Tag Archives: california

Easing the Restlessness

By Matt Keibler

“Do you want to go to the Grand Canyon to see the sunrise?”

Now, I am one for adventure. Hiking Mt. Baldy, snorkeling on the Atlantic shelf, walking alone through a Moroccan market, traversing the hills of Scotland through sleet storms – I have no trouble with getting outside. The real issue is getting friends to go with me. Happiness is only real when shared, no?

So, when I asked my dear friend Rachel to spend her one day off on one of the last weeks of Summer 2015 to drive seven hours across the Arizona desert in the middle of the night for a few dawn hours on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, I was nervous that she would say no. After all, this was the last thing on my summer bucket list before senior year. Who knows where we would both be next year? I warned her. It would be an exhausting task. We would need coffee and Clif bars and maybe some 90s throwbacks to get us through the night. And I knew that she was the only one crazy enough to say yes to this.

And she did.

“Great. Go take a nap. We leave at 9:30pm. Sun rises at 6:37am.”

She did not realize the immediacy of my question and yet, she took it in stride. Within a few hours, we were packed, caffeinated, and midway to Barstow, where we would leave the traditional route to Las Vegas, instead opting for the 40 freeway and another 4 hours of desert. Musically, we had moved through The Great Boy Bands of the 90s, and into 90s alternative rock. Blink-182 was a better vibe for a midnight drive through the California desert anyways.

Now, I am a boy from Florida, and I thought I knew heat. Summer nights are a balmy 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a light breeze, if you’re lucky. My best memories are sitting on the beach after midnight in the late summer, watching the lightning from a far off storm illuminate the ocean. The flash of blue mirrors itself on the water, and for a split second, you can see the beach around you. Sometimes you could see a boat far, far in the distance. Most of the time, you saw the horizon of blueish black meet the stars. But only for a second. In that consuming darkness, you are left with nothing to do but sit down and bask in its awe.

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Road Trippin’ Down the PCH

By Greg Lennon

After studying at USC for over a year and a half, I have exhausted almost all of Los Angeles’ tourist attractions.  I’ve hiked the Hollywood Sign, journeyed to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and been to Santa Monica Beach countless times.  This spring, after buying a new car, I thought I would take my new ride on an inaugural road trip.  The long weekend at the start of the semester was the perfect time.  So I rounded up a few friends, rolled down the top on my brand new (to me) Ford Mustang, and headed up the Pacific Coast Highway for the weekend.

greg - pch4The Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, is one of California’s most storied routes, offering some of the most beautiful views the state has to offer.  The highway runs along the California coast from its southernmost tip in Orange County, all the way to Mendocino County in Northern California.  Along the way, drivers can stop for gorgeous views of the California coastline, as well as various famed attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, The Monterrey Bay Aquarium, and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

My friends and I started up the PCH late in the day on a Friday afternoon, so we were able to see the classic Malibu sunset as we sped up the highway.  Stopping in Malibu for dinner, we sampled an apparently world famous pizza parlor, then returned to the highway for what would be a long drive.  A couple hours later we arrived in Santa Barbara to fill up on gas and grab a snack.  Santa Barbara is known for its nightlife in the college town neighborhood of Isla Vista, as well as its storied downtown, where we stopped to rest.  After a quick fill up, we returned to the highway en route to our final destination of Big Sur.  As night fell on the PCH, the road grew extremely foggy, making the turns of the twisting highway that much more perilous.  Around midnight, we arrived at our campsite at Big Sur, directly adjacent to a small river, and surrounded on all sides by redwood forest.

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A Homestay Home

By Ida Abhari

When I entered my first year at high school – already a new and uncertain time – my mother told me and my sister that our family would start hosting international university students. I thought it would be a fun experience and, having grown up with immigrant parents, I was no stranger to the joys of diversity. At the same time, I was a little bit nervous too. Would I be able to create an authentically American experience for these students? Would they enjoy my home and family?

The day Yuki (our first student) arrived, we tried to make sure she would be as comfortable as possible. Thinking it wouldn’t suit her taste, we didn’t eat our usual traditional Persian food for dinner; we ordered pizza instead. During dinner, we learned that Yuki had never been outside of Japan but that she was excited and open to learning about her new surroundings and broadening her horizon. I quickly saw how kind and understanding she was and that I shouldn’t have worried about her not liking our home. In fact, she told us she wanted to try Persian food, which surprised and pleased us at the same time.

In the coming weeks, we showed Yuki our city. I pointed out the best tofu house, my favorite boba shop, and my high school hangout spot. Though Yuki went back to Japan after finishing her semester abroad, we were fortunate enough to receive many more  intriguing students. Hitomi, Miyuki, Tomomi, and Mae, among others, became part of our household and constituted an important part of growing up for me. From them, I learned how things I had previously saw as ordinary were actually quite extraordinary – Miyuki, for example, was thrilled that we had a grill in our backyard. She snapped countless pictures of this grill, something I had seen as a standard household item. She explained that where she lived in Japan, houses and backyards were often too small for such features. Likewise, Hitomi introduced me to the Bath and Body Works store. With its varied and delightfully-scented cosmetic items, I am forever thankful.

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