Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns

We are going to try an make it over there coming up here soon. Looks like a fun staycation event. We will keep you posted:

From their Website:

Lighting up the night on various dates this October and for the first time in San Diego is the most unique and iconic family friendly fall event, RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns! Come see more than 5,000 hand-carved illuminated jack o’lanterns created by professional artists and sculptors arranged in creative ways along a 1/3-mile scenic walking trail in the Safari Park’s parking lot.

Animal lovers will enjoy the larger-than-life animal themes. Kids will enjoy seeing the dragon that’s over 50 feet long and contains hundreds of jacks carved by an entire team of artists. Classic car buffs will see some of their favorites re-imagined in a gourd-geous new way! Everyone will enjoy seeing talented artists hand-paint and hand-carve images of their favorite TV and movie stars into giant 100 pound pumpkins in our live carve area. The RISE experience is safe and exciting for visitors of all ages.

NOTE: The Safari Park closes at 5 p.m. This event takes place later in the evening and requires a separate advance online ticket purchased from The RISE website. Ticket sales are not available at the event, at the Safari Park, or through the Safari Park’s reservations line. All tickets for The RISE must be purchased via The RISE website at www.therise.org/sdzweb.


Lunar Eclipse

We were lucky enough to see a lunar eclipse on Sunday the 27th. \
Here it is taken in Southern California.

Moon eclipse 2 G

Facts about the Solar Eclipse:

Lunar eclipses always happen at the full moon. During a lunar eclipse, the moon passes directly behind the Earth into its shadow (called the umbra). This can only happen during a full moon because the Earth, Sun and Moon must be aligned exactly.

The full moon almost always appears a coppery shade of red during a total lunar eclipse because of the sunlight that is filtered and refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere.

Doheny State Beach

Chairs against sunset 1 1200
Doheny State Beach

While sitting on the beach at Doheny State Park recently, my friend said to me that it felt like we were somewhere else, not California. As I looked around, I felt the same. The ocean had two different hues of blue with the lighter shade near the shore and the darker shade farther out. There was a distinct line between the two colors so it looked as if there was a reef. The air was hot and humid and we felt like we could almost be sitting on a beach in Hawaii or the Caribbean.   Taking a swim, the water temperature was warm too, well, warm for California standards at 72 degrees. I know, I know, a far cry from the 80 degree temperature in the Caribbean but refreshing enough for us!   So, as an avid daydreamer, I spent the rest of the day imagining I was somewhere else.

Two tone water with boat
A line separated the light hue of the ocean to a darker one on the outside.

Doheny State Park
In reality, Doheny State Park is just south of the Dana Point Harbor.   Besides having a camping area, it also provides day use parking, grass picnic areas, and volleyball courts.

At the south jetty sits a popular surfing beach where the waves gently roll in making it a perfect spot for long surfboards as well as the shorter sticks.   In recent years, the stand-up-paddle(SUP) boarders have shared the lineup which has made it more crowded than ever. However, it looked like there were plenty of waves for everyone to enjoy their day. In keeping with my fantasy of being somewhere else, the surfing beach looked a lot like Waikiki in Hawaii with its crowds and slow rolling waves.   All you needed were the outrigger canoes sharing the waves and I would swear I was there!   Oh, and a Mai Tai wouldn’t hurt either.

Doheny surfing in the distance

Farther down the beach, campsites are available for motor homes as well as tents. There are no hook-ups but bathrooms and showers are provided.

The campsites
Orange Sun and Moon

We were lucky enough to get assigned an ocean front space.   All of the spaces are close to the beach but being right there is pretty special, especially at sunset when we enjoyed our dinner while watching the dazzling display of orange.   Soon, the fire pit was ignited and we munched on s’mores as we viewed the bright moon descend towards the horizon and then magically turn into a vibrant orange as it slithered from our sight.

Enjoying these natural events is at your disposal whether you go for the day or for the whole weekend. Day parking lasts until 10:00pm so there is plenty of time to enjoy the day and far into the night.

Sunset Doheny 1200
Moon five 1200
Moon almost orange
Orange moon 1200 G

SUP’s and Rocky Trenches
You can easily launch your SUP right out front of the day use area or your campsite because there are long intervals between the wave sets.   The park keeps you safe with lifeguards but I would suggest checking with the park first to find out what hours lifeguards are actually on duty.

Looking south 2
A lull in the waves makes the Pacific look like a lake.

You do have to time your SUP launching so a set of waves aren’t crashing right when you are about to take off.   The waves break pretty close to shore which can send that 10’ vehicle flying into unsuspecting legs, causing the unlucky person to do a forward or back flip. Yes, I did witness this and after seeing if the person was okay, let’s just say it was a lot on the humorous side.

The only thing I didn’t like was the rocky trench that was just at water’s edge.   As you step in the water and head out farther, all of a sudden you are in a trough filled with beach rocks of every size.   It is not pleasant on your feet!   Once past this small and miserable channel, you step up on even ground with the relief of soft sand the rest of the way. Eventually, we discovered that if you time it just right, you can dive into the trough to keep your feet from having to trudge over the rocks, but you better time it correctly or you end up face first in shallow water.

Rocks on beach
The dreaded and evil trench is just a  few feet from waters edge.

The ocean was calm with an occasional wave and there were no rips or currents, at least on this day. Once you finished your swim, you had to traverse over the dreaded rocky trench again on your way back to shore. A few moments of achy feet is all worth it to swim in our glorious Pacific Ocean and only a minor downside to camping here.   Doheny is still one of my favorite camp spots and highly recommended by Staycationscalifornia.

Chris SUP
Open ocean is right out front of your campsite for a leisurely stroll on your SUP.
The Harbor

The Dana Point Harbor is close by if you want to bypass the campsite cooking, you can find every type of food from fine dining to simple cafes. There is also a launch ramp in the marina if you have a boat, kayak, or any other type of water toy.   There are stores and shops plus rentals for boats, personal water craft, and kayaks.
Jetty with sailboat

Paradise Found
It occurred to me that I didn’t really have to daydream of being somewhere else; Doheny is exceptional all on its own. I don’t need to imagine that I am in Hawaii or St. Thomas… I have it all right in front of me!!

As summer was coming to a close in California, Doheny provided a perfect slice of heaven. No need to pack your bags and get on an airplane… paradise was right here all along.


Story and Photos: Debbie Colwell

Parting Shot:

Hang Glider chair 1200
Two different ways to enjoy the day. One in the safety of a beach chair and the other flying high above the breakers.












Caliber photo

We went to a private fund raiser recently and had the pleasure of seeing the San Diego band appropriately called “ Caliber”.

Caliber was named the 2014 winner of “Best Local Band” and I can see why.

Besides the fact that they are excellent musicians and singers, they ooze of charisma while performing. Brian Prusinski and Lady Ivy are the front people and both look like they are having a great time on stage. Scott Proseus adds to the sound with his expert guitar playing . Case in point, during one song I could have closed my eyes and sworn Santana himself was on stage.

They are known for engaging the audience and didn’t disappoint on this venture. They came off of the stage to dance with us, had us singing, and at one point threw out percussion instruments for us to shake to the up-tempo tunes they were playing.

Most of the music we heard was dance music from every era including today’s hits. If we weren’t shaking our booty out on the dance floor we were sitting back and enjoying the high caliber music. Pun intended.

A fun, fun, fun, band that I recommend going to see or booking for your event.

Here is their contact and their website.


Photo:Jolan Schmidt