Monday, December 31, 2018

Batiquitos Lagoon Hike (Nikon DSLR D3500)

Yesterday, Tori and I hiked the 3.25 mile trail on the northern side of Batiquitos Lagoon at the edge my home town of Encinitas. I have never hiked this trail before, but back in the 70's and 80's, my dad used to drive us over to visit the Monkey and Lioness that lived in two large cages on the eastern end of the Lagoon. (I will never forget the lioness, we would sometimes scratch her on the back as she lay up against the chain-link fence. Solomon, a friendly homeless man in our neighborhood, lost two fingers and his thumb when he risked giving her a scratch behind her ear. After that, I was too afraid to touch her anymore.) Due to the access to the sea being blocked by the railroad, the Pacific Coast Highway, and the I-5 Freeway, the lagoon use to stink in the summer during my childhood as the lagoon slowly filled up with silt. Between 1994 and 1997, Batiquitos was dredged and the tidal flow was restored to this natural estuary by building a jetty into the Pacific Ocean and lengthening the three bridges that cross the lagoon. It is now a nature preserve with several nesting sites for migrating birds. For the hike, I took my new Nikon D3500 that Tori bought me for Christmas. After owning several compact point-and-shoot cameras over my life, it is awesome to have my first DSLR. It is just Nikon's entry-level camera, but I feel like an official photographer now.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve Hike - Black's Beach

On Christmas Eve, Tori and I drove down to La Jolla for a hike along the California Coastal Trail. It was overcast as we arrived at the Torrey Pines Gliderport at 1pm. The gliderport was closed with no para-sails or hang-gliders taking off from the clifftop but we did check out the giant hawk and Peregrine Falcons sitting in the Falconry where they are trained. Next to the small platform of Black's Beach Lookout, I wanted to take the steep trail that followed the narrow ridge down to the beach, but Tori thought it was too scary after we walked down a little ways. So instead, we hiked down the nearby Gliderport Trail to Black's Beach.

Black's Beach is the only nude beach in San Diego, but we saw only one person without clothes on this slightly chilly winter day. The mist started to burn off and reveal blue skies to the Northeast as we walked along the black sand. Heading South, we came across a small waterfall pouring from the entrance of a large canyon. Up the steep sides, we could see people hiking along the Saigon Trail.

As we reached the Beach Access Road that descends from La Jolla Farms, we decided to continue on instead of turning back. Just before the Dike Rock headland, we came across the Bell Pavilion, a private residence built in 1965 by Architect Dale Naegle, that sits at the bottom of the cliff. Accessed from the main house above by a steep funicular track, I think the circular structure sitting atop the thick concrete column (nicknamed the Mushroom House) would be a fun place to live. Beyond, the tide was low enough for us to scramble across the black basaltic rocks guarding the Dike Rock bluff from the erosive power of the waves.

On the other side of Dike Rock, we returned to the wide sand along Scripps Beach. To keep our shoes dry, we had to make our way carefully over the shallow stream flowing beneath Hobbs Hall. Reaching the Scripps Memorial Pier, I took a picture of Tori performing a handstand in the wet sand underneath. This 1,090 foot-long pier is used for collecting data on atmospheric and ocean conditions and launching small boats belonging to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The pier also delivers 1.8 million gallons of fresh seawater daily to the Institute's research labs and Birch Aquarium up on the hill.

Leaving the beach, we climbed the Scripps Coastal Meander that follows the edge of the bluffs back North through UCSD. Reaching the top of La Jolla Shores Drive we entered the residential area of La Jolla Farms. We made a brief detour onto the Biodiversity Trail that circles the mesa top of the Scripps Coastal Reserve. Since our feet were starting to get sore, we didn't complete the 1.5 mile loop and instead continued on to the asphalt-paved access road and descended once more to Black's Beach and continued North.

The sun was beginning to set as we once again reached the base of the Gliderport Trail. Since we had skipped the steep trail along the narrow ridge on the way down, I decided that I would attempt it for the climb back up. I was out of breath at the top, but climbing the switchback path in the golden light was the highlight of my day. Tori once again took the more gradual incline of the Gliderport Trail but she took a good picture of me standing on the ridge three-quarters of the way up.

We ended up hiking a lot further than we expected. By the time we left at 4:30pm, our phones showed that we had walked 7 miles and the equivalent of 54 flights of stairs with our two trips up and down the bluffs. When we come back here, I want to hike along the La Jolla Trail which follows the top of the bluff and goes down into the canyon via the Saigon Trail.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

30 Day Handstand Challenge

Tori and I have completed our 30 Day Handstand Challenge with a group of friends. The challenge was to pose in a handstand for 60 seconds every day in October. Each day, we would group text a photo or video of our progress to keep each other accountable. From the beginning, Tori was able to hold it for the entire minute but it took me at least two handstands each day to reach my time quota. I started at 27 seconds the first day, reaching 45 seconds by Day 9 and completed a full minute with one handstand by Day 12. My form definitely improved and I was able to pop up against the wall on my first try, most of the time. While most days, we just practiced our handstands against the bedroom wall, Tori and I did have fun posing in a few different locations on the weekends.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Federica/Simon Wedding (SRF Temple and Darlington House)

On Friday we went to the Encinitas SRF Temple for Federica and Simon's Wedding. We arrived early so Tori could help the Bride get ready. Since Federica's father passed away many years ago, her mother walked her down the aisle instead. This was my first time attending a Self-Realization Fellowship Wedding and except for the officiant being an orange-clad monk, it was very familiar ceremony with vows, exchange of rings and the final kiss as husband and wife.

After the ceremony, we drove down to La Jolla for the reception. The Darlington House was built in 1925 and is now owned by the non-profit Social Service League which uses the proceeds from private events held in the large home to support their low-income senior housing next door.

After exploring the historic house, we tried not eat too many appetizers before the main meal. I failed since I had at least eight of the delicious bite-sized morsels being served by the wandering waiters.

Despite the recent heat waves, the wedding fell on a perfect day. After drinks in the open bar, we headed to our table for dinner around 5pm. Both Simon and Federica told touching and funny stories about how they first met.

Despite all the appetizers, I managed to go back for seconds at dinner. I don't know if I danced it all off later, but I gave it a shot. The cake was delicious. It was a wonderful day!