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Exploring Southern California

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

John and I had an amazing time exploring the most southern part of California recently. I often think of SoCal as a crowded sea of people and traffic. It is that but it’s so much more. Much of the region is surprisingly wild; it’s no wonder so many people live there!

Our SoCal adventure included lots of winter beach time, which having grown up close to the beach, suited me perfectly. I had hoped to boogie board, but it was often cold or windy, so I chickened out. That was ok as nothing makes me happier than a long beach explore especially when the weather is wild. Ocean swims will have to wait for warmer days!

John and I connected with one of my favorite cousins, Quentin Martin, and his wife Jody, who were escaping Michigan’s winter in Newport Beach. We shared wonderful meals, hiked, and laughed. Cousins are the best! We rented a Sprinter van through for this trip; ( it was quite comfortable. We boondocked for the first time in front of Quentin and Jody’s place in a popular beach area. There were lots of folks about at night; we learned earplugs are a boondocking must!

We also visited my dear lifelong friend, John Ballentine, who is very ill. John was a kind, hardworking man who was always quick to laugh. Sick as he is, it was lovely to see he still has his warm smile.

One of my favorite days was spent at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park where we watched wild animals from around the globe in more normal surroundings. Truth be told, regular zoos make me sad. I know zoos have their purpose, but I can’t help to feel for the animals, all caged up. But the San Diego Safari Park is different. It not only gives animals more space, it focus on conservation of wild animals’ habitats and is leading the effort against animal extinction.

I am truly grateful for the Zoo’s work that saved Condors from extinction and that they are working to save many other species as well. Probably most importantly, they are uniting conservation leaders from around the world in conservation and breeding efforts. You can learn more about their work at

We enjoyed exploring Anza Borrego state park, which takes up a gigantic swath

of the high desert of eastern San Diego County. What a little known but shockingly beautiful place it is! Go there if you get a chance, especially in the spring bloom season.

A big shout out to John Bowler for being such a fine travel partner and friend. You are the best!

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Apr 08, 2023

Maybe one day you will get to the east coast mountains and have a brew between cousins.

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