Sunday, October 23, 2022

A Change of Scenery

This week, my sister and I traveled to California for our 11th annual sister trip! We first started our tradition as a getaway to Naples, Florida to 'celebrate' my 50th birthday. The following year, my sister turned 50 and we went on our second sister trip to Las Vegas. We've continued to go somewhere new every year with the exception of 2020, due to the pandemic and my sister's diagnosis of breast cancer. 

Thankfully, we've moved on from both of those events! This year, our travels took us to Santa Barbara. I added a couple of days to my trip so that I could spend time at my sister's new place in Palm Desert. I share some of the details below. I feel so fortunate to have had these getaways with my sister. Not only is she my closest sister but she is my best friend. As we always do, we had a great time and a lot of laughs!

As you read this, I'm still in California and will sadly be returning to Illinois on Monday. Reality is always so hard after a fun time away!

Weekly Rundown
Sunday: IAT trail run 8.7 miles
Monday: CrossFit
Tuesday: travel to California--short hike on the PCT
Wednesday: trail run 4 miles; explored Joshua Tree National Park walked 4 miles
Thursday: trip to Santa Barbara walk 6 miles
Friday: beach run 5 miles
Saturday: mountain hike 4 miles, 1100 ft

Running

I was up and out the door early Sunday morning to beat the crowds on the Lodi Marsh Segment of the IAT. When we drove by the day before, the parking lot was full and people were parking on the road! I've never seen that before! Fortunately, I encountered very few people on my run, most of whom were hunters. Pheasant season opened this weekend and I heard a lot of gunshots as I ran the trails. All the hunters were friendly and I loved petting their energetic dogs! It was cloudy and cool for this run, but the colors are so vibrant that it didn't feel gloomy at all. I felt good on this run--those climbs made my heart pound and my hamstrings cry for mercy. 


I did a trail run on Wednesday--in California! I'm back out in Palm Desert, visiting my sister and her hubs. Because of the 2 hour time difference, I woke up really early, so I laced up and ran to the Cross Mountain Trail with the hopes of catching the sunrise. The trail has a large lighted cross at the top and once I reached to top, I was advised to tap the cross for luck, which I did with my foot. It was a 1000 ft climb and I was rewarded with a spectacular sunrise! I ran down the trail and back to my sister's for breakfast. We drove to Joshua Tree National Park for an amazing day of exploring, which I'll share below!


Friday morning I woke up before the sun with plans to run at the beach in Santa Barbara. There is a 2.5 mile beachfront path that borders the sand. It was really foggy and as soon as daylight broke, I headed out. The temperature was very favorable for a nicely paced (9:40m/m) easy 5 and I only stopped to take photos and walk on the sand. Because you know I don't like to run on the beach! Except for a photo op...


On Saturday morning, my sister indulged me in a challenging hike that I had on my SB to-do list. I wanted to hike to Inspiration Point, high above Santa Barbara, to take in the views and get in a workout. It was foggy and damp, but we both hoped that the fog would clear as it did the day before. After an amazing breakfast--I had some incredible avocado toast-- we drove to the trailhead about halfway up the mountain. The climb started easily enough on a winding mountain road that afforded some amazing views of the city below us! We initially climbed to what we thought was the peak, but the views were obscured by fog and foliage. It didn't seem right to us. As we began our descent down the very steep slope, we saw people on a single track trail below us, so we decided to give that a try. A couple people we spoke with told us we were on the right trail. This was a more moderate, gradual climb on a rocky trail and it felt right. We had some amazing mountain views and when we finally got to the top, we were socked in by the fog. We made our way back down to the car, the fog not as thick, and soaked up the views. We were tired!

CrossFit

Monday's WOD was a nice mixed bag of movements. The Strength portion was a 12 minute trio of 10 weighted box stepups (I used 20# dumbbells in each hand), 3 wall walks, and 1 lap banded monster walks. I got through 3 rounds of this. The MetCon was a 16 minute AMRAP of 20 wall balls (10#), 15 abmat situps, 10 bar hop burpees, and 5 jerks (55#). I completed 4 rounds. 

Sister Trip

As soon as I arrived in Palm Desert, my sister and her hubs took me for a drive up to Coachella Valley Vista Point, an overlook with beautiful views of the cities in the valley and a portion of the Salton Sea. We continued south through the San Bernardino National Forest towards the trailhead of the Pacific Crest Trail. We hadn't planned on hiking but you know I had to put my feet on this trail! We walked about 1.5 miles and I marveled at how different this trail was from my midwestern trails. Next time I visit, I want to lace up my running shoes and soak up this trail for real!


On Wednesday, we spent the day at Joshua Tree National Park. The drive there took us up into the mountains and as we drove through the park, I couldn't help but marvel at the landscape--desert foliage, including yes, Joshua Trees, and the rock formations that seemed to be dropped randomly all over the desert. We stopped several times to hike some of the desert trails and do some rock climbing. 


We stopped at an overlook point for lunch where again we could view the Coachella Valley and the Salton Sea. We also could see Signal Mountain, which is close to the Mexican Border and is about 90 miles away! 


The park contains portions of both the Mohave and Colorado deserts, and as we looped around towards the exit, we noticed the change in the landscape to fewer rock formations and more cacti, stopping to explore the Cholla Cactus garden. What an amazing experience this park was!


On Thursday, we drove to Santa Barbara for our 'official' sister trip. It was a 3 hour drive from Palm Desert, but oh what a scenic ride! California is so lovely and the mountains lined our trip all the was to the coast. After we checked into our hotel, we walked along the beach and through the shopping area, ending our day with a delicious dinner and an ice cream cone for the walk back. 


After my run on the beach on Friday, we had plans to check out some wineries in the Santa Ynez valley. We first stopped to visit the Santa Barbara Mission, which was very beautiful and well preserved. By the time we finished touring that, the fog had cleared and the sun was shining brightly. We drove on a crazy curvy, up-and-down road to the wineries, in awe of the amazing landscape along the way. When we arrived at the first winery, we were ready to start sampling! We visited three wineries, having an amazing lunch at one of them and sampling a variety of wines. The samples were very small, 1 ounce, and we shared most of them. It was a beautiful afternoon and very enjoyable. Upon our return to Santa Barbara, we had fish at a harborside restaurant. The food was great, the waiter was cute, and we watched the fishermen unload their catches. It was a great day. 


What a busy, fun-filled week! I have so many pictures and stories but this post has to come to an end. My trip's not over yet...but I sure will be sad to return to reality. How was your week? Any fun adventures for you? Have you ever been to California? I have to say that it is my favorite state to visit. So much to do and it is spectacular!

I'm linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Rundown. 


29 comments :

  1. a fun tradition and a great place to visit. I wish I had a sister but I will have to depend on my friends for these adventures.

    I do love that part of Cali. I've been 3x but not lately. It is sooo beautiful and different than the East.

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    1. I just love California--it has such beautiful landscape and the climate is so diverse--you just have to drive a couple of hours to go from the desert to the beach! The food is amazing as well. I do not want to go home.

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  2. Glad you're enjoying your visit to my home state! And Santa Barbara is one of my favorite spots - my 2nd marathon was there. Hope you get a little more sunshine today.

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    1. The sun was out today but we left to come back to Palm Desert. I go home tomorrow.

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  3. These pictures are stunning!!! i was in LA one summer during college. We took trips to San Diego and Santa Barbara- and coincidentally, it was very foggy in Santa Barbara! I haven't been back since and I know I would appreciate it so much more now than I did then.
    I'm glad you're getting this time with your sister, and I know it'll be hard to return to reality tomorrow. I hope we get to hear more about the last couple days of your trip!

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  4. How fun to celebrate an 11th sister trip! What a nice tradition and Santa Barbara is a gorgeous location to do it. We were there and to Pam Desert a few years ago. Love all the gorgeous pics! Enjoy the rest of your stay!

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  5. Looks like a nice time with your sister! Love all the pics; Cali is so scenic. I've been to San Fran (once) and San Diego a few times, as well as LA. I love their weather ;-)

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  6. It sounds like you're having a fabulous trip and your pictures are great. I haven't been to California for several years...

    Those two jack-o-lanterns along the bridge at the trail are cute. How fun that someone placed them there.

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  7. What a fun tradition! There are so many great hiking and running trails out there. Looks like had a lot of fun

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  8. I just love California--the scenery, the weather, the food--it's my favorite state to visit.

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  9. This post makes me smile - so glad you had such a fun trip and this time with your sister! And, what a beautiful spot for a getaway. Enjoy the rest of your trip and safe travels home.

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    1. Aww, thank you Michelle! It was a wonderful week away and I can't believe it's coming to an end.

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  10. My week was fun, but not California level fun!! Dang, it looks great! There is no denying you are all sisters. I have been to a few places in California, but it's been too long ago. Napa valley will be a vacation destination for my husband and I when we are sad empty nesters (happening too soon!!).

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    1. I've been to Napa and now Santa Barbara--i'd take SB over Napa!

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  11. Such a fun week for you! I love that you are able to spend this time with your sister and that this is an annual trip.
    I've only been to California once (San Diego) but your photos have convinced me that I need to make another trip out there!

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    1. I've been to Cali many times and let me tell you, I've never been disappointed!

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  12. What a lovely tradition and a super trip! I really enjoyed all the different views as my scenery has been a bit circumscribed recently (I haven't even been to the lake for a bit). Back feels a lot better and I'll be starting some walk-running very soon, once I'm fully over the side-effects from my Covid booster on Saturday ...

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    1. I'm so glad to hear that you are feeling better. Yes, California has some amazing scenery and very diverse topography! It's such an amazing state.

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  13. Absolutely stunning, Wendy! Some of those photos remind me a bit of South Africa.
    I love that you and your sister have this tradition. You and your sister look so similar, too!
    Oh, and guess what? I have finally signed up for a Crossfit trial here in Cape Town for Wednesday. I'm so nervous!

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  14. I am so glad you had a wonderful sister trip. I really wish I had more opportunity to see the mountains, but I just have to settle for beach and marsh. I am sure it was bittersweet returning home.

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    1. It was hard, especially with the wind and the rain. But Mike and Cocoa were so happy to see me!

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  15. Loved your trip photos. Finally got out to Joshua Tree/Palm Desert a few years ago and so much fun. The cholla are painful little fuckers, but they're so cute.
    There's something about the California marine layer that makes beach running magic

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    1. One of those little cholla f-ers got stuck in my leg! My sister had to yank it out, lol

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