365: Day 71 – Day Trip to Balboa Island

365: Day 71 – Day Trip to Balboa Island

Coastal California towns are my favorite to explore. They have a refreshing small town feel where life is more relaxed, the people are friendly, and their streets are dotted with small businesses selling local apparel, lovely smelling soaps, art, home decor, etc. Balboa Island is no different even though it is still within the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

My favorite way to reach the island is to go to Newport and enter the Balboa Peninsula and continue driving until you reach the Balboa Pier area. There are lost of shops and restaurants to explore there as well, but today I will focus only on the island. Near the pier, but on the opposite side of the peninsula you will find the Balboa Island Ferry. There you can hop on the ferry on foot, on your bike, or in your car. Only about four cars fit on the ferry and it’s quite fun to drive onto this tiny ferry. I recommend trying to be the first car on (especially in a truck or SUV) because when you pull all the way forward you will only see the water beyond your hood. It’s quite fun when especially when you start to feel the gentle floating on the water. If you’re prone to motion sickness, don’t worry about it as it is a short ride to the island.

Once you’re on the island make your way towards the main street. It’s a small island so if you get lost, you will still end up on the main street with all the shops. Parking on the main street may be difficult so try looking for parking on the side streets as well. Everything is walking distance and you’ll want to be walking by as many stores and restaurants as possible.

Shopping

As I mentioned before, in the shops on the island you can find local apparel, lovely smelling soaps, local art, and unique home decor. You’ll find only boutique shops here and I love it. I can’t comment much on apparel, but we did buy some great soaps and few unique items for our home. If you go later in the fall you will find lots of beautiful seasonal items. A part of me wanted to buy everything and turn my home into a Christmas wonderland. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, this would be a great place to buy unique gifts for friends and family instead those plastic rectangles everyone seems to exchange these days.

Restaurants

The island has about a dozen restaurants, and of those the list below are the ones we were most interested in trying.

  • Shanghai Pine Garden Restaurant
  • Basilic Restaurant
  • Balboa Island Baking Company
  • Picante Martin’s Mexican Restaurant
  • Ciao Italian Restaurant

All of these seem pretty self explanatory in terms of what cuisine they serve except for one. Basilic turns out to be a highly-rated French-Swiss restaurant which also ends up being the most expensive restaurant on the island. The first time we were tried to eat there, but they were booked for the evening so we agreed to come back to this restaurant for my mom’s birthday and make a reservation. So I will leave you on that cliffhanger as I will write about our dinner at this restaurant in tomorrow’s post!

However, in the meantime I will leave you with a few pictures of the neighborhood from our walk around the island.

365: Day 70 – Writing early, making plans.

365: Day 70 – Writing early, making plans.

I am enjoying this daily writing exercise even though I don’t think the quality of each post is all that great. Eventually I want to spend days working on a single post to perfect it, but I remind myself to be patient and that completing this 365 project will eventually help my writing. Already it is starting to become a routing that I need to write something ever day, but unfortunately I usually try to quickly type something in about 20 minutes before the clock strikes midnight. Yesterday, I started to write something earlier, but then scrambled again close to midnight to finish it up. I am resolved to get myself into the habit of writing much earlier, working on it throughout the day, and hitting that publish button at the latest by 10pm.

Part of the reason I don’t write on here until late at night is because I am usually not doing something that I think most people will find interesting. At the moment there is of course no travelling, food is squeezed in between work duties, and my beloved classical music concerts were cancelled for the rest of the year.

But I do write. I write in a disorganized way here and there about places and foods that I find interesting. These are little research notes and scribbles that live on some notebook pages, post-it notes, and computer notes. I can use some organization to these scattered notes and I know people will find some interest in my little research here and there. I feel excited just thinking about doing this. I will post things I want to do, foods I want to eat, and places I want to see and organize them in some way. That way when this pandemic is over I will have plans ready to go.

I am not giving up on writing on past travel experiences, but these posts merit more effort in curating my many pictures, notes, and memories. Once I develop a habit of writing earlier, I am thinking I will have past travels post in the works and publish on the weekend once I am happy with it.

365: Day 69 – Sunday

365: Day 69 – Sunday

I had full intention of writing a lot more yesterday, like I usually do every day. However, I got caught up I looking for things for the house and before I knew it the clock was nearly at midnight. So I just posted a quick picture and continued looking for things until past 2am.

Today, got up around 8am to head out and get groceries from multiple places before lines start to form. So I poured myself some cold-brew coffee that I make myself and started with my caffeine intake to jumpstart my day.

First up is Trader Joe’s and then to 99 Ranch and had some lunch we picked up from Momo’s Bistro–a restaurant with very traditional Taiwanese dishes. Ended up eating quite a bit so by the time dinner came around we weren’t very hungry so we quickly put together the above dish of dry noodles (noodles cooked and then removed from the water) and added cilantro, green onions, and fried egg. The noodles brought three pouches of sauces that are added and mixed together. It was so delicious!!

365: Day 66 – Route 66, Old Road Trips

365: Day 66 – Route 66, Old Road Trips

I am not sure there is anyone brave enough to set out on a long road trip without the protection of a cell phone, but I find a certain appeal to those pre-cellphone days when you would set out on the open road armed with little more than a map. I never got to experience driving this way, of course, but I do remember a trip I took with my dad ages ago up the California coast. He bought a new Thomas Guide and traced our route through page after page and highlighting all the interesting stops along the way. It’s interesting to think back on us heading out and not knowing what the traffic would look like, you couldn’t preview the road on Google street view, and there was nothing to remind you where to turn or reroute you when you’ve missed a turn. A trip meant being disconnected from the world. No calls or texts while driving. You would have to let your relatives know what hotel you were staying at and they would need to call the reception to ask to be communicated to your room or leave a message. There was no checking emails, working on documents. It seems like a different world, but in fact it wasn’t all that long ago.

365: Day 65 – A Concert Grand, a Childhood Dream

365: Day 65 – A Concert Grand, a Childhood Dream

Ever since I can remember, I have dreamed of owning a Concert Grand Piano. So I wanted to post a picture on here as sort of a vision board. Every piano is beautiful, but there’s something incredibly captivating about a the sight of black 9-foot long piano with the lid open, and the sounds is absolutely enchanting. I could be in this room all day alternating between just staring at it and playing it.

365: Day 64 – When was the last time?

365: Day 64 – When was the last time?

What triggered today’s thoughts to write on here was Nintendo 64 because it’s my 64th post. It sounds silly, but it got me thinking that we rarely know when is the last time we’ll be doing something. For example, I don’t remember the last time I played Nintendo 64 and what would have I have thought in that moment if I knew if would be the last time. I remember when I was little pretending a few times I would be asleep after a long drive in the car late at night, so my dad could carry my up the stairs: when was the last time when I was little and light enough for that to happen? What was the last lesson I had from my piano teacher? What was the last time I hung out with my business school team? How did I feel on my last trail run through Griffith Park?

It’s interesting to look back on things in this was and a bit melancholic. How about the future? What will the first time be like? What will my first visit to Taiwan be like? When will it happen? What will the first day of my new position be like? What will that position be?

Both past and future are mysterious in their own ways.

365: Day 63 – Attempt 1

365: Day 63 – Attempt 1

I’m am giving this writing throughout the day a try. 🙂

Woke up today and had a beautiful 10-second commute from the bedroom to the home office. Turned on my computer then walked to the Kitchen to make some coffee. I hate the term “new normal” because it’s been overused, but this really has become my new routine and I am used to it once again. Getting dressed and gather my things to head out the door and drive 25 miles to work seems so weird now.

My first meeting was at 9am and it was over zoom like all the others. This too is something else that has become the norm now. I’ve always hated video conferencing, but now I’ve gotten used to it. I’m not as obsessed by how I look on the screen anymore, and I try not to focus on how bad I look in my square. 😝

…and I forgot to do this the rest of the day. Let me try this again tomorrow. 🙂

365: Day 62 – All renovation designs nearly finalized

365: Day 62 – All renovation designs nearly finalized

So I didn’t write on my phone about everywhere I went because it was a busy Sunday and it’s hard to just whip out your phone during this pandemic because I have my gloves, mask, and goggles to protect myself and I don’t want to get my phone dirty with germs. Today was very productive as the design of the renovations are about ninety-five percent complete!