Sunday, August 23, 2015

Concerts, Punchbowl Falls, & Other Adventures

Hello Friends!

This post is mostly an update of what I've been and will be up to.
  1. Chiropractor: Since returning home from camp I've seen the chiropractor 2-3 times a week. I'm on a couple new supplements and trying not to be in pain anymore (because pain really sucks), but I gotta tell you it's been frustrating because no matter what I do--yoga, walking, sleeping, driving, taking pain meds--I still seem to be in pain. Since this is the case and has been the case for a few months now, I'm in the process of scheduling a follow-up appointment with my surgeon down at Stanford.
  2. Concerts: I've seen 2 concerts this month and it's been a blast! I love listening to live music.
    1. George Ezra: Oh my goodness... George is beautiful and has a lovely voice. Saw him at the Crystal Ballroom with my old roommate Jamie Weisman who is back from her epic European adventure (we were one person away from being in the front row). 
      Took this pic with my iPhone from where I was standing. Close right?
      I love that his songs were inspired by his travels. You can listen to his songs below.

    2. 94.7 Birthday Bash: My favorite radio station has been on the air for 20 years now and they wanted to celebrate with a special concert that included 8 bands (Of Monsters and Men, Matt & Kim, Glass Animals, CAKE, Joywave, Chet Faker, Robert Delong, and Saint Motel). I joined my friend Ellen, her brother, and her brother's friends; luckily they got there early and saved me a spot at a table--otherwise sitting on the gravel (even with my towel) or standing for 11 hours would have seriously put me out of commission.

      My favorite bands were Saint Motel and Of Monsters & Men, which you can listen to below.

  3. Punchbowl Falls: I really shouldn't have, but I did. I hiked 4 miles (roundtrip) one day to Punchbowl Falls (a place I've always wanted to go) with my friend Ellen. It was a beautiful hike up the mountain trails, along precarious cliffs, and is a nice place to cool off in the summer. Ellen swam toward the falls. I didn't, but I definitely dipped my toes in. Next time I'll take a swim.

    Ellen (and I) hiking down the trail, back to the parking lot. 

    See, I went in the water! Isn't this spot beautiful?

    Random girl about to jump into the water. This waterfall is downstream from Punchbowl Falls. 

    I seriously can't wait to come back to this little piece of paradise. 
  4. Visiting Friends: I've been very fortunate to visit with my friends in between coming back from working in Utah and preparing to live in southern California for my internship. I've mostly gone out for coffee (or hot chocolate in my case), lunch, or done a LUSH run. Apparently one of my love languages is "Quality Time", so I'm incredibly thankful for the time I get to spend one-on-one with my friends. It means the world to me. Only wish Salem was closer to Portland.
    Archive Coffee with my wonderful friend Miriam. 

    Kristin and I treating ourselves to LUSH!
  5. Writing: It's going great! As you've probably noticed I've been blogging quite a bit lately, updating y'all on being a camp counselor in Utah as well as my past travels to Hawai'i and Tokyo, Japan. Also, I recently had an essay of mine titled "Road Kill Lady" published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering & Giving Back. And lastly, I started writing a memoir about all my crazy camp experiences; I'll probably complete it faster than something fiction of mine.
    Not gonna lie, I'm pretty proud. 

  6. Internship: Like I briefly mentioned earlier, first week of September I will temporarily move down to Southern California for an internship with Dr. Maria Corrada in her Alzheimer's research through University of California Irvine. I'm both nervous and excited for this next adventure! 
Well, that's about it!

Blog to you later!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Japanese Adventure

Hey there!
Updating y'all on another adventure I went on back in May: Tokyo, Japan. 

Senso-ji Temple 
Now some of you may be thinking: "How on earth does Amanda get to travel so much?" Which is a great question!
Answer: My parents work for the airlines, so I'm blessed with flight benefits. Here's the thing, though... they end when I'm 24, which is next year, so I'm using those bad boys up. (I seriously need a job in which I'm paid to travel, like a travel writer or something. That's the dream!) 

Now before I get too deep into this post I have some advice for y'all, especially those of you in college: Befriend foreigners! 

Seriously, it's the best gift ever. 

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends." ~Maya Angelou

I love meeting people from different countries, whether that's through my own travels or befriending exchange students at school. I love introducing foreigners to Portland and American culture as well as learning about their own culture. I love making them feel welcomed. 

During January of 2013 I was incredibly fortunate to befriend a Japanese girl name Natsuki at Latin America Night. (Yes, go to the cultural nights put on by your college. You never know who you are going to meet. I went to almost every single one at Portland State University and loved it!) My roommate Jamie and I became great friends with her, introducing her to Portland restaurants and concerts and even American sayings. 

One of my favorite conversations with her and Jamie went like this:
Jamie: Holy shit!
Natsuki: What doest that mean?
Me: Oh no, don't say that. You wanna say "Holy crap!". That's the PG version.
Natsuki: What is PG? 
Me: Oh, um, it's like, uh... the better version? Nicer wording?
Natsuki: Ok. Holy crap!

Summer of 2013: Natsuki & I hiked Silver Falls. 

Roommate Jamie and Natsuki accidentally matching. 
Me, Jamie, my other close friend Keiana, and Natsuki at the midnight release of Catching Fire. 
Hanging out with the band Superhighway (formerly known as The Ecstatics) at the Crystal Ballroom. 94 cent concert. 
We definitely cried saying farewell to her back in December of 2013. I promised I'd visit her in Japan one day! 

Then in 2014, I met three Japanese students (Ryoma, Mariko, & Takaho) at a friend's dorm, he was introducing them to the deliciousness of macaroni and cheese. After eating we ended up playing Apples to Apples which was lots of fun. I ended up becoming great friends with these three. I took them hiking, introduced them to quality hot chocolate, yummy restaurants, went to the fair, and concerts, too, of course!
At Off the Waffle in Portland. (From left to right) Ryoma, Me, Mariko, and Takaho. 
Always kicking my butt at ping pong. 
Mariko & I going up a hill I've named San Francisco hill. 
Introducing Ryoma & Mariko to the brilliance of Blue Star Donuts.  
Mariko taking a picture of Mt. Hood.  
I made them (no, I invited Takaho & Ryoma) to pick up trash with me on our walk. It poured on us.  
Takaho was in charge of the trash claw while I held the bag.  
Captial Cities in the pouring rain on the waterfront in Portland.   
At the fair. Enjoying fireworks. 
We also enjoyed taking creeper photos...
Our creeper photo is super strong here.
My last day with Mariko in the United States. December 2014. 
It was very sad to say goodbye to these three as well. I loved them all so much and didn't know when I was going to see them again. Little did I know, it'd be 5 months later!

I finished college in March of 2015 and spent most of April traveling: France, England, and Hawai'i. Each time I arrived home I craved another adventure. I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to make it out to Japan since I had to coordinate with four people and figure out where to stay, but in the end the trip happened and thank the Lord I was able to see all four of my friends! 

Taken in the Seattle airport. Waiting for my flight to Japan. Cracked open a new journal & sipped on a delicious soy chai latte. 
I left May 11th, landing in a typhoon and then waking up the next morning to an earthquake. Welcome to Japan! 
Mariko's family was incredibly generous and let me stay at their house for the week. Here is where I slept. This was taken right after arriving at her house from the airport (1am). I'd been up for 24 hours at that point and was exhausted. 
That first night I took a shower and after planning out where I wanted to visit in Tokyo with Mariko I went to sleep.

The next day Mariko and I took the metro to her school, met up with Ryoma, and then explored the Senso-ji Temple, a very touristy area. Other than the touristy areas I was pretty much the only non-Japanese person around. Also, I'm tall, so I definitely stood out. Haha!
My favorite sign from the metro. 
Below is a vlog I made about our adventure to the Senso-ji Temple.

Here's what my Eyewitness Travel book I picked up in Seattle says about the Senso-ji Temple: "Rebuilt countless times since its founding in 628, Senso-ji is the oldest temple site in Tokyo and the capital's spiritual epicenter. The current temple, dedicated to Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, is a fireproof replica of an earlier version built in 1612. One of the liveliest spots in the city, it's grounds attract throngs of visitors who come to pray inside its cavernous main hall with its opulent, golden altar and priceless collection of 18th and 19th-century votive entertainment district. Here, the murmur of chanting sutras, flickering candles and clouds of incense co-exist with a lively trade in religious souvenirs, trinkets, and traditional foods."

As you'll see in the vlog we passed by this giant bronze incense burner. Ryoma told me to cup the smoke into my hands and onto my head, said it would make me smarter. The book says, "...wafting the smoke over [your] clothes [is] good luck." 

Ryoma, Mariko, and I at the Senso-ji Temple. 
Later we met up with Takaho and ate some delicious ramen.

Seriously, so delicious.
I was super thankful to visit Japan with the guidance of my Japanese friends because traveling can be stressful, especially when doing simple things like going to a restaurant. There are different customs that--if you don't speak the language or know what to do--can be paralyzing. For instance at this ramen restaurant before taking a seat you have to insert money into a machine, pick out which meal you'd like, out pops a coin, sit down, hand the waitress the coin, and then she brings your food to you. Yeah, totally wouldn't have known this without their help. 

Below is a video of almost all the food I ate in Japan. 

Because I stayed at Mariko's house her family fed me breakfast and dinner so I ended up spending less than 300 dollars on the whole trip! Each morning I had freshly made carrot juice, hot tea, sticky rice with some sort of meat and vegetables. Her mom is an excellent cook!

After the ramen restaurant we went to the Tokyo National Museum. 
Reunited with my three buds. 
Takaho and me. 
This next video is of all three of us browsing through the museum and then later exploring the fish markets.

Oh man... those phallic looking geoducks gave us a good laugh. 

Then next day, while Mariko was in school Ryoma and I went to the Tokyo Tower, which is basically like a red and white Eiffel Tower. It's cool because like I said earlier I went to France, so I got to experience both towers. 

On the Eiffel Tower. 
In the Tokyo Tower. 
Before going up the Tokyo Tower. 
The next day Mariko was in school for 3 hours so she suggested I go to the Kokyo Gaien National Gardens, an area known for being in front of the Imperial Palace. However, it was unfortunately closed that day, so at first I had no idea what to do, but I found a Modern Art Museum nearby and had a lovely time admiring some paintings.

Here is that video. 

That night, we met up with my good pal Natsuki. Natsuki is a fancy business woman now who bought our desserts for us. 
Enjoying my green tea ice cream. 
Introduced Mariko to Natsuki. Also this is the dessert I forgot to film before I ate it in that video. 

Then Mariko took me to Tokyo Station, which is a beautiful building made of red bricks. We were there at night and enjoyed the lights of the city. In this next video, we went up to the very top of one of the buildings to look out the window.

Gorgeous view of the city at Tokyo Station. 

Tokyo Station. 

The following day Mariko and I went to Tokyo Disneyland! (Which is much cheaper than regular Disneyland. We went for half the day and it was only $55.00.)

Here I am in front of the Tower of Terror. 
Then on my last day we went to a shrine! Sadly I forgot the name, but it was really beautiful.
You can watch the video below.

There we ate the best green tea soy ice cream I've ever had the pleasure of tasting.  

Then at some point I had to go home, but guess who piloted the 747 I flew on? 
Answer: My step-dad Mike!

It was the first time he was the pilot of a commercial airplane I flew. We flew to Hawai'i for two days and then flew home. 

Here is the video. (Most of it is just me being clueless in the airport and keeping myself entertained since I was in there for such a long time.) 

Mike and Me. 
Playing in the waves at Waikiki. 

Japan was a blast and I can't wait to go back!

Every night I thanked God in my journals for all the blessings in my life. I'm beyond grateful for my friends and family and for the incredible adventures I've been fortunate enough to go on. 

Blog/vlog to you later!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hawaiian Adventure

Hey there!

Once again, I am super behind on updating y'all on all the adventures I've been on lately. I just wanted to post these last videos of when I was in Hawai'i back in April.

(You can read my first post on Hawai'i by clicking here.)
Don't let the shorts & swimsuit fool you it was actually quite chilly there. 
This first video is when Dad, Drew, and I went to the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park . Unfortunately, it was ridiculously foggy, like we couldn't see anything. Instead of hiking, we entered the visitor's center, browsing nifty diagrams and old photos of the volcano. We were pretty disappointed, especially since we paid to get in, but while driving down the road we found a sign that said "Lava Tubes" so we pulled over to explore a tropical path straight out of a Jurassic Park film and discovered an epic lava tube. I've never been in a lava tube before so it's  definitely something I can check off my bucket list now. Also, I'm addicted. I need more lava tubes explorations in my life!

Luckily after we went through the caves we learned about one of its peculiar inhabitants: the no-eyed big-eyed spider. Apparently this spider at first evolved to have this huge eye, so it could see better in the dark, but then it eventually evolved to not to have an eye at all.

I highly recommend visiting this park if you're ever on the Big Island. Even if it's foggy it's well worth it. Watch below!


This next video is a compilation of adventures we went on during our fun stay on the Big Island (not necessarily all shot on the same day). One day we drove out to the most Southern Point of the United States, which is a delightful sight indeed with windmills being pushed around by a powerful breeze, horses moseying about in pastures, and cliffs to overlook and dive off of.

Not gonna lie, I thoroughly enjoyed the simplicity of sitting in the car and just driving around the island in admiration. Seriously. It was awesome. I love road trips.

As you'll see in this next video we also ate delicious food. Man do I love filming food (as well as eating it of course). I devoured a heavenly chicken teriyaki rice bowl. We also had entertainment with our food. Haha! An elderly couple danced outside to a live band, so at Drew's request I filmed them and as I was doing this a little girl came up to me and said, "That's my uncle!" which, not gonna lie, was kind of awkward.

Rainbow Falls. 
We also explored Rainbow Falls which is absolutely gorgeous, but I'd have to say that my favorite part about it was the banyan trees off to the lefthand side of the waterfall. I haven't climbed trees in a long time due to silly reasons like back surgeries, but I used to do it all the time as a kid, in fact, it was one of my favorite pastimes as proven by this picture below.
I normally appeared grumpy in photos while wearing dresses and/or being at weddings at this age, but not while climbing trees. Loved that climbing life! 
Banyans are incredibly strong trees and their interconnectedness to the other banyan trees around them is truly remarkable. They are both easy and fun to climb, so this is what Drew and I did! Only problem was the mugginess and mosquitos. All three of us got eaten alive!
Look at all those limbs! Crazy awesome. 

Drew is always cracking me up with his model poses. 
All in all Hawai'i was a blast and I can't wait to go there again!

Blog/Vlog to you later!