June 20, 2019
6 observations from a week spent in Portugal
What to do with a week to kill in Europe? Considering that for €100 or less you can get just about anywhere within the continent, the options are endless.
This is the situation that I found myself in between a work trip to France and a wedding to attend in Italy. I contemplated a potential visit to London, a return to the motherland of Scandinavia, or even a hop across the Mediterranean to Africa, but after a little thought, I decided that a more practical trip would be a visit to the ancient, tourist friendly cities and wave-rich coast of Portugal. I figured that I could let the waves dictate my trip, heading to the top surf spots if the forecast looked good, or exploring its historic cultural city centers if not. Additionally, I’ve been studying Portuguese on and off for years now and was eager to put what I’ve learned to practical use, to at least see where I stand.
June 15, 2019
The fall of a dynasty? Not so fast.
This year’s NBA Finals run for the Golden State Warriors had a much different tone than what I’ve grown accustomed to over the past years. For the first time during this dominant five-year streak of NBA Finals appearances, the Warriors became a true underdog. Their opponent, Toronto, was simply the more talented team with superior depth, athleticism, quickness, and size.
May 23, 2019
San Diego’s toughest hike: Rabbit Peak
In the remote northeast corner of San Diego County, the Santa Rosa mountains tower above the heat-scorched desert valleys of California’s interior. Prominent peaks line the mountain ridges, providing expansive views of the surrounding terrain.
Standing 6,660 feet tall, Rabbit Peak is one of the many high points that rockets up into the sky when staring up from the valley floors. It would be the highest point in San Diego County were it not just a mere several hundred feet beyond its borders.
Standing between Rabbit Peak’s trailhead and its summit is nearly 12 miles of water-less, shade deprived terrain and a monstrous 8,000 feet of vertical climbing. Rabbit Peak is a challenge like no other that I have experienced in San Diego. It’s not for the faint of heart.
April 23, 2019
Dear NBA players, please stop disrespecting the media
Over recent months and weeks certain NBA players have been making headlines by demonstrating their frustration and disdain towards the media.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s star point guard Russel Westbrook has been at the forefront of this ‘movement’, refusing to answer questions posed by the media, famously answering with “next question” or “not sure”. The Golden State Warriors’ two-time finals MVP forward Kevin Durant bitterly called out a journalist by name at a press conference for writing a perfectly-warranted story speculating his free agent intentions this upcoming offseason. Even the San Antonio Spurs’ widely-respected head coach Greg Popovich has had his fiery moments over the years.
April 15, 2019
Is hiking Zion’s famed Angel’s Landing worth it?
Zion National Park boasts nearly 150,000 acres of jaw-dropping scenery, featuring a patchwork of landscapes each more worthy of its own canvas than the last. Zion’s extraordinarily shaped sandstone canyons, waterfalls that plunge over sheer cliffs, array of unique flora and fauna, and ancient remnants of the Native American civilizations that once inhabited the land draw over four million visitors per year from around the world. Despite the bountiful space and seemingly endless peaks and valleys to explore, the attention at Zion is fixed on the park’s main canyon, and its main attraction, Angel’s Landing.
April 11, 2019
Zion National Park: Tackling Mt. Kinesava
In the southern reaches of Zion National Park, seemingly lightyears away from the rambunctious crowds of the main canyon, Mount Kinesava soars above the surroundings desert plains. Access to the 7,000+ foot peak is largely trail-less, steep and difficult, presenting a barrier to entry for most hikers, while an enticing challenge to others.
March 10, 2019
On the hunt for ancient art in the Californian desert
Hidden between the massive, scraggly boulders of California’s desolate desert, ancient Native American art awaits those who know where to look. You often won’t find a trail marker that will lead you to these historic sites, or even a trail for that matter, but if you do your homework, you will be awarded with a snapshot of the history of the people that once roamed these lands before you.
February 26, 2019
I went to an unfenced section of the southern border. Here’s what I found.
Anyone who has not been living under a rock could tell you that security at the southern border has become a hot issue of debate during this presidential cycle.
As I listen to politicians, middle Americans, Democrats, Republicans, blatantly partisan news anchors, and bumper sticker flaunting owners of lifted pickups alike bicker about the severity of this problem, I begin to ask myself, “Do these people really know what they are talking about?”
February 22, 2019
Hiking beneath the waves of the Domelands
Six million years ago California’s inland deserts would not be recognizable as we know them today. The desert, which at first glance appears to be a barren wasteland, was not too long ago a tropical sea full of marine life. While hiking in the Domelands of Anza Borrego, you don’t have to look far to find irrefutable evidence that supports this.
February 14, 2019
Who owns the beach in Puerto Vallarta?
In the old town of Puerto Vallarta beach is a scarce resource. The limited sand is shared by the hotels and the locals.
Every morning the worker bees emerge from the beachfront hotels in droves and assemble a small city of chairs, umbrellas, and tables, utilizing every square foot of space to accommodate as many of their guests as possible. Each hotel squeezes into their imaginary borders on the beach with their unique, signature style of umbrella and chair, sandwiched by the hotels that border them.
The problem is, the hotels don’t leave enough room, if any, for the locals, particularly the skimboarders who need enough room to get a running start at the waves.
February 2, 2019
My introduction to backpacking: Cone Peak
“There should be a stream somewhere around here,” I explained through a parched throat, meticulously studying a topographic map that I had printed on computer paper.
It was a late summer morning on the north flank of Cone Peak, the second highest mountain in Big Sur on California’s central coast. We hadn’t passed a water source in about 24 hours, and having climbed and descended thousands of feet since then in the dry summer heat did not bode well for our limited supply of water.
January 11, 2019
Two days in wintry Yosemite Valley
Yosemite’s towering granite walls never cease to amaze me. I still remember the first time my eyes gazed upon the valley, and up to that point, I really had very little interest in the outdoors. I was 19 years old and the magic of Yosemite planted its seed in my mind, sending me on a mission to experience the outdoors as I had never done before. Just a few months later I did my first backpacking trip in Big Sur, and things took off from there. (I have definitely learned a lot since that first three-day, water-deprived, tentless backpacking trip that I completed in jeans.)
Now since I was up in Santa Cruz for the 2018/19 holidays and fresh off the adrenaline rush of seeing Free Solo, Madison and I decided to make the hop across California’s Central Valley and head up into the Sierras for a quick excursion to Yosemite.
October 20, 2018
Descending into the Grand Canyon is a walk through the history of planet Earth. Every inch of the valley wall tells a story of vastly different environments. Staring at the rocks at the valley floor is peering 1.8 billion years into the planet’s past, back to a time long before even multicellular organisms existed.
Even for those who aren’t as overly enthusiastic about rocks as I am, the Grand Canyon is quite the sight. The brain has a tough time comprehending the vastness that lies before you when peeking over the canyon’s edge.
August 25, 2018
As fires raged all across the state of California, I had my focus aimed towards one in particular, the Ferguson fire, which was rapidly burning west of Yosemite Valley. I formed a morning and afternoon routine of checking the Yosemite webcams, looking for non-existent visibility through the dense smoke that had ridden California’s westerly winds into the valley.
Not wanting to waste the precious week of vacation that I had requested months earlier, a contingency plan had to be put into motion. I was not going to give up on the flowing, tree-covered peaks and crystal-clear lakes of the beautiful Sierra Nevada Range. All throughout my childhood I had camped out in a remote corner of the mountains called Mono Hot Springs and I knew that I couldn’t go wrong with a return trip. It had been over a decade since my last visit. It would be a slightly different, more remote trip than a weekend in the tourist-filled Yosemite Valley. Also, I really wanted to show Madison the magical views on the hike to Half Dome, so we had to do our best to make up for the missed opportunity and look for a replacement hike.
July 20, 2018
For most people, Puerto Escondido is just a dot on a map, a tourist destination overshadowed by flashier resort towns such as Cancun, Cabo, and Acapulco. Hell, most people have probably never heard of it in the first place. There’s not much reason for the average tourist looking for a quick fix of tropics to go there anyway. There are more convenient places to go in Mexico with the open bars and infinity pools that they are looking for. But even for those who may have been there and enjoyed it, they may not fully understand how special this place really is.
June 9, 2018
I’ve been spoiled with Bay Area championships through the first quarter century of my life.
It all started in 2010 when the Giants started miraculously winning championships every even year with a ragtag group of washed up position players (but supported by an all-time great pitching staff.)
Then in 2014 when the Giants earned their third title in five years and it seemed like Bay Area sports had used up all their luck for the next century, the Warriors started a dominant streak of their own and toppled arguably the greatest player of all time to bring the first basketball title to the Bay since ’75.
April 17, 2018
As we dragged our feet in the beating, desert heat, it appeared that we were making no progress at all. I turned back to see our parked truck fade out of sight from the naked eye, visible only through the zoom of my camera, yet our destination, the dunes of Panamint Valley, stood still at what had previously seemed like such an attainable distance.
February 25, 2018
I’ve been to Mexico probably upwards of twenty times, with trips ranging anywhere from week-long surf missions on the Pacific coast to afternoon tacos in Tijuana. I’ve even done a decent amount of traveling in Mexico’s wave-deprived interior, but for some reason, I had never made it to the oh-so-popular Caribbean destination of Cancun. I shouldn’t say ‘for some reason’ — it’s probably due to the lack of waves and massive crowds, but this year my family decided that the time was right to give Mexico’s Caribbean coast a shot.
January 29, 2018
For someone that has grown up with a very western background, China is a fascinating and unsurprisingly unfamiliar place to visit. If you are looking to distance yourself from home – physically, culturally, and/or mentally – there’s no other place that I’ve visited that quite checks off all the boxes.
December 7, 2017
I knew 2017 would be an interesting year as I was frantically searching for cell service in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean on a small panga in Fiji.
“These damn hot spots never work when you need them to!” I mumbled to myself.
It was election day 2016 in the United States. The fact that I couldn’t get cell service for work was an afterthought. I was anxious to see who would become the 45th President of my beloved country.
The messages started pouring in before I could even load a web page. Trump this, trump that. Was there some sort of conspiracy or massive prank being played on me? When I got a decent signal the rumors were confirmed — a billionaire reality TV star had defied all odds and been elected President.
That was a little bit of a tough pill to swallow, but hey I was in Fiji. Things could’ve been worse. That was just the start of an interesting 2017 for me, to say the least.
October 13, 2017
There’s something odd about the Japanese city of Nara.
There’s a certain magic in the air, for between the ancient temples, storefronts, and chaos of urban society, deer roam freely, unphased by the humans living among them.
October 10, 2017
Being in a new country is always a thrilling experience. Things that may seem quite normal to locals can be fascinating to an outsider. Learning how to interact with people, observing local customs, or picking up tidbits of a new language is what makes a new country a new country, after all.
Thanks to a work trip to Japan I was lucky enough to get that ‘being in a new country’ experience, which also doubled as my first time on the continent.
Now I only spent three weeks in the country, so I am not quite an expert on Japanese foreign policy, but here are some of the interesting (and possibly misinformed) quirks that I noticed during my first trip to the land of the rising sun.
July 19, 2017
I’ve been trying to write more lately, but it can be hard to find inspiration when your life becomes rather routine. The past month or so for me can be summed up by standard forty hour work weeks and weekends spent lounging at the beach. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m milking every second of San Diego’s excellent summertime weather that I can, but there’s just not a whole lot to write about. So for my inspiration this month, I look back at 2014, which was a year full of inspiration as I lived abroad in Chile. I’m going to highlight a trip within the trip, when my childhood friends Nate and Kenny came to visit and travel through South America with me.
June 14, 2017
It’s a glorious time to be a Warriors fan. The Dubs were crowned champs of the NBA, KD got what he came for and won Finals MVP, and LeBron continues to have a losing record in the Finals (3-5).
A large dose of revenge is just what the doctor ordered, and it feels just as sweet as I imagined.
For anyone who is even relatively interested in the Warriors, 2016 stung. We were unstoppable until a three-game meltdown of historic proportions which was not the fairy tale ending to the best season the sport of basketball has ever seen.
Since that day in June of last year, Warriors’ fans have been dying to get another crack at the Cavs.
June 11, 2017
If you ask any college student what they are looking for in their future career, I think 99% of people will say they want a job that allows them to travel. Traveling is everyone’s dream after all. I definitely fell into that ‘99% of people’ cohort and was lucky enough to find a job that met that criteria with flying colors.
For more than two years now I have been traveling around the globe to work at surf contests in exotic locations such as Fiji, Costa Rica, and the Azores. Since that dream of traveling has become a reality, my perception on traveling for work has definitely changed, not necessarily for better or worse, but I just understand that it has its pros and cons.
For my latest work trip I got shipped off to France’s Basque Country to work at the 2017 ISA World Surfing Games in Biarritz, the heart of Europe’s surf culture.
May 2, 2017
Anyone who remotely enjoys basketball can appreciate what the Golden State Warriors have done over the past 4-5 years. From the hard core fans to the bandwagoners alike, people enjoy watching the Warriors.
They just make basketball look damn fun.
Through the Warriors’ relatively recent run of success after being crowned champs in 2015 and breaking the record for wins in 2016, the number of Curry and Thompson jerseys you spot around the state of California (not just in the bay) have ballooned to epic proportions, and this does not bother me one bit. It actually feels awfully sweet.
April 4, 2017
Despite all the negative media attention, travel advisories, and the potential future construction of Trump’s wall, Mexico is still the most preferred travel destination for Americans. I would be hard pressed to find an American who hasn’t at least been to Cabo or Cancun. Anyone?
While I do not blame people for going to those locations (been to Cabo and loved it, guilty) Mexico is a gold mine full of amazing jewels that are often overlooked that just require you to step a little off the beaten path…
March 19, 2017
After years of extreme drought in California, we were finally blessed with a badly needed wet winter. You could say that we got more rain than we bargained for. It rained a lot, resulting in breached dams, landslides and flooding.
Despite the devastation caused by the winter storms, there is a silver lining (other than the fact that we are no longer in a severe drought): the wild flowers of California’s inland deserts have come to life, thriving after the winter’s heavy downpours. News outlets such as CNN, NPR and the LA Times have been building the hype of this excellent flower season, coining it “the super bloom.” The super bloom seems to be the hot topic at the moment, as everyone and their mother has been hastily flocking to the desert to get their new Facebook profile pictures before the heat of summer shrivels up the flowers.
March 6, 2017
Sticking with the recurring hiking theme of my blog, Half Dome season is just around the corner. I thought I would share what I’ve learned from my two trips to help people that are thinking about doing tackling this hike in 2017.
For those of you who don’t know what Half Dome is, it’s the most iconic granite dome in California’s most frequented national park, Yosemite. Half Dome is great to look at from the valley below, but it provides an even better view of the national park if you are perched on its peak 5,000 feet above the valley floor…
February 26, 2017
It sounds a little cheesy, but Patagonia stole my heart. Its wild, greatly untouched frontier of wilderness left a lasting impression on me that I can’t seem to shake over two years later. With stunning mountains, plains, glaciers and lakes that divide the icy Southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Patagonia is truly a remarkable place on planet Earth that everyone should get to experience.
If you haven’t already been, you need to add it to your bucket list. Let me tell you about my experience in Patagonia in hopes of convincing you to go too…
February 7, 2017
As 2016 came to a close I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. A few work trips jammed between the traditional holiday trips made for quite a busy few months. I’m not complaining by any means but lots of travel, work and few days off takes a toll on you…
January 22, 2017
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard that the Women’s March swept across the world yesterday, demonstrating the world’s resistance to the progress and human rights that are at stake with Trump in the White House. Certainly more people came out to protest Trump’s presidency than the meager crowds that came out to celebrate it, which doesn’t come as a surprise given that he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes, but then again that’s probably just fake news from the media (joke)…
January 10, 2017
The second half of 2016 flew by in the blink of an eye. Between logging enough air miles to fly around the circumference of the Earth, sleepless nights, vicious bed bugs and torrential thunderstorms, next thing I knew it was 2017…
November 30, 2016
Two weeks in Fiji sounds pretty dreamy. I can sure think of worse places to spend two weeks. My latest adventure for work brought me to this small South Pacific island nation, where I would spend the majority of my time at places that I had seen only in surf videos, Cloudbreak and Tavarua…
October 1, 2016
When I told people that I would be going to the Azores for two weeks in September, I got asked “Where are the Azores?” so many times that I gave up and started saying that I was going to Portugal. While it is the truth, it doesn’t really tell the whole story…
August 25, 2016
Everyone dreams about going to Costa Rica, surfers and non-surfers alike. For such a small country, its coastline is riddled with world-class waves and of course, pristine beaches. I was lucky enough to be shipped off to the tropical shores of this Central American nation for three weeks this August, two weeks for work and one week for personal vacation. After dipping my feet in the pura vida lifestyle, all I can think about is my next trip back…
July 29, 2016
For the month of July, I was able to return a favor to a good friend of mine from Chile and give him a place to stay in San Diego. Sergio was coming to the US for the first time with his buddy Carlos, ready to live the Californian dream as seen in American Pie and American Pie 2. I was more than happy to host them and be a guide of sorts. Sergio had given me a place to stay, taken me snowboarding and helped me integrate into Chilean culture when I had just moved to Chile, so it was the least that I could do…
June 21, 2016
My heart felt like it was going to leap out of my chest as I watched the Warriors and Cavs trading off blows for nearly the entirety of Game 7 of the NBA Finals. We were the defending champs, the record holder for most wins in a season, and we had the back-to-back MVP, yet we were on the brink of letting a comfortable series lead slip out of our hands. We had everything to lose and with most people having already written off the Cavs after Game 4, they had nothing to lose. I am sure many Cavs fans had already booked their summer vacations to the Bahamas…
June 9, 2016
Us surfers are a slightly different type of human being. Anyone who has converted can attest to this. Surfing really does drastically affect your priorities and goals. It shapes the way you think about life as a whole…
June 4, 2016
The reason I go backpacking is to disconnect from reality for a few days and get in touch with Mother Nature. Cooking over a fire, drinking from rivers, counting stars, and putting that whole hygiene thing on the back burner…
May 9, 2016
Every year has a summer, right? No matter how cold or how warm it may be, there is a period of the year when the hours of daylight reach their maximum point, sweatshirts and jeans find their way to the bottom of your dresser drawer, and suddenly it’s impossible to find parking at the beaches that you have been frequenting yearlong. We all know this time of year – summertime…
April 24, 2016
After this El Niño winter of non-stop swells, most of my weekend mornings, if not all, were spent surfing. When the waves are good I have a moral obligation to take advantage of them, knowing that come the flat spells of summertime I am going to regret every second that I did not do so. As a result, non-ocean-related activities suffered a little bit this winter, not necessarily the worst problem to have…
April 11, 2016
In 2014 I studied abroad in Chile for a full year. With a full load of courses in Spanish, understanding the language was essential. I was pretty confident in my Spanish abilities acquired in class and speaking with my Mexican friends, however when I arrived to Chile I discovered that I was quite ill-prepared to converse with Chileans in their vastly unique dialect. After a rough first few weeks, I caught on pretty well and began adding these new Chilean words to my arsenal…
April 3, 2016
I’ve been to Mexico a solid 15 or so times now, almost always due to a surf related vacation or day trip. Trips to Mexico trigger memories of all-day surf sessions, exhausting heat, uncountable mosquito bites and the hassle of dragging a board bag around on public transportation. So for this short five-day vacation I decided to discover a different side of Mexico, one that is far from the ocean driven trips that I’ve grown so accustomed to, a trip to the heart of Mexico, Mexico City…
March 15, 2016
It is quite a shock when you become an adult and enter the 40 hour+ work week. The first few weeks of a professional job can have phases spent brainstorming ways to get out of office life and watching clocks like a third grader anxious for recess. However, that time passes and you get used to the work day routine as you find your purpose and fit in the workplace…