One hour into the mountains from my place, there's a beautiful land hidden beneath dried bushes and burnt trees. Typically, Southern California's mountains are not the most well known tourist attractions, especially around Los Angeles. Even though I lived here for about seven years now, I too didn't give much credit to them until one day I found out about the Angeles National Forest, Palmdale, CA.
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It was by accident. We lost our way and saw one small street going off into the forest. We got curious and followed the traffic, to find that small yet beautiful picnic area known only among the locals. A small stream sprung out from the mountain summit and finds its way down, shifting around the rocks. The trees full of green covered its trail with their leaves, patterning the water with its shadowy leaves. A few steps up the flowered bank was the picnic area with public benches and grills anyone could use for free. And for all those, all we had to pay was a $5 parking ticket at the forest station located a half mile down from the picnic area. We started going there so often, so often that we developed our own way to enjoy it.
As soon as we arrive, we immediately run for an empty table. We set up the table and light up the fire in the grill. Sometimes when the fire doesn't cooperate, we let it sit while we go down to the stream and cool down our feet. Even in summer the water is so icy that I can't put my feet in there more than 20 minutes. On those days we bring a watermelon, we put it in the water with small rocks to prevent it from rolling down. About an hour later, it becomes an ice cream without cream! If we happened to not to forget a towel, my brother and I go on a full water-splash war against each other, getting soaked wet. When the charcoals begin to burn, we go around the fire and cook the steaks. And meanwhile with the portable gas range, we cook some noodles meanwhile. If we have some time after eating, we take short walk on the hiking trail. It's said to lead to a waterfall, but we are yet to visit it ourselves. Or we just fool around – climbing up the trees, hoping over from one rock to the other, singing along a guitar tune. And, more than anything, we constantly talking to each other.
My family loves there so much. Exhausted from the school, work, and the stress that follows, we find refuge there, away from the noises of the city. There is no Facebook message alarm or a phone call from the work. LA is a great place to visit, to live around. But still, people need break once in a while from those noises. And taking a short, one-day vacation at Angeles Forest would be that needed reliever. All the other days can be spent drowned in LA's nosies. But at least one day should be spent there. Up there, there's no excuse, no distraction. There's communication this generation so lacks, and even the most rebellious teen cannot stop the conversation when his or her phone is dead! It's a perfect place for a family to become happy. I love going up there with my family, away from LA, into our own world. I just have to make sure I got enough bug spray.
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