Overview of Santa Cruz Island- Channel Islands National Park

IMG_0400.JPGChannel Islands National Park has long been on our list of places to visit. Since Louis’s birthday fell on a Friday this year, I made an executive decision to celebrate his birthday by visiting Santa Cruz Island within Channel Islands National Park. Out of the five islands within the National Parks jurisdiction, Santa Cruz island is the most frequently visited island. Ferries to and from the island are available at least once a day.

This post will be followed by a series of other posts detailing the hikes and kayaking activities during our stay at Santa Cruz island. Continue reading

Trail Running the James Dilley Greenbelt Preserve

The Quick and Dirty:

Location: James Dilley Greenbelt Preserve is located north of Hwy 73 on Laguna Canyon Road inside Laguna Coast Wilderness park in Orange County, California. Use this Google Map link for exact driving directions and use this link for the trail map.
Distance: About 3.4 miles on the Lake, Edison and Ridge Top trail loop (this is the outer loop of the preserve) and additional 2 miles for the Canyon Trail to the Mariposa Trail loop (this is the inner loop of the preserve).
Difficulty:  Easy hike, moderate trail run, lots of good rolling hills for a good workout.
Duration: It took us about 1 hour to finish the 5 mile run with a break at the top of the ridge line.
Dogs Allowed? No dogs or mountain biking are allowed inside the preserve.
Best time to visit: Year-round but spring during the wild flower season is a great time to see all the California native wildflowers blooming inside the preserve.
Trail Parking: Parking is $3 at the designated preserve parking lot. There was plenty of parking early in the morning when we started the run but the lot got pretty full by the time we left.

James Dilley Sign.JPG

The entrance to the James Dilley Greenbelt Preserve on Laguna Canyon Road shortly passing Hwy 73 heading northbound.

Continue reading

Budgeting for Travel

Over the last few years, we have tried to take advantage of our vacation days to travel as much as our job and budget allows. People are always surprised when they find out how many places we’ve visited and ask how we can afford to travel without jeopardizing our raining day fund and retirement savings. Here are some things we do to help us budget our travel each year. Continue reading

MYOG: Back Country “Sound System”

Quick and Dirty
Cost: none
Difficulty (1-10): 1

What You Need
Cooking pot
Phone with a speaker with your favorite podcast downloaded

I love listening to podcasts and audio books. It was something I picked up during graduate school when I walked 2-3 miles to campus everyday.  This was a great way for me to catch up on current events and books when I wouldn’t have had the time otherwise.

As I graduated school, I continued to listen to my podcasts during our backpacking trips. It’s a way we spend some of our downtime after a long day of hiking. While we were backpacking the Lost Coast trail, we found it hard to hear the audio on my phone since we were camping right on the beach. Louis came up with this brilliant idea of using our 4qt cooking pot as an amplifier. It worked brilliantly on and brought us great entertainment on the trip!

To have your own speaker’s amplifier the next time you are outdoors, all you need is a cooking pot or an enclosed container and your cell phone with a working speaker. Insert the phone into the pot with the speakers facing up and enjoy your favorite podcast without having to carry the extra weight of an external speaker!

sound system.jpg

Back country sound system. Suntactics sCharger -5 and Iphone 5C with a 4 qt pot amplifier.



Death Valley NP- Mosaic Canyon Trail

The Quick and Dirty:
 Mosaic Canyon
Hiking Distance: 4 miles out and back

Our last stop at Death Valley National Park was Mosaic Canyon trail located northwest from Furnace Creek. The hike is 4 miles out and back but we only made it about a mile into the trail before turning back for our long drive home. This was going to be our last hike in Death Valley before we make the 5 hour drive home.


At the beginning of the lower Mosaic Canyon trail


Louis climbing on the less used footsteps up the canyon against the white smooth marble canyon walls


Looking down at the lower Mosaic Canyon trail

Louis taking a break at the opening of the canyon before heading back to the car.

Louis taking a break at the opening of the canyon before heading back to the car.