Day 1: San Diego to Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon! Sunset, looking East.

This has been such a fun road trip! Since I’m traveling West to East for a mini-vacation rather than a long-distance move, I’ve taken some routes I’ve never been on. Plus, the Tesla forces me to stop in some pretty unique places. [Side note: It’s pretty wild how different the Tesla supercharger stops are. SMS thinks there’s a real opportunity in creating nice rest stops like Spasso in Japan or AutoGrill in Italy. I think he’s right!]

The first stop was in 29 Palms at the Tortoise Rock casino. There are no pictures. I was definitely glad the charger was there, but that was about it. Although Joshua trees are pretty cool, it’s a pretty hardscrabble place.

The next stop was at a historic Rte 66 town: Kingman, AZ! There are several superchargers at the Kingman visitor center in the historic Powerhouse. I used the restroom and then quickly toured the Electric Vehicle museum, which has a pretty amazing collection! There was a Tesla roadster, tripped out golfcarts, a retro-fitted Porsche, and two university designed concept cars. There were several other cars and early prototypes, as well.

But, it was time to move to the main event. So, fueled by a delicious root beer float, I made it the rest of the way to the Grand Canyon.

Oh.my.gosh. It is an amazing place. It is just so vast, but with so many details in the landscape that it’s impossible to take it all in. It’s a perspective that shifts from the largest scale (millions of years! thousands of feet!) to a very small scale like an eye-catching striation or undulation in one particular rock formation. And even though some 19th century naturalists were a little over-the-top in their descriptions (*cough looking at you John Muir*), it is a spectacular place.

I checked into the Maswik Lodge, then quickly headed to the Rim to catch the red shuttle towards Hermit’s Rest. I had read the best sunset viewing spots were along the Rim at that location. The bus only took us to Mohave Point since there were a limited number running. I walked back towards Hopi Point, where I found the tripod photographers and decided that it was a sign of a good viewing location. It was a good decision! Although I realized at a certain point that what I was mostly doing was staring into the sun, so I knocked that off before I did any damage!

After the sunset, I walked back along the Rim to the Lodge. It was a pretty walk and along the way, I walked out on Powell Point which, honestly, seemed a bit better than Hopi due to a wider vantage point. Another great place (I think) would be on the East Side of the Park, where certain scenic overlooks allow the viewer to look up the canyon. I really liked that perspective. I will tell you my favorite East viewing point tomorrow! In contrast, from the Rim where I was the first night, you can see the gouge of the canyon at the base but the river and sidewalls are hidden from view.

It’s Been a Minute…

Unique porthole view of San Diego

Hello! It is exciting to be back! This Spring featured a lot of same old-same old travel in San Diego and the Bay Area (omg, I am so spoiled) as well as some stressful job-hunting that I didn’t feel like live-blogging. The last entry was about a meeting where among other people that I met…I met my future employers! Yes, I now have a job! I am also Coronado apartment-less. I have two more days of work after a week of leave where I was supposed to go to my college reunion and see my family and instead…COVID. Bleh, yes, after more than two years, I came down with the ‘Vid.

I’ve had super mild symptoms. The day that I did a home test, I only did it b/c I felt slightly off and I was about to travel. Well…shit, as my MIL said (which was the first time I think I’ve heard her say that, hahahaha). So, I called off my travel plans and holed up in the Point Loma NGIS. An oceanfront room where my Navy career can come full circle since this is where I stayed during my SWMDOIC class before the Kitty Hawk? How nostalgic!

At least I wasn’t on a cruise ship…

The day after I tested I was a liiitttlleee more symptomatic with an occasional cough and sore throat. But the past few days, I’ve felt fine and tomorrow, I can come off isolation per CDC calculator. So what am I going to do? Take a road trip to the Great Outdoors so that I can still be by myself during the time that I’m still supposed to mask up.

So, yes! New travel! Time to blog! I am going on a road trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion. I have big plans and I think it’s going to be a pretty epic trip.

Then I head into work on Thursday and Friday. Friday evening is the Hail and Farewell and then I am d-u-n, DONE! Thursday and Friday are going to be pretty crazy, but I’m in a good position since a lot of my admin work is totally done. That checkout list is pretty long though…

Domestic Travels

S’mores and more at the Hotel Del. Who knew “and more” would be Norovirus?

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.

New friends from the conference- I took them up to Cabrillo to see the city in a different way!

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 see a bird? Frantiśek Kupka’s Localization of Graphic Motifs II

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.

This is not Coronado

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!

Bol Park BioBlitz and San Bruno Hike

A little donkey!

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!

Bol Park Map

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.

A little Dunkel-ing!

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!

San Bruno

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!

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: Overview

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?

No

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No

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.

New Year’s Weekend: Newport Beach/LA

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.

Adorable French hens! But do you ever look at stuff like this and think of how it wouldn’t even fetch $5 at your future garage sale? No? Just me?

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.

New Year’s Eve Feast!

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!

His/hers cars in front of the Lido Hotel
Lido Hotel
Apropros of nothing, my adorable nephews and niece watching Encanto!

2021 Wrap-Up: December

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.

Buckeyes/No-bake peanut butter balls. I got the recipe from someone at the party!

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!

SMS drives a Lucid Air!

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 gift from Brady!

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!

Coronado sunken ship!?!

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.