May 31, 2015

FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS: WHEN THINGS GET BLURRY

HELP, I NEED GLASSES



I turned 25 a few months ago and if I'm being honest, it was a big deal to me. Realizing that it's normal I don't have my life figured out and I have no idea where I want to be in 5 years -you know, the usual - took some time. I guess 25 isn't the age of wisdom after all (I'll try again next year!) and that's probably for the best because what would I be doing with the rest of my life if it was already 'perfect' now? Still, sometimes I simply can't believe I'm officially in my 'mid-twenties'. Where did all that time go? And as a true child of my generation I have the occasional FOMO, but nothing a good day of binge watching and doing absolutely nothing can't fix. Until... I actually started growing old. And that, my friends, is quite scary. Especially because it all happened after my last birthday.

It started with back pain. Never in my life had I complained about my back before and here I was understanding exactly what my dad had been talking about for all those years. And then came the glasses. Me! Wearing glasses! I've literally never had a problem with my eyes and thought I'd safely avoided the whole issue years ago. Until I couldn't read the signs along the road anymore. Maybe it's karma getting back at me for buying those fake hipster glasses when I was 18 (just like I thought braces were cool because everyone had them except for me) or maybe it's all just going downhill from here...

A photo posted by Nathalie (@snowflakesincalifornia) on
  
I've been told this opens up a whole new spectrum of fashion possibilities because a good pair of glasses can fix almost any look. Plus I do seem smarter when I wear them and since I technically only need them for driving I shouldn't be complaining. But ever since that that day at the doctor's office I'm constantly comparing my view with glasses to that without. It's depressing and I blame it on computers. So, I guess now I'm officially old. Fingers crossed I'll never have to wear them full time because I'm terrified of contacts.

So this wasn't me but the quarter life crisis talking. The point is; I can live with the glasses (I actually love them!), the occasional back pain and I don't mind getting wrinkles. I do hope however there are no more surprises in that department for the next few month because at this rate... it's going to be a hell of a roller coaster ride. So if life could just wait a few more years on the gray hairs, that would be great. 

Anyone else ever feel like a walking cliche? 

May 27, 2015

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA: PERFECT FOR A WEEKEND GETAWAY

AND A STOP AT CLINT EASTWOOD'S GOLF COURSE

It's almost been a month since our short little trip to Carmel and I still can't get over how beautiful it was. We were there for a (very) short weekend to attend a wedding and drove all the way up there. Needless to say it was a very long and boring drive since we didn't spend it on the beautiful Highway 1 along the coast, but on the faster main freeways that took us more inland. Let me tell you that you never really grasp how long seven hours is until you have to spend that time in a car. And then to think that you can't even drive for seven hours in Belgium, California is huge!
I had heard a lot about Carmel - mainly how it's one of the most beautiful places to visit in California - and even though it was freezing for this spoiled Southerner I can see why people are convinced about this. I fell in love with Big Sur when drove up the West Coast and visited Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park a couple of years ago, which is only an hour south of Carmel, but it has the same rugged look to it. So on our first morning in Carmel we bundled up (as in put on the one jacket we brought with us) and went for a walk on the beach. 


The town itself looked like any other beach town along the California coast but we didn't really have time to walk around and take pictures. Instead we hung around this beach, which was pretty close to the church the wedding was being held at and were you can spot the weirdest, most decadent and lovely houses near the ocean. Definitely a nice place to retire (if you have money). But I don't think I would have the patience for the tiny roads and one way streets. Sometimes La Jolla drives me crazy already.

CARMEL MISSION


A photo posted by Nathalie (@snowflakesincalifornia) on


So another place I completely fell in love with is the Carmel Mission, which was - according to dear Wiki - the second mission in California. The full name is Mission San Carlos Borromรฉo del rรญo Carmelo and it's a U.S. National Historic Landmark. It's been restorated and renovated over the years but since it dates back to 1771, ladies and gentlemen, I can safely say this one of the oldest buildings I've seen in the US so far! Needless to say you can't go to Carmel and miss out this incredible piece of history. 

TEHAMA GOLF COURSE


Clint Eastwood's house? 

Last, but not least the wedding we attended brought us to - of all people - Clint Eastwood's metaphorical doorstep. And let me tell you, that guy has one hell of a backyard. Tehama Golf Club is a private club, so it felt pretty special to be there. Now, I don't golf at all so I probably missed the opportunity of a lifetime but hey, you can't have everything right? 

Ocean views!

It was chilly and windy, but the view definitely took my breath away! Travelling for weddings is something I'm new to but once you see the pretty locations to choose from in the US I can understand why. The only downside was we still had to drive all the way back to San Diego the next day!

Have you ever been to Carmel or attended a wedding at an incredible destination? 

Linking up with Bonnie, Caity, Marcella, Michelle and Amanda for a #TravelTuesday on Wednesday. Because I'm a rebel like that.  

May 20, 2015

SALTON SEA: A LAKE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT


It's abandoned, darn hot, smells like dead fish and it was the perfect camping ground for my trip to Coachella. I'm using the term 'perfect' loosely here since there were some minor things I would change in hindsight. But first things first: as you might remember I did not want to spend an insane amount of money to stay in Indio for the festival. If I was going with friends I would probably consider it, but since it was just the two of us - Nick went along to go hiking in Joshua Tree - we decided to find the cheapest place possible.

Wie bij het horen van de woorden verlaten, verschrikkelijk heet en een occasionele visgeur zin krijgt om te gaan kamperen, is hoogst waarschijnlijk in de minderheid. En misschien maar goed ook, maar toch vormden al die dingen samen wel de ‘perfecte’ kampeerplek voor mijn weekendje Coachella vorige maand. Je herinnert je misschien nog hoe ik me allesbehalve blauw wilde betalen om in Indio te overnachten voor het festival en aangezien we maar met ons tweetjes zouden gaan – Nick ging mee voor Joshua Tree – en niet met een hele groep vrienden, besloten we onze portemonnee in de gaten te houden en voor de goedkoopste optie te gaan. 

Enter: Salton Sea Recreation Area. It's a bit of a drive from the festival (around half an hour) so it was a bit creepy driving back there at night and it might not be the best option if you're going for the full experience. But what this strange place lacks in proximity, after parties or crowds, it definitely makes up for in history, character and.. well, strangeness. Did you know it is the largest lake in California? And that it has a higher salt level than the Pacific Ocean AND that it was created 'accidentally' in 1905 when engineers basically messed up and irrigation canals from the Colorado River overflowed for two years?

En zo – je raadt het al – kwamen we in de Salton Sea Recreation Area terecht. Het is waarschijnlijk niet de beste keuze voor wie in volledige festivalmodus is, want het is wel  een goed half uurtje rijden van Coachella. Geen feestjes, volk of ambiance in Salton Sea, maar het heeft wel persoonlijkheid, een rijke geschiedenis en het is er vooral vreemd. Wist je bijvoorbeeld dat Salton Sea het grootste meer is in Californie? Dat het een hoger zoutgehalte heeft dan de Stille Oceaan en dat die ‘zee in de woestijn’ het gevolg is van een accidentje met irrigatiekanalen in 1905? De Colorado River overstroomde toen twee jaar lang in het uitgedroogde Salton Sink, waar je er dus nu kan vissen. 


A photo posted by Nathalie (@snowflakesincalifornia) on


While I was researching the place a bit the most common complaint about the camp ground was that it can be pretty smelly. As in dead fish smell, because not a lot of species can survive in the salty water. If you ever find yourself on the beach of Salton Sea you might even see some of those dead fish. Nevertheless, I decided to take my chances since hoping that the wind would be in my favour. 

Na een beetje opzoekingswerk werd al snel duidelijk dat het meer vooral bekendstaat om de geur. Van dode vissen dan. Want er zijn door de saliniteit weinig soorten die in het water kunnen overleven. Verschiet dus niet als je er ook effectief overblijfselen van vissen tegenkomt op het strand. Maar alle geurklachten ten spijt, besloten we het er toch op te wagen en hoopten gewoon dat de wind ons (letterlijk) gunstig gezind zou zijn.

THE PROS
To be honest... I didn't really notice a fishy smell at all until we walked right up to the lake. Yes, it is strange to see people fishing out in the desert but the area was pretty beautiful in a certain way. It has something apocalyptic about it. Other than that it's a nice and clean camping spot with bathrooms and showers (hallelujah!) so in that respect I had nothing to complain about. Another plus is that there's plenty of space between the camping spots and there weren't a lot of people to begin with. Nice and quiet!

En eerlijk gezegd heb ik niet echt iets gemerkt van die zogenaamde visgeur tot ik bijna met mijn voeten in het meer stond. Ja, het is raar om mensen in de woestijn te zien vissen, maar de omgeving is mooi op een bizarre manier en heeft iets apocalyptisch. De camping zelf was trouwens proper, er was weinig volk en voldoende plaats en met toiletten en douches in de buurt met stromend water kan ik moeilijk klagen. Lekker rustig, dus! 


THE CONS
What we hadn't really expected however was the fact that there are train tracks right next to the camp ground with freight trains passing pretty much all night or at least that's what it felt like. Now, I'm sure the fact that we - as the idiots we sometimes are - forgot to bring our pillows and were already struggling to sleep had something to do with that. But it definitely didn't make it a pleasant night's sleep. Next to that it sucks to have to deal with the many bugs, although that's probably part of the desert experience. 

Wat we jammer genoeg niet verwacht hadden was de spoorweg die vlak naast de camping loopt en waar – of zo voelde het toch – de hele nacht lang goederentreinen passeren. We waren gelijk kiekens zonder kop ook ons hoofdkussen vergeten, wat het slapen er sowieso al niet gemakkelijker op maakt. Ook de insecten wqren niet echt mijn ding, maar daar moet je waarschijnlijk mee leren leven in de woestijn.


So if you want to save money and discover what must be one of the oddest places in California (please let me know of any other weirder ones you can think of) it's definitely worth a visit. I was bummed we didn't have more time to roam around. Oh, and it's good for bird watching, but I don't know anything about that...

Wie dus geld wil besparen en een van de meest bizarre plekken in Californie wil zien (andere suggesties zijn altijd welkom) zit in Salton Sea in elk geval aan het juiste adres. Ik vond het zelfs jammer dat we niet meer tijd hadden om de omgeving te verkennen. 

Would you consider camping at Salton Sea? And what is the weirdest place/hotel/camp ground you have ever stayed at? 

May 15, 2015

DAILY ROUTINE: WHY I'M HAPPY WHEN IT RAINS



Rain has always triggered a certain kind of nostalgia in me. It reminds me of home and the the changing of the seasons. And I've learned to really enjoy a good thunderstorm every now and then - although it did give me nightmares as a kid. Thunder is ok, but I seem to have an irrational fear of lightning. But it's not only that... sometimes rain is just fun! And I'm sure California would agree with me here since we desperately need more water. I love swimming in the rain in the summer, biking home when those clouds are gathering and feeling like knowing it's a race against time or spending a Sunday doing nothing else than reading and watching TV in front of the fire because there's nothing else to do. Last year Nick bought me new windshield wipers and I get ridiculously happy every time I get to use them. Does that mean I'm crazy? 


It feels wrong to even say this out loud since I'm sure anyone in Belgium (including myself if I was still there) would happily trade places with me for some more sunshine. We crave it sometimes. But even tough I love San Diego, Rain becomes something very precious when you literally have none. So now I'm one of those people who takes pictures of it and when it started raining yesterday I actually smelled it. There's that first smell of gasoline or rubber you get when it starts raining after a long time (anyone know what I'm taking about?) and it hit me while I was working so I ran out onto the balcony like a maniac thinking it must be raining. And yes, it was. 



This might seem like a lot of rambling about the weather, but I guess I'm just thinking of home today and feeling a little bit of that homesickness creeping up. Every so often I need a rainy day. The only downside is that it means I can't go in the ocean for the next 72 hours because of the runoff. Every cloud has a silver lining but the reverse is also true I guess!

What type of weather would you miss from home? 

May 11, 2015

MUSIC: SNAPSHOTS FROM COACHELLA

I'm back, everyone! I guess I have taken an unintentional vacation from the blog (again) and I don't really have an explanation for it (again). Sorry for disappearing on you but life seems to get in the way of blogging sometimes. I get too busy hate to plan posts in advance (something I'm not even good at to begin with) and often I just don't feel like sitting behind the computer since I do that for work all day. So I'm afraid this will definitely happen again - especially when you and I both least expect it - but know  I'll always be back! I just kind of needed to recharge my batteries. 

Anyway, that's why this post I had planned to put up two days after Coachella, is making it's way to your blogroll now... a month later. I'm just going to state the obvious here and say that it was an amazing experience - although a bit tiring (maybe I am getting too old for this?). Having gone only to Belgian festivals I can safely say that festivals in the US are another case of aiming for #bigger & #better + definitely more expensive...  

A photo posted by Nathalie (@snowflakesincalifornia) on


Where in Belgium the weather can pretty much go either way: very rainy or very hot and sunny during the summer, Coachella was just hot with a capital H. Locals would probably call the first weekend breezy because lucky for us temperatures stayed well below a hundred (rond de 30 graden). But somehow it didn't really feel that way. I quickly figured out why the majority of people doesn't really show up until 5 pm: the rookie mistakes. 

With most of the stages directly facing the sun there is no rush to wait for your favourite band. Which is nice. But watching bands still puts you at risk of a severe heat stroke. Braving the afternoon sun for Royal Blood was definitely worth it though. I had gotten up pretty early that day to drive there so by 5 pm I had a terrible headache, was left with a permanent imprint of my sunglasses on my face and had so much sunscreen on my face I couldn't open my eyes anymore. Milky Chance therefore passed in a haze (quite literally). The singer was ill, but I honestly didn't notice. They were amazing. 


  

A photo posted by Nathalie (@snowflakesincalifornia) on

The festival grounds are already pretty impressive during the day, but when night falls it's as if you stepped into a completely different world. Coachella turned into this breathtaking psychedelic wonderland with Alt-J playing in the background that my phone refused to capture. You'll just have to take my word for it, look at the one good picture of the caterpillar and imagine the blue and green mushroomlike art installations spread across the grounds, the strings of white balloons floating in the air & the ever present palm trees lit up in rainbow colours. Or you can just google it of course.

Concluding thought of the day: I don't know how anyone can drink alcohol in that kind weather and still enjoy themselves. I was clinging to my water bottle like a maniac. 



So far so good. On Sunday the caterpillar turned into a beautiful butterfly and I put my newly acquired knowledge to good use and arrived a bit later. By the time Stromae's set was coming up I was wide awake and ready to capture the mood. It's incredible to see a Belgian performer take the US by storm but it was even better to see and hear with my own eyes (& ears I guess) how well he's doing. Because the Mojave tent - even though it wasn't filled to the brim - blew up when he opened with Ta fรชte. I have to admit I felt pretty proud of my tiny country. You can read my article here (for anyone who speaks Dutch) and everyone else should definitely check him out (my favourite is Tous Les Memes).

A photo posted by Nathalie (@snowflakesincalifornia) on

It's definitely strange to see how the otherwise quieter Inland Empire gets transformed into this crazy hipster mecca two weekends a year. And even though it would have been more fun to go with a group of friends (if we were filthy rich and could stay in the nicest hotels), it was also sort of relaxing to go by myself. I'm glad I got to experience the madness. Also, I didn't see any celebrities in case anyone's wondering. Pretty disappointing considering everyone & Justin Bieber was in the area. Maybe next year!
 

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