Friday, March 29, 2013

My Top Ten San Diego Hikes: #6, El Capitan Open Space Reserve

First, let me start the post with a review of My Top Ten San Diego Hikes:
#7 - Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Now, moving on to the number 6 in my list, which is El Capitan Open Space Reserve
@ El Cajon Summit, El Capitan Open Space Reserve

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Where The San Diego Spring Wildflowers Are: 2013

 Wildflowers - growing in the wild without anyone planting or seeding them, without anyone nourishing them but nature. Their blossoms are sending a beautiful message, "we all are in very good hands, taken care of lovingly by our Maker".

The four pictures below are some of my favorite spring wildflower shots around San Diego since 2008.  Spring wildflower blooms are very much dependent on precipitation and weather timing. 
2008 Spring Wildflowers, Tooth Rock Mountain Trail

Monday, March 25, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Top Ten San Diego Hikes, #7 - Anza Borrego Desert State Park

" The first time I knew you 
Tears ran down my face 
you taught me how to look at Earth's geologic past 
that will prepare us for what is to come....."  
Those were the words that spoke to me the first time I saw Borrego badlands, remnants of what was once underneath the sea. If this desert state park were any closer to San Diego proper, this place would move up in the list of My Top Ten San Diego hikes. Sadly however, this desert State Park is the farthest among the places in My Top Ten list, being in the northeasternmost of San Diego County.
Me on the Snowy Slopes of Cuyamaca that Borders The Dry Anza Borrego Desert

Thursday, March 21, 2013

To The Sea, to the sea - Song of a Hopeful Immigrant

"When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused."- Rainer Maria Rilke

Eleven years ago, during my second day visiting the US West Coast, while sitting on top of the cliff and watching the crashing waves pound the shore, I thought to myself: "I wish I can live here. Here where I do not have to take a vacation to experience the ocean. Here where I do not have to travel far to enjoy the washing of the waves after a day's work. For work and the ocean are intertwined."

Though I came from a country of many beautiful islands, and many beautiful beaches, but somehow.... work and the ocean were not that close to each other. Work was always in the city. To experience pristine beaches, I had to be away from the city. I had to take a few days vacation to be enjoying the sea. Enjoying pristine and quiet beaches was luxury. I had to spend both money and time to be enjoying the sea fully.
During my first meeting with the rugged West Coast, as I continued to hear the waves pounding, the longing to be with the sea everyday was also heavily pounding my heart. Silently, I prayed.....
"God, would it be selfish of me to ask you to help me explore life here? I love much. But, I do not know whether it is wrong for me to desire to live here.  Please know, I will accept whatever path you will make for me....please grant me courage and strength to explore life here...."

I will stop there, for that was a very long conversation with God. Probably, very few Filipino tourists in America would spend their time all day at the beach alone because we take pride in our country having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. However, I did on that day. I had a full day of quietly reflecting by the ocean, talking my heart out to our Lord. A few days after that, I met an "outdoorsy California guy" who later in my life added fuel to my "California Dreaming". I did not know then if I should take it as a sign of "prayers being slowly worked on".
My first visit was short as I only was an accidental tourist that time, no plans of exploring a life in America. However, eight months after my first meeting of the rugged Pacific ocean in the US West Coast, I submitted a letter of application for 6 months leave of absence to the Vice President of the University I worked for. Asked why, my simple response: " I want to give it a try to find a job in America." 

Almost a year later since that day I asked God to give me the courage and strength to explore a life in America, I went back with some strong hopes of finding a job. One of my former students advised me to talk to an immigration lawyer. He told me that if I wanted to work in America for good and legally, I should probably stick with my profession. He said that immigration law would prohibit me from getting work visa or green card by employment if I seek unprofessional jobs, or some other "easy to get under the table" jobs because they are hard to justify as a "need". Heeding the advise of my student, I went to see the immigration law firm he referred. He said that they were  the same immigration law firm that processed his H1B or work visa and then his green card successfully.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cactus Dish Garden

My Cactus Dish Garden
I accidentally tipped a serving dish that it got broken on the side. Instead of throwing it away, I decided to make a dish garden. I love the results. 

My Everyday Road Trip

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cooper Tire for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Waking up each morning is no easy task, perhaps it is the hardest task for me. Struggling to get out of bed, I sometimes wished I was rich I did not have to go to work! No time pressure, no rush. But then, as soon as I got out of bed, drag my heavy feet to the bathroom to wash up, I felt thankful, very thankful. Ironic it may sound, but I am very thankful for all the challenges in my life. I feel so blessed to be perfectly surviving and enjoying the ups and downs of "My Everyday Road Trip."
On the road to work before sunrise, I am able to see God's promise of beautiful day awaiting everyone.  Sometimes, the day morning is too foggy there is hardly anything to see. Sometimes, the fog and the sun would mix in such beautiful interplay. Sometimes, the sky is so cloudless the sun would rise so brightly. Every morning is a different day. Every sunrise is a unique gift I feel so blessed to be witnessing it while on the road to work.
AS the sun starts to slowly shimmer, classroom thoughts start to pour in. Images of yesterday's class activities start to flash back inspiring me to make today better. I start getting excited how to teach Student A, how to teach student B, how to make student A and student B work perfectly together, etc.....As soon as I stepped in my classroom, the sleepiness gone, enthusiasm sets in, I am so ready to roll the day.

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If you want to see more videos and also submit your own entry, you can like the Cooper Tire Facebook Fan page. Again, entry can be in the form of video, written stories or photos. Winners will be selected based on criteria such as originality, creativity, and their passion for Cooper tires and compelling content. The top written story will win a $100 gift card to use toward gas for one week while the highest rated photo entry will receive a $500 gift card to use toward gas for one month. The top five video finalists will each win a new set of four Cooper tires and advance to the final phase of the competition. In the final phase, Cooper Tire Facebook fans will be encouraged to vote for their favorite Every Day Road Trip video, to help determine the final winner. The video with the combined highest score and most votes will be awarded a gift card for $5,000 toward gas for one year to fuel their daily drive.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

San Diego Welcoming Spring Weekend 2013

Me On Top Torrey Pine Cliffs ( in my favorite "talikod-genic" pose )

I am taking a break from "My Top Ten San Diego Hikes" series of posts to share some San Diego spring updates. Well, it's not officially spring yet, the first day of spring is still this coming Wednesday, March 20th. However, the wildflowers along the coast start to impress despite having very little rain this winter season because of the morning fogs. Sharing with you some pictures from this weekend's wandering. 
 Sea Dahlias, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Top Ten San Diego Hikes, #8- Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

First, a little bit review of the list in My Top Ten San Diego Hikes. I started the list of My Top Ten San Diego Hikes from:
#10- Lake Hodges, followed by 
Now, moving on to #8:

 Cuyamaca Rancho State Park - "Nature Heals....Nature Spares..."
Mix of Burnt Forest and Surviving Vegetation @ Cuayamaca Rancho State Park (with Stonewall Peak )

Random Nature's Arrangement

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Top Ten San Diego Hikes: (9)- Palomar Mountain State Park

Palomar Mountain from Boucher Hill Trail
In my previous post, I started My Top Ten San Diego Hikes with Lake Hodges, at #10. In this post, I will share the 9th in my list, which is Palomar Mountain State Park- best San Diego Mountain hike.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Wildflower Hunt @ Blue Sky Ecological Reserve to Mt Woodson

Matilija Poppy, Blue Sky Ecological Reserve
As the carpet of wildflowers disappear on the hills by this time of the year, it is time now to simply hunt for wildflowers and enjoy them individually. It is actually as fun as seeing the carpet of wildflowers last March. The lack of wildflowers on the hills and valleys is exchanged now by the variety of flowers sharing the glory in the trail. Yesterday, we took the trail from Blue Sky Ecological Reserve to Mt Woodson ( please click here to learn about the mileage, elevation gain and direction ).
Matilija Poppy

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

My Top Ten San Diego Hikes: (10)- Lake Hodges

Lake Hodges looking East

It is hard not to get outside in San Diego. The weather is beautiful year round. It is so scenically diverse. There are rugged ocean cliffs, mesas and canyons, mountains and valleys, and mind blowing desert geology. When I was still new to the area, one of my students told me that I should have no problem finding a place to hike because in San Diego, "if there is a hill, there is a trail!" True enough, I found that trails are almost everywhere. Escaping civilization became just a matter of minutes. Blame it on San Diego weather and outdoors, since I moved to this place, I lost the title I held for decades, as "paperback and movie critic" awarded to me by my friends being their movie and novel consultant. San Diego turned me into a "hiking rat"! 
Sunset @ Lake Hodges, Looking West
Because of the numerous trails and places to explore in San Diego, I can not claim that I am an expert of the place, and have explored all nooks and crannies of San Diego County. I know there are still many places in San Diego that awaits for our eyes to feast, for our minds to rest and for our hearts to take inspiration. After having been here in San Diego for almost nine years now, I can finally identify my top ten favorite San Diego Hikes, those places we so frequent. Perhaps these top 10 San Diego hikes closer to my heart are the very reasons why some other places in San Diego are still waiting for us to explore. I will start sharing my top ten San Diego Hikes from my number 10, and will end it with my most favorite at number 1. Probably, those who have shared my joys in this blog for quite some time now can easily guess which place would be in my number 1.
Let me introduce to you the number 10 in my list, 
LAKE HODGES- Best Trail For Birding

Saturday, March 02, 2013

High Peaks Loop, Pinnacles National Park, CA

 Me Amongst Rock Spires @ Pinnacles National Park
Mileage: 9 miles, plus or minus.
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1465 ft.
Trail Condition: Very Well Maintained, some section going to the High Peaks are on footsteps carved on rocks.
An Almost Vertical Ascent, Thanks to the Small Footholds Carved on Rock and the Pipe for handrails to allow non-technical rock climbers to continue hiking