chunks simmered in broth, served with a variety of side dishes. Even though it was a pricy vegetarian meal, Clay and I were glad to try the tofu that Kyoto is known for! The rest of the day in Arashiyama was spent enjoying some coffee from % Arabica, cookie samples from Malebranche, souvenir shopping, and going on a relaxing pleasure boat ride on the scenic Oi River with its gorgeous mountain backdrop.
Early on our third day, we visited Fushimi Inari with a couple of our friends, Kristen and Danny. Of course, Kristen and I couldn't stop excitedly photographing the stunning vermillion tori gates, as our husbands teased (and modeled) for us. Afterwards, Clay and I sat down for some coffee at the nearby Vermillion coffee shop and then headed to Honke Owariya for lunch. Our lunch spot was the oldest soba noodle shop in Kyoto and has been open since 1496. It even used to serve the Imperial Palace! This actually was the first time Clay and I ever had soba. (And since we've been back home, Clay has been making simple, clean, and light soba noodle meals for us.) Next door to the restaurant, we found my favorite donut shop, Nicotto & Mam Doughnut Cafe. After lunch, we spent the first half of the afternoon walking though Nijo Castle (where some of the last shoguns lived!), before heading back to our Airbnb for a nap. In the evening, we went back out to eat udon for dinner and also visited the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, which was lit up for special night time visits in the spring!
Day four was dedicated to checking out some well-known temples of Kyoto. We started with Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavillion. We also went to Ryoan-ji, a temple famous for its zen rock garden. For lunch we went to Oosakaya, a restaurant I found on Tabelog that served hamburger curry, chicken karaage, and shrimp coquettes. After our yummy lunch, we headed over to Kyoto Yunohana Hot Springs Resort. This was the part of the trip that Clay and I had been looking forward to! Since our trip had been so jam-packed with sightseeing thus far, we were very ready for our one-night stay at this ryokan, where we had a room reserved with our own private onsen bath on the balcony! It was seriously the best...I just wish we could have had a couple more nights there to slow down and relax. The accommodations there were very thoughtful. We were given yukata to wear on the premises. There were so many fun drinks stocked in our fridge. Everything about our room was so comfortable. Our stay came with a kaiseki dinner and breakfast. The dinner was 12 courses and came with great service (there were even heated mats underneath our feet). Clay and I shared several funny moments during this meal -- at one point, as one of the other guests was walking outside our private dining booth, we laughed so hard until we cried. Another funny moment (which Clay recorded on his phone) was when we were presented with our live sashimi course swimming around in a bowl of vinegar.
On our last day in Kyoto, I was very sad to check out of the ryokan after our lovely breakfast (it felt like we had just arrived!). Good thing we had one last special destination on our itinerary to visit: Saiho-ji, also known as Kokadera or "moss" Temple. My cousin Mariko had actually recommended this temple to us, saying that it was one of her favorite places in Kyoto. She was very kind to help us to make a reservation by postal mail 2 months in advanced! Once we got to Saijo-ji, we were asked to gather in the main hall of the temple with the other visitors to quietly copy sutra and observe a chant of the sutra by some priests. After that, we were free to walk around and enjoy the serenity of the temple gardens at our own pace. The temple was beautiful and indeed covered in green moss everywhere! This final stop was a great way for me and Clay to end our time in Kyoto.
Just capturing as I go.