I’ve hiked Cowles Mountain many times with my son since he was a baby, but until today had only used the Golfcrest Trailhead, the south-west and most popular starting point. Today we headed to Big Rock Trailhead, the north-east starting point.
The distance was about 2.1 miles from the trailhead to the peak and the ascent took us an hour with the return trip taking about 40 minutes. It certainly felt longer and more strenuous than the Golfcrest trail we’ve typically done. (Might be my post-Covid weaker body, or actually is a harder trail.) There was a great breeze going and this eastern trail had more shrub shade than the western side, to my surprise. Not a lot of shade, but some portions had a bit. We sat at the top and had a picnic lunch, which is a great way to take a nice break and enjoy a chat and views at the peak.
Guest content from my hiking partner, Ambrose: “My favorite part was eating lunch. I want to do another hike sometime – one with a waterfall at the end.”
Cowles Mountain is one of 5 peaks in Mission Trails Regional Park that make up the “5 Peak Challenge“. The map below highlights the location of the peaks and it’s fun to do them all whether solo, with a friend, or with your family. I did the 5 Peak Challenge a few years ago solo and it was a great, challenging day.
The San Diego Blood Bank recently started testing all blood donations for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) antibodies. I gave blood last month and received the antibody results about 7 days after my donation via the Blood Bank donor portal, a personal site that gives a donor history, blood type, and now COVID-19 antibody results.
Per the Blood Bank, the antibody test “detects if your immune system has developed antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Results of SARS-CoV-2 testing is intended for qualification of COVID-19 convalescent plasma and may NOT be used for diagnostic purposes. As this is NOT a diagnostic test, it will not detect active COVID-19 infections or recent exposure.” More information on the antibody test can be found on the Blood Bank related FAQ page here.
If you are wondering if you may have already had COVID-19 donating blood may be a free, convenient way to find out while also providing a blood donation to help others in the community.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I use my bike mostly for function – getting to and from places, shopping, going to dinner, etc. One of the best purchases I’ve made was getting pannier bags, which make it easy to carry items and more comfortable than using a backpack or handheld bag. Pannier bags attach to a basic bike rack (front or rear) and are a convenient way to carry goods, or to carry camping supplies if going for a long recreational trip.
A couple of years ago I bought a used set of Avenir pannier bags for $10 a piece. They have some nice features like:
Reflective trim to increase visibility
Two bottle holders
One large pouch for large items (I’m usually carrying a laptop or papers) with clip straps to secure and expand or shrink height
Small zippered pouch for easy access to wallet, keys, etc.
Clips to secure bag to bike rack and reduce chances of falling off
Waterproof with drawstring tie on opening
I went to the grocery store the other day and took some photos to show what a shopping trip by bike looks like. I sometimes see newspaper articles or comments online about how non-functional it is to buy food items on a bicycle. I strongly disagree – the parking is usually much easier, it’s cheaper than driving, and with a couple of good bags carrying your items home is a breeze.
Here’s my bike with two pannier bags full of groceries – I didn’t put the chips in the pannier bags for fear of crushing them although there was room in the expanded upper portion if I wanted to use it.
On returning home, I unpacked the bags on our table and took this photo to show the amount of food that can easily fit in a pair of bags. We were cooking for a get-together so some of the items are in bigger quantities than usual but overall a pretty good idea of an average grocery shopping trip for me by bicycle.
We’re fortunate to live in an area with a number of grocery stores within a mile. I often walk instead of biking, but often pick up a couple of items in other areas when I’m coming home from work or other activities. Pannier bags are a great addition to any bike and I highly recommend getting a pair.
Banker’s Hill is a hilly, pretty neighborhood just North of Downtown San Diego and to the West of Balboa Park. It has a wide variety of old mansions, new condos, restaurants, churches, and everything in between. It has a quiet vibe but I would guess this will shift in the next couple of years as there are quite a few new housing units being built and one would expect supporting businesses – more coffee shops and restaurants, gyms, professional offices, etc. – to open to cater to the new residents.
I’m often in Banker’s Hill and have established a route I like to walk or run that has a good mix of nature trails in canyons, park space, and residential areas. I typically put a podcast on my phone and then go out for a break from work and listen to something interesting. I wanted to share my route with others that might be interested in exploring Banker’s Hill a bit more.
Here’s a map of the route I generally take although I frequently shift portions of the route. Start just East of the intersection of 6th & Laurel at the statue of Kate Sessions. Head north on one of the sidewalks (or walk on the grass) through the western portion of Balboa Park to Spruce Street and head West. This will bring you to the Spruce Street Bridge which you can cross and then take the meandering Curlew Street down to the bottom of Maple Canyon, which you can use to complete the loop and then cross the Quince Street Bridge to finish up. I finished this route today at the new James Coffee location at 2870 Fourth Ave, Suite 107, San Diego, CA 92103.
Following are a few photos from today, there are also a number of wonderful buildings (new and old) to look at. Hope you enjoy the area and this route!
2017 marks the 6th Annual Ride for the River Park, benefiting the San Diego River Park Foundation (SDRPF). This 2 day, 1 night tour begins at the Pacific Ocean in the neighborhood of Ocean Beach, and follows the path of the San Diego River from the ocean to the headwaters in the mountains near Julian. This is a challenging ride of 70 miles each direction, with about a mile of elevation climb on the first day. At the end of the first day we’ll enjoy camping at Lake Cuyamaca and a beautiful night’s sleep. The return trip on Sunday, October 22 is all downhill – a well deserved easier return trip.
All participants are strongly encouraged to make a donation to the SDRPF at http://sandiegoriver.org/give.html. Please also send an email to organizer John Anderson at john.patrick.anderson.com. The event organizer and volunteers will provide snacks and water along the way and a support vehicle for carrying small overnight bags and gear. Food and drink are the responsibility of each participant as is accommodation in Julian on Saturday night. Julian is a popular tourist destination so reservations are recommended as soon as possible. There are a variety of hotels and other accommodations and many options on VRBO or Airbnb. There are also nice campgrounds nearby like Heise County Park and Lake Cuyamaca**. Please note that the campgrounds are a few miles from Nickel Beer Company where we will end the first day’s ride.
This ride is challenging and is on open roads, some with fast-moving automobile traffic. We welcome participants of all skill levels but please be aware that this will be a difficult ride for those not used to elevation gains or long-distance riding (more than 50 miles). Please note that the average group pace for the first day is 10 mph and 15 mph for the second day. If you’re not comfortable with this pace for a long day’s ride please bring a friend to ride along – we don’t want to leave anyone riding alone.
Starbucks Coffee – 10406 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92120 (Grantville)
7-11 – 10195 Riverford Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040 (Just before Highway 67)
Iron Mountain Trailhead / Parking Lot – Intersection of Highway 67 and Poway Road
Thai Time (Lunch Stop) – 2330 Main St, Ramona, CA 92065
Dudley’s Bakery / Santa Ysabel Grocery – 30218 California 78, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
Lake Cuyamaca Campground (Finish Line!) – 15027 Highway 79, Julian, CA 92036. We’ll grill out for dinner, have some drinks at the lake and enjoy some star-gazing and conversation. I’ve reserved Campground 26 and 27 at the Chambers Park area, which has showers and nice restrooms. Capacity is 8 per site but there are additional spots that we can get the day of event if needed.
Day 2 Stops – Sunday, 10/22/2017
Breakfast – We’ll cook up some coffee and eggs and bacon at the campsite before heading off in the cool morning mist.
7-11 – 10195 Riverford Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040 (Just before Highway 67)
Mission Trails Visitors Center – 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119
Finish Line – Pizza Port Ocean Beach – 1956 Bacon St, San Diego, CA 92107. All are welcome (non-riders included) to enjoy some pizza and conversation at Pizza Port at end of ride, estimated arrival time is 3:30 PM on Sunday, Oct 22.
Hope you can join us for this great event and even if you can’t enjoy the ride you can support the work of the SDRPF by learning more and making a tax-deductible donation at: http://sandiegoriver.org/give.html.
We’ve had a couple of wood planter boxes in our sideyard that I made a few years ago for herbs and vegetables but have never had good luck with growing edibles. Yesterday, we decided to repurpose one as a butterfly garden, which is more in keeping with our lot flora in general and hopefully will be more successful than the tomatoes and basil were.
We went to a nursery in the Midway District of San Diego, Walter Andersen’s, which has quite a large selection and is on to the way to our favorite beach neighborhood, Ocean Beach. Our total purchase for the day was $77.49 for the following plants and one bag of bedding soil. I sprang for a couple of extra large choices rather than smaller pots, so the total cost could easily be closer to $50 for the same selections at a slightly smaller planting size.
Achillea Millefolium (Siren song angie)
Acelpias fascicularis (Mexican whorled milkweed)
Asclepias mix mojonnier (Milkweed)
Asclepias physocarpa (Hairy Balls / Family Jewels) – commonly named for the seed pods resemblance to the human testicle. Seriously.
All of these are butterfly friendly and pretty well suited to the San Diego climate. Some, like the cuphea and galvezia are also great for hummingbirds. Only the galvezia is a “true” California native plant but the asclepias mix is probably the most common milkweed you’ll see in yards around town and a great monarch butterfly attractor.
Wanted to share this project and plant selections in case others would like to easily add some habitat for butterflies at their own home. Cheers!
Mission Trails Regional Park is an amazing San Diego asset. It covers 7,220 acres and is located near Downtown and urban areas like North Park, Mission Valley, La Mesa, and others. There are a wide variety of activities available – running, rock climbing, bike riding, hiking, and more. To encourage more people to explore some of the less visited areas of the park the 5 Peak Challenge was officially launched on November 7, 2015 although it had been an unofficial challenge in the hiking community prior to that launch.
Cowles Mountain is the most popular hike in the park and has a constant flow of people. I had done Cowles a dozen or more times in the past 5 years and the Fortunas once or twice but had never been to Pyles or Kwaay Paay prior to attempting the 5 Peak Challenge. You don’t have to do all the peaks on one day and it’s probably not advised but a friend had told me about doing the challenge in under hours so I decided to make that my goal.
Using the park map (below, click for pdf copy) I decided the shortest total route from the Visitors Center would be: South Fortuna, North Fortuna, Kwaay Paay, Cowles Mountain, Pyles Peak. I hopped on my bike in North Park and about 35 minutes later was at the Visitors Center and ready to go.
I used the Strava app to record the time, elevation gain, distance, and route for my 5 Peak Challenge. Including a few breaks for lunch and to register the kids for swimming lessons it took a total elapsed time of 4 hours and 57 minutes. I was scrambling up Pyles Peak to get under the 5 hour mark but managed to do it. I hiked at a moderate pace for the most part but did jog some of the descents and a bit of the Junipero Serra Trail that is a flat, paved road from the Old Dam to the Visitors Center. I also rode my bike from the Visitors Center to the Cowles Mountain base after the first 3 peaks.
I didn’t include any scenery shots on this post, other than the background on the selfies at bottom, which are required to officially complete the challenge and submit for a certificate. If you haven’t been, Missions Trails Regional Park is basically Southern California natural scrub habitat – some trees in the low lying areas but primarily short bushes and shrubs. The peaks provide wonderful views in every direction, from Mexico to the Pacific to inland mountains to the east. The day I hiked was overcast so the view distances were greatly reduced but I was grateful for the less intense sun and heat.
I’d highly recommend doing the 5 Peak Challenge or simply visiting the park to have a picnic or go for a casual hike up one of the peaks. It’s a great asset to the region and one well loved by many.