Friday, August 22, 2014

Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi'ai Falls (8 miles RT)

The Kalalau trail is a popular 11 mile trail (22 miles RT) found at the northernmost part of Kauai. It’s full of stunning views of the water and Na Pali coast, but is also extremely hazardous due to consistent rain and flash flooding, causing the infamous red Kauai dirt to turn into a very slippery, muddy slope. For good reason, it’s on a list of the 10 most dangerous hikes in the U.S. In fact, just a few days before we arrived to Kauai, a hiker drowned while trying to cross the steam at Hanakoa. It’s seriously not a trail to take lightly, but as soon as we booked our trip to Kauai we knew that we absolutely wanted to attempt (part of) it.

To complete the entire 11 mile trail, most people will camp and make it a 2-3 day trip. We aren’t that adventurous (translation: There’s no way I was prepared to hike 22 miles. I HAVE MY LIMITS.) so instead, we hiked the more popular first two miles in to Hanakapi’ai Beach, and then another 2 miles through the jungle to Hanakapi’ai Falls, making it a total of 8 miles RT (officially the longest distance I’ve ever hiked!). 

We couldn’t have picked a better day to go; it hadn’t rained the night prior and it stayed dry and sunny all day. And even then, there was still plenty of mud and slippery spots. I can’t emphasize it enough - you MUST exercise caution when hiking this trail. 

To get there, just take the main road until it ends at Ke’e Beach, park your car and start hiking. The first half mile or so is a pretty steady but doable incline. The next 1-1.5 miles are downhill as you start making your way down to Hanakapi’ai Beach. We started at 8:30am so the hike in was nice and shady (not so much on the way out…). Shady or not, I’ve never sweat so much IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. The humidity in Hawaii is a force to be reckoned with. 

Next to a cliff, no big deal
Our first view of Hanakapi'ai Beach
After 2 miles you finally make it to a stream that you have to cross in order to continue on to the beach or to the trail for the falls. Depending on the amount of rainfall, the water level can be pretty high and it’s not easy to try to hop across the various rocks without slipping. Most people (ourselves included) simply took off our socks and hiking shoes, held them above the water, and crossed barefoot. I know, I know. Water shoes would’ve been ideal, but it ended up being fine. If you do this, just know that the rocks on the bottom are VERY slippery when crossing barefoot. 

Part of the stream crossing at Hanakapi'ai

Hanakapi'ai Beach!
We stopped at the beach and ate some snacks, snapped a few photos, and continued on to the trail to the falls. There’s a sign for this trail as soon as you cross the stream, and there’s a rather creepy composting toilet there as well.

Into the jungle.
Huge bamboo groves
This part of the hike was straight up jungle, and this is where things got a bit trickier. The trail is unmaintained and there were more slippery spots to deal with, rocks to climb over, and we had to cross the stream 5-6 more times, about half of those forcing us to VERY carefully hop from rock to rock and/or remove our shoes to walk across. 

I can’t tell you how many times I almost slipped on this part of the trail, but using trekking poles saved me every single time. Many people online also mentioned losing the trail or having a hard time finding the trail, but we never had an issue with that.

The falls! Only a little bit further...

So tall.
After about 2 miles, you arrive at Hanakapi’ai Falls - and it’s magnificent. Over 400 feet high (at least that’s the number I found online, though it certainly seemed taller) and it empties into this huge pool that you can swim around in. Of course, we didn’t wear our swimsuits because we didn’t think we’d swim - a decision we instantly regretted when we showed up exhausted and dripping with sweat, haha. Oh well - next time! We climbed up to sit on a big rock, ate some lunch, and watched everyone else swimming. There were a surprising number of people there.

The hike back was about the same difficulty-wise. Once we crossed back over the stream at Hanakapi’ai Beach, it turned into a 1.5 mile uphill torture chamber. Hahaha. I may be exaggerating a bit, but doing that part of the hike at midday with the sun beating down on you (as opposed to 8:30am and in the shade) is not awesome. At one point Danny was carrying both backpacks because he is a saint and because I was very sure I was going to pass out and/or die.

Here I am ready to pass out.
It took us approximately 5.5 hours to complete this hike, not including the time we spent goofing around at the falls. 

Overall, this was one of the most challenging and rewarding hikes I’ve ever done in my life. I absolutely loved both hiking on the cliff overlooking the coastline, as well as hiking in the jungle (even with the humidity) and would do it again in a heartbeat - so long as it’s not raining! :-)


Start early. Like before 8AM. I wish we had started at 7. By the time we showed up at 8:30, the parking lot was full (on a weekday) and we had to park in the overflow lot (which isn’t that far away, but still). Not to mention, the earlier you start, the cooler it is!

Go on a dry day. Keep an eye on the weather. It's hard to predict on the north shore, but the drier the weather, the better the trail conditions.

Bring trekking poles. I can’t stress this enough. They totally saved me more than a few times. Sooo helpful for balance, endurance, etc.

Bring way more water than you think you need. Towards the end we started to get really low on water. I’d recommend no less than 3 liters a person if you’re hiking in the dead of summer like we did. We brought 5 liters to split between the two of us, and it wasn’t enough.

Wear sunscreen. Unless you are a person that doesn’t burn (in which case, I hate you). And even then, wear sunscreen. Hawaii is close enough to the equator that the sun is NO JOKE. 

Bring water shoes/flip flops for the stream crossings. Probably better than going barefoot. And you’ll want to be careful if you have any open cuts as there is bacteria in the water.

Wear or bring your swimsuit for the falls. Trust me on this. You’ll want to swim when you get there.

Wear hiking shoes/boots with good traction. Shoes that you have already broken in and are comfortable to wear for long distances.

Don’t try to bring your nice DSLR. I didn’t use mine nearly enough to make it worth carrying, for fear of dropping it into a stream or mud or off a cliff. All of these photos are from our iPhones and yes, they'd look a lot better if they were from my Nikon, but it's just not worth the risk of dropping/losing/ruining your $1000+ camera.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How to deal with anger when you've lost "the battle"

In the past two weeks, I have gone through:

  • The unfathomable grief of giving up my dog
  • Finding out he was being hit for bad behavior in his new home
  • Experiencing something so much more awful than grief with the knowledge that we had willingly put him in that home (we never, ever hit him as a “training” method and he was still a well behaved dog in our home)
  • Frantically reporting it to the rescue and expecting (at the very least) a visit to the home to make sure he was safe
  • Being told (by the rescue) that I was a liar and he was no longer my dog and I needed to stay out of it (in so many words)

In other words, the past two weeks have sucked. Big time. Emotional roller coaster is an understatement.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m not a big fan of personal conflict. It tears me up inside, especially when the other person has formed an opinion of me of which it's clear I’m not going to change. Especially when that person has formed said opinion over e-mail and not even spoken to me over the phone once. 

In addition to all that, I feel hurt. Hurt that a person - who, by her own account, is passionate about dogs and rescuing them and giving them better lives - would immediately make false assumptions about me, my character, my integrity, and my love for the dog in question. 

Somehow, I think that if the tables were turned, and it was her dog she’d given up after 7 months of ownership, and her dog who was being hit by its new owners, and she who was told in so many words, “Sorry but he’s not your dog anymore, and by the way, we don’t believe you at all.” I kind of think she might’ve handled it differently.

But I digress. 

The point of this blog is not to complain about our beyond crappy situation with our (no longer our) dog and the appallingly unprofessional behavior on the part of Rescue Rovers (but as a side note, if you live in Utah, I will now likely argue that you should NEVER adopt from Rescue Rovers)…

…the point is to talk about anger and what the heck to do with it when you’re in the midst of a clearly unresolvable situation.

I don’t do well with unresolvable situations. I feel sick, anxious, and unable to focus until they are resolved. My sleeping begins to suffer (i.e. I've not had a full night’s sleep for the past two weeks). I begin to feel negative, angry and frustrated all the time. Just thinking about the situation increases my heart rate and makes my stomach hurt. 

It’s not healthy - physically, emotionally, spiritually. 

But what do you do when the situation will never be resolved? How do you move on from that? How do you live with yourself and the ‘what ifs’ and wondering if you had just handled the situation another way, maybe it would be different? On a more egotistical level, how do you live with the fact that someone else thinks you're a liar and won't change his/her mind about you?

I honestly don’t know. My current solution is to simply block it out all together. It’s a method I’ve employed a few times in the past and it works well enough. Simply don’t think about said thing. Stop the thought in its tracks. Have another thought ready to combat it. Try your hardest to focus on positive things, happy things. 

It’s not that I want to forget that we ever had Hurley, but thinking about it at this present moment is simply too painful. And I’m having a hard time living like this. I need to move past this situation. I need to accept that we lost ‘the battle’ (the fact that it was ever a battle to begin with is so disheartening) and simply hope/pray that he’s safe in his new home. 

How do you deal with anger when you’re forced to move on from an unresolvable situation? Do you just block it out? Do you dwell on it for days? Does it take a long time for you to move on? 

Friday, June 27, 2014


We are not coping well with the loss of our dog. 

(If you’re currently rolling your eyes and thinking It’s just a dog for crying out loud, you may as well stop reading now.)

We thought we were doing the right thing for him. And deep down inside, a very small, unselfish part of me probably agrees that we were. That part of me likes to think that he’s happy in his new home with his new puppy friend and not missing us the way we’re desperately missing him. 

But the bigger part of me? All I can think is “We didn’t try hard enough.”

The “what-ifs” are endless. 

Maybe we should’ve tried to get out of our lease and find a home to rent that allows more than one pet. [Way too expensive and irresponsible. Have yet to find a property for rent that allows more than one dog.]

Maybe we should’ve rearranged our budget to allow us to put him in doggy daycare for at least a few days a week. [Unless “rearranging” = “create money out of thin air,” I’m not sure how this would work.]

Maybe we should’ve found a reputable trainer (read: not the trainer we wasted our money on who did absolutely nothing for him) to work with him. [Far too expensive.]

Maybe we should’ve just dealt with it. Plenty of people lock their dogs in crates when they leave the house. [You didn’t see the videos of him alone. The terror. The panic. The near injuring of himself in his attempts to escape and find us.]

Maybe…what if…..

Even though I know we tried everything we possibly could, and even though I have logical arguments for every single one of these scenarios that haunts me, the irrational part of me wins most of the time. I just want him back.

I just want him back. 

The house is so quiet now. All week we’ve been finding excuses to leave, to go somewhere else, anywhere but here. The small conveniences that I knew we would gain back by not having a dog have paled in comparison to the grief of not having him in our lives anymore. 

The sense of loss and regret is overwhelming. 

One day I hope we can get to a point where we can look back on the 7 months we spent bonding with him and simply be grateful for the time we had together. 

I hope that day comes soon. 

I’m tired of being sad. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

link love

[This past week has been unbelievably hard, for two reasons: 1) Last week my grandma was rushed to the ER for emergency open heart surgery and there was a tense 24-hour-period in which we were not sure she was going to make it. Things are looking much more positive now, thank God, but there is still a long road to recovery ahead. And 2) Two days ago our sweet, precious pup was adopted by another family (he had severe separation anxiety and we felt we had exhausted all of our options). I simply cannot even begin to describe the amount of grief we've experienced over this. 

Rather than write about either of these things (and likely shed even more tears in the process), here are some links I enjoyed reading/watching this week that I'd like to share with you.]

How to Quit Amazon and Shop in an Actual Bookstore | Because in a world where good always overcomes evil (and one I would very much like to live in), a company would never be able to grow so large that it can blacklist an entire publishing company, and its authors, and tell its customers "You can just buy these books somewhere else if you don't like it."

Women: Stop Saying You're Sorry | Guilty.

17 Important Life Lessons Coach Taylor Taught Us | AKA, the best character ever to grace television. Followed shortly by Tim Riggins.

Can I just do it today? | Andie Mitchell from Can You Stay For Dinner gives an inspiring TEDx talk about her struggles with food and weight loss. I absolutely adore her and have been trying to live by this mantra with my own eating habits. Favorite quote: "Live in THIS moment - every moment. Give it your all just for now. And look, maybe tomorrow you can do it again, but we'll cross that bridge when you get there." So simple, yet so profound.

Basically Everyone Under 35 is Terrified of Voicemail | Truth.

Rainbow-Cake Recipe Inspires Comment Apocalypse | Internet trolls doing what they do best.

When Suits Become a Stumbling Block | Growing up in the thick of modesty/purity culture, this post hit home in a good way - I could NOT stop laughing.

8 Innovations to Keep You Cool While Sleeping | I'm one of those people who likes to be cold so I can bundle up at night, so naturally I want to buy all of these things.

John Green on The Colbert Report | One of my favorite authors talks about his book-turned-movie, The Fault in Our Stars. 

What links are you loving this week? 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Here's what we're eating this week!

I have a confession.

There was a time in the early days of our marriage where, on a regular basis, I made hamburger helper for dinner. 

You guys.


Poor Danny, I don't know how he survived those days. Eventually his job became less stressful and he started being able to tag team the grocery shopping and cooking with me, significantly improving our quality of life (you think I'm joking). I learned so much back then and realized that cooking isn't really something I should be scared of. 

These days, I get pretty excited to try new recipes and even tweak them a bit when I'm feeling confident! So without further ado, here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: Nancy’s Chopped Salad, by smitten kitchen. Tons of flavor and crunchy texture.

Monday: Lighter Kung Pao Chicken w/ vegetables and brown rice, by Budget Bytes. A new-to-me recipe that I’ve been meaning to try for a while now! Budget Bytes makes the. best. recipes. 

Tuesday: Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas, by She Wears Many Hats. Another new-to-me recipe I can’t wait to try! I mean come on. Buffalo chicken + enchiladas!? STOP IT. 

Wednesday: Cheeseburger Salad, by Can You Stay For Dinner. Once again..another recipe I’ve yet to try but have high hopes for.

Thursday: Spicy Bean Burritos, by Annie's Eats. Yet another recipe I archived foreeeever ago and finally decided to try. I like to make a vegetarian dinner at least once a week; it's a great way to save on our grocery budget.

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Probably out to eat somewhere

Breakfasts and lunches are always the same for us - I have an egg white + turkey sausage + low fat cheese scramble on a multi-grain english muffin, Danny has granola + yogurt + berries. Lunches, Danny usually makes a turkey wrap, and I've been eating random stuff that adds up to ~250 calories. IT'S DIET CRUNCH TIME. (Although I daresay we'll be making these at some point in the near future. I'm such a sucker for coconut!)

What are you eating this week??

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Enough is enough + wrapping up San Diego almost a year later

It's clear that I’ve neglected this little blog for far too long, which doesn’t make sense for a person who constantly has things to say (hint: I’m talking about me). For heaven’s sake, I didn’t even finish blogging about our San Diego trip last year and here we are, almost a year later and 2 months away from a trip to Hawaii. I AM SUCH A SLACKER. I’ve tried keeping up with my food blog this year, but it’s honestly turned into something I dread, so naturally, that’s fallen by the wayside too. 

I want a place to share my thoughts, what I’m reading, what’s currently on my wish list, links I’m loving, food we're eating, etc. without driving my husband crazy by sending him one million emails every day that all begin with “OMG check this out!” and annoying all of my Facebook friends by a never-ending stream of opinions, links, and status updates. 

So, I’m going to make a true effort to start blogging again, if for no other reason than to get some of this stuff onto paper pixels and out of my head. And if my few readers are into that, well then, cool.


Since I never did finish sharing about our San Diego trip last year (see above re: slacker), I figured it’d be appropriate to wrap that up and at least share the photos from the last few days of our trip. I’ll save you the rambling, but suffice it to say that San Diego is, thus far, the best city I have ever visited and if given the opportunity I would move there in a heartbeat. I can’t wait for the opportunity to go back.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

my favorite books from 2013

As many of you know, in 2013 I read 100 books. IT WAS INTENSE AND I ALMOST DIDN'T MAKE IT. It took me almost as much time to make the above collage in Photoshop that it did to read all 100 books, so there's that. I also threw in a few graphic novels and children's titles towards the end. Not ashamed.

While I immensely enjoyed nearly everything I read, I did go through and pick 15 favorites (sorry, I couldn't narrow it down any further). In case anyone is interested, here are the books that I most enjoyed this past year!

1. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
From Goodreads...
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. 

2. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
From Goodreads...
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
3. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
From Goodreads...
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer

4. Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
From Goodreads...
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world

5. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce
From Goodreads...
Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn't heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie--who is 600 miles away--because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die. 

6. The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller
From Goodreads...
Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. His wife is gone, his friends are dead, he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1956 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life—something like his old life—exists beyond the airport. Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return—not enough fuel to get him home—following the trail of the static-broken voice on the radio. But what he encounters and what he must face—in the people he meets, and in himself—is both better and worse than anything he could have hoped for.

7. I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
From Goodreads...
Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That's when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That's when Ed becomes the messenger.

8. Divergent, by Veronica Roth
From Goodreads...
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

9. The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein
From Goodreads...
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.
10. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
From Goodreads...
Global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, young love, and the secret to eternal life — mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore. The Great Recession shuffles Clay Jannon from his web-design drone job to night shift at Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Curiously, few customers come in repeatedly and never buy. Analysis reveals astonishing secrets ...
11. The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling)
From Goodreads...
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.
Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
12. Room, by Emma Donoghue
From Goodreads...
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him.
13. Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
From Goodreads...
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
14. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
From Goodreads...
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

15. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
From Goodreads...
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing.

Monday, September 2, 2013

San Diego: Day 2

On our first full day in San Diego, we woke up and immediately decided we needed some coffee/tea to start our day. We had to run by the Apple store because my phone had a bad battery (they gave me a new phone within 10 minutes - love Applecare!) so on our way to do that, we stopped by The Coffee Bean. I tried a mocha latte and Danny got an iced blood orange sweet tea. Both were delicious!

After that, we came back and changed into swimsuits, grabbed our towels and books, and headed to the beach! It was getting close to lunch time, and I wanted to try Oscar's Mexican Seafood - the reviews were fantastic and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. If I'm given the option of fancy high-class dining or hole-in-the-wall dives, I will choose the dive every single time. To give you an idea of how small it was, we drove past this place twice before we even figured out where it was. Oscar's is the very definition of a hole in the wall - just enough room to walk in, place your order at the counter, and sit at one of the 3 available barstools to wait for your food - and you better have cash handy: no cards accepted (which only adds to its charm, in my opinion). I'm a huge fan of fish tacos and like to try them whenever we're at a new place, so of course that's what I ordered (and what Danny ended up ordering too). It was the most perfect, back-to-basics fish taco - lightly battered and fried fish, super fresh pico de gallo, and cabbage on a corn tortilla, with creamy house sauces on the side. Everything was just so FRESH. I hadn't even finished my food and I already wanted to come back!

Once we had demolished our tacos, we set out for La Jolla Beach Cove - but quickly found out that while it's one of the prettiest beaches, it's also the most crowded. We hung out for a little while on the really pretty cliffs and decided we definitely wanted to come back earlier in the day to beat some of the crowds so we can explore (which never ended up We then drove a little further south to Pacific Beach, and spent a good hour or so laying on the warm sand, reading our books, and possibly snoozing a little. It was SO relaxing.

We decided to check out the Cabrillo tide pools after the beach, but we weren't there at an optimal time (the water was pretty high) so we snapped a few photos and left. It was also pretty weird; it was technically a state park plus some sort of military base (or something?) and both of our phones WHACKED OUT. We both received automatic texts from AT&T telling us we were roaming internationally. So weird! The government, man...

At this point it was getting pretty late in the day, so we ran home to clean up a little and find some dinner. We ended up at Basic, which is a pizza restaurant/bar located downtown. I loved this place. The building itself was really cool. The menu was simple and customizable which I really liked. We ordered a small white pie (the small ended up being plenty of pizza for 2 people. It was huge!) with parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, basil, spinach, fresh tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. This was so good. The crust was crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. And once again, just super fresh ingredients. I would definitely eat here again.

After Basic, we wanted to take a ride on the ferry to Coronado Island but after being suckered in to paying $10 to park, and then realizing it would be another $17 to take the ferry, we decided to pass. As most of you know, I CANNOT STAND falling into tourist traps. So, we ended up coming home and watching back-to-back Portlandia episodes.

Conclusion: When given the choice, our vacations will always revolve around the beach and good food.

And you know what? I'm ok with that.