Using the Cross Border Xpress from San Diego to Tijuana

Hey dudes! Happy Friday!

When we went to Mexico City in December, we used the new “border terminal” that goes straight to the Tijuana airport from US soil. Many of my local San Diego friends encouraged me to write about my experience since the cheap flights out of Tijuana are very alluring. Trying something new is much easier when you know someone who’s done it. So, I wrote about my experience at-length on my newly-launched travel blog, The Voyageer.

Hop on over to my travel-only blog to get the answers to these two questions: How does CBX work? Was the hassle worth it?

Playing Favorites: Anza Borrego #ParkPride

Playing favorites… guys, it is something I am not good at. I would say I’m a person of good taste. I can definitely tell when I like something and when I do not like something. But picking a favorite   whatever  ? Not really my game.

When I was inspired by outdoor wear company Cotopaxi, whose products include jackets and hiking backpacks, to blog about my favorite park (National, State, or City park) I was at a loss. Would I write about Balboa Park here in San Diego? Mesa Verde or Garden of the Gods in Colorado? Hiking in Sedona which I just experienced for the first time last weekend? I could even mention Coronado Heights in Kansas… I think one of my favorite things about getting outside is that there are so many different climates and experiences in this wide and rough country, the United States.

Anza Borrego 1

The park I am currently groovin’ on is Anza Borrego [California] State Park. Located just a hop and a skip away from San Diego, it is a great location for an easy afternoon hike (home in time for dinner) or a couple nights of camping. Desert camping is so radically unique when compared to “classic” forest/mountain camping; it can be almost like sleeping in a moonscape. It provides a great variety and is particularly good in the spring before things get too hot (as in, like, this month and April).

The cacti and drought-tolerant plants that pepper this funky desert landscape are “so in right now” and make for cool photographs—just don’t get too close! I have a coworker that swears he will never go back because he got a zillion cactus needles in the leg. I guess that would put a damper on the trip.

Anza Borrego 2

As you may have heard, San Diego and the surrounding areas have gotten a historic amount of rain so far in 2017. Everyone is predicting a “superbloom” of desert flowers, so I’m sure you can guess what is on my itinerary for this upcoming Saturday: Flower scouting. I can’t wait!

Something I’ve been paying much more attention to in the past two years is making sure to get out and explore nature. Growing up in Colorado Springs, my parents were excellent at getting us out and about in the mountains and taking long road trips to see the country from the car window. Of course, there came a certain age where we were “too cool” to explore nature centers and would rather be at the mall. It’s encouraging to observe that the pendulum has swung back in the favor of authentic, outdoor experiences.

Anza Borrego 3

The US National Park Service turned 100 last August, and the centennial celebration is currently underway. Doug and I have some trips planned out for this summer, including Zion National Park, so we went ahead and bought our America the Beautiful park pass. It will surely pay for itself in 2017.

If you don’t want to buy the park pass because you don’t have a ton of trips coming up, please make sure to mark down the upcoming free weekends in April: the 15/16th and 22/23. There are 10 free days in total during 2017 but four of them are coming up real quick. Time to plan a weekend to be spent outside in our beautiful country!

cotopaxi_national_parks_x2_

To celebrate #ParkPride this season, you can get 20% off your purchase at Cotopaxi by using the coupon code REDBOOK20. It could help you upgrade or replace any of your gear or even help you start building your own gear collection. Or, if it’s a better deal for you (do a little number crunching), you can get $20 off of an order of $75+ by using clicking here. With that link I’ll get store credit too, so it’s a win-win!

I was prompted to write this post by Cotopaxi, a certified B-Corp, but it is not a sponsored post. 

I’d love to hear more about your favorite National or State Park. Please share in the comments!

A Long Weekend in Phoenix

As I mentioned on Wednesday, my sister and I took a Labor Day vacay to Phoenix. Why Phoenix? Why not? While super hot and not totally glamorous, it is the sixth largest city in the U.S. and is totally drivable from San Diego.

desert-landscape

There is something about the beauty of the desert that makes a drive like this relaxing. A long and straight highway lets driver and passenger focus on the scenery in a way that’s a bit more difficult on a windy mountainous road. Everyone should drive through the desert once in their life, whether it’s to see saguaro cactus like we did, or to see the painted desert closer to the north part of Arizona and New Mexico.

plant-and-brick

airbnb-phx

We stayed at a really cute Airbnb that did nothing but exacerbate my dreams of owning a home with a casita out back to host my own out of towners. The decoration was feminine and cute while still managing to be desert-y. Small touches like a pastel colored Mexican blanket and drinking glasses with a desert motif helped remind us where we were.

The first evening we got there, we headed to the Desert Botanical Garden, but balked at the price ($22!) since we only had a few moments left of daylight. There were a bunch of kids arriving with flashlights and headlamps for a night guided tour—how fun! If I were visiting for longer, I’d definitely carve out a half-day to see the whole garden. The following day we ate our way through the city. We started with donuts and coffee, moved on to lunch with my old coworker and friend and then did a bit of thrift store and antique shopping.

The heat was surprisingly draining. We spent a disproportionate amount of time just recuperating in our air-conditioned airbnb. This makes sense though—while we were out and about I was struck by how empty the streets were. One of the main design things I noticed about Phoenix is that keeping the sun (and thereby the heat) out of homes, restaurants, etc was of paramount importance—even more important than making the outside of places terribly attractive. However, I did see it done in some unique and beautiful ways, particularly in the Coronado Historic neighborhood where we stayed.

petroglyphs

On the way to Phoenix, I noticed a road sign that pointed out Native American petroglyphs. On the way back, I insisted on going to see them, even though I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was fairly out of way way, 11 miles off the freeway, but I think it was worth it. Seeing artwork created by ancient people, thousands of years ago, really left me speechless. The desert is such a hostile and inhospitable place, it is mind-boggling to think of humans roaming the area in such a primitive time.

steph-and-i-at-petroglyphs

dateshake

Before the trip, my co-worker and Arizona native told me that while making the drive we had to stop outside of Gila Bend and get one of Dateland’s famous date shakes. I’d never really heard of a date shake before but I was diligent to take her up on the recommendation. The date shakes were so delicious, Steph and I were sure to get them again on the way back to California!

Sometimes getting away for even just a couple of days can be really refreshing for a couple of reasons. Checking out a new city can be so energizing—but getting home to familiar settings and routines can be comforting in a way.

phoenix

Where is your go-to escape for a three day weekend?