Making Connections ~ San Diego, CA

The beauty of being a full-time RVer is the ability to balance a healthy dose of solitude with lots of social gatherings.  Winter seems to be best for the latter, as many of us are stationary for longer stretches, giving ample time to catch up with those taking a respite from the road.  There are a handful of states where many RVers go to escape winter’s frigid nature:  California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida most notable.  So it should have come as no surprise that several couples we knew, via blog or previously met on the road, flocked to San Diego to bask in the sun and let the cool ocean breezes wash over them.

Being just a short distance away from the big city, we have been fortunate to visit several friends the past few weeks who were grooving to San Diego’s vibe.  I have spent many a summer vacation in San Diego so I was content to just spend time catching up with old friends and reveling in their exploits.

Balboa Park

After a few days of exploring Anza Borrego State Park with Eric and Laurel (Raven and Chickadee) in late February, we weren’t expecting to see them again so soon, but their travels took them to the North Park neighborhood of San Diego so we got together and wandered cultural Balboa Park with them.  If you have not been, this park is 1,200 acres of stunning architecture, graceful gardens, interesting museums, and a great artist colony.  Lunch on the patio at Prado was quite tasty and, as you can see below, Eric got his money’s worth.

We extended our visit into the evening over a yummy salad created  by Laurel from what we had scored at the farmers’ market earlier that day. What a lovely couple and how lucky we are to be seeing them again later this summer.

Tasty little flight

The infamous Nina and Paul (Wheelingit) also breezed into San Diego, landing at the popular Mission Bay RV Resort.  For those who follow Nina’s blog, and who doesn’t, they were on a mission to taste test their way through as many San Diego breweries as they could. So, where else would be meet them for lunch than a craft beer establishment, Stone Brewery at Liberty Station.  Although we did not have much time to catch up, as they had family in town, it was wonderful to see them again.  Mission Bay is where our paths first crossed three years ago and it is always a delight to see them again.

Terry, me, Paul, Nina & sweet pooch Polly

I’m sure we can all agree that Nina’s blog posts have enriched our lives and given us adventures we may not have anticipated.

Next up was Jim and Barb (Bounding the Borders), a charming couple we were introduced to last winter in Cedar Key, Florida, two whom we felt comfortable with from the moment we met.  They came to Jojoba Hills for a week this winter, after spending time at Mission Bay, giving us ample time to share good food, drink, and great conversation.  I can’t tell you how pleased we were to reconnect with them, and knowing we are planning to meet up again later this year puts a smile on my face.

I have found there is a sense of serendipity to this lifestyle.  We learned over a homemade meal that Jim and Barb had met the very couple we were planning to join for lunch later that week.  So the four of us wheeled our way back to San Diego to meet Hector and Brenda (Island Girl Walkabout) for lunch at the Blue Water Seafood Market and Grill, a knock-your-socks-off place to go for fish tacos.  We had lunched here with Hector and Brenda once already this winter but everyone seemed to need a taco fix so back to Blue Water.  With any luck we may see the Island Girl dwellers later this year as well.

The breeze off the ocean seemed just right for a stopover at Torrey Pines Gliderport, and by the looks of the skies, everyone with a passion for the sport thought so too.

When we began this nomadic adventure, I dreamt of all the magnificent vistas that awaited us.  What I have discovered is that this journey is made much more satisfying by the extraordinary people connections we’ve made along the way, those on the road, those whom we have met only through blogs, and those at our Jojoba Hills’ winter base.

I toast all who have enriched our lives and look forward to meeting many more of you as we renew our wandering ways in a couple of weeks.  I am eagerly counting down the days. 🙂

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A Day Made for Ocean Kayaking

The serenity of a sunrise
The serenity of a sunrise

It all started when I stepped out the door and inhaled. The early morning colors and the crisp, cool ocean air seemed to imbue my senses, wrapping me gently in blue and golden hues.  The stately palm trees sensed it too, a warm sunny 75° day unfolding.

Sun's peaceful reflection
Sun’s peaceful reflection

We have been anticipating this day for the past few weeks, when we would launch our kayak out into the ocean and paddle to the kelp beds.  We had to wait until the surf was fairly flat and this day the gods were smiling on us as the ocean looked to be as serene as an alpine lake.  The surfers were none too thrilled I’m sure, but they have had plenty of opportunity to catch some big waves with all the high surf warnings we’ve had around here lately.

For the past few weeks, standing atop the bluffs, we have seen several whales spouting from beyond the kelp beds and we were hoping to see some up close from the water.  Dolphins have teased us with their surfing skills as well, joining in right alongside the other boarders.

What is it about floating on the water that can soothe even the most restless part of me?  The sight of the paddle dipping into the water as we propel ourselves forward,  sun’s shimmering rays dancing on the water’s edge, pelicans soaring just above the water’s surface…simply divine.

Brown pelican skimming the surface
Brown pelican skimming the surface

We managed to get the kayak into the water and beyond the break  without swamping the boat, a good first step.  Pointing our boat west we headed out, hopeful for new discoveries.  Looking down into the depths, we watched huge schools of silver fish dart to and fro, as tiny white jellyfish gently floated by. Seals lazily glided through the beds, looking for their next snack, but keeping a wary eye on us all the while.

We found friends Bill and Lisa out on the water, enjoying this sun-kissed day balanced upon their paddleboards.  They shared with us some of their great finds – moon jellies, zebra fish and leopard sharks, unfortunately none of which we saw, but a couple of surprises still awaited us before day’s end.

Lisa, looking like a beautiful blonde mermaid
Lisa, looking like a beautiful blonde mermaid
Bill enjoying a picture-perfect day on the water
Bill enjoying a picture-perfect day on the water

Just when we were about to call it a day, we spotted a pod of five dolphins.  Our best efforts at closing the distance between us and them were not good enough, as they toyed with us, managing to stay far enough away to avoid a photo. Suddenly we felt something glide beneath our kayak and a curious dolphin broke the water’s surface.  I clicked away in the hopes of getting at least one usable photo.  Sometimes luck is all one needs!

A lovely acrobatic dolphin
A lovely acrobatic dolphin

We couldn’t think of a better way to end our day, except maybe to see a whale or two, but that wasn’t happening.  Time to head back in, which can be the tricky part when in a kayak, particularly for a couple of novices.  If you don’t catch the wave at the right angle, you can end up getting pulled sideways and flip.  We took a deep breath, prepared for the wave coming our way, and proudly rode it into shore.  A most excellent way to end the day!

Two blissfully happy kayakers
Two blissfully happy kayakers

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Feeding Body and Soul in San Diego, CA

Sunrise on a cloudy day

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.  ~ Albert Einstein

I love the early morning, that quiet time before the pace that takes over the rest of the day kicks in.  Today is my day to do sprints, a way for me to “shock” my body, taking it out of its normal routine and kicking up the cardio a bit.  I know this is not for everyone and some days my body seems to be asking me, “are you sure this is what you want to do?”, but after it’s over I feel invigorated, so for me 30 minutes once a week works.  Being on the beach is the perfect place to do this, a nice soft surface, a cool breeze, the pounding surf, and the salty air.  What could be better?  Ok, a nice gentle walk along the beach, but I digress.

All together now ~ surf’s up!

Exercise time is over so I kick off my shoes and walk back in the surf, another great resistance exercise for the old bod.  The water is a refreshing 64º, that ‘just right’ mix of a little gasp when the waves rush over your feet and that feeling of utter bliss when the tide pulls back again and the sand is running through your toes.

Brown pelicans in flight

This is my time for reflection, meditation by the water if you will, and at times I find my thoughts moving back through time to the beautiful, rugged Oregon coast where we spent a few months earlier this year, and thanks to Gunta and her amazing photography, I get my regular fix.  San Diego is equally as beautiful and we feel blessed to winter here.

Paddle boarder catchin’ a wave
Wipeout!

Today began with a mixture of clouds and sunshine.  Mother Nature seems unsure which direction she wants to head, enticing us with a little sun, then pulling the clouds back like a nightshade, bringing a little chill to the air.  Whichever she decides, it looks to be a glorious day with temps around 70º.

Kelp~the sea’s gift to the shorebirds

My walk back has me jumping over large masses of seaweed which the ocean has presented as a gift for waiting shorebirds.  There are a large number of kelp beds off-shore near San Elijo State Beach and what may be viewed as large buggy masses to us is a veritable feast for these birds, and the kelp beds themselves are recognized as one of the most dynamic ecosystems on Earth.  Everything has its place in the world…perfect harmony.

Back at the RV, time for some breakfast of my own. Today I’ll share with you one of many smoothie recipes I throw together.  We like to get most of our carbs from vegetables, the green leafy kind being most dominant but berries just cannot be beat blended into a smoothie and are oh-so-yummy!  Here is what was on the menu today, should you be so inclined to whip yourself up one of these ice-cold treats.

Bluff along the beach.

Berry-Spinach Smoothie

(use organic ingredients when possible~makes 2 large drinks)

2 c. frozen mixed berries

1 c. water

1 scoop protein powder

3 large handfuls spinach

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 avocado

1 T. flaxseed oil or ground meal

Blend and enjoy!

Mother Nature has spoken; looks like another warm sunny day in paradise.  I hope wherever you are, even if the sun isn’t shining, you are having a marvelous Saturday.  Now off to work I go with a very big smile on my face.

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Sun, Surf and Sea Air ~ Cardiff, CA

For a second year we are back to work as Camp Hosts at San Elijo State Beach and tomorrow begins the big work week.  Imagine if you will a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at one of the best surfing spots on the West Coast and that is where our RV sits.  With near perfect temps, pounding surf to lull you to sleep at night, and intoxicating sea air, how can this be called work?  Yes, what we do classifies as work, but there is plenty of time for play and if we don’t get more than our fair share of exercise, shame on us.  We literally can walk or bike most any place we need to go, unless of course we want to head a few miles south to do more San Diego exploring, and we will be doing plenty of that.

For now I will leave you with a small sampling of the sights right outside our door:

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One Last…

One last sunset at San Elijo State Beach.

One last walk on the beach on the busy Memorial Day Weekend, marking the first of summer for families .  The weather was divine!

One last Eli Howard Surf School class to watch – beginner surfer dudes (kooks)!  Wish I could capture the look of excitement on the kids’ faces when they catch their first wave!

This was going to read one last strawberry balsamic gelato from Chuao Chocolatier, and it is amazing, but we decided to get a little crazy and go to Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria and have something we have not had in months, a pizza.  We walked away remorseful that we had not found this place earlier in our stay, everything was that good, all local ingredients and made on site.  When we walked in we said that it reminded us of a quaint little pizzeria in downtown Phoenix and later learned from our waitress that it was modeled after that very same restaurant.  The pizza was one of the best we ever had; the Eel River craft porter was delish;  and we were talked into staying for dessert, so no gelato, but the award-winning dessert we had was divine.  I am not a fan of butterscotch pudding (Terry loves it) but I must admit that the addition of some malted sea salt in this decadent dessert made it, well, heavenly.

One last view of the ‘Unconditional Surrender’ sculpture at the San Diego Harbor, depicting a sailor kissing a nurse to mark the end of World War II.

One last visit with the terrific young men and women Park Aides at San Elijo.

One last walk through the meditation gardens.

Today wraps up our first workamping experience and what a great first it was!  A big shout-out to the wonderful staff at San Elijo State Beach.  We could not have asked for a greater group of people to work with and our Camp Host teammates were a delight as well.   Tomorrow we hit the road again, to spend time at some of the National Parks in northern California, to reconnect with nature until time for Terry’s medical tests later this summer.

Lots of memories for us in San Diego and a great way to spend part of a winter and spring.  Today is the one last day to say goodbye to the staff and campers and breathe in the salty air at San Elijo State Beach, that is until we return later this year.

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