Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Goodbye Ginger

Ginger passed away from cancer on Christmas Day. She was diagnosed with Lymphoma back in August, shortly before the one year anniversary of our adoption from the shelter. It is too soon to lose our first dog. We will miss her!!

She was a great dog despite her fear issues around strangers and other dogs. At home, she was very sweet and well behaved. No chewing, no begging, no stealing food from the counter, no jumping on the furniture.

She loved her walks and daily car rides. She also loved to hunt lizards in the shrubbery on Garden View Court. Before she got sick, we were practicing getting Ginger used to the presence of other dogs on her walks and to visitors in our home with positive reinforcement. She had improved a lot since we first got her.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Lake San Marcos Cross (Cerro de las Posas Mountain)

On Sunday, we hiked the Sunset Trail from San Elijo Hills Park to climb the Cerro de las Posas mountain. The first part was up and down until we reached the steep section of the climbing trail after Lighthouse Road. In the canyon below we could see the concrete dam along the San Marcos Creek. It was originally built in 1946 to create a 40 acre lake for irrigation and watering cattle.

As we walked above the long tail of the narrow lake, we reached the eight pointed cross overlooking the unincorporated town of Lake San Marcos. In 1963, the property was purchased by developers who raised the height of the dam, increasing the lake’s size to 80 acres and built homes, resorts, and marinas along the reshaped shoreline. We have been to the lakefront restaurant in the past for a Christmas dinner.

We continued our hike up the mountain to reach the transmission tower on the 1,207 foot peak. The trail looped around the summit and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset as we descended. Our total hour and fifteen minute hike was 2.73 miles by the time we returned to my truck. It was a nice workout climbing the 728 feet of elevation gain along the trail.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Seven Bridges Walk (December Nights at Balboa Park)

On Saturday, we decided to complete the Seven Bridges Walk that loops through Banker's Hill, Balboa Park and Hillcrest over 5.7 miles. Our first stop was the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge that we first visited back in 2017 to take some AcroYoga pictures in the middle of the 375 foot span. It had been a little scary lifting Tori in the air 70 feet over Arroyo Canyon. The bridge was built in 1912 by the City of San Diego to connect the hilly neighborhood to the former trolley stop on 4th Avenue. On this visit, the bridge was busy so I stayed in the middle of the path to avoid the rocking back and forth caused by all the foot traffic.

Our second stop was the Quince Street Bridge that spans Maple Canyon between Third and Fourth Avenues. It was our first time visiting this wooden trestle bridge that was built in 1905 for only $805 before being rebuilt again in 1990 due to termites and dry rot for $250,000. The pretty bridge is 236 feet long and 60 feet tall and was also built to access to the Fourth Avenue trolley line.

Our third crossing was the Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park, built in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition. When it was first built, a man-made pond lay under the 120 foot tall bridge where the 163 Freeway now passes underneath. At least 50 people attempted suicide from this bridge before the taller Coronado Bridge was built over San Diego Bay. We hadn't planned it, but we stumbled onto the two-day December Nights event in the park. If we had known about the event in advance, we probably would have picked another day for our walk to avoid the heavy traffic into the neighborhood.

The El Prado promenade was decorated and crowded with food trucks, gift vendors and buskers. We detoured over to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion where a Christmas choir was performing before the 8pm Switchfoot concert. On the far side of the park, we crossed the smallest bridge of our walk, the El Prado Bridge and explored the Rose and Desert Gardens. Our favorite was the chubby little Queensland Bottle Tree.

Since we were distracted by the December Nights and starving, we decided to backtrack through Balboa Park instead of completing the loop up Park Avenue. Walking along the back paths, we passed the skeletal dome of Botanical Building in the middle of its three year renovation. The arboretum was originally built in 1915 and is scheduled to reopen in 2024. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" is playing at the Old Globe Theater and the California Tower was all lit up with Christmas lights. Walking north to NOLA on 5th in Hillcrest, we both ordered the New Orleans Trio to try the Gumbo, Etoufee, Jambalaya with Red Beans and Rice. They were all delicious and we finished by sharing the White Chocolate Bread Pudding.

Since we skipped the final bridges of our walk, we returned a week later. We parked north of the Vermont Street Bridge and crossed the 420 foot bridge over high-speed Washington Street in the canyon between University Heights and Hillcrest. This new bridge was built in 1994 to replace the original 1916 wooden trestle bridge demolished in 1979.

Walking down University Avenue, we passed briefly into North Park to visit the Georgia Street Historical Bridge. The single arched concrete bridge was built in 1914 after a streetcar line was cut through the ridge on Georgia Street. Electric trolleys ran under the 50 foot tall bridge along University Avenue until 1948. During the 2016 renovation, they discovered two sets of old railroad ties when the lowered the roadbed under the bridge.

Walking north along Park Avenue, we entered University Heights. It was my first time visiting this part of the city and we went all the way north to the Old Trolley Barn Park overlooking Mission Valley. For dinner, we ate on the rooftop deck of the Kairoa Brewing Company, the New Zealand pub right next to the lighted neighborhood sign of a trolley car. The food was delicious and the large fries may be the best I have ever had. Crispy on the outside, but light and airy on the inside. I would also highly recommend the Wagyu Jam Burger (Gouda Cheese, Bacon Jam, Bibb Lettuce, Heirloom Tomato, Garlic Aioli and Brioche Bun).   

Technically, we only crossed 6 of the 7 seven bridges of the urban loop walk, but we didn't feel the need to visit the boring freeway overpass on University Avenue. We have driven over it many times in the past though.  :)

Monday, November 27, 2023

North County Hikes (Denk Mountain, Copper Creek Falls and San Elijo Lagoon)

The day after Thanksgiving, Tori and I hiked to the summit of Denk Mountain in the Rancho La Costa Reserve. We have driven past it countless times throughout our lives but never climbed it. It is the highest point in Carlsbad and named after the Denk family that owned most of the surrounding land during the 1900s. We started counter-clockwise on the Copper Creek Trail Loop which immediately began ascending the northern side of the 1,000 foot hill. It was a beautiful day with fluffy white clouds and we could see across the valley to the summit of Double Peak in the San Elijo Hills that we hiked last month. We could also see the San Marcos Landfill that closed in 1997. It now looks like just another green hill but I remember visiting it dozens of times with my father in the 80s. 

Only slightly out of breath after reaching the top, we had panoramic views of Carlsbad, Encinitas and San Marcos that join borders on the mountain. It was hazy along the coastline but it was easy to spot the Batiquitos Lagoon. After a short break, we descended the southern slope along the Whiptail Trail, stepping to the side several times to let mountain bikers pass.

At the bottom of the long winding trail, we joined the Copper Creek Trail that circles the eastern base of the mountain. We could hear the Copper Creek Falls before we saw them. It was small but still bigger than I was expecting. I was surprised to learn that copper was discovered here in 1864 and 4 mines collected low-grade ore for over 30 years. You can still see the old stone walls from the Encinitas Mining District that remained after the shafts were blasted shut in 1917. The exposed rock around the falls have a greenish hue from the remaining traces of copper in the ground. Small wooden bridges crossed the flowing creek several times before we reached the trailhead at the end of the loop. With our two extra detours to the summit and the falls, the hike ended up being 4.15 miles.

On Saturday, we went over to the San Elijo Lagoon after an early dinner at Best Pizza & Brew. (Awesome Greek Salad!) Parking at the Via Poco Trailhead, we crossed the new pedestrian suspension bridge under the 5 Freeway that opened in the fall of 2020. The setting sun gave a warm glow to the normally shady underpass.

Crossing the lagoon is so much easier on the North Coast Bike Trail that runs alongside the freeway. We walked all the way to the Solana Beach side of the lagoon on the Solana Hills Trail before returning on the bike path. The sun finished setting over the ocean right at the end of our short 2 mile walk.

Tori skipping along the San Elijo Lagoon at Sunset.