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!

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

California Student at Home? Check Your Mail for $738 Per Student

During the pandemic there have been a number of programs created to support workers, families, and students. In California P-EBT 2.0 is currently being distributed – funds for many California students. (P-EBT is a SNAP / food stamps program providing money for grocery purchases.) The cards are being mailed out to California families from early August 2021 through November 2021. I recently received two of the P-EBT cards for my elementary school children, with a value of $738 each.

The California Department of Social Services has a good summary of the current P-EBT program and who qualifies. The program covers a broad swath of students and schools and there is no application process – you may be sent a card without expecting it, as our family did.

I wanted to write up a brief post on this program specifically because the program doesn’t seem to be widely known, applies to families that likely haven’t received this sort of benefit in the past, and because the cards come in very non-descript envelopes that I imagine are being thrown away as junk mail by many.

Here’s the envelope our card arrived in – it came from South Dakota and no mention of P-EBT, schools, or even the state of California. When I picked it up I thought it was a credit card solicitation.

The letter inside has quite a bit of information and the process to register and activate the card is pretty simple, as long as you have the personal information for the student receiving the card.

The San Diego Hunger Coalition has a helpful post with information about the distribution timing for the P-EBT cards, phone numbers you can call for help, and more.

I had not used a food stamp / P-EBT program in the past and was surprised at how easy the card is to use. You simply swipe it like a debit card, enter the PIN, and payment is processed for any grocery items on your bill, with non-grocery items needing separate payment. I’ve used the card at Vons, Target, and even on Amazon. If you receive P-EBT but don’t want to use the funds personally, I’ve found a few websites where you can donate P-EBT funds online, but none in California. (Perhaps there are ways to do this locally in San Diego – if you can drop a Comment on this I’d appreciate it.) Or, as this Chicago story notes, you can purchase items to donate if you like.

I hope if you live in California and have school-aged children you’ll keep an eye out for these benefit cards, and that yours doesn’t end up in the rubbish bin. The money is a significant amount and can be a great help for many children.

So excited to be back in school!

Mount Laguna Morning Hike

The Laguna Mountains lie about 45 miles straight east of Downtown San Diego. Reaching a maximum height of 6,378 feet they have a very different climate from the nearby beaches that San Diego is better known for. The many campgrounds in the Lagunas are our favorite places to camp near our home.

This week I took our older kids and some friends for a morning hike at the Wooded Hill trail in the Lagunas. It had rained a bit in San Diego over the weekend but we didn’t expect a snow covered scene when we reached the higher altitudes. It was a gorgeous morning, about 50 degrees, and with both evergreen trees and some oaks starting to change to fall colors.

We walked about 2 miles in 2 hours, taking time to throw snowballs, climb boulders, and enjoy the sunshine at the summit of the trail. (Strava recording in images below with more details along with some scenery photos.)

On the return journey to San Diego, about 50 minutes total drive time each way, we stopped at the absolutely fabulous Grand Ole BBQ y Asada in Flinn Springs (the Eastern edge of El Cajon). With current Covid restrictions the lawn games weren’t available but it was wonderful to sit in the 70 degree sun with a light breeze and enjoy the best barbeque in San Diego County. If visiting San Diego or live here, highly recommend a trip and the brisket or beef ribs.

San Diego has great beaches and wonderfully temperate weather for which it is mostly, and rightfully, known. The broader area has a wide variety of plants and land forms to explore and many like Mount Laguna deserve more love.


– A Guest Post By Ambrose Anderson –

Germs are sort of like bacteria. Germs can be good and bad. Good germs fight bad germs and bad germs like virus, cold, and flu germs fight good germs. There is a five second rule – if you drop a piece of food on the ground for more than five seconds you should not eat it. If less than 5 seconds if you want you can eat it. The sponge we used to clean our dishes had millions of germs on it every time you use it to clean plates the germs from the plate get on the sponge. To avoid that throw away the sponge every week/few days and use a different one for the next week/few days.

Dirty pan

Germs spread by touching other people for a long time (more than five seconds). Fist bumps and high fives are okay, but you should do a fist bump instead of high five. They don’t spread as many germs as touching some one. You can have family rules to keep your family safe from most bad germs.

My dad and sister doing a high five
The author in action

How the coronavirus is affecting lives throughout San Diego (and the world)

– A Guest Post by Eva Anderson –

Dozens of people throughout San Diego had their lifestyle influenced by the coronavirus, a sickness that is leaving destruction in its wake at it moves rapidly around the world. People are going into chaos when the coronavirus hits their country, state, city, or community. New rules are popping up all over countries to keep people safe. The coronavirus epidemic is becoming a world wide struggle. New things that are happening, such as the closing of shops, are going on because people don’t need the things inside the shop, plus when people gather, like to shop or play, germs get on to other people, causing them to become sick. The coronavirus is a contagious disease, which means that if someone else gets the germ that person will get the same sickness. Therefore, shops are closing. Rules such as only ten people in the supermarket at a time are being made world wide to prevent the spreading of germs. Supermarkets are pretty much the only kind of stores open nowadays. Schools have been closed so me and my brother Ambrose have been doing home school to keep up on our learning progress. I can tell you that these changes have been affecting people I know, such as my classmates, teacher (Mrs. Bobier), and my around the block friend Sophie have all had to make many changes in order to adjust to this new lifestyle. Public parks (or at least their parking lots) have been closing due to these changes.

Ambrose Anderson riding his bike

My morning routine has changed as well. Instead of going to school in the morning me and my dad have been teaching Ambrose to ride his bike and we’ve been going on rides throughout San Diego (although he complains about hills a lot). Today we rode to South Park and back. My dad spray painted Ambrose’s bike red and black. I have heard that in Italy people are not allowed to leave their house except to get food. My family bikes every morning to get fresh air and exercise because those two things are very important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which is important to have due to circumstances beyond our control – the coronavirus.

Eva Anderson pulls Ambrose and Oliver Anderson
The author riding on her bike

Posted March 25 2020 by Eva Caroline Anderson

Raising An Investor

Raising children entails a lot of trial and error, and hoping that you aren’t screwing things up too much along the way. As our kids have gotten older we are moving into new subject areas, one of which is money. We want to expose our kids to good money habits while also giving them agency and discretion. Investing has been an area that has been going well so far so I wanted to share our experience with others in the same boat.

We set up an investment account at Betterment for each of the kids when they were born and have put in $25 a month since then. Now that the kids are old enough to be involved there is an account history and returns that we can go over together and learn together about expenses, how returns from appreciation and dividends work, and that there is risk involved in investing. Although we primarily use Vanguard for our own investments I like the aesthetics and diversification into multiple index funds / ETFs that Betterment makes more automatic – it seems to connect with the kids better and is more straightforward for them to understand.

Here’s the actual performance of one child portfolio over the past few years. The right graph includes a comparison to the S&P 500. Betterment currently charges a .25% management fee on top of the fees for the funds invested in.

[Note: We have chosen to hold the investment accounts for each of our children in our name so that we have control of the funds until we decide to give over full control. We’ve done this for reasons related to age and maturity, impact on college scholarships, and other considerations.]

Now when the kids receive some money for a birthday or we cash in the coins in their artisanal hand-crafted wooden banks we let them decide what to do with it – spend it, give it away, put in the bank, or invest in their Betterment account. It’s been fun and over the past year they’ve mostly chosen to invest their money, roughly 80% of their “earnings” going into their respective Betterment accounts. We sit with them at the computer but let them use the mouse, type in the contribution and notes, etc.

Here’s the current default allocation within Betterment for one of our child accounts, at a 95% stocks / 5% bonds allocation.

We’ll see how it goes in the future when there are more dollars at stake and more competing options vying for their attention and funds. From the early returns it’s been a simple and effective way to introduce investing for our family.

You can check out Betterment at:

Calculating compound growth rates like a boss (baby)

A New Crosswalk Request in North Park at Jefferson Elementary

Let’s make the neighborhood a bit safer and more enjoyable for all

North Park has had a number of crosswalks installed in recent months, including some with push-button flashing lights as you can now see at the corners of 30th Street and Myrtle as well as 30th Street and Polk, as well as other locations.  It has seemed to make a positive impact on the likelihood of drivers that yield to pedestrians at these intersections and hopefully an overall greater awareness for those walking in the area.

This post is to request a new painted crosswalk on the south portion (east-west crosswalk) of the intersection of North Park Way and Utah Street, in front of Jefferson Elementary.  This intersection is just outside the front doors of the school and this three-direction intersection has a stop sign for each direction of oncoming traffic.  There are currently painted crosswalks on the other two crossings at the intersection but just a “No Ped Crossing” sign for the third.

This aerial image shows the existing crosswalks to / from the Jefferson Elementary block in Yellow and the requested additional crosswalk in Red.

With all vehicles already needing to stop at this intersection it seems natural to include a painted crosswalk for pedestrians.  Especially given that the school provides services for children from preschool through fifth grade it seems even more needed to have visible markings and crossings to ensure drivers are aware of the hundreds of small children in the area.

Many parents and children walk to the school from the south and east directions, either from residences or from parking in the neighborhood.  Another marked crossing option would make the journey to school quicker, safer, and more convenient for all.  (And outside of school hours for anyone walking in the neighborhood.)

Below is the current status of this crossing.  Hopefully we can make this small improvement soon, for the use of students and the community at large.

If you’d like to help make this crosswalk a reality please reach out to the San Diego District 3 Councilmember, Chris Ward, at the following email addresses and simply voice your support.  A message as simple as “Crosswalks at Jefferson needed and I support. Thank you.” are great.

Councilmember Ward –

Council Office Representative Tyler Renner  –