Top 10 Reasons Why LA is Awesome

Photography, Thoughts


The City of Angels turned 232
on September 4, 2013

LA Sunset

* My Photograph was Featured on *

My mom and I moved to South Pasadena – only a 15 min drive from the heart of downtown Los Angeles – when I was in 4th grade. I spent the majority of my youthful years in LA, that is until my mom moved back to Texas when I was a sophomore in college. While going to college in Monterey Bay CA, I cherished the clean air and beautiful coast line each and every day. But after 4 years of foggy days, cold blistering winds, and rainy days, I was ready to move back to LA so I could be reminded of what the sun looks like.

I’ve spent 14 years of my life in the City of Angeles, and it truly holds a special place in my heart. There really is NO PLACE like Los Angeles 🙂 In saying that, I’d like to share a couple of key factors that make LA so amazing:

Top 10 Reasons Why LA is AWESOME:


  1. ALWAYS SOMETHING TO DO: There is never a week that goes by in Los Angeles that there’s not a festival, event, concert, or some kind of exciting gathering. If people say they are bored in LA, tell them they are crazy and lazy.
  2. SUNSHINE YEAR ROUND: After living in Monterey where there was only about a week of sunshine for the entire year, I learned that LA was in fact where I belonged. I’m a child of the sun and sea – and thanks to the 292 days year round of sunshine in Los Angeles – I’m a happy camper!
  3. LOTS OF HIKING: Yes this is a large city, but we’ve got hills and mountains galore! There’s even a waterfall 5 minutes of the street from my house. If you consider LA a concrete jungle, let me treat you to a hiking tour around the area to change your mind.
  4. MIXING BOWL OF PEOPLE: It’s true that there’s a lot of struggling grads trying to get into the film/production/screenwriting/acting/music industry, but there’s also a lot of other people that make up Los Angeles. There’s more to LA than “Hollywood.” So many people move here from around the world to start a new adventure in their lives!! Never judge a book by its cover in LA – you never know who you are talking to and who they know and what they could do for you.
  5. BEST STAYCATIONS: Everything in LA is a basically a 30 minute drive away. You can be at the beach in the morning splashing around in the ocean, and have a bonfire in the evening at the top of a mountain all in the same day. Palm Springs is just 2 hours away, or Santa Barbara for that matter. It’s easy to escape for a staycation when you live in LA. (Heck, Vegas day trips have been made before..)
  6. ENDLESS AMOUNT OF PALM TREES: Yes this might be strange reason, but you can’t help but love flying into LA and seeing the streets lined with palm trees. It is just a reminder that the beach is just a short drive away from the hustle and bustle. Plus their silhouettes make for some fantastic photos when the sun is setting on that big blue Pacific Ocean.
  7. YOUR TASTE BUDS WILL LOVE YOU: LA has one of the best food scenes in the country. We’ve got such a vast variety of cuisines, we have multiple festivals a year just to showcase it. People travel from all around the world to visit restaurants in LA.
  8. FITNESS CULTURE: People in LA like to look good. A lot of the time it’s for superficial reasons, but hey, who is complaining? Thus, there’s a huge amount of fun fitness activities to participate in. From Crossfit, to Barre classes, to Yoga, to BootCamps – everyone can pick and choose which method to keep them fit and healthy!
  9. DRINK UP: The beer, wine, and mixology scene in LA is fantastic. Which ever beverage you are in the mood for, you can definitely find the hidden bar that specializes in your specific thirst quencher. From dive bars, to breweries, to wineries, to mixology bars, to historic renovated locations, to new and up and coming innovative can’t go wrong.
  10. ROLE MODEL: Los Angeles is often times a role model for other cities. Whether it be in the terms of passing a significant bill, changing a law, dealing with environmental issues.. LA is a frontrunner.

If you have any other reasons to add why LA is fantastic – feel free to comment!

Credit: ATTIK

One of my favorite days is here…Coastal Cleanup Day!

Science, Thoughts

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It’s time to dust off those sand buckets and bring them to the nearest coastline this Saturday! It’s the annual 2012 Coastal Cleanup Day on September 15th. For the first time ever- I am going to be participating in a “dive” cleanup at the Santa Monica Pier with a great organization, Heal The Bay. So while people are cleaning up on the beaches, I’ll be looking for hidden treasure on the bottom of the sea and collecting it in a netted bag. I’ve had friends in Monterey Bay do a pier cleanup last year and it’s astounding the type of things they found on the bottom of the ocean! From car engines, to kitchen sinks..people need to understand that the ocean isn’t a giant garbage disposal. Hopefully, I’ll get to borrow a friend’s Go Pro underwater HD camera- then I could come back here and show you everything I picked up! Maybe I will even capture some cool marine life while I’m down there 😉

I haven’t been diving since my time abroad in Australia in 2009- my dive gear has been neglected for awhile but I’m so ready to jump into the ocean (especially for such a good cause)! I’m diving with my friend from CSUMB Alex Olson- he’s pretty much a very very experienced diver..I feel in good ‘dive buddy’ hands haha.

If you live in California, be sure to check out the link below to find the closest cleanup location to where you live!

CALIFORNIA SIGN UP: Check here to find a cleanup site near you

Even if you don’t live near a beach or the ocean- you can still participate! Rivers and lakes still are at risk from pollution. Go find a body of water and I’m sure there’ll be some trash to pick up and you would have done your part on this great day! Although, you should REALLY pick up trash whenever you see it on the ground or ocean no matter what day it is.

Keep our planet clean! Throw your trash away please (not on the streets..).

BONUS QUESTION: What’s the most common piece of trash found on coastal cleanups (don’t cheat and Google it!)?

(You’ll get a shout out in my next blog post if you guess correctly!)

Malibu Photo Shoot

Photography, Science, Thoughts

So the other week my friend Matt sent a message to a couple of friends requesting that we all should head to Malibu one Thursday to be part of this “surfer themed” photo shoot with an amazing photographer and videographer. I had 1 day-off during the work week- so I jumped on the opportunity to lay on the beach for the FIRST time this summer. (I know it’s sad..)

I don’t think I’ve ever really been to Malibu before- so when I arrived to Point Dume– I knew this wasn’t going to be the last time I stepped foot on that beach. It was GORGEOUS and there was literally no one there. It was a couple of hours before everyone arrived to meet up for the photo shoot, so I napped on the beach and enjoyed the sights and smells of the sea.

The photographer was Coy Gutierrez- Check out both of his FANTASTIC websites here:

Coy came with a stylist for the shoot as well as a videographer- both great guys! It was beginning to turn into the “real deal” as they tend to say 🙂 All we really did was hang out and have a good time while they shot us! There was this amazing little hut made out of palm leaves on the beach which we hung out around towards the end of the day- it looked like something out of a surf movie (PERFECT!).

Of course being a marine scientist I went straight to the tide pools observing huge purple sea stars, acorn barnacles, and lots of beautiful sea anemones. I even saved a stranded sea star from the mouth of a greedy sea gull…be FREE little echinoderm!

I made some new awesome friends, and overall I couldn’t have asked for a better day to spend my day-off from work. Looking back and reminiscing about this day, all I can say is that I am just overflowing with happiness and thankfulness that I have opportunities like this come up in life. I have so many different groups of friends and peers that I all cherish so deeply- I thoroughly enjoy every moment I get to spend with them. Shout out to Matt Hoffman  -I appreciate extending the offer to participate in the shoot my way- it was a highlight of my summer.

So take a gander at some of the beautifully amazing photos Coy so graciously let me share with all of you 😀

Don’t the photos just want to make you drop everything and head to the beach?!
Which one captures your eye the most?

Jill and Matt

Point Dume

And They’re Off!

Matt and Pat

Matt Surfing



Drawing an Otter

Hanging ’round the hut

Playing in the tide pools

Purple Sea Star

iPhone Addiction

Jill Ran Up The Hill


Sunset Dreams


Newport Beach in Black and White

Photography, Thoughts

I went to Newport Beach recently- and woke up at 7:00am and decided to fill my meter where I was parked overnight. I was going to go back to bed after filling the meter, but the moment I stepped outside to an amazing sunrise, calm crystal clear water, and an empty beach.. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy it all!

So I changed clothes- grabbed my camera and wallet- and walked up the bike path. My new friends live right ON the beach, and I totally fell in love with the place. It’s definitely my dream to live on the beach one day. I’d soak it up for all it’s worth.

I found a little cafe that just opened- got a chai tea latte and a blueberry bagel. Went next to the Balboa Pier and posted myself up on the Lifeguard Tower. PERFECTION. I watched the seagulls take over the sky, dolphins leaping, and pelicans diving while the sun warmed up my skin.

I decided to get some mostly black and white photos- just felt like it’d be a fun change of pace to see things in a different “light” so to speak. Hope you enjoy the slideshow.

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California’s Annual Coastal Clean Up Day!

Photography, Thoughts

Happy Coastal Clean Up Day to everyone around the globe!

Today I was a site-captain for Monterey State Beach in Seaside, California through the Save Our Shores Organization. I had around 43 participants raging from groups consisting of boy/cub scouts, co-workers, friends, students,  and families.

We collect around 173 pounds of trash, and 35 pounds of recycling over a 3 hour period (or less) of walking up and down the beach. The most common occurrence was cigarette butts- a whopping 774 in total. There were lots of plastic and Styrofoam pieces as well.

Monterey State Beach

Here's Me!

Another View of Monterey State Beach

My Geology Prof. From Last Semester Showed Up With His Family! (Thanks For Coming Doug Smith!)

Everything worked out great this morning! The weather was unbeatable- sunny warm and beachy (for once in’s very very rare we get this awesome weather here if you are not familiar with the location). I even got a sunglasses tan!

Overall I just hoped that I helped embed into the minds of those who participated how much we need to stop relying and using plastics. Luckily I had a lot of people sign 2 petitions- one to ban single-use plastic bags in Marina CA- and one to ban Styrofoam takeout boxes restaurants use in Monterey County (and instead use biodegradable to-go boxes which a lot of restaurants have already converted to using around Monterey).

I enjoyed this experience a lot and I hope to continue volunteering as a site captain every year- no matter which part of California I will be in next year. 🙂