July 27, 2017

A Non-Planner's Guide to San Diego

Because I despise travel research, I did the bare minimum and this is what we came up with.
There was a ton of on-the-spot Googling and I may have run out of data on my phone at one point.

Here's the route:

We started in Colorado Springs, went north to Denver, into the deserts of Utah, spent the night there, then drove south through Las Vegas, went through a sliver of Arizona, sat in a lot of California traffic, and ended up in San Diego. 

On the way back, we drove along the Mexican border, through much of Arizona, into New Mexico, spent the night in Albuquerque (which I still can't spell), and then went north into Colorado.
The way back was a MILLION TIMES better than the way there, so if you're in this part of the country, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the southern route. There were no worries about running out of gas or anything because it was much more populated as well. Utah and the stretch from Vegas to the L.A. area was slightly terrifying. 

Part of the reason why we drove is because I like seeing how places turn into those places. Understanding the land and geography around a place is as interesting as the place itself. I have a thing for maps too, so I like seeing how one kind of topography bleeds into the next. 
Also, we didn't want to rent a car because that'd cost as much as two plane tickets. Being able to get where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go there is important (as we are rural folks at heart), so hanging around a city without a car for a week wasn't for us.

First, we dropped off the dogs and headed to Denver. We got caught in all kinds of construction traffic and the city of Vail really doesn't plan these things well...in the 5 states we've been to in the last two weeks, Colorado is the only one that doesn't know how to organize road construction efficiently. 
We stopped for lunch in Grand Junction and this black bean burger was delicious.

Scott had the IPA too

However, after hearing so much about the town of Grand Junction over the years, I couldn't believe what a depressing little place it was. Hot in July and plopped down in the middle of nowhere. I really don't think we'll ever go back. 

Speaking of depressing...onto Utah.

We had pipe dreams of getting to St. George that first day but that wasn't happening. I called the Holiday Inn Express in Richfield, UT and they were booked up (???) so we ended up staying at the Fairfield Marriott and that was fine. It was just to sleep. 

The next day, we headed toward Vegas. 

Vegas in the distance

I had plans of spending a night in Vegas and doing something fun. I was going to book a room at the Excalibur and then we weren't positive of our exact travel plans...the only thing set in stone was the room I booked in San Diego...so we ended up just driving through Vegas. We stopped for breakfast at The Original Sunrise Cafe and this wrap was delicious. 

We found Vegas to be hot and slightly depressing, though I'm sure it's pretty all lit up at night. I can't get over how it's just plopped in the middle of the desert and the WATER ISSUES practically advertise themselves. It's pretty fascinating.

Onward to California...

Yes, that time estimation says that it will take an hour and a half to go 50 miles.

Three important facts about San Diego: 
YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO FIND A PARKING SPOT. Though most parking is absolutely free when you do. 
 L.A. was 100+ degrees and San Diego was much more temperate so dress accordingly. Mornings were cool and humid and foggy. Afternoons were hot and sunny. Evenings were cool and humid. It is the very opposite of the climate we live in and very opposite from what I thought California would be at this time of year (this is where research would've come in handy). Honestly, it's probably the perfect climate. But I need seasons, so I could never live there. 
EVERYTHING IS REALLY CLOSE TOGETHER. Driving from one of these places to another rarely took more than 10 or 20 minutes. I highly recommend taking or renting a car for that reason alone. If you can handle searching for parking, it's absolutely worth your while. 


But anyway. The traffic in California is unreal.

We eventually got to our hotel around 6pm. 

Taken later than 6pm

We stayed on Shelter Island, which is very near Point Loma, at the Best Western Island Palms. I wanted to be on water but not necessarily on a beach. I don't usually swim in the ocean anyway.  This was on a marina and near all the yacht clubs. I really don't have anything negative to say about the place. It was expensive but not as expensive as most places I checked out online and the room was nice and cool and there was always parking and it had a bar and restaurant that we went to more than once. It was a mile walk to other restaurants and coffee shops and there was a walking path right along the marina. There was a fishing pier and bar right there too. Very kid and dog-friendly with playgrounds and plenty of grass around. 
Since it backed up to the marina, we could just sit and watch the boats in the evening. There were multiple pools and hot tubs on the property too. 
So I booked the hotel completely sight unseen after just reading reviews on booking.com. I suppose we got lucky in that regard. 

Pinot grigio at the hotel


The view of downtown and Coronado Island (which isn't really an island, but a peninsula)

On our first full day, we had breakfast at Humphrey's, the resort next door to our hotel. 

Chilaquiles. Tostadas, chorizo, pico, avocado, and eggs.

Then, we went to the Point Loma Lighthouse and Cabrillo National Monument. This is on a naval base and was just a few minutes from our hotel. However, Saturday tourist traffic meant it took a very long time to get there. Because it's a national park, we got in for free with a military ID and parking was also free. 

After that, we headed into the city to check out the sights along the harbor. We looked for parking for a very long time and then finally found a 3-hour spot. We did pay for that, but I think it was about $12 so not completely unrealistic. 

We looked at the kissing statue of which I'm not impressed really because of the actual history behind it, but those foreign tourists ate it right up. Scott said he saw the same statue in Germany and yes, it is there too

Then we went to the USS Midway. It's normally a $20/ticket tour but Scott got in for free with a military ID and I got a discount at $14. 

I didn't really take pictures but it's quite impressive. I toured a ship like it in New York City once upon a time but this was much more interesting because they do self-paced audio tours where you walk from place to place and listen to the corresponding information on a headset. 
It's important to note that the Midway closes at 5:30pm and this is easily an all-day event so plan accordingly. We definitely didn't finish the tour but feel we got more than our $14 worth. 

After that, we drove back to the hotel and then eventually walked to Umi Sushi for dinner. 

The rolls in California are several times larger than what we're used to.

We ended the night watching boats at the bar. 

If it was cold, I drank it on this trip.

On Sunday, we started with breakfast at Point Break (recommended by a hotel clerk) and this was the least impressive meal of the trip. Still, it wasn't bad. We then walked to Coffee Hub for lattes and it was delicious. 

California omelette

We drove to Old Town and this was a favorite of mine. It's set up like what San Diego looked like hundreds of years ago and was a giant history museum. I could've spent all day there. 

Parking was a HUGE issue here but we found street parking a few blocks away and it was free. I think you just have to be willing to search in this town. 

We went to the Whaley House. It was a self-guided tour so wasn't as interesting as it could have been. I love real guided tours. It was $15 combined for the tickets.

This was a schoolhouse and it was closed because it was Sunday and that was depressing.

I wanted to sit in that chair. 

We stopped at a saloon to take a break and I had a Shock Top, which was delicious. At this point, I was definitely sunburnt. 

After spending some time waiting in line to see the Conestoga wagon (the dumb 2 year old wouldn't get out of my way...you can't see him because he wouldn'tgetoffofthewagon), we drove back to the hotel. 

Later, we took off for Mission Beach where, surprise, parking was a problem. After we found a spot, we walked the boardwalk and then had dinner at Draft. It was delicious. Scott had been in search of any craft beer he could find during this trip and was happy to see that they had Belgium sour beer, which he'd learned to love during his time in Germany. 

White wine sangria


There was ice cream and some shopping on the boardwalk after that but, alas, no pictures.

The next morning (Monday), we went to Better Buzz Coffee for breakfast and it was the best latte and breakfast sandwich I'd ever had. This was a mile or two from our hotel, but we drove because we were on our way to Coronado Island. 

It was bacon, egg, manchego, and spicy aioli on ciabatta. The latte was vanilla.

I'd booked a tour of the Hotel del Coronado, because what better way to see a place than to take a tour? 
The town of Coronado was cute and convenient and bigger than we thought it'd be. We walked around for a bit before going to the hotel for the tour. 

I honestly wasn't impressed with the hotel. I'm glad we got the full picture of it by taking the tour but it was kind of old and dark on the inside. The grounds were beautiful and the weather was, and always is, perfect there. 

The tour guide (a volunteer from the historical society in town) wasn't that great. She was too soft-spoken, in an overly confident way, and that bugs me a lot because I look at it from a teacher's viewpoint. 

So I don't know if I'd recommend the tour, but it was nice to see an in-depth look at the history of the island. Scott was terribly bored. 

After the tour, we drove over the bridge back to Shelter Island...after coming up with a plan for the evening, we went for Thai food at Seaside Pho and Grill...Scott had wanted pho but the dinner menu wasn't open yet so we ordered from the lunch menu and I had the best pad Thai of my life. He liked the curry too. 

Seriously, the best. 

Because we can't get enough of museums (me, I can't get enough of museums), we went back to the harbor to tour the Star of India and the rest of the boats in the maritime museum. It was like $13 a ticket but that got you onto 5 or 6 boats. The neatest one was the Russian Cold War submarine. 

Somewhere claustrophobic.

I took lots of pictures of the Star of India because it will align perfectly with my novel study of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and the sub will go well with teaching about the Cold War. 

Parking, on a Monday afternoon, was plentiful and it was amazing to pull into a spot and have dozens left over around us (all free of charge).  

From there, we drove out to La Jolla, which was about 20 minutes away. We drove by La Jolla Cove but everyone else was also there to see the sunset so we went to the Shores, which was a sort of boardwalk. We were able to get free residential parking pretty easily on a Monday night. After walking for a bit, we went to the Shore Rider, where I continued drinking my way across San Diego and we had the best nachos ever. (These drinks weren't very strong, I swear.) Scott had a Peanut Butter Milk Stout and that tasted like ice cream.

Times three.

The next day, we left bright and early with plans to make it to Albuquerque (still can barely spell that). We spent the night there and continued back to (hot and dry) Colorado Wednesday morning. We picked up the dogs and got back to life.

I was able to check 4 more states off the list, as I'd never been to Utah, Nevada, Arizona, or New Mexico, and we were able to get out of Colorado (together), so that was a nice change of pace. 

July 25, 2017

July Recommendations

+Go Bayside podcast. I binged this whole podcast (80+ episodes that are usually more than 1 hour each) in 3 weeks. It was wildly entertaining. I spent a lot of my elementary years watching Saved By The Bell. I remember specifically 1st grade being a big year for that. My parents weren't terrible, by the way. They would watch with me and roll their eyes and try to tell me that was not what high school was like. I didn't believe them.

+The Cult of Pedagogy. This is a teaching website and I read my way through every article in about a week. It was so informative and real. It's also a podcast and I pretty much made my way through that entire backlog too. 

+Ozark. This is a new show on Netflix. Not only did we live in the Ozarks for a year plus a few months but we spent many weekends at Osage Beach and the lake there. Osage Beach was the nearest Target so I spent some time driving that 45 minute stretch of woods at least once a month.
This show is so enthralling...it just kept going and going and I kept watching and watching...it plays out like a movie. I just love Jason Bateman.

+Online grocery shopping. I mentioned this on Friday and I cannot recommend enough that you at least try it. I discovered that I can keep my cart open on the app and just add to it as I think of things instead of writing them down and likely losing the list. I'm using Wal-Mart because that's who offers the service near us but, even though I don't love Wal-Mart, I can get over that for two reasons: I'm not randomly buying things I don't need and spending extra money. And I don't even have to go into the store. Yes, please. There's a few things I'll end up getting elsewhere (dog bones, K-Cups, and ice cream/Italian ice is much better priced at the commissary) but that's like an every two or three-week trip.

+Stuff Mom Never Told You and Stuff You Missed in History Class. Since podcasts are my preferred form of daily media entertainment, I'm always looking for new ones. I used to listed to Stuff You Missed in History Class all the time and then it got old (pun not intended), so I unsubscribed. I recently went back to it, pulling all the recent episodes from the last year that seemed interesting. As for Stuff Mom Never Told You, there's so many topics and so many interesting thoughts and research and whatnot...give it a go. The hosts are fun to listen to as well. Their episode on MLM was fascinating and led me to John Oliver's video which was funny and informative. Even though I'm a believer in Rodan and Fields products whole-heartedly, I have many thoughts on multi-level marketing.

+And, lastly, this post on miscarriage and making it to the other side. It's refreshingly real. I didn't have a miscarriage, but I know what it's like to feel weak and achy and so completely unlike myself that I couldn't even sit up or roll over without being in pain. IVF can cause your abdomen to fill with fluid and that definitely happened to me. All of the hormones that I pumped into myself for the cycle of IVF we did in May took such a toll...there's literally nothing natural about it...but it was comforting for me to remember that I was not the first person to go through that and I certainly wouldn't be the last. If you're struggling with something similar, that blog post is a good one.

If you're looking for Pinterest recommendations, I posted what I've Pinned and Done lately last week. 

July 21, 2017

3 Friday Things.

1. We're back from our first block leave vacation in 5 years and we jumped right into the chores and whatnot that needed to be done. Mostly weeding the garden and I have the torn-up hands to prove it.

2. I started thinking about how I can make grocery shopping and meal prep easier on myself and I decided to try Wal-Mart's online ordering. Sure, I usually go to the commissary because it's cheaper but I also usually buy random things that look good while I'm perusing the aisles. I put the order in on Wednesday night and picked up Thursday morning. They were pretty busy so it did take 20 minutes or so of waiting, but totally worth it. I think I'll be doing this often. It's completely free and, if you meal-prep anyway, you already have your list made out. It's just one more step to put everything into an online shopping cart. It was oddly refreshing to know exactly how much money I spent before I even got to the store.

3. We drove to San Diego last Thursday and back this past Tuesday.  I'll happily recap in traditional (insufferable) blogger fashion next week, but this was the route we took.

For me (us), it's a weekend of playing catch-up and then, next week, I've really got to start making progress in my classroom. Only two full weeks of summer vacation left!

July 20, 2017

Pinned/Did/Done 7/20

I'm back from a trip to a slightly cooler climate and while I get my bearings (truth: my favorite part of a trip is returning home), here's a compilation of what I've been accomplishing on Pinterest. 


Strawberry Cobbler. Something about this intrigued me. I made it and then put strawberry ice cream on top. It was good. It wasn't flaky or biscuity like a shortcake, but had a great flavor. I put regular sugar in it because I stay away from fake sugar.

Oatmeal Cookie Energy Bites. These did not roll. Even after a day in the freezer, they did not firm up. It was like an uncooked granola. I followed the directions exactly too. I loved the flavor but I didn't know what to do with it besides eat it with a spoon.

20 Minute Skillet Pasta. This was good and easy and didn't heat up the house on a hot day. I used chickpeas and didn't use GF pasta.

Copycat Texas Roadhouse Dry Steak Rub. We bought a bunch of steaks at Costco and, after the soy sauce incident, I couldn't marinate them in the way I usually do. I made up this rub instead and Scott really liked it. It was salty even after I cut the salt by 1/3, so I would recommend about 1/2 T. kosher salt instead of 1 1/2 T.

The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake. I 100% prefer vegan chocolate cake because it's moist, fluffy, and does not dry out. I was going to make cupcakes out of the cake recipe I made a few months ago, but realized we didn't have any applesauce so I started searching for another recipe. I used regular 2% milk, not almond milk, and that didn't make this vegan at all. I really believe in the ACV method for a light cake and vegetable oil is so much better texture-wise than using butter. This was easy enough and tasted fantastic.

I made roasted veggies with chimichurri sauce a few weeks ago but it was from the recipes of the month at The Balanced Life. Since this is a paid subscription, I doubt I'm allowed to share but here's something similar that I found on Pinterest.

I modified it, anyway. Roast green beans, potatoes, broccoli, chickpeas, and whatever else you want for 25 minutes at 425 degrees. Drizzle a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic (3 cloves) over the top first. 
Make a chimichurri sauce and pour over the warm vegetables before serving. 


Storing anchor charts has been a hassle for the last few years. I never really made reusable ones before that. I came across this idea to roll them, label them, and use a new trash can to hold them...I set it up, now we'll see if it works.

I made a chart like this last year and it worked not even a little bit. I think I took it down halfway through the year. I'm trying it again. Fingers crossed.

I've pinned a ton of teaching ideas (I'm forever pinning teaching ideas), so I'll have to do an update on what works and what doesn't.

What have you pinned and done lately?

July 13, 2017

Links I've Bookmarked.

I'm taking off from the blog for a few days. Here's some links I've found myself coming back to more than once though. Thoughts?

Be back next week!


I've thought about microneedling...have you tried it?

Gretchen Rubin posted this the other day: what it's like to work at the Apple store. 

I want these shoes but can't quite justify it. They're just Keds. You don't have to click and I promise I won't make any money if you do.

I'm not a fan of flexible seating in the classroom but could never really explain why. This blogger/teacher has lots of good reasons. 

Has anyone used Diigo? I think it's like Evernote. Ideally, I'd like to be much more organized in my online life (hahaha) but I didn't last long with Evernote.

And the best link ever: All the Bachelor in Paradise spoilers from Reality Steve. You should read them.

Do you bookmark so many links that you can never find what you're looking for? Just me?

July 11, 2017

June Books 2017

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin C
I found this to be a page-turner. I had a lot of trouble putting it down but I really found myself in skim mode toward the end. I skimmed the doctor's stories about his experiences in other countries too. A good idea, a good story, a little creepy, but not completely unforgettable (no pun intended).

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke A+
This reminded me of something Taylor Jenkins Reid would write. It was twisty and kept me engaged enough to listen, listen, listen until the book was finished. There's very few audiobooks that I've finished in less than 24 hours. It's a thriller/mystery and that's all I'm going to say.

Until You by Denise Grover Swank B-
This was not as good as the first in The Bachelor Brotherhood series (last summer's Only You), but it was fine. I would describe some of her stories as dorky but she makes those characters SO likable. I never expect that to happen and I always end up enjoying the characters anyway. It's a perfect beach read.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti C+
I found myself really engaged in the first 1/4 of this book. As Loo grew up, she got to be less interesting to me (I LOLed at the "rock-in-a-sock"). Kids amuse me more than adolescents and there's a reason I don't read YA books very often. A lot of it came to be told from her POV and I didn't love that.
I liked the character of Samuel a lot and found Lily to be slightly off her rocker but maybe that's just me. Anyway, a decent book but not for everyone, I'm sure. It'd make a good movie too.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris A+
Ahhh so good! I couldn't stop reading. I finished this in 24 hours too. I was thrilled when NetGalley sent me the ebook, and I sat with the Kindle until it was done. It's 100% thriller, down to the last page, but isn't disturbing like Paris' first book Behind Closed Doors. BCD gave a lot away at the beginning and The Breakdown doesn't do that at all. They're quite opposite in that way.  I made a couple of good guesses early on about what was happening but it unfolds in a really frustrating and satisfying (at the same time) way and I wasn't able to predict everything. I found that the title seems to have a double meaning too.
I would recommend this to just about anyone.

Never Let Me Go by Chevy Stevens A-
This was so hard to read. Domestic violence really bugs me in books and movies more than regular violence ever could. I had trouble putting it down, as it was an easy read and flowed from past to present and back again really well. I didn't love Sophie's POV chapters because that part came across as very YA, but it was necessary to the story, I suppose. (Spoiler in white: I really had trouble once the dog almost died. Violence against pets makes books hard to read.) It was tied up a bit too nicely toward the end but the rest of the book was interesting enough that I could overlook that.

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens C+
This was hard to put down. I really like her writing style. It flows. It's easy to keep going and going. She writes a good narrative. There's not a ton of depth to the characters but there's just enough to give you what you need to know. Anyway, the first half of the book was so good that I read it in one night. The second half led to a lot of skimming. I won't say it was predictable but it was just "easy".

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham C+
This is okay. It's YA, flashing back and forth between modern-day and 100 years ago. It was fine. I wouldn't seek it out. I think I got it for $3 on Kindle.

Didn't finish:

The Dry by Jane Harper. This wasn't so bad that I couldn't finish it. I just got bored/annoyed and made the decision not to. I never wanted to turn the audio on and I know I would've been in full skim-mode if I'd had a hard copy. I think some of this may have to do with the fact that I started it weeks and weeks ago, found really amusing things to listen to in the meantime, and then couldn't get back into it.

40 books for the year at the official halfway point. It's worth stating that I read all of these in the first half of June and I read absolutely nothing for the second half. I have two to three books started for July and two new kids' books I hope to use in August to begin the school year, so we'll see if I finish all of those by the next Show Us Your Books.

Linking up with Jana and Steph!