Summertime Sadness Road Trip – Kanab, UT to Lafayette, CO

Uncompahgre River in Ouray, CO

Uncompahgre River in Ouray, CO

Leg 2 of our summer 2023 road trip – Leg 1 here.

Stop 3 – Ouray, CO

After a really nice stop in Kanab, UT we headed NE toward Ouray, CO – a small mountain town near Telluride (approx 400 mile drive). The first part of the trip took us through northern Arizona, with a brief stop at Horseshoe Bend. We also stopped at 4 Corners along the way. Lots of big, open space on the first half of the drive.

I’d forgotten how pretty Colorado is and especially driving into cooler temperatures and mountains with trees and rivers after a long stint in the very hot Southwest summer. Eva decided that Colorado was the best state by far of our trip after about 20 miles in the state. (Although she also swore no more Mexican food until we’re close to the border after getting burned by bad refried beans at a pub.)

We made a brief ice cream stop in Telluride which had a really nice feel and I’d like to go back for a long weekend adult trip (lots of good looking restaurants, coffee shops, hikes, etc.). Driving downhill in the mountains was a bit intense as our brakes and rotors are looking like they need replacing. Eeeek!

Ouray is a beautiful little town with mountains all around, a very large hot springs pool, and lively Downtown. We played pitch for an afternoon at the Ouray Brewery and our small motel had a balcony right over a small river and we saw deer right outside a number of times. We didn’t get to do the Perimeter Trail around the town, but is on my list for a return visit as well. Maybe even a hike from Telluride to Ouray…

Highlights: Ouray Hot Springs pool, Colorado trees and waterways, hotel rooms with a small outdoor space for parental sanity.

Stop 2 – LaFayette, CO

Continuing through Colorado we took a pretty drive through Gunnison on US Highway 50 and over the Monarch Pass through the Rocky Mountains. The drive took us through Fairplay, CO (inspiration for South Park TV show) and was about 350 miles. The car was shaking pretty hard on the downhills and me forgetting to put it in low gear, but we made it through. A brief thunderstorm and hail just before arriving with family in LaFayette, just east of Boulder.

We had a great time enjoying some Colorado beers, playing in the backyard and at local playgrounds / parks, and a fantastic local indoor pool. The kids really liked the fast two-story water slide. Somehow I neglected to get any photos in Colorado so below are from the first half of this section.

Highlights: Time with family, playing pitch, shooting water guns (pewers) in the backyard, more than one room for the first time on the trip.

Summertime Sadness Road Trip – Summer 2023

Draft version of trip

School is out for the summer and this year we’re loading up the mini-van (Honda Hotyssey) and heading out on the road en route to a Minnesota lake house stay. I’m excited for the trip and have named it the Summertime Sadness tour since I really like the Lana Del Rey remix jam.

Thought I’d document the trip for future reference and reverie with some posts along the way.

Stop 1 – Las Vegas, NV

About 350 miles on the first leg of the trip, with a stay at Luxor in Las Vegas. Had to take the van in to a shop in Vegas due to pretty good shaking on the last bit of the drive up. Front tires a bit too old and starting to separate – better than blowing up the transmission like last time I drove this way.

Oh – and Vegas is insane hot in the summer. After about a day I couldn’t stop thinking about how hard it would be to live here in the hotter months. #SDlove

Highlights: Gelato at MGM Park (Eataly), Discovery Children’s Museum, drinks at Red Dwarf with family, attempted hike at Ice Box Canyon in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – ended after less than a mile due to children mutiny. Honorable mention: Chipotle – my absolute favorite chain for meals with kids on the road. $5.55 for rice, beans, meat, orange / chips, and drink. Probably helps that rice and beans are our kids’ favorite foods…

Stop 2 – Kanab, UT

First, my apologies to Kanab – I was expecting a dusty small town in the southern-most part of Utah with not much going on. Instead a pretty charming town with lots of red rock mountains rising up around it, a nice Main Street, and a stellar Fourth of July concert and fireworks in the main town park. Main feature of the town is probably proximity to popular National Parks (Zion, Grand Canyon, Bryce, etc). About 250 miles from Las Vegas to Kanab by way of Zion National Park.

Zion was our stop on the way to Kanab and wow – very cool. The kids wanted to continue up The Narrows trail – a slot canyon with water you walk / wade through. The drive out of Zion to the east was one of the prettiest I’ve seen and even saw a herd of bighorn sheep along the way.

Next day was a trip to North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Spectacular and impressive views but some of the views were a bit too scary for this family. The lodge looked very cool but was closed for the month due to water issues and a pipe fix. Apparently it’s only open about half the year – not sure why but this area would be fantastic to stay in. I’d like to come back and stay in the park.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park was our outing on final day in Kanab. We rented a couple of “sand sleds” and attempted to snowboard down to limited success. We made it out exhausted and feet on fire as the day was warming up and walking while carrying kids on hot sand is pretty tough.

Overall a really nice time in Kanab area although the kid’s favorite by far would probably be the hotel swimming pool followed by the hotel breakfast (cereal).

Highlights: River Rock Coffee Company west of Zion (really cool views, good food and coffee, great prices too), Zion – The Narrows specifically, drive east from Zion, swimming pool and playing jump-catch a lot, Grand Canyon.

Jungle Bells – San Diego Zoo – Printable Schedule

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.

The zoo website has the same info at:

Enjoy your visit and the end of 2022!

Lovesong Coffee Opens in North Park

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.

Podcast Rec – Loneliness on Plain English

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.

Check it out –

Why America Is Suffering a “Friendship Recession” – Plain English with Bryce Ward

Rent Vs Buy – North Park 2022

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.

School Permission Slip Example

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.

Date: XXXX

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.

Thank you,

John Anderson

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.

Walking (and biking) is fun!

Annual Financial Update (AFU) – October 20

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!

Hoping to return to Iceland in the future – a fun 2021 travel goal.