Guest Post: The Best of San Diego

Hi My Friend Staci readers! My name is Liz and I blog over at Bon Temps Beignet. Staci asked me to write a little post for y’all about one of my favorite things to do in San Diego. Well the first thing that popped into my head was “eat Mexican food!!” But I’m more than positive that y’all don’t want to read an entire post about burritos and carnitas fries (although I could go on and on about those carnitas) so I’m gonna take y’all along on a little trip out on the San Diego bay. So, jump in my virtual boat, throw on a life jacket, slap on some sun screen and enjoy the ride.

First we’ll launch in the South Bay area…

…pass under the Coronado bridge…

Then make our way over to one of my favorite places on the water. The USS Midway, which is a decommissioned Navy aircraft carrier, was turned into a museum in the summer of 2004.

You can drive your boat right up next to it and sit in the shade of the flight deck. My other favorite part about this spot is over on the right side of the picture below…

How awesome is this?

It’s a 25-foot statue of the famous “Kiss the War Goodbye” photo. Every time we’ve passed by the statue, we see people on shore reenacting the pose for a photo op. So romantic.

A little further up the bay is the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship. She was built in 1863, but the old girl still looks pretty good for her age! You might recognize her from this episode of  Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel.

Right next to the Star of India is a pirate-style ship that still makes trips around the bay and shoots (blank)cannons in their show.

Next stop is the Pacific Ocean! Right near the mouth of the bay you’ll find the bait barges. And where there’s bait, there’s seals. These cuties lounge around all day waiting for a free meal.

We’ve saved the best for last. Get your cameras ready because, if you timed your boat ride correctly, you’ll be reaching the ocean just as the sun is setting. Gorgeous.

Well, it’s time to head back in now. I hope y’all enjoyed this virtual tour of San Diego’s bay! And if you’re ever in the area, grab a burrito from Lolita’s before you head out onto the water! You’ll thank me later!

Guest Post: Growing up in Temecula

My sister Stephanie is a beginning blogger but longtime writer–longer than myself. Our family has always been fans of her creative writing, even from elementary school age! Over at her blog she’s been writing about our Eurotrip (each new post is like a time capsule that transports me back to June). For this week, though, I asked her to share her perspective of the town that she and I grew up in–one I’m sure you will hear more and more about now that it serves as a “home base” for the two of us. 

Temecula, California is a big city with a little city feel, resting smack dab in a valley between LA and San Diego. Temecula has quite the rich history, first home to Native American tribes and later to cattle ranchers and cowboys. The California Mission and Old West influences can still be felt around the city, and it only adds to the unique charm of the place.

Growing up in Temecula, I did not appreciate its charm. Every weekend, I would groan about the lack of things to do, and I was always dying to get out and move somewhere urban, somewhere with “culture.” After having lived somewhere like that for almost 4 years, I am dying to move back to Temecula.

Yes, the city of Temecula is suburban in every sense of the word. It has housing developments with parks and green belts, community pools, chain coffee shops, and a large shopping mall. The majority population consists of housewives and businessmen who drive SUVs and sport fake tans. But peel back those obvious layers, and you find much, much more than that.

Temecula is easily most famous for its unsuppressed, rolling wine country. The moderate climate of the city makes for soil perfect for growing grapes, and the wine country has become a not-so-hidden gem of Southern California. The vineyards themselves are breathtaking. I have gone for many a late-afternoon drive through the hills to clear my mind. Driving on those dirt roads can transport me to a different place and time. However, growing up in a family of non-wine drinkers, the wine country culture is not my Temecula.

My Temecula is the city’s remarkable spirit. One of the things I appreciate most about Temecula is the city’s appreciation for the arts. Any given Saturday, you can find a band of teenage boys (or middle aged men) playing a pick-up concert on a street corner in Old Town. Head over to the Old Town Community Theater and catch an impressive performance of an American classic. Lose hours of your weekend browsing through one of the used record stores, trying to find that rare album you’ve been pining for.  Visit the community library on the weekend and glimpse an art show or poetry reading. It’s hard to believe, but the sprawling suburban city is actually immersed in culture. Take a closer look at that stodgy businessman to learn he knows how to play the saxophone. Ask his housewife about her past and find out she went to Woodstock in ’69. There is something about the valley that inspires creativity in so many people, and its influence is unmistakable.

Temecula has been a godsend for my family and I. When we moved there, Staci and I were at impressionable ages. It was a wise decision on my parents’ part, and it has become the cornerstone for our family’s personality. I couldn’t imagine a better place for us to have grown up, and I am stoked that Staci and Doug are finally coming back.

Guest Post: LA Sunday

Hi All! I’m Ashley and I run Any Lovely Thing. I’m especially excited about Staci’s move not only because she is a fellow blogger moving to Southern California, but she’s also my cousin. Staci asked me to write a guest post about living in Los Angeles so I thought I’d share my ideal LA Sunday.

First things first, we need coffee to start this Sunday off in the right direction. I’m headed to Starbucks on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. I love living so close to the ocean. Once fully caffeinated with a grande iced coffee (no sweetener, 2% milk, please!) you know we’re hitting the beach! There is nothing like escaping the stress and traffic of Los Angeles and breathing in that refreshing ocean air. My boyfriend and I love walking from Santa Monica to Venice and back. Each little stretch of the beach has it’s own vibe and it’s so great to just hang back and people watch.

After the beach it’s back to the Promenade to check out the sales at Club Monaco and J.Crew. What’s that? Lunchtime? It’s impossible to live in Los Angeles and not love Mexican food. I can live on tacos. Seriously, I can! When lunchtime rolls around we’ll get our hot sauce and guacamole fix from Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. It’s a hop, skip, and a jump from the Promenade. Literally.

Let’s hit the road. I love cruising the PCH in my little Honda Civic with the moonroof open and the windows down. Is there anything more quintessentially Californian? Who doesn’t want to feel like Kelly Kapowski every once in a while? Between Malibu and the Palisades is the Getty Villa. It’s absolutely one of the most romantic settings in all of Southern California. The art, the view, the gardens…it’ll take your breath away. This is the perfect date spot. After a couple hours of meandering it’s time to head back into the city.

I love to entertain and can’t think of a more perfect way to end my Sunday than by having a handful of friends over for cocktails and to watch the sun set. I love trying new recipes. My favorite drink of the summer is the Paloma, which I featured a while back. Grab a tray, load it with pretty glasses, and bring it to the rooftop for a relaxed and casual farewell to the weekend.

Thank you so much, Staci, for allowing me to share with your readers what a perfect Los Angeles weekend would be for me. It’s so nice to meet you all!