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Showing posts from 2022

Taking In San Diego’s Only National Monument

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Until last month, my only experience with San Diego’s only national monument was glancing down at Coronado through a thick marine layer and standing in a long line to use a portable toilet. I never ventured beyond visitor parking for fear of losing my place among hundreds also needing to relieve themselves. This is at the starting line of the annual America’s Finest City Half Marathon , held every August in San Diego. It begins at the Cabrillo National Monument – accessible that morning only by shuttle bus – and winds through Pt. Loma, Harbor Island and the Embarcadero before climbing into downtown and then up Sixth Avenue into Bankers Hill to finish the 13.1-mile journey in Balboa Park. It’s really a great footrace, especially with the first 4 miles all downhill.  I’d forgotten about Cabrillo National Monument until we decided to get a National Parks annual pass this summer and realized there was only one place to get one in person – a place surrounded by deep teal seas, silent sail

My Apple Watch Won’t Let Me Cheat Anymore

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There’s a great article in The Atlantic about whether e-bikes spur users to higher fitness levels or actually downgrade their expectations. I wrote earlier this summer about how I manage my own e-bike use, which at the moment is purely recreational because I am afraid to leave it unattended, even with a bike lock, to run errands. They are just too hot a commodity in my city.   These lines in that article caught my attention:  An e-bike sure seems like a way to cheat at exercise, even if it really facilitates it. That’s been my experience; the credit my Apple Watch gives me for “outdoor cycling” on my e-bike pales in comparison to the exertion I undertake at home on the Peloton. (Apple has added an e-bike-detection algorithm in this mode, which both underscores the fact that e-biking ain’t biking, and suggests that yes, in fact, it is.)  I noticed the same thing with my Apple Watch on my Sunday morning rides. If I use the pedal assist to get up a big hill, I don’t get the same credit

Smith Rock: Hiking in a Heatwave

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  It wasn’t until earlier this month that I learned one of our neighbors in Terrebonne is a movie star.    I recall my dad telling me about seeing it in some of his old-timey western movies, but nothing recent and certainly nothing starring actors like Kevin Costner and Reese Witherspoon. And yet, there on a plaque I read while listening to my sister puke was a list of contemporary films shot on location at Smith Rock State Park, including  The Postman  in 2000 and, more recently, 2014’s  Wild . (No, Smith Rock isn’t on the Pacific Coast Trail, but Hollywood has never been a stickler for accuracy.)   The Oregon state park is by distance less than a mile from the house we purchased once my parents both passed. But the drive takes about 10 minutes because of less direct roads and speed limits. Still, its presence is huge – for the town and for me personally. I came here regularly to heal from some pretty traumatic events. Yet the place triggers only good feelings, maybe because of its th

When It Comes to Lava Land, Just Go with the Flow

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  Go anywhere in Central Oregon, and you will learn that every natural attraction is the result of volcanic action. The snowy peaks that populate an otherwise flat landscape? Volcanoes. The mountain people love to ski and snowboard? Volcano. The birthplace of American rock climbing ? Created from volcanic activity. Every nearby butte is a cinder cone created from magma bubbling to the surface. Even the waterfalls in my previous post  originate in ancient eruptions.   One of the best ways to take it all in also happens to be one of my all-time favorite places to visit when we're in Oregon:  Newberry Volcanic National Monument  outside Bend. The national park itself is huge and located within the Deschutes National Forest. When I say huge, consider it encompasses more than 54,000 acres of water features, lava and obsidian flows, hot springs, and unparalleled views. Even more amazing: the 1,200-mile volcanic area is still active from a seismic and geothermal standpoint.    We’ve yet

[Water]Falling for Central Oregon

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We visit Central Oregon annually, and this year we elected to focus on fun for the three days we were there. I thought I’d devote the next few blog posts to some of the best places to hike in the Bend area, starting with a natural feature the Pacific Northwest is famous for: waterfalls.   Granted the waterfalls are spectacular along the Columbia Gorge on one side of the Cascade Range, but the Deschutes River is an impressive rival and can be experienced with less auto and foot traffic (if timed well). With all of these, bring water … and in the summer, bring plenty of it.   Tumalo Falls (outside Bend) North Fork Trail at Tumalo Falls   Day pass : $5/vehicle Restrooms : Portable toilets in picnic area near trailhead Let’s start with the big one:  Tumalo Falls . It's the photo that opens this post, and it's photographed more than any other I’ve seen. That's because of both its beauty and because it is  accessible for people who don’t typically hike (or even walk). This makes

Life as a Peddle Pusher

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There’s  a delightful piece on NPR about the joys of riding a bike  – not for personal records or trophies, but just to depressurize and stay healthy. Several years ago, I would have fast-forwarded such a segment, being one of those with feet firmly planted on the ground. Now, I get it.   The first time I experienced the highs and lows of cycling was when I bike-commuted to work. My job at the time was 10 miles from my house at the terminus of a 12-mile-long bike path adjacent to a freeway.  I purchased a hybrid bike I christened Penelope (because she had a pink and black frame). I only commuted in late spring and summer when it was lighter for longer because it wasn’t safe to ride alone on dark evenings. ( Or sometimes early mornings .) It also meant I arrived home around 6:30 p.m. soaked in sweat from riding mostly uphill on fat tires in blistering Carmel Valley heat.   But I loved that period of my life and especially the practicality of the bike. I wasn’t riding for sport; this was

When You’ve Really Got to Go

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Spend any amount of time with me and you know I make frequent trips to the bathroom at home or restrooms in public. Since COVID, I’ve become more squeamish about portable toilets, but if that’s the only option, I’ll hold my nose and not look down. I can’t recall the last time I peed in the wild, but it would have been on a long hike years ago.   Sometimes the urge is real, like after drinking a large, iced tea while running errands. Other times, I’m convinced seeing a Women’s Room generates a Pavlovian response – I really don’t have to go now, but I can easily be convinced otherwise because relief is right there, right now.   I wrote during the early months of the pandemic about the quandary outdoor exercisers faced with so many public restrooms shuttered to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. But since the world’s reopened, something else has happened:  Publicly accessible restrooms have continued to dwindle in numbers .   Here in San Diego, public restrooms were, and still are,

The Resurrection of Kate Bush

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Back when I first launched this blog, I was a guest on 91x’s  Resurrection Sunday , a program then hosted by the late Steve West. Sundays were my long run days, and I spent hours listening to West, including an hour of “Hey Mom, I’m on 91x!” with a guest deejay decidedly not from the industry.   I “auditioned” by first filling out online the 20 songs I’d play, which not coincidentally were Steve West’s favorite songs along with a few rarely played tunes. The legendary disc jockey called, we talked, and I was booked for that weekend’s show. I gave several shoutouts, including to my fellow San Diego Track Club runners then training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.   At the following Tuesday track workout, one of the run leaders told me he’d listened the entire hour. “You only picked one good song,” he said. “But it was a good one. I’d listen just for that one song.” That song was Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.”   I’ve loved that song since the first time I heard it upon listening to

Moving On Without Your Best Friend

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I do not know the origins of Pip’s name. I’m sure my mother came up with it. It fit her perky personality as a pup and it helped she answered to any variation. Pipperdoodle  when around designer dogs.  Pipperoni  when scavenging food that fell on the floor.  Pippo  when she gained too much weight. And  Pippen , which I always thought was her actual name until I saw her AKC papers.    Notice I’m using the past tense. Pip isn’t here anymore.   For the past week I’ve moved through days in a quiet state of grief. Bawling over an abandoned, half-eaten cheeseburger in her food bowl—her final meal, it turned out. Sobbing when removing her favorite blanket and leftover treats. Sniffling after tossing her medicated shampoos and unused prescriptions and giving another family our scented poop bags and extra-large pee pads.    It didn’t seem right to remove all the void reminders so quickly, like she wasn’t worth mourning. But Tuesday was trash day, so I reluctantly trashed the fake grass pad she

Right into the Danger Zone

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A few months ago, while spending a weekend in Oceanside, guests from out of town asked if we could swing by “the Top Gun house” on our drive home. The blue bungalow where the character Charlie (Kelly McGillis) lived had recently relocated to commercial property near the Oceanside Pier. This was an improvement from the last place I’d seen the home on a dirt lot after being rescued from new owners who wanted it torn down. Townspeople rallied to save the structure, citing its historical significance as a place Hollywood made famous. An investor spent $1 million on a much-needed facelift.   That building, now a pie shop, got a lot of attention this past week as everyone readied for the official release of  Top Gun: Maverick , the sequel that originally was to open two years ago. Local news outlets all took turns promoting the pie shop that pays homage to the 36-year-old film. The premiere was held 45 minutes south on the USS Midway along the Embarcadero a few weeks ago. There were a lot of

Return to Bay 2 Breakers

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In the end, I ended up running about half of the 12k Bay 2 Breakers course. Of the roughly 4 miles we ran, I’d trained for to do just .25 of them. My race entry predated my farewell to  running . And despite landing in a fast corral, I was told there are plenty who choose it to avoid all the naked people and start walking after a very short spurt. In my mind, we’d show up a little before the race start, run at a good clip for a quarter mile and then walk it off.    That didn’t happen.   A long wait while hurling tortillas Parking can be hard to come by in downtown San Francisco. And public transportation can be cumbersome if traveling from another part of the Bay Area, though a ferry will get you within easy reach of starting corrals.  We opted to take a shuttle from a Mill Valley Park ‘n Ride to the start. (“We” being me, my daughter and son-in-law, who are B2B regulars.) Similar shuttles operated from Emeryville in East Bay and Millbrae to the south. This meant we arrived 90 minutes