Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve, Golden Hour which messed with the camera sensors

We’ve had a really nice extended weekend in San Diego. Our arrival was eventful since between take-off and anticipated landing, fog rolled in and prevented us from landing. Apparently, the FAA thinks that pilots should have a certain visibility to land the plane. So, it’s not just a wing and a prayer! We were very lucky in that we were diverted to LAX rather than Ontario. I was diverted to Ontario earlier this year and it was pretty horrendous logistically. You’re stuck 100 miles from San Diego with few public transport options and local hotels. The airport closes so you can’t stay behind the TSA line and, of course, these type of things seem to happen at night when staffing is low.

We were very lucky that SMS’ sister and brother-in-law had been in LA the day before to see the Petersen auto museum. They had stayed overnight and picked us up on their way home! Hooray! It was an excellent Christmas present 🙂

On Saturday, SMS and I headed out for lunch at The Taco Stand, where we got burritos. As one does. Then we headed over to the Point Loma Native Garden, where the plants were fairly green but there were few flowers. It will probably be really nice this Spring since the plants look so healthy! We came across a seed library for native plants, which is super cool. I love the little free (book) libraries and this is such a clever variation of it.

Someone carved their distaste of nature (or the viewer?) in a tree :[ Yeah? Tuck you, too!

Later that afternoon, we went over to his sister’s house for a Christmas Eve dinner of tamales. They were delicious! We also had a side of Spanish rice and margaritas. Dee-licious! SMS also took the chance to monitor the growth of his Englewood Oak, since he lived out his native plant gardener fantasies at their house since we are apparently never going to have a yard.

On our way home, we went to Belardo Lights, which is pretty close to Mark’s childhood home. It was pretty impressive.

The tamales were delicious but we were gearing up for a special Christmas feast. My father-in-law is a fantastic chef. For Christmas, we had a Turducken. Since the French-American family across the street came over, I asked them what Turducken would be in French: dincalet (DINde+CAnard+pouLET). We had such a nice time and even though the Turducken might not become a tradition (it was very intense!), it was very cool to try.

Also, please note in these pictures that I have two Christmas sweaters. One is supposed to be for SMS but since he’s a real-life Grinch, only I could be a lit-up Christmas tree Fa-la-llama’g my way to Christmas joy!

San Diego Long Weekend

I had such a fun time in San Diego this past weekend! We arrived Thanksgiving Day and had a delicious dinner at SMS’ sister’s house. The next day, we were a bit mellow. We also hung out with SMS’ childhood friend. They were Boy Scouts together for the longest time.

On Saturday, we went to The Friendly where we split one of the Flat Top Burgers and a spinach-ricotta piece of pizza. The food was so good. It’s not going to win any health awards and I’m definitely hoping to go back! After lunch, we headed to Del Mar where we stopped at Crumbl Cookie and killed some time at Seagrove Park.

Then we went to Del Mar Heights where we were going to meet a couple-friends of our. Michelle and I worked together for three years and we’ve known each other for longer when she was a junior attending and I was still a resident. They have a beautiful house with an incredible view. But this time, their driveway was the star since Michelle had majorly balled out and gotten a Porsche Panamara Hybrid!

Hanging out was so much fun. We shared poke on their deck and I saw Kona, my favorite doodlie dog! We stayed for a few hours and headed back to SMS’ parents’ house.

Then SMS and I decided to do different social things. He went out with his sister and brother-in-law since they were busy the next day. I had already made plans with some other friends and didn’t want to flake. So, I went to Shakespeare’s for dinner and drinks. Afterward, Jenny and I went bar-hopping which I hadn’t done in awhile. We went to The Regale Beagle, where it smelled like a wet mop head and we didn’t stay too long. Then we finished at Starlite, where I hadn’t been in years. Not too much has changed, although their Moscow Mule glasses have increased in size. Maybe harder to steal? I never stole one, but I’m pretty sure they had a big problem with that several years ago.

The next day, we had another delicious healthy breakfast and cappuchino at the house. Then we headed back to the Fish Shop (yay!) for another delicious lunch. Seriously, it is so good. Then, since we had a little extra time, we went to Carruth Cellars “urban winery” in Point Loma. I didn’t love their wines, but it’s a really neat concept and space. For $50, you get a bottle of wine and weekly free glasses. So if you do like the wines, it’s a pretty fun place to join!

Then it was time to go! Sad to leave San Diego but it was a great trip. As the book in the lending library asks, “Where do I go from here with my life?”

Fair Winds and Following Seas

I have spent so much time here and now…I’m done!

My last two days of work went by in a blur. I had a morning clinic, one OR case, file organization, and a lot of admin checkout tasks to complete. And…I mostly did it! I didn’t get everything taken care of on the signout sheet but the great thing about turning in a checkout sheet on Friday afternoon of a three day weekend is that no one really cares.

My presents from the Hail & Farewell

The Hail & Farewell was a really nice event. The stars of the show are the chief residents, but there was a nice section where the departing staff (me and two others) were farewell’d. People said some really nice things about me when passing the paddle. I was worried it would sound vaguely eulogy-like but I think that was avoided!

The residents were also very nice and I got a certificate of appreciation with the call sign of “Funny One.” This references the fact that I tell patients to ask for me, “the funny doctor,” in case they forget my name. What?! It works and they always laugh so I am funny. [I really sound like my Dad here.] So, if you tell people something enough, they will believe it and it will be manifested truth in the universe! [This does not sound like my Dad. This is pure SoCal.]

So, it ended up that I did go into the office that weekend to finish up some computer work so Friday wasn’t really my last day. I took a few more pictures prior to leaving and then? That really was it.

My office. Of course it was always this clean, MOM!!
One more photo for good measure.
Last load, for real! Do you like the Ikea bag for transporting my stuff? One level up from a black lawn plastic trash bag.

San Diego Day Trip: Cabrillo National Monument & Point Loma

Cabrillo Shoreline- cliffs and tidepools (at low tide)

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.

Looking towards North Island

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.

Visitor Center Schedule- v. high tech!

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.

My favorite!

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.

These are a few of my favorite things: perfect Arnold Palmer, puking chicken pitcher, and SMS!

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!

Best Coffee In San Diego and North County

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…

Topes in Carlsbad

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…

Topes mirror

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.

Moe’s Coffee

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!

My new favorite game!

San Diego Urban Hike- Maple Canyon

At the base of the trail off of Maple St

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!

Trail Overview

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.

Moe Coffee

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!

First Ave bridge

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.

Quince St Bridge Trestle
Underneath Quince St Bridge

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).

Spruce St Suspension Bridge, Front St side

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.

House color coordination with the landscaping? Perfection!

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.

Third Ave trailhead

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.

Quince St (?), near 3rd Ave entrance

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!

2021 Wrap-Up: October

Shot #3

Boosted and it feels so good! Technically, this happened on 9/30 but we can classify it as a good start to October.

The Master Photographer (SMS) at work

We went to Newport Beach the first weekend. There was a family memorial on 10/2. We had lunch, went on the Bay in a Duffy boat, and went to Roger’s Gardens. The night before, SMS and I went to the Lucid store site to maintain our #1 fan status. I also sandwiched in some online teaching for a board review course.

Later that month after the in-law road trip, SMS and I went to the Native Plant Garden in Woodside, which was small but comprehensive. The mapped layout seemed to differ from the actual gardens but you know, things change over time. We went to the Dutch Goose, which we had frequently passed but never checked out.

We also went to a wine party! Jyotsna and Akshay introduced us to Naidau wines. SMS really liked the wine, so we got in touch with the vintner. This eventually led to a Diwali party invite so off we went! (Even though Diwali was actually on 11/4.) We had a great time with friends we knew and friends we met there. I only took pictures of the wine (priorities!), but a photographer was on site so I downloaded a few of her photos.

Finally, we had a really nice weekend in San Diego to finish off the month. I was on call for Halloween (boo!), but we had a nice day outing to La Jolla. We went to the Taco Shack and then walked down to the cove.

Mr. Bill in Bread & Cie, Hillcrest

Day Trip: San Diego to San Luis Capistrano

Even when the mission is closed.

The last day of Mom and Dad’s trip promised to be slightly dreary, weather-wise. Considering that there’s not much to do in San Diego on bad weather days even in the best of times, I wanted to think of a fun activity. I decided we should try to out-travel the clouds and head North on the Surfliner!

I have never taken the Surfliner before, but I knew it went through beautiful coastal towns before it turns inland towards LA. While it goes back out to the coast north of LA, those stops are too far for a simple day trip. My first choice was San Clemente, but it doesn’t stop there as frequently. The next station is San Juan Capistrano. I thought I had never been but in fact I had- when I was very small. Mom and Dad remembered a trip they took there when they lived in LA almost 40 years ago. They were excited to go back.

We bought our tickets online and met on the train. I took the ferry from Coronado, while Mom and Dad walked over from their hotel. The ferry schedule was a little tight to make the train, but it all worked out. I brought mimosa ingredients for the train so we had nice drinks on the way up. Turns out, we weren’t supposed to drink alcohol on the train, but the conductor didn’t say anything. We didn’t find out until the afternoon when the Southbound Debbie Downer conductor informed us of the rule. Eh, win some, lose some.

The train went pretty slowly until we were north of Del Mar. Apparently, the ground is not super stable so there are speed restrictions to prevent disaster. The coastal scenery as we headed North through Camp Pendleton was beautiful. After about 90 minutes we arrived in San Juan Capistrano.

We had about 2.5 hours until the return train. The mission was closed that day, so all I have for the blog are a bunch of lame pictures, including one with a little bit of finger! Classic photographer technique.

But, what do you do when life gives you lemons? Have margaritas! When we talked to the (fun) conductor on the way up, she recommended El Adobe de Capistrano. After a short walk around the town, we went there for lunch and ended up having lots of margaritas- pineapple cilantro, red pepper cucumber, blood orange- so many amazing flavors! I had the President’s choice for lunch, which was a platter of President and Mrs. Nixon’s favorite food items. It was tasty but really, the margaritas were the stars. So delicious!

View from the train going through San Clemente Station

Then we walked back to the train station, boarded, and headed back to San Diego. It was a wonderful day and I recommend it as a San Diego day trip idea to anyone, especially if the Mission is open!

Seven (+1) Bridges Urban Hike, San Diego

As one of the online guides said of this walk, it can be called “walking” or “urban hiking.” Either way, it’s an easy, flat walk through several San Diego neighborhoods that is enjoyable, fills some time, and allows for exploration. Some of the bridges are pretty cool, too!

Map of the Seven Bridges, each one represented by a green circle. The bonus +1 bridge not included in the official description is the University Ave bridge over the 163.

We started at Bread & Cie, where we had placed an online to-go order. It was a little disorganized and even though I knew I should have checked our order, I didn’t. Poor judgement secondary to hunger. So, our iced teas were left behind. We went back to get them, but this added a little distance and I was hungry and out of sorts.

Fortunately after we ate, I felt better. Although I was still a little grumpy, I was willing to give the hike a second chance! We walked through my favorite corner of Banker’s Hill (around Walnut and W. Upas) towards the Spruce St Suspension Bridge.

Spruce St Suspension Bridge

I think this wins for coolest bridge. It spans a canyon and it moves quite a bit. If someone is running, it can be pretty dramatic! The view towards the water is beautiful and overall, I highly recommend!

Quince St Bridge

We continued towards downtown and made a slight detour to cross (and return) the Quince St. Bridge. It spans another canyon and feels much more sturdy.

Returning back to First St, we crossed the only steel-arch bridge in San Diego. It crosses another canyon and as we got towards the end, SMS noted how the side rails were disconcertingly low. Geez, I was fine until then but after that fact, I wanted to get off the bridge fast!

We also saw a cool terraced backyard/hill that is added to the collection of native garden inspiration.
This bridge is a multi-arch bridge and much more beautiful looking from below.

Next, we crossed into Balboa Park and crossed the Laurel St. Bridge, that used to cross a small lake but now crosses the 163. It wasn’t too crowded but this bridge and the pedestrian avenue through the Park were the most crowded areas of the walk.

Balboa Park bridge over Park Ave.

After crossing the park and the single-arch cement bridge over Park Ave, we took a quick break and walked through the Rose Garden. We found some favorites! Although does a rose named “Ketchup and Mustard” smell just as sweet? Talk amongst yourselves!!

The Desert Garden is right next to the rose garden and is another one of my favorites.

Cactus tree in the Garden. It looked cooler in person.

Then we walked up Park and crossed the Georgia Ave bridge. It used to be made of redwood trellises in 1907, but this concrete bridge has been in place since 1914.

Once we crossed, we saw a hill that seemed to be partially cultivated- maybe by the neighbors? I leave you with pictures of otherworldly beauty.

We crossed Washington Ave and were a little unsure that we’d find the Vermont Street Bridge. Trust the walk! We found it! I would vote it as “Bridge most likely to party” since it was decorated and has a lot of quotes incorporated into the bridge concrete design.

Finally, as we were walking along University back to our car, SMS noticed that, yes! We were crossing another bridge! This is not included in the official description of the Seven Bridges walk, but it is definitely part of the loop. So, we present the bonus bridge! It is another bridge crossing the 163 and has charming green side rails, also somewhat low.

Overall, it was a great day and I recommend this walk. SMS found it when searching for social distanced activities in San Diego, but even in more normal times, I think this would be a lot of fun. You could add more bar-hopping through Hillcrest, more museums or the Zoo in Balboa Park, or more garden walks in Banker’s Hill. Five stars!

Summer 2020 Catch-Up

If 2020 was a drink, what would it be? Vodka in a water bottle when you were expecting it to be water. Now, this is from a funny person on the internet, but I laughed so hard since this has happened to me, it is a horrible surprise, and it aptly describes 2020.

A quick round-up of a few highlights on the Summer.

SpaceX rocket launch 5/30. It was successful. It was also preceded the doubling of Tesla stock which, alas, we missed out on. But $2000?!?! I never would have dreamed. Need to dream bigger, I guess.

On May 30, SMS and I watched the SpaceX launch of two astronauts to the International Space Station. It was a success! Our little stuffed owl put on his cosmonaut helmet but, given the size of his wings, stayed firmly grounded.

Left: Luminous Starter and Right: Proofing loaves

I continued a few quarantine hobbies. I received the gift of a sourdough starter from Stacy and Michael and made some pretty decent sourdough loaves. It took me a few tries to get the leaven concept, but then it was pretty awesome. I haven’t made any loaves recently but we had some deliciously fluffy pancakes this morning!

Cucumber blossoms, a baby cucumber, and tomatoes!

My garden ended up being a little bit of a bust. I need to do some more research on optimal sun and water for specific plants, but it is also true that the soil is only so-so. Especially when inconsistently watered.

SMS and I in Bird Rock, CA.

SMS and I were apart for part of June, together in July, and then up in Menlo Park for his birthday. We celebrated his birthday there and then I drove back down to SD alone, which was unplanned. He had been put in charge of a short timeline, high stakes project at work so he stayed back in case he had to go in. So, for August, I was back in SD alone and it was a tough month to be apart with heat, wildfires, real estate misadventures, and work stressors. Even though we are still incredibly fortunate and we can still find silver linings, August was definitely the month that 2020 became very 2020 for us.

Brady-bird also had a rough month. I rescued her from behind the wine fridge though. She was ungrateful.
Cynthia’s super-cute dog at the Oceanfront house!
“No workie.” Fortunately, there was a back-up that did, in fact, “workie.”

I went to NMCP for the last week in August, which was a great trip professionally but still stressful since the surgeries were high-stakes and required a lot of concentration. Everything went really well and it was super rewarding. I also had an awesome visit from Mom and Dad, who came down from DC to visit Thursday evening through Saturday. The highlights were our amazing dinners at Luce and York 411, with excellent food and great conversation. I wish I saw them more!

From L-R: Sutro Height Lion and me, view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sutro Baths

I went back up to the Bay Area and SMS and I had a fun trip to San Francisco. We actually had an impromptu stay overnight after deciding to treat ourselves to a hotel room for the a/c. We used points and definitely like they were points well-spent!

From L-R: A marriage proposal, Saint Frank coffeeshop, Andytown Coffee Roasters
9/9/20: A really weird day, super orange-y with the wildfire smoke blowing through. This photo is unaltered/unfiltered.
Suuuuuuuuuuper lazy gardening hack, Palo Alto-style.
Robot vacuum, hard at work.

SMS’ work had their big reveal on 9/9 and it went really well. He made the decision to give up his apartment in Menlo Park and move down to San Diego. Working remote will still be “a thing” for several months and it just seemed time to be together. This was/is very exciting news!

And finally…