Tuesday, November 6, 2018

My New Book! From Lions to Pharaohs


From Lions to Pharaohs is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.com!  Click here:



If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Two exotic destinations swirl in John’s mind. Destination #1: Embark upon an African safari to watch herds of elephants moving unhindered across wide open plains, to photograph lions chasing zebras, and to float in a hot air balloon over sweeping savannahs. Destination #2: Explore Egypt, land of the pharaohs. As a history buff, John imagines climbing the great pyramids, descending into the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and cruising down the Nile like an Indiana Jones adventure.

Which experience to choose?

Fortunately, his wife likes both ideas and wisely suggests, “If we are going all that way to explore one country, we should go to both! We don’t know when we will have this opportunity again.

With that answer began the planning of a 20-day exploration of these two fascinating countries. The two books in this series detail their exciting adventure filled with amazing wildlife, awe-inspiring monuments of Egypt, and insights into modern life.

He hopes that after reading these books, you will be inspired and entertained as well as have a deeper understanding of the people, their history, and the daily life in these countries, which are both similar and very different from our own.

From Lions to Pharaohs is a two-book series. Book 1, available now, is based on Kenya while book 2 is based on Egypt and will be released in 2019.

To order paperback or Kindle version:  Click Here 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Summer Coffee in Los Angeles' "Towns"

My coffee house visits this summer had me explore numerous "towns" in Los Angeles. I never knew there was a Japantown in LA aside from Little Tokyo. There are so many great little known areas in LA. See below:

Balconi Coffee Company
11301 Olympic Blvd. #124
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Balconi is a small quaint coffee shop in the revitalized Sawtelle Japantown area. Just off the 405, this 4-block stretch on Sawtelle near Olympic has numerous Japanese and Korean restaurants and stores. I enjoyed a delicious Almond Essence Latte. They sell almost equal amounts of coffees and teas as well as a small selection of pastries. There is plenty of free parking on the side streets of the 1- to 2-hour variety. Just make sure you check the street signs as those time limits are strictly enforced. Both when I left my car and when I came back, I saw parking enforcement officers patrolling the neighborhood.

45 N.  Baldwin Ave.
Sierra Madre, CA 91024
Beantown has a laid-back community atmosphere with lots of coffee choices as well as smoothies, ice cream and an array of sandwiches - everything one needs to spend a day getting work done. Lots of space. On the record hot day I came here, their iced cherry latte really hit the spot.
LaB Coffee & Roasters
429 N. Western Ave. #5
Los Angeles, CA 90004
My mocha had a very strong coffee flavor that would keep me humming for the next few hours. The diverse crowd was comprised of a few Koreans, a few Latinos and a couple of Caucasians. The current demographics of the neighborhood. Bags of coffee beans were used as d├ęcor and plaques on the wall discussed the sourcing of their coffee beans. LaB Roasters was a nice find. Having been born and raised in Koreatown, before it was known as Koreatown, it was nice to see a legitimate coffeehouse open in my old neighborhood.  It is small, but large enough for a number of tables, including communal tables with people working on laptops.
Coffee + Food
5630 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
From the few tables out front you can see the world sitting atop Paramount Studios and iconic Astro Burgers. Quite a few people who work at or want to work at the studios come by here. One woman getting out of her old beat up car had headshots in hand. Drinking my mocha, I had a really good lunch while people watching.

Monday, July 30, 2018

5 Great Things To Do In Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park are amazing adjacent wilderness areas that are 100 miles closer to Los Angeles than Yosemite and a lot less crowded. Below are five great things to do when visiting these magnificent parks.

1. Visiting the biggest trees in the world. If you are traveling to these national parks, then you must visit the General Sherman Grove and/or the General Grant Grove. The trees a truly magnificent. While the General Sherman is the biggest tree, I enjoy visiting General Grant Grove’s more due to the stories attached to its various trees, especially the Fallen Monarch which had once served as saloon.

2. Hiking Morro Rock. It is a very short, strenuous, half-mile hike that has spectacular views of the Great Western Divide and sheer drop-offs on either side of the trail. There are 400 stairs on the trail. Think of it as a 20-minute Stairmaster. Huffing and puffing to the top, we all enjoyed it, even our teenage boys. It is not to be missed.

3. Drinking milkshakes and root beer floats at Lake Hume. Lake Hume is a gorgeous blue jewel surrounded by a pine forest with a back drop of snowcapped mountains. As if this is not a strong enough lure to entice you to visit the lake, there’s a very large Christian camp here with a host of facilities that includes a snack shop with great burgers and at least a dozen of flavors of ice cream for shakes, floats, and malts. The camp also has one of the best general stores in the two national parks, rents paddle boats and kayaks, and allows fishing with a permit.
4. Hiking to Topokah Falls. This is a 4.4-mile hike that follows the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River. Walking through that granite valley, my son said it was one of the most majestic things he’d ever seen. It is a leisurely hike, although you are in full sun for the last quarter mile to the base of the falls. Sunscreen, hat, and water are necessities.
5. Driving to Road’s End at the bottom of Kings Canyon. Kings Canyon is the deepest canyon in the United States. Yes, it is even deeper than the Grand Canyon. It is also one of the most remote wilderness areas in the world. This is because the road to the bottom of the canyon is closed from November through April. This means that nature can run amok for six months out of the year without human interference. When I told the ranger that I saw a bear in the parking lot, he said, “Oh yeah, they are all over the place down here,” and walked away. In Yosemite, bears cause mass hysteria with rangers following them and hordes of tourists trying to get their picture during the day or banging pots and screaming to scare them away at night. In the canyon, there are a number of great really short hikes to Zumwalt Meadows, Roaring River Falls, Grizzly Falls, and a beach just off the Road’s End parking lot. Also, at Cedar Grove Lodge in the canyon, you can eat a hot lunch and take a shower.

One thing that I have not done is visit Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park located in the southern end of the park. I have heard good things about it, but have never made it there.
I hope these tips on where to go and what to see when you're in Sequoia and Kings Canyon entice you to go and stay longer than just one day to see the towering trees. These are beautiful areas, uniquely different from Yosemite, that take time to discover all their natural treasures.

Happy trails!