Archive | September, 2011

Hsi Lai Temple

29 Sep

You have got to go here…Hsi Lai Temple – Hacienda Heights, Calif.

High above the tops of the trees I saw a majestic sight, it was shining so beautiful in the sunlight that I couldn’t resist investigating.

As I got closer I realized that the object of my wonderment was a gigantic Buddhist Temple and it was open to the public…BONUS!

The Hsi Lai Temple  is located in Hacienda Heights, Calif, was completed in 1988 and sits on 15 acres.  You can either tour yourself or take a guided tour daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  I toured myself and I highly suggest doing that even if you take a guided tour.  The temple has a lot to look at so doing it at your own pace is beneficial so you can spend as much time looking as you want.

OK enough with the formalities, let’s get to the good stuff!

When you first enter…walk up the big steps and turn around at the top – enjoy the view before you enter.  As I walked through the main doors I was in awe ( I’m sorry but there are no photos of this as pictures are not allowed to be taken indoors – think of it as an incentive to see for yourself.)  It was so grand and the architecture was amazing.  I felt like I had stepped into another place and time. Everything popped put at me: artifacts, signs…and then something caught my eye – people were cracking something on a manual machine.  As I walked over, I noticed that there were whicker baskets full of little red plastic containers with fortunes inside and the machine was used to open them up.  How could I pass this up?  I LOVE fortunes!  After I selected my container, I cracked it open and headed outside to take a personal moment to read it – sorry I can’t share as it is between me and the temple:)

Lots of things make me excited and what I saw when I went outdoors was no exception.  Buddha statues of every shape, size, facial expression, etc…were everywhere.  My eyes darted form place to place trying to figure out where I was going to begin….after a minute I just decided to go left…lol!

I know I say this a lot…but really take your time!  There is so much to see! The grounds are superb and are not to be over looked.  One thing that I became drawn to as I walked around were the hands of the sculptures.  You could see where people had touched them for prayer and guidance.  I was fascinated by the thought of the many who had stood before me and admired the exact same thing that I was.

If all the sightseeing is making you hungry…have no fear food is near.  The temple offers a vegetarian lunch buffet daily for a $7.00 donation.  While I unfortunately missed the buffet, I was lucky enough to partake in dessert…fresh cooked pastries in the courtyard! YUMMY!

After I had my fill of sweet goodness I wandered into the Temple of 1000 Buddhas (again, sorry no pictures but I can assure you it is something to see.)  Yes, there really are 1000 Buddhas and yes it is remarkable.  Words can not describe its beauty.  I was on sensory overload.

Unfortunately it was late in the day…I really could have stayed much longer relishing in my new discovery and I hope to return soon to see all the things I missed.

In addition to the areas I have guided you through there is a library and a bookstore if you are interested.  The temple also offers many classes on Buddhism if that is something you would like to explore.

If you visit, please remember to obey the rules as it is a spiritual temple and allowing guests in is just a perk for those of us who wish to visit.

I hope this post inspires you to stop and take a look when you see something that catches your eye…you just never know what you may discover!

I leave you with one word that summed up my trip:

Happy Discovering,



Bluff Top Trail – Dana Point, Calif.

19 Sep

You have got to go here…Bluff Top Trail – Dana Point, Calif.

Southern California is full of amazing beach views, but what I discovered is that some also have hidden history!

OK, so here is how the story goes…while driving around looking for good grub, I passed a little restaurant named The Shwack Beach Grill that was PACKED, so I stopped – don’t be afraid to try something new.  This blog is not about food, but it did lead me to my discovery:)  After having a yummy chicken sandwich (at a great price) and amazing spuds – see picture below – I noticed a park at the end of the street with a beautiful view.

The beautiful views belonged to Bluff Top Trail, which is located at the end of Amber Lantern St. There is ample parking on the streets, so no need to worry about that.

When I first arrived at the trail I spent some time looking at the gorgeous ocean.  You can see for miles…it was truly breathtaking!  After a few moments I noticed that there was a path along the bluff and decided to see where it would take me…

There are a lot of stairs, but go for it!  Take your time and enjoy the scenery.  At the half way mark there is a picturesque wooden bridge that also boasts great views…as I walked along the bridge I came across a historical marker.

Who knew that along this trail lied remnants of the Dana Point Inn, which was a lifelong dream of S.H. Woodruffs but was never finished due to the stock market crash and great depression.  It became a game for me to try to find what was left of this historic hotel.  Once I opened my eyes, there were pieces everywhere…phenomomonal arches and a deserted pathway!  My mind began to wonder…imaging what this hotel may have looked like in its prime.  Thinking of the upscale women who may have had tea in the parlour was like stepping back in time.

There was history at every angle…I was so excited to have stumbled upon this treasure.  Hidden behind million dollars homes was an amazing piece of California history!

I ended up walking the pathway several times trying to find new sites.  Take your time and see what you can discover.

This is a great place to take a date or the family.  It serves a dual purpose…beauty and brains!

Happy Historying,


Serra Cross Park

12 Sep

You have got to go here…Serra Cross Park – Ventura, Calif.

You just never know what you are going to find by reading:)  That is exactly how I found Serra Cross Park.  While waiting to enter the museum at the San Buenaventura Mission, I decided to pass the time by reading all of the brochure. I noticed a map of the area and above the mission it directed visitors to visit the cross on the hill.  My interest was peaked so I inquired with the docent.  She said we had to go there as the views of the city were amazing – so off we went!

Serra Cross Park is located in Grant Park off Ferro Dr., a short drive from the mission.  If you are really bold, you can walk…the surroundings are beautiful!

On the curvy road up to the cross you can’t see it, which is very cool…it’s almost like it appears out of nowhere when you get to the top!  The park is very small but the cross is the obvious center piece.

Aside from its beauty, there is great history behind the cross.  Father Junipero Serra founded the mission in Ventura in 1782 and shortly after that a cross was placed on the hill to guide travelers to the mission.  Unfortunately, the original cross and several after were lost.  The current cross has been in place since 1941.

Once you have taken the time to look at the cross…look out yonder at the amazing views of the ocean and greenery.  It is spectacular!   There is a 270 degree view of Ventura.


You will not need a lot of time to enjoy the park, but if you are not in a hurry, bring a picnic lunch as it is a perfect spot. In addition to the views there are beautiful plants and life all around!

My suggestion: The next time you are driving through Ventura, even if you only have 5 minutes, take a moment to head up to the cross on the hill!

Happy Viewing,


Pie Ranch – Pescadero, Calif.

7 Sep

You have got to go here…Pie Ranch – Pescadero, Calif.

Do you love fresh organic pie?  If you do, then Pie Ranch is your place!

As I was driving from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay I begun to see signs…PIE…PIE…PIE and finally STOP FOR PIE.  I usually always do what I am told so I stopped – truth be told…I love pie and fresh pie at that!

Pie Ranch is located about 35 miles north of Santa Cruz and 17 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Hwy 1 outside the town of Pescadero.  It is nestled between miles of beautiful green fields and amazing ocean views.  Be aware that Pie Ranch can be hard to find as the quaint barn that holds all the of the pie goodness can be missed so be on the look out.

I was so excited when I exited the car I practically ran to the door…OK OK that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I was giddy.  Finding little places off the beaten path is a true love of mine (hence the blog) and this place already seemed like a gem – and boy was it.  When I entered the barn I was surprised that the first thing I saw was not pie, but organic produce and products.  I learned that Pie Ranch is actually a working farm (the land is in the shape of a pie) too!  The really cool thing about them is that they are sustainable and educate local  youth and the community on farm-based programs.


Alright, I am sure you want to know about the pie right?  After taking my time to look at all of the wonderful delights I finally made it to the pie.  They sell small tartlets and whole pies.  My husband and I chose to have a strawberry (they have different flavors depending on the season) tartlet and it was delicious.  I know that I have mentioned freshness several times, but I can’t stress this enough.  The fruit wasn’t saturated with a sugary sauce and the crust was light and flaky.  There is seating inside but we decided to grab a cup of water (FREE!) and head outside to a bale of hay and eat our pie in the countryside!

My suggestions:  Now that you know about this place, plan ahead!  Pack a picnic lunch, have a pie eating contest with friends and enjoy the day.  If you want you can volunteer or take a tour of the farm as well!

Pie Ranch is another reason why you should always keep your eyes open as there are treasures all around us!

Happy Pieing!