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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Tomorrow, December 3, 2020, the San Diego Planning Commission will consider a proposal to greatly reduce and regulate the short-term rental industry in the city. This item will likely move to the City Council for consideration in 2021.
You can add a comment or sign up to give live testimony via the Planning Commission website. Below is my short comment, opposing the MOU and supporting the many thousands of hosts in the City of San Diego.
This amendment / action would reduce the number of short term rentals in San Diego by approx. 65% and harm thousands of property owners during a period of economic turmoil. I urge the Planning Commission to oppose this amendment / action.
I agree with requiring a license number for each unit rented on a short-term basis, and requiring the posting of this license number on any online platform. I also agree with enhanced enforcement of noise and other nuisance laws, including an escalating fine scale for repeat offenders.
Short-term rentals are immensely popular (and have proven to be more resilient than hotels and other accommodations in the current Covid climate). I hope the Planning Commission will embrace short-term rentals and support this long established opportunity for San Diegans for the years to come by opposing this item. Thank you.
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.
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.