Month Forty Seven was another month full of travel, starting in the East Coast before flying back West for a National Parks Road Trip and a housesit in LA.
I started the month with a couple more days in Washington D.C., where I did a day trip to the beautiful, historic town of Alexandria in Virginia, visited the National Archives to see the founding documents, and checked out the Natural History Museum.
On my last morning in D.C., I was up very early to attend the Dawn Service for ANZAC Day, then I caught the bus to New York.
I spent nine nights in New York and unfortunately it was cold and rainy for most of my trip, but that didn’t stop me having fun.
It was great spending time with my friend Dani, and the focus for this NYC visit (other than eating) was to hit up some more offbeat New York experiences – for a visitor anyway, like visiting the real Little Italy in the Bronx, checking out the cherry blossoms in Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, doing Dani’s excellent Brooklyn pizza tour, exploring Astoria in Queens, eating soul food and learning about the history of Harlem, and having some of the best pizza in my life in Jersey City.
I also did some touristy stuff like a day trip to Liberty and Ellis Islands, visiting the Vessel and the Oculus, drinks and dinner in Greenwich Village, walking the Highline, and re-visiting Williamsburg and Bushwick for cool shops and street art.
It was an action packed nine days of eating and exploring.
From New York, I flew to LA to be reunited with Toby, then we hit the Pacific Coast Highway.
Over three days we road-tripped from LA to Monterey along the Californian coast, visiting small beach towns, spotting sea otters and seals in the wild, eating seafood and loving the views. The road trip continued inland through some of California’s impressive National Parks – Pinnacles, Kings Canyon, Sequoia and Death Valley.
Then after a night in Vegas hitting the Mirage Buffet and checking out the spring display and the fountain at the Bellagio, I left Toby to work EDC in Vegas and I drove out to LA where I had an eight night cat sit in East Hollywood.
Despite the horrible traffic and hard to get parking, I enjoyed my time in LA. The apartment I was staying in was beautiful and the cat, Justin, was fun to hang out with.
I spent a lot of time catching up on Netflix shows after not watching anything for a few weeks, but also got out and explored some LA sights that I had missed on previous visits including a hike to the Hollywood Sign, visiting the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, exploring Downtown LA, getting my hipster on in the cool neighborhoods of Los Feliz and Silver Lake, and aimlessly wandering the pretty Venice canals and the beach.
It was back to Vegas after that for a couple more nights, this time Downtown Vegas, where I caught up on some work but also went out for dinner and drinks with Toby and his work mates, did a night tour of the Neon Museum, and soaked in the hot tub at the hotel.
My last night was spent in St George, Utah, where we ate at the iconic George’s Corner Restaurant, and soaked in the hot tub at our cheap motel.
Now onto the Stats!
Countries Visited: USA
- District of Columbia: Washington
- Virginia: Alexandria
- New York: New York City
- New Jersey: Jersey City
- California: Ventura, Solvang, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Big Sur, Carmel, Cambria, Monterey, Fresno, Trona, Los Angeles
- Nevada: Beatty, Las Vegas
- Utah: St George
National Parks and Monuments Visited: Pinnacles National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, Death Valley National Park – California
Islands Visited: Ellis Island and Liberty Island in New York City
Best Meal: SO many good meals this month! Highlights were the amazing vegetarian platter I had at Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant in Washington D.C.; all the pizza I ate on my Brooklyn Pizza Tour (more on that in the highlights); Chata Pata paneer roll from Thelewala in Greenwich Village; Fried chicken with cornbread and sides from Sylvia’s in Harlem; Vegetarian meatballs with asparagus and mushroom risotto and parmesan cream sauce from The Meatball Shop in Williamsburg; all the bagels and all the cream cheese from the Bagel Pub and Bergen Bagels in Brooklyn; the Margherita pizza and the best chickpeas I have ever tasted at Razza in Jersey City; and Maynard’s Special (scrambled eggs with spinach, goat cheese and pine nuts) with hash browns and a homemade biscuit from Millie’s Cafe in Silver Lake, LA.
Worst Meal: Although I had so much amazing pizza this month, I also had two horrible pizza experiences. I had a pear and gorgonzola pizza from a place in the Bronx’s real Little Italy, Arthur Avenue, that tasted like oily cardboard, and I did not care for the pizza from Abbot’s Pizza Company in Venice, LA that was tasteless with low-grade cheese. I also really disliked the crappy strawberry pie from House of Pies in Los Feliz, LA which was just really bad quality and so disappointing.
Best Craft Beer: I didn’t drink a lot this month but I did enjoy the Starlight Sour Ale with Mango and Passionfruit by Finback Brewery in Queens, NY – mmmm.
- Chelsea Highline in New York City, NY 1.5 miles/2.3km one way
- Bear Gulch and High Peaks Loop in Pinnacles National Park, CA 6.7 miles/11km
- Woody Creek Trail to Mist Falls in Kings Canyon National Park, CA 9.2 miles/15km return
- Moro Rock Road and Trail in Sequoia National Park, CA 3.2 miles/5km return
- Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes loop in Death Valley National Park, CA 2.5 miles/4km
- Badwater Basin Salt Flats in Death Valley National Park, CA 1.5 miles/2.5km return
- Golden Canyon trail in Death Valley National Park, CA 1.5 miles/2.5km return
- Silver Lake Reservoir loop trail in Los Angeles, CA 2.2 miles/3.5km
- Hollywood Sign and viewpoints via Brush Canyon in Los Angeles, CA 7.2 miles/11.5km return
- Venice Beach to Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, CA 6 miles/9.5km return
- Runyon Canyon loop trail in Los Angeles, CA 3 miles/5km
Reading: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. I love everything written by Liane Moriarty, whose most famous book is Big Little Lies. This one is about the long ago murder of a teenage girl that was never solved, and numerous family dramas and secrets of different but linked families in Sydney, Australia.
Watching: I loved the newest and last season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – this zany show is as fresh as ever and I’m sad it is now over.
I also went to the movies a couple of times in New York this month – seeing Us and Her Smell. I really enjoyed them both but particularly Us, the second movie directed by Jordan Peele and just as good as his first, Get Out.
Us is creepy as hell and full of suspense. It is basically about a woman who went through a childhood trauma, and she then returns to the place it happened with her family years later. She has a feeling that something bad is going to happen, then a group of four strangers show up at their house one evening, strangers that look just like them.
A Day Trip to Another State
While I was in D.C. I couldn’t resist visiting the nearby state of Virginia, and the beautiful historic town of Alexandria can be reached on Washington D.C.’s transit system, so it was a cheap and easy choice to see a little slice of one of the oldest states in the US.
It is a wonderful place to wander around, with historic buildings, english style pubs, lots of spring flowers, and a riverside pathway.
I followed a river to a lighthouse which is home to one of the original boundary marker stones, from when Alexandria was part of the District of Columbia. Alexandria was also the home town of Confederate General Robert E Lee.
I really enjoyed my tiny taste of Virginia and hope to see more one day soon.
Dawn Service for ANZAC Day in Washington D.C.
I was sad that I was going to miss out on going to the ANZAC Day Dawn Service after attending in Auckland the last two years, but then the evening before, two Aussie girls in my dorm room told me that there was a joint service being held by the New Zealand and Australian Embassies at the Korean War Memorial on the Mall – so I set my alarm for 5am and took a Lime scooter down there early the next morning.
It was a moving service and I was surprised at the number of people who showed up for what is essentially Australia and New Zealand’s Memorial Day.
I was so glad that I could make it – and an added bonus was being up early enough to see the Lincoln Memorial with no one else there, a feat I had previously deemed impossible.
All the Good Food in New York
The weather may have been drab in New York while I was there, but my diet certainly wasn’t! I ate like a queen, especially being spoilt with incredible pizza and bagels. I did Dani’s Brooklyn Pizza Tour and loved every pizza we tried – but especially the white pie from Best Pizza and the wood-oven Margherita from Roberta’s.
I also went to Grimaldi’s for the first time which was very good – although not the best I had during my time in New York – the best was the Margherita pizza from Razza in Jersey City – consistantly rated at one of the best pizza places in New York, even though it is in a different state!
The bagels from the Bagel Pub and Bergen Bakery in Brooklyn blew my mind too – Dani got us a selection with a selection of different cream cheeses and we were eating these beauties for days.
I also gotta mention my first kati roll from Thelewala in the Village – a delicious Indian paratha bread wrap with curry in it, my amazing nutella and strawberry crepe from Creperie NYC next door, delicious pie from Martha’s Country Bakery, my vegetarian meatballs from The Meatball Shop in Williamsburg, pastries from Dominique Ansel Bakery – the mastermind behind the cronut, and my fried chicken with candied yams, buttered corn and cornbread from the iconic soul food restaurant, Sylvia’s, in Harlem.
New York, you already had me at pizza, but you delivered so much more.
Meeting up with an Old Travel Friend
It was so great to meet up with my friend Anush for nights out in Greenwich Village and Jersey City during my time in New York. We met the same night I met Toby – New Years Eve 2015 in the Philippines – and I hadn’t seen him since.
He showed us some great food spots and bars in the Village and took us to one of his favorite pubs in Jersey City, where he lives, for drinks and apps, then we went round to his place for more drinks. I hope to see him again soon – maybe in Colorado next time!
Learning about Immigration History at Ellis Island
It may be pretty much the most touristy thing you can do in New York, but I still wanted to go to Ellis Island – as a history nerd, it is an important part of American History, as millions of immigrants entered the US through Ellis Island.
Despite buying a ticket online, I still had to wait in lines for about an hour to get on a boat, but it was the first beautiful day I had in New York and it was wonderful to be out on the water. I stopped over on Liberty Island first, and although it wasn’t something I had been that bothered about, it was actually pretty cool to see the Statue of Liberty up close.
The Immigration Museum at Ellis Island, in what was once the Immigration Inspection Station, was very interesting and I spent hours exploring and reading everything I could. The cafeteria even had meals themed for some of the nationalities that immigrated through Ellis Island – I had a Polish plate of pierogies with apple sauce, fried onions and sour cream – mmm.
Comedy Night at Mo’s Bar in Brooklyn
What was meant to be a quick drink with Dani at Mo’s Bar in Brooklyn, quickly turned into a really fun night out when they announced that it was their weekly comedy night.
The comedians they had were just brilliant and so damn funny, as was the host who gave us shtick for being the token white girls in the audience. It was one of the best comedy nights I have ever been to, and we only ended up there on a whim.
Seeing Sea Otters Twice in California
If you have been following The World on my Necklace for a while, you know that I love kitties, but what you may not know is that one of my other favorite animals is an otter. I don’t get to see them a lot these days, but I ended up seeing them two days in a row on our California road trip!
I first saw a lone otter playing in the waters off the pier in Pismo Beach, then when we were in Morro Bay, we saw about ten of them, napping on their backs in the sheltered bay. It was such a treat to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat again, I love them so much!
Pacific Coast Highway Roadtripping
I last did a PCH road trip with my Dad and brother back in 2010 so it was high time for a repeat, especially because Toby has never been. Highlights were kitschy Pismo Beach, chilled San Luis Obispo, quaint Morro Bay, ritzy Carmel and of course, the drive through Big Sur – we eve freecamped just off the road with amazing Big Sur coastal views, which was an epic place to wake up in the morning.
Visiting Some New National Parks
The main focus of our week long California road trip was to hit up some National Parks that we hadn’t been to before – visiting National Parks is one of my favorite things to do in my new adopted country. This month we went to the underrated but beautiful Pinnacles National Park, spectacular Kings Canyon National Park and surprisingly awesome Death Valley National Park – all very different to each other but we enjoyed them all.
Checking out Some Ghost Towns
I love me a Ghost Town, and turns out there are lots of them around Death Valley National Park – and we ended up going to two while we were exploring the park. The town of Ballarat, which we had to practically drive through a river to get to, is charmingly desolate and is home to Charles Manson’s truck (the ranch he and ‘The Family’ lived at is just up the road) and Rhyolite has some great brick building ruins, including the former train station which is pretty well still intact.
I want to go back and do the hike into remote Panamint City next.
My Husband, the Romantic
Although Toby is very sweet and does say lovely things to me on the regular, I don’t know if I would call him romantic – until now. When I hiked up the top of the largest sand dune in the Mesquite Sand Dunes of Death Valley National Park, Toby stayed behind.
So I get to the top, look out at the view, and see a giant heart drawn onto one of the sand dunes, with T + K written in the middle. I used the zoom on my camera, and who do I see sitting next to it – Toby. So sneaky and so cute.
A Purrfect Housesit in LA
I love cat sits, and not just because I am more of a cat person than a dog person – cats are just easier to care for. My eight night cat sit in East Hollywood was perfect (apart from the parking situation) and I loved the crazy ginger kitty I was looking after: Justin.
The apartment was so beautifully decorated and I felt very at home, it was so nice to be able to cook again after being on the road for weeks, and I feel like I managed a nice balance of sightseeing and relaxing.
I hiked, I visited Venice Beach and the canals, I wandered around a cemetery, and I checked out a couple of cool neighborhoods that were new to me – I really enjoyed this visit to LA.
Hiking to the Hollywood Sign in LA
I have been wanting to hike to the Hollywood sign and it has been on the top of my LA wish list for ages – and on this visit I finally did it.
The hike turned out to be more beautiful than I imagined it would be, and I hiked to two viewpoints then up and behind the sign. The views from the top were spectacular and I definitely liked LA a lot more after doing the hike. It’s definitely one of those tourist attractions that isn’t overrated.
A Day in Venice and Santa Monica
I had been to Venice Beach before and although it’s a bit scummy, I like the alternative vibe. But what I didn’t know on previous visits is that Venice has its own canals, just like its namesake in Italy. The canals are so beautiful and peaceful – and such a far cry from the craziness of Venice Beach. I also checked out the shops and restaurants along Abbot Kinney Boulevard and I walked along the beach all the way to the Santa Monica Pier. It was a lovely day in the sun.
Freezing Grey Weather in NYC
Washington D.C. is only four hours drive south of New York so after a week of mostly glorious and hot weather in D.C., I was expecting more of the same in New York. But arriving in New York City was like stepping back into winter – damn it was cold!
I didn’t think I would need any of my heavy winter coats for late April/early May so I ended up having to borrow a jacket off Dani, and I layered myself up as much as I could – but I was still cold.
Probably about 70% of my time in New York was cold and grey, but it did make me appreciate the sun all the more when it did come out. And at least this wasn’t my first or only trip to New York, I have been before when it has been hot and sunny so it’s OK that it wasn’t this time around. I still like you anyway New York.
Bad Weather in Sequoia National Park
The bad weather followed me from New York to Sequoia National Park, where after a hot day in Kings Canyon, we got cold and foggy weather for our day in Sequoia. At least we have been there before too (although I recall it being cold and foggy when I was there last as well), and we had good weather in Pinnacles and Kings Canyon.
Trails Closed in Big Sur
Toby hasn’t been to Big Sur and now that the road is open again, I was excited to introduce him to one of the most beautiful stretches of road I have ever experienced. Unfortunately a couple of the state parks that I wanted to hike in were closed so we only ended up seeing the views from the road.
It was a bummer to not be able to do the short hike to the McWay Falls viewpoint and I had a few new hikes I was excited about doing. Oh well, there is always next time.
Driving and Parking in LA
So I already knew how bad the driving and traffic situation in LA is but I never realised how hard it is to find a damn park! The apartment I was housesitting in East Hollywood had a car space – but the host had her car in it, leaving me to drive around after going out each day, trying to find somewhere to park.
This usually took around twenty minutes, lots of stress, and a 5-10 minute walk back to the apartment from the far away street I finally found a park on. Not cool, LA.
Finding out a Fellow Blogger Died Unexpectedly
I was so sad to hear that Rachel Jones of the blog Hippie in Heels died suddenly of an asthma attack, and on her Bachelorette party. I had never spoken to her but she seemed like a genuinely lovely person and I had followed her blog sporadically over the years. I had planned to use it as a resource when I start to plan my India trip (she was an India expert and had lived there for five years).
It is always such a shock when someone so young dies, especially so suddenly – she was only 29. RIP Rachel.
Ouch! I went a bit crazy with my spending this month, especially on food and drinks (pretty much how I do every month). I also had an unforeseen van cost. Next month will be mostly spent housesitting in Denver so it will definitely be lower.
My paid accommodation this month consisted of two nights in a hostel in Washington D.C., three nights camping in California National Parks, one night at a motel in Fresno, one night at a hotel in Vegas, and one night in a motel in St George.
For the rest of the month, I spent nine nights staying with my friend Dani in Brooklyn, three nights free-camping on our California road trip, eight nights housesitting in LA, and two nights staying with Toby in his staff accommodation in Las Vegas.
Food and Drink $703
A pretty high amount as I was on the road for the whole month, except for a one week housesit where I cooked a lot.
- High heels $15
- 1 x leggings $3.50
- Cat Singlet $34
- Gas $239.50
- Flight from New York to LA $118
- Return train from Washington D.C. to Alexandria $5
- Parking in LA $2
- One Week Subway Pass for NYC $34
- Lime Scooter Hire in Washington D.C. $7.50
- Bus from Washington D.C. to NYC $18.50
- Airport Train to JFK Airport $5
- Movies $23.50
- Comedy Night in Brooklyn $10
- Ellis Island and Liberty Island Pass $18.50
- Harlem Walking Tour $10
- Hollywood Forever Cemetery map $5
- Las Vegas Neon Museum Tour $28
- 3 x Books $16
- Toiletries $24.50
- Laundry $6
- Gifts $32
- Rover Background Check $17.50 (my half)
- Satchel Bag $23
Website Costs $12
- Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
Van Costs $239
- Bearing and Hub fixed $217
- Oil Change $22
What’s in Store for Next Month
Month Forty Eight will see us spending a few more days taking our time getting back to Denver, with stops in some of the Utah parks. I definitely want to revisit Zion and Bryce and Toby wants to get back to Canyonlands.
Then we will be back in Denver for the rest of the month, with housesits set up in the Highlands and Golden. We are actually planning to stay put in Denver for the whole summer – to save money for our big end of year trip and recover from travel burnout.
I am also looking forward to getting back into mostly healthy eating and hiking/working out regularly, something that can be hard to keep up when you are on the road most of the time like us.
For the month of June I will be doing the Whole30 eating plan for the first time ever so I won’t really be able to eat out – that will be a big money-saver for me!
Now I have a green card I also want to get some temporary admin work or maybe work in a cafe to supplement my Virtual Assistant work, although I will also be looking for more online clients and will start doing paid dog-sitting through Rover as well.
To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here