Local Loving: Desert to the Ocean

This weekend I took advantage of the best parts of Southern California and made my way around it’s gorgeous topography.

I started at Joshua Tree National Park with a trail run, followed by an overnight camping trip. We had planned to run to Lost Palms Oasis, however, the middle of the day desert heat had other plans. We ended up hiking most of it.

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We were more than ready for ice cold beer and food when we returned to camp. After chugging one gallon of water, a beer was much appreciated, along with snacks as we cooked the rest of our food. (Hummus + pita & olives)

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I had planned to make veggie dogs with vegan mac and cheese, but someone (it was me) forgot to pack the buns. We improvised and made bowls of cut up veggie dogs, vegan mac + cheese (recipe is from here, seriously YUM) and baked beans.

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We could not have picked  a better night to camp. The moon was full, bright and breathtaking. These pictures do it no justice.

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We came back on Saturday, unpacked, napped, then went to Redlands Shakespeare Festival. This was a showing of Julius Cesar, and since it is the Season of Gender, this was done with an all female cast. It put a very interesting twist on the show. The actresses who played Cassius and Mark Anthony completely stole the show. As always, the performance was amazing!

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Sunday, we made our way down to our second home; Venice Beach. We try to make it out there about once per month. We feel at home amongst the diverse characters, I love people watching, meeting fellow beach goers and drinking cold beer under the sun.

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Sundays are great days to be there because there is the drum circle that goes on till sundown. We danced around, made beautiful music and spread positive energy.

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I feel fortunate to live close to so much culture and diversity!

A Weekend of Trail Runs: Joshua Tree & Sheriff’s 10K

This weekend started off with purchasing new trail running shoes. After I discovered my passion for trail running, I knew I would want to incorporate it into my training more often. I tried on and loved the Nike Pegasus. They made quite a difference! Last time, I ran in my boots, which were heavy and inflexible. These shoes were light but have amazing traction. I felt quickly that I could trust them and was soon dodging branches and jumping over rocks in them.

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We started off the weekend at Joshua Tree National Park, and ran about 9 miles. We originally had another trail in mind, but there was a storm this past week that brought quite a bit of snow, so we decided to head to the desert instead.

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The views were amazing. I cranked up my new playlist and let myself get lost in the landscape around me.

This trail had plenty of hills and was a great challenge. I am absolutely hooked on trail running!

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On the way home, we stopped at Native Foods Cafe in Palm Springs. It is an all vegan restaurant with an amazing selection and I have yet to taste anything there that I do not absolutely love. We started with beers and Native wings.

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I ordered the vegan meatball sub & my love ordered the vegan steak sandwich. Both were delicious after our grueling run.

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On Sunday, we were invited to do the Sheriff’s 10K trail run with some friends.

The course started off right away with an intense hill and they kept increasing thereafter. This was one of the steepest ones (but still not the largest). They became completely impossible to run and we ended up briskly walking up most.

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Even the downhill portions were intense. They were so steep and it was hard to make up time on them. I felt like I was going to slide completely down the hills.

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There was a portion around 4.5 miles that finally flattened out. I felt good enough to gain some speed for a while, but the hills soon returned.

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Check out the elevation chart:

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We finished in 1:23, not a great 10K time, but not too bad for all the hills and walking.

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After the race, we went to Oscar’s Mexican Restaurant.

We started off with micheladas!

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I ordered the beans and potatoes with a side of avocado and corn tortillas. One of my favorite things about Oscar’s is that they carry soyrizo! My love ordered the soyrizo and potato burrito.

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Hopefully, the weather permits for our next trail run to be in the mountains!

Trail Run

I was hit by the desire to get out into nature this weekend and go for a long hike. I also needed to get in an 8 miler run for my half-marathon training schedule. I decided to combine the 2 and go out for a trail run.

I have not had much experience with trail runs before, aside for 3 or 4 milers when I have been camping. I heard that they could be more strenuous and I was looking forward to the challenge.

We decided to go to a trail we had never gone to before. It was near Mt. Baldy off Brackett-Stoddard Rd. It was a 12 miler total, I decided to run 8 of it and hike the rest.

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The wind was blowing like crazy in Southern California, but once we got started, it was not too bad, only on certain open sections of the trail.

The trail was wide, for the most part, which made for easy running. However, there were more harrowing sections that were icy or overgrown and we had to stop and walk.

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The elevation gain was pretty intense. We had our fair share of uphill sections. This definitely slowed our pace down, but I was glad to get the hills in as our race is packed with them!

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At the 6 mile turn around spot, we stopped to refuel. I made peanut butter and banana sandwiches on cinnamon raisin bread, along with chugging coconut water (I was pretty famished).

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I did find it hard to start again after eating and sitting down to rest. This signals in my brain that my run is done! I walked for about 2.5 miles before starting to run again. I knew I did not want to run the whole 12 miles anyways, so it was a good time to take part of the walking break.

I think I found a new passion. Trail running was amazing. I felt so free and peaceful. The normal distractions of road running were not missed. I did not have to watch for cars, wait at crosswalks or ignore unwarranted things yelled at me from car windows (creepasaurouses!) I was able to feel the meditative effects of being in nature and still get my miles in. Plus, the views were amazing.

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Trail running was definitely more difficult. The terrain is much more diverse, plus elevation gains and losses are more severe. I also had to constantly dodge rocks, tree branches, etc. However, the added challenge only added to the thrill. I absolutely see more trail runs in my future.

After the 12 miler, I was ready to eat!! We headed to one of my favorite vegan eateries, The Loving Hut, where I immediately ordered appetizers (vegan cheese sticks & vegan wings) and fresh juice (apple, beet, carrot & lime).

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For my entree, I chose something I had been craving all week, the Pan Seared Shanghai style Dumplings. My love ordered the Oriental Wonton soup, which is big enough to fill you up.

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For dessert, we split chocolate cheesecake.

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It was a pretty amazing day. Trails, challenges and food. There is not much more that I need.