california

Hiking: Iron Mountain

Iron mountain is one of the most favorite hikes in San Diego. Whenever we pass by the area coming from Julian, there are always plenty of hikers and parking is full. It’s a moderate 6 mile hike with an elevation gain of 1,100 feet.

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Hiking is more fun with friends. What a perfect day to hike when it’s a little cold but sunny. Today was kinda special because of this burst of cloud that looked like a fountain. This is our fountain of youth. Haha! Looking forward to more hikes with you guys!
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“Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other.” (Proverbs 27:17) Iron mountain sharpened our legs and feet. lol! Seriously, it’s a comfortable hike for everyone. 

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We just don’t hike wherever we want. We make sure that trails are safe and we are prepared. Thanks to Modern Hiker for his blog. Tips and overall information we need in hiking are very helpful. We bought our shirts from you! :) Matchy!

Hiking: Mount Volcan

We’ve agreed that as a family, we will hike once a month. By spending time together outdoors we avoid the tendency to be couch potatoes, lessen our electronics time at home, enrich our nature appreciation, sharpen our geography skills, strengthen our bodies and many more benefits. So we encourage everyone to go out and enjoy what nature has to offer. We can’t do it when we are old and weak. :)

IMG_0117As you can see, everyone is enthusiastic and ready to hike. lol!

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What an entrance to the hiking path! It’s totally unique. I was looking for Neptune! lol. Seriously, nice wood carvings there. Just now, I learned that this artwork was done by a Julian artist named James Hubbell.

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IMG_0144This is double workout for the dad. The pull. How can you hike when you want to be pulled?

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The push. Hahaha! This is really steep. I had to walk backwards going up. Weird?

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It was considered as a place for observatory before Mount Palomar.DSC_0514IMG_0389

The photobomber is having a blast!

IMG_6412How do I selfie? Let me count the ways…
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IMG_0418And the quadcopter did his job. Strike a pose!

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Salton Sea from a distance.DSC_0569

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You don’t have an idea what transpired here. From the start of our descent, she told me the story of Paddington the movie from beginning to end. Listening for more than an hour is a skill. :) Anyway, we had a great hike. It was tiring and challenging but a good one.

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Ocean Beach = Doggie Beach

 

A day in the life of Pooch… It was the head of the house’s forty something birthday and we decided to drive the Pacific Highway Coast til we get tired. We were beach hopping. First stop was this beach, my happy place called Dog Beach (Ocean Beach). A little trivia about this beach: It’s one of the first official leash-free beaches in the United States (according to Ocean Beach San Diego official website). Woohoo! Everybody’s having a great time here. But before I have my great time, they would not let me go around unless I pose for them. So here it is, with this giant umbrella that resembles my grandma’s color wheel. Maybe she would paint me sometime. Hmmm. What do you think? Look at me, I don’t have a leash and I am just obeying them to stay put and smile for the camera. I am a good boy.

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After striking a pose here and there, they let me be free but with one condition, no barking! I should be friendly with people and with pets like me. By the way, I heard Zena (my doggie friend neighbor) sometimes visit this beach. I hope one day we could see her here. It’s gonna be paw-some fun!IMG_2355You see, I am the youngest member of this family and they won’t let me be alone in the house on this special day. They love to play with me while the mother of the house is busy with photographing our moments together. They want me to play catch but sometimes I am overwhelmed with so many things. I want to chase other dogs and I want to run freely as fast as I could. 
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This doggie beach is perfect for pets like me. I just love going here. People and dogs like me co-exist peacefully and wonderfully here. What a wonderful world! Woof! Bring me often here. DSC_0271

Lake Tahoe Camping

As expected, we were hurrying to reach the campground before sunset. We passed by KFC to get some chicken for dinner. Thankfully, we got a bucket meal so it was less work for me to cook dinner when it’s already dark. Fast food is good food for campers. Haha! No bad chicken for dinner when everyone is hungry. :)

We reached William Kent campground with still some sun and was able to check out the area, meet some neighbor campers and set up our tent nicely. The campground was small and surrounded by residential areas. Though lacking in most essential amenities that we are looking for in a campsite, but we find it relaxing and more enjoyable than the other campsites we’ve been to. There’s no shower (it’s okay because we are checking in a hotel the following day), no light in the toilet (it’s okay, we have flashlights), not even flush (oh-em-gee) but it’s not smelly unlike other vault toilets (but it’s well maintained) probably the reason why there’s no light so you won’t see everything. It was quite a walk down to get to the toilet area. The good thing here is the proximity to the lake. It’s so close, just across the road.

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Here, the kids were playing while bringing stuff for our set up. I made sure that the food that we have are secured in that cabinet. We’ve heard that bears are common here, so better be wise not to invite them to our camp site.

tahoe8 After breakfast, which is as usual, “the trio” (spam, eggs and rice), we went to the lake. Lake Tahoe is very beautiful! So calm, and inviting! I’ve never seen such clear lake water as this one. But it’s so cold! I don’t know if this lake gets warm.
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Why so blue? So clear? I don’t know. I was too preoccupied by the beauty of the lake that I don’t want to read any more information. tahoe2 tahoe3

The area surrounding the lake is a very nice place to run or walk. I should have brought my running shoes then. :) I remember, we’ve seen a brace of ducks here that are so cute to look at!tahoe4

Family picture is a must! We had too many shots for a family picture by the lake but only a few were good enough because we were shooting against the light and just using a self timer plus the never-ending laughter. Anyway, that’s the best part, laughing all the time.
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We took a little time to check out the home of 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley.

tahoe10_edited-1 It’s been half a century since the 60’s Winter Olympics but Squaw Valley is still gorgeous up to this day. I love to hang out there!tahoe9

Playtime is part of the game at The Village, Squaw Valley. Trampoline anyone? Kuya feels he is too old for this.
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St. Regis Monarch Beach

St. Regis is love ! This premier resort in Laguna Beach, Dana Point has so many to offer for the entire family. Named after the Monarch butterfly, St. Regis Monarch has championship golf course, private beach, kids activities, spa, butler service, and more. st regis orange

Refined. Luxurious. Private. This resort is also popular for weddings and honeymoon. st regis orange9

This massive fountain is magical at night, romantic for a night walk.st regis orange2

Chocolates with butterfly wrapping, teas and cookies with gold dust were some of the welcome treats that we enjoyed!st regis orange3

It was summer when we stayed there. St. Regis boasts of more fun activities for kids than any luxury hotels. They held this “Butterfly Release” every Saturday that summer. It was to commemorate the breeding ground of monarch butterflies which is within the resort’s property. It started with a little procession from lobby to the ocean terrace. Then the butler read the story about the legend of monarch butterflies. Then butterflies were released. Some kids are afraid like this little boy. Some kids want to catch all. st regis orange4Another butler walked around giving butterflies in envelope to kids. He told Michelle to make a wish and then release the butterfly. Welcoming the adults to the venue, there were unlimited champagne offered by the servers. Cheers! st regis orange5

At night, kids and parents alike are treated to some storytelling and unlimited s’mores. Awesome night for guests!st regis orange6

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Pools are big, warm and has music underneath the water. Really cool! Mich didn’t want to go home.st regis orange8

To go to the private beach area, you have to schedule a golf cart service. It’s quite a drive going to the beach and one can’t just go there by foot. It’s so nice that even toys and sand buckets are provided for each child guest. St. Regis, one of the best! Till next time. :)st regis orange10

Sequoia National Park: Land of the Giants

Sequoia National Park is home to giant trees including the world’s largest, General Sherman tree. This park lies side by side with Kings Canyon National Park in Southern Sierra Nevada in California. This place is magical. It’s not ordinary to see humongous living things like what you can see here. You’ll be in awe. You’ll try to comprehend. And you won’t forget. seq2

We were already amazed at how big the Sentinel is, but it is just an average-sized tree here. Oh, well, biggie size in America is a usual thing. :)seq1

The visitor center shows how big the trees are in comparison with famous monuments and things. The giant trees here are compared to the size of the Statue of Liberty, Titanic, the great blue whale, and regular trees. People are mere dots.

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Some of the causes of death of giant trees are due to severe winter and falling down. It would be scary to witness a falling sequoia. I imagine it would be like how a cartoon show would portray that scene, flat like a card board. Seriously, don’t even imagine it.  seq6seq4

We received more than we sought. It’s not enough to read only what’s in this place or in any national parks. It’s better to experience it and enjoy being with nature. There’s more to it than just watching documentaries or reading blogs like this. We can better appreciate nature and it’s wonders by taking a break from our busy life.

Our world is big. We may be mere tiny objects compared to these natural marvels but we can help protect and preserve them.    seq7

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This is Adrian’s Lego Mindstorm robot, panoramabot which he programmed to take panorama pictures using my cellphone. That’s why we were a bit late from our schedule. Picture below shows us passing through “the tunnel log”. This tree fell down due to natural causes and was carved to let smaller cars pass through.   seq9

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We were practically running to make up for the time lost since wandering the giant forest. We had to beat the time for us to see the biggest tree before it gets dark. We highly recommend anyone going here to bring a bug spray or mosquito repellant. And expect mosquitoes and bugs to be bigger than the usual. Remember, you’re in the land of the giants.  seq13

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What can you see in Congress Trail? Not politicians but trees of course. This is a 2 mile paved trail that goes through the heart of the sequoia forest. You can see the famous House and Senate Groups, and the President, Chief Sequoyah, General Lee and McKinley Trees. Unfortunately, we don’t have much time to visit them because it’s getting dark. It was past 6PM when we were in the General Sherman area. One upside here, we get to take several photos with the General Sherman because there’s not much people left. Adrian’s panoramabot was very helpful.seq14

According to NPS (National Park Service), the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the largest (by volume) tree in the world. Massive. Gigantic. Enormous. Colossal. Monster. Humongous. Approximately, this tree together with other giants in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon live between 1,800 to 2,700 years. They’ve witnessed the unfolding of civilizations and they overcame drought & other calamities. What else? They’ve seen how the earth changes.

We salute you, General Sherman tree! You’re awesome! We hope that many more generations will see you. But even more, we salute your Maker, our Maker. :)seq11

4th of July: Hiking to Fireworks

It’s so much fun when you hike with a bigger company. Twas my second time hiking up Cowles Mountain and first time for our kids and visiting friends from Utah. Cowles Mountain has San Diego City’s highest peak with 1,593-foot (486 m) summit. It is also one of San Diego’s most famous hiking area because of it’s easy trail and easy access though parking is a bit challenging. The 360 degrees view of San Diego is awesome. Going up is 1.5 miles with an elevation of 950 ft. It took us more than 2 hours for the whole hike. cowles2 Our kids are not raised to be hikers so we know they would complain if only the four of us so I took the opportunity to include hiking in our summer itinerary. Since it’s 4th of July, we brought some American flags to join America as they celebrate their independence day. Flags sold out at Dollar Tree a day before the 4th. I was fortunate to get some (on sale!) from Albertsons before going up. Patriotic huh? Mich was getting ahead of us. She is revved up…for something.

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A man offered to take a photo of us with our dramatic pose. Haha! :) We are building memories here. Someday when we look back we will remember this fourth of July hike. Who knows? We might have a “then and now” picture years from now.
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Here are the machines of 4th! Our hearts, muscles and bones were happy that they got to work a little better today. We don’t want the machines to get rusty! We had them work extra on a sunny Sun Diego day!

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Looking forward to more hikes with you. Potato Chip, next? I so love it when we hike together. Cheesiness? Anyway, after the hike, we had a very nice excuse for pigging out. Chopsticks! Then we rested for a while and got ready for the fireworks at downtown San Diego.

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Seaport village is one of my favorite places in San Diego. I love spending lazy days here walking around, watching sunset, people flying kites, sailboats, yachts and many more. This place has a lot of cute stores and restaurants. I so love the gourmet Top of the Market.
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I’ve never seen this place crowded as today. Later on I found out why. It was a good idea to park near a train station and just use the train going here. Though our train ride reminded us of jam-packed LRT in Manila, it was still a better choice. Business was good that day for a peddler like this one (photo below). Mich was hinting me to buy because they accidentally left the glow sticks at home.

fireworks2photo credit: Adrian (He took all these night shots)

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We had the best view of the four simultaneous fourth of July fireworks in San Diego that’s why it was overcrowded. Our eyes feasted on the beautiful blasts and sparkles in the night sky. We’ve even seen something new but was not able to capture. It was a long day for us, a beautiful long day. :)fireworks5

Pier 39

A multitude of bees can tell the time of day, calculate the geometry of the sun’s position, argue about the best location for the next swarm. Bees do a lot of close observing of other bees; maybe they know what follows stinging and do it anyway.” – Lewis Thomas

A quick visit to Pier 39 includes people watching. We, or I in particular, love to see diverse people and observe what they do, what they buy, what they eat and many more. I love to see colors and life in every stores and things sold everywhere from souvenirs to candies at Pier 39.

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I would encourage our kids to buy local fruits than candies. But kids are kids. They’re attracted to candies especially the weird ones.

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Funny as it seems, the main reason why I want to go here was to see sea lions but we only saw one. A lazy looking sea lion. Looks like they all walked out. :) Maybe we missed the right time to see them here.

Anyway, to compensate the missing sea lions, here’s one of the best sunsets in the Bay Area. Dining to a very dramatic sunset was a treat!

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Yummy food from Pier Market. It was a long wait because of too much people that time…

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(2 years ago from the time of posting)

Water Play at Carlsbad Lagoon

Life’s been hard the past few weeks. If there’s food that would best describe what we’ve encountered last couple weeks, it would be salad, with its sweet, salty, sour, crunchy, juicy, cheesy, olive oily and flavorful characteristics. We’ve experienced pain and joy the same day when my husband was talking about funeral for his mother after Adrian got his certificate of promotion to high school. Anyway, God knows exactly what we need. We needed time to breathe and laugh and spend time with friends so here it is.

Everytime we pass by I-15 North to Carlsbad, we always see this place, Carlsbad Lagoon, and thought it would be fun to try it one day. It was such a fun-filled day spent kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, boating, wakeboarding and water tubing.

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The most thrilling and enjoyable part is when you mix screaming and laughing while gripping on the handle so you won’t fall on the water. Watching us slammed our bodies against the tube every time we were pulled to the curve and waves splashed on us, our cheerers laughed because of the entertainment we give.

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Adrian got to try wakeboarding due to my insistence. He got sore arms and he was not in the mood after that. If an angry stare could harm. Haha! I felt guilty (I know it killed his joy when we were in the boat) for letting him do it but at least he had experienced wakeboarding. Maybe he needs to workout and strengthen his upper body and arms before doing it again.

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Living in California for a few years, I am still not used to cold water. I’ve always wanted to do kayaking and paddle boarding so during the almost 100s (F) in May I was brave enough to consider trying them out. Perfect day to do it now in the summer with friends from Utah. I got to test my injured right arm for paddling and it was good. I think we can do the open water kayaking in La Jolla next time.

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Mich decided to just be a passenger if you will notice. She doesn’t want to paddle because she wants to look for fish. Below, yay! I’m getting there! This was the best that I can do for now. I need more calm waters. The waves from jet skis and boats make it difficult for beginners like me to stand up and I am not willing to fall. At least I can navigate. :)

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We enjoyed the beach, sand, sun and water for more than three hours of playtime, we were hungry and ready to eat bratwurst and sauerkraut.

Feeding the Seagulls

by Michelle

Birds are interesting animals. So are seagulls. One time, my family and I went to a beach, and there were two other men who were feeding the birds. My mom brought chips, and we fed the seagulls until we ran out. Whenever I threw part of a chip to the back of the birds, they were ready to fly away. But as soon as they saw the food, they darted straight for it. It was just so fun! I tried making a path of chips so the birds would get closer to me, but I couldn’t, because it was windy. I was disappointed when we had to leave, but it was still fun.

I remember when I was still sitting in the car. I wasn’t sure when my mom said,”Come on, Michelle! It’ll be fun!”(or something like that). Soon, I found myself feeding birds, and having fun! While we were feeding the birds, I saw a man holding a “to-go” box with leftovers, then he tossed it to the birds. When he left, I saw a huge brown seagull swoop down and grab the box. Another time, my brother, Adrian, throw a chip at the birds, then two birds ran into each other, because they were heading for the same chip!
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