The trip to Rancho la Puerta begins and ends at the San Diego airport. This was my first time to Southern California, and since it turned out to be cheaper (due to the New Year travel rush) to stay a few days in San Diego than fly home straight away, we took advantage to enjoy a bonus day and a half in the city.
Having now had a chance to see first hand what gardening is like in Southern California, I can say with authority that I would move there in a heartbeat to enjoy that luscious, long-season growing. I spent the last few minutes before we had to head to the airport running from one neglected front yard citrus tree to the next screaming (mostly on the inside), “Dear god, look at all of these oranges!”
If it were not for the state of traffic and poor public transportation options, I would be cranking up the Zeppelin and packing my bags right now. I can’t live in a car dependent city, never mind the fact that my stomach was in my throat every time we got on the road. Since I’m being honest, the earthquakes freak me out a bit, too.
This garden was the first I saw when we arrived at our hotel. You’ll recognize the large clumps of blooming bird of paradise (Strelitzia). It seems to grow like a weed here and I noticed that it was a public garden planting favourite. But the real show-stopper, the plant that I could almost leave my bike-riding, public transportation utopia for is the giant Dr. Suess-like Fox Tail Agave (Agave attenuata).
My god, that is the most phenomenal agave I have ever seen in my life! Alas, I try my best to keep my little collection of potted agaves healthy, but what I wouldn’t give to grow a massive cluster like this.
There are several benefits to living and gardening in a southern climate, but it’s the promise of a killer agave garden that gets to me most.
When I booked our trip to Rancho la Puerta, a spa/retreat in Baja California, Mexico a few months back, it was under the assumption that it would be the most vacation-like vacation of my life. I pictured it in my mind as a soft, full-page ad in a magazine, full of promises that I have never desired in a travel destination until recently: stress-free relaxation, time away to rebalance and reconnect with oneself, and an embarrassing heap of lavish, bourgeoisie pampering.
Typically, when I travel I want to see, eat, and do it ALL. I research profusely. I make lists and print out maps. I Google photos of the landscapes, plants, and cityscapes that are available to be seen. I dream of the photos I will take. I spend hours picking and choosing my camera gear carefully, only to change it all up at the last minute and then I wear myself thin, schlepping five cameras, lenses, rolls of film, and first aid supplies (be prepared!) up melting, tropical asphalt roads that no local would be foolish enough to ascend in the midday heat. Somehow, I always end up in the hottest locations at the most punishing times of the day. I enjoy being in and around the ocean, but I am not a relax on a blanket with a pulpy novel and a Mai Tai kind of traveler. I don’t even know what a Mai Tai is other than a vacation drink that comes with a tiny straw. [I am Googling it now].
Today’s post was slotted to be one detailing our wonderful, recuperative trip to the desert, but then we met Molly.
Our desire to adopt a rescue dog was solidified over the Holidays and during the trip so on return, we started looking seriously with the intention of finding the right dog for us. I told Davin, “This is going to take some time, months even.” I expected to bring a dog home around the time that the peas go into the ground.
Molly was posted on Petfinder on Tuesday night. I called on Wed afternoon and had a long chat with the woman fostering her. She sounded too good to be true. A gentle, loving dog with no behavioural issues that would be overwhelming to people like us who do not have much dog experience.
Molly was being fostered in a home just outside of Toronto so we booked a rental car for Saturday knowing that she might not be right and that this could be the first in an exhaustive line of disappointing dog visits. We were eager to adopt a dog, but we also wanted to be honest and mindful of our limitations. Neither of us have much dog experience and we were worried that a dog with serious social issues and/or showing any signs of aggression could be more than we can handle. I have a tendency to root for the underdog, but I knew it would be detrimental for everyone if we took a dog based on feeling sorry for it, or with good intentions only.
It’s a tribute to the experience and integrity of the foster parents that Molly was exactly as described. It wasn’t long after meeting her that we knew she’d make a wonderful addition to our family. She was hesitant about us at first. She took her time to approach, but warmed up surprisingly quickly for a dog who has been through so much recently. What’s more, the allergies that normally plague me with prolonged exposure to shedding dogs was absolutely non-existent with this fluffy little Muppet (a mix of non-shedding breeds). A few hours later and she was settled on my lap in the back seat and we were on our way home together.
And just like that we are in love with a scruffy little dog.
These photos were taken on our recent trip to Baja California, Mexico. I’ve posted them in the order I took them over the course of a week. In my next post I will go into further detail about the location, but for now I wanted to show you the larger panoramas that I took with my iPhone on our daily hikes up into the hills that surrounded the property.
Torrey Pines State Reserve (Beach)
I am writing this from a rocking chair in the San Diego airport, where I am winding down from just over a day in the city. We rented a car here in San Diego, a transportation method I would have preferred not to have made, as we are new drivers and navigating the streets here is panic inducing. Still, had we not rented a car, we would not have been able to see the beautiful beaches and vistas that we were able to enjoy. And since we made it out alive, I consider it to have been a success, even if I require another week in the desert to bring back the blissful, relaxed feeling I seemed to have left behind at the Mexican border.
Click on each image to see them larger.
Cabrillo National Monument, Tide Pools (This was the highlight and the spot I would most recommend. Exploring tide pools so full of ocean wildlife was a childhood dream come true!)
From Soledad Cross (We ended up here by making a wrong turn. It was worth the detour for the beautiful vistas. One of the 6 times we got lost in San Diego!)
From Cabrillo National Monument
How to Make Panoramic Images Like These:
All of these panoramics were taken with an iPhone 3GS. Some are 360 degrees and others are less. The process couldn’t be simpler and takes just a few minutes. I literally stand in one place and take lots of pictures from all around me, including everything at my feet. Try to overlap the content a little bit to avoid the black gaps you can see in some of my images. I tend to take between 12 and 30 images per scene.
I use an app called AutoStitch to assemble the images into one large scene. It costs $1.99. I find it helpful to assemble the images as I go, as it can be confusing to separate the images intended for each scene later on.
Tomorrow I will post all of the panoramics I took in the desert portion of my trip.