A local’s Guide to Touring New York

New York Time Square
New York Time Square

If you live in New York but never have the time to go anywhere because of your busy schedule, you should take a break from work. However, if you want to tour the concrete jungle for the first time, having a local’s touring guide will be more than beneficial.

Here are some things you should do in the Big Apple.

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California | A Little Run at Discovery Lake in San Marcos

Catch and release fishing at Discovery Lake
Catch and release fishing at Discovery Lake

With all the events and heavy eating on my early week stay in California, USA, I wanted to burn off some calories. I asked my sister if there were any trails I could run in the neighborhood. Discovery Lake in San Marcos came easily to her mind. She had ran there with here friends there. It is also a short 15–20 minutes drive from Vista. So my sisters and I decided to go there one morning for some run, walk or stroll.

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California | First time in San Diego and the USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway Museum

If there’s one thing I noticed, America is really proud of their military. I don’t think it is mostly about patriotism on their part but giving respect and due to those who served for their country. America invested a lot on their military technology and it follows that it pours through their people. Those in the military, past and present, gets benefits like considerable discounts at establishments to family perks. In my visit to the USA, my brother-in-law, suggested I visit the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. I wasn’t surprised really. To know America is to know its military. Besides, it would be interesting to see the now decommissioned USS Midway (CV–41) aircraft carrier which used to be the largest ship in the world until 1955. It even made its way to the Philippines after its deployment.

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California | At the Oceanside Pier: First Taste of America

Sunset at the Oceanside Pier
Sunset at the Oceanside Pier

The American Dream, as the Filipinos fondly call it. There was a time when a lot of Filipinos dream of a better life by migrating to the USA. I remember teens getting into college were coerced to enter nursing or get a course on caregiving just to have a better chance of getting into America. Our family was supposed to migrate to USA when I was still in grade school but the plan fell through due to an obstacle. I never bothered to think about it growing up, thinking it will still be a dream. The closest I got to USA was Guam. By a twist of fortunate events, August 2015, I found myself standing on of the longest wooden pier in America, the Oceanside Pier. Finally, I could feel the cool crisp air, see the surfing culture with my own eyes, walk the steps of the pier where some Hollywood movie actors walked (cue in Top Gun, Iwo Jima and American Sniper) and have a taste of the local eats. Yes, I’m in California and its just the beginning of my journey in the land of dollars. Fulfilling my own American Dream.

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California | Torrey Pines State Reserve Trail Hike and Beach Time

Descending at the Torrey PInes State Reserve Beach trail with stunning rock formations
Descending at the Torrey PInes State Reserve Beach trail with stunning rock formations

The day started with an amusing little chaos. It’s funny how logistics can quickly screw up at times. The plan was to spend time with relatives at La Jolla Cove not really Torrey Pines State Reserve. My sister and I took the AmTrak train from Vista to San Diego where our cousin picked us up at the Old Town Station to meet up with the rest of our cousins. A little misunderstanding went us driving around in circles at the upscale neighborhood of La Jolla. And when we finally got to meet heads with other relatives and laid our options did we get a clear direction where we’re going. Everyone agreed we’ll visit Torrey Pines State Reserve for the rest of the afternoon. I was excited as I’ve been yearning to do some trail hikes in San Diego since I came in the USA. That’s one of the things I like about in the country, the importance of parks and reserves and their accessibility in the city.

Hiking up Torrey PInes Road from the beach
Hiking up Torrey PInes Road from the beach

The Torrey Pines State Reserve

The Torrey Pines State Reserve is a 2,000 acre coastal state park under the community of La Jolla, Southern California. From Torrey Pines Road, the bluff may seem like a featureless lump rising by the beach. But within this natural reserve is the Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana), a rare species of pine tree found only here and also one of the Channel Islands in USA. This reserve was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1977 as it is home to several wildlife and flora like bobcats, coyotes, cacti, coastal chaparral, racoons, rabbit and including the rare Torrey Pine.

PWD accesible trail at the Whitaker Garden
PWD accesible trail at the Whitaker Garden

Torrey Pines Hike

Within the Torrey Pines State Reserve are more than 8 miles of hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty and scenery. At that time, I had no idea of the trails and let our cousin Buddy, who had been here before lead the way. We started at the Torrey Pines State Beach where we left some of our other cousins to enjoy the beach near the bridge. From the beach, we walked up to the park road leading to the High Point where a beautiful panorama of the reserve and pacific ocean can be seen. Nearby, benches are available, shaded naturally by pine trees. There’s also the Whitaker Garden, where even person with disabilities (PWDs) can enjoy this area as the trail is accessible by wheelchairs. There’s an amazing display of rare southern maritime chaparrals here. It is sad though that category 3 drought has clearly affected some of the vegetations at that time.

I was curious of the rusted colored rock platform people from a distance and asked my cousin if we could visit the area. The open trail here gets narrower and dusty but the trails are marked appropriately. So we reached the Red Butte, a prominent geological formation made of laterite soil full of iron oxide hence its red rusty color. It has a 360 degree vantage point of the reserve.

The trail forks to several points from the Red Butte, but since we’re heading to the beach we took the straight Beach Trail but the rock formations here as we descend further down the trail is absolutely fantastic. The work of art on the rock walls formed by natural erosion is impressive to look at. I could imagine this area in better light. The trail itself would be really nice to do a trail run as I can imagine. Shortly we could see the beach below and carefully navigated a set of stairs down. People are warned to venture near the cliffs as erosion may unexpectedly occur.

Rare maritime chaparral in the area
Rare maritime chaparral in the area
The Red Butte with people on top seen from a distance
The Red Butte with people on top seen from a distance
Passing through a few Torrey Pines
Passing through a few Torrey Pines
On top of the Red Butte
On top of the Red Butte
Find myself enjoying the highest part of the reserve with a jump shot
Find myself enjoying the highest part of the reserve with a jump shot
On the wide open beach trail with some runners resting
On the wide open beach trail with some runners resting
More of the beach trail after the descent
More of the beach trail after the descent
Finally the view of the beach and the Flat Rock
Finally the view of the beach and the Flat Rock

The Torrey Pines State Beach and essential info on the next page…

Descending from the bluff
Descending from the bluff

The State Beach

The Torrey Pines State Beach is wide and beautiful. The sand was soft I walked barefoot all the way and the gold to rust colored rock wall was just gorgeous. There’s a flat rock by the shore which serves as a marker and divider for the Black’s Beach, one of the largest nudist beach in America. We didn’t manage to venture further to that “clothing optional” part of the state beach as our cousin had to go back and attend to his toddler. But the walk back to where we are stationed was still interesting as well to observe a few plovers, sanderlings and high flying terns at the beach. We finished our trail hike in roughly two hours since it was the easy Beach Trail. When we got back to our spot at the beach I just enjoyed the cold waters boogie boarding at its playful waves.

We unfortunately came in at a drought, so showers were out of water except for the drinking fountains. Good thing we are near our uncle’s place in San Diego and rinsed out there. I had plans to go back at Torrey Pines State Reserve during my stay in the US but didn’t push through. I wanted to explore the other trails and maybe take photos at an ideal time of the day. But as is, my brief exploration was just a tease and hoping.

Beach stretch heading south, beyond the Flat Rock is the nudist, Black's Beach
Beach stretch heading south, beyond the Flat Rock is the nudist, Black’s Beach

Essential Info

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is located between La Jolla and Del Mar, north of the City of San Diego, California.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

California State Parks San Diego Coast District North Sector
2680 Carlsbad Blvd.
Carlsbad, CA 92009

Be sure to visit their official site www.torreypine.org for detailed information and announcements on any trail closure at the latest time.

People enjoying the beach near the Flat Rock
People enjoying the beach near the Flat Rock
Walking back to where we are at the beach
Walking back to where we are at the beach
Can you see the guy on top at the Razor Point
Can you see the guy on top at the Razor Point
Running with her baby at the beach
Running with her baby at the beach
Beach camp by the bluff
Beach camp by the bluff
Heading back to the beach across the bridge
Heading back to the beach across the bridge
Mid-sized waves ideal for boogie boards
Mid-sized waves ideal for boogie boards
Simply lounging by the beach to soak in the scenery
Simply lounging by the beach to soak in the scenery

Virginia | Cedar Hill Cemetery: Stroll Through 200 Years of Suffolk History

On the road up to Mt Samat
On the road up to Mt Samat

And I found myself running around, apparently lost in this 32-acre hilly terrain dotted with massive cedar trees located inside the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Suffolk, Virginia. I was supposed to accompany my aunt at the grocery in town but I found a map of the cemetery when we visited the nearby Riddick’s Folly House Museum. From the old train station, the famed public cemetery listed in USA’s National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) was just beyond the fence. I’m such a sucker for maps and finding places like solving a mystery case. I asked my aunt to squeeze in a little time before our chore and she gladly obliged. Even for a moment, I was excited to explore the grounds by Nansemond River where Suffolk community began.

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Guam: Southern Drive from Talofofo Bay to Cetti Bay

Guam Ride at the back of the truck

Riding at the back of a truck in Guam

Getting sick is such a hassle when traveling. I was on sickbay for at least 3 days while I was in Guam so I never got to go around as much as I wanted. It’s a good thing I was at a relative’s home and I was taken care of well but it really was a bummer. When I got a little better, a couple of days before we head back to the Philippines. My cousin Gerhard was kind enough to drive us around South of Guam just to see some of the island’s popular tourist spots.

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