Sunday, July 29, 2012

Amazing Photos of 2012

We're only a little over half way through the year of 2012, but there have been an array of beautiful photos created so far. Can't wait for the rest of the year! This cover by The Huffington Post follows Reddit user stoopidtrooper who took it upon himself to compile some of the most amazing photos of 2012 from the photo sharing site Imgur. Here are some of my favorites. Enjoy and feel free to check out the rest of the images here.

"The Waterfall Island at Iguazu Falls" via Imgur/Reddit
"A Seahorse Inspects a Diver's Watch" via Imgur/Reddit
"Maelstrom at Kauai, Hawaii" via Imgur/Reddit
"Seal" via Imgur/Reddit
"Moon Bridge in Dahu Park Taipei" via Imgur/Reddit

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Timpanogos Cave and Antelope Island


I finished the last 2 hours to Salt Lake City, waited for check-in at Motel 6 until 2pm, ate way too much and planned my adventures for the following day.

On day 14, I woke up early to go on a 3 hour round-trip hike and guided cave tour at Timpanogos Cave in Wasatch Mountains, about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City. This is a really fun and cheap activity to do while in Salt Lake City! There is a $6 American Fork Canyon Fee to get into the park (can be used for up to 3 days) and a $7 (adult) fee for the guided cave tour.

There are no dogs permitted on the trail or in the caves due to steep cliffs and bats (and their guano!) in the caves. Luckily, the park has free dog kennels in a covered shaded area by the check-in building as well as dog bowls and water. I swear these kennels were built for Great Danes and Sebastian (my 4lb Yorkie) looked pretty ridiculous in the kennel.

The trail is paved the entire way up, has "danger/do not stop zones" marked with red lines indicating rock slide areas, plenty of benches conveniently set up at beautiful scenic points placed along the trail, restrooms near the top, and emergency stations.

Credit: Melissa Lehuta

Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta

I read mixed reviews on whether the hike itself is easy or severe and my personal opinion is that it definitely isn't easy but doable. I saw many families and small children making the hike to the top, many were out of breath and looking a bit strained but the rest stops and benches set up along the way gave everyone a chance to take a break when needed.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Into the Desert


I woke up early to get cleaned up and the rest of my things packed into the car. I decided to take a quick stroll along the Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, the second longest pier on the West Coast that extends 1,971 feet into the ocean.

Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta

This pier was built in 1966 and even though it may be a popular tourist attraction it serves a dual-purpose for locals as well to be able to fish without a license and not have to worry about their lines getting caught up on the plant life and rocks near shore.

Last Day in OB


I started off my morning at Jungle Java in Ocean Beach. This whole-in-the-wall, eclectic cafe was a lovely, quick retreat from the chaos on the roads outside. It stretched further than you would have expected looking at it from the outside and had plenty of tables to choose from amongst a little fountain, succulents intermingled in window shutters hanging on the walls and a central chandelier. The business itself isn't really enclosed in a building but has sort of a tent-like space set up for "indoor" seating at the front as well as plenty of space outside in the back area.

Credit: Melissa Lehuta
The barista was busy with other orders as I approached the counter and seemed a bit irritated by my presence at first. I sat patiently as she prepared a blended drink for a scruffy looking man with a cat in his backpack. Her appearance reminded me a bit of Jasika Nicole (actress "Astrid" on Fringe) who I think is quite beautiful and it was a nice change from all of the blonde hair, spray tans and fake boobs. She was very sweet after she got caught up with orders and a kick-ass barista.

I was preparing to hit the road the next day, so I went back to the apartment to finish up laundry and get things organized. I met Joey's elderly, cancer-recovering apartment manager who remarked "I don't mean to be rude, but who exactly are you?" when she spotted me in the laundry room. Joey warned me that she is upfront and doesn't hold anything back but very sweet. I told her I was staying with Joey and she nodded and continued on her way.

Joey and I had attempted to go to South Beach Bar & Grille in Ocean Beach a couple of days prior and learned our lesson to take a cab this time around for dinner. The security guard turned us around immediately after checking Joey's ID and pointing out that it was expired. This guy must have been having one of those days or power tripping or both. Joey doesn't look under 21 and had an ID that was valid until quite recently. So we got back in a cab to go to the apartment to grab his paperwork from the DMV and then back to the bar. Being the Californian that he is he just let it go, no hard feelings.

We were starving and ordered salsa, chips and guacamole, fried mushrooms, shark tacos and the carne asada mini street tacos. It was my last night there, and the last night I could ruin his diet so we ate like kings! After nearly finishing all of the food and bouncing back and forth between watching the baseball game and some guy hitting awkwardly on two girls at the bar, I was now in a food coma and ready to head back to the apartment for some sleep.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dog Beach and Good Coffee


Now that I'm in vacation mode I've really been taking advantage of my time here!

Sebastian and I began our day at Dog Beach, found a great quiet spot and settled down to play some ball and jump in the water. It was a beautiful day and it was fun to see everyone walk down the beach with their dogs jumping in the water along the way. Sebastian braved the water to rescue his ball a couple of times and began to be a little more comfortable throughout the day.

Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta

After dog beach, I took my friend Nicole's suggestion to hit Cafe 976 in Pacific Beach. Thank God for a decent cup of coffee...finally! Thank you Nicole! I've noticed people don't really drink coffee around here and when they do, it's Starbucks (which is fine) but I've really been craving a cup from someone who puts a little more artistry into their work as a barista. I wasn't super hungry so I ordered a 16oz. Nine-Seven-Six (a white chocolate & hazelnut latte, $3.95) and a slice of the gluten-free coffee cake ($2.35).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hitting the Road


The morning of Day 8 I found the inside of my car covered in spider webs. Looks like we my have some hitchhikers! I grabbed some much needed tacos and decided it was time to do some laundry. Sebastian and I ended up sneaking back to the hotel laundry room after discovering that laundry costs $3+ a load at the local laundromat and the hotels only costs $1.25.
I called a cheap hotel in San Diego I thought I had lined up but it fell through and after making several attempts to line up a hostel that also fell through I decided to camp outside of a 24-hr Walmart for the night. I was prepping the car to sleep in the back, when Aunty Viv saved the day! Tyson called and said that when he mentioned the situation to Viv she disappeared and got on the phone asap.

Credit: Melissa Lehuta

She called a long-time friend who's kids live in San Diego to see if I might be able to stay with them. I got a hold of Kim and Kim got a hold of her brother Joey who had an extra room available to crash at. I was really happy I didn't have to spend the night in the car and Sebastian and I hit the road from Oceanside to Ocean Beach where we are staying now. Sebastian has made a friend (a kitty named Captain) and loves the huge dog park and beach. We've really been enjoying our time here!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Some Things I've Learned


Drove the last 3 hours from LA to Oceanside today and settled into a Motel 6 for the night. On a mission to find a place to live and a job. Loving the sunshine, palm trees and ocean!

Some things I've learned about driving in southern California:
(1) When the speed limit says 65mph it actually means 80mph.
(2) You can fit more billboards than you would think possible into small spaces. Don't look at the millions of billboards while you're driving 80+mph.
(3) Don't use your blinker. It is a sign of weakness.
(4) If you miss your exit or get off the wrong exit, no worries! Just zip on over!
(5) Traffic jams don't apply to motorcycles.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

No Luck in San Francisco


Credit: Melissa Lehuta
I left beautiful Sunnyvale to attempt to stay at a hostel in downtown San Francisco and meet up with a friend of a friend Pauly. A good portion of the day was spent waiting for my car to get checked over outside of San Francisco then I continued toward downtown where I got stuck in traffic outside of a toll booth. San Francisco and its tolls!

After over an hour in traffic I finally made it to the hostel downtown. I called ahead of time to make a reservation but was told that I had to come in person to make the reservation and that I should be able to get a spot. Guess what? No more room. I was crushed and was really looking forward to staying in San Francisco a little while but took it as a sign that it was time to go.

Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta
I called Pauly and told him we'd have to meet up some other time (he was a total sweetheart and so understanding!). I really just needed out of that city. I drove as far as I could, but around 11pm I was wiped out and just outside of LA I stopped at a rest stop to sleep. Sebastian and I pretty much have our sleeping/living in the car down and slept like babies.

Credit: Melissa Lehuta
On a positive note, I saw a familiar photo in a Starbucks. Congrats to Ryan Smith (my previous manager)!

Saturday, July 14, 2012



Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Feeling defeated and stinky, I decided to try to find the closest, cheapest hotel or hostel in the area. I was hoping to hear back from some contacts in the San Francisco area and hold out a little longer to see if they'd come through. My search landed me in Sunnyvale and I'm so glad it did! This was a breath of fresh air and a much needed getaway from San Francisco after the night in the car outside of the Denny's and the cranky people the night before.

This charming little town still has the feel of San Francisco but plenty of sunshine and more of a positive attitude from everyone overall. Sebastian and I played in a park where he made a friend with an old lady sharing our picnic table then we proceeded to a cheap hotel to get cleaned up and get some rest.

I also got my first "real meal" since Portland and I found myself eating to the point of feeling a bit sit to my stomach. I told my boyfriend Tyson that it was a good thing I "prepared for winter" ahead of time!

Got in touch with a friend of a friend in the Oakland area and looking forward to meeting him tomorrow and getting a tour of the area.

The Trees of Mystery


Credit: Melissa Lehuta
I continued my journey down Highway 101's winding roads toward San Francisco. I left the oceans side and was quickly surrounded by lush forest, the smell of campfire and the sound of Sebastian snoring away on my lap. The dense forest eventually turned into towering mountains and prairie land and I felt a bit like an ant.

Credit: Melissa Lehuta
I noticed hints of California approaching when I hit McKinley, Oregon only to be taken off-guard by the arrival of the Redwood forest. A 49-foot-tall Paul Bunyan and 35-foot-tall Babe the Blue Ox made a sudden appearance at The Trees of Mystery in the middle of nowhere (also known as Klamath, California) so I decided to stop and take a look around. They had a Skytrail available for $15 that includes a short hike through some of the largest and weirdest trees (some were even featured on Ripley's Believe it or Not!) then a gondola ride up to the top. I was told that the trail plus the gondola ride and back would take about an hour to an hour and a half total and that dogs were more than welcome to join so I decided to buy a ticket.

Credit: Melissa Lehuta

Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta
 Sebastian and I took off up the trail, reading all the info they have posted along the way and taking in the surroundings. It's amazing how big and how tall some of these trees were and how adaptive they are to their environment. There were trees growing on top of trees, trees growing two different directions and lightning trees. It was very peaceful and the Native American carvings along the way were very cool. They even had a spot for marriage ceremonies.

Once we hit the end of the trail, we waited in line for the gondola ride up to the top. Sebastian looked at me nervously when I think he realized we were going to have to hop on one of those things ourselves. I noticed two biker dudes hanging out behind me in line and when it was my turn they asked if they could join me. I was more than happy to let them accompany me and thought it would be awfully silly to ride by myself when most gondolas were carrying families of 2-6 people.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Highway 101


Day 3 of my travels included A LOT of driving! At least it felt like it. I decided against taking I-5 and opted to take Highway 101 instead. It's a beautiful drive and worth the extra bit of time it takes to get down to California.

Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta
Credit: Melissa Lehuta

It was a drastic difference in temperature from Portland's 80+ degree slip-and-slide weather to Lincoln City's mid-60's and coastal wind. Sebastian and I hung out on the beach for a bit, I sadly grabbed my budget-ridden dollar cheeseburger from McDonald's and a twix bar for lunch (I know...awful) then hit the road again. We stopped along the way to take a rest and play in the park so Sebastian wasn't cranky from being in the car for too long and decided to find a place to stay in Gold Beach for tonight.

I'm hoping to make it down to San Francisco tomorrow. I'll do my best to keep up and post daily if I can find free wi-fi along my way!

A Lazy Day


Credit: The Grotto
The next day we visited The Grotto per my friend Krystanne's request. It was beautiful and serene. It was odd to have this little slice of paradise and the natural untouched land lying in the middle of Portland. We walked around, I taught Jodee how to use my medium-format Hasselblad film camera, and we checked out the church. Luckily Jodee noticed that Daniel was wearing his friends band t-shirt (Faithless Saints) before we got too far into the church. Oops!

After The Grotto, Jodee suggested that we check out a couple of art galleries that she had been meaning to visit and just hadn't yet. I was excited to check them out! Our first stop was Martin Waugh's exhibit of Liquid Sculpture.

"Martin's creative uses of high-speed photography make it possible to capture the smooth and effortless curves of liquid, eliciting a childlike sense of fun and whimsy. Interpretations of his work often reveal as much about the viewer as the artist. His images are engaging metaphors for life and are as intriguing to the eye as they are thought provoking."

Credit: Martin Waugh/Liquid Sculpture
Credit: Martin Waugh/Liquid Sculpture

The photos reminded me of some of the stuff we did for Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home with different liquid splashes.

Our second stop was  Newspace Center for Photography who carry a rotating selection of different photographers. Check out their current exhibit here.

After a long, hot day wandering around Portland, we decided it was time for nachos and margaritas at Matador. Their margarita was pretty good although I was disappointed I couldn't get my drink blended. There are multiple locations which also include Seattle and Redmond. I've been to them all and I always prefer the pork tacos al pastor with a white peach sangria. Yum!

Full tummies, margaritas plus a hot day equal Jodee and Melissa passing out on the couch when we got home. Daniel was sweet enough to let us nap but once we woke up it was back out for drinks and trivia. I don't understand how or why people would want to play trivia while in the process of becoming intoxicated. They don't seem to go together but there were a couple of groups who seemed to do really well and those questions weren't easy!

I have to say, I lived in Portland about 8 or 9 years ago for about a year and a half and I didn't like it much, but after my visit with Jodee and Daniel and them being gracious enough to open up their home and spending their only two days off together to show me another side to Portland, I have a new-found respect for the city and would love to visit again. Thanks guys!


I got to spend a wonderful week with family before I began my journey. We spent lots of time together, had a mini "family reunion", and I got to visit a gun range for the first time! I had been bugging my boyfriends dad to take us out for awhile and he finally took us out to The Everett Sportmen Club in Snohomish the day before I left.

Credit: The Sportsmen Club
It was as awesome as I was hoping. The Rangemaster was a character with his long salt and pepper beard, worn look, big belly and earrings that lined one of his ears top to bottom. He was very helpful, sweet and professional. He made us read the rules, sign some forms and got us up to date on the procedure. He also informed me that on Friday's ladies shoot free!

We ended up shooting a couple of rifles and a handgun. I had shot my brothers BB gun when we were little but nothing like this. There were all kinds of guns there and people ranging from young to old to wives and your typical tough guy. I'm hoping to visit again next time I'm in town!


Monday morning, my dog Sebastian and I hopped in the car and took off to Portland where we were planning to meet up with my friend from college Jodee and her husband Daniel. I always love the drive from Seattle to Portland. It's beautiful and reminds me why I love the northwest filled with waterfalls, trees as far as the eye can see, rivers, and the smell of pine in the air.

Sebastian and I met Jodee and Daniel at The Tin Shed Garden Cafe where Daniel works. I was surprised to see dogs running around the inside of the cafe but then I remembered I was in Portland and my mind flashed to an episode of Portlandia.They even have a menu for your four-legged friends as well as free doggie cookies.

I caught myself explaining to another dog-owner that Sebastian wasn't a "dog-person" and realized I'm that crazy dog owner.

After The Tin Shed, we went to meet Jodee and Daniels friends who they were pet/house sitting for when they left for tour. When I told my boyfriend Tyson that I was going to see 3 large birds, a snake and a cat, he exclaimed "Oh! You guys are going to the zoo?!". Nope. Just fellow crazy pet owners who love their animals too much.

A couple of the roommates are with the band Faithless Saints so to kill some time while the bird cages were cleaned and the rules were explained, we watched their music video and got a tour of the house.

(For anyone who's interested, they will be on tour from 7/13-7/28 spanning Bend, OR to Salt Lake City, UT. Check out their tour schedule and info here.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Beginning of a New Adventure

The Modernist Cuisine at Home project is complete and at its end, thus I've made the decision to officially end my job as the Lead Photographer with Modernist Cuisine and Intellectual Ventures and hit the road for awhile for a new adventure.
Officially my last day was Friday, June 29th. My work family threw me a wonderful going away party complete with mojitos, ice cream cake and good company (all of my favorite things!). Their support has been overwhelming in a good way and I've gotten mixed comments from people thinking I'm crazy or brave or stupid but overall people have just been excited for me. I was originally hired on for 3 months which turned into almost 4 years with the company. I love my team like family and I'll miss them all dearly, but it's time to tackle that travel bug!

I will be documenting my journey through this blog as well as doing my best to keep up with my regular blog posts.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Homemade Pie Crust

I may have grown up with a dad who was a restaurant owner, who knew his food and always made us kids a delicious wholesome dinner but my mother is another story (no offense mom!). I remember visiting one day when my dad happened to be at work and she asked me if I'd like a rice cake...yes a rice cake. Rice cakes are like fanny packs. They had their time but they just aren't in anymore.

Now my mom has been making an attempt at eating better food and improving her culinary education. She sent me an email today explaining that her and her friend from work were discussing how inept she is with cooking and how my mom has been wanting to learn how to make a pie crust. As adorable and sweet as this woman is, she decided to make a You Tube video just for my mom on how to make a homemade pie crust. She's quite a character and made me laugh a lot. Thought I'd share it with you all if you are interested in making your own.

My mom said that she made an apple pie using this pie crust recipe and it came out wonderful (my dad concurs). If this woman can teach my mom how to cook, you shouldn't have a problem. Enjoy and feel free to throw in your own tips, tricks or recipes!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gigapixel Supercamera

 Credit: InnovationNewsDaily
Contributor | 
Check out this article by Charles Q. Choi from the Innovation News Daily Contributor/

"The gigapixel camera uses 98 identical microcameras in unison, each armed with its own set of optics and a 14-megapixel sensor. These microcameras, in turn, all peer through a single large spherical lens to collectively see the scene the system aims to capture. Since the optics of the microcameras are small, they are relatively easy and cheap to fabricate.

A specially designed electronic processing unit stitches together all the partial images each microcamera takes into a giant, one-gigapixel image. In comparison, film can have a resolution of about 25 to 800 megapixels, depending on the kind of film used."