Friday, June 28, 2013

Hiking Cathedral Rock, Sedona

Cathedral Rock from Oak Creek
There are many access point to hike Cathedral Rock, one of the many beautiful hikes in Sedona. For our hike, we took the Cathedral Rock Trail from Hwy 179. The hike is 3.5 miles round trip with 600 ft ascent. I love this hike because for such a short time, the scenic rewards are simply amazing. Though this hike will not take all your day, but it is not devoid of challenge. First, there is really no formal trail, but rock cairns. You ascend mostly on rocks, more like rock climbing but safe enough not to ask for ropes. 
Hiking @ Cathedral Rock
If you feel like it is not safe to walk normally, you can go slow and walk on four ( uphill ) or five ( downhill). 
A Lady Hiker Walking on Five ( or butt walk )
In the middle of the hike, there is a section where you really have to scramble, or crawl, and only one hiker could pass at a time. It probably is the most challenging part of the trail where some hikers give up and not continue. Even if not making it to the saddles of Cathedral Rock though, the hike is still beautiful because there is wide vista everywhere.
Scenery One Will See While on Cathedral Rock Trail

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Watching the World Go By at Torrey Pines Gliderport, San Diego

Paragliders and Torrey Pines' Cliffs
One of the places we go in San Diego, to simply watch the world go by is at Torrey Pines Gliderport. It makes me feel like I am on a vacation, but truth is, I am simply in my home turf. Up at the bluffs, I enjoy watching people hike down to the beach, paragliders and hangliders soaring high, dolphins jumping below, etc. 
It's simply a quiet place for me to relax and appreciate the work of nature. 
Lady Simply Relaxing at the Cliffs
On top of the cliffs, I enjoy watching paragliders soar high with the birds in the sky. There are some people who would bring their guitars, and play as they sat on top of the bluffs looking out into the sea. It's a joy listening to them, the acoustic sound is really very impressive which makes me wonder what kind of guitar they own. I am not very good with guitars, but I learned of one special type from one of my friends. He loves music, and sometimes play guitar during lunch break. He is very proud of his guitar that he told me that what he is playing is an excellent larrivee at musicians friend. So, I wonder if those people who bring their guitar to the bluffs sometimes own the same kind of guitar since the acoustic sound is really very impressive, hearing them kind of transports me into another magical world.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Other Birds At Robb's Field

Robb's Field is not all about ospreys, which I featured previously. Aside from osprey, I also had featured in this post the white pelicans in synchronized diving and fishing. In this post, let me share with you the other birds we spotted at Robb's Field while watching for the ospreys.
A Heron Between Two Bird Watchers
Heron Caught Some kind of Stick Like Fish

Heron Excited to Eat the Fish
Heron In Flight
Little Blue Heron

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Meet The Osprey Family ( part 2 of 2)

In part 1 of "Meeting The Osprey Family at Robb Field", there was only one osprey at the nest who later entertained us with his joy of discovering flight. In our second visit at Robb Field, we were greeted by two ospreys on the nest. From afar, we could not tell if they are all juvenile ospreys because the young (born around April of this year) now look almost as full size as the parents. However, on closer inspection with the aid of our lens, we found out that the two left on the nest were a juvenile and  adult pair. Our indicator were: the color of their eyes, and the white specks on juvenile's wings.
 Juvenile ( at the right, with orange eyes) and Adult ( left, with yellow eyes)
In a short while, the baby flew off the nest, then, followed by the adult. They flew across the San Diego River Estuary. Using our lens, we were able to spot two ospreys perched on the poles of the parked boats. We have not been to the north side of the estuary, so, we used the google maps apps in our cell phone to learn about Mission Bay's Hospitality Point Park at the other side of the estuary. 
Looking Towards The Other Side of Estuary From Robb's Field
We followed the ospreys to the other side of the estuary ( yes, we have become birds paparazzi now, haha ). It was only very recently that we got hooked on bird watching. What an added joy it is to our nature wandering. Thanks to the ospreys for leading us to discover another park in San Diego. 
Kayaks and Boats at Hospitality Point Park
When we reached Hospitality Point Park, it was easy for us to find the ospreys since they were still almost at the same spots as when we spotted them from Robb Field. The closest to us was the adult below, which we soon learned must be the mom. 
Why we believe the one above is the mom osprey because of her size. She was definitely bigger than the other adult not too far from her. Female ospreys are generally bigger than male ospreys. She also has that brown pattern on her chest's feathers. Whereas, the other adult osprey (picture below) perched on the tree close by has an all white chest.
Thankfully, the ospreys are not shy to humans, so it was easier for us to take them picture. In fact, these two adult ospreys were perched on a pole (female) and tree ( male) next to a lot of human traffic who were enjoying Hospitality Point Park. Some of them, followed us and also took pictures of these birds.
The DAD ( notice the feathers on his chest are all white, without brown streaks like the female )

Saturday, June 22, 2013

What Foods Do We Have For Hiking?

What Is in My Backpack?

I think it is a given that there is a camera inside. Hiking + photography + blogging are all one activity for me. I hike, I take pictures, I blog. :)

My motivation to take pictures usually comes when I am out of the doors hiking, and exploring nature. My favorite subject is anything about nature. However, I do from time to time take some pictures when am not hiking, like when I am home. 


Actually, because I was inspired to take pictures of what I see at home today, the thought of sharing what foods do we have for hiking came to my mind. In short, I ventured into taking pictures of food using my camera, not my cell phone! Haha!

First, let me share with you what we usually have at home, before we leave for hiking.

 Rice, Chinese Broccoli and Lemon Grilled Chicken
 Rice Up Close, I love rice, and I eat this three times a day! 

Frankly, I get weak when I can't have rice for several days. It is for that reason that whenever we go on an adventure vacation, I bring a rice cooker since most restaurants in remote places don't serve rice. At least, I could have rice even just for breakfast, since oftentimes, if we are on an adventure vacation, we are out for lunch and dinner. I am the type of person who must have my rice before hiking. :) We eat a lot of vegetables too. 

Tofu Soup

The above tofu soup does not have any meat nor sea food as what most recipes would have. I probably would share the recipe of this one later. I and hubby love this tofu soup. 

Now, going back to the question: "what food do we have for hiking?" Whenever we go hiking, we prepare to fight hunger. One thing probably we could not afford when going hiking is getting hungry and thirsty. Thus, we do carry a lot of water. My backpack has several liters of water in my bladder, and water canister. We also bring a lot of foods, something light that will not weigh us down, and something that will not easily spoil or smashed. 

 Trail Mix, natural meal replacement pro bar, sea weed, some sunflower or pumpkin seeds and nuts

These foods may not be something you would want for your lunch, but we always tell ourselves, better to have them than to starve! Better to have them to fuel us to explore and be up close to nature. We usually buy our hiking snacks at our local stores. However, if you live in a place with limited selection of hiking snacks, you may find natural snacks online, which can be your meal replacement while you are enjoying the wonders of nature in the trail.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Meeting The Osprey Family at Robb Field ( part 1 of 2 )

An Overcast Day at North Torrey Pines State Beach From Guy Fleming Trail North Viewpoint
Before you get confused, Robb's Field is not at Torrey Pines but at Ocean Beach. However, the first few pictures here were from Torrey Pines because that was how we found out about  the osprey family at Robb's Field. After hiking, we would spend some time at Guy Fleming Trail North View Point hoping for the baby peregrine falcons to give us another entertaining sky show. We knew they would not be around long, since soon they would be chased away by their parents once they learned to hunt on their own. We had been enjoying photographing the juvenile peregrine's behavior since maybe the Memorial Day Weekend. That Saturday however, it seemed the young peregrine falcons were not inspired to spread their wings in chilly air and overcast skies. For about 3 hours  at Guy Fleming Trail, the baby peregrine falcons did not entertain us. Three hours of waiting at Guy Fleming Trail may be that long for others, but for hubby and I, we could sit atop of Torrey Pines cliffs like forever simply watching the world go by.
North Torrey Pines State Beach ( from Guy Fleming Trail)
From the top of the cliffs, we enjoy watching the beach below us, the torrey pines swaying in the sea breeze, the wildflowers dotting the landscape, the squirrels,
the surfers, people walking on the beach, passing dolphins, and whatever more.
Dolphins As Seen from Guy Fleming Trail
Because of the time of year, there were a lot of bird photographers and enthusiasts waiting at Guy Fly Fleming Trail, so, learning some bird photography tips from them was an added bonus. It seemed everyone was wishing for the peregrines to show up, but they were simply not playful that time.

When I saw a lone bird flying below the cliffs above the water which I was confident was not sea gull, nor crow, nor cormorant, and of course, not pelican, the amateur bird watcher in me thought it was peregrine. :) I shouted, "THERE! below the cliffs!", which is what we usually do when we see peregrine so everybody could take picture. However, when one of the bird photographers saw the bird my lens was pointing at, he said, "nahhhh, can't be, that's just toooooooo slow!! that's an osprey!"
Osprey Seen From Guy Fleming Trail @ Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Of course we laughed afterwards, because it seemed we all were hallucinating to be entertained by the peregrines again. Then, one of the bird photographers told us about the baby ospreys also at Robb Field in Ocean Beach. They said, they are much easier to photograph than the peregrines. With the aid of technology, the bird photographer was able to give me the exact location of the osprey's nest (through mobile google maps apps and gps locator). We were told there were 3 baby ospreys, and unlike peregrines, the ospreys eat together like one big family in their nest, the adults have yellow eyes, while the juvenile have orange eyes. So, we decided to leave Torrey Pines that time and we headed off to Ocean Beach. When we got there, with their detailed instruction, it was so easy for us to find the osprey's nest on top of the pole.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Some San Diego Beach Laws

Paragliding in San Diego
San Diego is one of the very popular tourist destinations year round, mainly because of its weather and diversity. There is almost an activity for everyone. Whether it be surfing, snorkeling, hiking, rock climbing, shopping, theme park hopping ( Legoland, Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and more than an hour away in Orange County is Disneyland), paragliding, sky diving, parasailing, boating, sailing, riding hot air balloon, etc.
Coronado Beach: 2012 America's Best Beach by Dr. Beach
However, some unlucky tourists or visitors to the city may have gotten ticket for not following the city beach and trails safety laws and regulation. Several times, I was asked by visiting friends of the signs in beaches or in state parks, amused by the number of restrictions. I usually tell them that maybe it is more to inform the public of the laws because ignorance of the law excuses no one. I had seen a young couple getting ticket from a ranger for having alcohol on the beach.  I also had seen a small group of yuppies stopped by ranger and getting ticket from smoking in the trail. Once, I entertained a visiting friend who smokes, and I got afraid when he very quickly used his butane torch lighter to lit his cigar while we were exploring Cabrillo National Monument.
Cabrillo National Monument
I had to inform him right away of what we may get into if he continues to smoke. Ranger may stop us and give us ticket. Thankfully, he complied and stopped smoking.

The following are some of the beach laws for the  City of San Diego Beach, Park, & Water Areas:

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Random Images From Last Weekend

Two of the many images we took from our all day wandering at San Diego Zoo, last Saturday.
Baby Panda
Koala Bear
Some pictures from our hike at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, San Diego, Sunday. 
 Torrey Pine
 Prickly Pear Cactus
And the most exciting part of the weekend, seeing family of osprey in the wild. I will write more about their behavior later. Below are two of the many pictures we took from our easy walk at Robbs Field Park at Ocean Beach. The two pictures of baby osprey who just learned to fly below were taken by hubby.
Baby Osprey, Finding the Joy in His First Flight ( with fish bone still on its beak ) - ospreys are also known as fish hawk since 99% of their diet is fish, big fish, that is!
baby osprey holding his deboned fish 
Counting the days towards everyday is a weekend, :) , though I so love teaching but I can't wait to enjoy my summer break. Summer break, come soon, will you? :)

Time Flies so Fast

Memorial Day Weekend 2013 Full Moon
Time flies so fast, or is it moments change so quickly? Last memorial day weekend, when we got home, I and cousin went to the back of our house to check if we could find the great horned owl perched in the pine tree. Outside, we saw the full moon almost at the tip of the mountain, and we both thought it would make a beautiful picture because it would make everything so small and the moon so big. However, we did not have our camera on hand. We rushed going inside the house to get our cameras, but it was too late. By the time we got to the back of the house again, the moon was already high. Sigh, anyway, I still took a picture of that full moon which rose so quickly.
At the same note, I had gotten several inquiries since the past months of prints for my images. I told them I am not selling prints for my images. Actually, one of the reasons I do not sell prints for my images because I have not researched well yet which printing company should I go for. I know there are a lot of them around, some even provide wholesale printer services. I told myself to research which among the many printing companies offers the best prints at the best price. But time flies so fast, after so many months, I still have not done any research, sigh, again!
Time flies so fast, we have to grab every moment and enjoy it.

Go Hike A Canyon- Zion National Park

short intro: Pictures and narration here were from our summer 2007 trip and my very first experience of Zion National Park. This post was first published back in 2007 in my "The Joys of Simple Life" blog in Friendster. In 2009, Friendster converted fully to a gaming site, but before my blog becomes extinct, I was able to copy and save some of my posts. One of them is this post, which I am re-publishing here. 

Utah rocks rock!! From the world's largest concentration of natural stone arches to the enchanting and dramatic hoodoos to the magnificent giant Navajo sandstone monoliths, Utah rocks will rock each visitor with fascination and awe. On our first visit to Zion National Park, I was very pleased with what we saw: massive stone formations very different from Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon National park, yet equally stunning.  
 Zion's Geologic History: (source: Utah's National Parks)         
 225 million years ago, Zion was part of the floor of a shallow sea, the delta of a great river and the bottom of the lake. Volcanoes erupted leaving ash to form bright layers. The windblown sand from this great desert provided the raw material for the Navajo sandstone. The sand dunes were transformed into sandstones by tremendous compaction and cementing properties of compounds such as calcium carbonate which were brought by groundwater. Beginning 4 million years ago, streams running off of it from the Virgin River with its load of pebbles, sand and boulders carved the canyon that is now present today. 

 The nearly vertical monoliths and precipitous canyon gorges are evidence that Zion is geologically young. Rain, wind, the pull of gravity and Virgin river are the master sculptors in chiseling out Zion Canyon. Unfortunately, someday, these erosive forces will reduce the magnificent landscape of the canyon to flat plains. Our first stop after entering the park from the Mt Carmel junction entrance was the visitor's center parking lot since private cars are not allowed to drive inside the canyon. Inside the visitor's center, we asked for advise on interesting places to hike. Most of Zion's beauty are hidden in the trails. 

After getting advise, we made our plan.  We would go first to the Zion Lodge for a hike to the Emerald Pools. After the hike, it would be perfect timing to have brunch at the Red Rock Grille by the Lodge. With a fuller stomach, we would do the easier Riverside Walk first, then, we would hike the exciting Narrows. After the Narrows, we would proceed to hike to the Weeping Rock, and then, finally, the Angel's Landing at late in the afternoon which would be dramatic at near sunset. Could we do all these in one day? Find out below......

With so much excitement to carry out our plan, we took the park's free shuttle to the inside of the canyon. As planned, we first stopped at the Zion Lodge to take the trail to the lower and middle Emerald Pool. The Lower Emerald Pool is about 0.6 mile from the trail head.  
 The trail to the Lower Emerald pool was basically flat with probably only 70 feet ascent making the hike very easy. The trail was lined with trees (who thinks that deserts are treeless?) and along giant sandstone monoliths that made the hike very cool despite the 100+F temperature outside of the canyon directly under the sun. From the Lower Emerald Pool to the Middle Emerald Pool is about another 0.5 mile with probably an additonal 100 ft ascent and a few long drop-offs.
 The complete round trip hike to the Middle Emerald Pool would have been a short 2 or 2.5 hours if we were not tempted by the inviting rocks along the trail to climb them freely.
 Notice the holes, slits and cracks on the rock, they provide a good hold for hands and feet when climbing them.  After completing the 2+ mile round trip hike to the lower and middle emerald pool, it was time for brunch. However, the Red Rock Grille at Zion Lodge does not open until 11:00 am, we settled for cold garden salad, pretzels  and chicken sub at the Castle Dome Cafe. With stomach partially full, we took the park's free shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava. From the stop, we took the 1 mile paved trail that follows the Virgin River upstream, this is called Riverside walk. After 1 mile, the paved trail ends, but the hike did not. The end of the paved trail is the entry to Zion's Narrows from bottom up.

 Hiking the Narrows was probably the most adventure-filled part of our Utah hiking trip. The hike was really fun and can be enjoyed by hikers of any ability level. No wonder why this is the most popular hike in Zion Park. Serious hikers hike from top-bottom, this is a strenuous 16 mile hike and requires a permit. Most people, like us, hike casually from bottom-up, this route does not require a permit. This is not a hike however to be underestimated. More than 60% of the hike is spent wading, walking and sometimes swimming on the river.