*Click links to view actual instead of desaturated colors, please :) Also, I was too lazy to make my stamp smaller.

We stayed in Yellowstone for 4 days, three nights. Our flight left in the early morning, at around 6-something, so I woke up at 3:30 like a crazy person to take a shower before leaving.
We transferred in Denver, arrived in Yellowstone in the morning. Proceeded to drive through Grand Teton National Park, taking a pee break at the edge of Jackson lake.

We ate a late lunch at Signal Mountain Lodge and then got to our hotel in time for dinner. After dinner, we crashed for some serious crashing time. Next day: We went to the Mud Volcano in the morning and saw a bison just chillin’.

And Dragon’s Hole. Or Breath, or Lair, or something.

Then dropped by to see this crazy petrified tree. It had a gated fence around it, to prevent people from chipping themselves some fancy petrified tree souvenirs. But why did the fence need a gate? Dunno.

We got back on the car and it started raining! Nice timing. So then we drove to the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Yellowstone had a lot of driving and looking and not much exciting hiking. :/

The terraces were totally crazy. The ground had weirdass texture and was probably super hot. And everything was steaming. And weird colors due to bacterial growth.

Then Emerald Spring. It’s different colors because of the different temperatures of water housing different bacterias.

There was also a cute geyser that kept going off sporadically. But don’t get it confused with the Sporadic Geyser, which is not this one.

And then we went to Old Faithful!

Kapew! I thought that he was super faithful, but actually he erupts every 90 min plus or minus 50 minutes. That’s kind of a big difference. But usually it’s plus or minus 10 minutes. But that’s still not tht faithful. :/ How disappointing.

And then the weather got crazy bad so we decided to go home. Check out the trippy clouds! (I’m too used to CA weather, I suppose.)

Next day, as we were driving to our next destination, we saw an entire herd of bison just hanging out.

There were lots of cute baby bison too :)

We got to Lower Falls and took picturesss

And then we went to Upper Falls and took more picturesss (clearly I’m getting tired of blogging right about now sorry) Check out these crazy mountains!

There was a rainbow at the bottom of Uncle Tom’s Trail. (Not Cabin.) I heard everyone take a deep breath and say “Wow, that’s beautiful” when they saw it as I was taking pictures. I wonder if there was a leprechaun and expressed my wonder out loud and my mom thought I was crazy.

My sister and I only took one normal expressioned picture together the entire trip, and here it is. With Lower Falls in the background. Taken at Artist’s Point.

View from Artist’s Point. When the sun came out, the sides of the mountains were sooo yellow! Finally, I understood the name of the national park.

Then we went back to see Old Faithful again, except he hella spazzed out and tripped out twice before actually erupting a lame eruption like 10 minutes (relatively) late. And then we went to see the geysers/springs around Old Faithful, like Morning Glory Pool. My sister made me walk two miles in the rain. I suffered while she laughed histerically for no apparent reason. But Morning Glory Pool was pretty so I guess it was worth it. I guesssss. 😛

And then we went home to sleep. And then the last day on our way out of Yellowstone and Grand Teton, we stopped by Jenny Lake! My lake. Jenn Lake. They spelled it wrong.

And that is all. I have four mosquito bites on my shoulder, all from the last day (WTF?), one on my pinky finger (also WTF) and one of my foot. And one on my tummy. Did these mosquitos eat me through my clothes??? Here are some animal sightings.

We also went to many more places but I chose the most blogworthy photos to put up and describe only. For example, when we went to see the Natural Bridge, the kids walking with their parents in front of us were singing Billionaire. And I sang the next line and they were amused. But see, I couldn’t have caught that in a photograph right? ALSO I petted the top of a baby tree and it was soft. But then every other tree I petted was spiky. :( Until we went to my lake. :) Basically, my lake wins.

spring break 2010

Complete photo album here.

My spring breaks while in college have been pretty fantastic so far – freshman year, I went back home to Beijing with Kency and spent the week sight-seeing and catching up with my friends that were still at ISB. Sophomore year, my family went to Rome, and I got to see a lot of the buildings that I had just learned about in my architecture & urban design class. This year, I met up with Harmony in Chicago, got to see Koh for a day, then took the train to Ann Arbor where I got to hang out with my sister and Esther. It was such a throwback to hang out with high school friends again – especially the day Koh came to Chicago, it was just like old times when the three of us used to have a great time just wandering around Beijing.

Saturday: Arrived in Chicago in the evening, had dinner at Johnny’s Grill. Tried to go up to the Hancock observatory but went to the wrong entrance and ended up at a snazzy high class restaurant that we were way too young/poor for.

Sunday: Koh flew in from Pittsburgh way early in the morning, so we picked her up from the bus station and headed to breakfast. After we ate, we planned out our super busy day (Sharon was only going to be in Chicago for a day, and we wanted to hit up all the important places). First up was the Sears (Willis) Tower, that was closed because of the bad weather – zero visibility. We went to Millennium Park to see the Bean, next. We conveniently found a Giordano’s just north of the park, so we ate there for lunch. The spinach&artichoke dip was fantastic, and the Chicago-style pizza was alright. The crust was really tasty, but it was really messy to eat. Our Chicagoan friend later told us that the thin-crust is better that the deep-dish at Giordano’s. After lunch, we went back to Millennium park to check out the Art Institute of Chicago museum. There was a Matisse exhibit that was very very complete. After AIC, we went to this huge fountain that was lamely off-season. We walked around for awhile before deciding to go to Chicago’s Chinatown for some boba. The red line superway went straight to Chinatown, and we passed by a few boba places (including a TenRen) before stepping into a random one… that seemed to be the hit place for cool Asian teenagers. I got a mango black tea that they brewed just for me. Then it was time for Koh to leave :( After getting back to downtown, Harmony and I rested for just a few minutes at our hotel before heading to dinner with James. We ate at some bar that I can’t remember the name of. After catching up and eating, we stopped by his (huge single) dorm that was across the street from the Chicago theater.

Monday: We slept in (relatively late) and headed to Navy Pier to check out the reconstruction of the Ferris Wheel. (It was invented for the Chicago World Fair in 1893.) We magically got to sit in cart 1, and the 7 minute ride was… alright, haha. The pier was really empty probably because of the weather and lack of tourists. We left the pier in a hurry to get to Lou Malnati’s and I accidentally left a glove on the bus. Harmony and I got a bruschetta while we waited for Carol and her friends and it was amazing. After lunch, Harmony and I went to Lincoln Park to check out the (disappointing) free zoo. On the way, we got distracted by a couture chocolate shop, where we each busted out big monies for deliciousness. After the zoo, we had nothing planned until the evening, so to kill a few hours, we went on a superway adventure. We took the southbound red line superway and got off at the most interestingly named stop, Jarvis. There was nothing in Jarvis so we got back on the northbound red line. We stopped at Loyola to eat at 5 Guys, then went back to Briar St, where we saw Blue Man Group! They were amazing.

Tuesday: We pretty much ran out of things to do in downtown Chicago after Sunday, so we headed to Oak Park to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio. It was amazing, as expected, hidden in the small ouburban city of Oak Park. After our tour, we decided that FLW was awesome enough to warrant a visit to another home of his on the U of Chicago campus. Before getting on the train, we ate at Red Hen Bread which was really tasty but a bit pricey (as expected with fresh ingredients, etc.). We dropped by a popcorn shop, Madly Pop’n, where I got Lucky Charms flavored popcorn (!!!) and Harmony got Cookies&Cream. (Apparently, flavored popcorn is a Chicago thing, as well.) After eating, we got back on the train to go to U of Chicago. We visited the on-campus Smart Museum (named after some dudes named Smart) which was not really anything interesting. We walked to the Robie House but were sad to find it closed on Tuesdays. We then headed back to downtown to catch the Willis Tower at sunset. It was pretty cool, but we got distracted and didn’t leave early enough to get to the MCA before it closed at 8. Oh, well. Next time :)

Wednesday: Early early morning we checked out of our hotel and got to the Amtrak station to take the train to Ann Arbor. After dropping off our luggage at my sister’s apartment, Harmony and I wandered around the quiet campus of UM. After my sister got out of class, we met up with her and then decided to get dinner at Ayaka. My sister went home while Harmony and I met up with Esther before dinner. We had boba – I got a mango slushie with boba and coconut jelly this time, nom. We just chilled awhile before meeting my sister at the restaurant. After nomming, we went to buy groceries and bake cookies at Esther’s apartment. Somehow, they came out really weird and crunchy instead of soft like they were supposed to be :( I had to eyeball all the measurements because nobody had measuring spoons, so maybe I didn’t put enough baking soda… After baking, we just sat around watching TV, haha.

Thursday: Harmony and I went to the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum in the morning. It was a fun science-y kids museum. Fun, but I’m not sure if I learned anything new… oh the woes of being an engineering student, haha. After the museum, we ate at Zingerman’s, an expensive Trader Joe’s style deli. I get a pulled pork sandwich, yum. After eating, we went to the UM Museum of Art, which was okay. The three of us walked around the UM campus a little more, and checked out the business school (“B-school”) and law quad, which was very east-coasty grey. We went to play at an arcade for a little bit, traded in our tickets for a whoopie cushion (hahaha) and then headed home.

Friday: Harmony left in the early morning for home. I stayed asleep and then woke up later to meet my sister on campus. I went to the Museum of Natural History on the UM campus, which was awesome enough for me to donate $5. I found my sister and then went to check of the poster displays of geo-stuff in her department. I don’t know anything about geology. I still don’t. After that, we went to eat at No Thai where this really cute guy took my order. It was really tasty, plus I got to build a house out of my carrots, which my sister ate half of. We headed back home and just chilled out for the rest of the day. I did laundry and my nails and we had a sistery long conversation :)

Saturday: Woke up and did nothing and then began my 10 hour transit home! At the Detroit airport, I got a sirloin steak with sweet potato fries from TGIF’s. So tasty. Flew back to Chicago for a 1.5 hour layover before catching a flight back to LA. Got home and then slept. Home sweet home :)

Travel notes: The 3-day CTA (Chicago Transportation Authority) pass was very very nice for $14. It lasts for 24×3 hours after first use, so we were able to use it on the morning of our 4th/last day to get to the airport. There’s also a 1-day fun pass, $5.75, that we got for Sharon. Each bus or metro ride costs $2 or $2.25, so it was definitely worth it. Also, don’t forget about the weather – it was much colder than expected in Chicago, especially the day after it snowed.

o canada

Facebook photo album here.

I went to Canada last week with my family, to visit Banff national park in Alberta and see the glaciers. Last year we went to Glacier National Park in Montana, but it was too early in the summer (or something) and our trip was glacier-less. This time, though, was awesome – we were able to hike to and walk on glaciers 😀 And I even drank some 300+ year old melted glacier water!

First day we arrived in Calgary, met up with the other family we were to sightsee/travel with, and then headed to our hotel at Lake Louise in Banff. The hotel was pretty amazing, on the lakeside of Lake Louise (obviously). That day, we just chilled and hung out at the hotel, ate dinner, and crashed.

I ALMOST FORGOT. Right when we stepped onto Canadian soil (when we were going through Customs & Immigration at the airport) I was talking about maple butter that Ben mentioned, and the customs guy was like, “What about it?” EXCEPT HE SAID IT WITH A CANADIAN ACCENT. It was so great, I loved it. ABOUT.

Day 2, we all woke up early, ate breakfast, and headed out for a SUPER LONG HIKE. We hiked 5ish km to this random tea house, where we stopped and ate lunch. All the teas there are like, awesome, so I got a maple tea (when in Canada!) and my sister got a blackcurrant tea, which was my second choice. They were both super delicious – I think every since I got random teas from my cousin as a wedding favor, I’ve been more appreciative of flavored tea. ANYWAY, after lunch (or should I say, tea?) my dad, sister, Ollie, Chris and I continued the hike to Plain of Six Glaciers. It was an extra 1.4 km, not too long, but the hike was harder than the first part. We ended up on the side of a random mountain with a waterfall and no path, and stayled there for probably longer than half an hour. It was a slow hike downhill (it was really steep), but we got back, took a break at the teahouse again, and then headed back to the hotel. My ankles were tight against my boots the entire hike, but I didn’t want to loosen it for risk of getting blisters, and they started seriously hurting during the last stretch back home. I got back, changed out of my boots and into my Birkenstocks, and it felt SO GOOD to have arch support and nothing around my ankle. My sister and I decided to utilize the rest of the day for a FULL BODY WORKOUT so we went to the lake and rented a canoe for an hour :) I like canoe-ing and kayaking, the feeling of skidding across the water smoothly is amazing. After that was a quick snack-y dinner and sleep.

Third day, we woke up and drove to Jasper National Park, just north of Banff. It was a long drive for a few short sights. First, we went to the Columbia Icefields, where we took a bus with ginormous wheels to drive directly onto the glacier! It was really awesome – too bad I didn’t wear my boots because I would’ve loved to walk directly into the glacier-water stream. After the quick trip, we headed to Mount Edith Cavell to see yet another glacier. This time we walked under it instead of on top of it :) When we were done playing with the glaciers, we went to the Consolation Lakes. There was a fun rocky area where there was barely a path at all, which made me feel like I was really hiking, instead of on man-made paths. The lake was really beatiful and still, and the seclusion made it so serene. Haha before we started the hike, there was a big sign on our path that said RESTRICTED ACCESS. It’s bear territory, so they require groups of 4 or more. Lar, lar!!!! Later that afternoon we drove back to Calgary to stay a night before leaving the next afternoon.

Last day, we woke up relatively late and went into the city to explore. We went to the Calgary Tower and checked out the city, and then basically wandered around, stopping for lunch at a Japanese restaurant. After that, we had a bit of extra time so we got dessert at a hotel (random) before heading to the airport. Flew back home, got lots of sleep, and now, here I am :)

Nom nom, changed my index page but it looks kind of dull. Don’t know what to do, though.

when in rome

Last night, I got back from a week-long family excursion to Rome. I don’t have my laptop with me, so no pictures until I get a chance to edit and go through the 300-odd photos that I didn’t delete immediately after taking. I think I’m a bit shutter-happy, I shot almost 900 pictures. Thank goodness I live in the digital age and can take advantage of digital storage devices – I’d be broke-ass if I tried to convert to film. (Not that that isn’t another goal of mine.) So anyway, just a few things:

The Pantheon is much, much larger than I expected. My sister and I were approached by 13-year-old Italians practicing speaking English. They were conducting a survey on the definition of a friend.

There’s this lemon soda called, well, “Lemon Soda.” The orange-flavored equivalent is called “Oran Soda.” I don’t know why they dropped the “ge,” maybe so it’d fit on the can in the same way “Lemon Soda” did? But anyway, it’s pretty tasty.

Things I missed the most while in Rome: Hair conditioner. Nail filer. Hair straightener, which I brought but couldn’t use because of the voltage difference. Lotion, because it was SO DRY THERE I WAS ASHEN 24/7. A humidifier, I guess? An English-Italian dictionary would’ve been really, really nice. My boyfriend.

The Colosseum is not that exciting. Did you know that they used to put sand on the stage-thing, and sand is “arena” in Italian? That’s why it’s called an arena! I learned that from my audioguide.

Pasta (which might not actually be called pasta) cooked to perfection in Italy is the equivalent to slightly undercooked pasta in the US. I actually like the crunchier texture. Also, apparently “shrimp scampi” is redundant, because scampi already means shrimp?

I learned “the check, please.” Il conto per favore. I may or may not have butchered the Italian spelling. Also, grazie and prego. (Thank you and you’re welcome.)

I finally tried Pellegrino (you know, when in Rome…) and didn’t like it.

S. Ivo alle Sapienza was cooler than San Carlo Quattro Fontane.

Pictures to come! :) And now, since I’m up early with nothing really to do, I’m gonna go over to Sophie’s house to watch/help her make pancakes. Later this afternoon, Pinkberry! Nomnomnom. Also today, I’m going to wear my Prada sunglasses out for the first time ever. Excited.