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NateKat · San Diego

San Diego

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Our Thanksgiving tradition is to visit Nathan’s family in San Diego.  It’s only a 4-day weekend, but we always try to make the most of it.  San Diego is a great city to visit, packed with a variety of activities.

San Diego La Jolla Tour

Nathan’s dad is also a certified tour guide so we took a great informative tour of the La Jolla coastline learning about the history, geography and current events in San Diego.

 

 

 

 

Wild Animal Park

We’ve been to the famous San Diego Zoo many times, so we thought it would be interesting to see the Wild Animal Park this time.  The exhibits are more spread out, so it was pretty exhausting, but we saw more young animals since this is the zoo’s breeding facility. The new tiger exhibit was also pretty cool in that it really let you see the Tigers close up.

 

 

 

Lobster Fishing

A few years ago we went lobster fishing and were really successful, catching several lobsters per person.  Ever since then, we’ve been trying to beat that experience, or at least match it. Unfortunately this year it was unusually windy, which meant we had to stay closer to the shore, likely hurting our chances. We caught three legal sized lobsters, but had more fun playing cards in the cabin between pulling pots.

 

 

 

Horseback Riding on the Beach

As a special treat, Nathan’s dad arranged for us all to go horseback riding on the beach! There are only a few places that still allow you to ride horses on the beach in California, so we were glad to get the opportunity.  We took a 2 hour ride along the Mexico border and out on to the beach.  It was fun to see how the horses personalities played out during the ride, even following the same track they always take. Despite our inexperience and some conflicting horse-human personalities, we all managed to stay safe and enjoy the ride. But two hours was more than enough for our unconditioned butts… we couldn’t get out of the saddle fast enough!

 

 

It was another great trip to San Diego, we are already thinking of what to do this year… maybe a trip out to the desert in Anza Borrego Park.

Most family events involve large hectic dinners so it’s nice to get some one on one time and do something we both enjoy.  During a weekend visit in March to San Diego, Katharine, my mom, and I booked an afternoon watercolor class, which I knew my mom would love.  

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My parents are both artists and when given the chance to shine they blow people away!  This class was an intro to watercolors and the idea was to learn new techniques while painting greeting cards.  The teacher started by going on and on about her credentials and galleries then the teacher asked about people previous experience in which my mom humbly said “some a long time ago.”  Ha, I thought to my self be prepared to be surprised.  It’s like the excitement in a movie when the unassuming character takes on the loud mouth braggart and you already know the ending.

My mom picked this complicated magazine photo that included an ornate china coffee cup and rose.  The teacher hesitate and almost talked my mom out of it.  Then the teacher with some more doubt suggested she spend sometime sketching it out after a minute of sketching my mom said “eh lets just give it a try.”  After 5 minutes she painted the ornate design and everyone in the class noticed how good it was looking already.

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After many oohs and awes from the other students, teacher, and another artist working on oil paintings nearby, the greeting card developed into a nice piece of afternoon art.

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The card itself went to good use a couple months later when she presented to her mom for Mother’s Day this weekend.

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I know every parent wants their kids to exceed and be better than themselves, but as a child it’s fun to be impressed by your parents.  Even though my mom is formally trained in the arts, she rarely paints these days, but you can tell she has raw talent when she does.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Another card she painted that afternoon

 

Potato Chip Rock has been on our hiking list for over a year (since seeing it on California Through my Lens) and we finally had the chance to tackle the 8 mile round trip hike to the unique sliver of a rock.  The rock is located on Mt. Woodson near Lake Poway in San Diego, which made it a perfect hike to do with Nathan’s parents.

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The trail is completely exposed with only boulders scattered through out the chaparral, but luckily the day started out foggy which kept us out of the sun during the strenuous climb to the top.

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During the hike to the top Nathan’s Dad Victor, who is a guide for Cabrillo National Monument, gave us a informative walk pointing out various flowers, plants and their uses by earlier civilizations.

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We reached the top and found the rock to be overrun with people, which apparently is actually unusual.  It was over a 30 minute wait before we had our turn on the ‘diving board’.

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Crossing the small gap onto the rock and scrambing down between the boulders can be interesting and chaotic as you can see in below.

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The rock is 5 to 6 feet wide, but becomes less than a inch thick at the end of the chip.  When you’re standing on the rock and someone else jumps you can feel the rock vibrate!

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Although our jumping photo gives some people anxiety, others were even more bold when we were there. We watched a couple groups hang off the edge and one person even attempt a handstand, which got a mixed reaction from the crowd.

This was a fun hike with a well deserved noteworthy summit, but it can be crowded and you definitely have to be prepared for the lack of shade. A couple weeks later Nathan happened to be at Lake Poway Park and saw the fire department airlift a girl off the mountain and land in a nearby baseball field, luckily it looked like she was ok, likely sprained her ankle or something.

Back in November we went to San Diego for my birthday weekend. We spent Friday night with Nathan’s parents and then on Saturday I participated in a color run with some friends from work.

The color run was a 5k in the Qualcomm Stadium (home of the San Diego Chargers) parking lot so the course itself wasn’t that interesting, but it’s the color that everyone comes for – basically throughout the race there are a few color ‘stations’ where volunteers throw colored cornstarch at you and you end up covered in color! Everyone starts with a white t-shirt so that the color stands out.

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Some people got into the color more than us.

At the end of the race they have a ‘color party’ with a DJ and such where everyone has packets of the color and continues to douse each other trying to get as much of your favorite color as possible.

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We got split up into 2 groups during the run and had trouble finding each other in the giant crowd at the end, but overall it was a fun experience. And no question we got plenty of color!

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After the run, the girls and I checked into the Hilton Bayfront for a girls night out in San Diego. They picked an amazing place for dinner (Searsucker) and then we went out dancing. It was a great birthday celebration!

 

By Nathan

While Katharine traveled to the east coast I headed down the coast to San Diego to visit my family.  I met up with my brother, dad and grandpa for a half day of deep sea fishing of the coast.  I find most activities I enjoy require me to wake up before sunrise: fishing, hunting, long hikes, and wildlife photography.  Luckily I’m a morning person and if there is something worth waking up for I don’t even need an alarm clock.  We loaded up on the boat before sunrise and headed to the bait docks to load up on sardines.

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It was a beautiful fiery sunrise as the sky turned from purple to pink to orange and red.  The ocean was calm with no wind and a sunny forecast for the day ahead.  A couple years ago we went fishing for father’s day and it was cold and rainy. So, even if we didn’t catch much, as long as the weather was nicer we would consider it a success.

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The bait of the day was chopped up frozen squid!  We baited our hooks and dropped the lines overboard 200+ feet to the bottom.

 

(This is where my mom is grossed out and stops reading the post)

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It didn’t take long before my grandpa was hauling in the first fish of the day.

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The bright orange rock fish would only put up fight for the first 10-20 feet of line.  This was understandable once you brought the fish on board and could see their bodies couldn’t handle the rapid pressure change.

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Pretty soon we were all catching them – in fact the entire boat of 50 or so people were catching the spiny fish.  We weren’t too keen on the idea of rock fish for dinner so when the deck hands asked what bag number we had, we just picked random numbers, basically giving out fish to unsuspecting fisherman until my grandpa caught by a deck hand who remembered his first fake number.  We were busted, but to keep the boat count up the deck hands went along with the idea of distributing the fish amongst the other people.

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After catching a decent amount of fish we took a break to share jokes and stories while others kept dropping their lines over hoping for the big one.  There was some commotion from the back of the boat and as I got a closer look it was a pale looking sea monster thrashing in the water.

Wolf Eel

The fisherman broke the line and the monster slithered back to the bottom of the sea.  The eel was probably 5 feet long and it made you wonder what else was down there and I was glad to be on the boat. Later the boat jumped in excitement when a young guy next to us hooked onto a yellow fin tuna.  It gave him a good 30 minute fight and ended up being almost 30 pounds.  It was the largest fish I’ve ever seen caught in real life and was pretty amazing how the thin fishing line could have the strength to hold a fish that strong.  To top off the great story, the guy was from Arizona and this was the first time he’s seen the ocean!  I’m sure he’ll be telling that story for the rest of his life.

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After a long morning of fishing and storytelling we headed back to the docks.  While headed back to shore, the deck hands clean the fish and throw the unwanted parts overboard creating a feeding frenzy for the seagulls and pelicans.  I used the oppotunity to get some close up photos of pelicans flying next to the boat.

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That afternoon we headed to the beach to watch my dad surf with his new board.

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My dad grew up in San Diego and spent many days surfing so this was nothing new, but the last time we took photos and video it was on actual film and VHS.  The waves were okay, but it’s hard to capture a lifetime hobby in a 2 hour window.

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I’m sure I’ll be taking many photos and videos in the future and hopefully next time I’ll have a new telephotos lens!

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It was a fun weekend packed full of fishing, surfing, jokes and best of all old stories.

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By Nathan

Katharine and I recently spent the weekend in San Diego, she attended the American Chemical Society conference while I hung out with my parents.  Saturday morning we decided to do a short day hike up Cowels Mountain, which apparently is pronounced “Coals.”  The mountain was cloaked in the morning marine layer, which blocked the view of the city, but kept the hikers cool into the late morning.

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The hike is 3 miles roundtrip and climbs almost 1,600 feet.  It is the most popular trail in San Diego County and on a nice weekend might get 800 visitors a day.  This saturday it wasn’t too crowded probably because of the fog, but you could tell there were some regulars running up and down passing us several times as they got their morning jog in.

We of course made it to the top and waited our turn to get our photo taken then quickly headed down since the view was blocked by dense fog.  We had done this hike in the past so I wasn’t as disappointed by the fog.

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On the way up we could hear a quail calling, but couldn’t see him.  On the way down we spotted him on a tall rock between the switch backs.  Considering the rare photo opportunities on this hike with the fog and even rarer animal sighting I hiked into the bushes to get a closer look.

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The quail sat there patiently while I took a couple photos every few feet I got closer.

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All in all it was a fun hike and it is always fun to share one of my hobbies with my parents.

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San Diego Zoo

This Thanksgiving we went to the world famous San Diego Zoo.  Not only is it fun to see rare animals up close, it was also good practice for taking portrait photos of animals.

Best Monkey Face

We also spent the last hour of the day at the tide pools.

More Photos

In October I planned to go lobster fishing on Saturday evening for my dad’s birthday in San Diego.  Later I was also invited to go quail hunting in the morning on the same day near the Salton Sea.  Of course I had to do both, when do you get the chance to hunt birds in the morning and catch crab and lobster that night.

Quail-

I had to wake up at wake up around 4:00 AM to meet Ken and his friends then head to the Salton Sea.  The drive is about 170 miles Southeast, past Palm Springs, in the middle of the desert.  We arrived shortly after sunrise and headed into the brush to scare up some coveys.

Usual Brush and Cover

Sometimes We Walk Through Vineyards to Reach the Hunting Areas

Other Times We Climb Over People’s Trash

Immediately we could see quail running in front of us in groups of 20 or so.  They were just out of reach, but as we came to a creek bed they took to the air and the morning silence was broken.  Quail love to run and without a dog it usually means they have a 20 yard head start when they take flight.  We put a lot of lead shot in the sky our first sweep through with little results.  Once we broke up the covey, the quail seemed to hide in the brush allowing us to get closer shots, which lead to a more enjoyable morning…for us at least.

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Even though we had seen over a hundred quail throughout the day the heat was too much.  The peak temperature was 99 degrees for the day and I had already gone through 3 liters of water and a couple bottles of Gatorade.  I found wearing a shirt, hunting vest, camel back, and the cotton carrier (camera vest) was too much and didn’t allow my body to cool down.  Toward the end I was dehydrated and tired but not as bad as a couple years ago when I was also hungover.

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I think my new strategy will be take photos ONLY in the first hour when it is cooler and the lighting is better anyway.  This will obviously be hard since I am always anxious to knock down some birds.  When I carry both a shotgun and camera it usually results in fewer and lower quality photos.  It’s also my excuse for my low bird count ;). Next year hopefully we can find a place closer and cooler.

Lobster-

After lunch I headed to San Diego, which was 130 miles Southwest.  I followed Google maps which sent me through Anza-Borrego State Park, a route that is shorter but the roads are narrow and windy.  When you’ve only had 6 hours of sleep, are dehydrated and have walked a few miles in the desert that morning, windy roads are not all that welcome.  But I made it to San Diego and had time for an hour nap before the other guys arrived for lobster fishing.

My dad, brother and I went lobster fishing last year after Thanksgiving.  This year my dad invited 3 of his co-workers to celebrate his birthday and share some the burden of pulling pots.  We had a 6 guys and one brought his young son who pulled his weight- loading the bait, pulling and emptying pots.

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We caught a few lobsters, a lot of crab, a sea slug, a couple starfish, and a couple stingrays.

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It was a lot of fun with more guys, which meant less work but also more stories while we waited between runs.  This year we didn’t get as many lobster probably because it was early in the season and they might have still been molting.  Next year we’ll have to go in December.

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My entire day lasted about 22 hours, included 300 miles of driving, 386 photos, but it was worth it.

More Photos Below

On Saturday while the girls had a bridal shower the guys went to P2K shooting range in San Diego.  We shot several rounds at the 5 stand which had some challenging shots.  The biggest surprise was John who shot sporting clays for the first time and hit over 50%.

By Nathan

Last weekend we visited my parents and grandparents in San Diego we also were able to check out the tide pools during a low tide.

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I’ve visited the tide pools many times in San Diego and I always find it interesting to explore each unique tide pool and watch for shells and anenomies to come alive.

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As we reached the rocks a young boy was yelling in excitement about a lobster he just saw.  I’ve only seen a lobster once before in a tide pool because they require a lot larger pools and it seemed this time there were more large pools which were more like long wide cracks in the rock and the water was still flowing in and out of them with each wave.

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We passed the noisy and excited kid and found our own pool and within seconds I spotted an octopus crawling under a rock.  Once again it was unusual to see such a large animal most of the time it’s just small fish, crabs and anemones.  We stared and waited for him to come out but after a couple minutes my dad and Katharine moved to the next pool where they spotted another octopus.  This was incredible how could we see two octopus in one day let alone in 5 mins.

In the center is a Octopus tentacle breaking the surface

This octopus was hiding in the grass and at times almost looked almost as if it was tangled.  My dad crushed some mussels and threw them into the water to lure the creature out.  But to our surprise the meat fell to the bottom without being touched but then a lobster came out of the same grass to eat the mussels.  A lobster and and octopus in the same tide pool!  We watched the lobster cautiously grab the meat and race back to the grass then the octopus folded up and with one quick  motion darted out of the grass then out of sight.  Just when we thought all the fun was over something else moved in the grass.  We froze and crouched down not to cast our shadows across the pool.  Several pieces of mussels still lay in the open at the bottom of the pool.  Something was definitely swimming through the grass.  At one point you could just see the side of the animal which looked like a fish but before your eyes could lock on to it, it was gone.  Then to our surprise a head emerged from the grass.  It kept extending further and further it was an EEL!

~3 Foot Long Eel

It snaked its way out into the open and pecked at the mussels.  I quickly snapped off a few photos wishing I had a polarized filter to reduce the glare.  The eel looked so evil with its beady blue eyes and unusual body.  Once it ate all the muscles it returned back to the grass.  Wow, an octopus, lobster and an eel all in one tide pool, that was a first.  I’ve never seen an eel in the wild and it also made me think twice about sticking my hand in the pools and feeling under the rock ledges.

Katharine touching an anemone

We spent some time looking at the smaller pools looking at hermit crabs and anemones.  Katharine and my dad found a moving rock which they picked up exposed the foot of a large snail.

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We also dropped some mussels into an anemone and watched it pull the meat in and close up around it.

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After searching all the tide pools to our surprise and Katharine’s disappointment we didn’t see any starfish.  Maybe next time.

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More Photos

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