Local News

Young Observers: Mid-June Edition

After over a year of being “grounded” at home, I joined millions of Americans who went on vacation during the Memorial Day weekend.   It seemed like the perfect time for a getaway  because the school year just ended, California’s COVID case rate has plummeted, and California is now  among the states with the highest number of vaccinated people. I was thrilled at the weekend getaway my parents had planned for me but without being vaccinated yet, I couldn’t help but wonder how safe it is to stay in hotels or resorts.  Are the safety protocols  effective enough to shield us from the virus?

I researched and found that the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA)  has a set of safety guidelines for hotels to implement which include thorough cleaning with disinfectants; masks and temperature check for all hotel staff; sealing the door of each room with a sticker to indicate that housekeeping has finished and no one else has entered; installing hand-sanitizing stations; option to supply disinfecting wipes in guest rooms; contactless service; removing pens and paper that other guests may have touched; pre-arrival email questionnaire for guests to check for COVID symptoms; masks for  unvaccinated guests; social distancing in public places like pools, lobbies, restaurants and limiting elevator capacity. These guidelines look reasonable and encouraging so I thought I should  experience going on vacation in the COVID era.

The resort we stayed in followed most of the guidelines set by the AHLA except for these three things. The door to our room did not have a sticker to indicate that housekeeping has finished and no one else has entered; there were no complimentary disinfecting wipes; and, the extra pillow we requested was not delivered in a sealed bag as indicated in the resort’s safety protocol.  Instead, it was handed to us by a staff member.  On the other hand, I observed that hotel staff wore masks;  hand-sanitizing stations were installed; other contactless services were practiced (concierge through mobile app or mobile phone texting). There were no pens, paper, menu cards in our room; we filled out a pre-arrival email questionnaire to confirm we had no COVID symptoms; unvaccinated guests were asked to wear masks, and everybody was required to practice social distancing in public places like the pool area and the lobby. The hotel’s safety protocol indicates they are one of the first hospitality brands to receive certification from  a global authority on healthy buildings that include  air quality management, enhanced ventilation and particle filtration to address the coronavirus threat. These protocols may be comforting but my family opted to take no chances for our safety.

As soon as we entered the room still with masks on, we opened the sliding door to the balcony to bring in fresh air. We brought our own air purifier and turned it on as we disinfected surfaces. We kept the bathroom door open  and we stayed on the balcony for a couple of hours before settling inside the room. We brought our own sheets and covered the bed and couch. Taking all these extra precautionary steps on our part seemed to have magically melted  my paranoia.  It allowed me to start feeling comfortable and finally appreciate the soothing blue sea from our balcony. As I settled on the couch, I felt grateful to have this opportunity to clear my mind and to unwind after days of grueling final exams and after a year of staying home most of the time.

COVID aside, it was quite a remarkable getaway.  Boats were available on the resort’s marina but I preferred riding the bike as I explored the trails by the lagoon. Hotel restaurants were limited to pickup or room delivery but there were many outdoor areas to lounge and eat your food including the option to go on a picnic at the beach across from the hotel. We admired the themed  gardens throughout the resort, ranging from citrus trees with fruits that guests were encouraged to pick; vegetables that formed part of the restaurant’s menu; and a fountain bordered by rose bushes. There was live music and DJ in the pool area and a dive-in movie was available to watch during our stay but  most guests preferred the beach. By the time we checked out, I felt  rejuvenated and excited for the next two months of summer break.

Father’s Day is June 20 and it is a time to celebrate all the fathers around the world and show gratitude to them for everything they’ve done. Everyone is different so we will most likely have varying experiences with our fathers including those who play father figures to us and are just as worthy of recognition as the biological dads. Here are a few traits I believe make a great father:

1) Great fathers always make time for their children. Sometimes it can be hard for some dads who work long hours to also include some family time, but the best of the best find a way to make it happen. My dad is lucky because he works from home, so he always has time to play board games, video games, and sports with me and my sister.

2) Great fathers are very hard workers. Many people believe that mothers do all the work around the house, but that is not true. Along with working every day, my dad occasionally does dishes, laundry, and cooks food.

3) Great fathers have multiple skills. Being able to care for your children and helping out around the house is one thing, but being able to go beyond that to benefit the family is another. My dad can cut my hair, which saves us a bit of money, and is very strong so he can protect us whenever we find ourselves in trouble.

Mateo and his dad.

The pandemic has encouraged many people to ride their bikes. My family and I joined this activity and discovered the Fullerton Loop. The Loop is a favorite of bikers and walkers with its 11.1 mile course that covers the abandoned railroad tracks near Bastanchury, Laguna Lake, and hiking trails behind homes. Biking is a tough but fun sport that allows one to do it with family and friends. In return for the hard work of pedaling up and down hills, one gets to inhale fresh air and enjoy the views of nature.  I was reluctant at first because the hills seemed gigantic and dangerous. However, switching to a mountain bike with suspension and more gears made the trails seem less bumpy and rough. I learned from bike shop owner Mike Franze that “it is worth spending a few extra dollars and getting a better bike that’s designed exactly for what you want it to do.”  With the classes out of our way, this is the best time to explore biking trails in our city.  The weekend mornings or evenings can get crowded, but it is well worth it. For more information, you can check out this website: http://www.mtbproject.com/trail/3000688/fullerton-loop.

Tegan and her mountain bike.

Multiple Tony Award-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen” is making a comeback with a movie adaptation set to release in-theaters on Sept. 24. Universal Pictures recently dropped its official trailer on May 18 starring 27-year-old actor Ben Platt, the original lead role of the Broadway show. While some fans expressed their enthusiasm over the rendition, others were less than happy over the main lead’s casting, communicating their disapproval through social media platforms such as Twitter. Though it isn’t the first time that an adult has played the role of a teenager, many claimed that the Tony-winning actor was too old to pass off as a 17-year-old. Besides the casting, countless people were shocked to uncover the true plot of the musical, after believing for years that it was a coming-of-age movie revolving around a gay teenager. Regardless of audiences’ mixed reactions toward the recent trailer, many anticipate the coming adaptation of the praised musical.

The Girls I’ve Been is an eerily and intricately written thriller like no other. Although I’m not usually into the genre, this one held me captivated, mesmerized within its grasp. The majority of this book takes place over the course of almost three hours, and while it seems like an unimaginable feat to fit a whole book into it, Sharpe manages to pull it off. The predictability of the story is balanced on the tip of a knife; you just need to wait to see which way it will fall. Sharpe talks of pain, something that has been quietly present in the backdrop of Nora’s life; but also healing, something that Nora does with others that have experienced pain like hers. Each of Nora’s past identities has taught her valuable lessons, ones that she will not forget. They have shaped her into who she is, and that aspect was so stunning to read. Emotional parts like these truly add another layer to this book, making it something so ephemeral, rather than that of your generic thriller. However, there were too many flashbacks for my liking, to the point where it became repetitive, and I skimmed over some of it. This is a story whose words linger in your mind, and for readers who want strong yet flawed characters, and thrillers rooted in feminism, this is for you.