IMPERIAL SAND DUNES

Playing and posing in one giant sandbox

Taking photos has got to be one of my favorite things to do in the world. I know, that's a pretty bold statement for such a generalized topic but it truly is. You can even read about my passion for photography

here

if you want to know more about me. Suffice to say, the moment I first heard the term "photoadventure," it was like a dream come true. Having friends who share the same love for such an

expensive

hobby makes it all the more merrier and has also allowed me to hone in on my skills and test out my creativity. 

My friend Kevin and I decided to plan our next photoadventure and chose the

Imperial Sand Dunes

 as the destination. Kevin had already visited the place before so I had full faith that the trip was going to be an awesome one. Just by looking at the photos of the place online I was pumped: Jakku-esque (for all you Star Wars fans) with breathtaking landscapes...what more could I want! After rallying up a few of our friends, we hit the road for our highly anticipated adventure.

Some tips and tricks on preparing for the sand dunes:

-

CHECK THE WEATHER

: you want to be dressed appropriately! Take a jacket in case your trip lasts till nightfall and wear shoes/sandals you won't feel annoyed walking in the sand with.

-

SUNSET/SUNRISE:

 Whichever time of the day you choose, check what time the sun is up and goes down. I prefer sunset (only b/c I can't wake up at some ungodly hour). Golden hour here is

amazing

and the moments after that small gap of time are worth staying for! 

-

MAKE A PLAYLIST:

From San Diego, this place is about a 2 hours drive aka

pretty far

. There's really not much to see along the way besides rocks and farms so create an awesome playlist with plenty of sing-along songs for you and your buddies to have fun with. 

-

SNACK IT UP:

You're going to a desert so it's a good idea to bring water and a few snacks such as granola bars, fruit gummies, and chips. Our group discussed that next time we go, we'd take some

kimbap

with us lol. 

-

TAKE A CAMERA:

 If you're a person like me and can't resist snapping away, take a digital camera. We tried taking some photos on our iPhones but the quality on the smartphone really didn't do the scenery much justice. (Of course, if you're visiting to just take in the view with your eyes, that's cool too!) I used my

Canon Rebel T3i

with the

Canon 10-22mm

lens borrowed from a friend to get the shots above. For landscape shots, it's better to go for a lens that can capture wide angles (but a 50mm lens will look great for closeups as well!)

-

WATCH THE ROAD:

 Once the sun sets, it's pretty much one road in the middle of nowhere on the drive back. Don't fall asleep at the wheel and be aware of the speed limit! Cops could be hiding out in who-knows-where. 

Hope you enjoyed the photos and let me know if you ever get to visit or have any questions about my experience! Stay tuned for a short and funny vlog about our trip that will be on my

YouTube

 channel~

Yours, 

Rachel

GOODBYE LA, CIAO ITALY


I could (not) get used to this...






























Currently still in awe that I am going to be living in the amazing city of Rome for the next 4 months. From the best gelato I've ever eaten (s/o to Giolitti) to the incredibly ancient yet equally inspiring columns of the Vatican, Rome has been everything I could have imagined it to be and more. I still pinch myself as a reminder that this isn't simply a dream or a summer getaway--it's home for me (at least for the rest of the year). 

Stay tuned for more blog posts including reviews, photo archives and more! Oh, I've also got a vlog series starting with one episode already uploaded on YouTube. Check out the video below and make sure to SUBSCRIBE & THUMBS UP if you enjoyed. 

Keep up with my INSTAGRAM for more on-the-go updates of my stay here as well!

Arrivederci, 

Rachel 


HELLO PASADENA


In the city of roses...
























Last week, my friends and I decided to have a photo adventure in the wonderful city of Pasadena! Our friend Lydia had the whole day planned for us tourists and we had opportunities to discover the many delicious foods and beautiful scenery/architecture scattered about the town. 3/4 of us had our cameras ready so lots of photos were taken--many of which the photogenic Lydia was the main subject of (at least for mine anyway). 

Here's the list of places we visited:
-Dog Haus (known for their dogs, but their burgers are amazing)
-The Pie Hole (the early grey is a MUST try)
-City Hall (where Parks & Rec was filmed!)

Pasadena is filled with a diverse rich culture and I can guarantee you will have a great time whether you go with friends, family or simply by yourself! Comment below if you've ever been to Pasadena and let me know if there's any place I missed on my last trip!

Stay cool, 

Rachel

HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH:


Get ready to be bombarded by
all things Disney...













   



    



 


Last month, my friends and I visited two of our favorite destinations: Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. With the sun beating down on our faces, we waited in endless lines to ride all the various attractions, each provoking a sense of childhood nostalgia. To be quite honest, I sometimes forget how lucky I am to be a SoCal native and to have such a magical place practically next door to me. Disneyland is truly an experience that strikes all of your senses: the smells, the sounds, the movements all work together to perform a perfectly orchestrated adventure. 

One thing I tried differently for these two trips was to focus on the food. My friends and I researched beforehand and found a couple places we definitely wanted to check out before returning. I've listed some of the best dishes and snacks below; click on them to follow the links!

-Dole Whip @ the Tiki Juice Bar 
(this is a MUST, especially on hot summer days)
-Fried Chicken @ Plaza Inn
-Mickey Mouse Beignets @ Mint Julep Bar 
(donuts are my weakness, but Mickey Mouse shaped beignets? Hand me about 50 please)
(just typing this out made me drool)

Visiting the most happiest place(s) on earth can also seem...expensive. That's why we decided to pack lots of snacks and even a small lunch to ease the constant flow of cash that seem to jump out of our wallets. If you're not one of the lucky few who own seasonal passes, make sure to plan ahead and list out all the places you'd want to visit first within the parks. Keep cool by staying hydrated and take breaks when necessary. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Yours truly, 

Rachel

P.S.-I unfortunately forgot to bring a memory card to California Adventure--hence, the quality difference as I had to upload photos using my iphone. But hey, it's the experience that counts!

4TH OF JULY AT MAMMOTH:


Nothing like good ol' nature
to enjoy America's Independence Day...





















This year, my family hit the road to Mammoth Lakes, California to celebrate the day America gained their independence. The drive up was much longer than I expected, but the next couple of days made the hours in the car all worth it.

Most of our time in Mammoth was spent hiking along the many beautiful trails that led to even more breathtaking views. Various shades of green and brown dominated the scenery and the sky remained bright blue the entire time we stayed in the mountains. I was continuously carried away by God's creation and stood in amazement while viewing the various pine trees and lakes that scattered the land. Some highlights were: Devil's Postpile and Rainbow Falls. All natural and handmade by God's own fingers!

Despite the popularity of Mammoth (the 4th of July weekend is supposedly their busiest holiday), it was nice to take a break from the city--or suburban--life and breathe in the fresh air while working out our bodies. Even without the snow, Mammoth in the summer seemed alive: people were everywhere, the birds were high in the sky, and the leaves of every plant were stretched out to the sun.

I hope your summer is treating you well so far!

Check out some more photos of my trip HERE on flickr!

Adios amigos, 

Rachel

U SEE SAN DIEGO PART II:


Get ready
for a color explosion...














You can see over Chicano Park!






Welcome back to the second part of the "U See San Diego" experience!

Right after our stop at Seaport Village, we headed to the historically significant, Chicano Park. This park oozes culture and it definitely does not disappoint in the aesthetic department. Each vibrantly painted mural speaks a story about the discourse of the Chicano Movement--it depicts an era from the perspective of those directly affected by the movement. I took as many photos as I could on this stop (this was actually my favorite stop of the trip!), we headed toward Coronado Island to check out one of the oldest hotels in the nation: Hotel del Coronado.

I remember visiting this resort when I was younger and being fascinated by it's size and beach-front location--literally, this hotel leads right to the sand and water! The scenery didn't fail to amaze me when I visited again recently; however, I began to appreciate and understand it's historical content and ability to bring hundreds of people around the world just to discover bits and pieces of the past (some guests even claim the hotel hosts the supernatural!).

For our final stop, we toured around the one and only Old Town, San Diego. Filled with mouth-watering restaurants (you honestly can't leave SD without checking out these Mexican food places) and cute shops filled with souvenirs, Old Town was a good ending to a great day of traveling. 

Make sure you check out the link embedded in this post--find out more about San Diego's very best. Of course, this series only highlights few of the many awesome places you can visit when in the city: let me know if you've visited any of these places, or, tell me where you want to visit!

See ya in a few, 

Rachel 

U SEE SAN DIEGO PART I:


Thank you lady for photobombing 
our nearly perfect GIF...





The greyhound-breakfast-club
Honey the bulldog!

Someone tell this kid he's actually pretty darn cool
Palm tree or gigantic pineapple?









Hello! Welcome to the two-part series of my trip around San Diego, courtesy of Thurgood Marshall College aka the best college within UCSD. With my good ol' camera, Charlie, by my side and a very stylish ride aboard a double-decker bus, my friends and I were able to tour around a day's worth of landmarks in the in the city of San Diego...

To start, we roamed around Balboa Park (I actually wrote about this place, which you can read in detail HERE). On this particular day, the park tour became more of a "who-can-spot-the-most-dogs" game day since the dog to human ration seemed more dominate, favoring the canines. I also think the greyhound-breakfast-club had a special meeting that day, as you can tell in the fourth photo.

After taking tons of pictures (mostly silly ones on top of the empty stage), our bus took us down to Seaport Village. This area is a quaint little place right next to the Pacific Ocean--it's filled with a plethora of restaurants, shops, and entertainment. I think it's a great place to go on a date or have a relaxing time with your friends and family. 

Before long, we were on our way to our next couple destinations...which will be featured in the second part of this series! So, visit soon for my next blog post~

Thank you for reading, 

Rachel

LA JOLLA APPRECIATIN':


Life's a beach...





wow this water looks delicious



It's truly a privilege that I can continue to call UCSD my home for the next couple years. Living in La Jolla has treated me so well--the beautiful beach is just a stroll away and the warm, sunny weather is enough to keep me satisfied. Despite years of avoiding the seaweed smell and hidden tar underneath the sand, I've actually found myself becoming a beach person! I mean how can you resist such good-lookin' waves? And don't get me started on those sunsets...

This is just an appreciation post to my darling La Jolla, San Diego. Your annoyingly photogenic scenery never ceases to amaze me :')

Stay classy San Diego,

Rachel