A Small Butterfly Garden

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.

Plant List:

  • 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.
  • Cuphea Llavea

    Hairy Balls Seed Pod
  • Galvezia speciosa ‘Firecracker’ (Firecracker Snapdragon)

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!

Before Photo
After photo

5 Peak Challenge at Mission Trails Regional Park = #awesome

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.

The 5 Peak Challenge offers visitors the opportunity to receive a certificate and logo pin if they summit the 5 major peaks in the park.  They are (in order of decreasing height):

  • Cowles Mountain (1592 feet)
  • Pyles Peak (1379 feet)
  • North Fortuna (1291 feet)
  • Kwaay Paay (1194 feet)
  • South Fortuna (1094 feet)

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.

 

 

 

Eva’s First Publication (Proud Papa Post)

My daughter Eva is currently in Kindergarten and we recently had an event in her classroom where all the kids got to read a book they had created to a group of parents.  I really enjoyed Eva’s book and wanted to post it here so that family could see it (and of course for the eventual inclusion on her college applications as a sign of prodigious intellect).

Eva - How to Love Others Book - March 2017

Hope you enjoy / smile / learn how to love others.

:),

John

For the full file, PDF is attached here.

How Many Calories Do I Burn Biking to Work?

A few years ago when I started biking to work it was primarily due to a desire to improve my fitness.  I was working a lot of hours and found it difficult to find time to get to the gym.  I figured that a little moderate exercise (like walking) to start and end the day would be a good way to ensure at least a nominal amount of physical activity each day.

I’ve continued to bike since that first trial and now bike for most of my daily tasks – groceries, meetings, work, etc.  I’ve been pondering the exercise impact of the biking I do and wanted to do a rough estimate.

This online calculator is pretty handy to ballpark the calories burned biking.  There are many others but the few I tried out gave similar results.

For a typical 3 mile ride in the city I burn about 200 calories so a round-trip would yield 400 calories burned.  For a daily commute and with 2 weeks off for vacation that’d be an even 100,000 calories in a year.

If you’re looking for a way to get a bit of exercise each day, trying out bike commuting might be worth a try.  Bonus: it’s really fun.

Recent used bike purchase – hybrid mountain bike purchased for $90.

CORRECTION: After posting this I received feedback from a couple of people with more knowledge than I that calculators like the one used above overestimate the calories burned biking by quite a bit.  Per their estimates, including a tracked ride, the rate per mile for biking should be around 25 calories.

Based on this number, the total for the 3 mile ride, 6 miles round trip would yield a total of 150 calories burned and an annual total of 37,500 (not 100,000).

I’m leaving the original post and this edit in case others have a similar issue regarding online calculators for this purpose.

 

Ride for the River Park – 5th Annual – October 1-2, 2016

This weekend, Oct 1 & 2, 2016 – hope to see you there!  Sign up via following link and please pass on to anyone that might be interested in having a great time this weekend.

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN! SIGN UP TODAY!

Picture

2016 marks the 5th 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 summit in Julian we’ll enjoy dinner and craft beers at Nickel Beer Company.  The return trip on Sunday, October 2 is all downhill – a well deserved easier return trip.

Registration cost is a $30 donation to the River Park Foundation but please feel free to make a larger donation if you’d like! 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.

* Lake Cuyamaca will be the location for a number of participants to camp.  There are showers located at the Chambers Park location at Cuyamaca.

Big thanks to our event sponsors!

  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.

Notes and Itinerary:

Ground Rules

  1. Show up early so we can depart on time – we roll out at 7 AM on Saturday, 10/1/2016
  2. Bring needed gear – sunscreen, helmet (if you want), lights, spare tire tubes, WATER, bicycle, human body, snacks, cash, phone.  If you have clothes, camping gear, etc. you can put in support van to take for you.
  3. Book your accommodations in Julian in advance of the event or secure a camping site at Cuyamaca
  4. Great attitude, smiles, be ready for a great time!

Picture

Route Map – Click image for dynamic Google Maps version.

Day 1 Stops – Saturday, 10/1/2016

  1. Starbucks Coffee – 10406 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92120 (Grantville)
  2. 7-11 – 10195 Riverford Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040 (Just before Highway 67)
  3. Thai Time (Lunch Stop) – 2330 Main St, Ramona, CA 92065
  4. Dudley’s Bakery / Santa Ysabel Grocery – 30218 California 78, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
  5. Nickel Beer Company (Finish Line!) – 1485 Hollow Glen Rd, Julian, CA 92036. All are welcome (non-riders included) to enjoy a pint at Nickel Beer Company from 6-8 PM with a portion of each sale going to the River Park Foundation.

Day 2 Stops – Sunday, 10/2/2015

  • Breakfast – Location TBD – Alpine, CA 91901
  • 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 – Mike Hess Brewing (Ocean Beach Tasting Room) – 4893 Suite A Voltaire St, San Diego, CA 92107.  All are welcome (non-riders included) to enjoy a pint at Mike Hess Brewing at end of ride, estimated arrival time is 3:30 PM on Sunday, Oct 2.

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. 

You’re Gonna Die

Here’s a horoscope for everyone
Aquarius, you’re gonna die
Capricorn, you’re gonna die
Gemini, you’re gonna die twice
Leo, you’re gonna die
Scorpio, you’re gonna die f**king

Happy birthday (to me)!  Amid the well wishes of friends, family, and strangers – and thanks to all for the kind words – a birthday ever makes me contemplate death, what the point of life is, etc.  As Chris Rock excellently reminds in his classic “No Sex in the Champagne Room” we’re gonna die.  No need to be sad about it, and no need to try to hide from it.  Death comes for us all – some earlier than others.

I’ve been very fortunate in many ways in life, most of which were in no way in my control – family, health, luck / fate.  Celebrating my birthday makes me feel self conscious and guilty.  I have received far more than my fair share, I scarcely need another reason to celebrate.  So I try to refocus and remember to be grateful and to think and work for a better world.  It’s an effort that will never end – learning, adjusting, striving – and good to take a moment to take a fresh look and re-energize for the next year.

Whether you read this today or at some point in the unknown future I hope you’ll also take a moment to count your blessings and contemplate the larger world and how we can move toward a better future.  Humans have had a really good few hundred years and I’m confident we’ll continue to progress and create a better world.  Cheers to the work before us today, and to the many (or few) days to come.

Saturday Mornings in San Diego

Going for a run on a Saturday morning in San Diego is a great joy.  This is an undeniably outdoor town and seeing people out enjoying the sunshine and each other while I lumber by brings a smile to my face.  The past couple of Saturday mornings I’ve taken a few photos during my runs through Balboa Park and wanted to post them here.

I hope you enjoy your Saturday mornings as well, and sharing and enjoying the beautiful place in which we live.

2016-03-05 14.08.06
Lawn bowling area with symmetry and cool drinking water
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People gathering and strolling along the main East-West corridor in Balboa Park museum campus
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Cactus garden overlooking Florida Canyon, featuring dragonblood trees
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The Plaza de Panama is a great place for sitting for a picnic or coffee with friends.
2016-02-28 07.11.09
An early morning shot (approx. 6:45 AM) with the plaza still in the glow of morning.
2016-02-28 06.58.06
Florida Canyon typically has a small stream flowing, supporting large trees.
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A view from the lower portion of the cactus garden.
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Along 6th Avenue is a popular area for volleyball, frisbee, baby strolling, and napping.
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The Museum of Art recently installed a number of sculptures on the Plaza de Panama. A terrific idea and I love this piece.
2016-02-27 10.33.30
The botanical building is one of the most popular place for a group photo in the park.
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Spring is in bloom along Park Boulevard. (This shot is a bit better than the one with lots of pavement and cars)
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Running the trails in Florida Canyon is a great place to enjoy the outdoors in the heart of the city. Thanks to SD Canyonlands for working to protect our urban open spaces.

Want a Better San Diego in 2016? Make It Happen with Bike San Diego

2016 begins with San Diego looking at some pretty major changes.  Downtown San Diego is experiencing a building boom and has community groups pushing for it be a walkable, bikeable city center.  Awesome.  The San Diego City Council recently unanimously voted to adopt a Climate Action Plan to ensure our city is a leader in moving to renewable energy and reducing emissions.  The plan includes a goal to make biking 6% of commuter mode share by 2020 and 18% by 2035 (in select “Transit Priority Areas”).  Currently the city is around 1% bicycle mode share. Aim high – great.  Last week SANDAG held a meeting for public input regarding a bicycle / pedestrian bridge above Florida Street to connect Hillcrest and North Park.  This week SANDAG holds a meeting for public comment regarding Pershing Drive and creating a high quality bike route from North Park to Downtown.  Good stuff.

Biking is fun.
Biking is fun.

The tough bit about all these goals and plans – and there are many more great projects being proposed – is in making them a reality and backing up words and PowerPoints with actions and improvements on the ground.  Roadway and infrastructure projects changes happen over years, if not decades.  It is not a fast nor easy process and without consistent oversight and public pressure many, if not most, changes and projects will be scrapped a few years after being proprosed or passed.  To see long-term, meaningful progress in making San Diego a world-leader for bicycling is why I support Bike San Diego.

Today I doubled my existing monthly contribution to the organization and I hope you’ll join me and make a recurring donation today.

I have found no organization in San Diego that more strongly and consistently is pushing for real, positive change on our roadways than Bike San Diego.  If you want representation at public meetings, in meetings with elected officials and community groups, and ongoing leadership on the public stage I think you’ll find the same.

2015 was a tough year for biking in San Diego.  The SANDAG Regional Bikeway Projects, announced in September 2013 with $200 million of funding, have yet to paint a single foot of bike lane more than 2 years later.  The first project under this program, in Uptown, had the most critical portion – an East-West connection from Mission Hills to North Park – gutted despite many hours of meetings, and input from the communities to be improved.  I attended many of the meetings for this project, and for a paired project in North Park, and have since wondered why I spent so much time, stress, and effort to see a unanimous vote against bike lanes by the Uptown Planners group.  It has left me pondering if my time would be better spent elsewhere – if the “public outreach meetings” seem intentionally designed to give cover to the pre-ordained outcome as being community supported perhaps attendance is even counter-productive.  Across the bay Coronado was widely panned for ludicrous commentary regarding bike lanes (video below).

My solace comes from the growing bicycling community in San Diego, and the support and leadership shown by Bike San Diego.  We may have lost University Avenue (for now) but we showed up, spoke up, and connected.  At the next set of meetings we’ll be bigger, louder, and more insistent on the outcome of public meetings truly reflecting the content of those meetings.  When 70% of meeting testimony is strongly in support of a project the outcome should not be unanimous in the other direction.  Such disrepect for the public can stand temporarily but over time will not.

Biking is critical to the future of San Diego, if we desire to be a city succeeding in the future.  Look at world-class cities like London, Paris, New York City, Vancouver, Copenhagen, and others – they are embracing biking and walking and reaping immense economic rewards.  The backwaters are not those that walk and bike – they are those that are tripling down on freeways and levelling neighborhoods to pave even more.  Would San Francisco be more successful if four freeways were rammed through it or was the city right to demolish the freeway that long blighted the famed waterfront on the bay?

San Diego has no excuse to not be a world-leader in biking.  We have the best weather in the United States.  We stand to benefit economically, socially, and in health from increased levels of biking (and decreased levels of driving).  We are a major city and should stop pretending we’re a congolmeration of suburbs with a mall as a city center.  We need to get serious about real change on the ground.  Bike San Diego will be there every step of the way but can not do it without support.

Please support Bike San Diego today and help create a better future for our city.

The 2016 Fitness Challenge – You’re Invited!

Friends and Family,
In 2008, an insane tradition was born in the form of a New Year’s Resolution / Fitness Challenge.  Most of you have participated throughout the years, but for any newcomers, here’s a recap of the various challenges:
  • 2008 – 8 minute abs every day
  • 2009 – 1 mile run every day
  • 2010 – The Infamous Push-Up Challenge (1 additional push-up every day)
  • 2011 – Choose your Daily Workout! (20 minutes of running, 15 minutes of jumping rope, or 30 minutes of riding a bicycle)
  • 2012 – The Daily Nutrition Challenge (1 fruit + 1 vegetable + no deep fried foods)
  • 2013 – Choose your Daily Workout! (200 Pushups, 2 Miles Running, 400 Crunches, 4000 Meters Rowing, 600 Jumping Jacks, or 6 Miles Biking)
  • 2014 – 20 minutes of continuous workout each day
  • 2015 – no challenge / lack of interest / the year which shall not be mentioned
With 2016 nearly upon us, there’s still time to assemble a group of like-minded (crazy) fitness junkies.  For the 2016 Challenge, I’m proposing a workout that takes us back to the first two years of the challenge.  A ‘Return to our Roots’ workout:
  • Complete an 8 minute ab workout OR Run 1 Mile every day.  (A suggested 8 minute ab workout is included via youtube link at bottom, but 8 minutes of planking or a similar core workout are also acceptable.  The 1 Mile run is pretty self-explanatory, and can be completed inside, outside, in an airport, in another country, or on a boat.)
Why?
  • Takes less than 10 minutes to complete (assuming you can run a 10 minute mile)
  • Doesn’t require any gear / gym membership / additional purchases
What’s in it for me?
Besides toning up your core muscles and getting in better running shape, there’s a monetary incentive to the challenge each year.  $20 per person goes into the pot, and the ‘last man standing’ wins the money.  If there are multiple winners on 12/31/2016 (or sooner, depending on when the final participants drop out), the winners split the pot.
How do I sign up?
Great!  I’m glad you asked.  To sign up, simply send an email with your ‘verbal commitment.’  Then send in $20 – email for details.
Other important details:
  • The Challenge begins on January 1, 2016 (aka this FRIDAY).
  • You have 24 hours (from midnight to midnight) to complete the daily requirement.
  • This operates on the honor system.  If you fail to run/do your abs within 24 hours of the day, you must email the group (or at least the organizer!) to let us know.
  • Feel free to invite others!  Mo’ participants = mo’ money in the pot.

I think that covers the essentials.  I know it’s a bit daunting to commit to a whole year of daily workouts, but half of the fun lies in taunting and shit-talking with your friends and family.  Besides, even if you successfully complete even 3 months of working out, isn’t that worth the $20 commitment?

Invite your kids, invite your wives.

Go ahead and bookmark this page so you can watch this amazing video daily.  Come on gang, you’re almost there!


Temescal Creek – 374 Acres Of Beautiful San Diego Back Country

I was very happy to be included in an invitation to view and explore a new acquisition by the San Diego River Park Foundation just outside of Julian, California on Saturday, December 5.  Below are a number of photos of the 374 acres that the Foundation is in the process of buying from the current owners.  This acreage surrounds Temescal Creek, a coldwater creek that is part of the San Diego River watershed.  This acquisition will ensure the land is preserved for future generations and remains a wildlife corridor preserve for mountain lions, deer, turkey, hawks, and many other animals.  Executive Director Rob Hutsel noted that the vision is for this space to be open to the public and to host youth for overnight trips to explore and participate in science-focused lessons in nature.

Each September I organize a weekend bicycle ride, Ride For The River Park, from Ocean Beach to Julian and back to promote and support the idea of a continuous path for the entirety of the San Diego River.  2016 will be the 5th year for the event and if you’d like to join we’d love to have you.  My goal is to see this path be a reality by the 10th year of the event – by September of 2021.  The idea and the work is not mine, it is that of the River Park Foundation, I simply want to support and spur on the work they are doing.  At the event on Saturday, a mile marker post was debuted showing the start / end of the San Diego River Trail.  What a beautiful sight to see.

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Much work to be done, but a goal to strive towards.

In the same vein of supporting the vision of a full River Trail, 2015 is the first year for which I am donating 1% of my Airbnb income to charitable causes.  For this year that money is going to the San Diego River Park Foundation.  I got the idea from the 1% For the Planet movement, in which “Members donate at least 1% of sales to nonprofit partners we’ve vetted for participation in the 1% for the Planet network.”  I’m just a single person so after further research it doesn’t seem the 1% For the Planet program is a good fit for my giving.

Instead, I’m working with Airbnb for a roll-out to San Diego of their Charity Donation Tool which currently allows hosts in Portland to opt-in to donate a portion of their revenue to a local charity.  I’m hopeful that this will soon be an option for hosts in San Diego to automatically and regularly support great local charities like the River Park Foundation.  If you’re a host in San Diego and would like to help make this a reality please contact me.  In the meantime, I hope you’ll consider a voluntarily donation to the charity of your choice from your Airbnb (or VRBO or other platform) earnings.

The acreage surrounding Temescal Creek features many mature oaks, ravines, and all sorts of native plants thriving.  A beautiful, peaceful place to enjoy and savor the natural splendor of San Diego and a reminder that without support it will not endure.  It takes the efforts of many to protect and preserve our natural bounty.

[The Temescal Creek property is located at 5030 Eagle Peak Road, Julian, CA 92036 but is not currently open to the public.]

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