We arrived in Anchorage around 2:00 AM, exchanging soft California sun for a biting cold. With the airport deserted and snow piled up outside of the clear glass doors of the warm airport sanctuary, we decided to spend the first night of our spring break sleeping at baggage claim. We would have 7 more days to camp and journey into the Artic and blistering cold of northern Alaska, so we would enjoy warmth while we still could.
Curled up in our sleeping bags constant noise blared through loudspeakers “PLEASE DON’T LEAVE BAGGAGE UNATTENDED.” Around 5am, and after a few restless hours of sleep Daniel suggested we start on the road. The Hertz rent-a-car was just opening up as a sleepy attendant dressed in the signature yellow and black vest wiped sleep from his eyes.
The Airbnb was booked and my friends and I were set to spend two days in Joshua Tree National Park. I was mistakenly under the impression that Joshua Tree equated to a smaller-scale Yosemite, and prepared for hiking trails that met cascading waterfalls to the backdrop of evergreen trees and whiffs of pine needles. I hoped to take a nap on a bed of moss or dip my toes in a flowing river; a sweet ending to my summer. Little did I know, I was heading to the extreme opposite. In actuality, I was walking into an endless desert, littered with sparse shrubs and various types of cacti. Despite an underwhelming sense of disappointment that this was not the picturesque nature I had envisioned, I was on this trip with ten of my favorite people, so I gave Joshua Tree a chance. The house itself was an architectural labyrinth, built by a rock climber in the 2000’s. Slate walls and strategically placed geometric windows filtered natural light and balanced the Mojave themed furniture. Shoes in the house were recommended by our Airbnb hosts because cactus pricks tend to trail in and fire ants posed painful surprises. A shower with a sliding door to a balcony, a newly fastened ring of hammocks in the front yard, a working record player, and spiraling staircases; turns out, exploring the house was half the fun and certainly a modern oasis in this dust bowl of a national park.
Naturally, we began to cook a truly continental breakfast to the blaring tunes of our favorite 90’s hip hop jams. A platter of avocado toast sprinkled with radishes and sunny side up eggs hit the table alongside roasted Potatoes O’Brien and turkey bacon. We feasted and exchanged antics, I would safely say we made King Arthur’s round table jealous.
I spent this past summer working and living at Pepperdine University, located in Malibu, California. Malibu is a beautiful location known for its famous beaches (many movies and TV shows were filmed here) and laid-back atmosphere. Although the school is located directly across the street from the ocean, Pepperdine is an acclaimed private school, highly regarded for its international programming. This summer, I worked with three other interns at Pepperdine’s Housing and Residence Life. Though my work at Pepperdine was quite fulfilling, my most memorable summer moments took place on the weekend adventures on which I went with my fellow interns. Of the many Los Angeles gems we visited, the Griffith Observatory, Point Dume Natural Preserve, and the Santa Anita Park were among my favorites.
Located in the northern hills of Hollywood, the Griffith Observatory is a must see Los Angeles landmark. I don’t know why I had never visited before. It is mostly known for its fantastic views. My friends and I visited in the evening so, standing at the lookout points, we got to see the sun set over the city and witnessed all the Los Angeles city lights take over the darkness. It was perfect. The interior of the building is just as stunning; it is beautifully architected and makes for fun picture opts with friends. While inside the building, I saw everything from telescopes, to a giant ticker clock, to statues, to an orbit exhibit with all the planets.