I’ve been traveling a lot the last few weeks. Even when I’ve been in town, it’s for events that are out of the ordinary. First, I went to the Triological Society (Trio) meeting at the Hotel Del. It was a nice opportunity to attend interesting talks and to participate as a panelist. Unfortunately, it was also an opportunity to get norovirus/norovirus-like illness as so many people were sick the last two days of the conference. I thought I was safe since I felt fine on Saturday but oh my gosh, Sunday was a much different story. I will spare you the details, but it’s funny that we were worried about Coronavirus and it was Norovirus that took us out.
The next weekend, I took an extra two days off and made a casual loop of the United States. First, I saw SMS in Palo Alto. We went to Watercourse Way, an onsen-style place in Palo Alto. The hot water felt great! On Sunday, I headed to Boston immediately after their huge blizzard! I landed without a problem but my parents were still in DC (we were supposed to meet). So, I hopped on the United app and booked myself a flight to see them- last one of the night!
I spent a day and a half in DC. We went to the National Gallery of Art since the East Building is closing soon for renovations. There is a nicely laid-out exhibit of contemporary art (~1900-on) in four vertically stacked galleries. Mom cooked a great dinner and overall, it was great to have some time with my parents. Plus, I got bonus sister time when Brady came over for about an hour on her way home. That’s always very special! I was so happy it worked out since she is super-busy with work and family.
The next day, I went up to Walter Reed and got a few errands done in a mostly efficient manner. Mom and Dad were worried whether I would make my flight but I had faith! On the way back, I was upgraded to Business class to IAH, where I had dinner in the Centurian Lounge. It was a luxurious experience!
On Saturday, we went to our first BioBlitz, hosted by Grassroots Ecology. I found it by looking up native plants in an effort to speak SMS’ love language. Although it was “sold out” on EventBrite, we went anyway. I planned a casual walk-by that, if things looked lame, we could just pretend that we were randomly out and about. But instead, things looked awesome! We talked to one of the staff to get signed in and we were set!
There were several stations we could stop at, while also looking for cool organisms to log into iNaturalist. We saw mushrooms, California cucumber, soap plants, and little bugs. We also saw the Bol Park (mini) donkeys that were very cute. But don’t log them into iNaturalist! They are cultivated, not wild.
We had a really nice time. We also saw some hawks from the Strawberry Hill vantage point. Afterward, we went to Esther’s German Bakery where we had a delicious lunch and German beer, sadly not on tap at the present time. Don’t worry, I got over it pretty quickly!
The next day, we went to San Bruno mountain which had been recommended by the birder guide from the previous day. We took a less traveled trail that starts next to the Montessori school on Hillside Blvd. I think most hikers start on the other side of the mountain at the Crocker Gate trailhead.
It was super-pretty. No joke- the fields and wildflowers looked like the Swiss Alps! Well, at least until we looked down to the super-developed valley. The flowers were such a bright yellow that they had a neon-like coloring to the them. It wasn’t a super intense hike (<4 miles), but I’m really glad we had been given the recommendation to check it out!
SMS and I had a Sunday Funday where we resolved to get off the couch and get outside on a gorgeous San Diego day. We decided to go to Cabrillo & Point Loma, gorgeous places that don’t take too much of an effort to get there.
Cabrillo National Monument is a federal monument that accepts the National Park Pass. Otherwise, it is $20 car/$10 pedestrian or cyclist for admission. Wow, that’s gone up since I first went! Anyway, it’s the site where Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo became the first European to set foot on the West coast of the US in 1542. There’s an old lighthouse at the top, which didn’t work too well during foggy times because it was too high. The current lighthouse is a working site near the tidepools.
There are several attractions. The Visitor’s Center is small but interesting. The views from that side overlook San Diego and Coronado at the inlet of San Diego Bay. It’s stunning. There is also a small auditorium, clean bathrooms, and a gift shop.
Near the old lighthouse, there is a small parking area where you can overlook the Pacific. It’s pretty majestic. There is also a small hiking trail down the steap hill that gets you to the base but not to the shore. I’ve never done it because it hasn’t seemed worth it, but I’m sure I’m wrong about that.
The tidepools & cliffs are my favorite. You take the first right after the admission gate and drive down the long hill, which is a favorite of road bikers so be careful! I have seen pedestrians, but it’s a narrow two-lane road without a shoulder or sidewalk. Since you’re in a car already to get to Cabrillo, I would recommend just driving down to the tidepools.
After Cabrillo, SMS and I decided it was time for lunch. We drove to the neighborhood near the Native Plant garden and it is such a cute area! There are two pubs, a coffee house, a raw vegan cafe, a Mexican restaurant, and our new favorite restuarant, the Italian Cesarina. The homemade pasta was amazing. There were several vegan options and the food was spectacular. The decor is eclectic and cool. We ate outside on a spacious patio, but the inside decor is also cool. We will be back for sure.
Then we went to the Native Plant Garden. Things are green and coming into bloom. Very pretty! 1/10 dead sticks, 9/10 green plants- a winning ratio! We spoke with a volunteer for a while, who was very interesting. He was on weed patrol (weeds in the garden, not weed in Point Loma which is plentiful, I’m sure). His favorite plant is the willowy San Diego mint, which makes me think he is SMS’ brother from a different mother. Overall, I agree with the garden’s website- it’s a gem!
Whew! Caught up on the blog and it feels good! Now it’s time to stay on top of the latest and greatest.
San Diego has a lot of great coffee. Caffe Calabria is always #1 in my heart, but there are a lot of other cool places. Maybe this can be a blog series…
A recent find is Topes in Carlsbad. I was on my way to operate at Camp Pendleton and needed some coffee/breakfast. I meant to stop at Blue Bottle in One Paseo, but missed the exit. Topes is a cute cafe with indoor and outdoor seating. I ordered an Americano, which was bright but not too acid-y. Win! I also ordered avocado toast, which at $13 seemed pretty pricy. But it was essentially two avocado toasts with two thick slices of toast, which became my breakfast and lunch. Most other places serve one slice for $8-9, so this was almost a deal! It wasn’t quite as good at lunch as it was fresh out of the toaster, but really, duh. When would old toast ever be better than fresh toast?
Topes also seems like an employer with a big heart…
Another new find that featured in the Maple Canyon post is Moe’s. My americano was delicious and the location is so cute! It is a new favorite. I’m going to check out the North Park location this week. I will keep you posted.
Finally, if you are looking for a new game to play while drinking your favorite coffee or espresso drink, I recommend Wordle! I read about it in the NYTimes, which means the cool kids have been playing for months. But still, old news or not, I recommend! And if you win, post your green, yellow, and grey squares- never the word!
Yesterday, SMS and I went for an urban hike featuring Maple Canyon. It was beautiful! Currently, it’s probably a lot more green than its usual condition given recent rains but I think even in dry times, this would be a fun, short-ish hike to do that gives you a different perspective on some San Diego landmarks and my favorite residential neighborhoods!
One trailhead starts at Maple St near the Little Italy/Mission Hills junction while the other is located at 3rd Ave near Quince St in Bankers Hill. It is mostly flat with one brief steep slope heading into (or out of) the canyon onto 3rd. The trail is wide and consists of packed dirt with some divots. It was moderately crowded and some dogs on the trail, all leashed which is near-miraculous.
We started at Maple St after stopping for a coffee at nearby Moe Coffee, which serves excellent espresso! SMS found it by chance but we will be back! We entered the canyon and immediately loved it! There is a lot of vegetation and a small creek to the left. As a flashback to our other urban bridge hike, we saw the First Avenue bridge and the Quince St bridge but this time from below!
The First Avenue bridge has a really neat steel arch support. It’s really beautiful and passing underneath it allows for an awesome vantage point.
The Quince St bridge is a wooden trestle bridge that also has an intricate support structure best seen from underneath. It also marks the start of the only steep slope of the entire (short) trail).
We combined the hike with a walk through Bankers Hill and across the Spruce St Suspension Bridge. We walked past my former Banker Hill granny flat home, which is my favorite little area to live.
We also walked along Front St between W. Walnut and Spruce, which had a lot of beautiful houses although most are obscured by fences and/or trees. There was also a really informative sign about La Barranca Encantada near W. Upas & Front, which I recommend reading.
Although we wanted to walk in the Kate Sessions/Arroyo Canyon under the Suspension Bridge, we couldn’t find an easily accessible entrance. So, we backtracked along Maple Canyon after lunch.
For lunch, we went to Barrio Star, which we both agreed was fine. Not great, but fine. It’s always seemed a little expensive for what you get, but I think that’s because we weren’t drinking margaritas. I think I remember them being delicious, which means they probably were if my memory is hazy! Next time, I would like to go to Civico by The Park. We will probably go next weekend for brunch!
Since 2011, I’ve used this list to help reflect back on the year. I really enjoy looking back while preparing to move forward. So…
1. What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before?
I submitted my resignation papers to the Navy! I mean, it’s a nine-month process but still, on to the next phase of my career!
Also, I saved someone’s life with the Heimlich/finger sweep! I’m sure I’ve saved lives in the past, but this was the first time in a non-clinical setting.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My track record on resolutions kept has been okay the last two years. There are definitely some repeats/carry-overs from last year to this year, some of which I feel better about than others. “Read 52 books” is a repeat. Totally fine. I’m less happy that “No gossip websites” is still on the list. It is a tough one for me to give up, but they take up time and brain space. Who cares about Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson? (A lot of people, apparently. But still. My brain has only so much content space and I don’t want to use it for that!)
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
0. I was disappointed that Hot Vaxxed Summer lasted all of three weeks before Delta arrived. Although in fairness, I did see my family a lot. I am also saving my vacation time for a big trip before I get out of the Navy.
6. What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021?
International travel (repeat). And if for some reason that can’t happen, a cool road trip in the US. The Western US (non-coastal) and Maine are places I’d like to spend time in.
7. What dates from 2021 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
September 30: Turned in my resignation request to the big black hole of online Navy admin.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Professionally, I finished a clinical trial, which was exciting and tedious at the same time. Now I need to write it up!
9. What was your biggest failure?
I was successful with no gossip sites until the middle of the year and then Pete Davidson’s BDE was too much to resist [From a gossip reading perspective, gosh. Not in real-life, what do you take me for? A nubile starlet weirdly unable to resist someone who looks like the walking dead?]
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No. I am vaccinated and boosted, which is pretty awesome. As far as I know, I have not have COVID but with the high asymptomatic rate, it’s completely possible. Omicron is also spreading like wildfire through my workplace. N-95s for the win, hopefully.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I enrolled in the Stanford Ignite Certificate course, a 4-week course focused on business fundamentals of entrepreneurship and start-ups. It was an amazing experience. My goals were to establish an understanding of how start-ups work both to understand Silicon Valley culture more and to apply to my own career. These goals were definitely accomplished!
12. Where did most of your money go?
Rent/Two Households for 2/3 year. Savings account. LCID stock.
13. What did you get really excited about?
Thanksgiving with my family. My nephews and niece! Stanford Ignite. Upcoming professional changes.
14. What song will always remind you of 2020?
Caution (Wasatch Style) by The Killers. The arts and entertainment questions are inspiring me to keep better track this upcoming year!
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Same. Pretty happy.
– thinner or fatter? Slightly fatter but I have healthy diet and exercise (more strength and yoga) plans for 2022
– richer or poorer? Richer
16. What’s one thing you wish you had done more of?
International travel. I know, I know. Me and a lot of people. Call a whambulence as long as I can bring my tiny violin.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Phone-scrolling. I’m going to establish more of an evening routine that involves no phone!
18. How did you spend Christmas?
With SMS’ family.
19. What was your favorite TV program?
SMS and I watched Derry Girls. That was pretty funny. I also watched Bridgerton and Cheer, but was that this year or last?
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
Bird by Bird by Lamott, Transcendent Kingdom by Gyasi, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by Saunders, Interior Chinatown by You, The Admirals by Borneman, Olympus, Texas by Swann, The Idealist by Munk, The Guide by Heller, Oh William! by Strout, Four Thousand Weeks by Burkeman, and How to Change by Milkman
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
I liked the album Imploding the Mirage by The Killers. Ancient Water is a great song by Future Islands.
Most of my music exposure was through Peloton playlists. Rüfüs Du Sol, Kiss Me More by Doja Cat and SZA, Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) by Elton John & Dua Lipa
22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I’m not much of a movie watcher. I did subscribe to Disney+ for a month and watched Hamilton and Soul.
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
41. In Idylwild- so beautiful!
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
No COVID. Is that too glib? Yes, but it’s also true.
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021?
Vuori joggers and comfy. This will need to change markedly in 2022 as tailored professional will start making more of an appearance as I search for, and hopefully get, a job.
26. What kept you sane?
SMS and my family! I also felt very endorphin-y after exercise.
27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021
If you’re going to start a company, be very clear as to whether you want to fund through debt financing or equity financing.
For New Year’s weekend, we decided to drive to Newport Beach and visit SMS’ grandfather. We drove into town on the 30th and shared a bottle of Naidau sparkling wine with his grandfather and girlfriend and a cousin and her husband. Everyone liked it- a pinot noir sparkling wine, yum!
The next day, we went to LA. As SMS’s cousin said, “That seems a little far for a farmer’s market.” But I really wanted to go to Monsieur Marcel, a French market at the original Farmer’s Market. I follow MM on Instagram (I know, I know) and it just looked so good! Also, the drive to LA is better from Newport than San Diego so I wanted to take advantage of our location.
First, SMS saw a little coffee shop that served shots in edible sweet cups. It was cute and fun to try.
It was a foodie paradise! Even though we were a little leary of crowded spaces thanks to our new friend Omicron, I took some time in the aisles. I didn’t buy a lot since my diet started the next day (I am a total sucker/fan of New Year’s resolution motivation!). But we did buy the fixings for a great charcuterie & cheese board for that night. We also bought persimmons at a nearby fruit stand.
Afterward, we decided to do something outdoors so we went over to UCLA’s botanical garden. It’s a very manageable size and really beautiful. We walked around for a while. Then, it was lunchtime. I was a little hangry and weak (in body and spirit), so instead of walking half a mile, we drove to Westwood. We went to Northern Cafe for noodles (ok). Then I bought a matcha boba at Junbi, which was really tasty. The two very cool people (Gen Z) in front of me knew the song that was playing so I surreptitiously Shazam’d it since I had no idea what it was. After the Storm by Kali Uchis featuring Tyler the Creator & Bootsy because of course it was.
Afterward, I felt much better. Yay food! We went back to Newport. We had a really mellow night and didn’t even stay up until midnight. I wasn’t feeling super-party-ish this year. But it was still enjoyable to be with SMS and in Newport Beach.
The next morning, I walked up the beach to Vacancy Coffee, an Australian-themed coffee place. I walked back with my Americano on a beautiful, very quiet morning. SMS and I went to breakfast at the Lido Hotel, walked around a bit, stopped by Pam’s apartment, and then left. It was a really nice, mellow weekend. I love Newport Beach and mini-trips to LA! Here’s to 2022!
December started with a trip to Menlo Park. SMS and I went for a walk and there were so many pretty trees. A mini-Fall foliage spectacular!
The next week, I had a very social time. I met up with three friends for dinner, three nights in a row. The first night, Rose and I met up in Little Italy. We had a great time. We were feeling bar-hoppy so we went to Herb & Wood and Juniper & Ivy. An evening of ampersands! I really liked my persimmon cocktail at Juniper & Ivy, which was delicious and crazy expensive. I am a sucker for persimmons though. The next two nights, I went out with new friends: Meredith on Wednesday (Stanford connection) and Sarah on Thursday (work friend). Meredith and I went to Saiko Sushi on Coronado, while Sarah and I went to Muzita Abyssinian (Ethiopian) in University Heights. Delicious dinners and great company!
That weekend, SMS was in town and we went to his sister and her husband’s Christmas party. I ate way too much from the taco caterer but it was difficult not to! It was a fun crowd and I mingled with a lot of interesting people.
The next weekend, SMS came back into town for the rest of December. He only had to take four days off in order to be free for two weeks, thanks to already scheduled holidays. We went to a work party that Saturday, which was so much fun. Michelle hosted it and, while slightly smaller than other years, had a really great group of people. I really had a good time!
Later that week, SMS and I went out to Poway where a Lucid Air owner showed off his car, complained about a lot of really small details, and took us for a drive. The acceleration is amazing! It was a lot of fun to be a passenger but SMS got to drive the car! Sagoy!
Christmas Eve, we had a nice dinner that I picked up from the Wine Vault with matching pairings. Bouillabaisse, lamb chops, and potato gratin- yum! For Christmas, we had a nice celebration with SMS’ family at his sister’s house. It was great food and great company!
Over the holiday period, SMS and I took a lot of walks around Coronado. We walked down to where there’s a sunken ship that can be seen at extremely low tide. I don’t think we saw it, but maybe I took a picture of part of it. Or a rock. Hard to tell.
After a few days in Silicon Valley (which included a job interview!), SMS and I flew to DC for Thanksgiving with my side of the family. We arrived in the late afternoon after a pleasant flight that ended with a high degree of nervousness on my part. On the approach, the pilot aborted for some reason and circled around. The reason I was nervous is that there was no overhead announcement and we were at a really low altitude near DC, which I think is unusual given all the restricted airspace. Anyway, we’re here and there were no hijacking baddies on the plane so…another thing to be thankful for!
We showed up about half an hour before dinner, which was perfect timing because we weren’t tortured by delicious smells for hours. We also didn’t ruin our appetite with appetizers since no one saved any shrimp cocktail for us (this is how you know you’re definitely back with family). Dinner was amazing and, even better, it was so nice to be with my entire family again! It was really a special and treasured occasion.
Lodging-wise, we stayed at The Alexandrian which is a nice hotel right in Old Town. Saturday morning, we walked around Old Town on a beautiful, sunny, and cold day! We went to the Farmer’s Market and bought lunch. We went over to Brady’s in the mid-afternoon and hung out until it was time to go The Escape Room! Joe and Nicole have really enjoyed several in the past and since we were all around on Friday night, we went escaping! And we did with just a few minutes to spare! It was really a lot of fun. We all went out for drinks afterward. It was so nice for the eight of us to hang out for an extended amount of time.
Ed and Meg headed out on Saturday. SMS and I moved from our Old Town hotel to my parents’ apartment for the last two nights of our stay. That evening, we hung out at Brady’s and ate Faccia Luna pizza. Yum.
The next day, we hung out at the apartment until we went to Tyson’s Corner to check out the Lucid Studio. Excitingly, we got to sit in the car and go through the features with a sales agent. We were all very impressed! That night, Mom made her foil salmon for dinner, which was absolutely delicious.
We stopped by Brady’s house for a quick glass of glühwein outside before heading back into the city. We didn’t stay for long since they had to get ready for the week, but it was nice to have one last quick-ish visit.
The next day, we met up with an Ignite classmate of mine for a quick coffee. SMS and his space background were the main draw, but it was also nice to meet a classmate in person!
Then we went to the Smithsonian for a visit before the airport. First, we went to the Futures exhibit at the recently re-opened Arts and Industry building. It was an interesting exhibit, but second-tier compared to other Smithsonian offerings. Next, we went to the Freer and Sackler (I think now renamed) where we saw Buddha statues and Whistler’s Peacock Room.
Then it was time to go 😦 Mom and Dad dropped us off at the airport, where SMS grabbed a snack/meal at Ben’s Chili Bowl. My flight left about 25 minutes before his and we parted ways to go to our respective places in CA. It was an amazing holiday with family. I feel very lucky!
November started with another weekend on call, so nothing too exciting to there. SMS and I had a lot more fun over Veteran’s Day Weekend. I had bought tickets to a Friday night show, so we make an East Bay date night out of it!
First, we went to Treasure Island (not the one of Pinocchio fame!). Instead, it is the location of the Pan Am terminal once used for the Clipper Sea Planes. For some reason, I thought the terminal was used for blimps and I didn’t know what a Clipper was. Inside, there were some informative posters and it was really a cool chapter in aviation history.
Although the exterior was beautiful, it didn’t look the most inviting. I had heard there was a cool mural inside so I decided to try a door, which pulled open easily. We walked inside and there was a security guard right there who paid no attention to us so we guessed that we were okay! The mural is pretty amazing and documents key Navy and Marine historical events. It starts with the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813 and ends with a futuristic space colony. I guess the last bit technically isn’t history but it seemed to fit with a grandiose timeline and attitude of future success!
After Treasure Island, we went to Trader Vic’s. According to the restaurant, Trader Vic himself is the inventor of the Mai Tai. It had been on our list to try and since we were in the area, off we went! It was pretty tasty. I usually avoid Mai Tais and have even been the designated driver at luaus because I don’t like them. But I admit, this one was pretty good.
After dinner, we went to the Paramount Theater for Pop-Up magazine, a live performance from several artists that bring a magazine to life. After having unbelievable luck with a parking spot despite the presence of a serious doubter (SMS!), we walked to the theater where there was a medium line to get in/through the COVID screeners. Entering the lobby was amazing- I hadn’t realized what a beautiful Art Deco building it was. The middle picture above is near the entrance and the picture to the right is from the circle that you see near the top of the middle picture. It is an incredible interior.
The show was pretty good. Several writers read pieces that were accompanied by a small band and graphics/slideshow/video support. There was also a Native American spirit dance by two guys profiled in the piece immediately preceding the dance. Overall, the show concept was really cool and I learned a few things during different segments. I don’t know if I’d go to every Pop-Up Magazine event that comes to town, but it was definitely a unique show format. For our first night out in a long time, it was definitely a lot of fun!
The next weekend marked the start of my extended Thanksgiving vacation. We went to the Stanford-Cal game to tailgate with new friends I had made through my Stanford Ignite experience. There were extra tickets, so we were invited to the game itself. It was a lot of fun.
We also went for a hike the day before leaving for DC, where we spent the Thanksgiving holiday (separate blog post!). The hike started from Deer Hollow farm. Afterward, we came upon the most Zen goat. A state of mind to aspire towards!