It has become our Labor Day tradition to participate in the “Run to the Top” race to Mount Baldy. It’s a very tough course as its starting at 6,000’ and finishing on the summit of third tallest mountain in Southern California–Mt. Baldy at 10,064′ – which means an 4,000′ of gain in only 7+ miles. Ulli ran the entire climb up in 1hour 40minutes, while I hiked in 2hours 20minutes. It was very windy/stormy on top but the scenic views made up for it. Have you done any fun races or adventures lately? I would love to hear!
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…
We just returned from our trip to Germany where we spent Christmas with our family. If you ever plan a trip to Germany this is the season to go. A lot of traditions like having a Christmas tree were started in Germany so it’s a truly special time. I remember as a kid I was not allowed to see or decorate the Christmas tree. My parents put it up on Christmas eve (in the morning) and our living room door was locked until the evening. On Christmas eve my parents would ring a bell and only then I would be allowed to enter. It was always a magical moment seeing the lit up Christmas tree with sparkling presents below. Of course as a kid I always wanted to decorate the tree, but it made it so much more special to only see it on Christmas Eve. It’s probably the reason why I love decorating my own tree each year so much. 🙂
My favorite activity during this time of the year is visiting the Christmas markets (also known as Christkindlmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkt) as they’re unique to each town. When you walk around you smell Gluehwein (hot mulled wine), candied toasted nuts and gingerbread. Mhhhh! The lovingly decorated stalls also offer many regional specialties like honey or chocolate as well as hearty food such as roasted potatoes, fresh fish and of course German Bratwurst.
While everyone else was in the Halloween spirit this weekend, we attended two unique culinary experiences. First we went to the Vegan Festival in Costa Mesa on Saturday. I’m not vegan, but I don’t eat any dairy / cheese or meat (read my blog post about my diet change). However, I’m always eager to learn about nutrition and the latest vegan products on the market. There were many trucks and booth set up with everything from food, vegan clothing, juices, nutritional supplements and even information about local animal shelters / farms. They also had a stage with inspirational speakers, which we listened to a few of them. One of the speakers spoke about the fact that you can be vegan and still eat unhealthy – like coca cola & french fries! So being vegan doesn’t mean you’re eating healthy. Nevertheless, most vegans eat consciously. Another interesting point of view he mentioned was how in other countries our farm animals are considered as “holy” but our pets (like dogs) are eaten like in China. In Germany they eat horse and people in Peru eat guinea pigs. Basically it mainly depends on where you grow up that influences your opinion on which animals to eat is “normal”. When you visit a sanctuary with farm animals like pigs you can experience that they behave like dogs – rolling on their back when you give them belly rubs and wagging their tail when they’re happy. And cows are cute! Just because you grow up thinking its “normal” to eat pigs and cows it doesn’t make it right. I also watched a cooking demonstration by Jackie Sobon for a (healthy & vegan) corn chowder. She had such an energetic and positive personality – it was fun to watch. I learned some new tricks, e.g. about cooking with liquid smoke (Am I the only one that never heard of this before?). If you want to check out her vegan blog or cookbook – here’s the link. In my opinion, there are so many delicious and healthy meatless options from all around the world available in the grocery store – there’s really no excuse not to give up meat.
On Sunday we attended a much different culinary experience in Torrey Pines (close to San Diego). The annual event “Celebrate the Craft” was held at the beautiful Terrace at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. It’s a food and wine festival with the best chefs from the region. They are representing innovative dishes and highlighting ingredients from local farms or ranches. They also have local breweries and vintners to pair with the plates – but I don’t drink alcohol, so can’t tell much about it. It was a delightful experience as you could experience how creative and with much love for food each chef prepared their dish. My favorite was a cauliflower Brussels sprout salad by True Food Kitchen – which I have to visit in Newport Beach soon.
Fun Fact: Yosemite became the 3rd national park in the US (after Yellowstone and Sequoia) on Oct I, 1890. So in honor of Yosemite’s birthday month I’m reminiscing about our last adventure in April and hope to get you inspired to plan a trip there. If you haven’t been; you’re missing out on enchanting forests, gigantic sequoia trees, unique rock formations such as Half Dome and El Capitan and the tallest waterfall in North America. It’s really a magical and peaceful place to unwind and explore.
As you know I love all animals but dogs have an extra special place in my heart. My favorite shows are The Dog Whisperer and Dogtown. When I still lived in Florida I wanted to volunteer at Dogtown which is a no-kill shelter in Utah, but timing didn’t work out at the time. So when we moved to California, I finally made plans to travel to Utah and volunteer for a day at Best Friends (aka Dogtown). The sanctuary is in Kanab and located in the beautiful red rock canyons in southern Utah. Its home to dogs, cats, bunnies, pigs, birds and horses – about 1,600 animals! I signed up to volunteer with dogs for an entire day. First was a quick orientation and then I was assigned to one of the dog kennels. They’re set up very intimate – you can’t imagine that so many animals live here – as they are small round houses with only a few kennels in each. They also have outdoor access whenever they want to a nice backyard. Dogs are grouped together by age or if they have any medical conditions. I was very impressed of the set up – as it doesn’t look like your regular shelter at all. Usually when you enter there’s a big hall with dogs barking and it feels very depressing – this was not the case. There were many volunteers so the dogs get out on a trail at least twice a day and are well taken care of with cuddles and love. Some of the volunteers stayed at cottages on the sanctuary and were able to take a dog with them for an overnight trip. I have to plan this next time (but I’m afraid I will not give the dog back after the weekend :-)). First I took out an older dog, who had his own customized doormat from a sponsor who visits regularly and sends gifts (see the picture on top). He was so sweet! They have nice trails where you can take out the dogs and play with them. I took walks with different dogs all morning – I wouldn’t be able to decide which one to adopt they were all so loving. The animals at Best Friends are cared for really well (in some cases better than other people at home would do). Of course, they still need to be adopted so other animals can be taken in at the sanctuary. However, I’ve never seen such a happy shelter! For lunch I went to the cafeteria which offers only vegan food. AWESOME! I had a delicious salad and the view on the terrace was spectacular! In the afternoon I helped cleaning up the kennels and trails (dog poop) and then it was time to say good bye! I do want to plan another overnight trip there – as it was such an amazing experience. They also have Best Friends Los Angeles – if you’re in the area there’s a STRUT YOUR MUT coming up October 22, 2016! If you don’t live close by check out the website and donate if you can.
Lake Tahoe has been on my travel list since I moved to California. People told me how beautiful it is esp. in the summer and how many activities you can do. As it’s quite far in Northern California from where I live, I finally made plans to go in September. Lake Tahoe is split between Nevada and California, and my husband and I stayed in South Lake Tahoe/California side. It’s quite funny as you have all the big casinos like Hard Rock Hotel and then across the street is California where it looks like a cozy mountain town. It’s literally one street that divides the two and just by the buildings you can see a difference.
On our first day we discovered this organic – mostly vegetarian – restaurant called Sprouts Café in South Lake Tahoe – and it’s been our go-to restaurant for the next 3 days. My biggest concern when traveling is finding healthy restaurants. So when we found this gem I knew our trip would be a great success. J This place had the best smoothies / juices (Kale Refresher each morning) and delicious salads & bowls for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I wish they would open a restaurant in Southern California. The staff was also super nice and service was quick. Overall 5 star rating!
I always wanted to do do a hike up to Mount Baldy, as I heard that it’s one of the most beautiful hikes in Southern California. So when Ulli found out about the “Run to the Top” race on Labor Day – it was time to go! We left our house at 4am and where at the starting line at around 7am. There were about 600 runners and one hiker (me) :-). The race starts downhill from the parking lot to the beginning of the trail, and this is the last time it ever goes downhill until you’re on top of the mountain. Many of the runners started walking after the first hill, and so I had company for the next couple of miles. When you get to the skilift area, the real climb begins. I can’t understand how Ulli can run this entire mountain up! It’s crazy! If you don’t do it yourself, it’s hard to understand, but it’s 4,000′ elevation gain over 7 miles. The nature makes up for it – the views are amazing! At the finish on the summit of beautiful Mt. San Antonio (Mt. Baldy) at 10,064′ it was a real party. Some people brought coolers with beer (we didn’t care about this) and they had fruits & snacks set up. Thank you also to the Rescue Team – which hopefully didn’t have to rescue anyone. It was a great event and memorable Labor Day – much preferred to sitting & drinking all day 🙂
Distance(s): 7Miles, 3K
Type: Hill Climb
Starting Elevation: 6000
High Point: 10064