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Well hello there! I’ve missed you guys! For me, putting up just two posts in a week feels like I’m barely blogging, but somehow my final stop in the US — for a long while, anyway — flew by so quickly I barely had time to keep up with the basics. But while I didn’t get much posting done, I did squeeze in lots of quality time with faces I’m not going to see for a long time as well as some pretty fantastic adventures in Southern California.

After our week in Los Angeles, I grabbed my pup and my visiting friend Kat and we hit the road for San Diego, where we checked out beaches, went diving, met up with two of my old friends from college and experienced the joy of travel with a four-legged friend. Four days later, Bearded Bartender and my dad met us in Palm Springs for one last hurrah — one that involved lots of home-cooked meals, pool time, and a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park. It was quite the send off!

It still feels a bit surreal to me that I’m heading back to Thailand, especially as everything has been such a whirlwind lately between my hectic schedule, hosting guests, keeping my head above water with work, and getting myself even nominally prepared for this trip. Normally I’m consumed with a big international departure like this in the week or two leading up to it, but this time around I just haven’t had the luxury of time to dwell. I don’t think it will really hit me until I walk off the plane and feel that Bangkok air hit my face.

With the exception of a one-week detour to the Caribbean I’ve been in my home country since May. I’ve just barely scratched the surface of writing about my summer at home (I have this reoccurring nightmare where I’m still writing about summer 2015 as we roll into next July) but expect posts to start coming at you at a rapid clip now that I’m back to the land of catching up on internet work smiles. It’s amazing how excited I am about simple things like unbroken weeks spent in one location, getting back into muay thai, reintegrating $6 massages back into my daily routine, and drinking coconut shakes and eating mango sticky rice again. I’m looking forward to a hard hit of real life — or my tropical version of it, anyway.

So while I’m working my way through the jetlag this week, I’ll have plenty of posts coming at you from a beloved stateside destination: Martha’s Vineyard! Here’s hoping I can convince a few of you to make a fall trip to one of my favorite islands in the world. But first, a little peek at what I got up to in Southern California…

Photo A

San Diego Luv Surf RentalOur Luv Surf vacation rental in San Diego on the left, a local dog beach on the right

Photo B

Bird of Paradise Flower in San DiegoA flower in the garden in San Diego

Photo C

San Diego Belmont ParkBelmont Park in San Diego

Photo D

Diving with Sea Lions in the CoronadosDiving in the Coronados… my first glimpse at Mexico!

Photo E

Palm SpringsExploring Palm Springs

Photo F

Driving Through Joshua Tree in a ConvertibleDriving through Joshua Tree National Park

Which photo is your favorite?

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80 Comments...
  • Silvia
    September 23 2015

    Bahh stop with all the dog photos! Now that I’m finally staying put for a while I am sooo tempted to just go and adopt a husky already, but then I remember that my wandering ways would make me the worst dog mama ever, sigh.
    Silvia recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      I know! I’m lucky that Tucker loves my dad more than me, in the end, because it’s the only thing that makes leaving them together bearable.

  • Emma
    September 23 2015

    I’ve been a bitter blog reader the last few weeks as no less than 5 of my favourites have been in California, and I’m so glad you’re all going back where you belong because I can’t stand the envy any more šŸ˜›
    Photo E is my favourite this week. Safe travels šŸ™‚
    Emma recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Ha, I know how that feels! I can’t stand it when I’m not in Thailand and other people are šŸ™‚

  • Jason
    September 23 2015

    F!

  • Britt
    September 23 2015

    Photo A for sure!

    I’m so excited that you are back in Thailand. I’m also so jealous- my heart aches for Thailand and the coconut shakes…. hehehe
    Britt recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Tell me about it! I’ve been missing this place something fierce. It’s good to be back.

  • LC
    September 23 2015

    Meihoukai, as you’ve put not one but TWO photos of dogs up this week, I am finding it extraordinarily difficult to choose between the two.

    Tucker is a cutie but a dog AND A BEACH…!!!!

    Have a good flight!
    LC recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Ha, I know! Had to get as much Tucker love in as I could — last chance for a while!

  • Kat
    September 23 2015

    Oh gosh, I cannot choose this week! I guess I shall have to go with C and D if I HAVE to šŸ™‚ Looking forward to reading about your US travels.

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Thanks Kat! Lots of them coming up so… I’m happy to hear that šŸ™‚

  • Anca | Globaloud
    September 23 2015

    Lucky you, I was just writing about Thailand, and thinking how I need to find a way to go back there, but it seems to me it won’t happen any time soon.

    If nothing, I’ll follow your posts and daydream about it.
    Anca | Globaloud recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      I definitely feel like the luckiest girl in the world right now… that’s how I always feel when I head to Thailand!

  • Kristin
    September 23 2015

    Oh, wow, that’s a hard pick – I love how bright, sunny, and happy A is {and bonus, puppy!} but F and the open road are calling to me!
    Kristin recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      There is something magical about driving with the top down!

  • Patricia
    September 23 2015

    This time it was easy for me – I’m a zoologist and I pick D! šŸ™‚
    Patricia recently posted..

  • Rashaad
    September 23 2015

    The second half of photo A – the dog seems infatuated with a certain woman šŸ˜‰
    Rashaad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      That’s my friend Kat… and yup, it was mutual!

  • Maddy
    September 23 2015

    Gah! I love the Joshua Tree pics. That’s a big big goal of mine someday! Also I want more Meihoukai & Bearded Bartender stories (though I know that’s a bit nosy…)
    Maddy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Definitely not too nosy šŸ™‚ He’s sitting next to me in Bangkok right now, and I’ve got more posts coming up about our travels this summer! Stay tuned…

  • 2 tickets to Wonderland
    September 23 2015

    I love photo D! Composition is great and animals always win my heart šŸ™‚
    2 tickets to Wonderland recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      There are a lot of animal pictures in this collection! I thought the sea lions should be renamed “the cocker spaniels of the sea” — such similar mannerisms!

  • Gemma
    September 23 2015

    Ah! Two dog photos, how will I choose? E – dogs with neck scarves, always a winner. I saw a dog with a tie dye scarf yesterday on Commercial Drive (where else?!) in Vancouver. Very cool.
    Gemma recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Ha, we even bought Tucker a little red plaid tie to match my dad this trip. We’re full blown nuts.

  • Janice Stringer
    September 23 2015

    photo a – just love the look of the rental!
    Janice Stringer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      It was such a great house. Only steps from the beach!

  • Joella
    September 23 2015

    That’s a tough one this week, Meihoukai! I think I’ll go with A because I like the cute house and the cute dog! I need to hear more about the diving you did- looking forward to that post.
    Joella recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      It was a very cool experience. Unfortunately I didn’t get many good photos (I was way out of my element in a 7mm!) but hoping some of the other divers can share theirs!

  • lisa
    September 23 2015

    I don’t know how to choose…love them all….but….just got out of the water and hit dive #15 so I choose D! Oh…. as a bonus one your puppy is adorable so it’s a tie šŸ™‚

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Aw, thanks Lisa! You know the way to my heart!

  • Katie
    September 23 2015

    Photo D — absolutely stunning! As excited as I am to hear about the rest of your US travels (and to see lots of traveling-with-pup pics!!), I’m even more psyched about your return to Thailand! Will have to live vicariously through you until I make my own return next spring šŸ™‚
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      I’m so damn happy to be here! Lots to share about both šŸ™‚

  • becky hutner
    September 23 2015

    E & F! Palm Springs and J Tree are my happy places ā™„

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      I can see why! I was SO excited to show Palm Springs to my crew… hoping we’ll have many weekends there now with my dad in LA.

  • Amy
    September 23 2015

    Photo D is beautiful but I always love a dog pic too and your hound is so cute šŸ™‚ Have fun back in Thailand, all your talk of massages and sticky rice has made me nostalgic for it!

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      One massage down, still waiting for the first sticky rice šŸ˜‰

  • Camels & Chocolate
    September 23 2015

    I mean, I’m not calling him fat or anything…but Tucker seems a bit heftier than I think of him in my mind šŸ˜‰

    I need a return to Palm Springs! Can we visit your dad and do a side trip after we’re back next spring??
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Ha, I almost didn’t post that photo because I was thinking he looked a little fat in it! I swear it’s just the perspective… people are always telling me how slim he is now! And YES to a Palm Springs visit. Summer 2016 needs to be a repeat of Summer 2015 in terms of Kristin and Meihoukai time.

  • Jenia
    September 23 2015

    Photo E — because Joshua tree is so unique and I really, really want to go there. Despite having spent almost a month in California in the last year, we never made it there! It’s a huge state though and there’s lots of good reasons to go back šŸ™‚
    Jenia recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      There truly are! I’ve just started to discover its magic…

  • Francesca
    September 23 2015

    Usually a puppy would win hands down…but hello amazing underwater photo!
    Francesca recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Thanks Francesca! It was great to be back in the water!

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    September 23 2015

    Ummmm, making me pick between a diving photo (WITH SEALS) and Tucker is just plain mean, so I’m going with C šŸ™‚
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..

  • Tereza
    September 23 2015

    Photo D is incredible! Well done!

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Thank you! It was a really tough photo to capture!

  • Lauren
    September 24 2015

    Ah which dog beach did you go to? Cornado is where I take my lil guy. And I think the flowers are called “bird of paradise” – so precious! But the Joshua Tree pics are my favorite.
    Lauren recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      They are birds of paradise indeed! They are all over Southeast Asia as well. We went to Ocean Beach dog park and Mission Beach, which was open to dogs on-leash after 6pm.

  • Sarah
    September 24 2015

    D! Because yay to diving!

  • Dominique
    September 24 2015

    I always love your underwater photography; so even though I love dogs and colourful surfboards D is a clear winner for me! You should definitely host the underwater photography and post-editing course you were talking about previously!
    Dominique recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Once I’m back on Koh Tao I’m going to talk to some people and see what I can set up šŸ™‚ I’m glad there’s some interest!

  • Leah
    September 24 2015

    I looooouuuurve photo D! Such a great underwater shot! Anxiously awaiting your arrival here in Koh Tao! šŸ™‚
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      I’m anxiously awaiting my arrival too! Need to get over this jetlag first though… I’m dying!

  • Chantae
    September 24 2015

    Did you get a chance to see La Jolla cove? San Diego is my hometown so I’m really excited to read all about your visit there!
    Chantae recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      Unfortunately I didn’t… always a next time though!

  • Tucker photos for the win! šŸ˜€
    Amanda | Lesson Plans & Layovers recently posted..

  • Marni
    September 24 2015

    I love road trips so F really appeals to me – especially with those amazing scenic trees! – and photos of Tucker are forever adorable, but I have to give it to B. That picture is just perfection and that flower is gorgeous!

    • Meihoukai
      September 27 2015

      Thanks Marni! It was a great capture after the rain.

  • Kacy
    September 24 2015

    Love them all, especially the pup photos! I’d have to go with A, that house just looks so adorable.
    Kacy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 27 2015

      It was the perfect base for a weekend away!

  • Steve
    September 24 2015

    I’m plumping for D this week.
    Steve recently posted..

  • Ashley
    September 25 2015

    I love photo C, and the shot of the tree in Photo E! Random question, if you don’t mind me asking – what settings do you think are best for shooting in harsh midday light?!
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 27 2015

      Ugh — there are none. I try to avoid shooting at that hour completely as the harsh shadows can just ruin everything. Honestly, I’m not much of a technical photographer. I know composition and have a good eye but when it comes to things like settings I’m just winging it and crossing my fingers something turns out!

      • Ashley
        September 27 2015

        Thanks – I should probably follow suit! And you’d never be able to tell you were just winging it by looking at your photos! šŸ˜‰
        Ashley recently posted..

        • Meihoukai
          September 28 2015

          Well, just winging — and then heavily culling and editing šŸ™‚

  • Emily
    September 27 2015

    I like photo B – Birds of paradise remind me of my time in Uruguay šŸ™‚
    Emily recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 28 2015

      Ah, a country I’m dying to travel to!

  • Natalie
    September 27 2015

    My dad just moved to Palm Springs, so I’ll be going there for Christmas this year and I’m super excited. It’ll sure be nice to see the sunshine in the middle of winter! As for photos, I’m torn between B and D.
    Natalie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 28 2015

      What an awesome place to get to go visit! I’m already scheming a return trip…

  • Lan Thach
    September 28 2015

    Photo B. No one previously had selected it. I like the yellow petals, very quiet and a lot of emotion.

    • Meihoukai
      October 2 2015

      Thanks Lan! I love seeing the dew drops after the rain.

  • ListsForAll.com
    September 29 2015

    These shots are ridiculous! Thanks for sharing.

  • Danica
    October 11 2015

    Wow I love all these photos! Joshua tree is so beautiful, you should try and do the drive up the back way sometime! It is an adventure!

    Those seas lions look amazing, who did you dive with? Oh and I love Belmont park (did you go on the Giant Dipper?)

    Basically, I can’t easily pick a photo because I love them all. For my final random question, do you have an future plans to attend Coachella Fest? šŸ˜€

    • Meihoukai
      October 13 2015

      We did a private dive charter — I’ll definitely be writing more about it in the future! We went on this big roller coaster… I can’t remember what it was called šŸ™‚ And no current plans to head to Coachella. It just hasn’t called to me yet the way other festivals have. Maybe one day I’ll change my mind, though!