Southwest 2018 Part 4 // Laguna Beach & San Diego

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Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of our Southwest 2018 adventure! And here's a link to our latest video! Want to know how we keep our immune systems boosted while out on the road? Check out a video on the topic here!

After an amazing few days in Los Angeles, California, we drove down to Ladera Ranch for a quick overnight. After unloading our bags at the hotel, Wiehan and I spent the evening along the shoreline of Laguna Beach. Wiehan really loved this town and wished we could have stayed longer for more exploration. If you haven't been, Laguna Beach has a charming and bustling strip along the South Coast Highway. In search of a good meal and a nice view, we walked along the ocean road and spent some time at the Oak Street Overlook, watching the sun go down beyond Catalina Island off in the distance along the horizon. With thoughts of South Africa's Western Cape, we searched on Yelp for dinner ideas and had to try out Mozambique, a South African-inspired restaurant. We both went for the Mozambique Steak Burger, mine wrapped in lettuce, with veggies on the side, while Wiehan's came on a bun with fries. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was great! We highly recommend it to anyone traveling through, and especially to homesick Africans.

The following morning, Wiehan went to a meeting in Irvine, while I had breakfast at Lola's Cafe, working on my MacBook. I had the gluten free Egg & Avo Smash Sandwich, with a pot of rooibos tea. I was one of the early birds, but the indoor and outdoor seating filled up quickly! It seems like a very popular place for locals.

La Jolla Cove is a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and observing the sea lions and seals.

La Jolla Cove is a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and observing the sea lions and seals.

Next, we headed off to La Jolla, about a 90-minute drive. Just as soon as we dropped off our bags at the hotel, Wiehan was off to another meeting, while I went out exploring the shoreline at La Jolla Cove. This spot is very popular, as it is highly populated by the somewhat stinky, but very entertaining and noisy sea lions and seals. We hadn't known ahead of time, but the San Diego Triathlon Challenge was just a day away, so there were plenty of swimmers out in the cove, as well as cyclists and joggers on the roads. It seems that La Jolla Cove is also a great place for kayaking and snorkeling. I had a very nice Chicken Waldorf salad from Deli-icious for lunch.

Quiche breakfast at Sugar and Scribe in La Jolla, California.

Quiche breakfast at Sugar and Scribe in La Jolla, California.

The next morning while Wiehan was busy with work, I wandered the streets of La Jolla, stopping for breakfast at Sugar and Scribe. I ate outdoors and had the Quiche Selection with a spring salad. It was a beautiful meal, although not gluten free. Next, I walked to the nearby VONS grocery store, to stock up on some water and fruit. Afterward, I was excited and ready to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, only to sadly find out that it is closed for major renovations. By this point, after all the walking, my shoulders were aching from carrying around a backpack filled with my laptop and camera gear. We'd already checked out of our hotel room, so I couldn't stash them there. The sun was also piping hot, so I was in deep need of an air-conditioned place to relax. I found a little coffee shop called Brick and Bell, and hung out there for awhile, cooling down with a peppermint ice tea. The place was buzzing with customers and they have a great lunch menu. But I ventured down the road to Burger Lounge for lunch. While the menu item called The Husky may sound overly indulgent, I went for it, on a lettuce wrap rather than a bun! I chose this item featuring double patties because without a bun, a single patty just isn’t filling enough for me. After the meal, Wiehan texted that he was finished with work and ready for weekend fun to begin!

We met back up and drove about 10 miles to our lovely Airbnb studio apartment in San Diego. After unloading, we dressed in our running clothes and went off exploring Mission Beach. It was Thursday afternoon and the boardwalk was full of walkers, joggers, cyclists, as well as people wizzing by on electric scooters. I was feeling really tired, but managed at least to do 2mi / 3.2km of running, while Wiehan hammered out a fast 6k (3.75mi). We rehydrated with kombucha from Draft Coffee and wandered through Belmont Park, an amusement park on the boardwalk. For dinner, we finally had the ability to make our own food, thanks to a kitchenette included with our Airbnb accommodation. We went to the nearest Sprouts grocery store to stock up on ingredients. I boiled sweet potatoes, chopped up a green salad with papaya and cooked up steaks in a pan on the stove top. As someone who usually cooks every single one of our meals at home, it felt so good to be able to make food while traveling! For breakfast the next day, we had scrambled eggs and bacon, with a fruit salad of papaya and banana. After packing up beach gear and snacks, we drove to nearby Coronado, where we rented bikes from Wheel Fun Rentals and explored the small peninsula. A naval base inhabits the majority of the island, but we casually cycled around the civilian region and covered 9.5mi / 15.3km in 75 minutes. We stopped for lunch at Which Wich, where a sandwich can be wrapped in lettuce or assembled into a bowl for gluten free options. After lunch, we returned our rental bikes and went for a dip in the ocean. That evening, we drove around Downtown San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter. Finding parking was difficult, but we ultimately found a spot and meandered through Little Italy, where we stumbled on the Piazza della Familglia, an outdoor square featuring live music, dancing, and a food hall. We also found The Market by Buon Appetito, a food-lover's gem! I wanted to buy many things in this small store packed with high quality cooking ingredients, but settled on the sweet chicken sausages, which we had for breakfast the following day. Wiehan picked up a few slices of pizza from Napizza, where the company honors sustainable values, offers fresh ingredients and the dough is made through an authentic, slow-aged process.

After so much busyness and exploration over the last 11 days, all we wanted to do the next day was sit by the beach and maybe find a nice swimming spot. I had seen someone swimming when we drove to Mission Beach two days prior, so we went to take a look at the area. Mission Beach was swarming with people, but the area that I'd noticed prior, called Ventura Cove Park, was all but vacant. The park is part of Mission Bay, which is protected from the ocean by the small strip of land that makes up Belmont Park and Mission Beach. There were two or three families hanging out along the shore there, as well as a swimmer, a couple of stand-up paddle boarders and some boats off in the distance. The cove has a series of buoys in a section dedicated to swimmers and Wiehan swam 1250m / 4101ft in this spot. I attempted to work on my fear of open water swimming, but the water was really murky and I made zero progress. We relaxed on the sand as well, enjoying the time outdoors in the sunshine. Later that afternoon, thanks to Wiehan's skills with Strava Route Building, we jogged from our accommodation to Tecolote Park, where we explored the Tecolote Canyon Trail. The area was incredibly dry and the trail had some very steep inclines, including a few portions that were so steep that they were almost impossible to walk. We clocked about 4.5mi / 7.2km. Completely exhausted when we got back to the Airbnb, we cleaned up, put together some food for dinner and turned on a movie.

We went for a run along Tecolote Canyon Trail in San Diego.

We went for a run along Tecolote Canyon Trail in San Diego.

It's no secret that San Diego is an outdoor fitness lover's dream. Wiehan completely fell in love with the city and would move there in a heartbeat, if an opportunity were to present itself! It was my second time visiting, and it certainly is an incredible region, with gorgeous, temperate weather that calls residents and visitors alike into the great outdoors!

The next day we packed up and headed off for our last destination of the trip - back to Scottsdale! The drive along the southern border of California and Arizona was fascinating, with Mexico within our line of sight, along with sand dunes and rocky desert landscapes! Stay tuned to hear about some of the amazing sites we discovered in that incredibly interesting part of the country!

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- Christin

Tell us! What do you love most about a day spent at the beach?