Hike 30, food, tours, and what it means to be an artist…

Today was packed full of goodness. It began with an early wake up to drive to Santa Ysabel Preserve, which is about an hour and a half outside of San Diego. The plan to leave early was recommended by my hostess’ son’s recommendation based on the need to beat the mid day heat. He said this was a great hike. Also, he said to stay away from the crazy cows. What? This was to be my 30th hike. I was hoping to get in 5 miles while my hostess with the mostest took her dog Francis for a walk and read a book. Why is Francis not hiking with me? Well, she is a tiny creature. Just look at her…


This hike was a big one for me. First of all we were the only ones there, which always makes me nervous because I would be the first to stir the wildlife. The Volcan Mountains look like a giant mountain lion and rattlesnake hiding place. The trail was super steep in places with loose dirt beneath my feet. And, it was hot! Even at 8am it was hot. Here was the view from the parking lot. Looks easy, right?


All over the parking lot and the first mile of the hike there were these adorable prairie dogs darting across the trail, back and forth, into their borrows, watching me, and communicating with each other. Their presence put me at ease. I figured where there are cute critters about there are likely few predators, right? Here’s one of them poking out of his hole in the lower left hand corner of the photo below.


Eventually they stopped making appearances. Around that time I started seeing paw prints on the trail. I studied them, bunnies, prairie dogs, coyote and coyote scat. I saw some gorgeous hawks darting in and out of the trees. I even came across those crazy cows. Yep, they didn’t seem fearful of anything. Then, about 2 miles in, I saw the biggest coyote scat ever, and realized it was likely not coyote, but mountain lion. And close by were accompanying tracks. And I make it about .2 miles further before deciding I didn’t need to investigate that any further. I turned around and made my way back sweating. I had taken my shirt off a while back because of the heat. Come on people, I had a sports bra on. That’s less revealing than a bikini top. Also, I was hoping to keep it smelling a little better than me so I could use it as a stink barrier when I got back in the car. Ha! One can try. I passed a couple who had hats and scarves on their heads. Why didn’t I remember my hat? Oh, wait, I can put my shirt on my head! And I did. And it helped. They must have thought I was nuts. I had no hat, no shirt, I was holding a camera in one hand, and a large rock in the other. Oh yeah, I picked up the rock when I started to fear meeting a large cat, knowing that you’re not supposed to bend down if you encounter one because they think you’re going to attack. So better to pick up the rock before seeing the cat. It made sense to me. I also had my pepper spray for back up. Luckily I never saw a cat or a snake. And I didn’t get sunburnt. It was a miracle. I may have aged 10 years though, but it was totally worth the experience of roaming these velvety Volcan Mountains.

4.4 miles done. Time to drive to Julian for well deserved pie. But first, a stop at the Dudley’s Bakery. I got a cheese danish, you know, for the protein. It was delicious. We drove on to Julian and had pie a la mode. I got apple boysenberry. It was SOOO good. If you go, do it on a weekday because there are huge waits on weekends.


We drove back to the condo, and I had all these ideas of what to do next. Starting with a quick shower. Then exhaustion set in, so I took a nap. When I woke up I did some internetting. Then left to meet an old friend at his place of employment. He and I had art classes together through all four years in high school. During those years he spent a lot of time in the principal’s office. That’s right. And now he is an Art Director for Sony. Here he is in his office where he scolds his artists when they’re not doing their job. Ironic,  isn’t it? You gotta love it.


He gave me the tour, pointing out the different buildings, explaining that the lights in the art building were off because artists like the dark. Some things never change. I got to meet some of the minds behind some of the up and coming video games, like Kill Strain. We walked over to Karl Strauss Brewery, because it’s on the Sony campus, and had a beer. We strolled around a bit more, then headed out for a drive up the coast to introduce me to all of the beach towns so I can see where I should be living. It was cool to finally put a visual to all the tiny beach town names I had heard about. And they were all so cute.

On the way back we stopped at a dive bar he had never been to called Cap’n Kenos, and it turned out we missed a parking lot fight by juts 10 minutes. Darn. I mean, thank goodness. Regardless, this place has great prices. Cash only has its benefits.

Next we went to his favorite pizza place, Crust Pizzeria. We got pizzas, and they were good. We talked and talked and talked about the awesome that is San Diego, how lucky we were to go to Oakton High School, about making art and not making art, about how some people expect artists to do things for free because they should be flattered to have been asked, we may have also talked a little bit about politics, and I may have offended the waiter. Oh dear. Before we parted I gave him a painting. Yes, gave.


And now I will explain the difference between making and giving art to a friend and making art for people because they think you should be grateful to have been asked. Let me start by saying I also gave a painting to the family I stayed with in Cupertino. I often make artwork for friends and give it to them. I do this because they’re my friends, and it’s how I show my appreciation for having them in my life. I like to make things because it’s personal, because they have been awesome and deserve awesome in return, and I usually already have the supplies so it doesn’t cost me anything but time. But when someone in expects me to create something in my spare time because it’s what I do, or what I’m good at, or whatever the excuse, and I should do it for free, for a discount, or for some side motive, I and most artists get offended. I didn’t get an undergrad in art so I could make things for people I sort of know to feel flattered or build my portfolio. I got it so I could work in that field…for money. So when I turn down an offer to make something that will benefit you with nothing more in return than making me feel happy to have been asked to do it, don’t be offended. That’s just not how my spare time is best spent. And please know that this rule extends to all artists. Even students, including my students. It doesn’t build a resume, nor does it help pay off student loans. It also doesn’t help build an ego. If you want to do that, just tell an artist what you like about their work.

Remember it like this. If you invite someone to meet up with you and they bring you a gift, that’s awesome. That means they think you’re pretty cool, and it’s okay to accept it without paying them. If you invite someone to meet up with you and you request they bring you a gift, well, are you are between the ages of 1 and 10 and it’s your birthday? No? Then don’t do that.



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Art Teacher Abroad

I'm an art educator on a mission to explore every nook of the earth. Follow my photo journal on Instagram @feedmebeijing

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