There are trips I prepare for and other trips I just don't want to hassle with the preparation. My last trip to Big Sur was the fun, unprepared trip I always wanted to do. It was so much fun but I do regret not researching on the Mission Carmel Basilica. If I would have prepared I would have know that this is Father Serra's final resting place. His portrait is on the first step of the alter and his remains are buried on the floor. Because I didn't do my research I did not get a photo of Father Serra's resting place which is an iconic feature of the mission. On my next trip I will research first then have fun when I am there.
On my last road trip I camped at Big Sur State Park. I did not pack food because I considered it more of a road trip than a camping trip. I just wanted to use the campground for sleeping. When I arrived at Big Sur it was about 3:00 pm and I had missed lunch so I decided to have an early dinner at Big Sur Lodge Restaurant.
The Restaurant was mostly empty except for a couple eating at the far end of the restaurant. The Hostess was friendly and immediately sat me near the fire place at a table next to the window. I was able to admire the tall redwoods just outside my window, I felt so remote from the city at that moment. Although the restaurant was empty it had a romantic vibe to it, candle lit tables, roaring fireplace, large windows with views of the woods. Apparently Valentine's Day is their busiest day.
Since I did not rent a room at a hotel and choose to camp, I was able to use the money I saved on more expensive meals. I selected the Grilled Top Sirloin for my dinner and a coke because I needed the caffeine. The meat was a little overcooked for my taste but since I was starving I ate my meal within minutes afterwards I enjoyed the view. The services was excellent.
While traveling I search for delicious local restaurants, food trucks and street stands to eat my next meal. Food says a lot about the place I am visiting. I want to start highlight on my website some of the places I have eaten in hopes that you will try them too. Please note I am not getting any type of compensation by highlighting these places, I just want to share them with you.
On my most recent trip to Big Sur, I drove north to the small town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. While buying a patch for my collection I asked a young cashier if she knew of a great place to eat breakfast, she recommended a few places but The Cottage sounded like a good place to check out. The Cottage is a cute restaurant that can easily be missed if you are not looking for it. It is a house that was converted to a restaurant. I was lucky to be seated at the table next to the main window. I felt like I was at home enjoying the view from the comfort of my table.
The staff was great, there was this young Mexican cook who brought me all the hot sauce bottles he could find when I asked him for hot sauce. He was handsome and fit, very attentive. Whenever I visit a new place, I always ask the locals for advice on where to go and visit in hopes they will give me a “locals only” destination. Since I was new to the area, I asked this young man for recommendations and he was happy to provide them. My server never came back, the only person coming to the table was the young cook. We were having a great conversation about places to visit, I realize that I need to carry a small notebook to write things down since my phone is not always charged. Next thing I know he comes back and sits on the empty chair across my table. I had the feeling that he was confusing my friendly conversation with flirting. It was not my intention, I never pass the flirting lesson that most people master at a young age. He finally asked if I had a boyfriend which I made clear that I did.
He was polite and continued the conversation for a bit before leaving. I was sad that the conversation was over since he was providing me with great information about Carmel however, he was asking about my life while I was trying to get more information from him about surrounding areas. In the end, I thanked him and gave him a good tip. I left the restaurant and forgot a sheet of hand-made paper that I was planning on using for a book cover. I just bought the paper a few blocks away and it cost me almost $6.00. I felt embarrassed going back for it, I don’t know why since I did nothing wrong. I decided to walk to my car and visit the next place of interest on my list. The sad thing is I can’t remember the young man’s name now.
I was looking for an interesting video to watch on You Tube when I ran into an Anorama video titled "Create No Matter What." I felt compelled to click on the video and watch it.
These are difficult times and although I didn't feel like creating anything these past few weeks I didn't want to stop completely. I can't explore California right now but I can continue sharing my previous travels. I remembered there are several places I had not added to this website. I just created a new destination on Queen Califa's Magical Circle. This brought me joy. I hope that those who love to create continue to do so. Stay safe and healthy. #createnomatterwhat
There is so much uncertainty right now. Yesterday evening was stressful, Governor Newsom issued a state wide "stay at home" order. I received this news through the San Diego Emergency notification system via my cellphone. I was out driving when this was issued. The streets were nearly empty except for some cars driving. I panic and drive to the office to pick up my frozen Asian food that I had left a day prior in the employee refrigerator since my home refrigerator was full in preparations for a possible mandatory quarantine. I didn't think I could survive the quarantine without my Asian food. Now that I think about it sounds, it is so stupid, my priorities are so wrong, but in my defense I was near the office, so why not. I took my Asian food and drove home.
The company I work for is considered and "essential," job therefore I was able to go to work despite the order. Many others are not so fortunate and they risk loosing their jobs. Many will not be able to pay their bills and feed their family. Without people going out and living their normal lives it will be hard for even the "essential" jobs to stay open. We are all hoping this health care crisis is over soon however the state and local officials believe this will last several months. Its hard to keep positive when there is so much fear and panic.
This weekend I want a distraction. I don't want to think about COVID-19, especially the "what if" questions. This weekend I want to just plan for future trips. Soon the borders will close in the US so travel is out of the questions. I plan on researching new places, keep updating the website and hoping for the best. I hope you all are safe and stay healthy.
I have seen the pandemic movies produced by Hollywood in which society falls apart when a virus spreads rapidly through a urban area and the hero of the movie must face unbelievable odds to protect his/her family and arrive in the "safe zone." The world changes rapidly within hours, from normal to panic to bad. You see the "good" people turn bad and "bad" people have more humanity than the "good" people. At the end of the movie I wonder how I would react to an event like that. Would I be that "good" person gone bad? I go home and re-evaluate my emergency preparedness and find that I am lack in so many areas. I promise myself that I prepare better and evetually by the end of the week I forget.
What happens when the movie becomes real? To my horror the movie just turn real. We are living it right now! I already went through the denial stage. I thought this virus was nothing, it will soon blow over. I believed the media was blowing it out of proportion just to get high ratings. Things started to get real when the government started to send the COVID-19 positive cruise line passengers to San Diego. In one week my denial stage was torn to shreds. It started with the World Health Organization announcing that COVID-19 had the characteristics of a pandemic. Then President Trump announced travel bans starting 3/13/2020 until the end of the month. No travel to or from Europe except UK. Immediately after San Diego gave its restrictions, no gatherings of more than 250 people allowed. They are recommending for us to prepare for an emergency. Schools are closing, events are cancelling, there is also a restriction on visiting hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and other medical facilities. I had the misfortune of having to go to an urgent care, before I was even allowed to enter the urgent care I was screened. I was no longer in denial it was now the harsh reality and I needed to get with the program.
Right now I am in the panic stage, I guess everyone else is in that stage too. Panic shopping has taken over and as much as I don't want to participate in this chaos how can I ignore the fact that the supplies are flying of the shelves. We are being forced to panic shop because all the hordes are taking all the supplies and refuse to leave any for others. The unscrupulous people are buying large quantities of supplies and cleaning out every store in 100 miles or more just to sell them back for 20 x or more the price. Some people don't buy anything because they don't believe in what is happening. They are still in the denial stage. Others don't buy because they don't want to be bothered and think there will be a special stash saved by the store for them. Others don't have the time to shop because they are at work. The worse are those who are capable of getting their own supplies but decide to steal from business, people or even family.
Soon I will be in the stage of acceptance in which I evaluated my situation and realized I am not prepared and now I have to suffer the consequences. At that point there is nothing that can be done. My only hope is that the panic shopping stops or slows down enough to be able to get much needed supplies. I don't know when that will be but it looks like it will last until the end of March. The patients with the COVID-19 virus are increasing so this panic may continue for longer period of time.
Luckily, traveling to remote places has semi-prepared me to have some essential items at the ready. Unfortunately my essentials are not pandemic proof. I love the idea of becoming an over-lander, in a way over-lander have some similarities to "dooms day peppers" however they are different group of people. Right now the "dooms day peppers" are hunker down in an undisclosed location surrounded by supplies and watching society go into chaos. They are probably thinking "I am not so crazy after all," among other phrases like "I told you so," "Who is going to survive now."
Since the announcement of the pandemic I have stayed home, mostly because the day it was announced I was ill for a different reason. During my recovery I was only focus on recovering and did not do any travel planning or editing. I am differently not doing any travel by plane anytime soon. If I do travel I will be visiting the mountains and places where there is not that many people. My original plan for this year was to visit all the tourist places in San Diego. I just received my San Diego Visitor's Guide this week. Due to the COVID-19 I have to rethink my plans since it is being recommended stay away from people and avoid large crowds. I know this will affect tourism especially in the small mountain communities that depend on tourist money to sustain themselves. Right now my only concern is that we make it out of this pandemic. While I am staying indoors I am using that time to plan. Better planning makes for better content. Stay safe out there and explore when it is safe.
I love technology but sometimes it is frustrating. I use to be very tech savvy, now I am tech challenged. The older I get the less I know about new technology and I see the younger generations thrive. I switched over to a new web platform and I am having a great time recreating my website, however I am being held back by both my photo and video editing software. I can't figure out how to update my graphic card so that my programs can function. I have two recent trips that I would like to share with you but can't get the programs to work. I know I will figure it out but it is taking me some times. Thanks for your patience.
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.