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Pool Time

I was going through some photos I had transferred from my old phone to my computer, and came across this gem from my trip to San Diego last April.  The special effects in the photo are due entirely to the fact that my old phone was haunted.  Yep, my old phone camera was extremely simple, and had no reverse color special feature that I could ever find.  Yet it would randomly take photos like this, which I actually thought turned out very cool…

san-diego-pool-time

Would you swim in water that color?

It also made me think that I am in dire need of a vacation.  Someplace warm, where I can sun myself by the pool.  Soon…

At least it is the weekend!

Hasta La Vista 2016!

While I can’t say that 2016 has been the best year, it has become a tradition to do the annual year in review.  Although in some ways, I won’t be sorry to see 2016 go, I still have to remember that even with its ups and downs, I do live a truly blessed life.  So without further ado…

  1. My beloved grandmother passed away in February at the age of 98.  She lived a long, blessed life, filled with God, family and good friends, and she was ready to go be with my grandfather again.  I was lucky to have her for the first 40 years of my life, but I will miss her always.
  2. I took a wonderful girls trip to San Diego in April, full of bonding with friends and relaxing in the California sunshine.  We celebrated Allysa’s 50th birthday and saw the sights.  I tried SUP-ping for the first time too!
  3. I did quite a bit of local hiking this year.  I hiked Fragrance Lake twice, the Ozette Triangle at Olympic National Park, and the Chain Lakes loop at Mount Baker.  There is a peace found on the trail that is unmatched elsewhere.
  4. I took a long weekend to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins in Oregon and Southern Washington.  We went to a small town rodeo and went white water rafting on the stunning White Salmon River.
  5. My mom and I took a 10 day road trip through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming in August.  It was wonderful to spend so much time with my amazing mother, seeing the sights and laughing throughout our adventure.  More posts coming soon!
  6. I completed my 8th half marathon, the Woodinville Wine Country Half Marathon, in September with my dear friend Katie, with our friend Shelley providing support.  Even though the weather sucked, my 13.1 mile slog through rain and wind ended with a new personal record and a definite feeling of accomplishment!  And wine!
  7. My horse and the kitties are all happy and healthy.  Biz is down to just three old man teeth, and gave me a scare recently when he suddenly lost a ton of weight, but he is now on the mend and making me feel more comfortable about him weathering the winter.  At the ripe old age of 29, I am keenly aware that time with him is getting short, but the memories I have with him will last a lifetime.
  8. In November I took a long weekend trip to revisit Astoria, Oregon.  I went to see some old sights and some new, and relaxed over a beer at some of the town’s best breweries.  Even though the forecast called for a weekend of rain, I walked everywhere and stayed completely dry!  The rain began as I got into the car to head home.
  9. I am close to the two year anniversary at my job, and continue to enjoy the challenges and successes.  My staff are second to none.  And the vacation accrual is wonderful, as is the summer schedule!

I didn’t post as much in 2016 as I had hoped to, but still have many posts coming about my West trip, the half-marathon and Astoria.  I am hopeful that 2017 will have me back on a more regular posting schedule, as well as experiencing many new adventures.

Know that I am eternally grateful for all of you that I count as readers, family and friends.  Here’s to peace and happiness in the New Year.  Cheers!

San Diego 2016: The Bahía Resort

I don’t often (or ever?) devote a whole blog post to a hotel, but The Bahía at Mission Bay is a pretty neat hotel. It is right on Mission Bay, on a spit jutting out into the water. One side has a marina, the other side looks out on another section of the bay.

Guest can take a ride on a historic steamboat

Guest can take a ride on a historic steamboat

The Bahía is an older hotel, first opened in 1953, and it has been added onto over the years. There are various types of rooms and buildings. We were in a suite with a bedroom with two queens, and a well-stocked kitchen with full sized fridge, microwave, dishes etc. We were pretty excited that we were in the suite, because we were upgraded at no charge! They even gave us a fruit and chocolate plate with strawberries, grapes, apples, and dark, milk and white chocolate in molded seashell forms. Too cute!

The hotel gave us this fabulous fruit and chocolate (yes, the shells and flower are chocolate!) spread

The hotel gave us this fabulous fruit and chocolate (yes, the shells and flower are chocolate!) spread.  We sort-of ate some of it before we remembered to take a photo…

 

The resort has all sorts of activities for adults and children. A beautiful pool and huge hot tub, a nice exercise room, tennis courts, and shuffleboard. If you get bored with all that, there’s a shack right next door that rents paddleboats, stand up paddleboards, big wheel paddlers (not sure their real name), and if I remember correctly skateboards. I read that there was a place nearby that rents bikes and tandem bikes. You could do a different activity every day of your stay!

And, the resort has two harbor seals who live at the resort. The Bahía is designated as a rescue approved home for harbor seals who cannot be released into the wild. Both seals have limited vision, and were rescued early in their lives, before they had an opportunity to learn how to care for themselves, so they both would have virtually no chance of survival in the wild.  They live out their lives here, content to swim around their pool and play with toys, and get their two square meals a day. The wild Black-Crowned Night Herons appreciate their meal time too, parking themselves nearby to see what scraps they can get.

Rescued Harbor Seals live there!

Rescued Harbor Seals live there!

 

A Black-Crowned Night Heron waiting for dinner at the seal pool.

A Black-Crowned Night Heron waiting for dinner at the seal pool.

The Bahía also has a series of little duck ponds for little birds, surrounding by beautiful flowers – birds of paradise, hibiscus and others.

A Mandarin Duck. Not native to California, but he was so stunning!

A Mandarin Duck. Not native to California, but he was so stunning!

It was spring, and there were lots of ducklings swimming in the resort's ponds

It was spring, and there were lots of ducklings swimming in the resort’s ponds

 

This gorgeous hibiscus was blooming at the resort.

This gorgeous hibiscus was blooming at the resort.

The only thing I didn’t really like about the resort was the restaurant. I blogged about it previously… The food was nothing special and both times we went the service really lacked… Hopefully they will turn it around for future guests! Luckily, there are several restaurants within a 5 minute walk of the resort, with amazing fish tacos, salads, flatbreads, and grilled cheese sandwiches just some of the options!

A White Bird of Paradise plant at the resort

A White Bird of Paradise plant at the resort

I would absolutely stay there again – what a great resort!

 

San Diego 2016: The Del and the NAT

The last day of my San Diego vacation I was on my own. Angela and Allysa had departed the previous day, and Renée left that morning to attend her conference at the hotel. I had several hours until my 5 pm flight, so I packed up and took off for a bit of solo touristing.

First up, I decided to head over to the Hotel del Coronado. I have ogled it on websites and friends’ travel albums for years, so I didn’t want to leave San Diego without seeing it in person! It is a big hotel; actually it is the second largest wooden structure in the United States, (second only to the Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon – which I still totally want to visit, by the way). It was built during the Victorian Age of Grand Hotels; when it opened in 1888 it was the largest resort in the world.

The beach side of the Hotel del Coronado

The beach side of the Hotel del Coronado

The Del, as it is often called, is famous for its round pavilion tower. It was a construction marvel, requiring fresh water to be piped under the bay from San Diego, and lumber to be shipped from Eureka, California. It had electricity right from the beginning, although the builders ran the electrical wiring through gas piping, just in case that new-fangled electricity thing didn’t work out… The hotel is right off the beach, with gorgeous views of the water.

The street side of the Hotel del Coronado

The street side of the Hotel del Coronado

I wandered around the outside and checked it out; there are some areas that are only open to guests though. Inside, on the bottom floor, there are shops and a little coffee shop café. This is where it really gives itself away as someplace where the other half lives… The shops are super ritzy, and drip coffee costs $5!

I would love to have a spot here on a hot summer day.

I would love to have a spot here on a hot summer day.

The Hotel del Coronado has hosted its share of famous people, including Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and Mae West, as well, as several Presidents. McKinley, Taft, and Wilson, all stayed there, and so has Barack Obama. Although it is out of my price range right now, I hope to be able to stay there one day, but an outdoor selfie will have to do for now! Hopefully it will be a famous landmark for another hundred years!

My attempt at a selfie with The Del - sort of a fail...

My attempt at a selfie with The Del – sort of a fail…

 

I love the Historical Landmark signs...

I love the Historical Landmark signs…

After checking out The Del, I decided to spend a bit more time at Balboa Park. I wanted to visit the NAT, short for the Natural History Museum. They had a couple of movies on whales that were included in the price of admission, one in 3D! I watched Ocean Oasis, about Baja California and the islands off of it, and the phenomenon that allows this area to team with ocean life. And I also watched Whales in 3D, which had the most incredible underwater footage of several whale species. What majestic creatures!

A reproduction mammoth skeleton at the NAT

A reproduction mammoth skeleton at the NAT

I also had time to see the exhibits, including one on the fossils in the San Diego area – it was very interesting. They also had a whole collection of skulls; rodents, birds and larger mammals. It was fascinating to be able to compare the different shapes and sizes of skulls. I know, I am a little morbid, but I found it very fascinating!

Ammonite Fossils at the NAT - I loved these!

Ammonite Fossils at the NAT – I loved these!

It was the perfect amount of time at the NAT – I was just finishing up with the exhibits when it was time to head out to return to the airport. I did get a bit freaked out though on the drive back to the airport. The rental car return is very poorly marked, and I circled around the streets near the airport for a while before I found it. ARGH! Luckily, I managed to find it in time, and checked in and made it through security with enough time to spare.

What a wonderful trip!  I can’t wait to return to San Diego!

San Diego 2016: Old Town San Diego

After we left the Mission San Diego de Alcala we headed downtown to Old Town San Diego, located adjacent to Presidio Hill, underneath the bluff. For the first several decades, residents preferred to live within the Presidio walls or just outside, for protection from other Europeans or hostile Native Americans. By 1820, the threats had decreased, and San Diego residents were choosing to live at the base of the bluff in what is now Old Town San Diego.

The problem with the site of Old Town San Diego was that its location was several miles from navigable water, so supplies had to be brought overland from Point Loma several miles away. In the 1860s, residents began abandoning Old Town in favor of New Town (where the current downtown is now) because of its proximity to shipping ports.

We were hungry when we arrived after touring the mission, so we found a Latin American restaurant called Berta’s which offered cuisine from several Latin American countries. Renée had a wonderful Mango Avocado salad, a Chilean empanada and a glass of sangria, and I had Chilean Pastel de Choclo with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The sun was shining and it was warm – we enjoyed just sitting outside and having our meal.

Me sitting at Berta's among the Hibiscus flowers

Me sitting at Berta’s among the Hibiscus flowers

 

Renée's Mango Avocado salad at Berta's - YUM!

Renée’s Mango Avocado salad at Berta’s – YUM!

 

The gorgeous Hibiscus at Berta's

The gorgeous Hibiscus at Berta’s

After lunch, we walked across the street to the San Diego State Historic Park – a collection of historic buildings built between 1820 and 1872, when New Town took over in dominance. The park contains five original adobes, a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and a stable, among dozens of other buildings. Some are reconstructions. We enjoyed wandering around in a rock shop that was originally the Assayer’s Office, and toured some of the different displays in one of the adobe homes and other buildings.  We even sat on a wooden donkey!  The real donkeys didn’t want to come over and talk to us…  The entire park is free to visitors, and there are living history demonstrations too.

The Assayer's Office - there was a wonderful rock shop inside

The Assayer’s Office – there was a wonderful rock shop inside

 

One of the original adobe homes at Old Town

One of the original adobe homes at Old Town

 

This little bird was singing his heart out at Old Town

This little bird was singing his heart out at Old Town

Nearby, there are other historic sites that are not part of the San Diego State Historic Park too. I could have spent a couple of days just wandering around Old Town San Diego, checking it all out. I wish I had more time! It is nice that Renée has a similar appreciation for historic sites, so I didn’t feel like I needed to rush. I would have loved to have seen the Whaley House Museum that is nearby. I will certainly have to return…

The Old Town General Store

The Old Town General Store

 

One of the shops at Old Town San Diego - an interesting combination of items.

One of the shops at Old Town San Diego – an interesting combination of items.

 

The Colorado House at Old Town San Diego

The Colorado House at Old Town San Diego

 

Renée posing with the jail - they didn't let you go inside though...

Renée posing with the jail – they didn’t let you go inside though…

 

Renée had to be back at the hotel before 2:30 that afternoon for a meeting for her conference, so we left Old Town San Diego and headed back to the resort. I took the opportunity to get in some pool time. Angela and Allysa had to head out to the airport to fly home, while I was staying one more day. I enjoyed some time just laying by the pool with my book and my travel journal. And then I spent some time walking along the beach and collecting some shells.

That evening Renée and I went out to dinner at the Pacific Beach Fish Shop with a coworker of hers (my former coworker) who had also flown in for the conference. We had lobster lumpia, fish tacos, and beer. I swear I would be there all the time if I lived there…  It was all so delicious!

Our meal at the Pacific Beach Fish Shop - to die for!

Our meal at the Pacific Beach Fish Shop – to die for!

San Diego 2016: Mission San Diego de Alcala

The Mission San Diego de Alcala was the first mission founded in Alta California, in 1769 by Father Junípero Serra. The location of the current mission is the second location, having been moved to more fertile soil five years after the mission was established. The original site was on a bluff overlooking the water, where the Presidio was located (there is a park preserving the site, but no original historic structures remain), so it is aptly named Presidio Hill. The Presidio was also founded in 1769, a few months earlier than the Mission.

The front of the Mission San Diego de Alcala, California's oldest mission, founded 1769.

The front of the Mission San Diego de Alcala, California’s oldest mission, founded 1769.

Colonists began arriving shortly after the mission was built, but sadly, there was an uprising by the Native Americans, who killed the priest and two other people and burned the mission.  It was rebuilt at the original site as a fireproof adobe, but in 1774 it was moved 6 miles inland along the San Diego River to ensure a consistent water supply.  Like other missions from the time, it was destroyed periodically by earthquakes; in this case earthquakes struck both in 1803 and 1812.

Most of the current mission was rebuilt in 1931; at that time only one wall of the mission remained, and the rest was a ruin. The mission has a self-guided tour, where you can walk through the priest’s quarters, the church, the garden and a smaller chapel. The tour was interesting, as there are several informational signs detailing what life was like for the priests and the Native Americans living at the Mission.  It is an active Catholic parish, so if you want to go inside the chapel, you do need to time your visit so that it is not during Mass.  Or, alternatively, you can attend Mass and experience it in this beautiful historic church.  The Mission San Diego de Alcala is designated as a Basilica, or a church of historic significance.

A view of the Mission church

A view of the Mission church

 

The altar in the Mission church

The altar in the Mission church

The garden was beautiful, with lots of blooming flowers, including several interesting colors of Bougainvillea.  The mission also has two historic bells in the bell tower with a description of the history of the bell. I love reading about the little details of a place. The three small bells on top are copies of originals. The large bell on the bottom left (in my photo taken from the garden) is an 1894 recasting of the original Mater de la Rossa bell. It is the largest of the two larger bells, weighing 1200 pounds!  The bottom bell on the right is from 1802, and weighs 805 pounds.  It is amazingly intricate with a crown motif on the top.  The cross at the top of the bell tower is made from timbers from the original Mission.

What a unique color of Bougainvillea!

What a unique color of Bougainvillea!

 

A gorgeous Hibiscus flower at the San Diego Mission.

A gorgeous Hibiscus flower at the San Diego Mission.

 

The Bell Tower at the San Diego Mission

The Bell Tower at the San Diego Mission

In the garden there is an area with the stations of the cross, and interestingly they have an abstract representation taking center stage.  If you aren’t familiar with the stations of the cross, they are:

  • One: Jesus is Sentenced to Death
  • Two: Jesus Takes His Cross
  • Three: Jesus Falls
  • Four: Jesus Meets Mary, His Mother
  • Five: Jesus is Helped by Simon
  • Six: Veronica Helps Jesus
  • Seven: Jesus Falls a Second Time
  • Eight: Jesus Talks to Some Mothers
  • Nine: Jesus Falls for the Third and Last Time
  • Ten: Jesus is Stripped
  • Eleven: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
  • Twelve: Jesus Dies on the Cross
  • Thirteen: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
  • Fourteen: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
The abstract representation of the Stations of the Cross

The abstract representation of the Stations of the Cross

Off the courtyard is a small chapel (La Capilla), with the altar and choir stalls that were brought over from a 17th century Spanish convent. They were amazing.  The stone floor in La Capilla came from Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City. 

The altar of the small chapel, La Capilla, at the San Diego Mission

The altar of the small chapel, La Capilla, at the San Diego Mission

 

The choir stalls in La Capilla

The choir stalls in La Capilla

 

Some of the Native American artifacts in the Mission museum

Some of the Native American artifacts in the Mission museum

The Mission San Diego de Alcala was beautiful and it was certainly worth a visit to see this historic site.  And it brings my total of California Missions up to 6.  I still have so many more to see!

 

San Diego 2016: Balboa Park Afternoon

Our server at The Prado gave us a really good tip. She told us about the Imax movie, National Parks Adventure, that was playing at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. We managed to rush over there and get our tickets just in time for the next showing, and tucked into our seats just as they were starting the movie. It is narrated by Robert Redford and features Conrad Anker, one of the most famous mountain climbers and adventurers alive today. It is totally full of spectacular scenery of our National Treasures. The Prairie Dogs are adorable, and the aerial photography is amazing. It is worth seeing if it is playing someplace you’ll be!

After the movie, we checked out a little shop for some souvenirs, then made our way over to the Japanese Garden. The Japanese Friendship Garden was founded during the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition, and has several Koi ponds, Bonsai trees, a Zen garden for meditation, and a tea house (separate admission fee for the tea house). I was a bit disappointed that you could only see the Zen Garden from inside.  I would have liked to sit out in the open air to enjoy it.  We wandered up and down the paths of the two acre garden, and found some cute ducks chillin’ in the lower stream. We just did the garden, but it would be fun to visit a Japanese Tea House at some point in my life!

Angela checking out the Koi at the Japanese Garden

Angela checking out the Koi at the Japanese Garden

 

Some of the Koi at the Japanese Garden

Some of the Koi at the Japanese Garden

 

A view of the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park

A view of the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park

The Koi were amazing – big and beautiful and they swam right up to you. I’m sure they were expecting their dinner… I started naming them, because of course I’m just like that. And the bonsai trees were pretty. It takes such talent to train them in those tiny, pretty shapes! We even found a couple of lizards hanging out on the paths. One of them was not impressed that Renée touched him!

My lizard friend at the Japanese Garden. He liked us until Renée touched him...

My lizard friend at the Japanese Garden. He liked us until Renée touched him…

 

My girls at the Japanese Garden. Aren't they adorable?

My girls at the Japanese Garden. Aren’t they adorable?

 

Me at the Japanese Garden at Balboa Park

Me at the Japanese Garden at Balboa Park

After we left the Japanese Garden, there was talk of finding a restaurant that had karaoke (this was NOT my idea). I have to admit that I was a bit relieved that we couldn’t find any place, as I am an absolutely terrible singer… Instead we went back to the resort and walked down to the beach, to a restaurant called Draft. We ordered beers – they have close to a gazillion on tap from all over the country. I had the Bell’s Brewery Amber Ale. And the grilled watermelon salad was to die for. It was so delicious! I hate to admit that I loved it so much that I didn’t even offer to share. I hope you can understand and forgive me… My friends ordered chorizo flatbread, which was also very good, but spicy!

My scrumptious grilled watermelon salad at Draft

My scrumptious grilled watermelon salad at Draft

 

Chorizo Flatbread and Bell's Amber Ale at Draft

Chorizo Flatbread and Bell’s Amber Ale at Draft

Unfortunately, it was cloudy and cold that evening, so the sunset was barely visible, and it was really too cold to sit out on the beach to watch it anyway! So we enjoyed our beer and food at the bar, and caught the tail end of one of the Stanley Cup Finals games.  Hockey isn’t really on my usual list of activities, but I enjoyed it with my friends.  And Draft was a great ending to a good day!