Walker Canyon Superbloom 2019

Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore

Sometimes, we Californians start to take the state for granted. We whine and whinge about the traffic or the high cost of living, and some of us – god forbid – even start to wonder if the state is still worth it.

When California hears us questioning her total awesomeness, she’s like, “Hold my beer.” Bam, she summons up a wild and wonderful floral display which leaves the flower children dancing in the streets. Superbloom 2019 is in full swing. From the Carrizo Plain to the Anza Borrego Desert, the hills are alive with fields of flowers. Continue…

Another Kind of Thawing Mammoth

Tony and Larry in Mammoth

Siberia isn’t the only place where global warming is causing the snows to recede revealing the mammoths below. California’s Mammoth, the world famous ski resort, is making a pretty grand statement about climate change this year. My dad and I took to the slopes in mid-January to discover a thin layer of artificially produced snow where 20 feet of fresh powder is the norm. Believe it or not, even much of the peak of Mammoth Mountain, which rises to 11,060 ft (3,371 m), was free of snow. Yikes!!!

While the snow was relatively absent, the warm sunshine was plentiful and the mountain views were spectacular. The 50-degree temperatures were a rather nice way to celebrate my dad’s 65th birthday. And for those keeping track, my dad kicked my butt on the slopes. While I was tentatively snow-plowing my way over the icy patches, he was zooming down the slopes like Continue…

Happy New Year

Pelicans in La Jolla

Happy New Year everybody!!! We are too busy enjoying the insanely wonderful California weather to be blogging, so our 2013 year-end video will be up a bit late this year. In the meantime, here is a pelican stretching its wings on the cliffs of La Jolla.

Diver Assists Entangled Dolphin

We initially shared a shorter version of this video on our Facebook Fanpage, but then we discovered the full 8-minute video of Keller Laros helping a dolphin remove fishing line caught in its mouth. This is an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime piece of footage with incredible implications of a depth of intelligence that many skeptics have denied. Researchers will most certainly be studying this footage for years to come.

Being divers ourselves, we immediately recognized Keller’s extensive dive experience. For non-divers, removing the fishing line may seem obvious, but it isn’t. The fact that Keller even noticed the line at all during a night dive with a dolphin swimming around his head is impressive. But Keller was also confronted with a difficult decision: should he try to remove the line and risk spooking the dolphin and thereby risk injury to himself? Clearly, Keller is a pro.

And having dabbled in the difficult art of dive photography and film, we are in AWE of Martina Wing’s exceptional underwater filming skills. From the very beginning, she expertly documents each step of the encounter. I really felt like I was on the dive myself. I cannot convey how much I love this footage. I was offended when I heard a reporter refer to the clip as “amateur footage.” Martina is no amateur. Thanks Martina for keeping your cool and documenting something truly miraculous and sharing that with the world.

Hiking Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

San Diego is famous for its beautiful coastline, but there are many natural attractions away from the ocean which deserve acknowledgement. As Tony mentioned in his previous post about Ocean Beach, islands of real California still survive. Some of those are islands of nature, such as the green canyons which criss-cross much of the county. Although many of the canyons have been filled in for housing developments throughout the years, others have been turned into preserves and serve as refuge for endemic animals such as coyotes, mule deer, raccoons and the occasional mountain lion as well as for birds and native plants.

When we were in the States in 2009, our friend Evelyn took us for a hike to Palomar Mountain State Park. This time, she introduced us to Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve just north of Mira Mesa. The 7-mile canyon starts at the I-5/805 merge and meanders east to Continue…

Ocean Beach

Locals and visitors alike often bemoan the fact that old-world California has been lost under a cement sea of commercialization and homogenization which has eroded the once-so-famous California character. While there is some truth to these complaints, islands of “real” California still survive. One of my favorite is Ocean Beach.

For Thomas and me, Ocean beach is a ritual that goes way back. We always start with early-morning coffee and donuts at one of our favorite San Diego institutions, O.B. Donuts. We proclaim O.B. Donuts the best donuts in all of San Diego – it certainly has the most eclectic mix of customers. (Sometimes, in Tibet or Sumba or some other exotic location Continue…

San Diego’s Newest Monument

“Unconditional Surrender,” a statue version of the famous Times Square photograph showing a lip-locked pair celebrating the end of World War II, is soon to become a permanent part of San Diego’s waterfront. This temporary painted statue has been sent to New Jersey to be made into a more permanent bronze version. The new and improved bronze statue should be back in San Diego sometime in December. (Hmmm, I kind of liked the cheesy painted version.)

The Nightmare Called American Healthcare

On the road, the topic of American healthcare comes up about as often as my favorite country (in other words, a lot). Citizens of the world are fascinated by the twists and turns of the American healthcare debate, a subject which is pretty much incomprehensible to anyone born outside of the United States.

What many non-Americans do not realize is that the subject is as relevant to foreign visitors to the country as it is to U.S. citizens. Anyone who needs to visit a doctor or emergency room while traveling in the U.S. will be plunged into the complexities of a highly bureaucratic, highly bloated nightmare that has the potential to confuse and confound even the greatest mind.

Although I am American, I am insured through a German travel insurance company. This rather unusual status as well as some recent experiences with the healthcare system here in the U.S. have given me some insight into the difficulties that visitors might encounter. Here are a few bits of advice for foreign Continue…