fitness Nature Photography travel

Valley of Fire State Park

Vally of Fire State Park

For nature lovers seeking attractions near Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada is a great option! I highly recommend it. It gets crowded, but there are plenty of options for parking throughout the park.

Trip date: April 2, 2021




Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, California

mount rubidoux

Photos are shown in reverse (from the end of my hike to the beginning).

mount rubidoux cross

Cross at Mount Rubidoux Memorial Park.

mount rubidoux

Mountain Elevation‎: ‎1,331 ft

mount rubidoux cross

Fun  Fact: Mt. Rubidoux is the site of the oldest outdoor non-denominational Easter Sunrise service in the United States.

mount rubidoux peak

mount rubidoux trail

mount rubidoux

The World Peace Bridge at Mount Rubidoux.

mount rubidoux stairs

mount rubidoux cross

mount rubidoux view

The views at Mount Rubidoux Park in Riverside, CA are breathtaking.

mount rubidoux bridge

mount rubidoux view

mount rubidoux trail

mount rubidoux views

mount rubidoux palm trees

mount rubidoux wild flowers

mount rubidoux hiking trail

mount rubidoux flowers

mount rubidoux cactus

mount rubidoux city view

Mount Rubidoux is located just west of downtown Riverside.

mount rubidoux hiking trail

mount rubidoux park

Happy Monday Everyone!

Here’s another nature loving post featuring Mount Rubidoux Memorial Park in Southern California.

2019 was one of the busiest years of my life, but whenever I found free time, I would try to get outside and take in some nature.  While it was exhausting (at times) traveling back and forth weekly from Vancouver, WA to Riverside, CA for my graduate program at La Sierra University, I always felt blessed to be in the California sunshine.

Although Mount Rubidoux is a major nature attraction in Riverside, I postponed going for about a year.

Traffic is generally awful in southern California, and even though it was only 12 miles from my university, it was about a 35-40 minute drive. Once I made the decision to go, it was totally worth it. I went during the week, and it was still pretty busy with people because it’s a very popular destination. The photos speak for themselves. They are so pretty, I had trouble selecting them; that’s why there are so many!

The views were absolutely gorgeous, and the workout was awesome.

You can walk the trail in either direction, and you can enter the park from multiple locations. The paved loop is 3.5 miles. There are places to sit along the way, and it is not uncommon to see bouldering (rock-climbing) classes going on.

I actually ended up getting lost at one point and wound up in a residential neighborhood.  The mountain is a lot bigger in circumference than you might think, so I do not recommend deviating off the path, haha!

I didn’t take any photos of myself this day, but I included some photos of myself from April 2019 below.

These pics were taken on La Sierra campus within a few days of this hike. If you can tell from the photos, the California weather and sun makes me very happy. Having grown up in the cold midwest (right outside of Chicago), I never take warm weather for granted!

As of yesterday, I finished working on a project that has taken up the majority of my time for the past few months. 🙂

I am enjoying the feeling of relief that comes after finishing a difficult task. I don’t want to share it yet, but hopefully I will have some good news to share with you all by April. It feels so good to complete a challenging goal! Have you set any goals for yourself for the first quarter of 2020?




natural hair twist out

A day 2 or 3 twist-out.

natural hair braid and twist

A braid and twist on blow dried hair.

natural hair braid and twist

I had my hair dyed red for a while before going gray!

natural hair braid and twist


Day Trips to Portland: Japanese Garden

Spring brought about lovely trips to some of Portland’s most touristy attractions.  My mom flew in from Indiana to visit in early June, and as a fellow nature lover, I couldn’t wait to take her to the Japanese Garden.  It was the first visit for both of us, and it was amazing.  I could’ve spent all day there.  Parking is scarce, but when the weather is pleasant, walking around the grounds is nice. The Japanese Garden is the perfect place to experience the merging of nature and spirituality. It is truly a magical experience.

We went on an overcast day, and the temperature was in the 70’s; perfect weather for a garden stroll & picture-taking. If I’d been alone, I’d have liked to spend an entire day there, taking photographs, meditating, and just being inspired by the beauty and serenity of the exquisite surroundings. The garden passes are good all day, and allow for in-and-out entry (click here for hours and admission info). 

Three of the essential elements used to create a Japanese garden are stone, the “bones” of the landscape; water, the life-giving force; and plants, the tapestry of the four seasons. Japanese garden designers feel that good stone composition is one of the most important elements in creating a well-designed garden. Secondary elements include pagodas, stone lanterns, water basins, arbors, and bridges. Japanese gardens are asymmetrical in design and reflect nature in idealized form.” — Portland Japanese Garden

“The 5.5 acre Japanese Garden is composed of five distinct garden styles. When we enter a Japanese garden, the desired effect is to realize a sense of peace, harmony, and tranquility and to experience the feeling of being a part of nature. In a deep sense, the Japanese garden is a living reflection of the long history and traditional culture of Japan.” — Portland Japanese Garden

My Tips:
      *If you are going with someone who is elderly or has difficulty with strenuous activity, be advised that the uphill walk up to the garden could be hard for some.
     *Portland is known for it’s food carts, and there are a couple of good ones near the parking lot. There is also a seating are and gift shop
     *You will most likely have to walk to a meter machine to pay for your parking. Don’t forget your space # & credit-card! 🙂

DETAILS | White linen blouse: Ellen Tracy,  Bag: Tommy Hilfiger, Sandals: Sam Edelman, Jewelry: Lucky Brand
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Signing off from (right outside of) Portland,