Have you ever been to a place that is so big you don’t have time to see it all?  You try really hard to explore this place but no matter how many stops you make you are unsuccessful and you leave wanting to come back.   This is basically how I feel when I am traveling to a new place and I have limited time. I turn these one day trip into a scouting trip or “quick trips” to see what the place has to offer.  Hopefully, I will come back another day to explore it with more time.

Normally I don’t document my quick trips because I don’t have enough time to photograph the place. Other times, it’s just a quick drive to my favorite places but because I already documented the trip I don’t feel the need to document it again. The problem is that during these quick trips I have the most fun and end up in interesting places and adventures. The photos and stories about these quick trips are filed away in my computer never to see the light again. This is why I decided to document my quick trips.

I live in Southern California my geographic area is the beach and desert. True  I am also surrounded by mountains but they are not covered in lush green pines. My mountains are naked, imagine someone shaving off all the trees on a mountain and what is left over are shrubs and rocks, that is basically my mountains. As bare as these mountains are they are beautiful to me. The desert is one of my favorite places to visit when it’s not trying to kill you by baking you alive.

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is one of my favorites, granted I haven’t explored the other surrounded deserts due to distance. When I visit Anza-Borrego I usually go to the same places over and over, mainly because I am taking new visitors to the desert. I also didn’t explore new places in Anza-Borrego because you do need a 4 wheel drive vehicle to drive in that soft sand. Thanks to my mountain man and Pepe his Toyota FJ Cruiser we were able to take a quick trip to the places that normal cars can’t take you to.

This quick trip to Anza Borrego was our first attempt to go on the 4 x 4 trails.  The original plan was to first stop at the visitor center to get some ideas where to go. We got distracted by the beautiful sky art at Galleta Meadows along the road and just wanted to continue searching for the metal sculptures. If you haven’t seen the video or blog about this amazing place check out the link below. It was like a scavenger hunt for metal sculptures. These beautiful metal sculptures have been weathered down to the point that some of the animals look realistic. I am yet to see the dinosaurs. While trying to reach the dinosaur sculptures we realized we needed a map so we headed to the visitor center to obtained a map which had the location of all the sculptures. We didn’t spend much time there the little time we had was spent on buying souvenirs. Yeah, I am a sucker for patches.

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Link to Galleta Meadows Blog


After getting the map we continue searching for the metal sculptures. We did see a sedan get stuck in the soft sand. Thankfully there was a jeep who had the equipment to help these people get their car out of the sand. Please keep in mind that you are in the desert and just because people drive on the desert floor doesn’t mean that your car can make it out.

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Since we were in the general direction of some 4 wheel drive trails we decided to check out Font’s Point after stopping at the northernmost sculpture. Trying to find these 4 wheel roads became a challenge especially because the map we purchased was not as detail as we wished. We did reach the trail with the help of the navigation system and the map we bought at the visitor center.

Once we started driving on the soft sand it became clear why not so many people come and visit this place. If you don’t know what you are doing or you have the wrong type of car the sand will swallow you up. When we reach Font’s point we parked and walked to a ledge where there were several people admiring the view. I found out about this place through a photo in Instagram posted by @californiathroughmylens. When I read that the photo was taken at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park I knew I had to visit the place.  Check out @californiathroughmylens Instagram account he has some amazing places to share.

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When I got to Font’s Point I was so excited to see the view for myself. The view was breathtaking. It was otherworldly and I felt I had traveled to the other side of the world to see something so beautiful and unique as the scenery in front of me. I couldn’t stop taking photos. I couldn’t believe this beautiful landscape was in my backyard.  We had to wrap things up because there was another trail we wanted to explore.

We drove back toward the main road but before we reached it we took another road called Short Wash Trail. As we drove along this road we notice that the FJ was moving from side to side due to the soft sand we were driving on. We couldn’t stop for fear that we end up getting stuck. Not that my mountain man was not skilled at driving the FJ but we could not deflate the tires due to lack of a compressor. Plus nobody knew where we were and that is not a good thing. We kept driving on the soft sand, looking for a big enough space to turn back.  We agreed to return back to this road when we were better prepared.

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Instead of taking the same road back to the main paved road we took another dirt road called Thimble Trail. It started off good then we started to climb a hill. Not being able to see what was on the other side and after retreating from the previous sand road we became nervous as to what was on the other side. the FJ started tilting skyward as if it was a cart on a wild rollercoaster. Trying to see what was on the other side of that hill was a bit nerve-racking. For all, we knew it was the edge of a cliff and a horrible plugged to the bottom. I know I can overreact sometimes. We moved forward and as the FJ tilted downward we saw the open desert floor and the dirt road leading toward the naked mountains straight ahead. The sun was casting a golden light on the landscape. We stopped,  got off the FJ and stood there in silence each with our own thoughts. We walked a bit to see our surroundings before we returned to the FJ.  This was a good day. We agreed to come back and continue exploring the desert another day.

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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.

Torrey Pines State Reserve


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.

Visitor Center

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.





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.


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.

Never to Late to Backpack


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.