Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fun Friday: S is for San Diego

Our Blogging for Fun group is doing an A-Z  meme for our Fun Friday (or is it now Saturday Special for me since I am always a day or two late) , and this week, we are working on letter S.
S is for San Diego
and all the other S in and around San Diego, such as:
The Sea and the Snowcapped Mountain
Sunset By the Sea
Splashing Waterfall
Sea Caves
Sea Lions
Sea Gulls
Sea Star
Sea stars
Succulents by the Sea
And there are probably more S in and around San Diego that I can add here, however, my other S pictures such as the squirrels and snails were somehow hidden in my portable hard disk drive and unlabeled that I still have to look for them :( 

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. 

Obstacle Course Racing

Have you ever heard of obstacle course racing? Apparently, 300 million people have, because that’s how many people participated in the 91 races held in 2013. This “baby” sport of just four years is picking up steam in a big way for a number of great reasons. All you need is the proper shoes and clothing, and you’re on your way to optimal fitness. Obstacle course training helps you hit all major muscle groups throughout your training week, too. 
Although it got its roots in military training, the overall fitness it provides is something even civilians can benefit from. The combination of explosive jumping, resistance training and running helps to reduce body fat and increase cardiovascular stamina. There are specific exercises you need to do to get started, including body weight, pulling up, balance, core and jumping exercises.
To avoid problems or injuries, your shoes should be your prime consideration. Buy cross training shoes, or shoes that work for the specific surface you’ll be racing on, and be sure to break them in before race day, too. If shoes weren’t important to you before, once you start obstacle training, they will be. Your shoes will get you through the toughest turf and longest obstacle course, every time.
Now that you’ve gotten a taste of what’s involved in obstacle course training, tie your shoes and get ready to leap like a frog, push a wheel barrow and carry logs through the mud, sand and surf of any race. The excitement permeates the air as people run, jump, climb and carry a variety of objects over a vast assortment of terrains. What’s in it for you? The best body of your life, that’s what, so get going.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

North Cascades National Park

Ross Lake, North Cascades National Park, WA
From Seattle, we drove 120+ miles North East to North Cascades National Park. North Cascades National Park sits on the border of US and Canada. This park is also known as the Alps of the West,  features rugged mountain peaks,
Rugged Mountain Peaks Seen From Easy Pass Trail
cascading waterfalls everywhere,
One of the Many Nameless Waterfalls We Found On The Trail
thick forests,
Forested Trail to Easy Pass, North Cascades National Park, WA
deep valleys, long valley lakes,
Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park, WA
Lakeshore, North Cascades National Park, WA

glacier fed pristine rivers, 
Emerald Waters of the Skagit River, North Cascades National Park, WA
and more than 300 glaciers adorning its rugged peaks, the most glaciers of any US park outside of Alaska. 
Glaciers and Snow, Mount Shuksan, North Cascades National Park
Some have glaciers thousands of years old and at 1988/1999 receive world record snowfall at 1140 inches of snow. 
Summer ( June 30, 2010 ) at higher elevations of North Cascades National Park
In my next posts, I will be featuring some of our hikes at North Cascades and a more detailed exploration of the park. 

Interesting Attractions at Airport Terminals

Exploring airport grounds can be an interesting experience of its own for tourists. In fact, you can even enjoy some forms of luxury travel, without exiting the airport. Some airports might have installations of artwork throughout the terminals, parking garages and other public areas. The art could include modern sculptures and paintings that are inspired by contemporary styles as well as aviation technology. Additionally, statues of prominent local figures such as politicians and pilots could also be on display.

Brief history lessons are sometimes taught inside airport terminals. Plaques and signs contain fun facts and stats that are enhanced with colorful photos and diagrams. A great way to kill some time in the concourse is to learn about local history that's related to the airport in some sort of way. Certainly, aviation history plays a major role in the public displays of terminals. For example, actual aircraft components could be shown off to passengers throughout the waiting area. Propellers, jet engine turbines, wings and cockpits might be neatly shown.

Some commercial airports share space with military bases that have visitor centers. Original historic hangars and other facilities invite passengers to explore the origins of local aviation. Visitors might even get the chance to view some advanced military aircraft in training. Some military air bases even have small museums featuring plenty of fun exhibits for visitors of all ages. Such venues are great for learning about aviation technology.

Airport terminals often have official information kiosks that provide great insider tips about local tourist attractions, transportation, lodging, culture and much more. Free brochures are given out at meet-and-greet booths that are strategically scattered throughout the terminal facilities. Additionally, some of the printed brochures might have QR codes that allow smartphone users to discover loads of online travel guides. With free Wi-Fi available in airport terminals, passengers can read online digital brochures about local sightseeing opportunities.

Effective travel planning involves studying the maps of airport terminals. It is important for passengers to become a little bit familiar with some of the facilities they might spend hours in. Virtual terminal guides can be downloaded onto laptops, tablets and smartphones in convenient PDF format. Such maps could be read offline if there aren't any accessible Wi-Fi connections. Major international airports often have enormous terminals with sophisticated internal transportation systems such as rapid transit, shuttles and "skywalks." There might be automated kiosks available in multiple languages to help passengers navigate airport grounds. Touchscreen displays make it easy to locate just about anything that's listed on an airport virtual directory.

When traveling overseas, passengers should make sure that they locate ATMs and currency exchange booths in the airport terminals. Maps and directories clearly label such important amenities and services for international passengers. Additionally, most terminals sell SIM cards for mobile phone use in foreign territory.

When searching for airline tickets online to a particular destination, customers might be given choices to land at alternative relief airports. Tickets to a secondary airport within a major city are much more affordable than airfare to primary airports. Trying to do a search on CheapOair and other websites is an example of using travel agencies to find discount airplane tickets. Another great way to save on airfare is to book trips with departure times in the middle of the night or early in the morning hours.           

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hiking Mt Woodson

Mt Woodson is another local hike in San Diego that is easily accessible, yet hiking its trail feels like an escape from civilization.

It is littered by giant boulder outcrops, and from the summit, one can enjoy the ocean-to-mountain views. Near the summit is the now famous Potato Chip Rock, which is the result of exfoliation and weathering. There are many ways to reach Potato Chip rock or the summit of Mt Woodson. The three different trailheads for this hike is what I will be sharing in this post. source: Afoot and Afield: San Diego County: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide

Best Time to Hike:  During the cooler months, November to May. If hiking in the summer, start early of the day, or choose the cooler days of summer, because most part of the hike is on exposed trail.

Option 1: Mt. Woodson from Lake Poway

Lake Poway from Mt. Woodson Trail

Mileage: approximately 7.2 miles roundtrip
Change in Elevation: 2300 ft gain and loss
Parking: Lake Poway Recreation Area Parking, there is parking fee of $5.00 for non-Poway residents during the peak months April- October.

Three Necessary Travel Stops on the Road of Life

The spirit of adventure captivates every child as they lose themselves in a land of make-believe and imagination. That sense of wonder often fades as we grow up, leaving behind only traces of the adventures we have yet to experience. Practicality and responsibility set in and before we know it, life has become a mundane routine. As adults we believe those childhood adventures are all in the past. But it’s not too late to delve back into the pool of imagination, to embrace the bright possibilities of adventures that await us just around the corner. These three necessary travel stops are just some of the endless opportunities the road of life has to offer.

1. African Safari – Take in the spectacular landscape of the wilds of Tanzania on an African safari. Nothing else embodies the true spirit of adventure like coming upon a pride of lions or a herd of elephants in the African savannah.
2. Alaska – This untamed wilderness has called out to the hearts of many adventurers in its history and continues to do so to this day. Still largely untouched by modern life, the Alaskan wildlife thrives amidst a bold landscape of mountainous terrain and glacial surroundings. 
3. Europe – The cultural diversity that embodies the continent of Europe creates a one-of-a-kind adventure. Attend a bull fight in Spain, ride a gondola through the canals of Venice, or visit the remains of Germany’s Berlin Wall. No two experiences are alike when traveling through the countries of Europe.

Embrace your inner child and rekindle that sense of adventure through the world of travel. The magnificent beauties of the world await us. Women’s Own Adventures can help book your next travel stop and bring to life your adventure today. Single women seeking travel opportunities will find unlimited options by visiting

Monday, October 06, 2014

Cleetwood Cove Trail, Crater Lake National Park

While we were on our way to Crater Lake National Park, we had been planning to do some activities other than hiking. It is not that we got bored of hiking, but then, we were thinking of doing some water activities instead since we are visiting Crater Lake.
Crater Lake from Cleetwood Cove Trail
We know that most people see the beauty of Crater Lake from the rim only. All the pictures in my previous post about Crater Lake were taken from the rim's vista points and did not need any hiking at all. The first thing we do always whenever we visit a National Park is to stop at Visitor Center and talk to a Park Ranger. Park rangers are very helpful, with positive and cheerful mood, and oftentimes, they share their best kept secret to hike when asked, like our Valley Floor Loop Hike in Yosemite National Park. However, this time around, our question will not be on hiking, but water activities. We asked if we can go kayaking or canoeing at Crater Lake, and the park ranger smiled to us charmingly and answered no, but we can go swimming or fishing on the lake.
Fishing Pole, Crater Lake National Park, OR
( sorry, but I do not know the guy who has the pole, so I just have to take picture of his rod)
He told us that the boat going to Wizard Island starts mid-July so we can not go to Wizard Island either. We can go swimming if we do not mind the cold water. The only legal route to go to the lake shore is by way of Cleetwove Cove Trail, 2 miles round trip, 700 ft descent/ascent on steep slopes. It is the same trail taken by people who wishes to go to Wizard Island ( we would love to take that boat tour to Wizard Island, but it won't be open until July).
Cleetwood Cove Trail, Crater Lake National Park, OR
The picture of the trail above is my only picture of the trail despite I would have loved to take more pictures of the forested trail and the green lichens on the trunks of the trees. It was just so hard for us to take pictures, we could not stop to take pictures at all because the swarm of mosquitoes would cover our entire body. The moment I stopped for a picture, I would see my shirt and pants all black and covered with mosquitoes, my face attacked, so I would instead give up the thought of taking pictures and continue walking. I have a mosquito after bite lotion, but what we needed at that point was insect repellent, which was sitting there in our car. At the top, there was still snow, therefore, we did not see mosquitoes, so, our fault, we went down very excited and so unprepared for mosquito attack. We could turn around and take our repellent instead, but then, we were lazy too, and decided to just keep on. The hike was easy (except for some who are not used to steep slopes, it may be a little bit strenuous), but it became unforgiving because of the swarm of mosquitoes. Our hiking would have been probably more pleasant had we brought with us our insect repellent. When we reached the lake shore, there were fewer mosquitoes, so, we were able to take some pictures. Here are some pictures from the lake shore:
  The cold water felt so good! Even very close to the lake shore, the water was very deep!
Colored Cliffs
A Pose By the Cliffs
( smile, even if there are some mosquitoes, but mosquitoes on the shore are fewer than the trail, it's the forested trail that had lots of mosquitoes
Boats On Shore
Here are some pictures about 100 ft above the lake shore.
Men on Dock
Boat and Reflections on Crater Lake
After this spot, the trail has no more expansive view of the lake and become lined with tall trees and mosquitoes started to attack again, that I had to tell myself no more stopping for pictures! Both the uphill and downhill hike was without any pause for a deep breath at all, otherwise, mosquitoes will cover our entire body. 
Almost nearing the top back to parking lot, saw this little glimpse of the lake in the midst of trees
( despite the mosquitoes and blocked by trees, got to take this picture since this would be my last glimpse of the lake in this mosquito filled trail, and it is also the most sparkling blue I found )
A lesson learned from this hike: don't always forget to bring insect repellent especially if you are in moist areas, for no matter the conditions at the start of the trail, it may suddenly change.