Thursday, February 20, 2014

NYC Sights

The Big Apple, The City that Never Sleeps, The Empire City, and the Melting Pot. All those names could only pertain to one city and one city only, New York City. This last January I had the pleasure of celebrating  my 5 year anniversary with my SO for 6 days in this wonderful city. It's was a grand adventure and it deserves two posts. I will first talk about my highlights, then I'll devote a whole blog post to food.

Honestly, NYC was great to visit, but I would never live there. 6 days was quite a long time in the city. I was ready to leave by day 4. New York is very unique in its own way. The people do not give a shit about you, getting around is super easy and confusing by subway, subways are not BART, so don't expect comfort, and don't expect to sleep because there is always something to do at night.

In 6 days, you can do a lot. Trust me, we did everything tourist could do besides eat my heart out in the 6 days we were there.  Luckily, we decided to get the citypass which included 6 attractions for 106$. It's totally worth it if it's your first time there.

Here are my top 8 NYC City Sights.

8. Time Square - We were lucky to had stayed right in time square. My first initial reaction was, "wow, that's a lot of light." It's pretty impressive. In Time Square, you are literally blinded by light that is projected from these digital billboards. It's really something to see, especially at night. New York is known as the city that never sleeps, Time square is in the center of that. You have a place filled with bars, food, shops, and shows. Time square is definitely I place that needs to be seen if it's your first time in New York. Beware, like many top tourist places, expect crowds galore and tour groups trying to rip you off.

Time Square seen from the famous red steps.


7. Broadway: Who can go to New York City and not see a broadway play. We were lucky enough to see three.  We saw the Lion King, Avenue Q, and Once: The Musical. New York is where stage actors go to "make it big." Why you ask? Broadway allows creative freedom in many different forms. You have over 20+ plays going on every single day. If I lived in New York, I would make it a goal to see as many plays as I could. I've never seen so  many theaters lined up so close together of each other. My boyfriend wanted to splurge so he bought pre tickets before we got to New York. Don't feel like you have to do this, unless you want to see a new really popular musical (such as Book of Mormon), but if you don't, they have a ticketing booth offering tickets at up to 60% off. If you are in New York, I would suggest to see at least one play, if not more.

6. Central Park: What is a trip to New York without going to Central Park. Central Park is literally building smack dab in the middle of Manhattan. We were lucky to had visited right after a snow storm, so, Central Park was covered in beautiful white snow. It's famous for its beauty and it's location. It is surrounded by these monstrous skyscrapers which adds such greatness to the city. It's definitely worth a visit. I would love to come back during summer time and have a picnic here

Snowy Central Park


5. Empire State Building: A New York City icon. Once the highest building in US, years later, it's still one of the most iconic structures to exist. The history of it's construction and past can all be experienced on this lovely tour. It's a nice prelude to the view you get from the top. It's quite a site and you get to see the true beauty in Manhattans skyline.

View from the top, overlooking Central Park


4. Statue of Liberty: Lady Liberty was great not only because I can say I've been to the statue that stands for freedom, but because Liberty Island allows you to see a beautiful glimpse of the grand New York City Skyline. You can pay for a tour that will bring you to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. While on this tour you are able to go in the Statue of Liberty and see the process in Ellis Island that immigrants once took in hopes of starting new lives. I believe this was a great experience and should be done if you've never been.

The view from Liberty Island
Lady Liberty Herself

Ellis Island from the Front


3. Museums: New York has a plentiful abundance of culture. Art plays a big part of that. New York hosts great museums, such as, the MOMA, MET, and Natural History Museum.

The front of the MET

Teddy in front of the Natural History Museum

The famous and wonderful Starry Night at the MOMA


2. 9-11 Memorial: A beautiful memorial to such a horrendous event. All the names of those affected by the 9-11 attacks are etched on the sides of the memorial fountains. It's free but feel free to make a donation. I'm very glad I was able to pay my respects. The memorial is built as two large fountains where the towers once stood. Parts of the memorial are still under construction but you may still visit the fountains. They are still in works for the museum.

South Tower Memorial

A lonely flower left from a loved one.


1. Brooklyn Bridge: I come from the SF Bay Area and we have the famous Golden Gate Bridge. New York has their famous bridge and I personally am in awe of it. The Brooklyn Bridge is beauty to walk. It has it's own pedestrian walk way that allows pedestrians to avoid the dangers of walking near cars and allows them to enjoy the beauty of the bridge. If you are a visitor to New York, I highly recommend walking the bridge over to Brooklyn and treating yourself to the famous Grimaldi's Pizza for your hard work walking over.

Cool Ropes makes this walk fun
View of NYC from Brooklyn


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An ode to 2013

2013 has been a roller coaster of truly amazing moments and a couple of moments that I would love to forget. Either way, it's been a pretty great year. This year has allowed to me to mature and to truly appreciate my life and the little things that make life so much better.

The good:
- I hiked up Half Dome (Yosemite, CA)
- I got a new job
- I traveled outside of California/Nevada for the first time. Not once, but three times. (Hawaii, Seattle, Portland)
- First time kayaking and snorkeling. (Oahu, HI)
- Ran my first 5K - Color Run
- Went to Yosemite twice
- Celebrated 4 wonderful years with the love of my life
- I met Dr. Phillip Zimbardo
- Made a totally homemade costume. (minions)
- Went wine tasting, not once, but three times. (Napa two times and Paso Robles once)
- Finally took my whole family out for a meal and paid for it
- Became a Yelp Elite
- Hit a quarter of a century. I'm 25!
- Paid off my car
- Ran 7 miles straight with no stopping.
- Lots and lots of hiking. These are the highlights:
  • Half dome (Yosemite, CA)
  • Diamond Head (Oahu, HI)
  • Manoa falls hike (Oahu, HI)
  • Multnomah-wahkeena loop (Portland, OR)
  • Sebbins cold canyon reserve (Davis, CA)
  • Mission Peak (Fremont, CA)

The not so good:
- Somehow got stuck in a 4 car pile up. Luckily I was in front, so there was not much damage done to my car.
- Had to leave my teaching job. Luckily, what could have been the worst period of my life, became one of the best things that could have happened to me. I loved the kids I taught very much, but the job was not a good fit for my future. The situation that finally made me leave brought new light to my life. I found a position that is truly a better fit for me and my career. This was truly a blessing in disguise.
 
2014 Goals
- run a half marathon
- go on an adventure
- get buff
- dream big
- break bad habits
- fill up this blog with lots of food and adventure
- master the art of french macarons
- travel more

There is so much I want to accomplish in my life. 2013 gave me a lot to appreciate. 2013 showed me that I could dream big, but I can only dream bigger at this point. I can't wait to continue to go on more adventures in the following years to come.

Seattle Food Highlights

Seattle, known as the largest city in the Pacific Northwest. My SO and I had the pleasure of visiting this fine city two months ago on our Pacific Northwest trip to Portland and Seattle. Seattle is a great city in the northwest. Growing up in the bay area, Seattle actually reminded me a lot of San Francisco except much cleaner and less homeless people. Seattle has the tall buildings, the bay,  the artsy community, and many good foodie places; much  like SF.

We hit up many of the touristy spots, such as, the space needle, EMP Museum, Chihuly's Glass Museum, Pike's Market, and the Fremont District. All were pretty awesome and fun.

EMP (Experience Music Project) itself is an amazing museum. The design of the museum is crazy awesome and can be seen in all its funkiness from the space needle. You museum showcases some of the best in music and movie. My favorite was this gigantic display of guitars piled on top of each other.

Chihuly is worth a stop by because the pure beauty that can be made from glass. Chihuly made a name for himself as a genius at glasswork. You may see many of his pieces at this museum and famously at the Beliagio in Las Vegas.

Seattle Underground is also an amazing tour. It showcases a old Seattle that is currently under the new Seattle. Seattle is built on top of an old infranstructure and this tour takes you literally underground. The tour was fun and interactive. 

From top left to Bottom: Fremont troll, Space Neddle, EMP, Chihuly Glass Museum


Onto the food. Here are my top 3 favorite food places in Seattle.

3. Pikes Market. This place is amazing! There are so many little restaurants here for the food lover on the go. Pikes also is the home of the first Starbucks. It's nothing impressive but it's kind of cool to say you've been.

When my SO got to Pikes on a Monday, it was crazy packed and hard to get through. We came back on our last day in Seattle and it was much better. My highlights for Pikes are:

Prioshky Prioshky: (1908 Pike Pl)  A cute and very popular Russian bakery that offers the best piroshkys I've ever eaten The salmon pate piroshky was seriously bomb. My boyfriend is Eastern European and he told me that these pastries were legit.
 
Beecher's Handmade Cheese: (1600 Pike Pl) As you walk by, you can peer through these gigantic windows and see them making cheese in these huge baths. I was instantly intrigued and decided to go in. I heard they make a pretty awesome grilled cheese. Upon walking in, you are greeted with this aroma of cheese. For a cheese lover, this place is heaven. My SO and I decided to share the flagship sandwich. It was a grilled cheese sandwich with their famous flagship cheese. It was one of the most amazing grilled cheeses I've even eaten. The cheese melts instantly in your mouth.


2. Sweet Iron (1200 3rd Ave) This place is amazing for liege waffles. A perfectly cooked waffle with crystallized sugar pearls. Sweet Iron has savory and sweet waffles. I'm glad I found this place on yelp. It's a little small shop in the middle of downtown. We had breakfast here and enjoyed both the waffles we chose. We were both in sweet mood and I got the Banana brûlée waffle and my boyfriend the Honey, goat cheese , hazelnuts waffle. I would love to go back and try their savory waffles.


1. Revel (403 N 36th St) My favorite meal on my Seattle trip. Revel is located in the Fremont District which is this artsy hip district in Seattle. Not many tourist come to Fremont because its a bit far from the downtown area. I'm very happy my SO an I decided to hop on a bus and go here. The food scene here is very much like the mission but maybe a bit more hippie. 

Revel itself,  is unique and up and coming. They have their kitchen in the diners full view. You can even sit at the bar and watch them cook your meal. I love this concept. Revel is a perfect Asian fusion restaurant that wants you coming back for more.

Their menu is decently small but everyone can find something they would like on it. My boyfriend and I came here because we were conveniently in the Fremont area and I read about Rachel Yang and how her restaurants are up and coming in Seattle.
From Top to Bottom: Short rib, daikon, mustard green egg bowl;Pork Belly, kimchi, and bean sprout pancake; and Americanized bahnchan,


 Seattle I'll be back one day.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Portland Food Highlights

"Keep Portland Weird," is the motto that you see all over Portland, OR. Two months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting this great city. When people go on vacation, I'm pretty sure that Portland, OR is far from everyone's mind. I came to Portland to visit a friend, and I'm glad I did. Portland is an up and coming city where food lovers rejoice and nature is our friend. I loved everything about Portland. From the long food lines, to the abundance of waterfalls in sight, and the beautiful Willmette River that flows throughout the town. Portland is truly a beautiful and weird city that will delight any traveler. 

I only stayed for two days but I swear I could have done so much more if I stayed longer. In my two days in Portland I was able to eat at most of the hugely popular foodie places. My friend knows me very well and only took us to the best places Portland has to offer. I wanted to take time in this post to highlight those food adventures. I will review my top 3 foodventures.

3.  Voodoo Doughnuts
22 SW 3rd Ave

How can you go to Portland and not go to this food staple. Voodoo doughnuts epitomizes what Portland is; Weird. Where else can you get a doughnut in the shape of a bunt, something called the gay bar doughnut, a doughnut called cock and balls, and a voodoo doll with guts coming out of it. This place is truly what Portland is all about. I heard of the long lines, but I had a great experience at Voodoo. My group came here around 11 PM after we checked out City Grill and the line was only 5 people deep. The doughnuts were fresh and delicious the next day. My favorite in particular is their bacon maple bar. The bacon is cooked perfectly and has a maple sugar glaze on it. My second favorite is the apple fritter. One of the best I've had. Voodoo Doughnuts is definitely a place to stop by at when in Portland.

Voodoo Doll and Blunt from Portland's Voodoo Doughnuts


2. Pok Pok
3226 SE Division St

Andy Ricker made a name for himself selling his North Thai cuisine out of a cart, he now has 7 different restaurants in Portland and New York. Pok Pok is definitely a restaurant experience unlike any other. The Thai food you are given at Pok Pok are not what Americans are used to. This is North Thai Cuisine, not the South that we are used to, so you will not be getting phat thai here. The flavors at Pok Pok are amazing and worth the two hours I had to wait to eat. If you are in Portland, Pok Pok is definitely a good place to have dinner at if you are willing to do your share of waiting. They conveniently have a sister bar next door that you can chill at while you wait, so time goes by fairly fast. Get the wings, you won't regret it!

Pok Pok's famous fish sauce wings is worth the 2 hour wait time.


1. Screen Door
2337 E Burnside St

Good old southern cuisine in Portland,OR. Who would have thought? This place was  probably the highlight of my trip. I've had my fair share of chicken and waffles, but Screen Door blows them all away. Look aside Roscoe's, Screen Door has you beat. This chicken and waffles dish is huge. They give you a large Belgium waffle and three huge pieces of chicken breast on top of it. The best part is that a knife is shoved between the chicken and waffles to give you the gigantic effect. It's amazing! The flavors are bold, the food is fresh, and who doesn't like brunch. Prices are very affordable and you get lots of food. I waited an hour and a half in the rain for this place and it was worth it. The entrees are big and full of flavor. If you are going to visit Portland, I would totally recommend this place wholeheartedly and am salivating right now at the thought of the chicken and waffles they offer.
The famous Chicken and Waffles at Screen Door.
Portland, I will come back for you one day for more amazing foodventures!


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy Korean Beef with Garlic Asparagus

This is my first recipe post! This is a recipe that my sister told me about and can be found on this website.

http://elizabethbryant.blogspot.com/2010/05/korean-beef.html

It is one of the easiest and delicious recipes I've ever tired to conquer. If you love Korean bbq, this recipe is a cheap an easy alternative to the delicious meat. I normally pair it with a grain (rice), and a vegetable. I love asparagus and I think the asparagus works perfectly with this dish. My SO is a pretty picky eater and he doesn't normally like meat, but he loves this dish. He will ask for it, when I tell him I want to cook. The beef itself has a perfect balance of sweet and salty, with a slight taste of sesame and ginger.

Easy Korean Beef with Garlic Asparagus

 

Taken from Lizzy Writes

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 - 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers (I skipped this)
salt and pepper
1 bunch green onions, diced

I make my asparagus very easy. I normally lay it out on foil and drizzle olive oil over it. Then I spice it up with fresh garlic, salt, and pepper. I bake it for 15 minutes and it comes out perfect. I like a crunch to my vegetables so I don't cook it that long.

This recipe is healthy and delicious at the same time.  


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hawaii Food Highlights

This last May I had the pleasure of visiting Oahu with my SO. We had such an amazing trip together. The trip was filled with so much site seeing, eating, hiking, and adventure. We were there for 5 days and 6 nights. You would could spend two weeks here and not get enough of the island life. Living in Hawaii would be really nice, people in the state have a relax and laid back persona. Every one that I met was super friendly and helpful.

I wanted to share some of my favorite food places with you.

1. Marukame Udon - Waikiki  

This was by far my favorite place in Oahu. My boyfriend and I ate here twice on our trip recently. It is by far the best udon that I've ever had. I've never been to Japan, but I'm sure this is the next best thing.

Marukame is unique in that it serves cafeteria style. You walk in and you are asked what type of udon you want (hence, what type of broth you want) and then you get to pick your tempura. They have over 15 choices of different tempura that you can get. You could also get different types of spam masubi. My favorite was the vegetable birds next tempura. Absolutely delicious!

The wait for this place is worth it. I came here for lunch and for breakfast. There is not much of a line for breakfast but for lunch we were first and only had to wait 20 mins before they opened up. It was totally worth it. It's also very affordable! Between my boyfriend and I, we spent around 20$ for the both of us.

Bukkake udon with assported tempura - Marukame Udon

2. Hula Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs - Waikiki

I saw this place on some show but I can't remember what it was. When I found out I was going to Oahu, I knew this was a place i had to stop by.

This place has a cool beach feel going for it. They have a cute beachy decor and is very colorful. Once you go in they have a ordering menu where it tells you how to order. First you order your bread, then you choose your dog, and then you get to pick from their sauces and relishes.

I decided on a taro bacon bun (OMG), with a polish dog, pineapple relish, and a guava mustard. That sounds like a taste overload doesn't it? Once I bit into my hula dog I was blown away. All the different tastes work together wonderfully. It was a sweet tangy explosion in my mouth. The sauces taste delicious but the bread did it for me. I never knew taro bacon bread could taste so good with a sausage in it. It was amazing!

Taro bacon bun, with a polish dog, pineapple relish, and a guava mustard - Hula Dog

3. Island Vintage Coffee - Waikiki

Acai bowl for the win! My SO and I also ordered a green tea latte iced an my boyfriend the honey macadamia latte. Both were delicious. You can tell they use better coffee beans here than starbucks. After we tasted our drinks we decided to dig into our acai bowl. Once we did, we instantly had a foodgasim our mouths. I totally see what everyone one here raves about. The Acai bowl was not only awesome because of the acai mixture they have on the bottom but the fresh fruit and granola that they use. Also, they add a bit of honey in the bowl that gives it a very natural sweet taste.

Acai Bowl with an iced green tea latte - Island Vintage Coffee

4. Duke's Waikiki

Located right near the beach, Dukes is a wonderful place to start your day off right. This place was highly recommended on yelp and I saw that they had a breakfast buffet, so I definitely wanted try it. I made a reservation because my boyfriend and I went on a Saturday. It's a good thing I did because we were seated right away.

For 16.95 you have a choice of delicious breakfast food. For the price you pay, you actually get really good food. It's a very good deal. You have a choice of made to order omelets with premium toppings, gets benedicts, pancakes with different toppings, bacon, different types of sausages, homefries, various fruits, yogurt, granola, cereal, bagels, and your choices of drinks.
Breakfast buffet - Dukes Waikiki

5. Blue Water Shrimp and Fish Market - Waikiki

This place is located in the International Market food court. On our first day in Oahu we wanted to find a quick place to eat because we were really hungry after getting off the plane. This place was conveniently located near our hotel. We got to the food court and I saw that this place had a long line so naturally, I thought it would be a great place to go. I was right. The food here was delicious and it was surprising because it came out of a food court. The menu in extensive with many seafood options. I decided on the mahi mahi with a lemon caper sauce. It was delicious and for 10$ you totally get your money's worth. The sauce was creamy and had the right taste of lemon to cream.

Mahi Mahi w/ lemon caper sauce - Blue Water Shrimp and Fish Market

6. Roy's Restaurant - Waikiki

On our last day in Oahu, my SO and I wanted to go to a nice restaurant. We decided on Roy's because it had amazing reviews. I know this place is a chain but since it's known as a Hawaiian restaurant, I figured Hawaii would be the perfect place to try it. The food here blew me away and the service was spot on. My boyfriend and I both decided to get the pirxe fixe menu. With this menu you are given an appetizer plate with three of their popular appetizers, (Blacked Ahi, Szechuan Baby Back Ribs, Chinatown Spring Rolls), an entree, and a dessert. The baby back ribs are to die for. Slathered in this amazing sweet and salty sauce and meat falling off the rib, I only wanted to eat more. For my entree I got the macadamia nut crusted white fish. The fish was perfectly coated and came with perfectly seasoned potatoes. Lastly, for dessert I got the macadamia nut tart. I didn't care much for this one. 
I would totally recommend this place for a nice place to eat out. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Half Dome July 2013


In February 2013 my SO an I went to Yosemite National Park. I fell in love with the wondrous scenery and all the amazing nature that I was able to see. In Yosemite you are offered an abundance of waterfalls, beautiful glacierized mountains, iconic nature formations, and this amazing thing called Half Dome.

View of Half Dome from the Valley Floor
I then found out that people climb Half Dome. I instantly wanted to take the challenge that thousands of people do every year. I talked to a friend about how I wanted to do this crazy hike and she immediately signed on to do it. We dragged our SOs into doing it with us. We then found out that you need to sign up for a lottery to get a permit to hike Half Dome so we all did and, luckily, one of us got it.

Days before our hike was supposed to start, I was obsessively checking the weather. Various sources kept saying that there is a chance of thunderstorms. I was very anxious about this and was really worried that we wouldn't be able to do the hike. My SO kept reassuring me that it will be ok. We decided that we would hike up until the ranger, who checks for permits, and if she gave us the ok, we would go up. That is exactly what we did and luckily the weather forecasts were wrong and the weather was beautiful.

Forward to July 27th, 2013. It was the day for our group of 4 to hike. We decided that we needed to go to bed early because we wanted to start the hike around 4 AM. We all "went to bed" around 10:00 PM the night before. I could not sleep because of the anxiety of finally hiking the dome. Thus, I only got 45 mins of sleep (not a smart idea). When I finally was able to fall asleep around 2:30 AM, the next thing I remember was an alarm clock going off at 3: 20 AM. At this point I was sleep deprived but I didn't care. "Power through" was my slogan for most of this trip. We all got up, got ready, and left our hotel at 4:40 AM.

(5:30 AM) We arrived at the trailhead parking lot (after getting slightly lost in the dark) to start our ascent up Half Dome. At this point, everything seemed easy. The first way-point on the hike is the Vernal Falls footbridge. This was our last stop for purified drinking water and flushing toilets.

The view of Vernal Falls from the footbridge

The next part of our journey was to go through the famous Mist Trail. This trail is very arduous and strenuous. It's probably one of the hardest hikes I've ever done. The payoff in doing this trail is that there are two beautiful waterfalls to admire while you are hiking up. You are literally walking up thousands of granite makeshift stairs.

Part of our group making it up the "hell" stairs
The first waterfall we were greeted with is Vernal Falls. These falls give off a nice mist (hence the name), which helps a lot when you are sweating and panting while working your way up the granite stairs.
Vernal Falls
After we got to the top of Vernal falls, we took a break. There is a nice flat area where other hikers were taking a rest as well. We got a nice break here because it is flat for a mile before you get to Nevada falls where the makeshift granite steps begin again.
Nevada Falls
After we got to the top of Nevada Falls we were all pretty tired and the lack of sleep was finally getting to me. I took an energy shot and ate some beef jerky, which helped a lot. We took our last available "not-in-nature" bathroom break and started to trekk on. After this point, the hike was pretty boring through Little Yosemite Valley. The trail was sandy, just like a beach, and we decided to walk off the path because the sand was annoying us. This part was fairly flat until we got to the area before the sub-dome, which was the last obstacle before Half Dome.

We reached a point where we saw a ledge and some pretty cool views. This was right before we got to the ranger. We decided to eat lunch here so we would have food in our bodies before we got on the cables up Half Dome. I really love food, but while you are hiking, food is really the least on your mind. We all brought different things to eat. My SO and I had wraps I bought at Safeway. One friend had tuna fish and crackers and the other friend brought fried rice. Yep, fried rice in one of those Chinese take out boxes. I'm pretty sure she made a mess with her rice on top of the mountain.

Our lunch view prior to the sub-dome
When we finished eating, the four of us felt a lot better with food in our stomachs. The next highlight in our journey was meeting up with the ranger right before the sub-dome. The ranger literally just sits there with an iPad and checks the validity of hikers' permits. If you don't have one, they make you turn around. We were then greeted with this sign that points out the dangers of what we were about to do.

"Dangerous" indeed
Five hours into our journey we finally made it to the subdome. This is another part where you are climbing up a bunch of granite steps that are pretty steep and slippery. I actually found this part fairly intimidating. I slipped on many of the steps. It was scary going up the stairs without a guard on the side of the cliff.

About an hour later we finally reached the bottom of the infamous Half Dome cables. The pictures do not do it justice. The climb up is 400 feet in vertical elevation. When I first heard about these cables and saw pictures, I didn't think it would be that terrifying to be standing next to them. Pictures really do not show you how vertical and how high the climb is.

The infamous Half Dome cables

At this point, we took another break. I then found myself shaking and my body numbing. I was having a panic attach and I realized I lost blood circulation to parts of my body. This got significantly worse when I got to the bottom of the cables to start our ascent. I told my group that I didn't think I could go on. My hands were frozen and I felt like I couldn't move them. They all told me to take a break and take a breath. They told me that I couldn't turn back after everything we just did and kept reassuring me that I would be ok and that they would be there with me. There was a group of guys, who had just finished their descent, who were also very reassuring to me. After many deep breaths, reassuring advice from the hikers who had descended, and my friends' encouragement, I finally put on my gloves and started my ascent up the cables.

While on the cables I kept my eyes locked on my feet and the rock in front of me. I was still scared shitless, but at this point I couldn't have a panic attack. I was already climbing up the cables. The cables are literally what is keeping you alive. I was hanging on to them with all my might because you are pulling your whole body's weight up this granite formation. The only bits of relaxation while being on the cables was the wooden planks placed every 20 or so feet. These wooden planks made the climb much easier than it would otherwise be. Every time I got to the wooden plank I instantly felt relieved, but only for a split second. The first section of the cables was ok, and then you get the middle and it's very steep and there are sections where there are holes in the granite and you have to find a way to step over them. The last section is the easiest because the steep incline levels off.

30 minutes later (11:45 AM), we finally reached the top.
Us at the top of Half Dome
While on top, I was able to enjoy my accomplishment, although, to be honest, I was still freaking out about having to go down. I was crying pretty hard at this point. It was partly because of the accomplishment and the fear of still having to go down. I feel that a lot of the euphoria of getting up there was lost on me because I was imagining the way down and scaring myself again. Although, as everyone who has climbed half dome will say, the views are breathtaking and worth all the craziness you put yourself through.

Being zen while on the Visor
After thirty minutes on top of resting and taking pictures, it was finally time to take the descent. My group decided to go down backwards. At this point of our journey, the cables were more congested, so we had to wait for hikers to take turns going up and down. Once I started to descend, I found that it was much easier than going up. I used both sides of the cables this time. The one thing I found nice about the cables is that every hiker is encouraging and willing to help fellow climbers. There were many instances when I was scared to get down and the person behind me would hold on to me to help support me. I found that very helpful and I am grateful for the kindness of strangers on the cables. While on the cables, we spotted a man climbing the dome on the side of the rock without using the cables. That was crazy.

Forty minutes later, I finally made it down. I cried and jumped up and down screaming, "I did it". It was literally one of the scariest things I've ever done in my life and I'm so happy to say that I accomplished it. My group was amazing to me and I'm so grateful that I have an amazing boyfriend and amazing friends that I could do this with.

Another view of the cables

When all of us finally made it down, we took another break for a snack and water and sighed at the fact that we were only half way done. Eight miles in, eight miles to go. At least the hardest part was over. At this point, we were all pretty exhausted but determined to finish strong. The second half of our day seemed the longest. Going down a mountain is a completely different experience in itself. It really takes a toll out on your shins and calves. Everything seemed easy (boring, but easy) until we got back to the Mist Trail. We originally talked about taking the Join Muir trail back, because it's easier on your legs, but longer by 45 minute, but considering how tired we were, we took the Mist Trail to save time. It definitely saved us 45 minutes, but it was tedious and scary going down all those stairs. It was also very congested with people who were taking day hikes to the waterfalls.

Finished - We did it!

(6:00PM ) 12.5 hours and 16 miles later we were done! We all did it! Best of all, none of us had major injuries. I think a couple of us got blisters, bug bites, and sunburns, but nothing bad.

That night, I passed out and got really good sleep!

This was such an amazing adventure! I can now say that I conquered the dome. It was one of the most challenging things I've ever done in my life. I was so grateful to have my boyfriend and friends along with me on this journey. As scared as I was going up those famed cables, in the end, I'm proud of myself for doing it. I probably would never do it again, but I'm glad I did it, and I can now check it off my bucket list.

Half dome stats:

On the way up:
- 7.6 miles in 6 hours, 15 minutes
- Total climb: 5200 feet
- Ascend up the cables: 30 minutes

On the way down:
- 7.5 miles in 5 hours, 39 minutes
- Total climb: 1873 feet
- Descend down the cables: 40 minutes