A Taste of Summer

“I left home but there’s one thing that I still know,
It’s always summer in my heart and in my soul.”

— Yellowcard, “Always Summer”

We stood at the top of the hill on Shoreline Drive and I started to remember all of the people I’ve seen skate down it.  I once saw some guy walk up from the beach and ride down the hill on a skateboard with a surfboard in hand.  If he could do that, it’d be easy-peasy for me.  Or, at least, that’s what I tried to think.

I thought we were just gonna go for an easy ride through the park.  It was dusk on a Monday evening and we had followed my parents to the park on their evening walk.

The cruise through the park was nice – there was a little hill I managed to skate through (after stopping and telling everyone I was scared).  Now, we were standing at the crest of a larger hill at the edge of Shoreline Park.

Lex went first.  He was always the brave one even when we were younger.  He pushed off the ground and rode his tiny skateboard down the hill, weaving back and forth between bike lanes in a wave motion.

Eugene followed.  I saw him bail out about half-way down.  That was always an option.

Then Niko and I stood at the hill’s crest.

I put my board on the ground and Niko muttered to himself, “I can do this,” while he put Freelines on the ground and pushed off.

We rushed down the hill.  The pavement was really rocky and made loud scraping sounds as the plastic wheels on my board turned.  I jumped off of my board half-way down and chased it for a little bit as gravity took it further towards the flat part before the hill.

Niko and I kept getting back on and then jumping off when we felt like we were losing control until we reached the place where Lex and Eugene were waiting.

As I walked back up the hill with Niko and Lex and Eugene, I felt excited that I actually tried going down the hill.

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That evening felt like the beginning of summer.  Not because of the longer day or the fact that it’s June. I was spending time with good people, enjoying the everlasting sunshine, and having a sort-of adventure down the hill.

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Peaceful Hotel Hangout

Poolside hangout with the bestie.  

Poolside hangout with the bestie.

There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned stay-cation to get shake up my routine.

This week, I had the opportunity to take myself on a little road trip to Los Angeles to reunite with friends and my boyfriend.

I love road trips.  I love just jumping in the car and actively propelling myself towards a destination.

The drive to LA is nice because it’s a short drive, only an hour and a half and it’s usually sunny and warm so I can roll the windows down and open up the sun/moon roof.  Yes, the traffic is terrible in the area, but it’s not too bad if I leave at the right time.

While I stayed in Glendale, I spent most of the day driving around the city and meeting up with my friends at different places.

They were attending a concert on Tuesday night, so we spent the whole day at their hotel downtown, the JW Marriot Los Angeles LA Live.  I was worried about parking, but it was actually an ok time for me – it was a weekday morning, so I probably should not have worried so much.

We spent the morning poolside.  It was bright and then cool, but it was peaceful.  It was nice to do nothing and to talk about random things with trusted friends.

Plenty of clouds floated through the sky on Tuesday. 

Plenty of clouds floated through the sky on Tuesday.

Why does she have to live 2,000 miles away?

Why does she have to live 2,000 miles away?

I also creepily took pictures as they got ready for their concert.  I loved the light in the room…

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After I left them to do their thing at their concert, I drove back to Glendale to spend time with my boyfriend.

As I drove around by myself, I found myself wanting to go to Griffith Park just to stare at the Los Angeles skyline or having the desire to go to a Dodgers game the next time I had the opportunity.

There is definitely something about Los Angeles.  I’d love to live in a big city like this someday, but we will see what happens.

With all this and nostalgia for times when I was surrounded by friends, my head has definitely been filled with plenty of thoughts.  For now, however, I’m still trying to soak up all the peace and quiet of doing no work before my spring break ends.

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The Skyscrapers of California’s Coastline

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The towns on the central and southern coasts California enjoy a different kind of “skyline.”

City skylines seem to have become an icon in graphic design and photography, and it’s not hard to understand why.  For me, I’ve grown accustomed to remembering my trips to London and New York City whenever I see an outline of the London Eye and Big Ben or the Empire State Building.  While city skylines remind me of my travels in the world,  I’ve found that I feel more deeply connected with a different silhouette on the horizon line.

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Palm trees have always been a part of my backyard.  Literally speaking, my earliest memories of growing up in Southern California consist of running around in my yard with my little brothers, where we have three large palm trees lining our driveway and two tall ones in the back.  Little orange seeds would fall from the palms onto the driveway.  My dad would sweep them up every week, sweeping from one end of our driveway all the way to the other.   Our dog would try to eat the little seeds.

Outside of our yard, we’d always pass the many tall, skinny trees lining the beach walk as we drove to school.  When we went to the park to fly kites, one of our kites got stuck in a tall palm tree across the main road, thus, making it impossible to retrieve.

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A view from my yard of one of our palms

It’s kind of weird to be glorifying a bunch of wonky trees, but I just never noticed how often they came up in my pictures and memories until now.  Looking at my Instagram profile and Flickr, I saw a lot of sunsets and beach scenes, but a palm tree always made its way into a picture.  I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because, unlike a lot of other trees, palm trees have a really distinct silhouette.  Profile-wise, they are mostly a really long trunk with huge fronds that fall like the hair in a girl’s high ponytail.  Fireworks on sticks?  But I also love looking upwards into a palm tree and seeing the fronds splash out like a giant sun.

I also believe these trees to be extremely iconic.  Kids always add a palm tree to their drawings of tropical islands.  I know.  I draw with them at daycare.

There’s also this street in LA that is lined with palm trees that always appears in television and movies.  Characters who are originally from the big city, the midwest, or even central CA roll down this street in a convertible, wearing sunglasses.  They pass the tall trees, basking in the sunlight and enjoying their travels in sunny LA.

Whatever it is, either the shape, the symbolic nature, or something else,  I am truly thankful for and in awe of these giant wonders.

See more pics at www.frankievictoria.com!

Messing around with Photoshop

I take a lot of pictures.  Especially of just random things.  Usually it’s because there’s something that catches my eye or the subject is something that I want to remember.  The pictures usually aren’t special, but I think that there are some easy ways to get the effect that I want.

This is one of those pictures.  It’s of my baby brother at his desk at home.

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He’s not really a baby anymore.  This is where I can usually find him after I get home from work – he is usually laughing at a Conan O’Brien video or scrolling through Reddit or banging the surface of the desk with his fist because of a bad play on League of Legends.  He does homework, too.  Our basset hound likes to hide under the desk.

For me, I don’t know what it is, but there is something really special about pictures that are blurred around the subject.  I love how some blurriness can make a picture special.  So I looked for a Photoshop tutorial on how to blur certain parts of an image, and I’m pretty happy with the results.

Here’s the edited image:

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I was able to do the edit using Photoshop and this tutorial from Photoshop Essentials.  There’s a lot of steps, but the tutorial is very easy to follow if you’re a photoshop newbie like me.

So there’s the picture that I was looking for…

Ok, it’s not revolutionary or exciting, but it’s fun to be doing something creative on an uneventful Friday night.

To Inspiration

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Inspiration Point is a local hiking destination, popular for the breathtaking view of the American Riviera.  Myself and a couple of friends trekked up to the spot early this week, but the view was blocked by a healthy marine layer.  We sat and stared at the fog and wondered if we would be able to see anything if we waited a couple of hours, attempting to gather up the fog as it passed us.

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We wasted no time on our way up there, but we meandered down, stopping to try and identify some wild bushes and to take pictures of cup-like spider webs.  The fog made everything look mysterious.  I especially loved the way that the towers looked in the fog – it looks like people are communicating between dimensions.

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It’s definitely a hike I recommend for locals and out-of-towners alike. It’s a pretty easy hike, just under 2 miles, and there’s always a pretty view, no matter if there is fog or not.

You can see more of my pictures at Flickr.

A Stroll Through Lotusland

A Stroll Through Lotusland

I got to visit Lotusland today, and it is truly worth the visit for all of you nature-lovers.  For those of you not familiar, Lotusland is a magical garden in the middle of Montecito, California.  It is the historic estate of Polish opera singer Ganna Walska, who was a plant enthusiast and (from what it sounds) an extremely eccentric woman.  These botanical gardens were her masterpiece. She spent years collected the plants in the estate and creating a unique habitat for each type of plant, including succulents, bromeliads, and cacti.

There are very few flowers in the estate – it was said that she wanted to be the only flower in her garden.

Here’s more from our trip!

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Learn more about Lotusland.  If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!