Cali Corner: My Favorite LA Sports Venue

I know, I know. Shocking that my favorite Los Angeles sports venue is not Dodger Stadium. It should be pretty obvious that I love baseball and I have been spending a lot of time near the Dodgers' home field lately, but when I think of my all-time favorite place to spend the day (and I mean all day), Santa Anita Race Track has my heart.

Nestled up against the San Gabriel foothills, the Santa Anita Race Track is a spectacular sight. Despite being in the midst of the great depression, the race track opened in 1934 to keep Southern Californians entertained. Many racing legends have been made here and you can still see celebrity trainers and jockeys on a daily basis.

But the aesthetics of the buildings are my favorite part. Green and yellow and properly Floridian, you truly feel like you are on a fancy vacation as soon as you walk through those gates. Additionally, the inside is over the top with tropical birds, golden chandeliers, and palm fronds wallpaper. Part indoor and part outdoor, the experience has something for everyone. There are shady benches next to sculptures and fountains and play areas for the kiddos in the center of the track (by way of underground tunnel, of course). 

My best suggestion for spending time here? 

Either come get breakfast early in the morning at Clocker's Corner where you can get table service while watching the ponies during their morning workouts. Or, arrive an hour or so before the first race and wander the grounds. Grab the "best turkey sandwich ever" in the clubhouse and choose your daily double.


The Saguaro Mommy & Me Getaway

I already wrote about why Palm Springs is so special to me and how it scorched its way into my heart throughout my childhood. It is for those reasons that sharing this special place with my daughter is all the more fulfilling. She's growing to love it too. What kid doesn't love splashing around in the pool all day and staying in a cozy new bed? My daughter used to refer to Palm Springs as "the white hotel" after we stayed in, you guessed it, a minimalistic white hotel when she was quite young.  But that all changed when we decided to do a mid-week getaway right before everyone descended on the area for Coachella. She now prefers "The Rainbow Hotel."

For a travel blogger, the Saguaro seems like an obvious choice.  I mean, hotels don't get more Instaworthy than the colorful and chic Saguaro Hotel & Pool (you can get day passes to the pool if you are staying elsewhere) situated a bit away from the main boulevard of Palm Springs proper. But before it hosted creative retreats and gave fashionistas bright backdrops, it was a place that my father and I spent many lazy days. The hotel is big enough to engage with many other desert rats, but feels like a boutique property with so much detail given to its aesthetic. Days at the pool fill the best parts of my memory. I remember live steel drums and BBQs around lunch time. Now the scene is great for adults and kiddos with a full bar and an excellent menu. The hotel provides a load of pool floats (think lobsters and flamingos) and people like to bring and share their own! 

The Saguaro makes it easy to stay contained at the property without wanting for much more.  Sure we ventured out at night for an entertaining teppan dinner and went for breakfast at The Ace Hotel, but we never felt stuck at the Saguaro throughout the day. There are bikes to rent to explore the area and a stellar Mexican restaurant on the property. Honestly I can't think of many places where I would go with the family, a group of girlfriends, or by myself but the Saguaro may just be it!

Age 12 at the same property


Changing Direction: Why & When?

Is there ever a perfect time to make a major life change? Not really. You can do your best to project the perfect time to have a baby or to buy house but there's really no guarantee what the future has in store for us and that can be very daunting. Especially for those of us who like to plan every little detail of life (okay, not really but pretty much).

Recently I made a major career shift and I want to tell you how I went about my decision making process of jumping from one ship to another. 

For over 10 years I have been working 
as a forensic therapist with criminal offenders in the community. It's what I studied in grad school, it's what I researched, and it is the area in which I have built my expertise. If you are reader of my Career Central posts you know that I have spent a lot of time and energy in this field, including taking it upon myself to present related material in international platforms (which allows me to travel to some great places!).

But no matter how much I have invested in my past, I am constantly looking towards my future. Trying to predict where my life will go and what I will want. It's no easy task to look through a cloudy crystal ball. But I knew a few things while contemplating my forward moving path. I knew that I would eventually be moving a little bit closer to downtown Los Angeles in the next couple of years. And I also knew that I wanted to prevent major burn out in my career, meaning I did not want to start hating my job. It's heavy stuff and it definitely causes some wear and tear on the psyche. I also knew that I wanted to take prior experience and apply it to something new; something that I could learn as a new trade while applying my already developed skills. It excited me to think about being the new person soaking in the training and knowledge of others in new territory.

So last year I put in for a job in downtown LA that I thought might have some openings in the next year or two. To my surprise the process moved rather quickly and once I was hired, they needed me to start four months sooner than anticipated. It was wonderful to choose between two great careers but it was a no-brainer once I saw that the new position met all of my aforementioned needs. 

I just finished my first week.  I have a wonderful new colleague who started with me, amazing new supervisors and co-workers who I aim to be like one day. I also now work as a psychologist for a law enforcement behavioral science unit that is among the best in the country. I may have to work more days a week and commute through some rough traffic right now, but I am also entirely stimulated and energized to be my best self. Only in this state will I be able to best serve my clientele. 


The Painted Desert

My third grade teacher, my favorite teacher of all time, taught us the best way to remember how to differentiate between dessert and desert when spelling.  Dessert had two SS for "sweet stuff" and desert had on S for "sand." I love that and I think about it every time I travel onto that dark desert highway on my way to Palm Springs.

I think I smell colitas...

Palm Springs has alway been a sort of Mecca for me.  I took some of my first steps here and learned to swim in hotel pools on weekend family vacations. I crushed on that first older boy as a poolside teen and brought my sister here to get away from it all after a bad break-up.  It is truly that place where you can drive for an hour or two and feel like you are hundreds of miles away from whatever you want to leave behind, be it job, the bustle of the city, or a heartache. I would even come here for a bit of rest and sun worship to study before finals. The air is still and the sun is intense and it makes for the the ideal setting for mentally checking out. 

The mini road trip from LA has it's share of roadside attractions and the town itself is full of quirkiness, competing with the classy mid century aesthetic. Although I've been coming here for decades, I still find something new to gawk at as I drive down Palm Canyon Blvd. These days, I'm finding myself pulling over to snap a picture.  When I think of the most Insta-worthy city, Palm Springs is a hands-down winner for it's size. 

What's your local escape and why do you love it?

Colorful OC

To kick off my week in between jobs (Yep starting something new next week!), we decided to have a "Family Date Night" that we would all enjoy. The theme ended up being our own little World of Color!
Unicorn Hot Chocolate

Unicorn Milkshake

I rarely venture to Anaheim unless I am heading to Disneyland but I have been dying to try the Unicorn hot chocolate from Creme & Sugar ever since I got an eyeful of the rainbow concoction on Instagram! This thing is gorgeous and equally as decadent with just about the entire kitchen sink on top of pink liquid. If the witch from Hansel and Gretel had invented this, I'm sure she would have been wildly successful too! They also have Cookie Monster and Circus animal cookie versions. The bakery makes amazing custom cakes as well and has an entire espresso bar. We had to get some straight-up black coffee to cut back on the sweetness. The now famous Unicorn drinks, including an incredible cotton candy flavored milkshake, used to be part of a "secret menu," but the art of secret keeping is tough to maintain in the age of social media. 

As if we didn't get enough color at Creme & Sugar, we decided to stop by the (fairly) new train depot in Anaheim.  I worked in Orange County from 2012-2015 and watched this monstrosity, also known as ARTIC, being built everyday as I whizzed by on the freeway.  It gives a light show that just may rival Disneyland's fireworks. The depot is part fairytale dream and part futuristic portal to somewhere magical.  Kinda makes me wish I traveled more by train here in the States. 

My Top 5 Tricks for Self-Care

Ibiza, Spain

I just finished recording a podcast interview about my work as a forensic psychologist and how I maintain my own mental wellness. Many types of doctors and other professionals who work in an environment where people constantly need your assistance can experience their own residual troubles or burnout. To be our best for those who we love to help, we need to be the best versions of ourselves at work and at home. Here's how I accomplish this:

1. Being social outside of my profession

A key to self-care when you work in an intense field or when you really just want to get your mind out of work mode is to surround yourself with friends that do not do what you do. This will allow you to talk about stuff other than your work and get back to what matters most to you in your family and social life.  As we get older this can get tricky. You usually meet people at work or through people at work, so some real strategy needs to go into this. Maintain friends you knew before you became a professional. Get together with work friends and their spouses (who hopefully do something else for a living). Get involved in a social activity (think hiking group) that doesn't revolve around your job. 


Palm Trees & Pirates

Magen's Bay

The 99 steps of Charlotte Amalie

Hiking from a plantation


I've come to realize that the "island feel" is different depending on which sea you find yourself near. Polynesian islands, Mediterranean islands, and the Caribbean all invoke a different experience. Usually my ideal island getaway includes the feel of hot sand between my toes and a cold drink in my hand and I'm a happy girl. 

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