Photo Essay: Capitol Reef National Park

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Capitol Reef National Park can be described by its vibrant palette of red hues that are on display everywhere across the landscape in this part of Utah. This park consists of folded geological shapes, lifted rugged earth that was created millions of years ago.

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The geological feature that defines Capitol Reef is a wrinkle in the earth’s crust that extends nearly 100 miles from Thousand Lake Mountain to Lake Powell. The Waterpocket Fold was created as a result of deposition, uplifting, and erosion of the rock layers. (Source: Capitol Reef info brochure)

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It was a last minute decision to take a road trip to visit another national park while on business travel and wow; were we glad we did! The drive from Salt Lake City was over 400 miles round trip, but it did make for a bit of a stressful experience that being we were on a time limit, due to a flight scheduled to return home from Salt Lake City.

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This national park did not disappoint with its towering cliffs, massive domes, arches and bridges; this bedrock of beauty was spectacular!
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As you peruse through the park, you might think there is no life here. But if you look closely, this place is home to over 100 species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish; 239 species of birds; over 900 species of plants; and 33 ecological systems. (Source: Capitol Reef Park brochure)

Take a preview of these captions; they include some highlights and points of interest and of the surrounding landscapes.

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Chimney Rock
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The Fluted Wall

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Path to the Petroglyphs area

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…the light seems to flow or shine out of the rock rather than to be reflected from it. 
-Clarence Dutton, geologist and early explorer of Capitol Reef, 1880s.

This is only a small portion of what our visit was, there is still much more to explore in this beautiful national park. Here are some must see points of interest:

Hiking:
Chimney Rock
Grand Wash
Cassidy Arch
Cohab Canyon

Scenic Drive
Hickman Bridge

More info below for your next visit:
Capitol Reef National Park
HC 70, Box 15
Torrey, UT 84775
435-425-3791
nps.gov/care

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California Dreaming Series |Palm Springs

When you hear the words ‘Desert Oasis’ what comes to mind? The first thing that comes to my mind is Palm Springs. The quaint, quiet little desert town nestled in the middle of the Sonoran desert.

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It’s a place known for its hot springs, golf courses, and spas. Many Hollywood stars also made it their getaway place and built additional homes in a particular area east of Palm Canyon Drive, calling it “The Movie Colony.” (Source: Wikipedia.com)

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The walkway decor at the info center for Marriott at Shadow Ridge Golf Course

The Palm Springs area has been the filming location for numerous films and TV shows but this is not the reason of which it draws my sweetheart and I to frequently visit. It’s a place great for a weekend getaway or simply a perfect one day road trip. We have done both and here are a few of our experiences.

We love the tranquility, the peaceful feel, and the enjoyable hiking trails.


We’ve been lucky enough to live only a short distance from the beautiful desert oasis.
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This makes for a perfect one day road trip getaway with usually only a 2 and half hour drive one way.

Hiking: Art Smith Trail

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This hiking trail will leave you with feelings of wow and awe as it is rated as difficult and the complete trail distance is 12.2 miles and is 2641 feet high.


However, the first couple miles are a gradual climb and mostly easy trail paths. We hiked about 2 miles the day we explored this trail and enjoyed the quiet, serene landscape, and the scenic views overlooking Palm Springs area.


Art Smith trail is located in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. There is a visitor center located directly across highway 74, which has a vast array of information and another hiking trail. This is at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center

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Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center

Shadow Ridge Golf Club

The Shadow Ridge Golf Club formerly was associated with former PGA Golf Pro Nick Faldo, and is the home of Marriott villas and resort club.


We’ve spent time using the golf practice facility and would hit and chip balls for the entire day for fee of about $20. We’ve also stayed in one of the villas and thought they were quite exceptional.

La Quinta Resort and SpaLearn more

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From a rejuvenating massage to lingering in the pool, this place will have you saying wow. I felt renewed, relaxed, and rejuvenated after the day I spent here.


The grounds at La Quinta Spa are just as enticing as the services! The relaxing patio and lounge area used for those who are awaiting their treatment, or the adult swimming pool area to take a dip and cool down on a steamy afternoon.


Then you can slip into the jacuzzi spa to unwind at your maximum potential to top off your day.

The spa hot tub area.
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All the while I am at the spa relaxing and indulging myself, my husband is enjoying a round of golf.  Located in LaQuinta, California near Palm Springs, the PGA West by Greg Norman is located a short distance away from the resort and spa. Golf learn more.

Art Galleries in Nature: Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden
This beautiful garden is full of scenic colorful settings together with sculpture art displays. With an easy lighted pathway that leads to various areas where you can sit on a bench and relish the moment, this is a perfect place to appreciate some culture, art and history. Take a look:


Tranquil waterfall and sculpture.

Beautifully colored designed pathways.


Dining: Maracas

Although we are not really what you would call foodies, we do enjoy our favorite dining place. Maracas offers delicious entrees as well as drinks, free chips and salsa, and a very friendly atmosphere. The staff are extremely attentive and friendly! This is where we dine every time we visit Palm Springs area. I do have food sensitivities and Maracas has never caused a problem for me, I do order my food dish without cheese, and the food appears to be fresh and quality.

So if you are in the mood for a weekend getaway or just a one day road trip, depending on where you live; then you should visit Palm Springs area. You might consider an experience to Palm Springs at least once. Directions to Palm Springs

*The comments mentioned within this piece are solely based on my opinion and experiences only.

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A Journey Through Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is located approximately 140 miles east of Los Angeles and a short distance to neighboring Palm Springs area. This protected land is comprised of vegetated high desert and low desert making up this extraordinary national park.
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This park has many interesting and diverse parts that will appeal to any exploring hiker.

Much of this land expands across both the Colorado and Mojave Deserts and is home to a variety of species living in this desert ecosystem. Here are a few of the living residents of this amazing national park:

Big Horn Sheep
Chuckwalla
Cactus wren
Beavertail cactus
Greater roadrunner
Desert tortoise
Desert iguana

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Vegetation includes:
Joshua trees
Prickly pear cactus
Hedgehog cactus
Juniper
Scrub oak
Mojave yucca
Cholla cactus
and many more.

Our day of exploration at the park was on National Public Lands day so we enjoyed an entry fee free day. The next fee free day at the parks is November 11, Veterans Day. As we continue our journey through this park, we were more amazed the further we went. The beauty, quiet, serene, and peaceful ora of the desert is intoxicating.

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Big Horn Sheep
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Barker Dam Hiking Trail

We were lucky enough to also spot some big horn sheep and capture them wandering around near the Barker Dam area of the park.

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Some of the key points of interest that you may wish to explore on your visit to Joshua Tree National Park are listed here:

⭐️Quail Springs
⭐️Keys Ranch
⭐️Barker Dam
⭐️Hidden Valley
⭐️Keys View
⭐️Ryan Mountain
⭐️Lost Horse Mine
⭐️Geology Road Tour
⭐️Cholla Cactus Garden
⭐️Cottonwood Spring
⭐️Indian Cove

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Joshua Tree   fitlifeandtravel.com

Barker Dam Trail

Check out the hiking trail at Barker Dam: a short, easy pleasant trail to the historical dam. And wow those boulders and rock formations are incredible!


Skull Rock Trail


Hidden Valley

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Hidden Valley Camping area

Camping is also allowed and the sites are located near impressive boulders and lovely trails, this particular site is located at Hidden Valley; this area was where a cattle rustlers hideout was.

Views throughout the park:

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Quiet, serene and peaceful surroundings.


Silver Bell Mine

Cholla Cactus Garden
This garden is comprised of jumping cholla, so you do need to be careful and cautious as you stroll this attraction. It is a bit mesmerizing as the endless number of cholla cactus dominate this particular area of the park.

The cholla cactus (jumping cholla) with its barbed spine, are known to attach to skin, fur, and clothing.

The day we tipped toe through this garden, a female in the group in front of us ended up with a cholla spine in her shoe, and it appeared to go all the way through the rubber sole of her shoe.

Another side note; be cautious of bees near and around the cholla cactus garden area.
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Here is a bit more information you should know before you visit Joshua Tree National Park:
1.There is no cell phone service in the majority of the park.
2.Stay away from abandoned mines.
3.Carry at least one gallon of water per person per day.
4.Flash floods are a danger; avoid drainage areas during and after thunderstorms
5.Do not climb unless you are properly trained and equipped. (Rock climbing is allowed).
6.Pets are prohibited on the trails and beyond 100 feet from any park road, campground, or picnic area.
7.Off-road driving is prohibited.
Some camping sites are available at a first come, first serve basis; visit www.recreation.gov to learn more. Campgrounds are usually full on the weekends from October through May. Check out the website to plan your next visit.

Joshua Tree National Park directions.
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
760-367-5500
www.nps.gov/jotr

The desert may not be high on your list of places to see and visit, but Joshua Tree National Park may change your mind. It is incredible how this desert land teaches us about adaption as these animals, plants, and landscapes adapt to the summer 100 plus degree temperatures, relentless sun, and so little water. That is impressive in my book.

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Channel Islands NP: A Whale Of An Adventure

Channel Islands National Park might be one of the most under appreciated national parks of them all. Granted, there are still several national parks I have yet to visit, but Channel Islands has definitely been put on my ‘visit again’ bucket list.
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We had no expectations of this park and were open minded and excited to see something new. This national park is truly amazing and unique. So much natural beauty, landscapes, and pleasant surprises; like seeing a whale surrounded by a pod of dolphins and seagulls all in their natural habitat!

The Channel Islands are comprised of a total of 8 islands of which only 4 are included and designated as the national park. These four islands include San Miguel Island, Santa Rosa Island, Santa Cruz Island, and Anacapa Island. You must call ahead and plan your visit and tour either by boat or airplane concessioners that will take you to the islands. The national park visitor center is located nearby the Ventura Harbor where the boat excursions depart from. Ventura Harbor is also a visiting stop for the Hikiananalia California Voyage; a 2800 mile voyage from Hawaii to California using traditional old school non-instrument navigation.

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Ventura Harbor Channel Islands National Park

The several activities you can do on the islands include the following:

Swim
Snorkel
Hike, explore tidepools, beaches, & rugged canyons
Camp
Kayak
Sail

This is one of the top scuba diving sites in the world as well.

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Prisoners Harbor Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz is the island we chose to explore and go hiking. We also planned the extra tour of Painted Cave.  We called about a week prior to our visit and made our reservation and purchase on the catamaran boat operated by Island Packers, Inc. There is an additional fee for Painted Cave; and it was well worth it! Learn more about prices and trip info here: islandpackers.com

For this type of adventure, you need to plan and be prepared in advance for your day trip, which is the tour that we chose. We were informed to bring the following since there are no concessions, water, or supplies on the island.

Packed lunch and snacks

Enough water for entire day

Dress in layers, weather can be unpredictable

Bring needed supplements to minimize motion sickness if needed.

Bring hat, sunglasses, sunscreen

Do not feed any animals

We arrived early at the Ventura marina and checked in around 8:10 a.m., it’s recommended that you arrive early so you are not delaying the departure of the boat. The scheduled time to board the boat is about 9:15 a.m.

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Ventura, California

There were approximately 85-100 people on this excursion. The weather was windy and the seas were very rough due to the hurricane to the south of the area (near Mexico). The staff member who checked us in asked us if we were okay with rough waters and if we have issues with motion sickness. We told her, “guess we will find out.”

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Ventura Harbor Island Packers Inc. Catamaran

We departed on time and began the morning with a fun and exciting bumpy boat ride. It was about 30 minutes later, when several folks started to feel motion sickness, but the crew members were fantastic and continuously walked around the boat to check on people and helped anyone who needed it.

I admit, I was getting close to that sick feeling, but I turned on my mental power and made it to the island.

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The boat ride is about one and half hour long, and the passengers who did not purchase the additional tour were dropped off at Prisoners Harbor and those of us remained on the boat and continued onto Painted Cave. This ride was approximately an additional 30 minutes one way. All I can say is,.. this was well worth it!

Painted Cave

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Painted Cave

 

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Painted Cave looking back out to the ocean

Painted Cave is a magnificent site that is one of largest and deepest sea caves in the world! You will see multi colors of remnants of algae formed on rocks and is absolutely beautiful as it reflects off the blue-green waters.
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This was such an incredible experience to gently float into the cave and hear the quiet, serene environment with the breathtaking surroundings.

We spent about 20-30 minutes pondering within the cave, of which if the weather and waves are too strong, they do not go into the cave,. But on this day we were lucky enough to have been able to go deeper in the cave and capture some incredible photos.

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We continued on and returned to Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island and disembarked the boat and began our hiking journey.
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We began hiking the trail of Del Norte and found a picnic table setting at a perfect viewing point and spot for enjoying our lunch.


We hiked about 2 hours before we had to start heading back to the boat dock for boarding.

On the return boat ride, it was a much smoother more enjoyable ride the on the way to the island. And we got lucky again with an added bonus on this experience as we encountered a hump back whale and a swarm of dolphins and seagulls on a feeding frenzy. Photos by: My husband.

Humpback Whale

This was the most incredible thing to see! This made our trip to the Channel Islands one of the most amazing experiences we’ve had.

Exploring around the island was spectacular as we captured some of the features and beauty that make up Santa Cruz Island.


Channel Islands National Park exceeded our expectations no doubt! The thrill of traveling over water to unfamiliar land and exploring the unknown is exhilarating! The wildlife on the island migrated over on vegetation. These include mice and fox. Precautions are mentioned about avoiding all contact with any of the animals on the island. Learn more about his beautiful park at nps.gov/chis

Here is more information to plan your next trip to Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park   Directions
1901 Spinnaker Drive
Ventura, CA 93001
805-658-5730
www.nps.gov/chis

Island Packers, Inc.
1691 Spinnaker Drive, Suite 105 B
Ventura, CA 93001
805-642-1393
www.islandpackers.com

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California Dreaming Series|San Diego

Imagine a life where you are surrounded by the most beautiful landscapes, ocean blue waters, and palm trees galore? We might call this California Dreaming as you may think that no such place exists in your world. Well, this is our attempt to bring that world to you.

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San Diego downtown near the Convention Center

 

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San Diego view from Petco Park

San Diego is a vacationers dream with so many exciting attractions, amusement parks, the famous San Diego Zoo, and exquisite dining. However, San Diego offers so much more for you other than the average everyday tourist hot spots. Here are a few different things to discover and see less traveled areas in the San Diego area. Enjoy this photo journal series capturing some of San Diego’s hidden treasures that you may wish to explore. Happy Viewing.

Torrey Pines State Reserve: Hiking and Views

 

 

This is a peaceful, beautiful trail for visitors to enjoy in a clean, natural environment, and stunning landscapes and views. This is a reserve; according to torreypine.org, a reserve is not a park. This reserve is a targeted area protected for conservation and also has other restrictions different than a park. Read more here:

Torrey Pines State Beach

The beach is at the bottom of 300 foot sandstone cliffs of white and golden stone, with a greenish layer sometimes visible at the very bottom.
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At the north end of the beach the cliffs ends and Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, a salt marsh estuary, empties into the ocean. A county highway crosses the entrance, with limited free parking along the beach.
Learn more here:

La Jolla Cove

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La Jolla Cove and Shores are one the most photographed beaches in San Diego County!

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La Jolla Cove

It is home to several species of sea life including seagulls, seals, and occasional spottings of Orca killer whales. See more photos of this area here: La Jolla Cove

Sante Fe Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest

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Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest

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The Sante Fe and Del Dio Gorge Trails are both segments of the San Dieguito River Park area and the Coast to Crest trails. Three pre-historic cultural periods describe parts of this region and portrays a peak at how Native Americans explored through this valley. The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.

Miramar Air Show: Marine Corp Air Station

The Miramar Air Show was spectacular this year and certainly did not disappoint. This years air show theme was honoring 100 years of women in the Marine Corps. Also feature highlights were some impressive aircraft such as the F-35 Lightening II, F/A -18 Hornet, MV-22 Osprey, AH-1Z Super Cobra/Viper, and of course, the infamous Blue Angels! Miramar Air Show is an annual event usually scheduled for some time in late September or early October.


Petco Park and San Diego Padres

If you visit San Diego, you must experience watching a baseball game at Petco Park with an unbelievable backdrop of the city surrounded by the ocean and spectacular sunsets!

You can watch airplanes arriving for a landing in the distance behind the city buildings as you watch the game.


Stunning sunsets

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Balboa Park

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Carlsbad State Beach

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Take notice of how this beach has a massive amount of rocks that comprise the beach. Then take a look at Moonlight Beach located in Encinitas just a short distance south of Carlsbad.

Moonlight Beach: Encinitas

Mount Woodson: Potato Chip Rock

Highly visited hiking trail in San Diego county. Mountain Lion and her cubs were just recently spotted in this area near the Mt. Woodson golf course. (Date: Oct 4, 2018)

Black Mountain Hiking Trail


Lake Ramona Hiking Trail

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Learn more about these hiking trails as I describe in one of my blog posts here:  4 Great Local Hiking Trails in San Diego.

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San Diego sunrise

San Diego is an exquisite city to visit and experience. It’s a vacation and travel destination for millions of people. And yes, there are the popular tourist attractions that visitors love to see but there are also the less traveled amazing spots that will leave you speechless. So when you make your trip to San Diego, be sure to explore one or two of the hidden gems that will make your dream vacation more complete. Thank you for reading!  California Dreaming!

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Coming Soon:  California Dreaming Series | Palm Springs

Breast Cancer Awareness|Guest Blog Helping Mum Fight Across The Miles!

The following guest blog I wrote for CancerCare Parcel, a resource that offers comfort, support and inspiration to those dealing with or affected by cancer.

MUM, CANCER AND ME:  HOW I HELPED MY MUM FIGHT BACK FROM ACROSS THE MILES

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It’s Probably One Of The Worst Things For Someone To Be Told: “You Have Cancer,”

It can be devastating for a spouse or family member to hear it as well. I admit it, I felt my stomach fall to my feet when my mother called me on the phone to tell me the horrible news that she has breast cancer.  I felt intense emotions of fear, sadness and guilt because I lived over 2000 miles away from her. I held back tears as she told me she had Stage 4 breast cancer and will be having a mastectomy and up to 9 lymph nodes removed. So, some of you may be thinking well this isn’t too big of a deal, there are people learning they have cancer every day. But you see, this is my mother; my mum, a sweet, kind, and gentle soul.

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A Day At La Jolla Cove! Views, Whales & Seals!

Recently, there have been several spotting of killer whales gracing the coastal regions in Southern California. Whales have been known to roam in the southern Pacific certain times of the year. I’ve also seen several local news outlets capturing video of these majestic animals and their calves as they search for food in these waters. So, of course, seeing this inspired me to go out on a little adventure and do some of my own searching. I hopped in the car and cruised my way over to La Jolla, California.
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La Jolla, California is a quintessential smaller coastal community located in San Diego County. It might be one of the most beautiful beach towns I’ve ever seen. DSC_0043_WEB
I have perused around this quaint community several years ago, but I was too focused on this short road trip to browse around the shops and boutiques again. I was in search of whales and surfers, since it was officially California Surfer Day.

I spent the afternoon pondering the coastal walkways and sidewalks, staring and glancing for hours out at the mesmerizing blue green waters.DSC_0076COVE 2 WEB
It was getting late, and with disappointment and frustration, there were still no whales or surfers in sight. I did however, have a great time capturing all the beauty and wildlife that make these coves home. There were seagulls, pelicans, and seals soaking up the sun everywhere you looked.DSC_0092 _ WEB
Take a preview of what my day at the office consisted of below.  Enjoy!

 

The park here in La Jolla Cove area is beautiful and peaceful to enjoy a quiet afternoon or a lunchtime break. DSC_0044_WEB

More gorgeous scenic captions here. DSC_0085_WEB

Did you know that La Jolla Cove is one of the most photographed beaches in Southern California?

If you look close, the small rock island is covered with seals and birds lounging as they soak up the sun and relax.
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Sealife is an abundance here at La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores area.

If you are visiting the San Diego area, you might consider adding La Jolla Cove to your itinerary, it will certainly not disappoint. This was my office for the day.
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Directions to La Jolla Cove.

Thank you for reading! Check out more of my San Diego adventure and remember to subscribe and follow me on social media to see more adventure and exploration!
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