Tag Archives: America’s Finest City

*New Trail Alert*, Annie’s Canyon Trail-San Elijo Lagoon

A friend on Facebook recently posted about this new trail and that is how it got on my radar. I watched the virtual trail video and it brought back memories of Ho Chi Minh trail near Black’s Beach, although this is like a controlled Ho Chi Minh trail, because it has just enough excitement for my more out-of-shape physique without sending me potentially to the Emergency Department, which good luck, getting seen, by the way. So, this looked doable and interesting.

This is a good hike to do in the summer-time as it is along the coast or rather near the coast, so there is an intermittent ocean breeze that brings relief. There is a bit of shade and there are a few different points of entry depending on how long of a hike you want. You can get more info on that here.

Once you get to the sign that says, “Annie’s Trail”, you can take either the one way loop or the viewpoint trail.

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I made the mistake of choosing the viewpoint trail and so when we realized at the top that we had bypassed the cool cave trail and sandstone climb, well, we just had to descend and do it again! Tip: Use the carved in foot depressions on the side of the trail to ascend in the canyon trail, don’t cross-country ski up the sand on the bottom like I did until I realized the foot depressions were easier.

Bring water, I recommend a Camel Bak or light backpack to hold your water so you have your hands free for the strenuous climb part. You will need both hands to leverage up the cliff. It really isn’t that bad though. And it is a short ascent. You will feel like Sir Edmund Hillary when you’re done though. Small risk, great reward.

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Levering up

There were a lot of people out hiking the trail. With 660,000+ views on the County of San Diego website after only a couple of weeks being open, it is not a surprise. Please be courteous with extra people, especially older and younger and yield to those going downhill. Dogs must also be leashed, there are rattlesnakes out there. I know because I have seen several rattlesnakes in the San Elijo Lagoon Preserve before and you wouldn’t want your dog to get bitten by a rattlesnake because it is not a quick hike back to the road. It is, at best about 1.5 miles.

I hope this trail is around for awhile, it is pretty fun, great 360 degree views of coast, lagoon and to the east. Here are more photos below, just click on them to enlarge them.

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Summer is Swinging–Balboa Park After Dark

A chance encounter of the Balboa Park after Dark event last Friday had that jazz standard going in my head:

Balboa Park was alive with food trucks lined up all along the promenade, jugglers and plenty of live music–a DJ, a jazz group at Panama 66 and other bands playing throughout the park. The museums were all open late and a new sculpture exhibition scattered throughout the main plaza.

It was nice to see young and old enjoying the park. Taking in the ambience, eating a churro or fish n’ chips or looking at the duck family parading around the pond.

This is a great event to bring a date, bring your family or friends and dance a little, eat something and check out a little cult-chah…this Balboa Park after Dark event will run every Friday up until September 2nd.

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala

Many San Diegans such as myself have driven by this sight for years and had no idea how truly beautiful the mission and the surrounding property is right in the heart of central San Diego. It is located in Mission Valley adjacent to Qualcomm stadium, home to the San Diego Super Chargers, amidst a sea of condominiums and lifestyle apartments and strip malls and franchises. Not the most graceful location for this storied facade of California’s earliest history of settlement.

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala is heralded as the first mission in the western United States. According to the information I read at the museum, the Spanish King had sent Franciscan missionaries to the area to establish missions and convert the natives to Christianity under the guise of establishing a presence amidst territory encroachments by the Russians and other foreign powers. Father Junipero Serra was to lead the Franciscan missionaries in establishing these missions. And it is telling that the purpose of these missions is in the name as Alcala means ‘Citadel’ in Arabic/Spanish.

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Can you imagine if Father Junipero Serra had not undertaken this mission impossible to convert the resistant natives to Christianity? We would be eating goulash and blintzes at happy hour instead of Taco Tuesdays and Corona–so unAmerican!

I am grateful that Father Serra settled and established a missionary colony of 21 missions across Alta California as far north as San Francisco with the San Francisco Solano mission built in 1823. The Mission San Diego is quite different than when it was first constructed in 1774. It has withstood Indian attacks, abandonment, conversion to a citadel and fire.

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I believe this is an important and often over-looked part of San Diego history and amidst the chaos that is Mission Valley, this site is a peaceful oasis and a serendipitous discovery.

For $5 you can spend an hour meandering through the mission and exhibits, look at finds from archaeological digs on the site such as military buttons and 19th century spectacles and delight in the beautiful native landscaping.

A San Diego treasure!

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Fiesta Island Dog Beach

I’ve lived in San Diego half my life and recently discovered dog shangri-la. Partly because I had never been a dog owner before, but this is to my knowledge, the largest, enclosed (mostly) dog park/beach that I know of in San Diego. If any reader knows of a larger one, please share in the comments below.

Fiesta Island is about 97 acres of beach park with any number of events going on there at one time from races to jet skiing and the annual Over-the-Line Tournament. It is a “Yah Yah boy” central, what my Mom would call the pick-up truck, bandanna-wearing, hootin’ and hollerin’ youngins’ you would see flying by on the road. I always wanted to be one of those “Yah Yah” boys because they looked like they knew how to have a good time. Anyhow, I digress…

My dog loves this place, he can run and run without hitting a fence for some time and there are the calmer waters that he likes to wade in and lots of friends to play with. It is our happy place.

On one side is the bay and on the other side of the dog park is an enclosed part of the bay with more water, a large meadow in the middle with some trees, you can even exercise leash-free with your dog running laps inside the fenced area! Seaworld forms the southern part of the border across the water and there are more meadows that are leash free outside of the fenced in part.

For more information, I found a You Tube video that shows video footage of the dog beach:

And Fiesta Island also has a Facebook page for dog owners called Fiesta Island Dog Owners (FIDO):

https://www.facebook.com/FIDOSD/

If you have a pet or even if you don’t and need some cheering up, this is a great place to go. Bring a bowl and water for your dog as I do not know where there is available water and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

San Diego’s Public Market Soaring to New Heights

The new Liberty Station Public Market opened last weekend, termed a ‘soft opening’, but a media rep happened to alert me and I went down to sniff around. Most of the shops have opened, there are a few still under development, but it has already launched as a roaring success judging by the crowds down there today when I returned for another brief sniffing around.

The new public market is aiming to match the scale and success of other public markets in large cities–Pike’s Place in Seattle, San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market and Essex Public Market in the big apple, New York City.

An earlier attempt was made a couple of years ago in Barrio Logan on a smaller scale yet no less heroic effort, but sadly it was never able to garner enough support to make it off the ground before closing less than a year from when it opened. The location, while up and coming, was maybe too much of a deterrence for many, so that was a big reason for its failure to thrive.

The Public Market’s opening in Liberty Station is in tandem with the new ‘Arts district’ that is opening many new galleries, museums and shops alongside the market. Also, the second Stone Brewery restaurant is adjacent to the market so I am sure that doesn’t hurt to draw visitors.

In addition, you really can’t beat the location as a block down from the market is the harbor and the walking path that starts and goes all the way down to Spanish Landing. Families can spend the whole day  here and it is a popular site for events–runs, festivals, family fairs.

I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the shops when they open. What I haven’t seen yet is actual produce, but there is supposed to be a spot with local farms represented like Suzie’s Farms, Be Wise Ranch and others.

Today, I opted to try the Empanada shop–Parana. They have about ten different types of empanadas and three different sauces, chimichurri, a pepper chimichurri and a celery cream sauce. I was not blown away, but there aren’t too many places where you can get empanadas to go, so I won’t be too complainy.

We also tried Crafted Baked Goods for some sweets and got a couple of gorgeous looking cupcakes which tasted better than they looked, but again, just glad it is there and I am sure it will appeal to the masses.

For more information on the other shops and restaurants in the new Public Market, check out this link:http://libertypublicmarket.com/

 

 

 

 

Urban Adventuring in South Park

Can be found in Switzer Canyon in South Park. I recently took a friend on this hike and she was in awe of how many different trails and landscapes we came across on this short hike. The route to this trail begins in the midst of an eclectic neighborhood with old Airstream trailers, refurbished  homes with an assortment of architectural creativity. You then come across the entrance to the trail which drops down into the base of a canyon and then leads back to the bridge which houses the Switzer canyon sign. To get to the rest of the trail here is where your adventuring comes in. You might want to bring a flashlight as you will need to hunch down and pass under the bridge through a small tunnel. Don’t think about whether there are mouse droppings or meth needles on the ground, just use your iPhone app’s flashlight and venture forth! On the other side is some interesting graffiti and a rock-covered trail through the rest of the canyon. This deposits after a quarter of a mile along the perimeter of Balboa Park’s golf course and the backyard of some homes.

All in all, you will enjoy the challenge of this hike and it is a peaceful walk through parts of San Diego I am sure many have never frequented–some of the best parts about San Diego coming together.

Sweet Community in Old Escondido

Escondido has been becoming a significant suburb of San Diego in its own right over the past few years. Areas that once were full of old, unoccupied run-down shops and signs of blight are becoming renewed and EscoGelato is part of that movement. Nestled in the older downtown part of Escondido, EscoGelato is part of the revival of this area. Their website emphasizes that their gelato is made from scratch and that they support local farmers and artisans. One of their headers on their website is community and you definitely get a sense of community walking in…

The frontage is welcoming and dog-friendly with plenty of outdoor seating on the sidewalk. Inside has all sorts of different seating arrangements and knick-knacks on display. T-shirts hang from a clothesline, art is  on display and gift items hang out on a neat little bookshelf. The interior is bright and airy and there is an assortment of baked goods, salads, espresso drinks and soups and sandwiches to choose from in addition to the many options for gelato. This is a perfect spot for lunch in Escondido or breakfast with your furry family members.

So, we have already settled in with the inviting and interesting atmosphere, pleased with the offerings for food and now it is time to try the menu. We tried the half-and-half with a half tomato-and-cheese panini on Rosemary bread and Harvest salad, the tomato bisque soup and a Clementine Izze. The salad was mixed greens from a local organic farm, with bleu cheese, spiced pecans and dried cranberries and a light viniagrette. The panini was very flavorful with the rosemary bread and the provolone and tomato complemented it nicely.

The gelato was the star of this show, however. As my fellow Pursuiter commented, “You can tell there was fresh ingredients put right in there”. It tastes authentic and we all agreed it was some of the best gelato we have ever had, having tasted gelato around the world between the two of us, Escogelato earned high accolades from us.

Escogelato is a good excuse to come see some of the regrowth and development in Escondido and try some of the best gelato there is!