Day at the Docks 2019

Day at the Docks in 2019 is on April 14th, 9am–5pm.


It is a fun day for all of the family.  See our story from last year and see if it is something you would like to do!


The Day at the Docks

On the end of the line, the mighty trout was fighting for dear life while on the other end,  Staycationer JoJo was fiercely reeling it up to the surface.   As the fish tugged and pulled, the rod would bend over almost to its breaking point.

Two minutes into this struggle, JoJo was huffing and puffing as her face was turning a bright crimson red.  She was getting tired now although soon it would be over.   You see there wasn’t really a live fish on the line, this was just a simulation, one of many booths and demos at the annual “Day at The Docks” event in San Diego.

JoJo trying to catch a fake trout

Prior to her trying this demo, there was a young boy working rigorously  to snare in a large Marlin that could be seen on the TV monitor in the tent.  Every time it jumped out of the water he would reel in the line at a rapid pace.  When it was her turn, big kid JoJo selected a smaller fish thinking she wouldn’t have to work that hard.  The trout proved to be quite a challenge.

I briefly thought I’d give it a try but the line behind me was full of youngsters anxiously waiting their turn.  I had to give it up for the kidlets as it was a great chance for them to try fishing.

The even younger tykes were given an opportunity to catch real fish in a penned in area next to one of the docks.  The netted area was stocked with small mackerel and from what I saw, every one of them caught a fish.

All of this interaction was part of this amazing celebration and was a perfect day for the whole family.

Day at the Docks:

I feel bad about reporting about it after the fact although sometimes we have to experience it ourselves first.   If it is a worthy happening as this one was, hopefully you will put it on your bucket list for the following year.

Held at America’s Cup Harbor near Point Loma, every year the “Day at the Docks” celebrates the beginning of the sport fishing season.  San Diego’s sport fishing fleet is known as the worlds largest.

Part of Americas Cup Harbor Continue reading “Day at the Docks 2019”


The Poppy Fields

The below story was written two years ago when we had a vibrant bloom from all of the rain.  In 2019 they are calling it a ‘Super Bloom’, also because of all of the rain over the winter months.

One of the best spots is in Lake Elsinore just off of  Interstate 15.  However, it has become a mad house with the crowds and  people pulling over on the freeway to take photos,  that they have now shut the area down.

So it is tough to see this year.   If you have never seen the poppy fields, here is a recap of them in 2017.


The Hills are Alive

After the much needed rain in California for a good part of winter, the flowers are now starting to bloom.   I am told that in some areas the hills are full of blossoms unlike anything that has been seen before.

The drenched earth is now providing an awesome display of color for our viewing pleasure.

I will be making my way to the desert on a jeep tour in about two weeks and I am hoping that the cactus flowers will still be in bloom.

However, for now, I was provided the directions to a few poppy fields in the Temecula and Lake Elsinore area and thought I would check it out for myself.

I was given advice to go super early in the morning to avoid the crowds.  As a photographer, we know the golden hours for taking photos is normally two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset.   I had an inner argument with myself on whether to get up early or continue my much needed sleep… sleep won.

So off to Temecula we drove at a much later start time and to an off-ramp that we were instructed to exit.

The first area wasn’t too far from the Clinton Keith off-ramp in Temecula and was like a big bright yellow beacon that we could see from the distance.

Continue reading “The Poppy Fields”

Wildflowers Season is Here

Wild flower season is almost here in California.  Here is a story about a quick jaunt through the desert, This was after the blown, this year, we will head out there again to see the flowers!!!


Off the Beaten Path, Way Off!
On this extremely hot day in late May, there was a long road ahead with no cars in sight and none on the horizon.  Everywhere you looked you saw sandy brown hills and cactus against a vibrant blue sky.  The hundreds of cactus were a photographers dream about a month ago when they were blooming with colorful wildflowers. From some of the photos I have seen on the internet, it must have been quite something to see.

But this time the air was sizzling at 105 degrees, the flowers were gone, and the long stretch of road was empty.

Why was this road built if there was nothing out here?

Out in the Middle of Nowhere

We were out in the middle of nowhere and I was glad it was daylight. I gave a brief thought of how awful it would be to break down on this lonely road, however, I quickly kicked that thought out of my head.  I also thought how hard this must have been in the stagecoach days, traveling through this harsh environment with wooden wheels and no air conditioning!

As it turns out, this 50 mile long state road (S2) was an actual Stage Route dating back to the 1700’s.

Once in a while you pass by an RV resort and again I was wondering why anyone would camp way out here.  The resort better have a big pool is all I can say.

I found out later that this area does have many camping options including, free primitive spots, private campgrounds, and resorts.  It must be a great get away from colder regions around the state and a place you can come to de-stress far away from the crowds and traffic.

It finally hit me that we were in the interior of California with what seemed like a population of zero.  This is the same state that has 23 million people living in the southern part alone.  It made me appreciate how much more land California has and how much it has to offer.

At least where I live, I can drive two hours in any direction and either be at the beach, in the mountains, or at the desert.  In two hours time I could experience a temperature drop of at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the time of year.

In this case, I was in the desert, the Anza Borrego area to be exact.  I was driving at least a half an hour on some unknown road that had me lost and wondering where I was!  As mentioned above, most of the time I saw no cars, no people, and no buildings.

Cactus as far as you can see

A Mirage?

Finally I saw a small area in the distance that I was hoping would have a gas station or a store. It had the latter.  A small store to be exact, but the man behind the cash register was familiar with the area and gave us the bad news that we were 20 miles off track from our destination, the Salton Sea.  Not only did we have to back track but we still had an hour to go to the Salton Sea.

No need to get upset, it was time to enjoy the peace and solitude of this sun drenched landscape that was far removed from civilization.  On research later, I found out that this WAS a great place to view the blooming wildflowers although less crowded than some of the more popular sites.  If we have another rainy season, I am definitely coming back with camera in hand.

Fun and Not so Fun Things in the Desert
The desert always intrigues me although I am a beach girl and always will be.  I wonder what people do out in the middle of nowhere. I know dune buggies and any kind of sand sport is popular and the stars at night are amazing but, what about the remoteness and the isolation?

I pulled over to take a few shots of the desert and heard the subtle yet alarming sound of a rattle snake in the distance.  I had heard this sound before.  Maybe it was closer than I thought since it WAS loud enough to hear, plus why did it feel the need to rattle in the first place? I got back in the car.

Some of my least favorite things are in the desert which includes the dreaded rattlesnake plus, tarantulas, and scorpions.  On the fun side, I have spent some great times on dune buggies, three wheelers, quads, motorcycles, and there is nothing like ending the day by a camp fire and star gazing at night.  The darkness of the desert makes the stars shine bright  as if you could reach out and touch them.

The day ends in the desert. Some say desert sunsets are the best.

We finally made it back to the correct road that would lead us to our destination.  I am glad I got lost, mainly because it gave me an even more appreciation of California and how it has so many different climates and landscapes.  It has lakes, rivers, creeks, mountains, deserts, beaches, oceans, islands, estuaries, canyons, waterfalls, redwoods, lagoons, and so much more!

Making it back home to the coast later in the evening, the display on my car thermometer read 65 degrees outside.  Wow, it truly was a 40 degree swing!

There is much to do in the desert and I am sure we will be doing some stories in the future but in the meantime, I’ll stay cool on the coast and wait to visit again in the fall when the temperatures drop or in the spring when the cactus are blooming.

Story and photos: Debbie Colwell

Port Hueneme

Port Hueneme,

When I first heard of Port Hueneme many years ago I had just three questions, where the heck is it?, what is in Port Hueneme, and how do you pronounce Port Hueneme?  The answers in short are:  Near Oxnard, California, a Naval base, and Wy-nee’mee.

So now that we got that out of the way, let me give you a little more info and insight about this interesting coastal town.

Port Hueneme has a population of around 22,000 people and is home to a naval base as well as a bustling port for commerce ships coming in to supply the area.   We inquired at the hotel desk if there were any touristy spots in the harbor area and they said no.  There are no harbor side restaurants, no boat rental places, gift shops, etc.  However, just a few miles up the road in the city of Oxnard, the Channel Island Harbor provides all of that.  The port in Hueneme may not be a hub for visitors but it is a vital supply chain for Ventura County and some of Southern California.

The Naval Base

We found an amazing hotel price at the Holiday Inn Express just one block from the beach and pier, so we jumped at the deal.  It was a super nice hotel that looked fairly new and it was situated on one of the main streets.   It offered rental bikes and surreys to tool around the beach area which would have been about a two or three minute peddle away.

We bypassed the bicycles and instead jumped in the car to investigate the area.  The pier would be our first stop so we brought our fishing poles just to be prepared.   We weren’t opposed to setting up our chairs, throwing out our lines, and relaxing pier side.

This simple wooden structure itself isn’t that long at 650 feet and has absolutely nothing on it. A lot of piers in California have a life guard tower, a restaurant, store, or at the very least, bathrooms.  Here, there is nothing, it’s just a pier.   That kind of made it unique in my opinion. However, near the parking lot there IS a lifeguard building, bathrooms, and a restaurant with a view of the coast.

It was a cold February day and probably why we got the hotel rate so cheap as this region had some rain storms earlier that week.  There was not a soul fishing on the pier which we found kind of strange although we soon found out why.  As we exited the car, the wind was blowing so hard that it was blasting sand pebbles into our face at an unusually high speed.  With the sting of the tiny pellets, I actually felt like they were creating new pores in my skin.  I covered my face with my jacket and quickly moved behind a building.

Now I know why no one was fishing.  This frigid tempest squelched any ideas of us spending time on that beach, pier, or even at the park.  There was no way I was going to sit in a chair and try to enjoy an afternoon of fishing with that cold biting wind at my face or back.  

The warmth of the car seemed like a way better choice, so we set out to explore the area further in the comfort of a blasting heater.

Near the beach there was a nice sized palm tree lined park and from what I have read, there are plenty of very large well maintained parks in Port Hueneme. 

Even though we only saw one surfer, there are plenty of surfing waves in this town.  I am sure on calmer days, the waves are much better.

Continue reading “Port Hueneme”

Off the Beaten Path—Valley Center, North San Diego Country

Spring is in the Air!!!!!

Soon the wildflowers will be in full bloom and it will be time for a drive.
Here is one to think about.

Off the Beaten Path—Valley Center, North San Diego Country

When you think of Valley Center in the North County of San Diego, you think of casinos!!   After all, this is where Harrah’s, Pauma, Valley View, and Pala all call home.  The hotels and casinos stand out like sore thumbs against the picturesque countryside in this serene valley.

After staying at one of the casinos for the weekend, we decided that on our way home we would take a few minutes and explore some of the “off the beaten path” roads in the area.

Valley Center is 27 square miles of rural land, agriculture, and a few homes here and there. It is also home to Bates Nut Farm, Palomar Observatory, Lakes Wohlford and Henshaw, and a 18-hole golf course.


It sits about forty miles north of San Diego and can be accessed a few different ways but most notably 76 Freeway off of Interstate 15.

The hills, fields, and countryside always remind me of a valley I knew in Hawaii, minus the waterfalls, palm trees, the rich green countryside, but other than that…

However, after much rain in the winter, the hills and meadows were filled with the most vibrant green that challenged anything I have seen in Hawaii, if I squinted I could almost see the Wailua Valley on Kauai, well almost.


Cruising on the 76 Freeway we saw a road that headed into the hills so we decided to explore this first.

Continue reading “Off the Beaten Path—Valley Center, North San Diego Country”