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Container Gardening: A Mini Fruit/Veggie Garden

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Here is a roll call of the plants in this section of my garden: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, apples, goji berries, pomegranates (Parfianka), Roger’s Wild grapes, King guava, sweet peas, nasturtium, tomatoes, herbs (sage, mint, thyme, borage), peppers, surinam cherries, and Improved Meyer’s Dwarf Lemon. The perfect spring weather this year has inspired me to start a mini fruit corner in my garden. Since I have limited space and tough clay soil, I chose to try some container gardening. I searched high and low for dwarf and ultra dwarf trees and researched how to keep trees small and productive. Many of the plants don’t require much space and do well in containers, and the others I’ve been told might need transplanting in a few years, or fertilizing in existing pots with some pruning. We will see how things grow; time will tell!

I selected this location because it gets a good amount of sun and in extreme heat, I have an umbrella that can easily cover most of the area if needed. This area is just right outside my kitchen so I have direct access to herbs and fruits if needed while cooking; and it’s also next to my water hose so watering is a snap! The space is tight, but it works at the moment.

Below is my jalapeño pepper plant with a larger chiliteppin pepper plant behind. They are surrounded by a few herbs (sage, parsley, basil).

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The top two photos are of my ultra dwarf Ein Shemer Apple tree. I found this at a plant show this year and thought I’d give it a try. There’s already two tiny apples forming!  The next two photos are of my Golden Dwarf Peach tree. This little tree is loaded with tiny peaches already (I lost count at around 16 or so)! I had to keep it netted and covered from the birds and possible rodents that may be eyeing the peaches.

Below is a photo of part of this fruit section. There is another dwarf peach (Honey Babe) and dwarf nectarine (Nectar Babe) next to it hiding behind all the netting, and a dwarf blueberry plant. The Roger’s Wild Grape is growing happily up the metal trellis (might be hard to see hiding in the back; more photos later), and below them is a row of strawberry plants that I began bare root 2 years ago. We’ve gotten quite a bit of strawberries already from this row of plants and my kids say it is definitely sweeter than store bought!

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Same with the blueberries below…this plant is so productive, my kids get their little baskets out after school and go picking for fresh blueberries. I just have to make sure the netting goes back on all the way so the birds don’t get to them.

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Above is a baby pomegranate tree…Parfianka type; I was told this was the best tasting species, but it will be awhile before I will get to find out!

Below is a goji berry plant. I was told this can grow into a huge monster so keep it contained. We will see how many transplants I will need to make…

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Above is a photo of the dwarf Honey Babe peach tree…the tag says it self pollinates but produces better when other peach trees are around. So I have the dwarf Golden Peach and dwarf Nectar Babe (nectarine tree).

Below are my baby surinam cherry plants, ultra dwarf Ein Shemer apple tree, and Roger’s Wild Grape (already producing clusters of tiny grapes).

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The above photos are of my Roger’s Wild Grapes and Siskiyou blackberries. Both are growing well so far. Don’t worry, that’s my protective rubber snake! I read somewhere that birds might be scared off by rubber snakes, so I’ll try this and see if it works. Everyday I move the snake around so it’s a bit more realistic. 🙂

Below is the other side of my mini fruit plant area. I planted some sweet peas (the scent is wonderful!) and nasturtium below the mini windmill. Tomatoes and herbs are next to it.

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And here’s the backside to that section…I have my King Guava tree next to my blackberries.

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And here I’ve got a lemon or two coming along (above photo). Below are my various tomato plants (blueberry cherry tomato, yellow pear tomato, and Supersweet Cherry tomatoes) along with basil and other herb companion plants.

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And here is my view as I step out from my kitchen. Everything is easily accessible and I can monitor for bugs and other potential pests. 🙂  I added a few roses in the area to add some color but also to be rewarded with a whiff of strong rose fragrance whenever I tend to the plants. Not to mention I just love the appearance of lavender/purple roses. Below is Angelface Rose…I enjoy admiring and smelling the strong citrus fragrance right before I go back into the house.

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Share Your World-May 15, 2017

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Here are my responses to Cee’s Share Your World questions for this week:

How many languages do you you speak?

I speak primarily English, but in a pinch I can speak Chinese and Spanish. My family traveled a bit when I was young, so I have lived in both Asia and Latin America and picked up some of the languages.  At one point I was quite fluent in all three, but it has been too long. I also took many years of French in college but since I hardly ever find anyone to practice with, I can hardly remember it. Once in awhile though I will hear a French phrase or French movie dialogue and I’m always surprised that l understand a bit of it.

What are you reading, watching, listening to, eating?

I’m currently rewatching Downton Abbey. I’ve watched all the episodes already and am quite sad it all ended, but I really enjoy learning about life in those days; definitely makes me appreciate some of the modern advances! But because I enjoy antiques and vintage things, I do appreciate the intricate detail and gardens in the series.

What was the last photo you took with your phone?

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Ok, I had to include the last TWO photos I took. I included both because for such a rare plant, I wanted to show the details of it from the side. I was really amazed at how ruffled and “cabbage” like the plant looked! The flies were buzzing around this stinky plant, all going towards the inside of it (deep into the purple part); apparently the stink is to attract  bugs to pollinate this impressive plant.  This ‘Corpse Flower’ only blooms once a decade, and for 24-48 hours, and I was fortunate enough to see it today!

Actually I had no idea this corpse flower plant was in bloom until a dear friend of mine texted me about it, and being the plant enthusiast I am, since I happened to be in the area already, I rushed over to the Fullerton Arboretum as soon I could. There was quite a crowd; including 3 local news vans and reporters! And it sure was stinky; to me a cross between rotten radish/broccoli and trash. And then the surprising part of it all? I was on the news! Actually I can’t find the clip but my friend who happened to be watching the news took a snapshot of the clip and sure enough there I was looking intently at the plant.

What is your favorite time of day?

Definitely the morning! I love the start of a day, especially the cold in the early morning of summertime. It’s my time to pray, reflect, go out in the garden, and enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week I was grateful for a wonderful and relaxing Mother’s Day after a super busy week. This week is super exciting I almost can’t sleep!  I am looking forward to:

  • dancing in a parade choreographed to one of my favorite songs
  • celebrating a milestone birthday AND
  • possibly exploring a deserted island and whale watching. I hope I’m not jinxing myself by writing about it already but you know I’ll be blogging about the adventure if it happens! 🙂

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Pirate’s Cove Beach/Corona del Mar

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For Mother’s Day, my family let me decide where I wanted to go…and of course I wanted to explore a beach! This one had rocks to climb, a cave, and beautiful views.  We had been nearby several times before…at Roger’s Garden, Sherman’s Garden and Library, and Fashion Island, but we never explored THIS particular beach and I’m glad we finally did!

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Pirates Cove Beach is in Corona del Mar (see map here). We saw gorgeous views from the top (Lookout Point on Ocean Blvd, amongst the fancy beautiful homes) but decided to pay for parking below at the main lot because we saw the big flight of stairs. Our kids could probably climb down with no problems, but I wanted them to save their energy for some rock climbing! 🙂

 

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Above is our view from the main parking lot to the right as we entered. We saw interesting rock formations right away. My kids and I could not resist and climbed it with excitement. We might have gone 30 feet up when we started seeing the beautiful ocean views. A few of the areas were a bit steep and slippery so watch your step, but it was well worth it.

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To get down, we had a bit more rock scrambling to do, and then a very short flight of stairs. Then we arrived at this beautiful cove. In the photo above, to the right, one can see the cave, and a beautiful home perched right on the cliff.

We made a beeline for the cave and explored it…

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As we entered, the entrance got smaller, and I ducked my head down to see how far it went. My kids ran in without much trouble. There were some orange peels in there so people were here earlier. To my right was a small space enclosed by rocks with a circular ‘window’ like view towards the beach. It would’ve been perfect to hide out here but I could smell old urine in the area, so we left. Time to play in the waves!

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The photo above is my view looking out of the cave. You could see the small flight of stairs we climbed down and the cliff above that we climbed to get here.

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There were other ‘caves’ as well along the beach and people were sitting in it to get away from the sun. What a perfect place to hang out and watch the waves!

But our favorite place was this little wall made from stacked rocks and overlook next to it. This area was to the left of the small flight of stairs coming down from the rocks. The kids played in the sand while we enjoyed the views.

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Time flew by quickly. Before we knew it, suppertime was upon us and it was getting a bit chilly. So we climbed back up the rocks and headed for the parking lot. Here were some more views of the rocks and beach views before we left.

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I’m so glad we got to explore this beautiful beach! It made for a relaxing and fun Mother’s Day outing!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

Reflecting: Iridescence and Lighting

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For this week’s Photo Challenge: Reflecting, I thought of my recently completed mosaic piece. It’s very interesting how different lighting changes the look of the piece dramatically.  I incorporated perhaps TOO many details in a small space and it turned out a bit more abstract than I envisioned.  The top photo on a white background and dim lighting might make it look like a fish on top with unknown other images below. But with light shining straight through, the mermaid and turtle become more obvious. The last image was taken with better lighting so the iridescent glass pieces in the background pop out.

In the photo below, I just love the iridescence reflected in the pond. This was taken at the Fullerton Arboretum (see post here) before they cleaned it out.  The last time I went I noticed there’s less of that iridescent sheen (cleaner and clear), but more reflections of the trees and leaves in the water.

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Roses in My Garden

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Purple and lavender roses…possibly the best smelling and most exquisite roses I have ever met. They say purple roses symbolize enchantment; in this case I was definitely enchanted.  I was at a plant show a few weeks ago (South Coast Plaza) when I saw my first lavender rose and I never thought I would grow roses in my super sunny garden (I have mostly succulents), but these were too beautiful to pass up!

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Above is the lavender Blue Girl hybrid tea rose. I don’t really see much blue in it, but I do see tinges of silvery grey in it at times. The petals are absolutely perfect in every way.  Just the right amount, and velvety in texture. I LOVE the strong citrus and classic rose scent in this one. When I first brought this home, my plant loving kids could not stop sticking their noses in it…and I don’t blame them! The smell is most intense I find in the early morning, before the sun and wind diffuses everything. The outer leaves get scorched in the sun a bit, but otherwise it holds its perfect form well.

Next is a photo of the floribunda ‘Intrigue.’ I wanted something darker purple to contrast with the lighter lavender rose above. This one was definitely the winner. Multiple roses cluster together in varying shades of purple. It seems the younger roses are darker and mature into a lighter magenta purple. The smell is just as fabulous…just the right amount of citrus and classic rose.  The leaves on Intrigue are glossy and outlined with a dark purple, which I find quite spectacular. The best part: it supposedly does well in heat, and we will soon find out. Of course, I would give roses partial shade in California anyway, but it’s good to know it can take some heat.

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Below are some photos of my miniature roses:

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I always like the ‘fire and ice’ ones and the classic pink ones. I’ve grown these for a few months but they are not fussy so I treat them like annuals. They have done pretty well in this lovely spring weather, but the only drawbacks are that they are small and don’t have any scent.

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And of course, here’s my wild rose: Lady Banks. Her scent is an extremely light lemon. I must admit, I’m not a fan of white roses. It does go well with my shabby chic garden, but I don’t know how big this one will get on my arch/arbor. So far it has not been blooming well in comparison to the tea rose and floribunda.

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Below are more photos of my new favorites: Blue Girl and Intrigue.

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And here are photos of them in my garden. One is in my potted urn, and the others are waiting to be planted. I might keep them in bigger containers as I read that they are less susceptible to disease that way and I can move them around until I can figure out the best location for them.

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Above is a photo of my shabby chic trifold I’ve had in my room for some time. After I planted the roses in the potted urn, I suddenly realized maybe I’ve had my inspiration for years right in front of me and finally acted on it.

I’ll have to admit…I’ve been spending WAY too much time in the garden. Between hiking, family outings, gardening, and the daily grind, it has been a struggle to keep up with everything. But in a good way as I’m loving everything I’m doing…I just need to really carve out time to write about it all :). More garden posts are coming because I have started a mini dwarf fruit section in my garden. But I’ve been researching how to plant roses, learning about possible mildew, rust, blackspot, pest problems, and wondering how everything will do, especially when summer comes and beyond. Anyone with experience with roses? I’d appreciate any insight in the comments below 🙂

Thanks and have a wonderful day! 🙂

Share Your World: May 8, 2017

These are my answers to Cee’s Share Your World questions for this week.  I love reading about fellow bloggers’ worlds and preferences!

When you’re alone at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot? 

Mostly I’m barefoot about 98% of the time and 2% of the time in socks. I’m only in socks when it’s cold and even then they get kicked off within an hour. I have bad OCD when it comes to shoes…if it comes in the house, I scrub down the area.  Maybe because I see my kids eat off the floor 🙂

What was your favorite food when you were a child?

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Any dessert. Chocolate, cake, ice cream, you name it. I wish I could eat more sweet foods but as I’m getting older my body cannot process them as efficiently. Sometimes they even taste too sweet to me now all of a sudden.  The above picture was a cake I made a few months ago from scratch for a birthday; I started cooking more so I can control what goes into the desserts we eat. So I only enjoy these on occasion now.

Are you a listener or talker?

Both! I listen well, but I also think better when I talk things through. I took speech and debate back in the days, so I love having people listen to me (but only if I have a good point). But it’s a balance…I always feel that I need to add to the conversation without taking it over and I also don’t want to just be sitting out and nodding to what someone has to say.

Favorite thing to (pick one):  Photograph?  Write? Or Cook? 

Photograph! If I go out without my camera I feel a bit funny. Life is too short not to capture the moments 🙂

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week, one of my kids received an award for her essay and she was honored at the district and the city level.  It’s always a treat for me to see kids recognized for their hard work. This coming week, I’m looking forward to Mother’s Day Festivities.  I’m especially looking forward to some good family time. 🙂

A Trip to the Redwoods

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Redwoods in Southern California?! Definitely and it’s amazing! I have to admit, the hike is not shaded, so bring a hat and plan to go early, but the difference in temperature once we entered the redwood patch was quite welcomed! We felt like we entered a different world and it was quite magical.

We made this trip about 3 weeks ago, when my kids were on Spring Break. Even though we started early, the direct sun made it feel warmer than it really was (low 70s) and my kids stopped frequently for water breaks. Luckily there were a few benches along the way. The hike is so short (about a mile) that it’s more of a nature walk and it is quite pleasant otherwise.

We entered through the Carbon Canyon/Brea side of the Park (see map here). This park continues on into parts of Yorba Linda and Chino Hills. I wanted to visit the redwoods for quite awhile, but it had been ‘closed indefinitely’ after all the rain this winter. Part of the Carbon Canyon Park includes the Brea dam, so when it rains, it’s definitely a low point and prone to flooding. So imagine my joy when I found out it was finally opened again!

Below is a view near the trailhead. I love this view towards the trail…one can’t really see the redwoods yet, and it’s amazing that just a short walk later, it appears out of nowhere.

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I visited the Redwoods previously in the summer and and it was very dry and mostly brown. So I was very happy to see the wildflowers and green everywhere I looked!

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At first I thought the yellow patch of flowers below were sunflowers but I was told that these are the invasive mustard plants that were crowding out the wildflowers. I know there are efforts to control the spread of these plants, but it’s awfully difficult. At least though, it’s a more beautiful view than the plain brown/dry vegetation and dirt in the summer.

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If you peek through the trees, you can see a little lake. Carbon Canyon Park also has a lake along with various play structures and picnic areas. I promised the kids we’d go there after the hike.

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Below, this was our view through most of the hike. Very pleasant and beautiful. 🙂 But be sure to stay on the trail because there was a good amount of poison ivy growing along the sides. The kids had a field day pointing out all the signs warning about poison ivy/oak.

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Above is one of many benches along the way. The kids chose to eat their granola bars here and rest their legs. This location made for some pretty nice family photos.

And then, we saw the Redwoods!

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It was absolutely amazing. I’ve seen Redwoods up north, and though these are not that mature, they are every bit just as grand. Especially since it’s so dry and hot in Southern California. How did these trees manage to survive? The answer is underground irrigation. When we walked into the patch, our shoes got a bit damp, and there were some slightly muddy areas. I forgot to take a photo explaining it all, but it’s pretty neat.

I think I took more photos of the views above and all around instead :).

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There is definitely a sense of peace and calm as I stood admiring the trees. If we were quiet enough, we heard the rustling of leaves from above and birds chirping all around. The ground was soft with bark mulch and I smelled dampness and wood in the air. Only remnants of light were filtered through the tall trees and we appreciated the transformation into this mystical world. It felt even more magical because of the difference in temperature outside the patch; almost like an oasis in the middle of nowhere.

After a nice long rest break, we headed back. On our way, we saw the dam from a distance. We could’ve taken that way back, but the kids were in a hurry to go to the play structures, so we skipped it this time.

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I took another look at the greens and yellows surrounding us, trying to remember it all. Come summertime, the color will be all gone. Luckily we were able to see this before it disappears. And the redwoods? A treat anytime! 🙂

Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

 

Danger Signs

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Whenever we go hiking or exploring the great outdoors, we inevitably come across danger signs like the one in the above picture. This was taken on the way to the tide pools from the second parking lot at Cabrillo National Monument (see original post here). And it’s a great reminder because sometimes in the middle of paradise, one can forget how unstable cliffs are or how big waves can suddenly splash up and startle someone, especially right on the edge.  Below is an example of that…a few moments ago, someone was standing on the very edge of that cliff and moved away just in time! Nature is unpredictable, so we do our best to stay cautious while enjoying its beauty.

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Here is another danger sign, this time on top of a sea cave near the La Jolla Cove (see post  here. The cliff had slippery and uneven slopes on all sides, so I didn’t dare go to the edges.

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The photo below was taken at the beginning of the trailhead for Nojoqui Falls (see post here). Here the danger was from rocks falling…sure enough there were rocks on some parts of the trail that looked like it had fallen. Luckily none were actively falling the day we were there.

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We are used to seeing danger signs for mountain lions and rattlesnakes, especially when exploring California. But I did not expect one for seals/sea lions at the beach! Definitely good to know though, as others got super close to the seals/sea lions for a selfie. These sea lions sure look cute and were very calm just napping on the rocks. You never know though!natureinspiredmom.sj3.jpg

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Cabrillo National Monument

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An old lighthouse, a beautiful beach, the Cabrillo statue, Kelp Forest and Whale Overlook, and exhibits…all kept us in awe at the Cabrillo National Monument.  I haven’t ever traveled this far south in San Diego and even my phone thought I was in Mexico! Please refer to the map  here and the National Park Service official website for Cabrillo Monument here.  Their Junior Ranger Program kept the kids busy while we all learned a bit of history and enjoyed the views.

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This photo was taken atop the stairs at the old Point Loma Lighthouse
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One of many gorgeous views surrounding us
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Cabrillo Statue

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We began our visit at the Visitor Center for the map and Junior Ranger Program pamphlets. The rangers were extremely friendly and highlighted areas of interest. Everything was within walking distance except for the tidepools. The exhibits were close by, where we learned more about Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and life back in the 1500s. There was also an auditorium where one could learn and watch videos about tidepools and whales.

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Next, we took a little walk over to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. The views were magnificent along the way. I really enjoyed the trees, wildflowers, and surrounding ocean scenery.

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The lighthouse was really neat…I don’t remember ever being in one so it was quite interesting to see there were rooms for kids, parents, storage, a living area, kitchen, and steep narrow winding stairs up. One could peek at the lens that is up there, but access is closed off at the very top.

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When we got back down, I stopped to admire their nice little veggie garden and then made our way into the assistant’s quarters next door.  This room was full of interesting exhibits and facts to learn. Below is a photo of the giant lens used to focus the light. There are various exhibits on the types of lenses, lights, and about life living in the lighthouse.

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The Whale and Kelp Forest Overlook was next and we thoroughly enjoyed the views. One of my kids is fascinated by whales so this was a real treat! There were educational panels about whales and the Kelp Forest. Appropriately placed, because when I looked down below, I could see some brown spots in the clear water below…along with some awesome  waves splashing the cliffs. I didn’t see any whales but we spotted some seals and pelicans.

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After quite a bit of learning, the kids answered all of their questions from their Junior Ranger pamphlets, so we went back to get the kids sworn in. This little badge was quite precious because it’s actually wooden! The ranger stamped the date on the back and it made for an extra special souvenir. 🙂

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Next up: Tidepools! Actually the ranger warned us that low tide was at 7am, so likely the tide pools would be covered by midday. No matter, we just wanted to enjoy the views…so we drove down and parked at the second parking lot. There are 3 parking lots in total, with the last being the coastal overlook and the first one had no parking spaces left. The second one had clear access to this cliff, where many were enjoying the waves near the edge. The stairs are a bit steep on the way down, but not too bad.natureinspiredmom.cab12.jpg

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The next two photos were my views standing near the edge of the cliff: the left and right as I’m facing the ocean. It was a magnificent sight. Because the waves were pretty high, I did not get as close to the edge as others…some of us got pretty wet!

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Some of you may have heard of the ‘hidden’ cave here.  It’s definitely closed. We saw a few attempt to go towards it. However, the waves were so strong most turned back after a few feet. There’s a big warning on the NPS website and the first thing they mentioned is that it is dangerous and I absolutely agree. We saw a couple go that way and I’m not sure how far they got but I know the ranger followed them soon afterwards.

The views are gorgeous enough so we were all pretty satisfied. I took so many photos of this same area, so I will spare you from looking at ALL of them, but here was one last look at nature’s beauty before we left.

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Torrey Pines Hike: Red Butte and Beach Trails

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The lone torrey pine against the beautiful ocean backdrop…did you know these trees are only found at the Torrey Pine State Reserve Park (map here) and at Santa Rosa Island? They are truly special but so is the hike!

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We parked down by the beach, as we weren’t exactly sure if there would be any parking left at the trailhead up on top. It was close to noontime (we spent the morning at Carlsbad Flower Fields), and the lifeguard confirmed that parking would be tough to find at the trailhead but it was definitely a good climb up the hill past the sign.  It was quite the trek up the hill with my kids, who even with hats, were a bit hot and grumpy. So we took frequent breaks. Lots of other fellow beachgoers and hikers were also climbing up, so we were in good company.

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Above is the little hill that we climbed…it was a bit hot in the direct sun. But once we turned the corner and gained some elevation, trees appeared and thankfully gave us some much needed shade.  We passed by the Guy Fleming and Parry Grove trailheads…and we enjoyed the beautiful views along the way.  Below are just a few examples:

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We finally got to the Beach Trailhead and it was a welcomed sight! We had a good view of the ocean below so we were motivated to go. The kids wanted to stop by the Red Butte for a rest stop so we took the little trail and sat on top of the rock, enjoyed the view, and had a quick snack there. Then the kids decided they wanted to go to the visitor’s center, so hubby said he would take them there while I continued down the beach trail. I tried to hurry down the trail without missing all the sights of course…beautiful views were everywhere!

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Below in the first three photos of the collage were our views from Red Butte…it was quite the sight! Then I continued past and headed down the Beach Trail.

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The trail was well defined but at times a bit uneven and slippery from the eroded sand/dirt. I couldn’t help but admire all the wildflowers as I hiked down along the cliffs, and along the paths. Quite the relaxing hike!

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As I got closer to the beach, signs warning of unstable cliffs started appearing and it got more rocky.

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But the stairs leading to the beach was awesome! From certain angles, it reminded me of a slot canyon, but a few steps later, one had full view of the beach ahead.  The steep steps were narrow and slanted, and there were no railings so beware of your footing here.

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I took a few moments to enjoy the view and then headed back up, knowing that my family was waiting for me. The way back turned into a little scenic jog and my exercise for the day.:)

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After I made it back up, I headed for the Visitor’s Center. The “Torrey Pines Lodge” sign threw me off as I thought it was a hotel of sorts, but it was actually a nice cozy center with exhibits and souvenirs. And the view outside was gorgeous!

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On our way out, we stopped to admire the Torrey Pines and signage in front of the Visitor’s Center. These trees are definitely quite majestic and I’m privileged to see these rare pines. And of course, it’s native to Santa Rosa Island…hmmm…inspiration to visit the island at some point? 🙂

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Have a great weekend and thanks for reading! 🙂