Tag: San Diego

10 observations from waiting out winter in Southern California

1.  There is damn good beer here.

Since arriving in Southern California last September, a whole new world of west coast beer opened up to me, mainly in the form of IPAs. Our neighborhood bar in San Diego, Thorn Street Brewery, was an awesome watering hole. I discovered Stone brewery, based out of San Diego as well, and all of their delicious suds. Not to mention, up in Temecula, Sorrel Bistro is one of 2 accounts in town who tap Russian River’s Pliny the Younger once a year. I didn’t get to try it, but you know I stood in line for an hour and got turned away, so that goes to show you how bad people want good beer around here. The beer culture is alive and well.

Love you, too.
Love you, too.

2. It’s expensive.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so broke, and that includes times in my life where I lived on Maui. I paid $1400 for an apartment in San Diego’s trendy North Park neighborhood that had a furnace from 1950 (the smoke alarm went off when we turned it on one night) and didn’t have a washer/dyer. Not only that, 2 months later, our house was robbed of almost every possession we had, including clothes. Fast forward a few months to Temecula, a quiet, wine-country valley town of about 100,000 people and we are still paying an arm and a leg for rent, groceries, gas and good times. Good weather doesn’t come quietly.

3. Restaurant jobs don’t pay as well as bigger cities or the east coast.

Most server jobs pay $4-5 per hour. In California you get paid minimum wage, $8 per hour, and people know it. Gone are the $100-$200 nights of some restaurants on the east coast and in Chicago. Welcome to $60 and 10% tips. Slinging coffee and omelets or grating Parmesan cheese over your pasta is hardly a way to pay bills anymore. Maybe it’s time for a new career path…

4. It’s…well, HOT!

Is it normal for it to be 93 degrees in February? If that’s how hot it is now, I have to blow this Popsicle stand come July.  This desert ain’t for me.


5. The gap between rich and poor has never been more evident.

I often get the feeling that in order to live a fun and fulfilling life here in Southern California, it’d be wise to be pulling in at least $100,000 a year annually in your household. Anything lower than that and you’re practically standing in line at the food stamp office. Another common theme I’ve noticed is that a LOT of rich people flock here and have jobs, seemingly, for a hobby. The effect is two-fold: Fun because your boss essentially doesn’t give a shit; really frustrating because you’re boss doesn’t give a shit and you’re working for a living.

6. My dog loves to chase after lizards.

Forget going outside to go to the bathroom. All day he dreams about lizards. And chasing them.

There is no question. He is thinking about chasing lizards.
There is no question. He is thinking about chasing lizards.

7. All-you-can-eat-sushi is a real thing. A real GOOD thing.

For $18 a person at lunch you can eat as much fresh, delicious nigiri as your little heart desires. The good news is that sushi and sashimi on the West Coast is so good, so fresh. You are robbing the joint when you arrive and down nigiri for a flat rate. And our favorite place keeps it coming and coming. This is one of life’s joys.

8. There are tons of day trips you can take.

Getting out of town has never been easier. San Diego is about an hour south, L.A. two hours. Joshua Tree National Park is a 2 hour haul and Las Vegas a short 4 hour drive. Hell, even Phoenix is only five hours by car. Not to mention, southern California is peppered with a million fun little lakes, hikes, mountain ranges and ample opportunity for outdoor recreation and exploration. I must say, being landlocked on the mainland has its perks.

Day trip to Lake Skinner
Day trip to Lake Skinner

9. Hip hippies, everywhere.

Everyone is so cool it hurts. Can you recall those Hollister ads where everyone walks around in neon sunglasses, cutoff tanks, high top shoes, and midrift-baring off-the-shoulder fringed shirts? Those mannequins are real. You know the typical stoner dude apparent in every movie, t.v. show and pop culture reference, man? Those are real people. Most kids’ mode of transport to school is by skateboard. People ARE chilled out here, almost to their own detriment, but more often than not, at the cost of a good laugh.

10. Maybe the highest concentration of cool cars I’ve ever seen are here in Southern Cali.

And why shouldn’t there be? The weather here is perfect for hot rods, vintage rides, cool motorcycles, awesome RVs…you name it, it’s here and in pristine condition. California truly gives new definition to Sunday driving.


Life as I know it

I would like to say that I just got done traveling extensively this summer, but I’m sure part of landing in San Diego is part of my travels as well.

Part of me embarking on the road for so many years now has been to improve my travel writing and enrich my life with experiences. Ever since I left Chicago in 2010, I’ve been a lot of places and have seen a lot of things.

I signed up for a travel writing course through MatadorU, which sadly, I’m only 50 percent done with. Part of my goal of being in San Diego is to get back to working on my writing. In any case, when I first started the course, I was a little miffed over what to write about. I was a travel writer who didn’t travel. I had no idea what to talk about. How could I describe a scene from a faraway place if I hadn’t been to one?

In any case, that’s when I made the decision to travel more. Extensively, curiously, endlessly. Since then, I’ve been all over the place, but I haven’t done too much writing about it.

Since I’ve last updated, I spent the summer in Wyoming. I was shocked and surprised to end up there, but it was a beautiful summer. I was living IN the Shoshone National Forest, surrounded by amazing trees, wildlife, hiking opportunities, padding/rafting, and horseback riding.

Our backyard and playground
Our backyard and playground

Jon and I’s relationship is stronger than ever. We have been together a year now, and we also added a new addition to our family: Pono. He is a 1-year old Australian Shepherd mix who is completely high energy and the epitome of puppy. We love him.

I hate to say that I’ve been to busy to write, but it’s true. Yesterday and today were the first time I hadn’t left the house in months. We’re usually traveling around, letting the dog run around somewhere, connecting as sort of a family unit. I feel like for the first time in a long time, I have something to take care of besides me. I have a man and a pet. We go places and do things together and it fulfills me immensely.

This lil' guy
This lil’ guy

At the same time, I haven’t given up on my goals of writing. I want to tell you all of the amazing things I’ve seen and done. I want to explain to you what Stand Up Paddle Boarding the Snake River was like (somewhat terrifying, but invigorating!). I need to explain to you guys how lovely Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are. I want to reminisce about driving cross-country 3 times in 3 months, the Badlands, Oregon, the coast of California. I still need to write about how I feel about Colorado.

The Grand Tetons
The Grand Tetons

There was a time when I felt frustrated with the mainland USA. I traveled abroad and lived in Hawaii for a year. It wasn’t until I got back and really saw America first hand (slow and intentionally) that I realized that is truly the best country and I’m proud of it. Jon and I drove through so many back roads, fished in rivers with no one around for miles, shared a river fishing experience with two juvenile grizzly bears. We watched the sunset over peaks of giant mountains and cruised on pristine lakes next to the most amazing mountains in the country. We’ve eaten our way around the U.S., trying to avoid the corporate McDonald’s road trip by eating local and finding the best food we could along the way.

Who are those little buggers?
Who are those little buggers?

Then we landed in Southern California, and that’s where we are now. For the first time in a while, we have a kitchen again. Our dog has a backyard to run around and we are nesting. It’s breezy and beautiful here. The seafood alone is great. I take a look at my life and sometimes wonder how it is that I got so lucky. How I get to travel and experience so many amazing, exotic, breathtaking moments. How I get to taste the best foods, live in the most amazing locales and have such a happy existence.

One of the better meals we’ve shared

It’s then I realize that I’m following my bliss. I opened my heart a long time ago, as scary as it was, and listened to my true desires. I wanted to expose myself naked to the world and experience. I didn’t care if would be good or bad, I wanted it. And boy, did I get it.

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place now. I’m looking for work, somewhat desperately after spending a small fortune traveling so much. It’s back to the “real world” for now, but I vow to keep my travel memories alive by writing about them.

I finally pitched an article to a travel-zine which I haven’t made time for in over a year. I was putting it off, feeling anxious and reluctant. Then I thought about all of the incredible emotions I’ve experienced and the trips associated with them and wrote them down. And now, proudly, I can say that I have a travel repertoire. I am no longer scratching my head over what to write about. Now the hard part is which travel memory to write about. I guess that’s a first world problem.

It’s good to be back on the blog and good to stretch my fingers and my brain again. I look forward to putting some more of my thoughts out there, no matter if trivial, vain or enlightening. This is me. This is my life. And I’m going to share it.

Me and my little Pono, Badlands National Park
Me and my little Pono, Badlands National Park