These past two months were busy with traveling, exploring city life and going in/out of airports. It was a ton of fun, but this Sunday I was longing for a day in California wilderness – somewhere alone with my husband and connecting with nature. I had just recently found out about this area on the other side of Palm Springs called Idyllwild which is the Mount San Jacinto forest. It’s connected on one side with the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – but I wanted to explore the other side of this mountain range. Idyllwild is one of the stops for hikers on the John Muir Trail – which as you may know is one of the most scenic hikes you can do. We left our home in Orange County at 8am in a foggy marine layer and arrived at a sunny mountain top at 10am.
We picked up our day permit (no charge, just need to fill out a form) at the ranger station in Idyllwild. Not far from there, across from the nature center is the parking area for the trailhead. We had decided on Suicide Rock Trail, a 6.7 mike uphill hike in San Bernadino Forest.
The hike pretty easy and, but has a nice elevation gain of 2000ft to get a bit of a work out in. It took us about 2 hours through magnificent high country wilderness to the top of Suicide rock. At the peak we took a snack break and enjoyed amazing 360degree views.
I truly loved this hike – very calm (only the chirping of birds and sounds of squirrels) and walking through the sun-alpine forest. Even though it was a Sunday, we were pretty much by ourself the entire hike. The trees and fauna were changing from the bottom of the trail to the top. I especially loved the Manzanita bushes which have the really beautiful red bark. I truly felt reenergized inside and out after this day in nature!
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” John Muir
Over Christmas we went to Germany to see our family & friends. We had a wonderful time exploring the German Christmas market, playing cards and enjoying lots of good food. One of my highlights was our dog sledding tour in the Thuringia Forest. We have met the Kraft family many years ago who established themselves as the leading dog sledding & training school in Germany. They’re the sweetest people and their dog sledding team consists now over 17 dogs (mainly huskies – but also malamute, samojede, Czech wolf dog & more). They offer dog sledding tours, musher training, dog scooter tours, hiking with dogs and even alpaca tours (yes they own a pack of alpacas as well). You and your furry friend can also stay in one of their brand new apartments for a longer vacation. Julia (daughter) is a trained animal physiotherapist focused on natural healing methods and Ralf (dad) besides leading the tours, also published several children books. Check out Huskyerlebnisse.de for more information and mention my name for a recommendation – they’re awesome!
We didn’t have any snow in the city this year, but luckily there was snow in the forest to get the dogs out. Dog sledding is a really good work out too, as I like to run and push the cart to help the dogs. They listen to “Halt” (stop), “Go” and “straight”. I LOVED every minute of the tour!
Here’s the video from my dog sledding trip this year:
My next goal is to do a dog sledding tour in Canada – maybe even with an overnight stay in the middle of nowhere. Has anyone done it and can recommend an area and supplier? Please share!
It’s been a while since my last post. Even though I’ve been super busy I had to remind myself the reason I started this blog was to keep a journal of our adventures. These days I’m reminded again to make every day count. There’s no weekday or weekend – there should be joy in every day living. There are days where you easily forget and not every moment is a happy day. However, my goal is to experience something new every week and live in the moment each day. It has to be a conscious decision to do so, as it’s easy to get lazy in your routine. I tell my husband every day that I love him and he makes me laugh every day (I know I’m lucky).
Sunday is our adventure day. We always make this our special day together – with lots of activities and good food. As I thrive to explore new areas we decided to focus on Northeast Los Angeles. LA is so big you have to concentrate on one area at a time. I found out that there are amazing hikes (aka trail runs) in the San Gabriel Mountains and also the drive on Angeles Crest Highway is one of the most scenic ones you can imagine. So Ulli picked out the car and I picked out the trail. I decided on Switzer Falls Trail which is a 50-foot waterfall and about a 4.5 mile out-and-back trek. We wanted to make this a trail run (instead of hike) and parked on the top of Switzer Falls Parking area. We were there super early and not a lot of hikers in sight yet. We saw a picnic area and ventured off on a single track into the wilderness. It was beautiful scenery and a nice run up and down hills. After about 3 miles into the run we still didn’t see any Falls (even though the entire hike was 4.5 miles roundtrip). We finally encountered another couple and they told us we ran in the wrong direction – starting from the campground. Oh! That’s why we didn’t see any other hikers around. We ran back and then found the correct trail to the Falls. When we finally got there after 2 hours of running we earned our dip in the (freezing cold and little) waterfall. That was fun! While Ulli was running the steep cliffs back up, I hiked (I was tired) and on top we encountered some deer in the forest. I’m actually glad that we discovered this other trail, as it would have been too short trip otherwise.
We then drove on Angels Crest Highway – listening to Strauss (yes thats right – we’re classy like that ;-)) – and stopped at Newcomb’s Ranch. This is an iconic roadhouse and meet up for all car and bike enthusiast. Everyone was checking out each others vehicles and in a good mood. Not any healthy food options there so we headed back to Pasadena to EAT! We went to a really good sushi restaurant (that I forgot the name)…oh we earned that meal! In case you’re not familiar, Pasadena is the home of the world-famous Rose Bowl Stadium (saw Coldplay there a few months ago) and beautiful wide, tree-lined residential streets with Arts & Crafts-style architecture. Pasadena Slogan is: “Old World Charm. Modern Convenience.” Really cute town. We did some window shopping on Colorado Boulevard and got some coffee (in my case: Matcha green tea) at Intelligentsia Coffee – MUST DO! Love a Sunday like this with not a minute to waste 🙂 What was something new you discovered / learned this week?
Colorado is a popular winter destination but if you love the outdoors you have to experience it in the summer. The days are warm and sunny and you have plenty of adventures to choose from: hiking, mountain biking, road cycling, rafting, trail running, climbing, golfing, horseback riding, fly fishing…each activity with its own spectacular scenic views. Here are some of my favorite activities that we did… Continue Reading…
There are so many fun activities you can do in Southern California. I love being outdoors from sunrise to sunset. Here’s a sneak peak in our adventurous and fun Sunday: Starting with cycling on Pacific Coast highway…from sunny skies to marine layer moving in, riding along the coast and in the canyon back over hilly roads…so beautiful. You just have to do this ride super early – otherwise there’s too much traffic on Highway 1. After our morning work out we took out the jet ski at Dana Point Harbor and were lucky to see lots of dolphins. The water was perfect to get some speed and jumping in. Lunch was at Good Choice Sushi on PCH with a nice view at the beach. Then we headed off to Newport Coast / Corona Del Mar to our favorite juice/bowl place called Sejuced (the best!). Time to work off the calories at the beach with some volleyball, jump in the ocean and back to beach workout. Finally, no better way to end this day with a picnic at Salt Creek Beach. I would call this the perfect day 🙂 Thankful everyday for being healthy and live in pretty Southern California – there’s really no place like it.
If you don’t know by now – I have the best husband in the world :-). He has built up a reputation over the years with our family/friends to come up with crazy surprises for me. Sorry babe for the high expectations – but it’s your own fault. So for our 10 year wedding anniversary he surprised me with a weekend getaway to Cabo San Lucas Mexico. To be honest I wasn’t expecting anything as we’ve both been extremely busy with work and we didn’t even talk about our anniversary. I should have known better. He asked me if I was in the mood for kayaking tomorrow….in Mexico. What? I packed my bag and off we went. After a short 2 hour flight we arrived at Los Cabos airport and were greeted with warm sunny weather on the runway. After picking up our rental car (tip: so much easier/cheaper than taking taxis – just avoid Sixt), we drove to the hotel. Our first stop on our way there was at a food stand for some coco frio and ceviche. What a great start to our trip to find such delicious food just on the side of the road. The ride was very nice along the alluring coastline. I didn’t know the hotel we were staying at so when we got to the Sheraton Grand Los Cabos Hacienda Del Mar I was super excited. The hotel is a beautiful mix of Mexican culture and modern amenities – set on a private beach cove along a golf course. Ulli had arranged a special room for us on the top floor with a huge terrace and amazing ocean views. It couldn’t be better! We were only there for a weekend, but it felt much longer. My highlight of the trip was definitely getting up close with the gray whales. Its whale season in the winter months until March so try to come out during this time. For me it was truly a dream come true seeing them so close. Everything on this trip was perfect: weather, hotel, activities & food – I can’t wait to be back.
Food: I was particularly impressed by the delicious food in Cabos. To be honest, I was anticipating mostly rice/beans/cheese/meat which is not part of our diet. However, in this region they’re known for their seafood – not deep fried but mostly grilled. So so so YUMMY! I also tried grilled octopus on the first night and I stick with it for the rest of the trip. I would have never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be crazy about octopus but I am now!
Activities in Cabos: My favorite activity was spending time in the warm water and exploring all marine life. We were lucky to be there during whale season and I couldn’t believe we could even see them breach from our terrace at the hotel. The most unforgettable experience was being out on my SUP and a whale coming up right next up to me. I was not afraid but just amazed and couldn’t stop giggling. If you’re not there during whale season – there is still amazing snorkeling/scuba diving, surfing and just enjoying the beaches. Can’t wait to come back for more!
Awesome location on a private beach, but away from the touristy city center in Los Cabos
Beautiful Mediterranean architecture (I’m not a fan of the big hotel blocks)
Gym: We’re not the type of couple who sleeps by the pool or at the beach all day (even though they have several infinity pools to choose from and a private beach), but we LOVED their gym! New equipment and variety. We love hotels who know that travel and fitness go together.
Restaurants: great options of restaurants from fine dining (De Cortez) to the daily market buffet in the courtyard – everything we tasted was excellent
Most important: Staff – extremely helpful and nice! The concierge at the hotel made all the difference in our stay at this hotel. She gave us recommendations for local restaurants and arranging a special room for our anniversary. THANK YOU!
Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays as it’s the start of Christmas season but without the stress of getting presents. It’s all about good food and spending quality time together with your loved ones. This Thanksgiving day we had a super early start at 4:30am as we signed up for the 10k Turkey Trot run in Dana Point. It was a crisp morning in the 50s with over 16,000 runners. I usually run part of this route on my own as it’s so scenic, but it was fun going out together as a group. Also, there were a lot of unique costumes and people (and dogs) cheering the runners on. I was happy to finish in 59minutes which was 10min faster than two weeks ago in Las Vegas. I guess a 15k has to be the next challenge…
The rest of the day we spent decorating the house, going for a walk on the beach and enjoying our feast (vegan roast was delicious). It’s also the season when I can finally watch all Christmas movies again. We watched Love Actually and Family Man – what are your favorite Christmas movies?
This weekend we went to the Rock’n’Roll run marathon, 1/2 marathon & 10k in Las Vegas. This event is very unique for several reasons. First of all, marathons are usually early in the morning, but this one starts at sunset. Therefore you run through the night and experience all the Las Vegas lights that are so famous. Another exclusive feature from this marathon is that it’s the only private event that shuts off the entire Las Vegas Strip. So from 2pm to around 10pm there are no cars allowed on the Strip. The only other time this happens is at New Year’s Eve (but this is arranged by the city). One more reason why this has become one of my favorite events is, as the name states, it’s all about music. There are several live stages and bands set up throughout the running course. The opening act this year was Snoop Dogg…run it’s like it’s hot…
Ulli signed up for the marathon and I decided to do the 10k. Our starting time was almost simultaneously but our starting location was on opposite ends of the Strip (about 3 miles apart). We signed up to pick up our race package on the day of the event which was earliest at 2:30pm. The pickup location was at the SLS hotel, where the 10k would start (which was strange, as Ulli had to get to the other end of the strip). We left our hotel at 2pm to have sufficient time and requested an UBER. However, our UBER drivers couldn’t get to the hotel and we had 3 back-to-back cancellations while we waited almost 45 minutes. At 2:45pm we were still at the hotel. While we saw many runners walking to the starting line (close to MGM) we were still trying to get a taxi to get us to the opposite side to pick up our bib numbers. I started to worry that we wouldn’t make it. We finally got a taxi, but the traffic was horrible. He dropped us off and we ran to the tent where they would have our bibs. As we got there, they told Ulli he must pick up his at the starting line of the marathon. AHHH! I’m not sure how we got the wrong information initially, but it was 3:45pm and his race would start in less than 45 minutes. With all this traffic it was almost impossible to make it. Fortunately, the lady said that there’s a monorail that he can take. While I got my bib number and was ready 10 minutes prior to the start, Ulli had to race to the other side of town, but with the rail he would at least make it if all goes as planned. Well, we didn’t consider that you need money for the monorail, and of course he didn’t have anything on him. Luckily one of the security guards made an exception so he could go on the tram without paying (Thank You! I promise we will pay double next time!). After this hectic start we just made it in time before they closed our corrals. Pheeewww! When I was standing at the starting line I was finally able to enjoy the beautiful weather (about 70F), live rock band singing the national anthem, and fellow runners (and their unique outfits). Everyone was in good spirits and excited for the race. My 10k started at the south end of the Strip (at SLS) and went past Stratosphere Tower, many of the famous wedding chapels, Old Downtown Las Vegas (Fremont Street) and the finish line was at the Mirage (for all runners). I felt great during my run. THANK YOU to all the volunteers that would give out water and cheering us on. Also the many police officers on each intersection where smiling and giving us thumbs up. Thank you to everyone for keeping us hydrated, motivated and safe! While running I thought about how this sport truly brings all people together. The struggles (and joys) runners go through are the same for everyone – no matter what race, religion or how much money you have. It was just wonderful to see how each person got together and was thanking the police officers when running by. I believe there are more good people than there is hate. It was really the most entertaining and quickest 10k run I’ve ever done. I think I smiled through the entire race. Shortly after the 5 mile mark, I hear someone screaming my name. I turn to the left and on the other side of the road Ulli was just passing by me. How crazy is that! With over 45,000 people running at the same time – what are the chances that we see each other at one of the few only sections where our two different courses even pass? That was such a happy surprise and made me run even faster for the last mile. 🙂 Crossing through the finish line I couldn’t stop beaming. My “runners high” lasted for the rest of the night. Ulli also had a great race, despite fighting with stomach issues. He completed the 26.2 miles in 3:49 hours and I was as proud as ever to see him coming through the finish line! The Rock’N’Roll series is truly a lot of fun and I can’t wait to sign up for the next event. On another note, the winner of this years marathon was setting a record for the fastest marathon run by someone dressed as Elvis Presley (full costume with wig) and finished in 2hrs 38min (is this human?). I’m curious to hear about any of your running stories or memorable events that you participated.
“May your dreams be larger than mountains and may you have the courage to scale their summits.”
Since moving to California I found my passion for hiking. When living in Florida there are no mountains and also the weather is usually too hot to do such outdoor activity. So my favorite store when moving to California became REI 🙂 I felt like a kid in a candy shop, buying backpacking equipment and hiking gear and emergency blankets (Ulli rolling his eyes). I even became a real geek in taking an adventure class at the local REI shop (yep –you can make fun of me). So I’ve been exploring different hikes in the area, Palm Springs, San Diego and San Bernadino. The most famous peak and the highest mountain in the contiguous United States is Mount Whitney with 14,505 feet (4,421m). It’s located in the Sequoia National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and connected by a scenic highway in Death Valley. When you google Mount Whitney hiking to the peak, it is recommended that you do a backpacking trip over 3 days so your body can adjust to the high altitude. You also need to apply for a permit as there are only a limited number of permits allowed (I believe 200 per day). When Ulli heard about it he decided he wanted to do a hike/run in 1 day to the top by himself. I loved the idea of hiking this mountain, but would have preferred a multi-day backpacking trip. However, this was not “challenging enough” for my husband. So when we got the permit for May 31, I was excited and anxious to go with him. We arrived in the small town of Lone Pine at 8pm as this is the closest town to the mountain. We picked up our permit from the ranger station and after dinner at the local Chinese restaurant (that was the “healthiest” choice in town) we checked in at the Best Western hotel. We prepared all of our gear what to take on the trip with us the next day. The most difficult part was to decide what to pack – as we wanted it to be as light as possible to move quickly, but also needed some basics like food, extra clothing layers, emergency supplies, headlamp, and water. We got to bed early as we had a very early start planned.