Sublime San Diego

We lived in San Diego for several years. Leaving there was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s a beautiful city and there is no end to the terrific weather and outdoor entertainment opportunities. But, alas, economics speak louder than sunshine and when a promotion opportunity presented itself which required relocating, sadly, we jumped on it. No regrets. I think.

Thankfully, we still have family in San Diego so we have an excuse to visit once in a while. But we hadn’t been back in over three years so we were quite surprised at HOW MUCH WE LOVE THIS PLACE. Why on earth did we ever leave?? Lol

This visit we spent a day at Ocean Beach. Beach culture was in rare form as there was a surfing competition going on. I never saw so many hairy legs, bare feet and tattoos in my life. Or at least not in three years. Talk about keeping it real. Surfers and surfer lovers were everywhere. Many had vans backed up to the beach and were pretty much camping out in them. And little nearly naked kids were scampering about or sleeping in the back of the vans.

Ocean Beach- giant waves under the pier

It was a perfect day for surfing. The waves were the biggest I’ve ever seen in Southern California. They were hitting the bottom of the pier. I don’t know how waves are measured but they looked about 15 feet tall. My sister-in-law was telling us that the pier had been damaged recently by monster waves during a storm and part of it had to be replaced. Since then they’ve occasionally had to close the pier to visitors for safety’s sake. She was surprised it wasn’t closed that day. I have no idea why the waves are higher than usual. Do you?

Anyway we enjoyed the most amazing lunch at a little well known burger joint called Hodad’s. That was a terrific experience altogether- the place is super fun and beachy and the food is delicious.

We spent a day at Balboa Park. In all seriousness, it would probably take 2-3 days to see everything Balboa Park has to offer, so one full day isn’t saying much. But gosh, the weather was lovely and this is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Skip did some sketching while his sister and I wandered around and enjoyed the sunshine. It was nice to have someone to hang out with while he sketched!

Here are a couple of his sketches:

I’m so glad when he has the opportunity to sketch. It really enriches our travel experience!!

We visited the San Diego Museum of Art which is in the park. Very nice museum and a wonderful way to pass a couple hours while we were waiting to meet the rest of the family for dinner. Here are a couple of my favorite pieces:

The Madonna of the Roses – Bouguereau
The Crucifixion- Bernat

We also really enjoyed a ‘Digital Animation’ exhibit called Fates by artist Nick Roth. It was ten minutes long and completely fascinating. Set to music in a dark room, we found it nearly hypnotizing. Here’s a brief video. Sorry, the video doesn’t do it justice.

Our visit was much too short. We had to head back home to Oklahoma early to beat an impending winter storm. Man, was it a shock to walk out into the frigid air at the airport in OKC! The next morning we awoke to nearly five inches of snow on the ground. We chose wisely. There were lots of flight delays and cancellations.

There’s so much more to see and do in San Diego but that’s mostly what we managed to do in our few days there. If you are planning a visit to SD and have questions or need suggestions, we’re happy to help!

Asbury Park Boardwalk

The beach. Fresh ocean breezes, the sound of the waves tumbling to shore, toes dug deep into the cool sand. Nothing compares. I was raised in the southwest, so any time I had the pleasure of visiting the beach, it was a treat. As a child, the saltier, stickier and more sunburned I was, the better.

As an adult, the sticky, gritty, beach is a bit less appealing. Sipping a cold beverage in the shade whilst sitting in a comfortable chair- much more appealing. Imagine my delight to discover the concept of a boardwalk.  I mean, California has its piers and Florida has, well, mostly sand. It wasn’t until I first came to the greater New Jersey/New York area that I discovered the sublime addition of a boardwalk to the beach.

In my perfect world, all beaches are Asbury Park.

With its long, smooth, wooden walkway, its variety of eateries and shops, and its lovely beach, Asbury Park is the best of all worlds.  Stroll along with your family, grab a Korean Fusion Taco or a Coney Waffle cone. Linger with your lover and enjoy a martini at Stella Marina in the cool breeze. Stay into the evening at The Anchor’s Bend. Dig your toes into the sand, enjoy the fresh air, sip a beverage – you might even get to experience some terrific live music.

the anchors bend
Enjoying an Evening at The Anchor’s Bend

I can regale you with tales of relaxation and tranquility, describe to you the riches to be found in the various shops, tempt you with lunch, dinner and treats, but don’t take my word for it. Check out the awesome and informative Asbury Park Boardwalk website.

There’s plenty more to know than what I can tell you!

Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

Usually when we travel, we stick to the big cities. We spend our time walking city streets or trying to figure out train schedules. We Uber. And we do love the city. But this trip out, on a lark really, we decided to visit the arid and quiet western coast of Costa Rica.

The airport near Liberia is a short three hour flight from Houston Intercontinental and we were in our rental car headed to our hotel on the Pacific Coast well before noon. By 2:00 pm, we had eaten a delicious traditional Costa Rican lunch of arroz con pollo, checked into our room, taken a walk, seen monkeys sleeping in a tree and realized those loud birds carrying on high up in the trees were parrots.

We saw so many iguanas it was funny how impressed we were with the first one we saw. By the way, I am told the black ones are not actually iguanas, they are called ctenosaurs, but it seemed like the general consensus was that all large lizards are iguanas. Ctenosaurs lay real still until they don’t, and then they move fast like a tornado. We were walking along the road and got too close to one which unexpectedly bolted and scared us half to death. I actually attempted to jump into my husband’s arms. I thought surely those things must weight 20 pounds, but I looked it up and they only grow to eight pounds. I’m telling you when a three foot, four pound lizard goes from zero to TWENTY MILES PER HOUR in a split second it will send a shock right through you. But I digress.

We made our way to Playas del Coco on our second day. I’m not saying this place is some major tourist destination, but it was perfect for us. It’s basically about ten blocks of shops and restaurants all on one street that dead ends into the Pacific Ocean. They have created a lovely space along the water with sidewalks, landscape, restaurants, shops and seating areas. It’s a wonderful place to spend a lazy afternoon.

In Playas del Coco I met Tina, the best snow cone maker in all of Costa Rica. I know this because it says so on a sign posted on her cart. And my snow cone was very delicious and topped with a large marshmallow covered in sweetened condensed milk and sprinkles, then a strawberry and a little pink umbrella. I’ll have to take her word for it that it was the best snow cone in Costa Rica, but it was definitely very good!

We both fell completely in love with this quaint corner of Costa Rica. More than its raw beauty, its amazing wildlife, and the laid back atmosphere, it was the Costa Ricans we didn’t want to leave behind. We knew very little about the country before we visited. We picked it for the criteria it met: warm climate, close destination. What we discovered is that the people there are kind, warm, friendly, funny and easy-going. They love to visit with you in your broken Spanish and tell you how well you speak the language after you’ve only managed a few words. They are quick to tease and quick to laughter.

Costa Rica is a rare find indeed. I can’t wait to go back to explore and learn more!

Sunrise, Sunset

If there’s one gift God gives the mountainless, it’s sunsets. I was raised near a large desert mountain and I don’t think I realized until I was twenty how amazing sunsets can be. Over a mountain, the sun just drops out of sight. But when the sun falls over the vast flatness of the flyover plains or an ocean with a few clouds streaking through the sky, they are completely captivating. Sometimes I have the patience to stand and take ten or fifteen photos over a twenty minute period to get the perfect shot.

This one was taken at the Pacific Beach Pier near San Diego, California.