There was a sweepstakes on Instagram, a car rental company offering a 5 day car rental and 4 nights stay at a hotel chain for a lucky winner. The idea was for this winner to go on a road-trip and visit as many places in California as possible. Naturally I was drawn to this so I immediately started reading the rules. As I am reading the description I see a post just below the description that caught my attention. An Instagrammer bluntly saying something close to, "I will not go to California even if you paid me to." Shocked and intrigued I continue reading, thinking to myself, how can this person not want to come to beautiful California. Yes, I am bias, I was born in California after all and I love this state. The Instagrammer proceed to describe what she (I can't remember if the instragrammer was a man or woman, I believe it was a woman) believe was California's current state. She described a state full of homeless, trash and drug paraphernalia. Is this what people think of California?
I was ready set her straight and argue to a total stranger how wrong she was about California. She was obviously persuaded by what she heard on the news about California, I thought. As I as typing my response to this total stranger I stopped and remember my recent trip to Chicano Park. I remember the woman who was high at the handball court questioning me if I was taking photos of her. I was shaken by the fact that this Instagrammer did know what was going on in California. Its not a secret. California has a homeless crisis one that is growing everyday.
I don't want to get all political in this blog but this really struck a cord. I was like an ostrich, tall and proud yet I was burning my head in the sand when it came to the current crisis. Even in my small town I have seen an increase of homeless people sitting in the sidewalks. I don't like going to downtown San Diego because it is starting to remind me of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles has a huge homeless problem, their tents are erected on the sidewalks in certain areas. Just a few years we were walking in the Fabric district looking for some material when we ran into a woman NAKED, from the waist down. She was being followed by a homeless man, the woman was clearly on something. We had my nephews with us so we decided to get out of there as fast as possible.
I know that San Diego and various organizations as well as churches are doing everything they can to assist the homeless by offering medical care, mental and behavior assistance, housing, food, dental and other assistance however it doesn't see like there is much progress. Where are they coming from? Just in my town alone I have seen an increase of pity theft something that a few years back was not even heard of. I am sad to say that I made my "warning" category to warn people of things that they might encounter that is not in the visitor's guide.
I don't blame that instagrammer for not wanting to come to California. This person is right, but I don't think this should stop her from coming. California is a huge state, bigger then some of the states in the US geographically speaking. There are beautiful places with natural beauty that are still pristine. Now more than ever I want to explore California, show the world that there is still beauty in the Golden State. I will also continue to give my honest review of the places I visit in my blog, give my recommendations and warnings. I hope that I can convince people to see California the way I see it, beautiful, unique and wild.
At first, the thought of going to Chicano Park to see the colorful murals seems exciting and easy. It would be a "walk in the park." As I search for information about Chicano Park, I found that simply taking photos of the murals would not be enough. Each mural was carefully designed by its artist(s) to showcase Chicano history and culture. A simple picture would not do it justice. It deserved my undivided attention. So began my research on Chicano Park.
My first visit to the park I brought my nephew. I wanted to show him a unique and special park. I explained the history of the park and how it came to be then I let him admire the artwork on the columns. As I photographed the artwork on the freeway columns and moved my eyes upward, I felt small. The sound of vehicles passing by sounding like a race track. I focused my attention on the state park which was being used by kids and young adults. They were all testing their newest skill, some were successful performing them while others fell on their butts.
I did notice several homeless individuals sitting at the foot of the murals. Their belongings covering the bottom portion of the murals. They were everywhere, especially in less traffic areas. Some would stand and talk to possibly friends or acquaintances who also were homeless. Some would sit by themselves with their belongings talking or even yelling to someone they could only see. Others would stand on the street corner yelling at nobody in particular. If you got close to them they would lower their voices or turn in a different direction.
The second and third time I visited the park I did see many tourists come, stay for a few minutes, snap some photos and leave. Yes, this place can make some people feel uneasy. Although it is advertised as a tourist attraction in the San Diego visitor's guide they do not show the reality of this amazing place. There are several homeless people living in the park. There are also many families living in the community that come to the park to relax and let their kids play. Twice I smelled marijuana which is legal in California however that might scare some people off. I do have to say that I did not feel threatened at any time. In fact, everyone minds their own business. The homeless population is used to people coming and photographing the murals however you can tell it makes them uneasy. I was going to do a video on this amazing place but I opted not to make it because I did notice how uneasy it made people when I picked up my camera. I had to strategically use the the columns to hide a homeless person just sitting in the grass. My nephew and I did take some clips of the park but not enough to make a video. I tired presenting the park in a good light and avoided taking photos of the homeless population as much as possible however evidence of their residency did show in some of my photos.
On my last visit, I had a woman who was hanging out by the handball court asking what I was looking at. I believe she was concern I was photographing her. When she approached me I explained that I was looking for lines or points of interest that would draw people's eye. I then had her stand next to me so that she would see the lines I was looking at. She thought I was taking photos of her and stated, "I don't know why people want to take photos of us, it's not like we are good looking." I believe she was high on something. I proceed to tell her I was just admiring the art and would be out of her way in a few minutes. She smiled and admitted that the artwork was beautiful and started to look for more lines. As I continue my goal to photograph all the murals, I could notice eyes watching me. I was determined to capture as much as I could. This meant asking for permission from the homeless people living next to the walls covering parts of the murals. Again I never felt like I was endangered and people either left me alone or come and talk to me.
Although there are homeless people living in the park, for the most part, the park is "cleanish." On my last visit, I saw a man swiping the park. San Diego is trying to help the homeless population that suddenly boomed in downtown however this may time. The community of Barrio Logan has maintained this park for the community and for tourist to enjoy, but mostly they are doing it because they want their children to cherish a park dedicated to Chicanos. They are always beautifying it and painting it. I do recommend coming to this park to see the artwork during the day with the understanding that it is not your typical park and you will see homeless people. I do plan to return and see the new murals and I hope you will come and visit this amazing place.
I just finished watching Transcend: The Jon Mozo Story, filmed and directed by Devin Graham. I follow Devin Graham on You Tube, he is a very talented filmmaker and You Tuber. I never heard of Jon Mozo before this film. As I sat there and watch his story I felt a deep loss and profound sadness. It is a story of Jon's love for his family and love for the ocean. It almost seem like Jon knew he had a short time to live and he had to live life to the fullest.
Valentine's Day is around the corner, it's a great time for the film to be released in the month of love. Jon Mozo was loved by many and he loved them. This man died doing what he loved, photographing the ocean. It's a reminder that you only have one life, enjoy it. This is why I am finally doing what I love, travel and photography. I rather fail at doing what I love than succeed in doing nothing.
Thank you for visiting my website. As you can see it is under construction. I had to make a quick decision regarding the future of my website. My previous provider had a limit on space, meaning I could only upload a certain about of media (photos and videos) before I had to upgrade. Even their professional plans they had a space limit. One day prior to my renewal day I switched to Weebly.
I think it was a good move because I don't have to worry about limitations regarding photos, videos or pages. The downside is that I have to recreate my website. Since I am not as tech savvy as I wish, the web building process is painfully slow. I am learning as I go.
What's funny is that I think I am writing a blog that nobody can see. Can't figure out how to publish my website without having the "log in" page to show up. I know I will figure it out. I believe this website is going to be better than my last website, I just need to figure out. Thank you for your patience and come back soon.
Happy New Year! What are your travel plans for this year? My plan for this year is to stay at home and explore San Diego County. I have lived in this county for so many years and I still have not seen what it has to offer. San Diego attracts thousands of people each year and each year I go visit someplace other than San Diego. It's time to try the local cuisine.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank my followers. I know I didn't post much last year and for that I am sorry. I feel terrible that I did not keep my word in posting new blogs and showing you what California has to offer. This year I decided that I will dedicate myself to this blog and make changes. I don't know what these changes will be but I will let you know as I experiment with content. The website will be about exploring California however you will read more about my "journey" to the destination.
The wind caves have been on my bucket list for a while and this year I finally was able to check them off my list. Originally I mistaken the Wind Caves for the Mud Caves until I conducted research. I didn't know there was more than one type of cave in the desert. I learn something new every day.
We decided to start the year in nature, so we packed our bags and drove to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The idea was to camp overnight, welcome the new year and visit the wind caves the next day. We have our overnight bag ready to go along with other necessities. With the Jeep packed, we headed to our local Yoshinoya for dinner. When we finished eating we decided not to stop at the grocery store to buy our lunch for the next day because it was already late and driving in the dark was not ideal. This was a big mistake.
When we arrived at the campsite we set the tent and just started to relax. Since we didn't stop at the grocery we couldn't start a fire, no firewood. We were fine until we realized we didn't bring drinking water. We only had one bottle to share between us. It's not like we didn't have any water at all. We did bring our water jug but that was for cleaning, so in case of an emergency, we could drink it. We also carry water purifiers too. Still comes to show you to check, check and double-check.
While sitting in the dark waiting to welcome the New Year, my man set up his trail camera while I attempted some night photography. This past year I took a break from photography so I am a bit rusty. I was, however, able to take some decent shot of the night sky.
We welcome the New Year and immediately went to sleep. It was much too cold to be outside. The temperature was around 40 degrees. In the early hours of the morning, we heard the yapping of coyotes not too far away. They woke me up twice during the night but nothing happened.
When we woke up it was already late in the morning. We packed up and instead of heading to the wind caves we had to drive to Borrego Springs the nearby desert town to get food and water. By noon we were on our way to the wind caves.
To get to the Wind Caves Trailhead, take Hwy 78 towards Ocotillo Wells. Turn into Split Mountain Road. While on Splint Mountain Road you will find Fish Creek Wash which is a dirt road that leads to Fish Creek Primitive Campground. Continue driving past the campground on Fish Creek Wash until you find the trailhead it's a little over 3 miles. The Trailhead will be marked.
My original plan was to record the drive to the wind caves however my GoPro camera with stabilizer did not charge so I had to use my DSLR. The drive on Fish Creek Wash was beautiful and easy. We arrive at the trailhead and parked. I knew there would be a small elevation gain but to me, any elevation gain is hard work. Huffing and puffing, because I am not in great shape, I made it to the top just to find nothing. I was expecting flat ground after the initial climb but there was more climbing. In truth, the climb was not hard. I saw grandmothers on the trail so I know I was just being a big baby.
There are two sets of wind caves. We explored the first set for a while. We could hear children laughing and playing in the holes of the caves. We took a few photos and admired the view. At one point my man and I separated, he was laying on top of one of the caves while I took photos. I enjoyed every minute I was there. Surprisingly it was not windy at the caves however it was windy while walking on the trail.
When we reached the jeep a young couple who was walking close behind us asked if we could give them a ride back to the Fish Creek Campground. While the majority of the visitors to the wind caves had driven to the trailhead, they had walked and at this point were too tired to walk back to the campground. The Jeep was packed with our gear but we made room for them in the back.
Their names were Zack and Blue, one was from The Bay while the other was from Humboldt county. It seems this was a last-minute camping trip for them and they wanted to explore more of the desert. They were very friendly and thankful for the ride. We dropped them off at their campground and headed home.
Overall we were very happy that we started the year in nature. I hope that we continue exploring through out the whole year.