Mission Trails Nature Walk

Join me for three minutes, walking through Mission Trails in San Diego. I’m just learning the video thing so bear with me. It’s a perfect place to get back to nature, be mindful and just enjoy a nice afternoon walk. All just minutes from the chaos of the city of San Diego. I hope you enjoy it.

A Life Well Lived

I saw a man die today. With that moment comes a need to reflect on your own life and to pause and ask yourself if you’re living the life you want. Are you living what you would consider to be a ‘life well lived?’

While working on new articles and assorted projects, I looked up to see outside my window.  A fire truck arrived at the house across the street for probably the fourth or fifth time in the last couple of weeks.  Although I’m not one to watch the accident victims on the side of the road or engage in any activity that watches other people be in misery, it was happening right outside my window and I had genuine concern for a neighbor.  It wasn’t a car accident or some tragic event, although it’s tragic enough, it was a neighbor. Although I did not know him well, we’d say hello as we walked by or waved as he drove past.

The fire truck arrived without their siren on so I had no idea they were there. After noticing the sound of the idling engine, I looked out to see the fire truck and the firemen performing CPR on him on the sidewalk. I can only assume he fell and that is where they found him. The heroic men continued to attempt to revive him for what felt like an eternity, but ultimately their efforts proved futile. That’s where it ended, on a street corner in front of a home in a small little residential area.  Just that quickly.  One moment you’re calling 911 because someone is ill and the next you have to come to grips with the fact that you will never see them again. Your life is changed irreparably and forever.

I know I didn’t know him, but my life was changed in that moment. I’ve lost people I’ve loved deeply and the pain, although it’s been years, is right here next to me.

I think of how young they died and how many things they never got to experience. The man across the street was elderly and many might say, ‘he had a great life.’ I hope they’re right. I hope we can all say that when the time comes.

I watched as the family stood on the corner and sobbed together.  The paramedics, defeated from their life-saving efforts, picked up the man and put him in the ambulance to take him away.

While looking on, I wondered how my own life would come to an end. I pondered whether or not I was living the life that I wanted, in front of me was a slap in the face reminder to live. Breathe in all the good moments, embrace the bad, embrace everything.  Become the person you want to be, become a person that’s happy.  So that when the day arrives like this one, you’re ready.  Of course, I’m not sure any of us are ever really ready but I’d like to think I will be.

After feeling devastated and crying for a person I didn’t even know, I needed to feel better. I turned on some happy music and danced around my living room, trying desperately to lift my spirits. Dance like nobody’s watching, isn’t that the saying? I was determined to embrace this moment and enjoy it. I’m sure the man across the street would come down and tell me, and everyone, to live, enjoy every day, love deeply and dance. Next, I think I’ll plan my newest adventure. I hope there are many more to come.

live

Indian Canyons

I thought it strange that my friend asked me to go to Desert Hot Springs with her. She was going to a dentist appointment and asked me to tag along. Fortunately, I didn’t have anything else to do. Besides, I love spending time with her, so I agreed to go.

After her appointment, she drove me to Palm Springs and out to a place called Indian Canyons. She and I had spoken about this place many times, always promising we’d go together. Obviously, today was the day. When she asked me to accompany her that day, she only mentioned seeing the dentist and never said anything about this wonderful place. Otherwise, I would have dressed accordingly. I had the wrong clothes on and flip-flops. Not exactly perfect for hiking through a canyon, but I made the best of it. We paid our entrance fee and went in.

Indian Canyons are the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. These canyons are especially sacred to these people and the land is historically important to scientists and nature lovers alike.

Driving up to the Trading Post we passed the beautiful landscape, but it wasn’t until we arrived at the parking lot that I saw some of the true beauty. I certainly don’t think they were indigenous to the area, although the brochure says they are, and I don’t know how they got there, but looking down from the parking area into the canyon you’re greeted by palm trees. Lots of them. We went into the Visitors Center and looked around. Although it was a perfect day with a cool breeze and reasonable temperature, I bought water for us. We hiked down into the canyon, slowly, considering my footwear. Following the trail, we passed small bunches of wildflowers blooming here and there. Once at the bottom, we walked in and through the clusters of palm trees, past the stream bubbling along over rocks, and enjoyed the serene setting. Everything seemed so out-of-place around us. We were in the middle of the desert, yet were surrounded by palm trees and listening to a gurgling creek. It was a delight.

 

We stayed for a while, took pictures, and talked about the people who found this place and lived here so long ago. After a while, we hiked out and drove over to another trailhead.

Arriving a few minutes later at the parking lot of the Andreas Canyon trailhead, we parked and ventured out. Regretfully we arrived there at almost four in the afternoon and the park closes promptly at 5 and you will be towed if you’re still in the parking lot. Watching the time we hiked in a short way and I just fell in love with the place. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a fan of the desert. Some people love it, I’m not one of them. But this wasn’t a desert, this was something extraordinary in the middle of the desert. The huge and jagged rock formations, the babbling creek, the trees. I was in an oasis. The kind you see in movies that people dream about when they’re dehydrating in the desert after being stranded there. It was so lush and peaceful. A great place to be, but not in the summer. It would also be an awesome place to meditate, have a picnic, hike or go for a bike ride.

During the hike, my friend asked how the Cahuilla people would have ever found this place. I told her that I believe that some people have a gift for reading nature. They can read the clouds, the movement of the birds, and possibly even the wind. The Cahuilla people must have possessed that gift because they sure found an amazing spot to call home.

The Indian Canyons can be found at 38520 South Palm Canyon Dr in Palm Springs California. The entrance fee is $9.00 per person for adults. Hours are daily October 1st to July 4th, 8 am-5 pm. I certainly wouldn’t recommend going during the summer months as the heat will be scorching, but if you really want to, please keep in mind that it is only open on the weekends then.

Great hike…Santa Margarita Trail

I know I said yesterday that we were going on a new hike that was a 6 mile round trip. But…

I think it ended up being closer to 8 miles. To be honest, I have no idea.

We got in there and it was truly beautiful, but the storm and heavy rains that we had a few days earlier left their mark.

Trees were down and parts of the trail in numerous places were washed away, to a point where we couldn’t figure out where we were supposed to go.

We ended up going down part of a trail and ending up at a dead end or impassable spot. Then we would head back and ultimately ended up hiking for well over 4 hours.

By the time we found our car again, I was completely exhausted.

Here are the pictures I took. I hope, as usual that you enjoy them.

It was a wonderful hike and really gorgeous out there. Quiet, peaceful and although exhausting…fabulous!

 

 

Comfort Foods

Why are they called comfort foods when they don’t make you feel comfortable?

All they do is make you overweight and feel sick.

I was thinking about this recently, but let’s face it, who wants to eat a salad every day?

Some people I guess, but not me.

So I decided to start looking up salads. Different salads. Fun salads.

I found a few that sound amazing and I’m going to try them.

Here’s a couple of them:

Mexican Bean Salad

 

  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn kernels
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine beans, bell peppers, frozen corn, and red onion.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice, sugar, salt, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and black pepper. Season to taste with hot sauce and chili powder.
  3. Pour olive oil dressing over vegetables; mix well. Chill thoroughly, and serve cold.

 

Three Bean Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 8.
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped fine
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 cup fresh, finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

METHOD

1 In a large bowl, mix the beans, celery, onion, parsley and rosemary.

2 In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the dressing to the beans. Toss to coat.

3 Chill beans in the refrigerator for several hours, to allow the beans to soak up the flavor of the dressing.

Fun Hike…but looooong!

Yesterday’s hike was so amazing, we made it all the way up to what they call ‘The Saddle’.
It’s where the trail head of each trail meets at the top and you can choose numerous other trails to go onto from there.
It took us over 3 hours to reach the top! Whew! My legs were shaking so badly, I was fatigued and could barely lift my feet up to heave them over obstacles like rocks or logs on the trail. But to be honest, it was completely worth it. The views, the peaceful silence, but also the satisfaction of doing it made it all worth it.

I had tons of fun playing with my new lenses. Unfortunately, I was playing so much, I ran out of battery, so there aren’t nearly as many images here as I had planned on or wanted to take. I’ll have to take them for you next time.

The most fun I had was using the Macro lens and taking pictures of the bark. I think those images on this hike are my favorites.

Once we reached our car, I realized that I finally understood marathon runners. I’ve heard runners say that finishing is important and that the next time they did the race they would work to improve their time. I felt the same way. I was overwhelmed and truly proud of myself that I made it all the way to ‘The Saddle’. I also told myself that next time, I would work harder to get up to the top faster and in less time.

Can’t wait for next time!

View Of The Rock

Curling BarkI love the way the bark looks like it curls around the tree.

Sunlit Trees

Gorgeous Rocks

Suicide RockSuicide Rock

Devils Slide Trail

Devils Slide Trail View

View from Devils Slide

Bark 24I LOVED the bark! Gorgeous!

Bark 23

Bark 22

Bark 21

Bark 20

Bark 19

Bark 18

Rocks

Bark 17

Bark 16

Bark 15

Bark 14

The SaddleThe Saddle

Bark 13

Bark 12

Bark 11

Rocks On Trail

Bark 10

Beautiful RocksThis rock formation was so colorful and they way it was stacked up it looked like a bowl of ice cream to me.

Bark 9

Bark 8

Bark 7

Bark 6

Bark 5

Bark 4

Bark 3

Bark 2

Bark 1

The Dragon

Doesn’t this tree root kind of resemble a dragon?

Can you see it?

 

My Prince

My Prince Charming husband at ‘The Saddle’.

A Painful Hike…Yet Enlightening

Since my head injury in high school, migraine headaches have plagued me. After the accident I spent years in unbearable pain. Often the headaches were so bad I would pass out. I lost job after job, had test after test done and still the headaches were there. Unfortunately, not much has changed, until this hike.

I still have terrible headaches, but truth be told they are less in severity now, and on this hike I realized that I have truly come a long, long way.

Years ago, I would spend days, sometimes weeks in bed, in agony. I just didn’t know how to fight back. I was in so much pain, I was so young and I didn’t know how to deal with it. That is why today, I’m overweight and out of shape. It’s hard to exercise when your in bed or on the couch.

Yesterday, however, was different. Migraine headache in tow, I went for a hike with my Prince Charming husband. It was the most painful exercise I’ve ever endured. Fortunately the miracle of the day is that I did endure it. I didn’t go to bed. Didn’t give in. (Even though I really wanted to) Oh don’t misunderstand, on this hike I rested and stopped, A LOT! We took more breaks than steps, I think, but I did it. I went, I walked, I hiked and we made it further this time then the last time. When the headache got really bad I stopped to sit on a rock or fallen tree to keep myself from falling. My husband would aid me along the way when my vision got too bad or I was wobbling too much. When the shooting pain through my head subsided a bit, I pressed on.

I pressed on. Wow! A truly amazing day!

Here are some images I took. I hope you enjoy them.

More trail...keep walking

Gorgeous view

Snow on the trail

Sun hitting the snow

Stay on the trail

Sunshine hitting the trail

Rocky trail

Gorgeous tree

Trail

Tree root on the trail

Devils Slide

Devils Slide, that’s the name of the trail we took. Located in the San Bernardino National Forest in Idyllwild, Ca, I soon found out it was appropriately named.

San Jacinto Wilderness Devils Slide trailhead

As we drove up the mountain it was a particularly windy day. The air was cool but not too cold.

Driving up to Idyllwild

Driving up to the trail

Reaching the trailhead, we started on the path. Barely a few steps in, there was a wooden sign on the side telling us that the path was dangerous and to use caution. We decided to throw caution to the already howling winds and go up anyway. The trail was indeed difficult, at least for me. Going up, the terrain was rocky and covered in gravel much of the way.

Devils Slide Trail

Trail View

The trail increased in elevation and we covered almost 1000 feet fairly rapidly. This trek was certainly good training for Machu Picchu. I had to stop a great many more times on this trail due to the air thinning out quickly and getting colder. My lungs were burning and my heart was pounding at least three times faster than my steps. As we rose in elevation the temperature continued to drop. At one point the winds were howling so fiercely we huddled next to a large rock and tree stump, held on and waited for the threat to die down, fearful that nature would win the battle and hurl us quickly down the mountain. We watched the nearby trees bend and sway in response to the fury and hoped they wouldn’t break. After the gusts died down a little, we pressed on, stopping frequently for me to take a lot of pictures. I also used the time to catch my breath, maybe that’s why I take so many.

Beautiful Tree 1

Beautiful Tree 2

Although gorgeous views were as abundant as trees, the increasing wind and decreasing temperatures told us it was time to turn around.

Tree in the sunshine

Suicide Rock

At that point we’d been out a little over an hour and the sun would be setting soon. Not wanting to be on a new trail after dark in inclement weather we went back. The descent is normally faster but with the narrow trail, occasional steep drops offs, gravel and the ever present wind we went slowly and cautiously.

Narrow Trail

Nearing the end, we stopped and climbed on top of a large boulder.

Boulder

With our arms wrapped around each other we took in the almost unobstructed view of Lily Rock, covered in light and shadow from the sunset soon to follow, and listened to the forest.

Lily Rock

image

We sat there watching the tree tops dance and shimmer and listened to the sound of the wind. Sometimes it was so loud it sounded as if a huge powerful waterfall was crashing nearby. Shards of light peeked through the evergreen trees and created a kaleidoscope of green colors on the leaves and bark. The beauty of the forest was peaceful, no cars, few people, just the sounds of nature. I took a big, deep, down into my soul breath and I felt good. Healthy. A woodpecker flew overhead and landed on a tree next to us. His lower feathers were definitive black and white lines and his brilliant red head feathers glistened in the sun. He sat for a moment and flew away before I could capture him with my camera. That was the only disappointing moment of the day.

Gorgeous Afternoon

Breaking the spell, my Prince Charming husband asked if I was ready to go. I wasn’t. I wanted to sit there with his arms around me and enjoy the moment for a while longer. Would a week be too long? Soon however, we did go and he promised we’d come back.

Vicki on Devils Slide

Not long after we were down off the mountain and the hike was over. With each hike, each step and every new trail I’m healthier. I can breath better and I am stronger. I’m also happier, feeling good about myself and what I’m accomplishing and feeling like everything is going to be ok. I end up confident, thinking that things are looking up and everything is going my way. Is that endorphins? Maybe. Maybe just doing something wonderful in an amazingly beautiful place makes me happy. Either way, I love that feeling.

Me and my Prince

Back in town, we stopped and got something hot to drink at a small coffee shop. On the wall there was a sign that I found compelling. It said ” Awaken your inner self.” Today I did. Can we do it again tomorrow?

Sign

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