Monday, 17 November 2014

Showing Off "MY" City

No matter how "boring" or how much you dislike the city you might find yourself living in, when someone announces they're coming to visit you suddenly find yourself thinking with new perspective.  What do they need to see when they're here?  It's not a hard list to compile, no matter how big or small your home may be.

My relationship with San Diego is that of love-hate.  I'm a big city type of girl who succeeds in the rain, dreams in the wind, and uses the colors of the seasons for her palate of creativity.  San Diego is America's finest city, a place where the sun is always shining, the beach is always calling, and the vibe is nothing but relaxed.  Flip flops are the norm and my heels are paired with comments like You're not from around here are you?

But when it comes down to it, when it comes to hosting a visitor, San Diego transforms itself into a destination; a place to show off.  So I sat down and made a list.  A list of all the things my guest needed to experience while in America's finest city.

1. The Donut Bar
Perhaps having a breakfast place dedicated to the sole consumption of dounuts says a lot me, but surely it says a lot about the West Coast in general.  On the East Coast we have Dunkin Donuts.  But we don't nessisarily go there for the donuts, no, it's their coffee that keeps us craving more.  But here in California, it isn't about coffee.  Why would anyone drink coffee in 80 degree sunny weather when you can have a fruit smoothie or fresh pressed hibiscus tea?  But donuts?  Everyone loves donuts, espesically donuts made with this much love.

2. Balboa Park
Ok so we ate our donuts, now lets work all those calories off.  Balboa Park is home to 15 different museums, over 90 miles of fantastic trails, and some of the most beautiful spanish style archtexture the city has to offer.

3. WaveHouse & Belmont Park
Surfing isn't easy.  There's all that paddling out, waiting for the perfect wave, and then trying to stand up!  No thank you.  But at WaveHouse at Belmont Park, you don't have to paddle or wait, all you've got to do is ride those continuously perfect waves.

4. La Jolla Cove
It's beautiful, it's iconic and it's a must-see on my check list.  The cove lies on the edge of a deep ecologically protected area.  The water is calm and provides a great home to garibaldi, yellowtail, rays and leopard sharks.  If snorkeling is your thing, welcome to paradise.

5. The Golden Booth at Lucha Libre
There isn't anything better than Mexican food in San Diego.  It's always fresh, mixing that So-Cal health craze with the greasy beans and cheese of heaven down south.  And when one has the option to dine in a golden booth? Well, you'd be a fool to pass that up!  They've been hailed the best Mexican for years and years.  Not to mention their success on Man Vs. Food!

6. Coronado Island
Oh the island!  Coronado is located just across the bay from downtown San Diego.  It's home to the Hotel del Coronado, one of the largest wooden structures in the United States of America.  The resorts white sands mimic that of the east coast.  Vacationers lay on the pristine shoreline while military jets fly low overhead, set to land at the nearby base.

7. The Pearl's Weekly Dive In Theatre
I'm a sucker for outdoor cinema.  And at the historic 1960's motel The Pearl, they've got a weekly poolside showing of all sorts of films.  Check out their schedule here.

Stay tuned as the list continues...

© The Traveling Barnacle

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Here's to the Grog!

The invitation was sent and I would be attending my very first outing with the United States Military.  Their "dining out" experience wasn't something I'd ever heard of and my idea of preparation was finding a suitable outfit, making sure I was kind, courtesy and honorable.  Little did I know, I was stepping into a tradition that began in the mid 1600's, one where drinking was how you prepared, how you paid your respects and how you survived.  The Grog sits at the head at the table, waiting, ready to be devoured by those who break the rules.

The rules are simple.  No elbows or hands on the table, mind the manners your mother taught you.  Communication is key, no one leaves or returns to their seat without permission.  And conversation topics must refrain from religion, controversy and f-bombs.  As the wine flowed the rules were broken.  Punishments were handed out like candy on Halloween.  Peterson drink from the grog! Smith parade around the room and show off your uniform infractions!  Mann you must now only speak in a British accent for the remainder of the night and two more drinks from the Grog!

At one point I made my way to the Grog, not as punishment but in celebration of the Queen of England and their British Naval brothers who joined them overseas in Bahrain.  Justifiably, the Grog comes from the British Navy.  Grog was rum-based and a 1/2 pint was issued to sailors daily as part of their rations.  In the early 1800's, the Navy introduced whiskey as well as rum and the two were forever synonymous with daily life at sea.

Now-a-days, the Grog isn't part of daily life, but represents where the Navy comes from.  Life at sea, honor and tradition. At the end of the meal, the port wine was served.  Yet another proud United States Naval tradition.  Port will always be passed to the left and never allowed to touch the table.  Although there are many explanations for this tradition, one in particular arose from the need to keep one's sword arm free, just in case.  Another, comes from the Navy's phrase "port to port" traditionally meaning that the ship's decanter should be passed to the left.  Still another explanation stems from the British Royal Navy's Loyal Toast which is traditionally drunk in Port.

As we sat around the table, honoring the lovely men who have served our country, we broke the rules, took our punishments and made sure to drink the Naval traditions down to the last drop.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Pie or Cake? No Problem!

I'm a big foodie, don't believe me?  Just check these archives baby!  I've traveled over 5,000 miles for a single food experience, and now it looks like I'm going to have to head to 3 Brothers Bakery in Houston for their famous PumPecApple Pie Cake.

In business since 1949, the Bakery has been awarded numerous Houston-based honors like Best Bakery, Best Cinnamon Rolls, Best Coffee spot, Best place for desserts like your mom used to make - and that's just in Houston! It's the #1 bakery in Texas, according to The Daily Meal, and #11 nation-wide.  The list goes on, but you get the point.  This place knows how to bake and has taken extreme desserts to an entirely new level.

Anyone ready to visit Houston soon?

© The Traveling Barnacle

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

It's Real Love with John Lewis

It's the awkward season after Halloween, before Thanksgiving, but somehow everyone's mind begins to wander towards Christmas.  So yes it may be "too early" for some of you, but here's introducing one of the best advertisements of 2014.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Morning After

Phew it's over.  The midterm elections have come and gone and Wednesday November 5th will forever be the morning after.  For someone who works in the news, the build up of the election transforms into a tornado of results, reactions, and ultimately action moving forward.  We never pause for a moment, unless someone else is publicly reflecting.

Those who lost the election will replay the results over and over, possibly wondering what went wrong or if they're stuck in some nightmarish version of Florida in the year 2000.  The good news, they'll be the second stop on the reporters path, so sleeping in is an option.  After all it was Greek philosopher Thucydides who first said "In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to office can always console himself with the thought that there was something not quite fair about it."

While those victorious this morning will find themselves in the sun.  From 0 to Hero, with new pokes, friends, likes, and the glitter of popularity glowing around them.  But they'll soon realize Americans aren't patient, living in a world of instant gratification.  We expect more from you than you could ever deliver.  Will you let us down too?

Win or loose, this is the morning after for every candidate, and whatever they might be feeling will live in their bones for years.  While Americans move on with their seasonal Starbucks flavors and exuberant demands for immediate change; forever asking so what now?

I for one want to know what word President Obama will use to describe this election.  Through out his career he's been a big user of words and slogans, usually transformed into trendy artwork by famous criminals like Shepard Fairey and Banksy.  He used the term "shellacking" after his party lost the house four years ago.  Perhaps some unique synonym?  Thoughts of Presidential Speech writers turning to come to mind.

And will the White House finally fulfil it's promise of bipartisanship?  

But this is the morning after, is anything really all that different?  The flip of the senate won't really mean much in the larger sense.  Despite the feud, the reality is Republican control will mean the same thing for our President's choices as it has for ever other two-term leader coming in for the home stretch.  Sure the non-controversial picks will get tackled but the whole tango will come to a halt as 2016's election year politics begin to kick up a storm.  And OH a storm it will be.

So while we wait and watch as the 2016 candidates begin to come out of the woodwork, prepare themselves to do the dance, we celebrate the little victories.  And for many across the nation (at least in Washington D.C., Oregon, and Guam) that means a wake and bake.

God Bless America. 

© The Traveling Barnacle

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Fate of Dia De Los Muertos

Ok so Halloween came and went in the flash of an iphone selfie, but the weekend following the spooky holiday keeps the spirits coming if you're not ready to put the skeletons back in your closet.  Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is widely celebrated in the southern United States, across Mexico and Latin America. 

 The lively Mexican holiday honors (you guessed it) the dead.  It is a time for family, for remembering, and for honoring those who you've lost.  Family and friends take to the cemeteries, leaving large and colorful flowers, reminding the dead they're never far from our thoughts.   It is also tradition to clean the grave site, washing the tombstone and entering the crypt to tidy up their eternal resting place.  Personal alters with the favorite food and drink of the deceased decorate living room windows. 

But what many of us associate with the November 1st and 2nd holiday is the brightly colored skulls that surround every tradition.  Whether it's face paint or candied, these calaveras, are more than a symbol for the holiday much like a Christmas tree or St. Patrick's day four leaf clover.  The skull has always represented death, whether it's painted on a pirate's flag or on the back of a motorcycle gang jacket.  But just like the commercialization of Halloween in the United States from a traditional holiday celebrated the eve before All Saints Day to an all-consuming candy fest, Dia De Los Muertos and it's skulls are facing the same fate.  The skulls are usually portrayed doing something incredibly lively and are usually always smiling.  Irony rules over everything and reinforces the connection between the living and the dead, the skull is something we retain in life and death.  It was a symbol that was transformed into a beautiful piece of artwork, a way for a culture to make light of the difficult subject of fear, pain and ultimately death.  It's a symbol that is now slowly becoming just as commercialized as the rest of them, loosing it's deeper meaning, and finding a home on children's clothing and candy wrappers.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Sunday, 2 November 2014

"I'm sorry to say this but you're now officially obese"

"Now I have your chart and after calculating your BMI, I'm required to inform you, you're now officially obese."

The way the word rolled off the doctor's tongue like opening the foil on an expired yogurt.  It's curdled, and we both tried to swallow it down.  I have no problem admitting I've always struggled with my weight.  I've been fat and I've definitely been skinny.  And since my skinniest I've gained exactly 30 pounds.  Funny how just 30 pounds puts a check mark next to the obese box at the doctors office.

"I am required by the state of California and this company's protocol to go over tips for weight loss with you before I can give you your medical examination."

I looked at the woman standing in the small blue lab coat.  I could see over the top of her head as she walked me to another exam room and told me to wait for a counselor.  She then gave me some reading material on how I should be packing my diet full of vegetables, fruits, and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Unfortunately what she didn't know was my diet contains meals full of fruits and vegetables, so much in fact it was literally eating into my bank account with my lovely vegan dishes and organic concoctions.  As for the exercise?  I walk 20 minutes to work everyday (usually in heels) and combine that with either a 3 mile run or at least 30 minutes of Pilate's, yoga or 'tone it up' videos.

I sat and listened as the counselor talked to me about the implications of my actions.  I couldn't help but wonder what "actions" she was talking about.  I was doing everything on her list and more.  I thought about telling her my exercise routine, how I didn't even like french fries and the last time I ate fast food was at least 5 years prior.  But she kept going on about my "current actions" how I was somehow doing something wrong to have put myself in the obese category.

So I simply sat and listened and decided to skip my evening run, after all I was already "obese".

© The Traveling Barnacle

Saturday, 1 November 2014


Because it's Halloween Weekend, Imogen Heap and Michael Jackson.  The only three things that matter right now.
© The Traveling Barnacle

Thursday, 30 October 2014

What Happened When I Lost 70+ Pounds

If you're reading this thinking I may impart some weight-loss secret that might save your waist line, then read no further.  I'm afraid I know no secrets.  Let me start by admitting my transformation wasn't the aftermath of a change of diet, new exercise regime, or anything different.

The summer before I turned 22 I began loosing weight.  Simple as that.  I had been heavier my entire life and it was as if one day I woke up and my body thought "I don't want to be fat anymore".  3 months later I was 50 pounds lighter and still loosing weight.  At the end of the year I had gone from nearly 200 pounds to somewhere between 125 and 130.

The transformation was drastic.  My friends mentioned it candidly without asking while the rumors started flying as I returned to University to finish my junior year.  I was called into my student adviser office and questioned about my health, use of drugs, and overall well being.  Suddenly everyone was asking what was wrong with me.  And all I wanted to do was scream I'm finally skinny, why does that mean there is something wrong with me! 

Along with the rumors came the new found "friends".  People I had known for years who now started saying "hello" to me when I passed them in the hallways.  My phone rang more often.  And people from my past began popping up just say say "hello".

I suddenly became more self conscious without the extra 70 pounds.  I continued to wear size 12 when I fit a size 4, I hid in oversized sweaters, baggy t-shirts and began slouching.  While I had always been a bit conscious of my weight, now it controlled my life.  Everyone commented on it.  Oh my gosh you look so skinny!  Transformed into an insult rather than a compliment.

So you're all probably reading this thinking ok Barnacle shut up about how 'horrible' it was to be skinny and tell us how it happened. I wish I could.  I have always been active.  I walk everywhere, practice yoga on a regular basis and go through phases of running an average of 10 miles a week.  Through out my weight loss, I never once changed my exercise routine.  The one thing I will say is Bikram yoga really saved the condition of my skin.  Being in 100 degree heat really saved me from having stretch marks from rapid weight loss.

As for my diet, I didn't change anything.  I didn't cut out sugars, alcohol, carbs.  In fact during the height of my weight loss I was a sugar fiend.  I would eat bags of gummy bears, jelly babies, and wine gums.  I couldn't stop with the sugar.  Contradicts everything you've read right?  That's what the doctors said too.  They monitored me closely, even putting me on weight gainers at one point, which I promptly stopped taking.

What I didn't understand was why everyone saw the weight loss as a bad thing.  My friends, family, and doctors were concerned rather than happy I finally looked like a normal, healthy being.  Like the idea of loosing weight meant there was something wrong, rather than something good.

Now 5 years later, I've gained 30 pounds back and fit somewhere in between those two photographs above.  No one comments on my weight, no one exclaims how skinny I am or mentions I could loose a few pounds.  I'm happily "overweight" according to the American Health Association and that's the unfortunate norm.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Autumn Lips

It's officially fall (even here in sunny San Diego) which means it's time to change our make-up routine from pinks and bright corals to something a little more autumnal. While summer colors are lovely, bright and very refreshing, I'm so ready to switch it up.

Instead of your summer pink... opt for a Berry shade:

Burt's Bees is my go-to for pretty much everything and that includes my lip color.  I've been using their lip shimmer for years now and have settled on my favorite autumnal color: fig.  It's a mixture of berry and maroon that goes with all those big baggy sweaters and skinny jeans.  It's cool, calm and sophisticated without even trying.  Plus it'll leave your lips soft and healthy long after you've taken off the color.  Want something more on the berry side?  Try their Watermelon shade.

Instead of that bright red, go bold with a deep scarlet:

God I love me some red!  My go-to shade this season is from Boots, their No. 7 stay perfect lipstick in Cherry.  It's totally matte and totally sexy.  Not only is it a great deep red, but it lasts.  It's not sticky or dry, even after a meal and a few glasses of wine.

Instead of the soft coral... go nude!

I recently received Model Co's "Kitty" lipstick and am currently obsessed.  When I first saw the color I wasn't impressed, but I put it on anyways.  And before long, it's become my go-to "non-lipstick look".  It's semi-matte and it's definitely smudge proof, which is a must.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Don't Date a Girl who Travels

Monday, 27 October 2014


Lets face it, October is the best month.  I mean ok it's getting colder which means you can start wearing layers and hiding any extra weight you're suddenly gaining from all the pumpkin spice this and autumnal flavored that.  And with that cooler weather comes the change in leaves and suddenly the entire world is a new exciting hue or oranges, yellows and deep rich reds.  Then of course there's the beer, freely flowing at every October fest.  But above all the hashtag-autumn hype, is the Holidays.  Halloween is by far one of my favorites.  Not only do you get to dress up without any judgement, but there's candy corn (by far the best and worst candy on the planet) and there's scary movies.

I'm not one for scary movies, but when it comes to Hitchcock I'm sold.  And lucky for me, the local Reading Theatres are all about Hitchcock, especially during the month of all months; Hitchcocktober!  So of course I went to a few of my favorites.


There isn't much I dislike about this film.  It has everything from suspenseful terrifying moments, to a sorted love affair gone wrong,  disguise and deception, insanity, and of course a fear of heights that leaves you reeling after leaving the theater.  What's more, the film doesn't just have one plot twist that leaves your jaw on the floor, but two.


Not only was this one of the first horror movies I ever saw as a child, but it has kept me from being able to shower without panic for most of my adult life.  Psycho is truly terrifying and has come to be considered one of the greatest films ever made.  It set a new standard for violence, sexism and deviant behavior in the United States. It's hard to talk about the film without spoiling the plot, but it's famous shower scene isn't an easy one to watch. Fun Fact; It was the first movie to ever show a toilet, before it's release the concept of a toilet on film was considered too crude for audiences.

The Man Who Knew Too Much

This film was made twice by Hitchcock, I unfortunately have only seen the 1956 version made for Paramount Pictures. The original film was part of Hitchcock's London productions and like our common language, the films share some similarities and the same name.  When asked about the two films Hitchcock once replied; "Let's say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional."  The film plays out as if an average "joe" finds himself trapped in the thick plot of a James Bond film.

Strangers On A Train

Currently holding the number 32nd spot on America's 100 most thrilling films of all time, Strangers on a Train is one of my favorite Hitchcock films.  Perhaps it is my love of trains and the idea of a tall dark handsome stranger that is so thrilling.  Promises are made, broken, and consequences are had.  Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Dial M for Murder

Definitely one of those films that make you think twice about having an affair.  As you watch the plot unfold, you realize how a film like this would never work in today's era.  A watch left unwound stops, creating havoc and throwing an entire plan off course.  You sit holding your breath, yelling at the screen, and realizing sometimes the truth is too unbelievable to tell.  And aren't crimes of passion the most terrifying tales? Love it.

Rear Window

Oh boy is this tale voyeurism at it's best.  This is also considered along with Psycho as one of Hitchcock's best.  A tale of misconstruction, misunderstanding and spying on your neighbors, which is just as relevant and terrifying today as it was over 50 years ago when the film was released.  It's about "watching" and the fear of those who live right next door, after all how well do we really know our neighbors?  Oh and on America's top thriller list; Rear Window comes in at number 14.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Bossy Vs. Bitchy

I sat listening to my 6 month evaluation.  I was doing well but there was one thing I could improve upon, my Bossiness.

"Bossy" has gained a negative connotation among women over the last decade, becoming synonymous with "Bitchy".  As a director of a company, I find that any time I tend to over assert my authority my employees or clients ask me "what is wrong?" "bad mood today?" or they just give me that look.  Oh here the bitch goes again. 

But to a Boss is a coveted position.  The benefits, power, money all seem to reflect the title of empowerment, so why the double standard between the noun and the verb?  When men are put in charge they tend to be called Leaders but women?  She runs the risk of being branded "bossy".  Bossy has become the childhood version of bitchy, like mean is to asshole, jerk is to dick, etc.

I took my employers words to heart and decided to take charge.  The next day I made phone calls explaining what I needed done for the company, my expectations from my employees, and discussed our mutual goals for the rest of the year.

"What's wrong with you today, you seem a little.... bad day?"  I heard that afternoon from the head of the company.  As I tried to explain nothing was wrong, he began writing on a post it note.

"Smile" it read.

"I just thought you needed some reminding because whatever of whatever it going on with you today."

I have written in the past about the unfortunate state of my "resting bitch face", the way I look like I am angry, mean, and downright unhappy when my face is not smiling.  "When I first met you I thought you were such a bitch." I hear on a regular basis, which trust me, isn't a very nice thing.  I get it.  I look bitchy.  Perhaps it's my large cheeks that drag down the corners of my mouth when I'm not smiling.  Perhaps it's my lazy left eye that droops ever so slightly, more so when tired.  Perhaps it's just mother nature.  Either way it's my lovely face regardless of what emotions it portrays at it's resting state.

Unfortunately the double standard exists with or without my R.B.F.  And until there is a cure for either I'll continue to be a Boss, this time with a smile.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Have a SEXY Halloween

"So what are you going to be for Halloween... a sexy...."  My colleague looked at me waiting for an answer.  Little did he know I had just bought a lobster hat, that I planned on wearing with jeans and a T-shirt.

"I'm actually not going as a "Sexy" anything."  I replied to complete silence.  He exchanged looks with the two other girls in the conversation, who filled us in on their spandex clad outfits and "Sexy" character of choice.

Personally I love Halloween.  I've really only done the "Sexy" costume thing once, my freshman year of college. I dressed up as Dorothy from the wizard of Oz and really the only thing "sexy" about it was the length of the blue checkered dress.  For years I tended to go for the non-traditional outfits.  In 4th grade I was a flight attendant and wore one of my mothers suits.  Luckily I was a fat 4th grader and had no problem fitting into an adult's suits.  Growing up in Boston, it usually didn't matter what costume we wore, as our winter coats covered up any chance of showing them off. When I was in middle school I wore a full set of flannel pajamas and went as "not a morning person".  When I moved to London I went as a Boyscout, finding an old uniform at a salvation army, paired with jeans and undershirt.  One of my favorite outfits was going as a bottle of Mustard.  Last year I went as Rosie the Riviter, the embodiment of feminism and the exact opposite of what Halloween was become.

So why the sex?

What is it about Halloween that somehow makes it essential for women to wear as little as possible at the end of October?  Not only is it cold, but those sexy costumes are uncomfortable, and downright offensive.

What makes this even more disturbing is it's an American thing.  Working at an international school, many of the female students ask what the norm is.  I simply tell them they can dress as anything they want.  After a shopping trip, they opted for monster masks, fake blood, mummy shrouds and witches hats over the "sexy" outfits.  They stay true to the Holiday's horror theme. For Americans, like my co-worker, perhaps one of the most horrifying things to hear is that I might be going out in a full non-spandex bodysuit, or even worse a lobster hat, jeans and t-shirt.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Thursday, 23 October 2014

San Diego's Finest Beaches

San Diego, a place where the sun shines 360 days a year.  A placed nick named as "America's finest city".  With up-and-coming breweries, laid back style, and beaches for miles.  The idea of the beach has always been a bit of a struggle for this East Coaster.  The Beach was something you planned for, you marked on the calendar for weeks in advance, brought a BBQ, umbrellas, and spent the entire day re-applying sunscreen and ducking in and out of the waves.  In San Diego the beach is always ready to spend the afternoon with you; no planning necessary. And let me tell you, America's finest city has some of the finest beaches:

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach has been voted one of America's finest beaches by the travel channel year after year.  It's clean white sands look more like Cape Cod than a Southern Californian Beach.  Families and tourists gather on her sands, watching the navy planes, fighter jets and military aircraft come in for a landing at the nearby Naval base.  It's quiet, comfortable, and with the small town feel of Coronado's town added into the mix, it's a great little get-away.  Sharing the shore is the famous Hotel Del Coronado, one of the largest wooden structures in the United States.  The hotel also hosts a fantastic ice skating rink right on the beach from November-January.

Best for... Relaxing

Directions: Just across the Coronado Bridge, there is a ton of on-street parking that costs near nothing compared to downtown's
high meter cost.  There is also paid parking at the Hotel Del Coronado.
By Bus:  Take the #901 from Downtown and get off at the Hotel.

La Jolla Cove

Often described as San Diego's most beautiful beach, La Jolla Cove sits just south of Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  Not a coincidence.  The cove is ecologically protected, providing a flourishing home for some of San Diego's lovely sea creatures.  Bright Garibaldi, yellow tale, sting rays, and leopard sharks can be seen year-round.  The downside?  The swimming area is very small and surfboards, boogie boards, and other flotation devices aren't permitted.  Snorkelers and scuba divers can be seen darting in and out of the water, playing with schools of sharks. Nearby, kayaking and stand up paddling boarding is popular, leaving from La Jolla Shores just north of the cove.

Best for... Snorkeling & Kayaking/SUPping

Directions:  Easily found off the Interstate-5, La Jolla sits in the northern part of the cities coast.
By Bus: Take #30 from Downtown/Old Town and ride up the coast, through the hustle and bustle of Pacific Beach and roundabouts of Bird Rock.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is San Diego's equivalent to L.A.'s Venice Beach.  It's got the boardwalk, the beach beauties, roller bladers, skaters, bicyclists and hot surfers.  Many of the surfers opt for perfect waves at the WaveHouse, to ride the flow-rider and flow barrel.  If the beach isn't your thing, then this is the beach for you.  You don't have to even go on the actual beach to be part of the scene.  And while drinking alcohol is illegal, there are a number of beach-bars that have recently opened along the shore.

Best for... People watching

Directions: Don't bank on finding parking along any of Mission Beaches narrow neighborhood alley ways.  Best to park in Pacific Beach and walk, or take a bus from Old Town.
By Bus: #8 from Old Town, stops right in front of Belmont Park/Wave House.

Pacific Beach

Here you'll find the young college and spring breakers partying it up.  Beach bars, cheap restaurants, and trendy shopping line Grand and Garnet avenues, leading to the beach.  Babes walk around in the bikini tops and cut off shorts while surfer dudes wander with their boards, board shorts and "mank tops".  It's loud, it's happening, there is usually a group playing soccer and sneaking beers in brown paper bags. Go on a Tuesday and check out Typhoon Saloon's epic Taco Tuesday special.

Best for... Bar Hopping

Directions: Easily accessible from the Interstate-5, take the Grand exit.
By Bus: #8, 9, 27 & 30

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is one of San Diego's most laid back beaches.  The small neighborhood feels like you've stepped back in time to the 1970s.  Homeless hippies line the streets and beach front, playing love-music from Woodstock and smoking joints.  Known to locals simply as "O.B." it's one of the most beautiful places to catch a sunset at the nearby sunset cliffs, but be careful and watch your footing.  The surrounding neighborhood offers San Diego's best burgers at Hodads and some great Reggae music at the local dive bars.

Best for... Chillin' to the sunset
Directions: Easily by car and public transportation.  The Interstate-8 will dump you into the smooth vibes of this rockin' community.
By Bus: #35, #925


This tiny neighborhood hosts some of the most annoying traffic jams in all of San Diego, thanks to it's roundabouts.  But beyond the traffic of Birdrock, is one of the most unknown beaches America's finest city has to offer.  Locals flock to this beach to surf, swim, fish, and hang out.  The underwater reefs and rocky shore add to the waves, and what locals call the Womp. The beach is fantastic to walk along during low tide, but as the water rises, the beach disappears against the cliffs and rocks.  It's also a well-known spot to catch one of San Diego's famous sunsets which in turn make it an ideal spot to pop the question and take engagement photos.

Best for... locals

Directions: The small neighborhood nestled in between Pacific Beach and La Jolla.
By Bus: #30
© The Traveling Barnacle

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Apple Picking Conundrum

I'm watching you, you east-coaster posting all your lovely photos of apple picking and pumpkin patch hunting, pumpkin spiced latte in hand.  You're dressed like every other autumnal celebrating person out there.  You've got your skinny jeans, boots, and favorite sweater on.  I'm jealous enough of the apples, but now I'm jealous it's actually cold enough to wear that sweater.  And of course there's the backdrop.  The golden oranges, reds, and fading greens dance behind you in the fall foliage.

Screw you. I'm in Southern California.  Where it's perpetually sunny, the weather rarely dips below 68 degrees and boots are for cowboys.  So in order to try and fulfill my autumnal needs I took to google and did a quick search for some apple orchards.  The results were shocking.

For those of you living under a rock, California is facing one of the worst droughts in over 100 years. Not only is this drought impacting our daily water needs and  the dangerous potential for fire-storms, but it's impacting those lovely apple orchards in east county.  Better known as my only hope to feel like it's the middle of October and not the middle of summer.

The orchards are closed.  Their wells running dry and instead of picking apples off their trees, they're picking up dust.  So what is an east coast girl to do?

© The Traveling Barnacle

Sunday, 19 October 2014


As you will shortly discover, if you don't know already, I love Halloween.  The next couple of weeks will more or less be Halloween overload of why I love candy corn, dressing up, and all things spooky.  To kick off the obsession this season, I was sent some very valuable information that changed the way I saw the whole pumpkin, to carve or not to carve conundrum;  Frankenstein Pumpkin Molds.

Up in Ventura County, California, one fantastic farmer, Tony Digeria, came up with the idea to grow his pumpkins in the shape of Frankenstein.  Talk about pure genius!  Not only do you not have to cut your jack-o'-lantern and make a complete mess of everything (including loosing a few fingers) then watching while your fantastic artwork riots on your front porch or worse... gets vandalized by the neighborhood hoodlums.  Instead I can hang out with Frankie.

For just $75 you can buy one of these beauties from Cinagro Farms.  I don't know about you but this farmer is total husband material.  What's more Digeria says he's thinking about making heart shaped watermelons for Valentines Day next year and skull shaped white pumpkins next Halloween.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Friday, 17 October 2014

When in O'ahu: Beach Beach Beach

The first thing that comes to mind when you tell everyone you've just been to Hawaii is oOoo the Beach!  As someone (ironically yes I know) that isn't a beach person, Hawaii was an interesting experience.  Full of beaches, yes, beautiful, yes, but also incredibly dangerous.  20 foot waves crashed onto the shore before us, threatening to sweep us away in their big surf.

We stood in awe while even the locals stayed away from the water.  The few brave paddled out to catch the un-catchable wave, tempting fate, while we held our breath on the beach.  The sun warmed our backs, turning our shoulders golden brown to match Hawaii's shores.

Just around the bend lies Banzai Pipeline one of the most iconic, famous and most deadly breaks on the island.  Numerous surfers have lost their lives in the beautiful break.  And as a non-surfing Barnacle, I couldn't help but watch in complete awe as surfers dropped into the 20 foot waves, catching the elusive, the once-in-a-lifetime, catching the dream.

View of Pipeline, O'ahu, Hawaii

© The Traveling Barnacle

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A Sunset Ranch Wedding

Photo credit: Brian Wyland
Your wedding day should be __________________.  For every one of us that blank is different, but we all want that blank to be memorable, wonderful, and all together lovely.  For my dear friends Jeremy and Noelle, their day was more than a blank space to put words.  For these two, their wedding was perfect. The bubbles as the newly weds took their first steps together as man and wife, the unique exchange during their ceremony, the fantastic setting on beautiful Sunset Ranch in Hawaii, or the delicious cake that I am still craving.   So many little details made the moment in their incredible journey special.  But made it truly memorable was the pieces of themselves they put into the entire event, making it not only about their union as man and wife but the people in their lives who made this moment real.

Nestled in the hills of Waimea Valley on the North Shore of Oahu, the ranch is one of the largest private estates on the island.  Behind the make-shift alter bloomed a wind farm, the large white arms blowing gently in the warm breeze.  We took our seats, hidden in the grove of trees feeling particularly special not only to witness such a beautiful bride take her first steps towards her husband-to-be, but because the property itself was letting us in on it's little island secret.
The view from Sunset Ranch complete with windmills blowing in the background.

During the ceremony the bride and groom read their own vows, laughing with one another, sharing inside jokes with their loved ones.  Upon the table was one large vase of sand, and two smaller containers.  The two small came from Jeremy and Noelle's home town shores.  For Noelle it would be Waimea Valley's very own North Shore, and for Jer it would be the beautiful San Diego sand from Windansea.  The bride and groom picked up their sand, pouring it into the third vase, containing sand from the place they met; San Francisco.

As the sky parted and rain dropped down upon us, we gathered together under a transparent tarp, watching as the water droplets danced in celebration for the newly weds.  Food was served and the cake cut.   Speeches were given, toasts made.  And the dancing began.

Congrats you two.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Happy Birthday Webster!

Words.  Gotta love 'em.  They're your most powerful tool and most dangerous weapon in any one situation.  And today, October 16th, we celebrate the man who took those tools of the world and put them all into one place; Noah Webster you smooth criminal you, Happy Birthday.

Webster's dictionary took the lexicographer nearly 30 years to write, completing it at the age of 70.  A fact I hold dear to my heart whenever I feel like a bit of a failure... I've got 'till I'm 70 to make it big, just look at Webster!  What's more in those 30 years, he learned 26 different languages, leaving the final copy holding around 70,000 words.  He changed the way Americans not only spoke but were heard and introduced those Americanisms as the 'norm'.  And you know those pesky "ou"s in the British Language that simply aren't there in American English?  Yeah, you've got Webster to thank for those beautiful colors in the sky above the center of your neighbors house.

Paul Anthony Jones, a writer for the Huffington Post, compiled a list of what he calls Webster's "most curious, most obscure and most surprising words" from A to Z.

Defined by Webster as "wise afterwards or too late" -- or in other words, the perfect term for describing that feeling of knowing exactly what you should have said (or done) after the opportunity to say it (or do it) has passed you by. Other useful after- words on Webster's list were after-game (a subsequent scheme or plan), after-supper(the time between supper and going to bed), and after-tossing (the rolling of the sea after a storm has passed).
"Senseless prattle" or "unmeaning words," according to Webster. To twattle, incidentally, is to gossip or chatter.
Cycopede is all but unique to Webster, who defined it as both a variation of cyclopedia (as in encyclopedia), and as a term for the entire "circle of human knowledge."
As a verb, to daggle is "to befoul" or "dirty", or more specifically, "to trail in mud or wet grass". The adjective daggle-tail ultimately describes someone "having the lower ends of garments defiled with mud."
Another of Webster's clever compound adjectives, this time describing any sound that "sets up the ears".
The perfect name for "an insignificant fellow" -- Webster described this word as "vulgar and not used."
An old-fashioned word for a ventriloquist, or as Webster explains, "one who so modified his voice that it seems to come from another person or place."
On the rare occasions when hugger-mugger appears in modern English, it's typically used to describe a state of noisy confusion or uproar. According to Webster, however, it was a "low cant word" synonymous with privacy or clandestineness -- doing something in hugger-mugger, he explained, meant doing it in absolute secrecy.
A formal word for "the act of ensnaring; a catching or entrapping."
jackpudding is a "merry-andrew" or "a zany" according to Webster -- in other words, a joker who acts the fool to make other people laugh.
As loaves of bread expand in the oven as they're cooked, a kissing-crust forms when they spread so far that they touch.
Derived from the Latin word for distance, longinquity is a formal word for remoteness or isolation, or for any vast distance in space or time.
To stammer or stumble on your words. To faffel means the same thing.
If something is nuncupatory then it exists in name only. The word can also be used to describe a verbal rather than written agreement.
Literally means "to walk about." The horseback equivalent, incidentally, is toobequitate -- or "to ride about."
The strong string or twine used to wrap parcels? That's packthread.
quadrin was old copper coin, which Webster explains was "in value [worth] about a farthing". Its name can also be used figuratively of any tiny amount of something, or an insignificant amount of cash.
"A vile, dissolute wretch" -- also known as a rampallion, a scroyle, a runnion, apander, a cullion and (if they seem destined to a life of crime) a crack-rope.
To sheep-bite is "to practice petty thefts" according to Webster. Some of his other criminally underused S-words include scantle ("to divide into small pieces"), scranch("to grind with the teeth"), stalactical ("resembling an icicle"), squabbish ("thick, fat, heavy") and stramash ("to beat," "to destroy"). Less useful is sniggle, defined as "to fish for eels by thrusting the bait into their holes."
"Slow-paced; moving or stepping slowly."
To uptrain is "to educate" -- literally "to train up."
Derived from the Latin word for the spring, to vernate is "to become young again."
To wrangle is "to dispute angrily" or "to involve in contention," according to Webster. So if you're wranglesome, then you're "quarrelsome and contentious."
Xerophagy is "the eating of dry meats," according to Webster, who described the practice as "a sort of fast among the primitive Christians." In all, he listed just 13 words under X in his dictionary - which is 13 more than Samuel Johnson, who instead stated that "X is a letter which, though found in Saxon words, begins no word in the English language."
Also called a yoke-fellow, a yoke-mate is "an associate or companion."
Z fairs slightly better than X in Webster's dictionary, with a total of 85 entries in all. Azuffolo, he explains, is "a little flute... especially that which is used to teach birds."

I don't know about you, but I'm definitely going to try and use a few of these in my daily vocabulary.  After all who doesn't love a good Hugger-Mugger.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Visiting Pearl Harbor

As I stood over the sunken hull of the battleship U.S.S. Arizona a breeze blew across the warm Pacific Ocean, sending a chill up my spine.  Goosebumps appeared on my skin, moist and sweating in the 80 degree heat.  A strong odor of gasoline filled the air, while pools of metallic ooze appeared in the small waves lapping against the rusting wreck. Nearly 1000 souls lay underneath my feet.  I took a deep breath and shut my eyes.

December 7th, 1941.  The American Navy had been ordered to Honolulu to Pearl Harbor, after rumors that the Japanese were gaining momentum to strike the United States.  While World War II smashed its way across Europe, the Japanese saw an alliance with Nazi Germany to take the colonies of the fallen countries.  Japan had slowly woven its hands through south east Asia but knew the United States was a threat, a threat that needed to be eradicated.  The plan was to wipe out the U.S. naval fleet and invade South East Asia while “we” were down for the count.  Unable to repair our troops and battleship fleet in time, Japan would be able to gain enough ground to win the war.

It was a one in a million shot.

I opened my eyes.  In front of me was a world map.  The United States looms over the center, while to the left lies Japan.  It seemed so small, so far away in every sense of the word.  “We”, the U.S. pushed them around.  They were the tiny kid on the playground with the broken glasses, but they’d had enough.  And when we cut off their oil supply in the summer of 1941, to the Japanese, there was only one option; War.

It was a quiet Sunday morning as I stood looking down at the wreck.  A Sunday probably no different than December 7th 1941.  It was a small blip on the radar that gave American troops warning the wave of more than 300 Japanese planes were about to descend on the small island of Oahu, a small blip that they were told “not to worry about”.  I could see oil oozing out of the rust, flowing freely into the bay, the palm trees swaying in the background in the tropical wind.  This was paradise after all.  Troops stationed here were more than happy to let their hair down and share a coconut with the locals.  Hawaii is a magical place that lulls you into a day dream.

But December 7th 1941 was a nightmare.   And as the bombs dropped the palm trees caught fire, the coconuts burned, and the locals fled.  The majority of the fleet of battleships were destroyed, taking over a thousand men to the bottom of the sea with them.  Brave survivors took to the skies, fighting the incoming planes, while the remaining men jumped on board the only ships left standing to send fire back at the enemy.  When it was all over the United States Navy had been destroyed.  The next day Japan invaded Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and three other small Polynesian islands.  And as Japan descended upon South East Asia, the United States banded together in spirit and in hope.  Men enlisted in honor of Pearl Harbor, women tended to the sick, the injured, and took care of the country while their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons fought for them.

I looked up at the red and white stripes flying at half-mast.  I placed my hand over my heart and took a deep breath.  The smell of gasoline and salt water filling my lungs I felt honored to be standing here above the U.S.S. Arizona; Above the resting place of so many who died before waking that Sunday morning.  As I walked back to the boat, a man placed a single lei on the monument.  The white flowers glowing in the sunlight; this is paradise after all.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

#20. Go to Hawaii. CHECK!

I recently compiled a list of 30 things to do before I turn 30, and guess what folks, I've just crossed number 20 off my list: Go to Hawaii.

Hawaii was never at the top of any list.  It was a place that the rich kids in elementary school and middle school went during our dreary February and March breaks.  They've come back their golden hair just a little more golden with beaded braids and sun kissed skin.  I didn't understand how the sun could do that to a human being.  When I went into the sun, I turned pink and blistered.  They would take about the tropical shores, the surf, and the coconuts.

 For those of you who know me, my relationship with the beach is a trying one.  For me, the beach was something you did maybe twice a summer.  You packed up the car, full of useless things like one too many umbrellas, a plethora of towels and sunglasses, sunscreen, and coolers filled with sticky fluffernutter sandwiches and went.  You drove anywhere between an hour and three to get to the best beach around and then would promptly leave a few hours later when your younger brothers lips turned blue.  You'd be covered in sand, burnt, and freezing from the Arctic waves.  Living in southern California, I have been trying to teach myself to like the beach.  I try to go at least once a month, but still can't seem to find a place of relaxation on the rough sand.  I try and swim but I'm just not that into it.  So going to Hawaii for the beach, which is why 99% of anyone goes to Hawaii wasn't really a good enough reasons.

Secondly, I despise coconuts.

Instead I had one of the best reasons to travel anywhere put on my plate; the nuptials of two very important people, set to tie the knot at Sunset Ranch on the North Shore of Oahu.  Tickets were quickly booked and I boarded the plane headed for Paradise.

I don't know what I was expecting but Hawaii wasn't it.  We tend to go through life never actually seeing anything.  Instead the beaches I was walking on I had seen hundreds of times before in film, where lovely music was added to help me feel something a little more special.  Hawaii was like a large movie set, unreal, beautiful, and completely overwhelming.  I wasn't ready to relax on the beach, I wanted to explore what these tiny islands have to offer.  How does one live there?  Where does one shop?  Where does one find the best food?  The Dole Plantation?  I am so in!  But the experience wasn't one of adventure, it was one of relaxation, which has now fuelled a burning desire to go back, see and actually do in Paradise.

Until next time Hawaii, Aloha.

© The Traveling Barnacle
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