Photo Trippin’: Remembering Paris

The very best shot of the Eiffel Tower I took. I love it! 

I can’t believe it’s been two months since I strolled the streets of Paris.

My trip to London and Paris was pretty damn epic. Although I only got to wander the streets of the City of Lights for a day, it definitely made an indelible print on my life. While I was there I made a new French friend (a fine gentleman who still calls me every, single day. Oui!), and I also (re)ignited my passion to see more of the city.

Recently, I was looking back at my pictures and realized I didn’t take nearly as many as I thought I did. Sure, I got several shots of the Eiffel Tower (I was desperate to find it, because then I felt I was IN Paris), but I didn’t take as many pictures of the sites and sounds as I would have liked. Probably because I spent most of the time just taking it in (and asking for directions), but I’ll always have my memories.

Next time….there will be more than enough pictures to go around. But for now, check out some of my favorite shots from my brief excursion to Paris.

The Louvre
Cleopatra’s Needle at the Place de la Concorde
Ferris Wheel at the Palais de Tuileries
Artwork in the the Jardin des Tuileries
Christmas decorations on the Champs-Elysées
Arc de Triomphe

And to top it off….the Eiffel Tower at night. Magnifique!

Have you ever been to Paris? What was your favorite part of the city?

Want to see more shots of Paris? Check out my girl Sheryll’s blog, The Wanderlust Project. She has some AMAZING ones!

Riding with Harley-Davidson!

The Harley-Davidson Museum

Yesterday I landed in Milwalkee, WI to tour the Harley-Davidson museum, HD motorcycle plant, and learn a little bit more about African-American biker culture. Although I didn’t think it would be a particularly *fun* trip (I’m here for work), I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed myself!

I’ll have more on my trip a little bit later, but I wanted to share some images I’ve snapped so far.

Enjoy!

The Harley-Davidson Museum

The oldest Harley in existence, the Series One, built in 1903.

Harley Davidson Museum

The Buffalo Solider Biker Club memorabilia

Do you love to ride? 

On the Road: The Living Desert Zoo

The Living Desert Zoo

Who knew there was a zoo in the middle of the desert?!

I had no idea until I did a google search for “L.A. Day Trips” and the Living Desert Zoo came up. Because le kid LOVES animals and we hadn’t really been anywhere in a few weekends, it seemed like a no-brainer to take a drive out to the desert to see what the hype was all about.

Last Saturday we got up fairly early (for a weekend!) and hopped in our car headed toward Palm Desert. Despite being about 135 miles away, we were able to make pretty good time and ended up reaching the zoo in about 2 hours.

The desert is beautiful!

The Living Desert Zoo was established back in 1970 by several local residents who foresaw the impact the growth of resorts in the Palm Springs/Palm Desert area would have on local wildlife. To counteract some of the development, they set aside several acres of land as a nature preserve and hiking trails. Today, the zoo is home to animals and plants from all over the world (and specifically Africa) that are native to desert climates.

I have no idea what kind of flower this is, but it reminded us of a spider.

What would a desert be without camels?

The zoo is broken into two sections: North America and Africa, and features animals, plants, and reptiles native to each region. Because it’s a zoo of desert animals it features many of the usual suspects: camels, zebras, wild dogs, hyenas, and giraffes, as well as some endangered species such as gazelles, and servals.

Giraffes...showing a little love.

Because the zoo is in the middle of the desert, you can imagine it was HOT. Although it was only about 75 degrees, the sun was definitely shining brightly. I wouldn’t even THINK of visiting the zoo in the summer when temperatures can easily top 110. Luckily, the zoo closes early in the summer (1:00pm). Also, some of the animal shows–Animal Wonders and the reptile show–are also subject to the weather, so check the weather report to make sure it isn’t too hot before you head out.

If you’re like me and have been to your fair share of zoos, you’ll notice that the Living Desert Zoo is quite a bit smaller and has less exhibits than your “regular” zoo. However, because the weather can make a full-day here almost impossible, for us, it was the perfect size. I can get impatient with kid attractions (sorry, blame my father for passing on his short attention span), so for me, this was perfect. We spent a good four hours checking out the exhibits, watching the shows, and seeing the zoo at our own pace. There are several hiking trails on the zoo grounds, so if you want to bring along a picnic and go for a hike before seeing the animals, you can easily turn this into an all-day affair. Otherwise, set aside a few hours and tour at your own pace.

He's in LOVE with trains!

Although le kid had a wonderful time looking at each animal exhibit, what he REALLY loved was the model train set. The zoo has an AMAZING train set that’s takes up an expansive 1/3 acres. The train set includes replicas of local shops, restaurants, and hotels as well as all sorts of trains. He was IN LOVE. Le kid must have looked at the train, studied it, and ran around the set for the better part of an hour. I literally had to pry him away.

Overall we enjoyed our day at the zoo. Not only did we see lots of interesting plants, animals, and reptiles, but it was CHEAP! Two tickets cost us just $22. How can you beat that?

*Check out more pictures from our zoo adventure on my Facebook page. 

Have you been to the zoo lately? What’s your favorite thing about zoos? 

How do you feel about Mondays?

Borrowed from BellaMumma.com

I used to hate them. My hate for Monday would start on Sunday evening, really, as I had to mentally prepare myself for another week in my classroom. Although I loved (most of) my students, I wasn’t happy being a teacher. It was tiring, emotionally draining, and I was always waiting for my “Lean On Me” or “Freedom Writers” moment when my class of tough, struggling teens would “get it” and fall in love with my class.

It never quite happened, but I kept trying. Kept coming up with lessons that they’d be able to relate to. Kept picking books that had characters who looked and sounded like them. Kept talking to many of them about the future.

But four months after walking away from the classroom I no longer hate Mondays and I’m not looking back.

What I learned over these past few months, and through traveling, is that life is too short to waste it doing something that makes you unhappy. And while I enjoy teaching and talking to kids about books, words, and life, doing so within the stresses and confines of a public school classroom wasn’t making it happy. At all. In these past four months I’ve been writing full-time, and although waiting to get paid for gigs causes a little bit of doubt about my choice to freelance full time to creep in, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Had I not shifted my life and gone after what I wanted, I couldn’t have gone to London. I wouldn’t be going to Milwaukee later this week (more on that later!), and I wouldn’t be able to do many of the things I love and want to do. So I’m blessed to be here.

And I’m thankful. Especially for Mondays.

How do you feel about Mondays? 

Lunchtime Trippin’: Urbano Pizza Bar, L.A.

Today I took my car in to be serviced and instead of waiting around in the dealership, I decided to hop a bus to Downtown L.A.

Although I have no problem taking the bus or train in other cities, there’s something about being on the bus in L.A. that makes you feel like you’re losing at life (#realtalk). Unlike other cities where everybody proudly hops on public transportation, taking the bus here is looked down upon. Nevertheless, I hopped aboard the L.A. Dash, paid my 50 cents (!!), and headed downtown.

I got off in the financial district and wandered around for a bit before trying to find an interesting place (read: not a chain) to have a quick lunch. Because I only had two hours, I needed something fast, relatively affordable, and most importantly, TASTY.

Urbano Pizza Bar Los Angeles

After walking for a few minutes, I spotted a pizza joint just a block from the Central Library on 6th and Flower that caught my eye.

Urbano Pizza Bar looked pretty cool from the outside, it wasn’t especially crowded, and it seemed laid back enough that I wouldn’t feel self-conscious sitting in there alone (I’m still getting used to eating out at restaurants solo, don’t judge me).

Urbano Pizza Bar Los Angeles

As soon as I stepped in the door, Urbano reminded me of Pizza Express in London. Although it sounds like a nondescript fast food joint, Pizza Express serves up gourmet pizzas, wines, and beers in a laid back (yet somehow upscale) atmosphere. Urbano does the same.

At Urbano I was greeted by the bartender/server who let me know I could sit anywhere. The restaurant has several tables both inside and out, but I chose to sit at the diner-style, center table that accommodates several people.

I searched the menu and settled on the PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA pizza which was a delicious mix of thinly-sliced prosciutto, mushrooms, pecorino romano, and  arugula all on a crispy thin crust. Yum! Although it was slightly salty, it was sooooooo tasty! It was definitely enough to share with someone and CHEAP ($12).

Urbano Pizza Bar Los Angeles

LOVE the water bottles. It's the little things, really 🙂

Urbano Pizza Bar Los Angeles

Yummo!

Even though I could have done without the ’50s soundtrack pumping through the place (just isn’t my style), the atmosphere, the food, and the beer and wine list (that I didn’t try, but they had several interesting choices), are DEFINITELY enough for me to head back downtown for a slice.

Have you ever been to Urbano Pizza Bar in LA? What’s your favorite pizza place in the world?