The Flower Fields at Carlsbad, CA

Last weekend, the husband and I decided on a whim, to drive down to SoCal to pay a visit to the Flower Fields in Carlsbad before they close out for the season. It was a nice drive because we barely hit any traffic and the weather was warm and inviting. (We did a detour in Los Angeles but more on that later). We gave our friends a one day notice and just hoped they were free. Thankfully they all were!

We stayed one night at our friends home in Oceanside and another night at the Carlsbad by the Sea Hotel, which was conveniently located right across the Flower Fields (IG story to be shared shortly).

I purchased our tickets for the Flower Fields on April 29 for a May 1st visit. Surprisingly, there were many tickets available throughout the day, however, I decided for the last entry (5PM-5:30PM) so that we can enjoy our Sunday meeting, have a nice lunch, and have time to check in at the hotel and relax before heading to the Flower Fields. It sounded like a nice plan in my head, but little did I know, we would have an unpleasant experience later that afternoon.

Here is the hard lesson I learned: On their website it has 9am-6pm listed on their home page and no other disclaimer about adhering to strict operational hours. However, on the purchase ticket link, you can purchase tickets for the last entry from 5:00PM-5:30PM for the same price of $22. Which means, those who purchase the last entry only received one hour or 30 minutes of exploration time. I couldn’t help but feel gypped when, 15 minutes before closing, majority of the employees were telling all the paying visitors to exit the fields. We left feeling very frustrated.

Anyhow, the next day, I had to speak out for others and myself…that the Flower Fields should not charge the same price for the last entry and that they should, at the very least, not have tickets from 5:00PM-5:30PM if the fields close at 6PM. They understood my frustration and were very accommodating.

Because of this experience, I share with you this new knowledge:

  1. Do NOT purchase the 5:00PM-5:30PM tickets. (The 30 min window from the ticket means you can arrive between 5PM-5:30PM.)
  2. Do purchase tickets that allow at least 1.5 to 2 hours of exploration time. If you come with kids, allow for more time to enjoy the kiddie activities like the Sweet Pea Maze, collecting stamps at each location, having snacks, and the Wagon Ride (Additional $6/per adult and $3/per child).
  3. Tickets are $22/per adult, $20/per senior 60+ or military, and $10/per child (3-10 years old).
  4. If you do not wish for your feet to get dirty and dusty, wear closed toe shoes that are comfortable to walk in.
  5. The Flower Fields typically close on Mother’s Day weekend but this season has been extended to May 15, 2022. Tickets are also half off now! ($11/per adult, $10 per senior 60+ or military, and $5/per child).

Overall, it was a solid experience! A field of more than 50 acres of ranunculus, gladiolas, and even sunflowers…leaving me with a delightful memory and a lasting feast for my eyes.

Roadtrip Essentials

One of my most favorite things to do, since I moved stateside, are roadtrips! Recently, we embarked on a 10 hour drive from northern California to North Bend, Oregon. We started our journey at 6:30AM, made five stops along the way, and arrived at our destination just a few minutes before 6PM. The MVP (Most Valuable Passenger) has got to be the driver! In our case, it was the hubby who took on the challenge and agreed to do the entire drive himself. He was a champ throughout because I was expecting him to pass me the keys at least once, but he took his responsibility seriously and embraced it. Granted, his dad was with us, for the first time ever, and maybe this compelled him to be the pilot at all times. Whatever the reason, I was glad he did it and he did a great job at it. While he was driving, I thought it would be nice to put together a list of essentials for our next road trip…so here it is!

  • SNACKS AND WATER. Eventually, you’d get thirsty or its Who-Knows-How-Many miles until the next store, restaurant, or fast food joint…and you are Starving and Hangry…snacks and water or other beverages will be a lifesaver!
  • A GREAT PLAYLIST. What’s a road trip without rockin out?
  • DRAMAMINE. Windy roads make me so dizzy and nauseous that dramamine is a close companion of mine during road trips.
  • A WARM BLANKET. Something to keep you wrapped up and cozy for those cat naps.
  • FIRST AID KIT. You hope to never use it. 🙂
  • MAP or G.P.S. Has anyone embarked on a roadtrip without a map, G.P.S., or their phone with Waze? Sadly, I’d never make it to my destination without my phone,
  • PHONE CHARGER. Using Maps or other apps on the phone will drain your battery fast, so be sure to have a car charger set up and ready to plug your phone in before its completely dead.

Also, because it Covid-times, I always carry hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, disposable masks in my bag or glove compartment. What are your roadtrip essentials? And why?

Jitters

Today I went to the Dr’s clinic for some appointments and I was honestly scared to walk in. As I pulled into the parking lot, there were several marked “Reserved for Respiratory Patients.” This made me a little nervous.

Then, as I walked in with a face mask on (a requirement in most places,) a nurse standing by the door was prepared to ask me a series of questions. They were similar to the questions we were asked upon check-in at Guam prior to boarding the flight for Korea:

Have you had a fever for the past few days?

Have you experienced any shortness of breath, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.?

Have you been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID19?

Are any of your family members positive for COVID19?

Then, she took her thermometer and placed it near my forehead, and scanned for my temperature. After that, I was given an orange piece of paper that said “Screened 6/9/20.”

The app I have on my phone allowed me to check myself in but I still had to check in with the front desk person on the floor I was going to. After that, I was called in pretty quickly, as I noticed they limited the number of patients to be seen per day.

They had a few new rules such as taping my face mask at the bridge of my nose since it fogs up the Dr’s lens. Also, no talking while Dr and the nurse are checking the eyes. And, basically, just keep the mask on at all times. It was hard to breathe during some points of my appointment, but I definitely have more sympathy for the Drs and nurses as they have to wear them for their entire shift.

I just wanted to document this day, because it has been different from all my other appointments. And, it’ll probably be this way for awhile.

Hello Blog

Hi guys! Its been a while…A few updates:

  • We got selected to be delegates for an International Convention in Berlin, Germany. This will be my first EVER and Winfred’s second.
  • We started working out again. We both signed up to this small gym that does 30 minute full body workouts using kickboxing techniques. We have been loving it so far.
  • Our pioneering is going strong. We have an assigned location every other Sunday for the Special Metropolitan Public Witnessing in San Francisco.  Last weekend, we had the wonderful privilege of being a part of the Special Preaching Event at the Cherry Blossom Festival. We feel truly blessed to be used during these exciting times!
  • Brutus is still our only child. These past few days he has been having the runs. We finally took him to the vet today and they prescribed him something that will hopefully help him out. The cutest and most humanest thing he’s done yet…he went poo poo inside our bathroom…not once, but twice! I seriously think he’s part human… or he’s just really smart.

Other than that, our lives have been running the same way…

Its been hard for me to keep up with this blog because I’ve truly been super busy… but I also feel like I’ve been conflicted of what I want the content on this blog to be. I initially started it after I lost my job. I wanted to keep my mind busy and possibly make money out of it. That then changed…and it just became a way for me to document things and offer my point of view. I now have a job, outside of this blog, and I just want this to be an outlet for me to write and to be expressive; but also, a way for my friends and family to experience our adventures outside of Guam.

What should I write about? What do you like reading about?

My Part 1 Color Factory Experience

Let me just start by saying this:  In order to have a Color Factory experience, you must first sign up for their newsletter. The newsletter will alert you to any upcoming ticket sales and when to purchase the tickets. This will allow you to mark your calendars and set a reminder (that is what I did.) Please note, this is a very important step! If you miss the date (let alone the hour) these tickets go on sale…you can just kiss that experience of yours good-bye.

An hour before the ticket sales, I consulted with my friends to choose our dates. I recommend having a few dates in mind because, more than likely, your first choice will be sold out! I didn’t really have a plan on who would be going with me, but I just sent out a mass text and waited to see who would reply amongst my friends. A few of them did…and I ended up going with Sarah. THANKS Sarah! (Please note: at least one name has to match the tickets purchased and they do check ID’s twice.)

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I had my credit card and computer ready…and I was pumped! Five minutes prior to ticket sales start time, I had the site up and just continually refreshed. Once I was in…I waited until I was next in the queue. Once I was up, I went directly to the dates I had in mind, but all the weekends were taken. Also, the most you can purchase is for four people. But, even with that option, you’re better off looking for tickets that can accommodate at least two people. I was able to secure a spot on January 19, a Friday, at 12 noon.

So, as you can see, securing tickets was a whole big task on its own. You’ll have to plan ahead and follow through. Some ask, is it worth my $35? In my opinion, I say absolutely, YES! I don’t even remember the last time I was in a ball pit…actually, I do. It was probably when I was 8 years old and my parents took me to the McDonald’s in Harmon, Guam. The McDonald’s was still new at that time…and I remembered how fun it was! Now, as a grown person with responsibilities, I crave that freeness I once had as a kid. So, if I have to pay $35 to be a kid again (in an adult body,) and take all the crazy non-sense pictures for my IG…i’d do it! As an extra perk, you do get a few snacks along the way: macarons, charcoal lemonade, and a small soft serve in the end…so, tell me…WOULD YOU GO TO the COLOR FACTORY?

I also did an insta-story the whole time so if you’d like to see Part 2 of my Color Factory experience, please check out my IG account. The whole experience and all the rooms we entered were captured on my Instagram Highlight Stories. Please follow my Instagram @islanderinheels.

 

 

Guam to California. Lesson #3: Bánh mì

Have you ever had a Bánh mì? What is it, you might ask? Well, I never had one until I moved to California. Basically, it’s a sandwich, but not just any sandwich. Let me explain…Its a Vietnamese sandwich made with a baguette and NO cheese. (Side noteThe baguette was introduced by the French during the colonial period in Vietnam.) Inside comes many other ingredients such as: Vietnamese ham, grilled pork, grilled chicken, steamed or roasted pork belly, tofu, fried egg, pâté, cucumbers, pickled carrots, cilantro, and mayo.

The varieties are many. And, there’s usually something for everyone. There are restaurant chains that offer Bánh mì, such as Lee’s Sandwiches, but I prefer the mom and pop shops. They are affordable, filling, and a great meal! If you haven’t tried one yet, I definitely recommend that you do.

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A weekend in a Yurt

A few weeks ago, we enjoyed a short trip to Napa Valley and stayed in one of the large yurts in Bothe Napa Valley State Park.

Per Wikipedia: a yurt is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. The structure comprises an angled assembly or latticework of pieces of wood or bamboo for walls, a door frame, ribs (poles, rafters), and a wheel (crown, compression ring) possibly steam-bent. 

I don’t believe our yurt was covered in skins or felt, but rather in canvas. The lattice work was indeed a part of it, however, I don’t recall seeing a wheel.

The Yurt was large enough to fit six people with one full size bed and four cots. At night, it would get really chilly and dark (no electricity!) in the yurt, and during the day it’ll feel hot like a sauna. The sun will hit directly on your face around 6am forcing you to wake from your slumber; it was nature’s nice way of providing you an alarm clock.

We came to love our lil home for the past two days we were there. The only down side to it is that there are no keys given for each yurt. You can lock your door from inside the room before you sleep, but we couldn’t lock it from the outside to protect our personal belongings. So, I suggest not bringing anything of high value and leaving only minimal things in your yurt while everyone goes hiking, swimming,  or wine tasting.

If I happen to be in the Napa area in the future, I would definitely like to stay in a yurt again.

 

A dog loving place-Santa Barbara, CA

This post is long overdue…regarding that one weekend in Santa Barbara, California.

We truly enjoyed this spontaneous weekend trip because we realized how dog-loving Santa Barbara was. We drove down on a Saturday and spent the remainder of the day at Arroyo Burro Beach. We are keen of that beach…and let me tell you why! First, there’s a section for dogs to be off leash (East of Slough,) and another section for dogs on leash. Second, there’s a self service pet wash station by the parking lot, as you exit. It was so convenient and affordable for us to have a great time with our dog, and bring him back to the hotel not smelling like a wet, filthy rag.

Our hotel, Kimpton Canary Hotel, was extraordinary! Great service through and through. They allow pets, especially one like ours, who weighed in at 120lbs. They made each one of us feel welcome, including Brutus. The hotel also houses a great restaurant, Finch and Fork, to have your special date night at. The hotel also boasts a beautiful rooftop pool that overlooks parts of Santa Barbara. Great area to lounge and have a few drinks.

The hotel is also conveniently located near many shops and other restaurants. The hotel lends you their bikes or you can walk. We walked since we had Brutus with us, and there were many places that offered outdoor seating. One such place was Tupelo Junction Cafe. Although the seating outside was limited, the hostess was very friendly and accommodating to let us know when the table would be available. We didn’t have to wait very long.

Overall, Santa Barbara is definitely one of those places that we would love to visit again and again because of their dog-loving ways. Its a place I can see us bringing Brutus to time and time again, without having to worry if he will be accepted because of his size or his breed. Its also one of those places that keep you interested because its not stodgy. Santa Barbara will always have something to offer… for just about anyone.

Happy Decade!

Last month, I officially lived a whole ten years off the little rock I once called home. This little rock was the island of Guam. I remember vividly my aspirations of being able to live somewhere far away, on my own, and achieving my goals. I didn’t think I was going to be away this long…yet, it went by so quickly!

I graduated and earned my bachelor’s. I married a good man. I actually like my job and enjoy going to work every day. I can honestly say that I’ve achieved my goals.

The first year was admittedly the toughest. I had no friends. I didn’t know how to take care of my skin. I broke out so bad because I didn’t know how much I needed to moisturize during the dry and cold winter months. I didn’t like my job, but I did it anyways. I had no idea how to dress in cold weather, so I always looked awkward and would either be too cold or too hot.

Over the years, I met people who filled the void that I once felt as a newcomer. I made close and lasting friendships. I sought the help of a dermatologist to help me get my skin back to the way it was. And, I started browsing Japanese fashion magazines and watching Youtube for Winter Fashion ideas…that really helped! It made me realize that my cowboy boots had to go as they were not winter fashion friendly, as I thought they were (Imagine…I  wore those to field service and meetings!)

As a former newcomer, these are things that helped me plant roots in a new place:

Make new friends. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and talk to people. Spend time with those whom you gravitate to the most and have common interest with.  Invest time and feelings. If you do so, you will make friendships that will prove its strength through good and bad times.

Try a new job. I always worked in Hospitality when I was in Guam and never thought I’d go into a different industry. When I moved to California, I went straight into Banking. Later, I realized it wasn’t what I was looking for and found a decent job in a whole different industry.

Explore your city. I found all my local favorites in the area. My favorite Persian restaurant, my favorite Crepe place, my favorite Nail Salon, etc. Also, check out the local hiking trails and any outdoor activities your area offers. You’ll be sure to have a good time!

What are things that you did to make you feel more at home in a new place?

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Training Tips that Worked for Us

Update: I drafted this post a few weeks back and just this past weekend Brutus was attacked by a Pit Bull while he was about to go on his walk. The Pit Bull broke free from his home and came at Brutus while my husband and him were about to go for their morning walk in the in-law’s neighborhood. We are observing Brutus and he is scheduled to see his vet this Friday.

Tip #1: Be consistent.

This is key for potty training and any type of training in general. When he was a pup, we had made sure that he always went outside right after a meal, before we went to bed, and right when we woke up. He knew that this was the routine and, although he had a few accidents, he quickly learned to potty outside. Also, we taught him to “ring the bell.” We made sure that before we opened the door for him to go outside and potty, he had to ring the bell. This, in turn, taught him that to get our attention to bring him outside…he had to ring the bell. And, it still works until now. He no longer has his bell, but paws the door stopper or anything near the door, to get our attention.

Tip #2: Be firm and let him know who is boss.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a tyrant. But, when he’s bad, You have to give a firm,”NO!” Don’t be giggling or laughing or smiling…because they will definitely think you’re playing with them, and not giving them a command.

Tip# 3: Praise him when he’s good.

Reward good behavior. Don’t emphasize so much on the bad behavior but know that when he makes you happy and proud…say the words, “Good Boy/Girl!” or even a gentle pet on his head or a treat.

Tip #4: Have play time.

This is part of being consistent, but when your dog knows he gets to have play time, he doesn’t get too crazy. For instance, he won’t run away from you or try to escape the house because he knows there’s no better place than being home with great masters.

These are the tips that worked for us…there are great dog trainers out there, haven’t tried any of them yet, but the way I see it…most of the dog’s behavior is a result of how the owner handles them. How much time we spend with them, how much love we show them, and the interaction we provide for them.

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