M & K in San Diego

the west coast adventures of two east coast kids

Posts tagged hiking

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Who has two thumbs and is perpetually bad at blogging? This girl. (That’s K, in case anyone wasn’t clear by now.) (But also M is not that great since he’s contributed, um, once?) Anyway. A lot has happened in the two months since our friend Angie’s epic Hunger Games birthday party, so allow me to fill you in on some of the goings-on.

M’s birthday was on Easter Sunday this year, so we (okay, I) wanted to do something for him that would be very obviously for him rather than for the holiday. (This meant that hunting for eggs filled with candy was sadly out of the picture. Time to getreallycreative!) Somewhat at the last minute, we were invited by several friends to go camping with them in Julian - and although we hemmed and hawed over the difficulty of it at first, we managed to get all our ducks (and dogs) in a row and joined them in the wilderness*!

To keep a long story short - it was a most excellent weekend. We arrived as dark was falling on Friday night and managed to put up all of the tents AND make dinner, all before the very reasonable hour of 10:00pm**. That night was K’s official first night camping - as well as the pups’ - and we all weathered it pretty well! The tent was comfortable, if slightly cold, and with all four of us crammed together on the air mattress we managed to keep each other warm. The next morning, we all gathered at what became the “main” campsite for delicious breakfast burritos made by consummate campsite chef Gregor. After breakfast we decided to go hiking, and we were out baking in the sun for several hours, effectively wearing ourselves (and the dogs) out. That afternoon, we went into town. Christy really wanted to visit one of the local stores to pick up some hard candy, and the rest of us really wanted pie. Julian’s famous apple pie***, to be exact. We also had made plans to go to a little barbecue/brewery place on Main Street for dinner, and once we discovered that we could take the dogs up onto the brewery’s porch while we ate, we did just that. We ate All The Food, and then it was back in the car and back to the campsite before dark, in time to start our fire and get ready to make some s’mores!

Sunday morning brought an end to our all-too-brief camping trip, but it also brought M’s birthday! Christy and Danny had given him a Bop-It for his birthday (kind of an inside joke, based on the game Draw Something, long story****), so we all took turns playing with that piece of nostalgia, but even better - that morning, Tiff and Gregor made everyone an amazing Polish Easter (birthday) breakfast! We stuffed ourselves with meats and cheeses, bread and wine, until we couldn’t hold any more. Then came the onerous job of packing everything to go home - which we accomplished, but after which we decided that we were going to stay until the last possible minute when we would get kicked out of the campground. We played cards on the picnic table for a long time, which somehow***** culminated in M getting birthday spankings.

I’ve written enough now, though it doesn’t begin to cover the stories and the fun from that weekend. We’re hoping to make Easter weekend camping an annual occurrence.

*a clean, family-friendly campsite just outside of Julian, California

**it took longer to make food than we anticipated because we didn’t quite have enough wood to keep the fire hot. K and her friend Tiff actually went in search of more kindling at one point and ended up discovering a discarded deer’s antler!

***K got the caramel dutch apple pie and it was like heaven in her mouth - highly recommended.

****the story is that M was trying to draw “twist” for Christy and he drew a very good Bop-It and an arrow to the “twist” part and she had no idea what he had drawn. M was very upset, and also amused, by the fact that she had missed out on this bit of pop culture from our childhoods.

*****Mao. Those that know, understand.

Filed under camping Julian apple pie hiking pups friends birthday

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K’s Dad Comes to Town

Back in February (side note: how are we STILL two months behind?? we WILL catch up, we promise), M & K were busily preparing for two major events: performing Schubert’s Mass #6 in Eb with the San Diego Master Chorale, and the first visit from K’s dad, John, and stepmom Claudia. As is so often the case, when it rains, it pours — and so both of these big events were happening on the same weekend. This was actually to some degree intentional, as K’s dad had long wanted to see us perform with the Master Chorale, but that didn’t make it any less crazy or stressful! All went smoothly, though. John and Claudia arrived in San Diego just as the first performance of the weekend drew to a close, so we were able to see them at their hotel briefly before heading home to bed after the concert, which gave us a chance to make some tentative plans for the next day, which was forecast to be an absolutely beautiful Saturday.

The forecast was, happily, correct! The above photo was taken from midway up Cowles Mountain, the highest point in San Diego, which affords spectacular views, as you can see. In the distance, toward the middle-right of that photo, you can see the Coronado Islands, situated some 15 miles off the San Diego coast. Fun fact: they’re actually owned by Mexico, and serve as wildlife refuges — people are allowed to boat to the islands and snorkel and scuba dive in the surrounding waters, but actually going ashore is prohibited.

As I was saying, we hiked up Cowles Mountain with K’s dad, Claudia, and the pups on Saturday morning, and it was almost too hot! In fact, we didn’t even make it to the very top, because the dogs totally putzed out. Indy got to the point where he would drag us to every little bit of shade he saw, sit down, and refuse to move.

That is his “what exactly do you think you’re doing” look. Good times were had by all, though, even if Indy insisted on shade breaks every 45 seconds.

There we all are with K’s dad (and a little bit of the lens shield — oops)!

After our hike, we dropped the dogs off at home and headed up to Del Mar. John and Claudia wanted to take us to Poseidon, a restaurant they’d been to on previous visits. Good decision — the place had some really yummy fish tacos and another most excellent view:

We wandered the beach for a while after our food, just soaking up the sun and enjoying one another’s company. K’s dad wanted to take us to another favorite place from his other visits to San Diego: Torrey Pines. But not the golf course (although that’s definitely on his list of favorites as well) — to the cliffs just south of the golf course where hang-gliders regularly launch and where, if you know where to look, there is a steep hike down to a much more secluded, and thus much less crowded, beach. We didn’t take that hike on this particular day, but it was still a striking sight.

After our beach adventures, we had to head back downtown for our second performance, which John and Claudia attended and (we hope!) enjoyed. The next day wasn’t so free, as our performance was in the middle of the afternoon, but we did enjoy brunch with them beforehand and dinner with them afterward, at an Italian place on Coronado called Il Fornaio which we LOVED.

The next few days were similarly limited; with M & K both at work all day, John and Claudia had to entertain themselves until we could meet for dinner at night. It was hard to be too sad about that, though, since K’s dad was just as happy for her as everyone else about her new job, so he couldn’t be too disappointed that that very job was taking away her free time. Overall, it was a terrific visit, and we’re looking forward to planning the next one!

Filed under family hiking beach ocean del mar cowles mountain San Diego indy pups visitors weekend life SDMC schubert music il fornaio poseidon

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Life on the border

Last Sunday, we (finally) got together with an old college buddy of M’s and his wife, who have been living in San Diego but are about to move to Denver. They wanted to take us out to some nearby areas and show us their favorite spots to hike around and explore, and we were totally up for the adventure! Little did we know we’d practically be going to Mexico…

Yup, that would be border patrol. Oh, and that fence? The border.

It was pretty cool, actually — our friends took us to the trailhead of the Pacific Crest Trail. For you east-coasters, that’s basically the (longer) west-coast version of the Appalachian Trail. It goes from the Mexican border all the way up into Canada.

Extra-cool part of our little excursion was that we happened to be there at the same time as a guy who had just finished hiking the whole trail! He started in Canada on July 12th. And he had just finished. On December 5th


He was a really interesting guy, fun to talk to. We took a picture for him, and asked if we could have our own picture as well, to remember meeting him and chatting with him! He was very friendly and didn’t think it was a weird request at all. Turned out, he was actually from North Carolina — taught at Duke for a while, and currently leads lacrosse camps all over the country for about six weeks out of the year. The rest of the time, he hikes. What a life, right?? He told us that he had hiked the Appalachian Trail already, and he plans to hike the Continental Divide Trail in 2012. Apparently, among hikers, the AT is known as the Bachelor’s Degree, hiking the PCT is like getting your Master’s, and once you’ve hiked the CDT you’re considered a full PhD! He heartily encouraged us to put “hiking the PCT” on our bucket list. We may not be hardcore enough for that — but it would sure be fun just to hike a few sections of it!

After we left the trailhead, we headed into Jacumba to try and find a place for lunch. We ended up stopping at a little roadside hotel/hot springs “resort and spa”/restaurant. It was one of those places that looks a little sketchy, but the service was excellent and the food was terrific! We were very pleased with our spontaneous food decision.

It’s too bad those two are moving after Christmas, but we are very grateful to them for taking us out to some pretty cool places outside of San Diego!

Filed under weekend life friends adventure pacific crest trail hiking jacumba

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Viva Las Vegas!

Better late than never: finally an update on happenings in our lives!

A few weeks ago, K got to take a solo trip to Las Vegas. Now, before you go wondering what in the world she’s doing abandoning her husband for a jaunt in the city of sin, let’s make one thing clear: K went to Vegas and hung out with her dad, stepmother, grandparents, and brother all weekend. It was pretty great, actually!

The backstory is that K’s brother landed a spot in a collegiate golf tournament in Las Vegas, and the stars aligned so that she was able to fly out for the weekend to see him play. The best part? He had no idea that she was coming! She totally surprised him!

The first day of the trip, K’s brother was on the course practicing, so she went hiking in Red Rock Canyon with her dad and his wife. If you’ve never been, make it a day trip next time you go to Las Vegas! It’s absolutely gorgeous, and the park is so huge that there are all different levels of hiking difficulty to choose from. We picked two different paths: one for the views, and one because we were told we would see more wildlife (not accurate). 

That’s K with her dad in front of part of Red Rock. 

We hiked in an area called Calico Hills. Very aptly named. It was definitely a nice way to spend a few hours while waiting for K’s brother to be done with golf for the day. When he’d finished up, we all came together and had dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen in the Mirage.

The next day was spent braving intensely cold winds while we followed K’s brother on the golf course. K was determined to stick with it, because this was the first time she’d ever actually watched her brother play. Thankfully he did well; although he and his partner didn’t win, they placed in the top ten overall, out of 70+ pairs! 

That night was a terrific celebration of everyone being together and K’s brother’s solid performance. We all went out to Tao, an amazing Asian bar and nightclub in the Venetian. The food was to die for. We got there a little early and K showed everyone the unique interior of the hotel/casino: the Venetian truly embodies the over-the-top style of Las Vegas, with canals running through the whole thing, singing gondoliers, and ceilings painted to look like the sky. 

This gives you an idea: that’s K and her brother standing on a “bridge” over an indoor canal, with the elaborate facades of shops under a blue sky in the background. (The shot was taken at 7:00pm.)

After dinner, we went to see Cirque du Soleil’s show Mystere at Treasure Island. Never having seen a Cirque show before, K and her brother were completely blown away. It’s truly indescribable, and fantastic, and absolutely worth the price of the ticket.

K and her brother rounded out the amazing night with some high-quality music: we headed to a karaoke bar at the Imperial Palace where we were staying. K belted out some No Doubt, and her brother brought the house down with his rendition of Sweet Home Alabama!

Whew! Long post. If you’ve made it to the end, thanks for reading! And facebook friends, there will be more pictures on facebook soon.

Filed under family las vegas travel golf good times fun hiking food southwest venetian mirage treasure island imperial palace karaoke music