Thanksgiving: A Time for Gratitude, Thankfulness, Family, and Reflection
I haven’t posted in way too long but I haven’t forgotten and there’s going to be a pretty big influx of posts in the next couple of weeks so strap on your seatbelts and stay tuned! In the meantime, HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of my friends, family, and random strangers. While the idea of Thanksgiving is fantastic, the actual history of colonization and what is still happening to the First Nations leaves a lot to be desired. Thanksgiving is the perfect reminder to reflect on what you’re thankful for and practice gratitude. This year, I am particularly thankful for family as my mom and dad are visiting me in California! This year has been one for the books but some more yearlong reflections are coming soon. For now, let’s reflect on the past week or so.
My parents were supposed to get in to Los Angeles this past Friday night around 9:30pm but there was a lightbulb out on the exit sign in their JetBlue flight and they had to wait quite a while… needless to say they didn’t get into LA until Saturday morning around 5:30am! I ended up working overtime Saturday morning (these adventures don’t pay for themselves…!) and then we went over to James’ Beach in Venice for my cousin Tim’s SURPRISE 40th Birthday Party. Item #1 to be thankful for: Not blowing the cover on the surprise party!! It was an awesome time filled with quality time with family (for better or worse!!)
Naturally, there is no time to waste and I had my parents up with the sun on Sunday morning to head down to Joshua Tree National Park. Before heading to the park, I treated them to a sound bath at The Integratron and was instantly relaxed thanks to the unworldly sounds of crystal bowls. Read about my first experience at The Integratron here. I also took this opportunity to cross an item off my own bucket list and treated them to a night in “The Nomad” tent at Lazy Sky Boutique Retreat just outside of Joshua Tree. The desert oasis was perfectly complimented with Joshua Trees and a multitude of stars. Oh, and I finally went to Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown, California – a must do if you’re in the Joshua Tree area!
Monday morning, we defrosted and ventured to my favorite breakfast spot in Joshua Tree – Crossroads Café – for some fuel before venturing into the National Park. We started with a warmup one-miler exploring the Barker Dam area and then moved on to a more moderate hike off Keyes Road – four miles to The Lost Horse Mine. This hike and its destination opened up a whole can of questions and historical inquiring. We finished our time in Joshua Tree by driving the rest of the main road and then headed back to Los Angeles. Some of our questions about mining, geology, and life in the desert still remain unanswered.
Moving right along, we were up before the sun on Monday morning to venture to up route 395 to Mammoth Lakes. My absolute favorite stretch of road in California is on Route 395 from Lone Pine up to Mammoth as the magnitude of the Eastern Sierras is nothing short of breathtaking and I was so thankful to be able to show my parents the awe-inspiring mountains. We first stopped at the Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine and stocked up on all the Smokey the Bear gear and then drove up to the Mount Whitney trailhead and marveled at the frozen waterfall near the trailhead. From Whitney, we stopped at Manzanar National Historic Site – which preserves and interprets the legacy of Japanese American incarceration in the United States. I had passed Manzanar numerous times driving to and from the Sierras but hadn’t stopped until this past June with some friends. I knew my parents would find it fascinating and enlightening and indeed, they did. It was here I realized Copper Top BBQ was closed and Route 120 to Yosemite would be closing at 6pm that night. Talk about disappointing! We lucked out and went to Holy Smokes BBQ in Bishop instead.
So many things to be grateful for but this one is certainly up there: visiting Wild Willy’s Hot Springs just in time for an absolutely gorgeous sunset. Sure, it was freezing (literally, the temperature was below 32 degrees) but my mom heated up and the froze with me. We quickly warmed up thanks to a wood burning fireplace in our Mammoth Lakes condo. I love Airbnb! In fact, I love Airbnb so much, you should use my promo code for $40 your first Airbnb rental!
Since the road to Yosemite closed at 6pm the night before, I finally let my parents sleep in and relax before heading back to Los Angeles. I really wanted to show them Yosemite Valley, including Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point, but I guess we’ll have to save that for another time. We enjoyed a great breakfast at The Stove in Mammoth and then started the long drive back to LA. We only narrowly missed the day-before-Thanksgiving traffic rush on the 405.
There is so much to be thankful for, including but not limited to, being able to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my parents. We feasted on a Nutty Pumpkin Bisque soup, Cranberry Orange Glazed Cornish Hens, Green Bean Casserole, Corn Casserole, Creamy Twice-Baked Potatoes, and Bacon Wrapped Stuffing Balls and we drank Hot Spiced Apple Cider. We just finished crying to the Jack Frost movie and now we will indulge in a homemade Pumpkin Pie.
I’m so thankful that I’m going to lead a group of 20-something hikers tomorrow morning in Palos Verdes in an #OptOutside hike. And I’m so, so thankful to spend the weekend resting, relaxing, and getting some work done before heading back to the daily grind on Monday. Let us not forget how incredibly thankful I am for this guy.
What are you thankful for?