As we’ve discussed before, one of the best parts of San Diego is that the urban sprawl has left many canyons and peaks free for us to enjoy between patches of development. This applies to North County even more, where most of the newly minted communities have been constructed to include open space from the beginning. Such is the case for the Double Peak trail in San Marcos. Lucky residents of the Twin Oaks Valley neighborhood, where the hike starts, have wide paved paths that are far more substantial than the sidewalks in most communities, and these paths were in wide use when we came along. You start out walking by Discovery Lake, a small fishing pond surrounded by oak trees, walking trails and benches. Climbing uphill towards the Double Peak summit, you pass nicer and nicer houses through the neighborhood trail system, until you leave the development behind, thankfully exchanging the paved trail for dirt.
75 degrees. That’s what the thermometer is reading as I type this in San Diego, in January, at only 10 AM. California should be deep into winter right now, but we’re not – and that’s obvious everywhere from this sunny cafe a few miles from the beach, to the mountains that should have snow. In our quest to teach Kendall how to ski (more on that at some point), we’ve been visiting Snow Valley, a small ski area on the road up to Big Bear Lake, only 2 hours from my doorstep. Last time we were up there, the mercury climbed above 60. I was burning up in a windbreaker and a t-shirt. If it weren’t for their furious overnight snow making, they’d make a much better business as a water skiing venue. “Well”, you might be saying, “big surprise that you aren’t making snow angels in Southern California. Go find some real snow”. But the big guns aren’t faring well either.
This year, we found ourselves in Santa Fe, NM for Christmas, along with my family and relatives. While there were many typical Christmas highlights (learning the card-slapping game of Squeek, working on skiing with Kendall, etc.), a particularly exciting thing about Christmas in Santa Fe is the city’s tradition with Farolitos (known elsewhere as Luminarias). All over the city, but especially in the downtown and Canyon Road area, sidewalks and buildings are lined with the softly glowing brown bags on Christmas Eve. After nightfall, a huge chunk of the city gathers to walk the streets of downtown and Canyon Road to enjoy the lights together amongst friends and family, warm drinks, and many bonfires arranged down the streets. Even with the snow-less buildings and trees and temperatures in the teens, this years walk was a great one as always.
A few weeks ago, we headed up to Los Angeles for one of the better reasons to make a trip up there – the annual LA Auto Show. It’s a pretty strange experience – walking through a carpeted parking lot full of nearly every car currently made, all of which you can take a seat in and see if they fit your liking. Whether you are in to 500+ horsepower leather-lined rockets, massive luxury trucks that weigh more than some domiciles, or the humble 3 cylinder subcompacts, everything is represented. Fear not, as we’re here to sort out the mess of the current automotive landscape for you!
Over the last half of a year, Kendall and I have been piecing together a trip to Croatia and Slovenia for next summer. Many hours have been spent whittling away at an impossibly large list of picturesque Mediterranean towns, weighing Venice versus a crack at the Alps in Slovenia, and generally fitting a mountain of adventure into a two week itinerary. Now, we’ve arrived at a milestone in the planning – the baseline itinerary has been selected and the plane tickets are purchased!
Early fall brings a few things to San Diego. One of these is usually a heat wave. You’d think early October in San Diego would be a time for cooling temperatures after the beach crowds have left, but that never seems to be the case. I’ve moved into new dorms/rooms/condos in San Diego around this time of year 4 times since I’ve been here. All but one of these were accessed by stairs, so suffice to say I’ve grown to despise this early fall heat wave. Despite the blistering temperatures, myself and what seems like 3/4ths of San Diego brave the temperatures to stand on the blistering tarmac at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and catch their yearly October air show – the largest military air show in the U.S. After a hiatus due to the government shutdown last year, we ventured back to the air show with Kendall’s family last month.
I am pretty old-fashioned when it comes to my sports. I spent many of my weekends in middle and high school walking through the woods and burning logs at night, which humans have done for millennia but has only recently become known as the sport of “backpacking”. Skiing is old too – we’ve only been recently using it in a way that involves blasting carved turns down a groomed slope at sixty miles an hour and resting in cozy lodges between runs, but people have strapped long sticks to their feet to navigate snow since the dawn of time. I do have one sport which definitely bucks this trend.
By now, you’re all aware of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that’s been all over your social media accounts, television screens, etc. for the last week or two. The other day, I received a challenge from my cousin Cameron. I knew I had to accept, but I wasn’t up for the typical challenge. This being Optimizing Adventure, I decided to answer the following questions:
- How can I make the Ice Bucket Challenge more Adventerous?
- Where would I most like to get a bucket of ice dumped on my head?
Click through to see the answers and my Ice Bucket Challenge video! If you like it, consider making a donation if you haven’t already.
On the tail end of a recent trip out to Flagstaff, Kendall’s sister invited us along to the new hot spot near Flagstaff for getting out of the summer heat. While it is a long and rough dirt road in, you are rewarded with a surprisingly large amount of water and beautiful hiking and rock formations as you walk along the creek. The centerpiece of the trip is the waterfall and swimming hole, which is slightly over a miles’ hike from the closest parking lot (there are several, so keep driving until the road ends if you’re heading to the falls). Of course, we took the GoPro out to film the action – click through to see some highlights from the trip.
Vegas is the number one weekend destination from Southern California, and it’s little wonder. A international tourist destination unlike any other, only a few hours drive away. And while we heartily recommend a trip to Las Vegas as one you won’t soon forget, there isn’t a destination where the saying “a fool and his money are easily parted” could be more pertinent. As such, we’re bringing our Tourist Traps you Should Get Caught In feature back with a few tips on how we did an epic three day weekend for two in Vegas, including a luxury on-strip hotel, a Cirque du Soleil show, a concert, and delicious meals and for slightly over $500.