Saturday, January 7, 2017

National Parking: Joshua Tree National Park


Welcome 2017!

I got a National Parks pass for Christmas and decided to start the year as I mean to go on.   Going on with more National Park visits, that is.    Joshua Tree is one of the closer National Parks to San Diego and I had not been there since 2002.  It was time to pay another visit.  

National Park Passport - stamped!

Joshua Tree was named a National Monument in 1936 to protect the beautiful and unique plants in the park (special shout out to Minerva Hoyt - an activist who helped make this happen).   Prior to that, people were taking the trees to put in their yards in LA.   Joshua Tree became a National Park in 1994.     There aren't lodges or services inside the park, like you see in Yosemite or Yellowstone.   It's popular for camping, and there are different lodging options outside the park.   Palm Springs, Indian Wells, Coachella and Indio are within a one hour drive to one of the park entrances.



An Easy Two Day Adventure

My trip was very last minute and an easy two day adventure from San Diego.   I booked my hotel the day before and off I went.    A friend in Indian Wells met me for dinner at Eureka! and Wild Lights at the Living Desert Zoo and Garden.   She also put in her recommendation for buying dates at Shields Date Garden and epic sandwiches at TKB Deli.   A great way to start my new year!  

"Hoppy" Hour at Eureka

The beautiful Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

The Living Desert 
Dare to learn!
This pic does not accurately reflect the
awesomeness of this sandwich


Visiting Joshua Tree National Park?

  • Bring a LOT of water, sunscreen and layers.   This is the desert.   Even if it doesn't feel hot, it's very dry and there are not services within the park.  Dehydration will make you sad.   And sick. 
  • The Joshua Trees themselves are only in the northern part of the park (Mojave Desert).   You'll see them right away at the Joshua Tree or 29 Palms entrances to the park.    If you enter at the Cottonwoods Visitor Center on the south side, closer to Indio, you'll need to drive about 27 miles through the park before you see a Joshua Tree.  
  • The vehicle entry fee is $25.     Buy a National Parks pass for $80 and enjoy our parks all year.  If you are a senior, you can buy the Senior Pass for $10.  
  • I wasn't there for sunset, but I heard they are epic!  

Other National Parks to Love:



Klondike Gold Rush - Seattle
Mount Rushmore - South Dakota
Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming (home of my favorite summer job)


What National Park have you visited recently?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Travel Plans for 2016: What Actually Happened

I was looking back at a post from the beginning of this year, where I plotted out my travel for the year. Some of the trips were on the books already, and others came about because I moved mid-year. 

There were also some destinations that I thought about that didn't make the calendar for 2016....fortunately there's a whole new year ahead!

Where did I actually go in 2016?

Oahu 
Started the new year off right visiting a friend 



Big Island 
After 2+ years in Hawaii, I finally went to see the volcano.   And the southernmost bakery in the United States (important!).    
 
San Diego
When the year started, I didn't know where I would be moving, but it seemed likely that my next career move would happen in 2016.     I moved from Maui to San Diego in May.   Of course, this opened up a whole new city to explore, so I did a lot of local things over the second half of this year.

Some of my San Diego / SoCal experiences this year:  Balboa Park, USS Midway, Bike the Bay, Bike MS Bay to Bay, People-watching during Comic Con, Knott's Berry Farm,  Harbor Cruises, Going to a Padres game, Hiking Torrey Pines State Park, Moonlight hike of Cowles Mountain, Taste of Adams Ave, Taste of South Park, and the San Diego Santa Run.  

A Hui Hou Maui!
Hello San Diego!

Door County, Wisconsin 
I usually go every summer to fill up on cheese curds and kringle while visiting family.     This year, I'm also going for Christmas.   The real feel today was supposed to be -9 degrees.    My Hawaii / SoCal blood is NOT ready for that.    

Green Bay in summertime 

Colorado 
This is another annual trip, for the Jazz Aspen Music festival over Labor Day.    Also my best opportunity to visit with my family and friends in Denver.     I took a second spontaneous weekend trip in November, just because I'm back on the mainland and I can.
Always so beautiful, Colorado

Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria & Romania
I visited a friend who is a missionary in eastern Hungary and then went on a river cruise from Budapest to Bucharest with my mom.  

Cabbage Festival Time

Mexico 
When the year started, I thought I might be going to Playa del Carmen in the spring, but in reality, I took a day trip to cross the border here in California to go wine tasting in the Valle de Guadalupe.

Baja Coast

What adventures near and far did you have in 2016?   

Where are you going in 2017?


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Budapest By Night


Hello Friends and Happy Mid-October!



My big trip for 2016 just finished last week (sniff).    This was my first foray into Eastern Europe and I visited Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.    There's lots to share, including cabbage festivals, river cruising and hiking dogs, but first:  Budapest.  

Budapest, Hungary, is beautiful by day, but at night it shines.     Walking along the Danube River or enjoying one of the many evening river cruise options is a great way to see all the buildings, monuments and bridges lit up.

A few glimpses of Budapest by night





Ready to plan your trip?    


Saturday, September 17, 2016

National Parking: Cabrillo National Monument


Is it just me, or did summer fly by?

August went so fast that between two trips out of state, a week long visit from Mom and the normal business of work, that I haven't shared my most recent adventure in National Parking.  

While Mom was visiting San Diego, we fully enjoyed being tourists together.    We went to an Elvis themed Steel Beach party aboard the USS Midway, sailed in the sun on a harbor cruise, sipped margaritas and beer, and jammed out at Bluegrass Brunch.    And that was just in the first 48 hours.

Steel Beach Party

Part of our weekend of exploring was our visit to Cabrillo National Monument.    Mom and I are always on board to watch educational videos in the visitor center.    One of the most interesting facts is that there weren't any paintings or drawings of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who was leading the expedition that explored San Diego Bay.       Why is that interesting?   Because there is a statue of him at the park and I'm curious who they based his likeness on  

Cabrillo NM has two main sections,   the visitor center, scenic lookout and Old Point Loma Lighthouse on the top and the tidepools at the shore.    It's an easy site to visit in 1-3 hours, depending on if you're doing any hiking or tidepool exploring or just taking in the views.    Word is you can see Pacific Gray whales during their migration from December through March, so that will be my cue to go back and visit.  

Views of the city and the bay

Looking good lighthouse!

Visiting Cabrillo National Monument?

  • The park is only open during the day
  • There are entrance fees for cars, cyclists and pedestrians
  • The Bayside Trail and Tidepools close earlier than the rest of the park

Other National Parks to Love:


Klondike Gold Rush - Seattle
Mount Rushmore - South Dakota
Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming (home of my favorite summer job)


What National Park have you visited recently?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wisconsin Week: Frozen Custard


This week I'm celebrating the state of Wisconsin, just because I can.   
There is ice cream and there is frozen custard.    Both are delicious.
When I'm Wisconsin-bound, I like to get my custard on!

Wisconsin Week:  Frozen Custard

Wisconsin can't take the credit for creating frozen custard, but I see it there more often in WI than anywhere else.     According to Wikipedia, a shop in Coney Island was the first commercial producer back in 1919.   It made its way to the Midwest for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.  

As you may know, it's not very far from Chicago to the Wisconsin border.
And it's not that far from the border to Milwaukee.    Milwaukee totally got on board the frozen custard express.

Milwaukee has highest number of frozen custard shops per capita.  

When I fly into Milwaukee, I'm committed to supporting these custard shops.    My sister lived in Milwaukee for years and she's partial to Kopp's.  So here I am, dragging from a red-eye flight from Hawaii to Wisconsin ready to take on the world now that I have custard in hand.  

#sorrynotsorry

Fun facts about frozen custard:

  • Per the FDA it must contain 10% milkfat,  why do you think it tastes so rich and amazing?  
  • 1.4% egg yolk solids....if it's less than that, it's merely ice cream
  • Butterfat and egg yolk give frozen custard it's creamy and dense texture
  • Most custard shops serve vanilla, chocolate and a flavor of the day
Trivia from Wikipedia

 If you can't make it to Wisconsin....other frozen custard spots I recommend:


Have you tried frozen custard?   Do you have a go-to spot?  


Monday, August 1, 2016

Wisconsin Week: Cheese



This week I'm celebrating the state of Wisconsin, just because I can.   
The love of cheese is real.   

Wisconsin Week:  Cheese  

Wisconsin is known for it's dairy.   Cheese in particular.    For me, no visit to Wisconsin is complete without multiple servings of cheese curds.  

For many people, cheese curds may be just a thing of whispered legend.
Are they fried bar food?   
Are they served at fairs and festivals?   
Are they fresh and squeaky?  

Cheese curds are all of those things.    Cheese curds are a part of the cheese making process.   Before cheeses like cheddar are formed into blocks or wheels and aged, they start out as curds.   And yes, fresh curds squeak when you eat them.


Enhance your cheese curd knowledge at Eat Curds.   The Wisconsin milk marketing board wants YOU to know and understand the wonder of the cheese curd.  

Fun Wisconsin cheese and dairy facts to impress your friends:

  • Wisconsin has 127 cheese plants, more than any other state 
  • It takes 10 lbs of milk to make 1 lb of cheese
  • On average, each American eats 34 lbs of cheese each year (that's a LOT of cheese)
  • More than 96% of Wisconsin's dairy farms are family owned
  • Wisconsin was named America's Dairyland in 1930
  • Wisconsin is nation's largest producer of Cheddar cheese
  • The first ice cream sundae was served in Two Rivers, Wisconsin (and yes, I've been there to celebrate that fact in person)

Trivia from America's Dairyland

Wisconsin makes it very easy to get your cheese fix.   Just look for a sign.  A big sign that says CHEESE.  


If you're in southern Wisconsin near Kenosha, perhaps a visit to the Mars Cheese Castle is in order?  


And when you're up near Door County, in Algoma or Sturgeon Bay?   A visit to Renard's is a must!


Or a mouse.


Let's celebrate with some cheese!

Wisconsin Cheese Curds for the win!

Do you love cheese too?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wisconsin Week: Green Bay Sunsets



This week I'm celebrating the state of Wisconsin, just because I can.   
The love of water, among other things, runs deep in me.   

Wisconsin Week:  Green Bay Sunsets


I love sunsets and will hop up out of my chair, walk down to the water or step out of a restaurant to go and enjoy the moment.   Yes, I am that person.  In fact, I'll be that person again in just a few days.

Wisconsin is blessed with an abundance of water, so you can have your sunset shots at your choice of rivers, lakes and streams.   For me in the past 10 years, my favorite shots have been in Door County of the sun setting over Green Bay.

Fun Wisconsin water facts to impress your friends:


  • The Great Lakes contain a fifth of all the liquid surface fresh water on earth
  • Wisconsin has more than 15,000 lakes 
  • Almost 3% of Wisconsin's total area is lakes
  • Wetlands and abundant high-quality water make Wisconsin the nation’s top producer of cranberries and 10th-largest producer of trout
  • Wisconsin has more than 500,000 registered motorboats—about one for every 10 residents

Trivia from Wisconsin's Water Library

Let's celebrate with some beautiful Green Bay sunsets!



 



Do you have a favorite sunset spot?

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