WEST COAST EXPLORATIONS Pt.2

Welcome back to the West Coast journey! If you haven’t done so already go check out the first two stops in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe, in West Coast Explorations PT. 1. This part of the journey will begin in Los Angeles California and end in Seattle Washington.

The decision to go to LA was random. Since we were already going to be on the West Coast the thought was why not and so we did. We only planned to stay for the weekend because we wanted to enjoy a full week in Washington. Upon arrival to LA we checked into out hotel and went straight to the sights. Since every minute counted we headed to a famous hiking rail called Runyon Canyon Park .

This was definitely an experience. As we had already enjoyed the trails in Nevada, we thought this would have been a breeze. We were wrong. This park is insane. If you ask me, there is no trail. It’s a figure it out and hope you are going the right way trail lol. Most importantly it requires commitment to get to the end, if not, you’re stuck. As my sister quickly learned, DO NOT climb higher, and then wonder how you’re getting back down. There’s only one way, and if you don’t like heights, or the method of how you will have to get down then, DON’T go up there!!! I take into consideration that, because we were tourist, this may not be the experience of those LA natives who hike the trail frequently. They appeared to be having a blast, while we were trying not to twist ankles or break any bones. Besides that the sights are wonderful and the view of the skyline is worth it.IMG_4188After we re-hydrated from the workout of Runyon Canyon we cleaned up and headed to Redondo Landing on the Pier for the sunset and a nice dinner. The pier is a nice family friendly atmosphere with different restaurants and shops. You can take a romantic stroll or have the kids running around to the different booths. It’s along the coast line connected to two other beach cities (Hermosa and Manhattan Beach) with a nice view of  the Santa Monica Bay. It’s a great place to relax at the end of the day and still get the views of LA living.

IMG_4268The next day we got up early and headed out to see as much of LA as possible. The first stop was the infamous Hollywood Boulevard. This is where you get to meet the stars (literally). All along Hollywood Boulevard are the celebrity stars. This was the only time I enjoyed looking at my feet as I walked. Once you start, its hard to pick your head up because you don’t want to miss a name.

As you continue the walk, you run into the Capital Records building with a gorgeous mural of famous entertainers, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and The Dolby Theatre where the Academy Awards are held. From my experience, the most crowded star will be non other that the legendary Michael Jackson. It didn’t matter how much I readjusted to take a picture of his star, there was always someones feet, hand, or shadow in the way. This activity is a lot of walking, so make sure you put on your most comfortable shoes and have plenty of water. Depending on the time of year you go, you will be in the heat and under the hot sun for a while.

After seeing the stars, we took in the sights around LA before heading to the beach. As I said in West Coast Explorations Pt 1., we arrived in LA on the release weekend of Straight Out of Compton. Los Angeles was decorated with posters everywhere advertising the film. In honor of the film we took a quick trip to the City of Compton.

For me there was no way I could leave LA without hitting the beach. We chose the Santa Monica Pier because of the beautiful atmosphere it provided. I’ve seen the pier used many times in different films and felt it would be a good idea to enjoy the sunset at the beach. Given that I am not a beach person, I didn’t need a full day to relax in the sand. The beach and pier are free. The only thing that may be problematic but not impossible, is finding free parking close to the beach area. Once you are parked and head towards the water it will be a great sight to see. After the sun goes down, the rides from the pier amusement park lights up the sky. The music and laughter of the visitors and locals creates an atmosphere of excitement as everyone enjoys themselves. If you are looking to just kick back, relax on the beach, and still hangout once the sun has set, this is the perfect location.

Our last stop was a location I saw in the movie No Strings Attached (Natalie Portman & Ashton Kutcher). One thing you will recognize as I continue to share my journeys, is that many locations I select to go see, were places I saw in a movie and stood out to me. I thought the design of these lights were so creative and of course I wanted to take a picture there. Let me tell you, trying to get a  picture without others in it, or to even get a good angle to include the lights as much as possible, was a challenge. The design is called Urban Lights and located at Los Angeles County Museum of Arts. If you are looking to have a photo shoot (engagement/ wedding/ personal, etc.), this is a nice outside location, and with the right photographer your precious moment can be captured with the lights as a back drop.

(Note: The last 3 pics are from google. I wanted to show the amazing layout of the lights)

After spending a quick weekend taking in the scenes of Los Angeles we boarded our flight headed to our next adventure. The thing about Los Angeles is unless you live there you really don’t get to enjoy all it has to offer in one visit. There are so many other places to see, so do yourself a favor and create an itinerary of what is a must see for you. Remember you can always make time to return if you don’t get to do everything. I definitely have plans to return to see my favorite player (Lebron James) and the Lakers play at the Staples Center. In addition, I want the beautiful sunset bonfire on the beach.

The last destination on the West Coast journey was Seattle Washington. Now for some this may seem like a random location because its the North West part of the US, and I’m a East Coast city girl with southern roots. This is the beauty of having family all around the world. My dad’s side of my family lives here, so when I visit, I take every opportunity to see things that I wouldn’t otherwise think about.

There is nothing like a beautiful day in Seattle. The first stop was downtown Seattle and Pike Place Market. The market place is filled with different shops for food and souvenirs. You are located right at the pier and can take in the views of the water (Puget Sounds) and participate in family activities (Seattle AquariumSeattle Art Museum, and Seattle Great Wheel).

If you want to enjoy the sights from the water, hop on a water ferry and crossover to one of the islands or parks across the water. You get to enjoy the city skyline from the water and take in the history of the islands cross the Puget Sound. We decided to take the West Seattle Water Taxi over to Seacrest Park and walked around the city a bit. Given that it was getting late we didn’t stay too long but the overall trip there was nice and the city had a lot of cute little boutiques.

Upon arrival back into the city we went over to the Space Needle ,which is the highlight of Seattle. Unfortunately, tickets to get in sell out quick. Your best bet if you absolutely want to go to the top, and have limited time, make sure you book your tickets in advance. Luckily, I have been inside and up the space needle before, but its so beautiful that I always want to go when I’m in town.  Not to mention I have yet to enjoy dinner in the SkyCity Restaurant, but of course I will get there. So if you are ever in town, make sure you take a moment to see the views from the top.

On day two we decided to do another nature day, and take in the views of Snoqualmie Falls Park. I personally call this the Niagara Falls of Washington. The park provides a nice nature trail where you can enjoy the weather and take a nice stroll. As you walk throughout the park there a several areas to catch a nice picture of the scenic views. We decided to take a break near a small stream and dipped our feet in the water. As expected the water was cold but refreshing on a hot day. In addition, if you want to make it a day trip, there are a couple of tables around the park where you can sit and have a picnic.

So one would think, our journeys up hiking trails would have ended in LA. However, we decided to take on our biggest challenge yet. We decided to to hike Rattlesnake Ledge which is a 1.9 mile hike up to 1,100 feet. This was my second time doing the hike and it was just as hard as the first. This hike definitely requires commitment because it can be trying at times, and a strenuous workout. Despite all the struggles to the top, the views are worth it and its a great feeling of accomplishment. Make sure when you go, you have proper hiking attire such as sneakers, workout clothes, and WATER!!! I am so happy we had our backpacks because they were full of ice cold water that came in handy during the climb to the top. If you ever  go to Washington and in the area this is definitely a must do adventure.

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In effort to give you a full view of the scenery I combined the pics from my first time there and the time I went during this trip. As you can see the first time I didn’t know what to expect when I heard hiking (hence why I have on shorts and a top like I was trying to be cute). I got my life together the second time and was ready.

Given that Seattle is like a second home, I’ve had so many other experiences while visiting. While enjoying the sights, I enjoyed spending time with family. One tradition so far has been the gun range. When my Uncle Dwight first took me there, I was a nervous wreck because I had never held a gun before. When we went back on this trip, I was still nervous but I knew what to expect. I wouldn’t go to the range for sport, but I must say I think I have a pretty decent shot with a little practice lol.

There are many other sights to take in around town. Seattle is a very diverse city that has many different ethnic backgrounds. This allows visitors to partake in different cultural foods and activities. When you go, be sure to research all your interests in order to get the best out of the journey. Be open to experiencing new things and have fun.

Thanks for reading!!!!

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