Monterey Bay + Jellyfish

This year, for our annual Big Sur Half Marathon trip, I did not actually run. I sipped my mocha latte from the sidelines and cheered everyone on while watching sea otters in the harbor. Grad school is quite the time suck and I haven’t been able to train. So instead of running, my mushy self spent the weekend relaxing and looking at Jellyfish…which are pretty much the most fun creatures to photograph in the entire universe. I tried to get a good picture of the otters but those suckers just won’t hold still.

Cheers to a wonderful weekend with my girls Ginny and Katie who killed it!! ❤

Angel JellyfishDisco Jellies JellyfishMe and the Jellies Jellyfish on FireJellyfish Blue Jellyfish   Xray JellyfishThe girls.

xoxox

Palm Springs

This past week Joe and I drove to Palm Springs for a mid-week vacation and it was super fantastic. Palm Springs is one of those little trips that I have somehow held off on. After being here in SoCal for 2 years I am now punching myself for it! It was so great. We just missed the Coachella and Stagecoach crowd which we are very thankful for. Since it was so wonderful we plan to go back every few months or so to relax and get some sun since it’s only a 2 hour drive from San Diego.

We stayed at the Ace Hotel and loved it although I didn’t initially. When we first walked in I thought to myself that it seemed like the center of the hipster universe. I think we were the only non-tattooed people in the whole place, and Joe was definitely the only non-bearded man. After spending the first day there I reversed my judgement. This place has a really chill vibe and everything you really need. The staff were super nice and we really did not have a single issue with anything. And we got to bring Jerri to the very dog-friendly pool! She even got her own lounge chair and bowl of doggie water.

photo 5

Aside from the canines, another great part of Palm Springs was the food. For dinner the first night we ate at the Purple Palm in the Colony Palms Hotel and then Jake’s the second night. Both are moderately pricey but we enjoyed them immensely. The Purple Palm was romantic and quiet while Jake’s was much more energetic and had killer desserts. OpenTable.com seems to have reliable reviews for the area and makes it easy to reserve which is a must, even for a weekday. There seem to be about a million exceptional restaurants in the valley so hopefully we will get to try a bunch of them over the next few years.

For breakfast we were told to go to 2 places, Cheeky’s and Sherman’s Deli. We did not make it to the deli because we ate at the Ace’s diner instead, but we will hit it up next time. Cheeky’s certainly lived up to it’s expectations.  A bacon flight is a great way to start your breakfast, and the rest of the food was even tastier. Cheeky’s is also attached to a really cool looking smaller boutique hotel which I am keeping in mind for next time.

photo 4 photo 3

The Ace is pretty big and apparently it gets busy/crazy on the weekends. During the week it’s very relaxed and there were plenty of lounge chairs for everybody. Another reason why a weekday trip here is the best. I don’t think I will ever come here on the weekends because the weekdays mean no traffic, plenty of pool space, and way cheaper room rates. The rooms at the Ace have all the amenities and one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept on. I pride myself on having a supremely comfortable mattress, but this was unreal. As for nightlife other than sleeping, the bar attached to the lobby has karaoke on Wednesdays which seemed to be overtaken by regulars who were not very enthusiastic, but I still managed to embarrass myself well enough. My rendition of Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” never disappoints.  Joe says I need to pick easier songs but I think the worse I sound, the less pressure I feel. So naturally I pick Cher or Whitney Houston every time.

photo 2 photo 1 image-6 image-5

13 miles west of town there are some huge, creepy dinosaurs that cannot be missed. Right next to the Burger King!

image-4

Some hotels I have my eye on for next time are Korakia Pensione, the Riviera, the Alcazar and the Colony Palms. And we will definitely have to get off our lazy bums and do some hiking or at least some tram riding next time.

Big Sur to San Diego

Road trippppp!!!

Probably one of the least boring ones I have ever been on… I just got back from 4 days slowly driving from Monterey back down to San Diego after running a half marathon in Big Sur. More on that later. As for the trip with my Bestie Ginny I have 3 words: Relaxing, Breathtaking, and very very SORE. Good thing I was driving most of the time because holy hell.

We spent 2 nights at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey since we are Navy Babies and wanted to save some cash. The hotel there is super old and very grand for a Navy Gateway Inn. Can’t beat it for $60 a night. After our race we decided to head straight out and skip the aquarium and Carmel since I had already been to both. We started making our way through Big Sur which is amazing…I think many a car commercial was filmed on the curving coastal roads. We stopped at 2 really great places on the way south. The first was the Big Sur Roadhouse where we paused for a late breakfast. I wanted to stay there all day. It was drizzly and a little chilly outside and this place was so cozy with delicious fresh food. The menu was interesting and had a southern feel to it, and to top it off it was very reasonably priced for being where it was which is right off Highway 1.

Image

After that we drove to a beach just down the road that was kind of hard to find since it’s unmarked. After a 2 mile drive down twisting narrow roads there is a beautiful beach with lots of cool rock formations and tide pools. There were only a few other people there plus a bunch of Russians shooting a music video of to the side on some rocks. Random. Unfortunately there were no dolphins or seals anywhere in sight, but the sun did decide to come out as we were getting there.

ImageImage

From there we had drinks at the Post Ranch Inn which is a incredible hotel overlooking the Pacific. This place is lux, about $1000 per night for the cheapest rooms, but the rooms are these little huts built into the side of the mountain overlooking the ocean. Floor to ceiling windows, outdoor showers, and crazy views all around. Maybe I can get Joe to give me one night for my birthday….hint hint wink wink.

That night we stayed in Cambria, the home of elephant seals. These are one of the most disgusting sounding animals I have ever heard. They sounded like belching zombies. They didn’t smell so hot either but they were rather cute all snuggled up on each other.

ImageImageImage

And a killer sunset to end the night!

Image

Catalina Island

I am writing his from 30,000 feet in the air. Gotta love airplane wifi. Surprisingly it’s on a US Airways flight which I have ways considered budget. Times are a changin’! I had a request to post a little bit about a recent trip to Catalina Island so here it is…

I went with a group of friends for 2 nights which is a good amount of time. I don’t really recommend this as a day trip but if you’re a hard charger it’s doable. The island has tons of history so it’s good to wiki it before you go, but there are museums there if you have the time.

If you are not familiar with Catalina it is a rather small island off the coast of SoCal that can only be reached by boat. The island has 2 main towns, Avalon and Two Harbors. To get to Avalon there are multiple ferries from Dana Point and farther north, Dana Point being the easiest for San Diegans. There is easy and decently priced parking right at the ferry terminal. The ferry ride is a little over an hour but may take longer depending on weather or sea creatures. On the way over we were lucky enough to see a whale that kept fluking for us. The captain decided to stop and watch which disgruntled a few of my seasick friends but was well worth it.

Once in Avalon there are a bunch of hotels where you can stay more comfortably but the best option is Hermit Gulch campground which is about 1.5 miles from the ferry dock. Prices are very reasonable and per person, not per tent. It’s easily walking distance if you are fit but bringing a bike is highly recommended so you can explore the island (gears are good!) Note: If you want to bring a bike on the ferry you must reserve early and tell them you are bringing a bike which costs $7 extra, otherwise you can rent one in Avalon but the prices are a little steep.

Image

Pulling into the harbor you almost feel like you are in Portofino!

Hermit Gulch is the only campsite near Avalon. It’s clean and quiet with decent bathrooms and showers. There are multiple hiking trails nearby as well as the botanical gardens and the Wrigley Memorial which is worth the short walk.

Image

If you make it here in the summer and want to hit up the beach your options are limited. The best beach is private but you can pay your way in! Descanso Beach Club is just past the casino (now a museum) and has a real sand beach with luxurious cushioned chaises, umbrellas and people that serve you drinks and food like you are a rock star. I highly recommend it if you are willing to dish out some extra cash. It’s about $80 for 2 people, and make sure you book in advance for weekends. Next door to that is a public beach and bar/restaurant which is 2nd best. Don’t forget to order the local drink, Buffalo Milk! There are, weirdly enough, free roaming bison on the island that were left there from a movie shoot decades ago, hence the name.

Image

Near the beach club there is also zip lining and kayaking, or if you want to chillax there is an outdoor massage place overlooking the water. Lots of options!

Incidentally when I was 13 I was sent to a 2 week summer camp here on the island to learn how to Scuba Dive at the Catalina Island Marine Institute. I didn’t get to dive on this return trip but I highly recommend it. A thick wetsuit is a must and you will still freeze your but off but there is nothing like swimming through a kelp forrest with leopard sharks and seals. The Garabaldi fish are pretty cool too, hint hint they love to eat frozen peas.

Image

Restaurant-wise you have plenty of options including the very laid back Lobster Trap for some seafood and Avalon Grille for something more upscale. They also have a good wine list. On the pier there are a couple of little places that boast some tasty clam chowder and are too cute not to pass up.

ImageImage

Our fearless leader Erin, thanks for planning and organizing our 1st annual Catalina Camping trip!