Warm Winters

From my experience, California winters are nothing like actual winters.  With highs of 100 degrees and lows of 70 degrees, this weather resembles summer more than anything other season.

I’m from the Pacific Northwest, and it’s pretty chilly. Around this time of the year I’m usually prepared for cold weather, and lots and lots of rain.

Here, despite the fact that Halloween is right around the corner, I can wear tank tops to school every day. Instead of suiting up in my rain jacket and closed-toed shoes, I find myself wearing shorts and sandals. 

I don’t dislike the weather – it’s really pretty, and let’s be real. I can go to the beach in October! But as far as winter goes, it just doesn’t feel like one.

Photo Credit: http://www.californiatravel.eu

To me, winter means cozying up in sweaters and blankets, and being able to lay inside and listen to the rain. Winter is the cold wind on your face when you step outside, both chilling and refreshing at the same time.

Photo Credit: fcdn.mtbr.com

And while I love the sun and warm weather, I’d like to save it for the summer. It’s just where it fits in! I look forward to cold weather, and the feeling of winter – and that just doesn’t happen in California!

Libbey Park Volunteer

Photo Credit: http://www.conejovalleyguide.com/dosomethingblog/libbey-bowl-and-libbey-park-in-ojai.html

I went to the Libbey Park construction site in Ojai, CA, as a volunteer today.

From Ojai Valley School there were only five female volunteers, including myself.

Wearing dark green OVS T-shirts, the volunteers checked in and drank Gatorade, having no idea what to do.

Ally Su, one of the five girls, expected the volunteer work to be taking care of little kids.

However, what was waiting for her were a huge pile of mulch, shovels, and wheelbarrows.

Photo Credit: http://www.centralwisconsinhabitat.org/Thrivent%20Builds.htm

At first, we had fun.

Mr. Alvarez, our peacekeeper, came to us after parking the school van and took pictures of us shoveling, and we would make stupid poses and faces.

However, as the photographer left and we continued the work, it became more and more painful.

“I think we are going to get blisters on our hands,” Said Ally. Thirty minutes from then, I could see an already-popped blister on my palm.

After repeating filling and emptying the wheelbarrows for about an hour, we became all exhausted. Our faces had layers of dirt on them, and our hands had turned red.

We found ourselves the only ones working without gloves. We’ve been complaining about it the whole time, and I found out that we were actually the only ones who did not know that we could get them from the tool check-in center behind us.

We had pizza with lemonade for lunch, wanting to go back home. However, there came a truck with another pile of mulch. Sighing, we got back to work.

The teenage girls had become shoveling experts at some point. We shoveled so fast that we had to wait for other workers to make more space to pour the mulch.

“Stephanie [Shin] found her future job,” Said Ally Su.

After half an hour of eating and two hours of shoveling, we headed back home.

First, we drove to Ally’s house only to find it locked.

Then, we went to Starbucks and met another school van with Mrs. Cooper in it.

After we got our drinks, Mr. Alvarez dropped Ally off at her house, “shh-ing” when she tried to tell him the directions.

As soon as I got back on campus, I took a shower and found two things: dirty water coming off of my body and another blister on my thumb.

Santa Cruzin’

I don’t consider myself a water person – unlike the bounty of surfers and ocean fanatics that I now surround myself with, I grew up inland and only ventured to the cold Oregon Coast 1-2 times each year.

Now in California I have many more opportunities to go swim in the ocean, or just be near the water.

However wonderful my opportunity is to many, even sometimes to me, when I heard I was going camping for a week at Santa Cruz Island, I was less than enthused.

The idea of being surrounded by ocean for five days straight, no matter how clear and beautiful I knew it would be, scared me. We were to be completely isolated – an hour boat ride away from land.

Photo Credit: http://www.nps.gov

My trip seemed to be the most popular out of the four – everyone wanted to go, and I even felt bad for taking up a spot when I wasn’t nearly as excited as some who couldn’t go.

Once I was on the boat to the island, standing with salty wind blowing through my hair, watching the island grow bigger and bigger, I began to feel excited. No longer was I wishing I was on route to Yosemite, I found myself looking forward to the next week, and what was to come.

What I thought would be a long, torturous week turned out to be adventure-filled and an amazing time. The ocean, originally the object of my fear, was beautiful, full of creatures, and the best part of the trip.

Photo Credit: upload.wikimedia.org

Out of all the camping trips I’ve been on throughout my life, this one was the most fun. And not only did I explore caves, but I also explored my limits.

Photo Credit: i.ytimg.com

Camping Chaos

Photo Credit: captainstewbaycruise.com

After an incredible summer, I’m back and ready for my senior year.

Coming back to school felt so sudden, especially when I heard the news that there was a mandatory all-school camping trip on the second week of school.

Uh oh.

I give credit to my editor and friend, Kendall Shiffman, for this quote that is oh so accurate: “I’m just a happy camper who hates camping.”

The thought of being consistently dirty for five days makes me cringe, but the decision was already made that I had to go.

On the drive up to Moñtana De Oro, I became warmed up to the idea of camping, and as soon as we arrived I was suddenly overwhelmed with excitement.

The environment was incredibly green, cold, and lush. Camping instantly seemed less terrifying.

As the trip went on, I ventured far out of my comfort zone. I never would have imagined having fun was a possibility on a mandatory camping trip, but that’s exactly what happened.

This camping trip truly taught me one thing: I feel more open-minded about life than I ever have before.

The Countdown to Summer

I’m ever so patiently waiting for long summer days, and even longer summer nights.

I would always rather be at the beach, but that urge is actually attainable during my favorite three months of the year.

The way the warm sand feels on the soles of my feet, the warm sun beating down on my shoulders, and the shock of the cool salty water brings me to a happy place like no other

There is no need to go to bed early for an upcoming class or even worry about homework.

These next few months are going to feel like a life time, but I know it’s worth the wait.

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Photo Credit to: http://www.law.indiana.edu

Eco-Friendly Fashion

“Every patch is a memory, every tear has a tale. These are the stories we wear.”

This is the motto of Patagonia’s Worn Wear Campaign.

As I have grown up, I noticed the environment becoming more and more important. Grocery shopping at Whole Foods and the Farmer’s Market, buying items that are fair-trade, environmentally friendly, and made out of recycled materials became of a higher interest.

That’s when I decided to learn more about what went into making those big, puffy jackets I had from a company called Patagonia. After doing some research on their website, I learned their story.

Patagonia’s clothing items are made using e-Fibers (environmentally friendly fibers). These include: recycled polyester, organic cotton, hemp, chlorine-free wool, recycled nylon, and Tencel Lyocell. Tencel Lyocell comes from the pulp of eucalyptus trees, a major benefit as it will have zero chemicals. A large majority of Patagonia’s clothing items are made with recycled materials. This includes anything from plastic bags to recycled water bottles.

Photo Credit: weareadventure.au
Photo Credit: weareadventure.us

Patagonia teamed with IFIXIT, a company that helped created repair kits specifically for Patagonia’s clothing materials. They came up with the Expedition Sewing Kit that can be used to repair holes, zippers, and tears in clothing. Because Patagonia creates clothing and gear for the outdoorsman, this kit is travel sized and handy. With this kit, one of their pricier jackets can last a lifetime of adventures.

Now I raise the question: what are you wearing?

The Happiest Place on Earth

Rightfully named “The Happiest Place on Earth”, Disneyland is one of my favorite places of all time. No matter how hard I try, this is going to sound awfully cheesy; but there is something magical there.

Maybe it’s the adrenaline from Space Mountain, or getting to see your favorite character in person, but there is definitely a certain buzz emanating from the Disneyland grounds.

This last weekend I got the fortune to visit this very magical place once again. Straight away we were off to Tomorrow Land which houses two of my favorite rides – Space Mountain and Star Tours.

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Photo Credit to: http://thehostelhopper.com/

These two rides never seem to lose their lust with me. But maybe that’s the thing about Disneyland – no matter how old or young you are, or how many times you’ve been there – fun has no age or time limit.

Dawn Patrol

Today, for the first time, I decided to join Dawn Patrol. Dawn Patrol is a small group of students at my school who head to the beach at 6:15 on Sunday morning to learn how to surf.

Now, I’ve been telling myself for years that I wanted to learn how to surf. It’s always been something that fascinates me. I love movies about surfing, and I think it’s an amazing skill to have.

I’ve actually been surfing twice – once with a family friend when we lived in San Francisco, and then once when we were in Cabo. But those times I never did more that ride the whitewater to the shore. Today, I went past the point where the waves were breaking, which was a brand new experience for me.

It didn’t exactly go as planned.

As it turns out, when you’re about to be hit by a wave and you’re my size (about 5’2″), the wave looks a heck of a lot bigger. It’s also a lot easier to be tossed around. I had a really hard time getting past the point where the waves were breaking, but once I did, it was amazing.

I didn’t ride very many waves. But the amazing part of the trip for me was sitting on my surfboard in the ocean, feeling the swells come up and down underneath me, and watching the sunrise and the fog clear away. It was an incredible feeling.

I did only catch two waves, once after I got out, and then again when I was ready to go back in. I didn’t stand up, in fact I did the exact opposite and got tossed around quite a bit. On my last wave, the board hit me in the face while I was underwater, which wasn’t very pleasant.

Overall though, the trip was worth it. I may not have made huge progress, but at least I got out there and started to get a feel for it. And watching the sun rise was perfect.

I definitely plan on going again. Maybe after I catch up on my sleep though.

A Week to Remember

Well, this week has been just incredible. I have faced a TON of success this week.

The big day was Thursday, where I not only received a strong SAT score but also won 1st place in the sports writing category of the Tri-County Journalism Competition that me and my class went to.

Last year, the first place winner was also named John and due to a dramatic pause last year, my heart sank in anticipation of hearing my last name called. However, last year was not my destiny.

Instead, the powers that be made me wait until this year, where I finally corrected my wrongs, and earned the top prize.

I’ll be honest. I was a little bitter this year after one of my classmates (who happens to be one of my closest friends) won a Ventura County Star award for her sports journalism and I received nothing. However, I should be thanking her. I gained a new sense of determination going into the competition this past week after not getting the Star award. By the way, I’m really not that bitter being as she really put out an incredible article to win her award. I was very proud of her. Way to go Daphne!!!!

Anyway, the SAT score isn’t as big of a deal to me despite its affect on my college resume. The journalism accomplishment makes me feel that sense of superiority. I came into the competition expecting that I would win something. I was hopeful for first place. But I knew that after last year, this was my time.

Way to go, OVS journalism! We really made things happen!

Worst Person 27-Philadelphia Phillies

In professional sports, there are always some interesting transactions. Some are ground-braking, like trading a top-tier player for a bunch of prospects. You know, something interesting like that.

Watching players fly around teams like that is something that I, personally find very enjoyable. I was intrigued this morning when I was informed that the Philadelphia Phillies traded a relief pitcher from their minor league club.

Hmm, I wonder what we got. Maybe a low draft pick or some other minor league prospect? Maybe some cash compensation?

As I read the article, I kept trying to see if I was possibly reading over something.

But the headline reminded me that not all trades make sense.

“The Philadelphia Phillies Traded A Minor League Prospect To The Los Angeles Angeles For No Compensation.”

What? Nothing? No money? No prospects?

Yup, that’s right. The Phillies literally got NOTHING from the Angels. The Angels got Mike Cisco, and the Phillies opened a roster spot.

Granted, the Phillies made the move because they believed that they were holding too many minor league pitchers. Fine, send a guy away. But, don’t just hand him over. Get something back for him. It doesn’t have to be a player. Just get some cash or something.

But NOTHING?! That’s inexcusable. I’m honestly in shock. How can a professional front office actually make this kind of move?

This is just a total head-scratcher.

Right, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.?

Derp