Thursday, November 28, 2013

Back to Our Roots

We've arrived in San Diego for the second holiday season in a row, and what is likely to be an annual routine. We are fortunate most of our families live in such a hospitable part of the country! Both of us lived in San Diego for decades so coming up with things to write about may be tough for the next two months. I'll attempt to see the city with new eyes, visitors eyes.

We're settled in at Santee Lakes Recreational Preserve for a month; our favorite, inland, full hook up park. We are in site 267, backing up to a nice grassy area, with low traffic, few neighbors and the sound of the creek burbling nearby. The park upgraded their internet service this past year, thank goodness, because this park is a black hole for Verizon service.

That's our Montana in the center of the photo.
Only one neighbor and lots of park space around us.

We wasted no time in hitting the trail with friends Martin and Estella and their adorable new family member, Chelsea. Santee Lakes is very close to Mission Trails Regional Park which has miles and miles of trails offering great views of San Diego. Some of the trails can be extremely busy any day of the week due to their proximity to neighborhoods (like Cowles Mountain Trail), but if you don't want to drive far and are looking for a good workout give the South Fortuna Trail or Big Rock Trail a try.

Estella holding Chelsea, Martin, Hans

Miss Chelsea is super photogenic!

On another day we met up with Hans brother, Norm, to hike the Ellie Lane Trail at Iron Mountain. Just like Cowles Mountain Trail noted above, the main Iron Mountain trail is very popular. Less crowded, and more strenuous, is the Ellie Lane Trail. The parking lot is just a half mile North of the main Iron Mountain trail head. This trail goes through some wonderful giant granite boulders and offers excellent views of San Diego and Ramona.

Brothers on the trail: Hans and Norm.

You can see the ocean from this saddle.
The trail wound up through the rocky hillside on the right and then up the canyon below.

One of the best things about Santee Lakes are the variety of animals that are drawn to the lakes. We've seen a red breasted sapsucker out our window, many raptors glide overhead searching for a meal, coyotes make their yip yapping racket several times a day, raccoons leave dirty footprints on our picnic table and water fowl are abundant on the water.

Kingfishers always look like they're having a bad hair day!

Cormorants enjoy the sun surrounded by dozens of coots.

We're off to Hans' brothers family home for Thanksgiving dinner and both our parents will be there too. We have much to be thankful for living this amazing lifestyle. We wish all of our readers a Happy Thanksgiving too!


  1. What beautiful hikes! Santee Lakes Recreational Preserve looks like my kind of campground. What do the rates run there?

    1. We're paying $750/month plus electric. It's probably higher in the summer. San Diego is not cheap!

  2. we will likely spend some of next winter in that area... loved Mission Bays regional park there just north of SD

    1. We'll be spending our second month in SD at Mission Bay. Despite the parking lot atmosphere of the place, it's nice to be near the water!

  3. Ahhh, love the idea of being able to see a distance from a hike. Glad you didn't waste any time in hitting the trails. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving:)

  4. This is part of CA that we have not been before with Betsy. Time will tell if we even get there but your new digs looks lovely. I am still in search of my Kingfisher picture, and you got a nice one there with a bad hair day.
    Hope you had a great thanksgiving with family.

  5. Your dog looks perfectly comfortable and happy with the site you chose.

  6. Some great scenery, there! Glad to hear you guys had a family Thanksgiving. We haven't spent a lot of time in San Diego. As you know, anywhere without Verizon coverage gives us chest pain, so this park probably isn't an options for us, but if there's another close by, it looks like a great area.

    1. Amy, The Verizon signal seems better if you are in the south part of the park. Also the Tengo internet is free and gives you 500 mb per 12 hour period, before you get throttled down. It is a really nice park.