Archive for the ‘So-Cal Bliss’ Category

As I sat on the floor of the small aircraft with my feet dangling out of the open door and the wind tousling my hair at 13,000 feet above the earth, I glanced over to my husband, shouted (possibly for the last time), “Love you honey!” and rolled out of the aircraft straight to the earth below.

You see, last year at this time, we reached our 5 year anniversary, and we wanted to do something a little fun…adventurous…exciting.

Something at least one of us has never done before.

Sure, we entertained the idea of tandem skydiving for our previous anniversaries, but as the years faded and we got older…and wiser…I didn’t think the idea of skydiving would resurface…and I was fine with that!

I was no stranger to skydiving.

Ten years earlier, I experienced skydiving for the first time in Queenstown, New Zealand…and I loved it!  Shaking up my stagnant life is what I was in search of, and so naturally, falling out of an airplane was the perfect remedy…as was tossing myself off of a bridge!

Years later, when my husband and I married, he said that one day, he, too, would love to experience the thrill of skydiving.

“Maybe for one of our anniversaries?”

I thought it might be fun, but the yearning for a thrill of that magnitude wasn’t at the forefront of my bucket list anymore.

Gentle adventures are what I craved.

But alas, we made our reservations to take the plunge for our wedding anniversary knowing that this might be the last chance we get to do something exciting insane before our adoption dreams came true.

That early August morning, we enjoyed a relaxing drive to Oceanside where Tsunami Skydivers (now called GoJump Oceanside) awaited our arrival.


When we arrived at our destination, apprehension replaced excitement especially when we were requested to sign our lives away!



After filling out our paperwork we-won’t-sue-you-if-there’s-an-accident waiver, we joined the other participants in the outside waiting area where we watched a group ahead of us get briefed, rigged up and filed into the tiny aircraft.

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About 30 minutes later, we watched the van return with the newly invigorated jumpers, eager to recount their adventures in the air!

At long last, our time had come, and we met our assigned instructors that we’d be flying  falling-out-of-a-perfectly-good-airplane with.

For an additional charge that we were happy to pay, our instructors would also be our cameramen using their GoPros to capture videos and photos of
the moments before, during and after our jumps!

DCIM100GOPROSure, we’re laughing and having a good time here…

DCIM100GOPRO…but we’re shaking inside!

After being briefed & harnessed, we boarded the aircraft and were packed in like sardines.

Counting the skydivers in our group, I realized that I was the last one to board, and quick deductions concluded that I would be the first to jump.


Those before me got to sit on benches, but me…I got prime floor seating with a soon-to-be stomach-churning view!

And with that, we were off!

As we ascended higher into the sky, Joe, my instructor, scooted closer to me and attached himself to my harness.

He then started to open the roll-up aircraft door, but for whatever reason, he needed some assistance.

“Jen, can you help me open this?”

Umm, what?!”

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As we worked on opening the door, I clenched anything I could on the floor of the aircraft with my free hand to prevent sliding out accidentally.

I looked over at the indicator light on the door. It was red.

Phew!  It was NOT time to jump!

I tried to enjoy the view, but the gaping void one foot to my right was at the forefront of my mind!

Joe asked me if I saw a camera on the floor by my feet. Being too nervous to care or wonder why he asked me that, I scanned the floor, reported that nothing was there & then quickly refocused on the matter at hand.

Participants were shouting and having fun in the back, and Joe kept documenting my reaction. Sure I had fun with it, but there were times when I was in no mood for witty banter.

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Suddenly, the indicator light turned GREEN!

“It’s time.” 

My stomach churned and my mouth instantly rivaled the California drought.

Joe began to scoot us toward the gaping hole in the aircraft.

“Oh my God! Oh my God!”

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I grasped the sides of my harness thinking that would somehow protect me from my inevitable fate.

Everything he told me about a proper dismount vanished.

My feet were now dangling over the ledge.

I said goodbye to my fellow jumpers and turned to look at my husband.

Realizing these could be the last words spoken to him, I shouted,

“Love you honey!” 

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Random thoughts filled my head including “What the heck are you doing?!”,  “Have you gone completely mad?”,  “What if the parachute doesn’t open?” and “SH*T!!!!”

When I looked at the earth below and the beautiful scenery all around, I was still paralyzed by fear, but a sense of excitement swept over me.

Adrenaline was at maximum capacity!

Sometimes you just have to give it up to God…and so I did.  And with a loud scream, we exited the aircraft.

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And let me just say – that first step is a doozy!!!

But what a view it was!

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Free falling at 13,000 feet is the most exhilarating feeling I have ever experienced!

For almost one minute, the loud, powerful wind rushed by us at 120 miles per hour.

With an ocean view all around, I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy every second!

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I even managed to blow my hubby a kiss!

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The two things I forgot from my first skydiving experience though was the immense pressure in my ears and the difficulty I had breathing!

You’re supposed to breathe through your nose & keep your mouth shut.

Well, that didn’t work for me!

I tried various ways to breathe – through my nose, through my mouth, through my teeth, creating “o” shaped funnels with my mouth and even sticking my tongue out…lol!)

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But before I passed out (LOL!), the parachute deployed and we were pulled upward to the sky and were soon gliding through the air in pure silence taking in the California coastline below!

I let out a huge sigh of relief, took a deep breath and squealed,

“Oh my God!!!”

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Joe kept asking how I was doing & what did I think…and all I could say was “Amazing!!!”

We glided above Oceanside and the Pacific Ocean for a few minutes.

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Joe helped me remove my face-squishing goggles to enjoy the scenery below.

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He then asked if I could hold his GoPro.


Apparently he lost the camera portion of his GoPro and was only getting video of me this entire time. Hence his earlier request for me to search for his camera on the aircraft floor.

Because he had to navigate with two hands, he needed me to hold this expensive piece of equipment thousands of feet above earth.

“Don’t drop it!”

The hand-off of his GoPro to me was probably more nerve-racking than the jump itself because I was visualizing it falling right out of my hands and possibly onto somebody’s head!

Luckily, that didn’t happen, and it was back safe and sound with Joe after he finished his maneuvers.

A few more minutes of quiet peace, breathtaking views and smooth gliding, and we were headed for the drop zone in a dry field.

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I must say, this landing was far better than my first 10 years prior!  I literally just put my foot to the ground and took a step!  No rear slide-in landing for me this time.

Hubby landed before me since he did some turns & tricks that brought him down faster.

We ran to each other and hugged…happy to be on earth, still breathing and intact & able to celebrate the rest of our anniversary!


Would I skydive again?

Maybe, but not until our little boy gets much older so he can join his crazy parents if he wants to!

(We’ll just see if our bucket list has room for another skydive adventure in 20 years or so!) 

As for my husband, he had a BLAST!

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You would never guess that this was his first time skydiving.  You can see both of our videos in my silly montage below.

I’ve been asked what the worst part of skydiving is for me. I must say, it’s the anticipation…the waiting…the random thoughts of doom entering my head…the seconds before leaving the aircraft…the feelings of utter panic, fear and numbness.

But once you take that leap of faith…all of those feelings vanish!

And if you’re wondering…yes, Tsunami Skydiving gave me a credit for the photos that I didn’t get from my skydive. Luckily, I was able to capture stills from my video.

If you’re ready to shake up your life with an adrenaline rush unlike any other, I highly recommend Tsunami Skydiving (now known as GoJump Oceanside).

You won’t regret it!!!










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IMG_3326Tomorrow is not guaranteed, so live life to the fullest, do something you’ve always wanted to do, always tell the special people in your life how much you mean to them, and find the bliss in every single day!

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My body, frozen in fear, leaned over the edge of the platform with shaking hands clenched to the bar.


The command I was supposed to react to was once again met with inaction.


Knowing that others were awaiting their turn, I took a deep breath, bent my knees, collected all of my available courage and hopped off the platform.

And just like that, I was flying high in the O.C!

IMG_2345SwingIt Trapeze

When I half jokingly suggested to my husband that we take advantage of a groupon deal for trapeze lessons at SwingIt Trapeze in Costa Mesa, CA, he said that it would make a great birthday gift…and to sign us both up!

Hubby loves trapezing!My hubby ready to show his skills on the trapeze!

Although a bit nervous, I was looking forward to the challenge and thrill of this new experience.

I wondered if I would be able to conquer my fears like I did 10 years earlier, or would my 40 year old self curl up in a ball and hide.

Trapeze Fun!
A few days before our trapeze class, I studied various trapeze videos online to see exactly what I should expect.  Everyone made it look so easy and fun!  After awhile, I too believed that it would be a breeze!

Before we climbed the never ending staircase to the top, we practiced our swing and knee hook on a low bar.  Even on the practice bar, I couldn’t find the strength to lift my knees, but my husband did it with no problem.  Owner, Nick Selvy, said it would be easier in the air since we would have more momentum.

On our first attempt on the trapeze, the goal was to get adjusted to holding onto the bar, swinging our legs back & forth, getting into a rhythm, falling back first into the net and listening to and following instructions.

The hardest part for me was putting complete trust in a petite gal who held my harness as I leaned out over the net to reach the bar and pull it toward me.  At one point I asked repeatedly, “Do you have me?  Do you have me?  Do you have me?”  And she reassured me each time with a slight laugh that she did.

Once I grasped the bar with my chalk-filled hands, the next step was to hop gently off the platform at the sound of the command “Hep!”  After three “Hep”s, I decided it was time to take action, and I hopped slithered off the platform.

What I quickly realized was that it was extremely hard to hang on to the bar!  Upper body strength is something I lack, & so my main concern was to just hang on for dear life!

On our second and third attempts, we were supposed to hook our knees over the bar and perform a back flip dismount.  Although I felt a bit more comfortable hanging from the bar, my attempt to hook my knees over the bar was met with no success.  I did manage to do a very unique & somewhat comical back flip dismount though!

Those who were able to hook their knees and let their arms swing freely moved on to the final test…a catch!

IMG_0348Nick, the catcher

Although I did not graduate to “The Catch”, my brave and talented hubby proved that even he could fly through the air with the greatest of ease!  I think he found his calling!

After everyone who qualified for “The Catch” had their turn and started to leave, the instructors turned to me (in pity?) and asked if I wanted to give it one more try.  Although I was physically done for the day, I decided to see if I could at least do a proper dismount…

…and I’m happy to say, I did!

If you’d like to fly through the air with the greatest of ease (or UNease!), check out SwingIt Trapeze!  It will challenge you in every way!

SwingIt Trapeze
Located at the OC Fair & Event Center
88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(877) 9-SWINGIT



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Do you have a sanctuary?

A place where you can unwind, clear your head, feel at peace…and breathe?

Maybe it’s watching the waves crash along the shores of a beach…or lazily sitting on a porch swing watching the day go by…or listening to your favorite tunes driving along an empty stretch of highway…

For me, I find peace at the Fullerton Arboretum, the largest botanical garden in Orange County boasting 26 acres of over 4,000 diverse plants divided into four sections: Cultivated, Woodlands, Mediterranean and Desert.  Located on the northeast corner of the Cal State Fullerton campus, it’s a natural wonderland in the heart of the city.

Wondering what to do at The Fullerton Arboretum?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Explore and learn about the flora and fauna.
  • Take one of many classes provided including Urban Farming, Composting, Yoga and Bird Watching.
  • Add to your garden!  Buy a new plant at the Potting Shed.
  • Take a nature walk.
  • Lay out a blanket and read a book.
  • Go on a photo safari!
  • Get married!  (Or any other special event you’d like to have here!)
  • Bring your family for a picnic or a day of fun among nature.  There’s a special “Children’s Garden” where kids can be entertained for hours.
  • Meditate.
  • Be enchanted by the turtles, butterflies, rabbits, herrons, lizards, ducks and koi fish.
  • If you’re a student, study by the lake or maybe take a nap on a grassy knoll.
  • Take that special someone here!  It’s a perfect setting for a romantic stroll down those meandering paths 😉

I come to the arboretum to enjoy the stunning scenery around me, to take time for myself and to let my camera have some fun! 🙂

So without further ado, please join me as I take a stroll through the jewel of North Orange County, the Fullerton Arboretum.

0708280257Perfect setting for complete tranquility.

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0811050017Melts my heart!



IMG_22853 amigos sunbathing 😉






0708280287Floral splendor!











0811050027Did I mention it’s a great place for dates?
(Me & my hubby on our 4th date.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed our stroll through this beautiful botanical garden.  If you’re ever in Orange County and looking for a little escape, this gem is a delight and SO worth the visit!

The Fullerton Arboretum is located at:  1900 Associated Rd, Fullerton, CA 92831
*Although an entrance fee is not required, a $3.00 donation is appreciated.

Where is your sanctuary?

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Last night, my husband and I spent the last hours of 2013 being launched at 82 miles per hour 205 feet into the sky, defying gravity, plummeting at 90 degree angles, spiraling out of control and being blasted into 7 story loops.

I mean, what better way is there to end 2013?

Every year, Knott’s holds a New Year’s Eve celebration complete with music, food, entertainment, fireworks & rides galore up until 1:00am.


After my hubby returned from work, we enjoyed some pizza, bundled up, jumped in the car & arrived at Knott’s around 5:15 pm.  It was already busy, but that didn’t stop us from braving the long lines to experience the thrills of the coasters!

For all you U.S. military personnel past and present, did you know that you and a guest can get in for free anytime from November 4 – January 5?  This is Knott’s way of saying “Thank you” for all that you do for our country!  We thought NYE would be the perfect day to use our free admission – thanks to my hubby!

NYE 2014Me & my honey 🙂

We started off our evening on the ever popular Ghost Rider – one of the largest wooden coasters in the world! 

Ghost RiderBring on the hernia!

White knuckle adventure?  Check!
108 foot drop?  Check!
Feeling like you’re going to fly out of your seat?  Check!
G-forces of 3.14?  Check!
Lots of brain rattling and possible hernia?  Check!

If you’re into white knuckle, wooden coaster thrills with a little pain thrown in for good measure, this is the ride for you (and a great way to kick off your Knott’s experience!)  But be warned – if you have any kind of neck or back pain, heart condition or are pregnant, please DO NOT even entertain the idea of going on this!  

Next up was one of Knott’s newest coasters Coast Rider.

Coast Rider52 feet to the top

This ride was so relaxing compared to Ghost Rider!  It had some drops, smooth hairpin turns and twists. A fun coaster for everyone and any newbies to the roller coaster world.

Before going on Coast Rider, we checked to see if Xcelerator was open for business.  For the past couple of years whenever we went to Knott’s, Xcelerator was always closed for repair or whatever other reason.  As we approached the line entrance, a staff member informed us that it was closed for now but said that it might reopen later.

While waiting in line at Coast Rider and keeping our fingers crossed, we heard the rattle of a high speed coaster on a track…sure enough – Xcelerator looked primed for passengers.

Once we got off of Coast Rider, we scurried down to Xcelerator & got in line.  As you get closer, the line divides in 2 – one for the front of the car only and one for all the other seats.  I don’t know about you, but I like to see where I’m going…only because this way, I don’t get dizzy.  Had I realized that everyone else wanted to get into the front also, maybe I would have passed on the idea!

Have I mentioned that this ride is completely insane?!!!  (but in a good way!)

XceleratorI mean, look at it – you go straight up!

Xcelerator…and then…like…literally…straight down…at a 90 degree angle!

XceleratorIt makes you question your sanity!

XceleratorOk, so check it out – here is the car before it’s launched down the track at 82 miles per hour…
(oh & check out the stylish flames on the hot rod – love it!)

Xcelerator…and here’s a photo as you’re launched!

XceleratorHere it is again…BEFORE…

Xcelerator…and AFTER!

Remember how I said that I like to see where I’m going…well…so much for that idea.  As the green light approached, I closed my eyes & made the mistake of opening them just as we began our plummet…yikes!

I finally did open them for the remainder of the ride.  What an amazing thrill this ride is!  As our hot rod pulled up to the station, I couldn’t stop shaking!

Adrenaline rush?  Check!!!!!!!

After existing this beast, we both agreed it was time for Knott’s famous boysenberry funnel cake!  Envision a right-out-of-the-oven warm funnel cake topped with powdered sugar and sweet boysenberries!

We took our treat with us and got in line for one of Knott’s most classic rides – the Timber Mountain Log Ride. It has recently undergone a transformation with updated characters and scenes, but it still remains a family favorite and a popular attraction for young and old!

As we walked to our next thrill, we couldn’t help but admire the beautiful lights around the park.


Beautiful lights

Next, it was time for one of my all time favorites – Montezooma’s Revenge!

Montezooma's RevengeMontezooma’s Revenge

I love the main purpose of this ride – to blast you out of the station from 0 to 55 miles per hour in 3 seconds straight into a 7 story loop forwards and then backwards.

Montezooma's RevengeEager passengers awaiting the countdown…

Montezooma's RevengeBlastoff!

Montezooma's RevengeGoing backwards!

With midnight approaching, we then headed to Calico Square to check out the 80’s cover band The Reflexx!

The ReflexxLike, The Reflexx was like, totally awesome!

This band was seriously great!  I was immediately brought back to my childhood with songs from Culture Club, Depeche Mode, Simple Minds, Haircut 100, A-ha and many more!  I’ve never heard of The Reflexx, but they’re a local Orange County band, so I will keep my eyes and ears opened for future shows!

We gradually made our way over to the Boardwalk to prepare for the countdown and fireworks spectacular…

fireworks…and spectacular they were!

fireworksHAPPY NEW YEAR!

Spending our last few hours of 2013 at Knott’s Berry Farm was such a memorable and fun way to say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014!

May you all have much happiness, great health, dreams come true…and many thrills in 2014!

Happy New Year!

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Three weeks ago on a sunny August afternoon in Dana Point, my husband and I strolled along Doheny State Beach when we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by elephants!

Artistically hand-painted Asian elephant sculptures, that is.

You might be wondering, why is there a herd of Asian elephant sculptures filling the beach?

You see, the Asian elephant is endangered and faces extinction in a few decades if action isn’t taken.  Over the last 100 years, the Asian elephant habitat has shrunk by 95% and its population has decreased by over 90%.  Due mainly to habitat destruction and increasing human population growth, the elephants’ homes have been turned into farms, plantations, towns, dams and highways.  Poaching for ivory also remains a growing problem.

To help raise money for the charity The Asian Elephant Foundation, celebrities and famous artists lovingly painted their Asian elephant statues with their hearts, souls and personalities!  The entire herd filled Doheny State Beach in celebration of the event.  On November 17, select elephants will be up for auction to raise funds for the charity.

So pull up a chair and enjoy the 35 beautifully hand-painted elephants.   I love them all, but one captured my heart…and I saved it for last.

So without further ado, let us begin…The Elephant Parade.

Betty Boop, Saving ElephantsIMG_1344

All Eyes On MeIMG_1356




Wild LifeWild Life

There's Still LifeThere's Still Hope!



Nature: Cycles of LifeNature: Cycles of Life


Golden PoppiesIMG_1276

A Hundred FlowersA Hundred Flowers

The Story of AsiaThe Story of Asia

Valentina the ElenautValentina the Elenaut

Maa LiiMaa Lii



Black TajBlack Taj


Cesars PackCesars Pack

California SurpherCalifornia Surpher

I Brought My Own SnorkelI Brought My Own Snorkel

Shopping QueenShopping Queen

Gentle GuardianGentle Guardian


Bright BeautyBright Beauty

American TravelerAmerican Traveler


Zia SkyeZia Skye

Sea the Point!Sea the Point

Utain WongjaiUtain Wongjai

Anybody Listening?Anybody Listening?IMG_1366Triumph of Liberty

We Love Mosha USAWe Love Mosha USA

Ok so now here’s the fun part – which elephant was your favorite…and why?

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