Adventure of the Week: Kern River Camping & Rafting

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Instead of writing so much, I’ve decided to practice my camera presence and try vlog.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth a million!  My last post, FREE camping 101, I wrote about BLM camping, which you can camp for FREE.  I did this at Kern River last weekend.  Here’s a snippet of my adventure I’d like to share with you.  Follow me for more adventures of the week!  Enjoy and be inspired 🙂



FREE camping 101

These days, even camping can get expensive, especially in California where I live, camp sites average from $15-30/ night!  I really like to travel frugally, so I looked into public lands, and what I found has given me experiences that are BETTER than paid camping.

BLM Lands

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is an actual agency of the United States that has admistered more than 247.3 million acres of free and public land.  Do you know how significant of an amount that is?  That would be approximately 1/8 of the United States!

The mission of the BLM is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.”  Initially, BLM holdings were described as “land nobody wanted” because homesteaders had passed them by.  But now, BLM lands are found in almost, if not ALL National parks.

You know what this means!  It means that where there’s a popular place people go to PAY for camping, there are free public lands to be found.  BLM lands aren’t exclusive to popular destinations, however, they can be found everywhere.  

All types of BLM maps can be found here.  But, being geeky, I downloaded an app, which I have found to be very useful.  It’s called U.S. Public Lands and more information on the app can be found here.

Finding BLM lands are fun!  Yes, there’s no structure, nobody to do the admin work for you, and it takes a tiny bit of time to find land of your liking, but that’s all part of camping!  Finding a place to park and enjoy what nature has to offer- for free.  Just as it was intended.

We are one

Santa Barbara, California, November 2015

Sometimes the sky looks like the sea. Sometimes the sea looks like the sky.

Sometimes I am you. And sometimes.

You are me.


In response to dailypost’s daily prompt Sky

The away team

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Demi and Jess, May 2016
Even before she left for her 1 week trip, I missed her already.  As she laid next to me the night before, I tried to simplify my mind so I can burn the moment into my memory.  It’s only 1 week, but I miss my favorite person already.

How to make the most out of your Antelope Canyon visit

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Lower Antelope Canyon, May 2016

Antelope Canyon is the photographer’s dream- It is the most photographed place in all of Arizona. This is a very special place, for sure, but, this is not a trip where you would want to just “wing it.” Here are some things you should know before going:

  1. Book a tour guide

    This canyon is located in the middle of an Indian reservation, and thus you must tour the area with a Navajo Tour Guide.  These guides must be reserved in advanced.  The upper canyon you’re looking at a $32-40 entrance fee, and the lower canyon is $20.  There is a $5 parking fee, per person (NOT VEHICLE!) and it is transferable between the two canyons.

    I went to the lower canyon, and from experience, it doesn’t matter which tour company you choose.  They all go through the same places and cost exactly the same amount.

  1. Upper VS Lower Canyon

    The upper and lower canyons are two separate canyons and you must book to see them separately.  They are run by different companies.

    The lower canyon is generally less populated, is a longer tour (1 hour), cheaper, and the spaces are much tighter against the walls.  There is minimal physical activity to get to this canyon.

    The upper canyon is famous for its light beams.  This is the most important difference.  While you can experience these light beams at the lower canyon as well, it’s almost guaranteed at the upper canyon.

    Either way, it is impossible to capture a bad photograph no matter what canyon you choose.  Overall, I think the deciding factors is mobility (how physically active you want to be)  and how much you desire to shoot light beams.

  2. Know what time to go

    The best time for tours are in the morning before noon.  You can go on a normal tour, or you can take the photography tour for double the price.  For the lower canyon, the photography tour is 2 hours long and only professional cameras are allowed.

Have you been to Antelope Canyon?  I have only lived to tell the tale of the Lower Canyon, have you been to the Upper Canyon?

Leave a comment below, and subscribe to my page!

How to make camping easier than staying at home

Sometimes when I travel with friends, they’re running around like headless chicken, stressing about packing and unpacking for camp.  This year, my goal is to get as many friends as I can to come camping with me, so I’ve decided to create a few tips on how to make camping even easier than staying at home.  

  1.  Keep it short

    If you’re like me, you’re a normal person with a career that demands your attention on the weekdays.  So, you’re essentially only camping for a few nights.  Well, remember that!  You’ll make plenty of memories even if you’re just camping for 1-2 nights.

  2. Pack light

    You’re only camping for 1-2 nights, so you don’t need to bring your whole closet.  As a matter of fact, even when I camp for multiple nights, I tend to recycle the same clothes.   For hydration, I like to bring a refillable bottle so I’m not constantly consuming water bottles and stressing about where to dispose them.  Pack simple, one-dish meals, wrapped in foil and ready to reheat.  Just don’t skip the s’mores 😉

  3. Be Ruthless about packing light

    Think twice about bringing more than you need.  Do you REALLY need this?  Chances are, you won’t need more than the essentials.  What ARE the essentials?  It might be a great life lesson to learn how to live minimally.  For me, I only bring one outfit for day time use, one for the night, and some PJs to sleep in.

  4. Take advantage of “gear-less” activities

    You  might be tempted to take out the kayak and bring all your gear in case you want to go rock climbing.  Though those may definitely be fun, remember that it is sometimes just at fun to enjoy a simple hike (some hikes aren’t so simple), explore a new place to swim, or a natural hot spring!

  5. Co-op camping

    If you’re going with friends, sharing is caring.  The fun comes with bonding when we rely on each other.  Take turns planning different parts of the trip, or take turns planning every other trip!

That’s all I have for now.  If you’ve got any more ideas or any funny stories about the dread of packing, leave a comment below!

I’d also love it if you would subscribe and follow me on Instagram @jesslikesit

Travelled with my family

My father and my mother could not be more different.  My dad is a jewelry maker by trade, and my mom an economist and those two facts summarize their relationship dynamic.  My mom is that typical overbearing, overly controlling Asian parent and my dad is just as cool as a cucumber.  You would  think they balance each other out.  No, my dad’s cool character gives my mom all the proof needed to believe he “does not care.”

Despite how this makes me sound very critical, entitled, and ungrateful for my family, I love them.  The thing is, growing up has forced me to explore all the ways my confusing family dynamic has shaped me to become.  The biggest of which was my temper.  I’ve always had a quick temper.  I’ve always been emotional and expressive.  I must. Expressing myself, to me, is as important as eating, drinking water, and breathing.

So, I want to try my best to communicate with my family as best as I could.  Well, as best as any Asian American could with their considerably clashing Asian cultured parents.  I mean, it’s hard enough for me to articulate my feelings in English sometimes.  So unfortunately as a kid I’ve found throwing a temper a lot easier than trying to express my feelings in broken Chinese and risk my parents not listening to me at all, because well, Asian elders don’t listen to the younger ones very well.

I digress.  One thing I’ve felt lately has been a longing for a sense of camaraderie from my family.  My girlfriend, Demi, is the middle child with 2 other siblings.  Even though she doesn’t consider herself very close to her siblings, they’re still definitely closer than my brother and I ever were.  He is 8 years younger than I am.  I’ve felt a kind of lonlieness my whole life, and only until now have I cared to really tried to connect with my family.  I long to have a family who is on my team.

Oops, I digressed again.  So, up until this sentence, I wanted to explain a brief background of my life so you’d understand why I wanted to take a family trip together.  I truly believe traveling is an excellent way to bond with your family.

On Friday morning, my family set out to explore Lower Antelope Canyon.  We arrived at around 7:30pm, just enough time to see the sunset at Horseshoe Bend, which is just a few miles away from the canyon.

Honestly, the first day was rough.  I have been living alone for years now and have forgotten what it was like to be around my family.  I couldn’t tune out all the bickering.  It’s so hard to practice patience and love with your family, or at least it is for me.  All the lessons I’ve been learning about maturity, compassion, and love- it all goes down the drain when I’m with my family.  I revert right back into a child state.

The next day, though, I learnt to ignore them and the day was much more pleasant!  It reminded me how sometimes we have to choose our battles to stay happy.  Check out this video I made for our trip to Antelope Canyon this weekend:

Hope you enjoyed this!  I’m hoping my videos will become better as I play along.