Dixon Lake, Escondido CA

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Point Reyes National Seashore

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View from Woodward Valley Trail

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.

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Hiking Map
Our Backpacking route

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.

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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.

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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.

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Sky Campground, Site # 4

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.

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Woodward Valley Trail

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First view of the ocean along the Woodward Valley Trail

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Coast Trail
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Coast Campground

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.

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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.

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Coast Trail
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Coast Trail

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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.

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Bear Valley Trail

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Glen Campground

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.

Wildflower Danger

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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Helpful Tips

  • 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.

 

Links

http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/wildupdates.html

Annual Cherry Blossom Festival

Annual Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden

 

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:

 

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Lower Garden
Artist
Man drawing next to the Koi fish pond

 

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Helpful Tips

  • 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.

 

Links

http://www.niwa.org/

 

Tags

Japanese Garden, Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego, Cherry blossom Festival,

Trail of Whispering Giants

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Me and Waokiye

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.

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Waokiye
Waokiye

TBT=Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park

I woke up on a Saturday (10/15/2015) with a sudden urge to explore.  I didn’t know where I wanted to go but I knew I had to visit some place new.  I checked by Bucket Travel List and found Leo Carrillo Ranch.  This place was recommended by AnaKaren. Thank you AnaKaren for recommending this place I should have visited it sooner.

I got my cameras ready and headed to the ranch. I had no idea who Leo Carrillo was but apparently he was very famous in his time.  After some quick research online and a short video at the visitor center, I begin to admire this man. Not for his movies or his television series but for what he did for California and preserving its beauty.  He worked for California Beaches and Parks Commission at some point in his life. During that time he was a key factor in the acquisition of Hearst Castle, he helped developed Los Angeles Olvera Street complex and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. After visiting all three attractions I am truly thankful that men like Leo Cabrillo were able to set aside these beautiful locations for everyone to see.

When I arrived to the Ranch it seemed empty due to the size.  I entered the visitor center and I was greeted by a friendly staff who gave me information about the ranch and allowed me to see a 10-minute video.  After the short film, I walked alone and just took my time.  I did go on the free tour guide because I know I wanted to sit down and admire the ranch.  Since this place is used for wedding receptions, the pool area of the ranch as well as the cabana were being occupied by the wedding planner and set up crew.  I was not able to access that area however I did take photos from far away.  I did enjoy my time there, it was truly relaxing and did not have the feel of a tourist attraction, it was more like an invitation to someone’s ranch. I saw several people take food to enjoy a picnic on the ranch grounds. I highly recommend this since it is a quiet place to enjoy a nice meal.

 

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Galleta Meadows

Thursday is Throwback Thursday, it is story time!  Here is an old journal entry from 2/18/2011 of one of my adventures from long ago.  I am sure things have changed.  I do plan on visiting this place again.  I highly recommend this place.

Galleta Meadows is located in Borrego Springs a small desert community located in the surrounding Anza-Borrego State Desert Park. Galleta Meadows is a private underdeveloped property owned by Dennis Avery a multi-millionaire and business man.   Avery brought back to “life” the extinct Pliocene and Pleistocene animals that once roam the Anza-Borrego Desert State park millions of years ago by placing metal sculptures in his land. He has also included many animals that exist today and historical sculptures. Avery wants for everyone especially children to be amazed at these metal sculptures and become interested in the Plio-Pleistocene animals of the area. The best part of Galleta Meadows is that is free to the public.Galleta Meadows Feb 2012 (63).JPG

There are roughly 129 Sky Art sculptures in the Galleta Meadows Estate. The sculptures fall into three categories; science, historical events or natural features of the Anza-Borrego desert. There is an extra category,  fantasy.  The sculptures are made of sheets of iron which will rust over time giving the sculpture that life-like quality. Each sculpture very in size and weight.

Galleta Meadows Feb 2012 (93).JPGRicardo Breceda is the artist behind these amazing sculptures. His start as an artist was accidental as described in “The Accidental Artist,” by author Diana Lindsay. It was a combination of events that paved the road for Ricardo Breceda to become the “Picasso of Metal.”  It all starts with his unfortunate construction accident that leads him to find other means of earning money. He started selling boots to customers; those who could not pay cash would trade. One day a man traded a welding machine for a pair of boots. The welding machine was put aside for a while until Ricardo decided to learn to use it. Around that time Jurassic Park movies were at their peak of popularity. His daughter Lianna one day asked her father for a life size T-Rex for Christmas. With no artistic background or knowledge of welding, Ricardo begin making the T-Rex. With each new sculpture his skills and craftsmanship improved, each sculpture became more life-like. It was only a matter of time before Dennis Avery hired Ricardo to make the amazing sculptures and install them in his property.galleta-meadows-feb-2012-12

Prior to visiting the Galleta Meadows I made sure I did my research. This year (2011) I want to not only share my video footage and photos in a form of a short You Tube video but provided some background information about the place I visit. Galleta Meadows is the first video with backup research. I even bought “The Accidental Artist” book to learn about the artist.

The weather was perfect for visiting the desert. We arrived early in the morning and without even looking hard we found the first set of sculptures along S3 road. The majority of the sculptures are placed near the road. Do to their distinctive rusty color they blend in with the surrounding however they are easy to find.   When we arrived at the first set of sculptures we drove on the desert floor and parked. We walked up to the nearby elephants and horses. The walk was enjoyable since the kids played with the rocks and plants. It is rare to see kids without an electronic gadget in their hands these days.Galleta Meadows Feb 2012 (122).JPG

As we walked towards a big eagle we realized tGalleta Meadows Feb 2012 (222).JPGhat there was an RV blocking the view of this amazing sculpture. We asked the owners of the RV permission to take pictures of the sculpture while only being a couple feet away from their large vehicle. It was disappointing to see this great sculpture blocked by an RV and I do feel sorry for the owners because they were getting a lot of foot traffic in their campsite.

 

Since we did not have a map to identify the locations of each group of sculptures we started driving in the direction of the Anza-Borrego Desert Visitor Center to obtain a copy. The visitor center was busy with may visitors asking questions about trials and other interesting things in the Desert. We stayed to watch a 15 minute movie on the desert which was informative.

We continued looking for the rest of the sculptures now that we had a map. It was Galleta Meadows Feb 2012 (274).JPGgetting later in the day and more people were arriving to the sculptures. It almost felt like Disneyland, we waited our turn to take pictures with the sculptures. In the morning we took our time playing around with different poses to captures a sense of place in the photos but in the afternoon we started rushing to get to as many sculptures as possible. I started to do a “drive by shooting” which is taking as many photos as possible using the zoom feature in my camera while staying inside the car and driving in very low speed. We didn’t get to all the sculptures I really wanted to see the dinosaurs but the day was getting late and we still had to drive home.

galleta-meadows-feb-2012-143At one point we drove on to the desert floor to get close to the sculptures. That was a very bad idea since the soil was soft and we were not on a high rise vehicle but a sedan. We got suck in the sand, the more my sister pressed on the accelerator the more we sank in. We started to place broken branches underneath the tires from the nearby plants since there were no rocks to create traction. We were only 100 feet away from the main road and the small dead shrub camouflaged our car well from other passing drivers. We called AAA and they were not able to help us because we were to far off from hard surface and it was considered “wilderness.” To make matters worse they said that if they sent a driver it Galleta Meadows Feb 2012 (280).JPGwould be about 60 minutes. Luckily there was a very nice Samaritan who we fagged down and he stopped to help us. He was very kind and didn’t call us idiots for driving on the desert floor. He immediately told us to remove the branches and said “don’t let anyone see” meaning using the branches. He was skilled and very strong. Within a few minutes the car was out of the sand hole and we gathered the kids and jumped in the car. We thanked him and he advised us to stay near the road and walk to the sculptures. Thank you good Samaritan.

After that we walked to the sculptures and we did more “drive by shooting.” Although we didn’t see all the sculptures we had fun with the ones we saw.

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Links

Ricardo Breceda: Accidental Artist
by Diana Lindsay
Link: http://a.co/ck8YGOr