Dixon Lake is one of those hidden gems in Southern California that is right in front of your nose but you can’t see it. The lake is at the edge of the City of Escondido, the nice part of Escondido. We drove up this street that took us to up the small hill and right at the entrance of Dixon Lake.
The lake is drinking water for the city below. How it is a drinking water is beyond me since there are fishes living in that water along with ducks, turtles and other animals. The point is you can’t swim in that water but you can do so much there. Fishing is a big thing there, they even have fishing tournaments. It is a big trout, bass and catfish fishing waters.
The best part of Dixon besides fishing is camping. The campground is big and has everything you need from showers to flushing toilets to a small store. It has great views of the city at night or you can decide to just get a campground that looks over the lake. There is wild life so you got to be careful with the food. I like the fact that you can reserve a campground and no matter the time you arrive you will have a spot waiting for you. This is extremely important to us because we are planning on camping on the weekends after work. By the time we drive to the campground it will be late a night so having a place to sleep is a blessing.
Another thing I like is that the rangers check on the campsites every 1-2 hours. This includes at night and early morning hours. This helps with keeping the noise down at night to enjoy a peaceful camping experience.
On my last blog I mention how I was on the fence between vlogging and enjoying family/friend time. Well this trip I balance that out. I took a few hours to vlog and take photos of the place by myself. This gave me the chance to explore and test my vlogging abilities (which currently suck) and also enjoy time with the people I care about.
I think it worked out great and now I am able to share the video I made and photos I took with everyone without compromising family/friend time. I will from now on take a few hours to do my photography, vlogging and exploring before I return and set the cameras down and enjoy family/friend time.
I just came back from a camping trip that I enjoyed but yet I felt empty. Not because the company I went with was not enjoyable and fun but because I did not do what I do best and that is to document the trip with photos and videos. Prior to blogging and You Tube I use to document my family outings by taking photos. I would then put these photos together, add some music and the end result was a family vacation video.
I then began taking videos along with the photos which made some pretty interesting family videos. I have thousands of photos and hundreds of videos of recent vacations trips that I have taken with family but I have not yet made family vacation videos. My family is anxious to see the next family video which I unfortunately take to long to make. I love telling stories using photos a video and I feel like that is my contribution to any family vacation trip. I am not a cook, guide or a girl scout I am the photographer of the group.
Now that I want to start blogging and exploring more of California I feel that there is a line that I have to draw. I must separate family and friends time from blogging. To blog or to Blog is a question that I have struggled with recently. These last two camping I did not document my trip because it was family and friend time not blogging time. Yes I did have fun and relaxed but I feel like I missed a great opportunity to tell a story. The idea was to come back to those places and blog when I was by myself however I fear that certain places I wouldn’t be able to return too. This means that I may loose the opportunity to tell a story.
After two camping trips and no photos of my own I believe I made a mistake. I had to revisit the question of To Blog or Not To Blog. I have to be who I am and that is the photographer of the trip. If there are other photographers that is great but I need to document for myself my own experience and view of the trips. Yes Relaxing is fun and spending time with family and friends is super important but telling a story is also important to me and I feel that I have to continue telling my story by photographing and videotaping otherwise I feel like I missed something great.
I finally made it to Torrey Pines State Reserve! I am excited because not only is this a beautiful place but because there is a funny back story to finding this place. I will post that story in Through Back Thursday series it will be called Black’s Beach. This blog is a few months late, many because I forgot all about it.
I had a choice of either go to San Juan Capistrano Mission or Border Field State Park. At the end I ended up going to Torrey Pines State Reserve and I am glad because I can take it off my New Year’s Resolution List. This place gets packed with visitors so keep in mind that you will see many people on the trail during beautiful California weather. We hiked several trails and each trail had its own unique feature.
What is so special about Torrey Pines State Reserve besides its beauty, it’s the Torrey Pines itself. These pine trees don’t grown anywhere else besides here in Torrey Pines Reserve. I took my nephew with me to get him interested in visiting state parks and also collecting patches. At first he was not really interested in the patch. After finishing several trails he wanted his patch. It was like a trophy to him.
What amazed me was the flower bloom this year. It made the park even more beautiful than it already is.
I recently came back from a trip to Iowa. Normally I tend to visit the states closes to California such as Nevada, Oregon and Arizona. I am going to visit you Utah soon! This trip was to drop off my nephew in Iowa to start his collage career and explore what Iowa had to offer.
Iowa is very beautiful. Everywhere I looked I saw corn fields. There were beautiful blue skies and an occasionally sudden shower, like if the sky just dumped water on us. The people there are very friendly and never pushy. Even when there was traffic I don’t believe I heard anyone honk their horn to get someone else move. It was then that I realize how unfriendly city people can be. We are always in a rush to get to places and very impatient in the streets.
I enjoyed the beautiful barns and small towns in Iowa. Everything seem more relaxed. The nights are very quiet in Ames even for a college town. There is so many interesting things to do but I didn’t get a chance to visiting all of them.
The only thing I didn’t like in Iowa was the food. Maybe I have been spoiled with all the variety of food in California. I am a big foodie and good food is an essential for any trip I make. While eating a microwaved cooked tortilla served with chunks of meat and labeled as a taco I realized how much I missed California. Especially the food.
I fell in love with California all over again. Its not until you leave home that you miss it. I missed the mountains, desserts, beaches and forest California has. My dream to explore California became stronger. My love for California was reinforced. I want to see my backyard and enjoy all the hidden treasures California has to offer. Each state has its own beauty and it is up to the residents of that state to show off their states beauty. I will show off my state, California. Come back for more blogs on California and thank you for visiting.
I am very happy to remove “Backpacking” off my Bucket List. It is such an amazing feeling to prepare for an epic life experience and be able to share it with others.
The backpacking trip to Point Reyes National Seashore was supposed to be about 18 miles. It turned out to be about 23.3 miles. I left all the planning to my mountain man expert who has many years of experience in backpacking. He taught me how to shop for backpacking gear and what to expect. I would have been lost without him.
The plan was to do an easy backpack trip since it was my first time. We would start at Bear Valley Visitor Center and hike up to Mt. Wittenberg on the Mt. Wittenberg Trail which has an elevation gain of 1,407ft. Mt. Wittenberg would lead us to Sky trail which would bring us to our first campground, Sky Camp. This was suppose to be the hardest part of our backpacking trip because we would climb on the first day. 1,407 ft may not seem like much to may people but to an out of shape woman who gets paid to sits on her butt all day this was hard. Next day we would hike out of Sky Camp toward Woodward Valley trail which would connect to Coast Camp and to our second campground, Coast Camp. On the third day we would hike out of Coast camp and walk along Coast trail to Bear Valley Trail and then to Glen Loop to our last campground, Glen Camp. On the last day we would hike out and return to Bear Valley Visitor Center.
The first day was short, hard and sweet. The climb was hard but not as hard as I though it would be. We did stop frequently mostly because I was trying to catch my breath. The trail was mostly in the shade which made it easy for us.
When we arrived to Sky Camp we were happily surprised that we had a great camp site. It was surrounded by overgrown shrub and a tilted tree. It was private compared to other sites and it had shade. Once we settled down we realized that the camp site was not so private because our neighbor’s could see into our camp site. I really didn’t care because I just wanted to eat and rest.
Day two was a beautiful hike down the mountain along the Woodward Valley Trail. This was one of my favorite trails. Part of it was mostly in the shade of huge thin trees while the other part was overlooking the ocean. I could not stop taking photos.
We arrived at Coast Camp late morning but it gave us enough time to explore. This was an extremely windy area both in the campground and the beach. At times it felt like we were being sand blasted to a halt. This did not stop us from exploring the area. There was a huge eucalyptus tree at the entrance of the beach. What a magnificent site that was. The water was very cold and nobody seem to want to get in the water, maybe because the current was also strong. It did get cold so we retired early.
While I was setting up for a time lapse video of the sunset at the beach I came to the horrible realization that my extra batteries were discharged. What happen was that I packed my extra batteries on the side mesh pocket of my backpack, a very accessible area in case I needed to change batteries. The problem was that when we stuffed the backpacks inside the car trunk we placed two big water containers next to the packs. The water leaked and our packs got wet. My camera batteries were soaked even before starting my journey. I thought I would be able to photograph the while trip with just one battery but turns out that I take a lot of photos. When my only battery was low I had to relay on my cellphone which also had low battery. I was so upset that day because the photo quality would be lower then my good Nikon camera.
Day three was the hardest for me, mostly because I did not pack correctly. It make matters worse the Coast trail did not have much shade and the sun beat down on us. We had to take a long break at Kelham Beach trailhead because I needed to fuel up for the climb to Glen Camp.
The mile or so distance from Bear Valley trail to Glen Camp was by far the hardest hike of the whole trip. It felt like a never-ending trail to the highest mountain in the US. I had to stop to catch my breath every few minutes. Every single curve along the trail I would force myself to think the campground was on the other side. Every time I came around the corner I was disappointed to see even more trail going uphill. I drank water, eat snacks and just hoped that it would end but nothing helped. By the time I reach the campground I was not sure if I could make it to the camp site on a small hill. All I could think about is taking off the pack, eating and showering. Mostly shower because I felt like I had not showered in a year.
The final day was so easy and we did it in no time. I packed my pack the correct way. What a difference a well packed backpack makes. The mile hike from Glen Camp to Bear Valley trail was so easy I couldn’t believe I was struggling a day before. Since our trip ended on a weekend we saw many hikers along the Bear Valley trail. It was sad that the trip had ended but I was on top of the world because I had checked off backpacking off my Bucket List.
Although most people do their first backpacking trip in their early teens or 20s I have to encourage the older generation to go out there and backpack. It really refreshes your mind and relaxes your body although you get a good beating out of it. This trip challenged me in a way that I never thought possible. I am stronger than what I think I am. Most importantly I realized that in life you don’t need much to enjoy life. So travel, take pictures and live life. Thank you for reading my blog.
Backpacking was been on my Bucket List for many years. As time passed by I wondered when I would have the time to learn about backpacking and most importantly find an expert to take me to the outdoors. Most people do their first backpacking experience in their teens or younger, others in their early adulthood. Here I am an adventurer at heart but I am no spring chicken.
I considered going on a REI backpacking group tour but didn’t feel comfortable going with a bunch of strangers. Especially since I would most likely hold the group back due to lack of conditioning. I also didn’t have the gear and I knew it would be a lot of money. So the years went by and I just kept my dream of backpacking that one day I would backpack. My dream came true a few days ago. I was guided by a special person who has been backpacking for most of his life.
I bought my gear which took a good chunk out of my tax refund. I went to REI and bought everything needed. Thanks to my mountain man the trip was planned and all I needed to do is condition and pack my backpack.
The problem is that I love the outdoors but I am too lazy to exercise. In preparation for the backpacking trip I only walked 30 minutes per day for 4 days. When it came to packing I wanted to pack everything just on case I needed it. In normal city trips I pack everything including the kitchen sink, this time I was restricted.
I had many concerns about the trip but once I was outdoors all those concerns went away. I carrying my heavy pack for 23.3 miles in the Point Reyes National Seashore. I had good days and bad days but overall the hard work and sweat gave me new appreciation and a sense of calmness that I had no felt before. Stay tune for a more detail blog of my backpacking trip.
If you had to guess what I do for a living what would you say I do based on this picture?
Morgue is the first thing that comes to mind for me. This is one of the reason why I go out and exploring on the weekends because my office just seem to dark right now. I spend 8 hours of my life in this tiny room. I see this every day, ever since the “rainy session” started in Southern California. Yes I put rainy session in quotations because compare to other parts of the country the “rainy session” is like mist compare to real storms in the Midwest. Nonetheless we had a record year of rainfall and since our roof has so many leaks due to lack of repairs, water just finds its way to my office.
My tiny office houses two monster printers, you know the kind of prints that you paid an arm and a leg for and still owe money. Okay maybe I am exaggerating a little but you don’t want anything to happen to these printers. One rainy day water started dripping into one of the printers, Panic Time! It caused a small part of the paper to get wet and since the print has an automatic printhead schedule to keep it started to clean the printhead on the wet paper. This in turn cause the paper to tear apart. It just look like the printer was a goner. The landlord idea to protect the printers was to cover it with think black plastic which resembles a body bag.
Yes I can take the plastic bags off but we occasionally get rain here and there and I rather take the plastic off once it stops raining. No matter if the bags come off I still have two huge printers to look at. I rather look at photos of beautiful landscapes. Every day I see beautiful photos of landscapes on my computer screen. It’s like my computer is telling me, “come see these places in person, you don’t belong in the morgue.” Where we really meant to live the majority of our lives in four walls? Get out of those four walls and explore the world is waiting.
How far are you willing to go to see or do something that will bring you joy? Are you willing to risk your life or put other people in danger? I guess it depends on the kind of person you are. “No Pain No Gain,” right? Well, I think my life is more valuable than seeing wildflowers on the side of the road.
This past weekend I was anxious to get on the road to see the incredible super bloom in the Southern California deserts. The closes desert to me is the Anza-Borrego Desert which I love to visit in pervious wildflower sessions. In recent years the bloom has been less then remarkable due to the drought. This year there has been record rainfall hence the super bloom.
Saturday came around and my original plans to visit Dixon Lake were cancelled. Not knowing what to do the thought of checking out a local trail with the promise of wilflowers seem appealing. I had heard on the radio that traffic to the Anza Borrego Desert was very bad so much so that the main arteries to the desert were packed with cars. I decided to skip the crowds and just visit a local trail that had a beautiful yellow hillside of wildflowers. That trail had many flowers but deep inside I was not satisfied with the flowers on the local trail. I wanted to see the big show, the super bloom that everyone was talking about, well at least the people who like wildflowers. Usually those people are travel bloggers and photographers were who post amazing photos of the colorful trails.
DesertUSA.com has an excellent wilflower report. I use it every year and highly recommend it. For days I was reading the reports and looked at pictures being posted of various parts in Southern California. I was just dying to get out there. Instead of going to my local desert I decided to drag my man to a closer spot in Lake Elsinore. Walker Canyon was the hotspot for wildflowers. DesertUSA gave the location and the exit which was Lake Street. We headed to Walker Canyon. I was excited and was even planning the shots I would take. I am sure he was thinking of all the stuff he could be doing instead of searching for wildflowers. He was a trooper the whole time and I thank him for wanting to make me happy.
As we got closer to Walker Canyon we started to notice that the traffic on the freeway was slowing down. It was hard not to notice the orange blanket covering the side of the mountains. It was unbelievable. What was even more unbelievable was the people stopping on the emergency lane to get off to take pictures of the wildflowers. There were serveral cars parked in the emergency lane. Of course I would not be those people who would do something as ridiculous as that, I was dumb enough to get trapped in traffic. Let me explain, as we got closer to Lake Street I notice from afar that the exit was at a stand still and there was a line of cars to exit. The cars formed a line on the emergency lane allowing freeway traffic to pass without slowing down. Everything seem great, the flower hippies like me waited and did not block traffic and everything was good with the world until the chaos started.
As I drove closer to the exit ramp I got a clear view of the traffic on Lake Street and the long ramp. There were so many people I know it would be hard to find parking on this non residential area next to the freeway. I was sure we would be stuck in traffic for several hours plus any time needed to find parking and take photos. I know that this would be a bad idea but I really wanted to see the poppy flowers growing on these mountains. I was willing to wait that is until I started to notice that cars on the slow lane started to bypass the line to exit, remember the line to exit was in the emergency lane. More and more cars started to slow down the freeway and try to exit only to be awkwardly parked in the slow lane because there was no exit. It wasn’t until I saw one car stop suddenly and just behind the car was a big RV who just managed to stop in time before it plowed through the cars lined up to see flowers. That is when I realize how dangerous the situation was getting. Traffic on the freeway started to look dangerous with some cars trying to get in the stalled traffic on the exit ramp ignoring the long line waiting on the emergency lane. With not enough space to accelerate some cars just went for it and caused the freeway traffic stop suddenly. When I saw the RV almost hit one of the cars wanting to get off the freeway that is when I made my decision, my life is worth more than wildflowers. The traffic was becoming increasingly dangerous and I had a small window of opportunity to exit. The more I tried to exit the more cars started to block me. It wasn’t until another car stopped suddenly and blocked the freeway flow that I stepped on the gas and hoped that I got out before an accident accord. As I drove pass the exit ramp I realize how the magnitude of the situation. Although the flowers were beautiful it was not worth getting into a car accident.
Disappointed I drove for several miles hoping to see more fields of wildflowers. The further I was from Walker Canyon the dryer it looked. We decided to just go home. Disappointed but relieved of not being in that mess. We drove admiring the flowers from afar. We did find a spot of wildflowers far away from the crowds and that is where I took some quick shots before I headed home.
Visit the DesertUSA website for wildflower reports
Wake up early, VERY EARLY
Know that if a location is being published on social media, people are going to go so expect crowds.
Don’t block traffic some people just want to go home.
I have visited the Japanese Friendship Garden (San Diego) in the past but never walked through the lower part of the garden due to time. I figured I would visit the lower part of the garden during the next Annual Cherry Blossom Festival. I knew there were several cherry blossom trees in the lower garden and I imaged a beautiful place to be when the flowers started to bloom.
The garden is beautiful it has a tea house, several water features, Koi fish, and bamboo. There is a small display of Japanese pottery and Bonsai trees. There are several benches to sit on and in my previous visits to the garden, it seems like a great place to relax. I do recommend to visit the garden at least two times. The first time when there are not special events or festivals, just remember it is a popular place to get married. The second time is during the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Word of advice, be prepared to be surrounded by a lot of people. The following are helpful tips to enjoy the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival:
Prepare for crowds be patient.
Take water you might be standing in line for a while before you are able to get water.
Take cash, the line for admission is huge if you use a credit card.
Don’t bring large strollers, if you do be prepared to stop frequently.
Experience the food; just make sure you strategize getting what you need. Send a person to get drinks while the other gets the food.
Back in the days when San Diego’s Safari Park was the Wild Animal Park, I decided to challenge my photography skills by photographing each animal in the Wild Animal Park. Years later I added San Diego Zoo as another place to photography animals. The point was to take a portrait of the animals without the appearance of cages. Sometimes I couldn’t avoid the cages, therefore some shots you can see the fence, cage or enclosure. I had a membership at the time and I could go to either park whenever I wanted too. I figured I had plenty of time to photograph each animal. Well, at least the ones who didn’t seem to be in a cage.
I took my time, each year renewing my membership and each year forgetting to visit the two parks. The times I did visit the parks, I started to notice that I was slowly getting better, less blurry photos and more interesting angles. Then one day I forgot to renew my membership which included 4 free guest passes. Today’s membership does not include the 4 free guest passes, therefore I decided not to renew it again. Sadly I didn’t finish my Animal Portrait Project.
This orangutan was one of my favorite animals to photography. At the time when I took these photos, there was a young orangutan jumping, swinging and rolling in front of this crowd. Everyone was taking pictures of this young orangutan. Since it was crowded on one corner of the habitat I moved to the opposite side of the habitat to wait patiently for this young orangutan to come my way so I could get an undisturbed photo of him playing. The young orangutan was putting up a show for the crowd so I decided to focus my attention to an older orangutan closer to me who was patiently seeing the young orangutan play.
As I turn my camera to the older orangutan it looked straight at me. I snapped a picture. Then I lowered my camera to check the photos, saw it was ok I aimed that camera towards the older orangutan and snapped another photo. The orangutan figured I was giving him my attention so something surprising happened, the orangutan started to pose for me. When I say pose I mean the orangutan would look straight into my camera pose, wait for a few seconds then change his position, look at me waited and posed again. We did this for a while. I kept on taking photos of this orangutan because he was posing for me only. I know this because other people started to see that the older orangutan was moving within the habitat and wanted to take pictures of him. The orangutan would only look into my camera and ignored the rest. I even overheard someone saying that the orangutan was posing for me. The older orangutan and I shared a connection at that moment. When I came home and viewed the pictures I was happy and sad for this orangutan. I was happy because of the connection we had and the many poses he did for me. I was sad because of the intelligence he showed and awareness of the place he was living in. He will always live inside a “habitat.” I do have to say that without the existence of the Safari Park or San Diego Zoo I would never see these animals in person. Maybe the San Diego Zoo will give me an annual pass to complete my project wishful thinking. This is so far what I have.
February is not just the month of love but it is also museum month in San Diego. The San Diego Museum Council and Macy’s teamed up again every year for Museum Month. They are giving people the opportunity to visit one of the 40 area museums at 50% off general admission.
All you have to do is pick up a Museum Month Pass February 1 at any of the area (San Diego, Temecula and Imperial Valley Macy’s) Macy’s store to enjoy half-off admission to all of the participating museums through the entire month of February. Hurry because these passes go quick. You can share the love of museums by bring 3 other people and they too will get half-off. This is a great time to visit Balboa Park in San Diego and visit as many museums as you can. I have only visited a few of the museums but I plan to visit a new museum each year.
Imagine coming face to face with a Native American that is 20 feet tall. Ok, there is no such thing but I did come across a Native American sculpture carved from a tree trunk that was at least 20 feet tall. Maybe even taller, I didn’t have my measuring tape at the time. Waokiye is the name of the sculpture made out of a sequoia tree and this massive trunk is located in Desert Hot Springs. More specifically it is located on the Cabot’s Pueblo Museum grounds. Come back and for a future post on Cabot’s Pueblo Museum.
It is an impressive sculpture and you can’t help it but look up and be mesmerized but the detail of each line carved. This sculpture is part of a series called The Trail of Whispering Giants. The Hungarian-born artist by the name of Peter Wolf Toth dedicated several years of his life creating one sculpture at a time. His dream at the time was to carve a sculpture of different Native Americans, one for each state. His last sculpture was made in 2008.
He made these sculptures in honor of the Native Americans who have suffered “a lot of injustice, just like his people did”. The sculptures are truly magnificent. I would like to seem all of the sculpture when I visit all of the National Parks in the US. This is going on my Bucket List.