A Day at the Bay

Sometimes Stacycations just means taking a short drive and just relaxing, people watching, picnic, whatever. On this day we headed out to do some fishing in San Diego.  We found a fishing dock on the bay and sat back and waited for the thousands of fish to hit our bait. Thousands were more like 5, but at least on the San Diego bay you have plenty to watch as you patiently wait for the next nibble or strike.

Dock middleDock--Dock left side

A few of our staycation buddies don’t fish so this was the perfect place to sit back, hang, and enjoy the view. We packed a lunch and munchies and just chilled out. Unfortunately chilled out has more than one meaning as it was very cold out on this April day in California.

The cold ocean breeze hit us like a brick  it didn’t help that the sun was trapped behind gray skies. The sun  finally showed her face around 3:00 pm and the thawing out process began. I also think that we don’t know how to dress in California. We always think it is going to be warm but in this case a t-shirt and shorts weren’t cutting it.

Planes, trains, and automobiles.
Well actually make that planes, boats, and ships. Every type of boat or ship made its way past us during our 5 hour stay.   There were sailboats of every size, kite surfing, tourist boats, speed boats, navy boats, and giant ships.  A huge airplane got our attention as it was flying very low on its way to the nearby naval base.

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The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve

It is that time of the year for a Sunday Drive!!!

Here is a good one!

The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve is quite the tongue twister but what the locals call it today and I what I called it when I was a kid is simply, the Back Bay.

Many, many years ago it was designated as an area for speed boats and water skiing.  It was far away from the mansions and homes in the main bay so the noise and wakes never affected any residents.

Back then, I remember seeing my first water-skier riding high behind the boat, holding on to the rope as if for dear life.    I couldn’t figure out how they stayed up without sinking.   I guess I was too young to understand physics.  Still it was fun to watch as this part of the bay was filled with life.

Today, the drone of speedboat motors is long gone only to be replaced by the much quieter kayaks, stand up paddleboards , and outriggers.

The quietude is interrupted once in awhile when a low flying airline from John Wayne Airport takes off to who knows where.  I was thinking what a bummer that these million dollar homes are right under a flight path.

Have Kayak will Travel
The Upper Newport Bay is a coastal wetland that encompasses 1,000 acres of small water-ways, a larger channel, reeds, and marsh.  It is also home to hundreds of different species of birds.

A bird flies by with the Newport Aquatic Center in the background

On land, there is a ten mile loop for joggers, bicyclists, hikers, roller bladders, and for about 3 miles of it motor cars can join in on the road.  On water, there are plenty of nooks and crannies for you to explore via kayak or SUP.  If you don’t have your own, across the bay the Newport Aquatic Center has plenty of rentals.

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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