The San Diego Zoo stays up late in December and has special programming for the winter holiday season. They call this Jungle Bells and this year it runs from December 9, 2022 through January 1, 2023 (except Dec 24), staying open until 8 PM.
We’re planning to take the kids but the website wasn’t very print-friendly so I put together an abbreviated version (no photos, mostly) so they could read and circle the activities they’d like to do. This schedule is in PDF format below for easy reading and printing.
Auspicious rain accompanied the opening of Lovesong Coffee on December 12 in North Park. Located at 3022 North Park Way, San Diego, CA 92104, this space is gorgeous. Light colors and plants abound, and tiered seating occupies a rear corner.
There’s a breeze block wall at the rear of the shop, behind which is the in-house 6 pound roasting set up for the beans. A unique feature is a small bodega / market in the front of the shop with a variety of food products (snacks, drinks, Grillo’s Pickles).
I stopped in for a house drip coffee which was very good, and my companion had a specialty latte – Bees Kneez – which she enjoyed. The current menu can be found here.
With a fantastic location in the heart of North Park and tons of natural light and great design I expect this spot to be a smashing success. Hopefully they can add some street trees on the curb which would soften the front and add some light shade to the large roll-up window.
I listen to the Plain English podcast, hosted by The Atlantic writer Derek Thompson, pretty often. It has good guests, good information, and a pretty wide variety of topics although I tend to shy away from the politics focused episodes and lean toward the economic / finance ones.
A recent episode on loneliness in America was very good. Highly recommend for a listen and I was specifically struck by the following statement (which I need to investigate further as it was new to me and seems incredibly important). From the Spotify transcription:
It certainly suggests that there are mind-body connections that social relationships appear to trigger which is why, you know just last week the Harvard Gazette wrote up at this thing about this 80-year study that Harvard’s been tracking people and you know, the guy who runs the study basically his pithy line is, you know, the number one thing that predicts how long you’re going to live at age at age, 50 is the quality of your Social relationships at age. 50 right is more than your genes more than your cholesterol, you know, more than you’re Any Behavior diet?
What matters is your social relationships?
And yeah, we don’t understand fully how that all works, but you know, it certainly seems like relationships matter, and it certainly seems like time spent in relationships in physical presence matters for the quality of those relationships.
A great episode, and I’m flummoxed I’ve never heard the above statement before. If relationships are that critical to lifespan it seems worth paying attention to, and probably investing more time to cultivating throughout our lives.
Whether to rent a property vs buy a property is a consistently popular topic in personal finance. I largely think it depends on how tied to a specific area you are, and current market conditions (home prices, rental prices, interest rates, property tax regime, etc.).
I found the following property comparison in North Park, San Diego interesting. One house for rent and one for sale, within a block of each other and with similar square footage, age, and layout.
With the large increase in mortgage rates over the past year it seems there’s a large difference between monthly cost of rent and monthly mortgage cost – I would guess this difference has to decrease and most likely will do so via reductions in purchase prices or potentially decreases in mortgage rates. (Rent rates may continue to increase but have been doing so at a high rate which doesn’t seem sustainable.)
Rental home is a 3 bed, 1 bath house with 1,725 square feet at $4,650.
Home for sale is a 4 bed, 3 bath house with 1,583 square feet at $1,595,000. With 20%, $319,000, down payment Redfin estimates the monthly mortgage cost including insurance and property taxes at $10,161.
For similar properties in almost the exact same location this difference in monthly cost seems too big to hold for long. The down payment alone would rent a house for 5.7 years and even after the down payment the monthly mortgage cost, excluding repairs and upkeep, is more than double the monthly cost.
Feels like it is going to be an interesting year or two ahead in the real estate market in San Diego, and probably many areas across the U.S. I suppose the good news for renters is if owners have locked in lower mortgage rates they can realize some of that lower borrowing cost by renting at lower monthly cost than current conditions provide for in purchasing a home.
I’m a big fan of Lenore Skenazy and her Free Range Kids / Let Grow efforts to give our children more freedom. It’s a struggle as a parent to weigh danger vs. freedom and widespread fear-mongering about child abductions and such make the decisions more emotionally charged, and less reality-based.
We’re fortunate to live quite close to our local public schools and walk the kids each day. Letting them walk by themselves is a classic and obvious step toward independence and self-reliance. However, our school doesn’t have a stated policy about coming and going for the students alone and during Covid moved toward a default parent check-out for each child that had been much looser in the past.
I noticed another family nearby that had their children walking to and from school alone each day and asked how they arranged with the school and teacher. They had simply written a note and provided it to the teachers, with a duplicate copy in each book bag in case needed.
A lovely, and simple, way to clearly indicate parental OK. Awesome. I followed their lead and below is the note that I now use. I wanted to share here in case it’s helpful to other parents locally, or elsewhere, that would like to give their kids the ability and authorization to ambulate solo.
I, John Anderson, and my wife, XXXX Anderson, give our son, XXXX Anderson, permission to walk to and from school, be admitted and dismissed from school, and in general move about the neighborhood of his own volition. Thank you for your support of developing independence, responsibility, and confidence in our youth.
If additional permission or information is needed please advise.
Email : | Phone :
Another bonus at our school is the open playground and field after school – easier to stay and play when kid’s are on their own schedule.
Man, it’s like Christmas today at the Anderson household. October 20 aka Annual Financial Update Day!
We gonna order some good food, hope the kids stay in bed, and review some Excel spreadsheets together as all happily married couples do.
Honestly, a day we really look forward to each year. A time to reflect on the progress of the past year, challenges, and goals for the upcoming year. I like doing this at the end of October because there’s also enough time before year end to address anything that needs taken care of – max out the Roth if we forgot, make some charitable contributions, maybe adjust the daily automatic investments, etc.
Our annual update is mostly two items:
Review Personal Financial Statement (PFS) – essentially a net worth statement, often requested by banks
Make some fun goals for the coming year – travel plans, family visits, stretch goals for work or money
You can add more items if you like, but this set up works well for us. A bit of a New Year in October with the setting in of fall weather. So much to enjoy.
Hope you can also celebrate AFU with your partner, or a friend. Cheers!
I live in San Diego and often bike in the local area – Mount Helix, Bayshore Bikeway, Mount Soledad are some frequent rides – but had been wanting to venture a bit further. My friend Dylan and I decided to bike from Santa Barbara back to San Diego to take in part of the California coastline. It was a very fun weekend and I wanted to share some photos and notes from the trip for others interested in biking in Southern California.
We took the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner from San Diego to Santa Barbara leaving San Diego (Old Town) at 4:10 PM on a Friday. It was scheduled for about 6 hours and ended up about 15 minutes longer than that. It cost $44.20 a person and bicycles were included in the cost. The train was pretty full and standing room only in basic class for about half the trip. We ended up sitting in the dining car which was awesome as it had tables and couches facing the ocean. It also had overhead windows so there was a lot of light.
We arrived in Santa Barbara at 10:25 PM and biked about 10 miles South to Carpinteria. Although we would have liked to have a morning in beautiful Santa Barbara the hotel rates were huge and we could get a small start on our estimated 230 mile trip ahead. The ride from Santa Barbara to Carpinteria was really chill – very little traffic and riding on a frontage road along Highway 1.
We stayed overnight in Carpinteria and our next hotel stays were in Torrance and Oceanside. We had considered camping but couldn’t locate solid information on campgrounds that offered hike / bike sites we could bank on. Hopefully we can do that in future at the many state parks along the coastline. It was nice staying in hotels for an evening pool and hot tub, as well as a nice shower and comfortable bed.
Los Angeles Bike Paths – From Santa Monica to Redondo Beach in Los Angeles was awesome. Really wide bike path right on the beach and has recently been doubled in size on the north end. Awesome.
Seal Beach to Newport Beach – another great section of bike paths right on the water. Very low stress and enjoyable. Tons of people walking, biking, etc.
Lots of good coffee and pastries – a must for any morning bike ride. Prospect Coffee in Ventura was really good.
Century Club – I ride a decent amount but had never done 100 miles in a day. Got that done on day one. Nice accomplishment.
Malibu – just really not fun. North of Malibu is low traffic Highway 1 with a wide shoulder / bike lane. Lots of other bikers too which was fun to chat a bit. One group was going from San Francisco to Los Angeles and camping along the way, sounded really fun. When you hit Malibu you go to 5 + lanes and lose the shoulder, plus have a lot of sports cars zooming around. 25 miles or so of gritting teeth and intensity. Not recommended but not a good way around it if you want to stay coastal.
Suggestions and Tips
North to South – we originally planned on going from San Diego to Santa Barbara and train home, but on input from others took the train first and rode South. Good for two main reasons – less headwind typically as you are going South and East, and you are also on the coastal side of the road going South so have a bit better view and more breezes.
Backup gear – as with any longer bike ride having spare tubes, pump, multi-tool, etc. is a must. We had two flats on the trip but not a big deal with supplies in hand.
Early starts – We left about 6:30 AM each morning which was nice, cool weather and also quieter on the roadways. We ended most days about 4 PM so had some time to relax and enjoy a good dinner.
Montreal – half Canada (hella nice) and half France (hella chic). Amazing old town buildings, a fantastically clean Metro, and lots of great little restaurants. (I didn’t get to try to many of said restaurants with 4 kids on the visit but it’s all good.)
Jean Talon Market – our Airbnb was really close to this market (and the Metro stop of same name). Very cool daily market with tons of produce, stands with processed foods like salami, pickles, etc.
Airbnb – we stayed in a second floor apartment in a three story building. It had an enormous patio, about 625 square feet, and 3 bedrooms. I love Airbnb when we travel as hotels are pretty darn difficult for a big family – although we miss having swimming pools, breakfast, etc.
Metro – so clean, so fast, and great pricing. A 3 day pass was about $21 and up to 4 children were free with an adult. I really like family / kid friendly policies like this. Most of the Metro stops did not have elevators and often had many steps which was a challenge for strollers and toddlers and I’m sure would make a challenge for handicapped people. The Metro does not go to the airport, but they have a frequent bus connection that worked well for us, about half the distance on the freeway was in a bus / taxi only lane which is a great idea for other places like San Diego to utilize.
Lachine Canal / bicycles – Bicycles are awesome and we got to rent for a day and ride about 20 miles on the Lachine Canal. Beautiful weather and water views of the canal on the way out, and the St Lawrence River on the way back. Massive amounts of park space along the way with playgrounds, trees and grass, sculptures, and more. Highly recommended. (We missed the Verdun public beach which would have been great and had tons of people enjoying the water.)
Summertime – we don’t get a lot of weather changes in San Diego but being in an area with lots of water, lots of trees, and long summer days was great. Long days were also amazing in Minnesota, for a farm visit after Montreal.
I had a chance to take a trip to Iceland this summer with my significant other (SE) and another couple (AC). I knew little about the country beforehand, and know not much more now other than an idea of the climate and topography.
We spent a few days in the capital city, Reykjavik, which houses approximately 2/3 of the country’s population – 220K out of 330K. Reykjavik central area was quite lively – lots of restaurants, shops, and such. Bakeries were top notch for sure. Coffee across the country was very good but as across Europe little in the way of drip coffee.
We took a clockwise trip around the island from Reykjavik to Akureyri then to Seydisfjordur, Hofn, and Vik. We visited in July and I was surprised how green the hills and plains were. A lot of hot springs / geothermal activity across the island which was very cool. From the Ring Road (Road 1) much of the view was flat / water to the coast and mountainous to the center area.
I was surprised at the low cost to get to Iceland – about $450 round trip from Minneapolis. It was comparable in cost for hotels, food, drink, etc. to Western Europe – about the same as a major U.S. metro or a bit higher than U.S. average.
We drove around the island (approx. 4 hours drive per day) and did a variety of hot springs and pools, short hikes, vista points, and dinner + beerskis at stops along the way. We had little in the way of rain and temperatures were around 60 degrees F high and 43 degrees F low. Everyone had their windows open / cracked the entire time across the island. Maybe due to geothermal heating? Not sure.
San Diego schools are closed for the end of 2021, so I’m taking our children to Mission Trails Regional Park to do the 5 Peak Challenge next week. Although the official challenge – including a printed certificate and official pin – ended 6/26/2020 the peaks, trails, and park remain open. The official website has some great stories of the various individuals and groups that did the 5 Peak Challenge.
To complete the 5 Peak Challenge with kids, I’m breaking it up into 3 separate sections, each with a different starting point. If you are looking to get out of the house next week and would like to join – with or without kids – please do! Following is the game plan and all are welcome to join.
Each day we’ll start hiking at 8:45 AM, arrive around 8:30 AM
Bring water, snacks, hiking shoes, etc.
Check out the approximate hike lengths, times, and elevation gains below
Monday, 12/20/2021 – North Fortuna and South Fortuna