Tag Archives: San Diego

Kayakin Kids and the Beer Crawl Master

We’re down to the final two events here in San Diego, California. The previous night, the others went to visit Pacific Beach while I stayed behind to catch up on blogging. I vow not to fall behind! I made sure to warn them that we had to wake up early again for event #8. Make sure to have your swim gear ready. We’re getting wet!

Event #8 of 9 – Exploring the Sea Caves and Kayaking

We took a lyft a few miles away to a place called La Jolla Kayak Adventures. I reserved us two double kayaks to take out into the ocean with a larger group. The plan was to kayak out to nearby caves and snorkel ourselves inside them. This would take a few hours and I was ready! We partnered up. The two pro adventurists, Chris and myself, partnered up in one kayak while the other two rookies, Veronica and Jamie, took the other. The last time I kayaked was during our Reaching Out 2 The World trip with the Kayamandi kids in South Africa. I remember Lupho being a great partner. Anyhow, we got our gear: helmets, flippers, a snorkel, mask, and a life vest and went out to the coast!

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This was actually Jamie’s first time ever in an ocean before. Boy, was he gonna get a mouthful of sea saltiness! We paddled out several yards before Veronica started to get sea sick. I’m no fool. I took a motion sickness tablet beforehand. She didn’t take one because she didn’t think she would succumb to the motion of the ocean. At least she’ll know for next time.

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We continued paddling out closer to the caves. We were then allowed to take off our life vests and helmets, put on our snorkeling gear, and dive right in. Now, there are many sunny days here in San Diego. Today was not one of them. There was an overcast that completely blocked the sun’s fiery warmth that we all wanted, which warranted super cold water. No matter, we all jumped right in to a brisk shock but grew used to the temperature within minutes. The water was a bit murky and we could only see a few fish underneath, but once we swam closer to the caves entrances, the number of fish we could see rose and seals would start swimming all around and underneath us! It’s almost like we didn’t exist to them. As if they knew we were tourists just coming through to see their homes. No harm done.

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Speaking of tourists, our group of kayakers and snorkelers were full of people who never stepped foot into an ocean. Or at least they acted if so. While trying to swim through the caves, the people in front of us were slow as molasses, too scared to enter, or just simply didn’t know what the heck they were doing. “Don’t touch the cave walls. They’re really sharp and will cut you up!” said the instructor. I come to find that a couple of the snorkelers had bloody hands and arms…from doing the exact opposite of what the instructor said. Great, now you’re gonna attract the sharks. That was the first thing that crossed my mind. Remember what happened to me in Vietnam?

The water was very choppy inside the caves and we as a group were in a giant rocky clusterball. You ever played pinball and earned that one bonus round where dozens of balls would pop out at once and bounce all over the place? Well, we were those pinballs and the cave walls was the pinball machine. It still made for great fun though. I couldn’t stop laughing at everyone! I accidentally swallowed a lot of seal poopy salt water from laughing so much. Instant karma.

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After swimming around with the seals for a bit, we swam back to our kayaks. Jamie and Veronica went full on turbo-mode and jetted back to the coast to avoid getting sea sick again. Chris and I casually waited for the others in our group and eventually made our way back to the beach soon after. The sun started to pop out, which was perfect for our next and final event!

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Event #9 of 9 – Gaslamp Quarter Beer Crawl

“Alright everyone! We’re getting fancy tonight!” I had planned for the beer crawl to be the final event, because it’d be the perfect way to close out our stay in San Diego. I couldn’t find an official beer crawl that ran on Sundays so I just created my own. There’s an area in downtown San Diego called the Gaslamp Quarter that is filled to the brim with cool bars and breweries.

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San Diego has a wide selection of local craft beers that I wanted all of us to discover for the first time, including myself. I did research on the best bars with the best brews for the best buck and I managed to create a pretty solid list of places all within walking distance. Ike liked us all so much, he drove all the way from Vegas to San Diego to join in on the fun. We took a lyft to the Gaslamp Quarter and that’s when I informed everyone that we are on a beer crawl and that I was the Crawl Master! I had the list of places we needed to go all mapped on my iPhone.

To avoid too much of a hangover, the plan was to get some appetizers at every place we went, in addition to one featured beer or flights of beer at each locale. The bartender at each stop gave me their opinion on their tastiest and most popular beer. It was also Sunday so good news for us, most of the places weren’t crowded at all.

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Some bars had games inside, and after a little drinking, these games became that much funner than the norm.

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One of the games we played at one of the bars was Operation. This is how you know we were on our way to a memorable night. One of us in our group “accidentally” swallowed one of the organ pieces. I won’t say who though! Take your best guess.

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I only had a few simple rules for this beer crawl. No cocktails. Only local craft beers. And everyone has to have at least one water wherever we go. Shots are fine if you really want them! And we all must try the same beer. We abided by those rules pretty easily. Towards the end of night, our last stop was called the Barley Mash, which is more like a club-type bar. Once we got here, we were all so crushed on beer, I let everyone get whatever they wanted.

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We ended up going to seven different bars: Quality Social, The Tipsy Crow, The Local, Commons, Henrys Pub, Barley Mash, and The Hoppin’ Pig. Some of us only made it to six of those places. We were all feeling it by the end but you know what? We all woke up fine and dandy because of all the water and food we ate along the way. Well, at least fine for the most part. By the way here is a list of the beer’s we all tried:

Quadro Critical (The winner of the night in my book)
Coronado Mermaid’s Red
Karl Strauss Mosaic Session Ale (My least favorite of the bunch)
Saint Archer Pale Ale
Strongbow Hard Cider
Fat Cat Bro-Oceanography
St. Archer White Ale
Mother Earth California Creamin’

Yes, we kept track of what beer we had at which location the whole time. I don’t know how we managed it, but we did! We even signed and rated each beer on a scale of 1 to 10 on a piece of paper we held on to. As the Beer Master, I toned it down a bit on my drinking, to keep track of my cohorts throughout the night. Fine work everyone. We have stories for days!

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The End of The 9 Events

Well that does it. All nine events are done and over. I brought along Veronica, Chris, and Jaime because they are all simply fun people to be around. They barely knew of each other before this, but by the end we all became pretty tight. A successful trip! Here’s a recap of the nine events:

1. Skydive Las Vegas
2. Biggest Dessert in the Country
3. Ice Bar
4. KA Cirque Du Soleil
5. Zipline Across Old Vegas
6. Paintball Wars
7. Cooking Class
8. Kayak and Sea Caves
9. Beer Crawl

After an exhaustive, yet thrilling week, it was time to say goodbye to my three amigos. Jaime and Veronica flew back home to Michigan, while Chris flew back home to Pennsylvania. Chris, my go-to traveling buddy, has teaching duties to get back to soon, but I’m pretty certain this won’t be the last you hear of him on this blog.

Once again, I am solo. I reorganized my bags and responded to all the emails from my readers of the blog! Thanks for all the compliments and questions everyone. I appreciate it and keep them coming! As of this writing, I am currently in Boston awaiting my flight to Iceland and then to The Netherlands.

Europe! You’ve been calling my name. I’m coming!

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Seaside Shenanigans

I’ve never been to San Diego before, let alone California. After the super hype city of Las Vegas, I figured La Jolla, San Diego would be a nice contrast and the perfect place to close out the rest of the events I had planned for Veronica, Chris, and Jamie. So here we are, in the jewel of North America!

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Chris, Veronica, and I arrived early in the day and took a cab to our accomadation, La Jolla Cove Suites, nestled right by the oceanside! The three of us were still zombies from the night before and unfortunately couldn’t check into our room for a few more hours. Besides, we still had to wait for Jamie who would arrive much later that night. Meanwhile, the three of us grabbed some grub from around the corner and patiently waited for our room to open up. Once that finally happnened…We. Passed. Out! It was much needed and now once we were well enough rested, we walked around the coast to get a little taste of the Pacific. I was amazed at how much wildlife there was just amongst the cove of La Jolla. The seagulls here were tanks compared to the ones in Michigan. The squirrels had white dots on their backs. Little rodents would peep out of the cracks of the cliffs. Legions of black birds with long beaks lined up along the scarp. Oh and the seals. There were barking seals everywhere!

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We strolled along the “dangerous” cliffs and basked in the tranquility of what would be our stay for the next few days.

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Once Jamie arrived much later that evening, the next day we would pick up right where we left off in Vegas and continue events #6 and #7. They still had no clue what they would be!

Event #6 of 9 – Paintball Wars

That cab ride we took yesterday cost a fortune! Screw that! We used a service called “Lyft” which is an app based service where normal people like me and you can drive people where they need to go. Its much cheaper, way more convenient, and I believe it’s gonna put a damper in the taxi cab service in the near future. I told my friends to wear clothes they wouldn’t mind getting destroyed. Specifically long sleeved shirts and pants. We got a lyft nearby to a place called San Diego Paintball Park. It just so happened that it was also a birthday party for a bunch of 12 year old boys which meant an all out massive war was about to commence!

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I’ve never paint-balled before and came a tad underprepared. We were only given a helmet and a gun. Unlike this guy, who came armed and prepared for battle…

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The battlefield was laid over a big green turf with inflatable red and blue obstacles sprawled across. There were many places to hide but also many places to sneak up on an unsuspecting victim. Jamie, who’s as tall as a tree, was the ultimate target of every match. Plus, he’s the only one with any experience with a paintball gun. Get him!!!

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I had my GoPro on for a good chunk of the time. Later on when I viewed the video, it looked like a live-action Call of Duty except with paintballs. I also noticed how my style of play on that video games is similar to my style of play when it’s for real! There was a point when I snuck up behind Veronica and sniped her right in the neck!

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She had a massive welt right on her neck! My bad! Just got caught up in the glory competitiveness of the game! We played a few bouts before we finally ran out of paintballs. We all had our battle wounds. Except for me, I came out unscathed!

20140805-110651-40011657.jpg After the war, we got a lyft back to our suite and changed into more casual attire. I told everyone we would be walking to our next event. What was on the menu?

Event #7 of 9 – Sur La Table Cooking Class! 

About 12 minutes from our suite is a cooking store called Sur La Table, they have all sorts of fancy schmancy products for whipping up the ultimate meal. Here they also had a big kitchen where they offer daily classes to anyone who’s interested. We’re interested! Today’s class was called “Grilling Made Easy”. I hope it’s as easy as it sounds.

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Our instructor was a professional chef and has prepared a variety of different delicacies across the country! We would be following her step-by-step into grilling a menu already selected for us: Sriracha Glazed Chicken Skewers with Tomatillo Salsa Verde, Grilled Coffee- Marinated Flank Steak, Himalayan Salt Slab Asparagus, and Grilled Rosemary Marinated Salmon with Nectarine Salsa. It all sounded delicious (except for the salmon)! But in order to eat all this, we first had to make it.

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I can’t even tell you what some of the ingredients we used to prepare the marinades and seasonings for some of these things. My main focus was to not screw anything up with my immature cooking abilites. We brushed our steak with oil and then rubbed it with a seasoning that consisted of ground up coffee beans. Never heard of using coffee beans as a seasoning before.

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We let that sit for awhile as we prepared the Nectarine Salsa. We cut up nectarines and bell peppers into bite size chunks and added cilantro, onions, and I forget what else. This salsa was going to be placed on top of our wild salmon we were about to grill.

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While we did that, Veronica got started on the asparagus which was grilled on top of a slab of himalayan salt. Never heard of that before either!

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We made a particular marinade (can’t recall what was in it) and bathed our strips of chicken in it before we stuck skewers through them. The chicken was our third and final protein for our entrees.

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The steak, salmon, and chicken were all carefully grilled in a rather short amount of time. During the whole process, we all took turns partaking in each step of the recipes. We then took a short break and in the meantime, our instructor prepared everything we just made onto plates for serving.

We made these!

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I did eat the salmon. I helped make it after all. I just had to smother it in salsa so it would mask the salmony taste. It didn’t half taste bad! The chicken was definitely the standout. Whatever marinade that was…holy smokes was it tasty! If you would like to know the exact recipes and ingredients, just let me know. Everything tasted great! Especially that chicken and nectarine salsa :).

I didn’t have any events planned for the rest of the day. In the mean time, Chris taught Veronica how to play our favorite pastime board game, Settlers of Catan.

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I rested up the remainder of the evening because I knew tomorrow was going to be an exciting, but very long day.

Events #8 and 9 are up next!