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Sometimes, it’s less about where you’re going than who you’re with. Unless you really got to pee, then it’s all about that bathroom. Melina, Shannon, this one’s for you—Merry Christmas and cheers to 2020!

Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California

By the time we groaned across the border into San Diego, a welcome stretch of U.S. highway open in front of us like a first spring bloom, it was 5 p.m. At 9 a.m. one hot summer Sunday in Tijuana, our 4Runner pulled into a line leading up to U.S. border control that snaked around street corners and across bridges. And then we stopped, completely. We were optimistic, naive rather—maybe we’ll have time to squeeze in brunch before some of us continued north, we thought. After eight hours, interminable stops and starts, time wore us down, but not enough to wipe away weekend memories created just days before. While we waited, and waited, we dipped into this fresh well of memories from a long weekend in Baja California—the eponymous state and peninsula that slices through the Pacific and Gulf of California—to sustain us.


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Afternoon at Waikiki Beach from Moana Lani Spa in Honolulu.
Waikiki Beach from Moana Lani Spa, Honolulu

After a brief moment in the sand with eyes closed and legs crossed, we step away from the chanting and let the froth wash over our feet. It’s dawn and serene in Waikiki; the perfect environment for a Ho’ala sunrise ceremony. Or, at least it was. As the sun floats up to illuminate Diamond Head, Waikiki again becomes the bustling, selfie-stick wielding destination that attracts more than 9 million visitors annually to the Hawaiian Islands. Of them, and according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority 6 million arrive in Oahu. And since all visitors land or port in Honolulu, Waikiki––Hawaii’s most storied tourist district––is a natural stopover.

This is the Waikiki I’ve always known (though selfie-sticks weren’t yet a thing). I grew up in Kaua’i which lacks the urban density of Honolulu, so a 20-minute flight to Oahu was the closest thing for a taste of city life. At the same time, Waikiki draws huge crowds to its powdery shores. Several underground, freshwater streams flow from the mountains, under some of Waikiki’s most-loved hotels and into the bay. The mix of freshwater with ocean helped create the bay’s sandy bottom, making the area a forgiving place to surf. It’s also a coveted place to sunbathe, jump on a catamaran and people watch.

Ho’ala morning ritual in Waikiki

Where to Get a Massage in Waikiki

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In honor of the storm cells passing through San Diego region this week, I’m resurfacing my January piece published on Medium. It’s a beginner’s guide to visiting an art museum, which is a practical activity to do on a rainy day in San Diego given we’re blessed with more than 300 days of sun a year.

Not only that, but if you’re into stretching your cognitive limits, immersing oneself in art may help refine those soft skills too. Skills like critical thinking and empathy.

“It’s good to stretch ourselves,” by working through our discomfort with a work of art we don’t quite understand, notes Anita Feldman from the San Diego Museum of Art.

Art also gives voice to things that are hard to articulate. “An emotion, idea, experience,” says Katherine Hall of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. “Art can succeed in this space.”

Read the entire story on Medium here.


Pro tip for San Diego residents: Did you know you can get in free to many museums at Balboa Park? Make sure to bring your ID and check this link to participate in Residents Day at museums including Fleet Science Center, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Museum of Art and more. I’d recommend going early to beat the crowds (learned my lesson at the Japanese Friendship Garden a few years ago!)

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