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.
This year Joe and I were lucky enough to have one Christmas in Flagstaff, AZ and another in Santa Fe, NM. Funnily enough, these two towns share similar climate and small-town feel. While we were in Flagstaff, we woke up to over a foot of snow. Though it snowed all of New Years Eve and ruined our New Years plans, we were both glad to get a “White Christmas” before we headed back to ever-sunny San Diego.
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!
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.
In the time between the end of my summer internship and the start of school, I was able to visit my family in Arizona. After a fun trip to Lake Powell and then Fossil Creek, we took off for a camping trip. Though we were only gone for five days, we enjoyed Telluride, Moab, and Monument Valley. I took some pictures on my phone to share.
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.
A few years ago, Joe and I spent our first weekend away together in Julian, CA. He planned the entire trip and made it a surprise, even though my curious mind begged him for details. His gave me one hint: apple. I would easily be able to guess the destination given that hint now, but at the time I had not been in San Diego long and had yet to hear of Julian. I was therefore surprised and didn’t know what to expect from the weekend once we arrived. Unwisely, the first thing Joe had on the agenda was the Cedar Creek Falls hike. The temperature was approaching one hundred when we descended into the canyon toward the waterfall. I was impressed by the mountains around us as we walked, and was not expecting a waterfall even though Joe had told me to wear my swimsuit. The water was extremely cold, but it felt great after the hot three miles down. I thought this weekend is going to be awesome. Then we had to go back up.
Yup, summer weekend trip season is still in full swing around here at Optimizing Adventure. After a relaxing and luxurious (for us) trip to Palm Springs, we were ready to rough it a little more and be active – more of our usual style. Our destination: Julian, the small mountain town a little over an hour’s drive from San Diego. Originally a mining town, Julian is now a fairly sleepy local’s getaway (you’ll run into mostly fellow San Diegans) famous for its Apple Pie. It should be at the top of anyone’s list looking for a SoCal weekend getaway, as there’s something for everyone: foodies, art-lovers, outdoors lovers, etc. will all be happy here. We partook in a wide range of the activities that are available in the area, so read on to find out more.