Camping by Big Bear Lake

After baking a sourdough boule for our lunch picnic, we drive up to Big Bear Lake’s Serrano Campground. We have several goals in mind: get the kids outdoors, escape the valley heat, and see Jupiter and Saturn while they are near opposition. The 130 mm reflector telescope had just arrived,…


Here’s the comet taken from our rooftop, overlooking Loma Linda University Medical Center’s new towers.

Spring and Summer Garden

It’s a sunny February. We’ve been talking about a vegetable and cut flower garden. Starting with seeds and peat starter trays, Daphney and I plant for our spring and vegetable garden. Soon, we watch our work pay off: Asian greens, cilantro, chives, basil, beets, dill, sage, poppies, nasturtiums, marigolds, and…

Visiting Sequoia National Park

Last time we were up this way, an early winter storm thwarted our visit to the giant sequoia trees. The road was open up just beyond Sequoia National Park’s Foothill Visitor Center. This time, it’s the novel coronavirus that nearly caused this trip to be cancelled. We had originally scheduled…

Building a Playhouse

Two days after California’s statewide shelter-in-place order, I embark on a coronavirus home project. Little did I know that Lowe’s and Home Depot would see surges in their sales; everyone is doing the same thing. Earlier, Yan and I had perused many designs and plans. We settled on a design…

Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Our original plan was to leave early Saturday morning, early enough to secure a campsite at one of the first-come-first-served campgrounds in Joshua Tree. Because of coronavirus, the park had decided to remove reservations for all campgrounds. Having debated about camping at Black Rock, we decided to go deeper into…

Daphney’s Fourth Birthday

Daphney gets an extended celebration of her fourth birthday, with events spanning the entire week and both weekends. The coronavirus shelter-at-home order gives us plenty of excuses to make this birthday extra memorable. We surprise her with the special gift book, Fables of Ancient China, compiled just for her. And…

Fables of Ancient China

Another project during the coronavirus shelter-in-place order is creating a storybook as a gift to Daphney on her fourth birthday. Years ago, I bought a book of 100 Chinese Fables from a bookstore in Hong Kong. After picking out some of the stories that are fitting for a four-year-old, I…

Impromptu Camping in Joshua Tree

Nearly every day for the last two months, Daphney had been asking about camping—not just any camping, but specifically in Joshua Tree, or where there are foxes (Santa Cruz Island). The other request is to have a campfire, both in the evening and the following morning. That rules out the…

Jayden’s First Birthday Party

We’re all gathered at Fairmount Park in Riverside. The theme is fishing! There are fishing poles, nets, and games. We have fish tacos, and Auntie Alice and Auntie Susan made tower of cupcakes. Except for the Santa Ana winds at the end of the party, it was a perfect day…

Jayden Turns One

Today, our baby Jayden turns one! We’ve been so blessed by the smiles, giggles, laughter, and cuteness. And in this one year, we’ve done so much together. We first camped at Joshua Tree. Then, we celebrated the first 100 days. Soon, Chinese New Year came around. Altogether, we spent six…

Full Circle

Our first stop is in Borgarnes, at The Settlement Center. This multimedia exhibit opens our eyes to how Iceland was settled in her early days. We learn about how the Viking sailors left Norway and braved the open ocean to arrive and thrive in Iceland. The second exhibit chronicles Egil’s saga, detailing his family’s arrival, settlement, and turmoil.

North and West

Shortly after leaving the Mývatn area, we pull up to Goðafoss. A light rain mixed with not-so-light winds cuts this visit short. There are tourists climbing down the slick face of the flanking cliffs to take their pictures. I don’t think it’s worth the risk.

Eastern Side

Our trip winds up the eastern coast along the black sand beach of Djúpivogur. Leaving the Ring Road, we take the shortcut up Route 939 and 95. This dirt road switchbacks up the mountain, crests, and leads us down to Egilsstaðir. Because of the long drive today, we decide to get sandwiches and chips for the road. Beyond town, we rejoin the Ring Road and head west.

Southern Coast

Our cabin is tucked at the base of a towering mountain rising from the plains facing the ocean. From this picturesque location, we head to Skógar. I turn into a dirt road, and I soon realize that it’s one too early. Even though it’s the wrong street, there’s a beautiful green field with Skógafoss as a backdrop and no crowds. It’s a picture-perfect location.

Trip to Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar had been on my list for a long time. It’s featured in so many hiking articles that it is hard to pass up. Months ago, I had put our names on the waiting list for the backcountry hut. Our alternative plan was to camp or to completely skip this detour.

Golden Circle Tour

Waking up this first morning in Iceland, we enjoy breakfast at the hotel before setting out. The route takes us around Þingvallavatn, a rift valley formed between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. We join the crowds at Þingvellir, hiking to the rock outcropping where the earliest parliament of the world gathered since AD 930. Our kids didn’t enjoy the winds at all.

To Iceland

This is to be our most ambitious international trip to date, not only because we’ll be bringing our three-year-old plus our nearly ten-month-old baby, but because we have planned such varied lodging experiences—the usual hotels, guesthouses, camping, plus a backcountry hut reached only by fording two streams.

Summer Milky Way Camping

We arrive late to Lone Pine Campground. It’s now about midnight. Stepping out of the car, we hear the creek rippling down its drainage on the other side of our campsite. Beyond that stretches a dark ridge, and far beyond that, the summer Milky Way is already vertical. It looks…