San Diego, seals and a pair of flip flops



July 21-23, 2017

Friday night at around 6pm I get a text from a friend that says "wanna hangout tonight?" I replied, "I'm finished with work and wouldn't mind going somewhere pretty for sunset so I can get a shoot in!" He then responds "What about San Diego?"

That was all it took and in two hours flat we were on the road to California. 

He had a friend in Los Angeles we were planning on meeting up with and crashing with the next day, but had no plans for what we were going to do when we arrived in the Golden State at 1 am. With a mission to get to the beach, we treaded on. 

We arrive to a darkened and sleeping San Diego ready to park and rest for the remainder of the night/morning. We found the nearest park (Mission Bay Park) and pulled in to sleep. As we drove we noticed "No parking 2-4am" and "Absolutely no sleeping in cars" signs everywhere. I, a rule follower and a very tired person that didn't want to fall asleep just to get kicked out by the cops in an hour, suggested we try another spot. My friend, Nolan, insisted on staying and fell asleep shortly after.

I personally cannot sleep when I first arrive to a new city, regardless of how tired I am, so the added stressor of being parked illegally left me staring into the darkness. Soon after, cops came to the lot and arrested a dude, parked diagonally across three spots (we assumed he was under the influence of something.)

Thinking we were next, I woke Nolan up and suggested we should go ahead and leave before we get kicked out. Shortly after, the cops drove away without making everyone else leave, so of course Nolan was pissed I woke him up for nothing and now neither of us could sleep.

"Welp, let's at least go find somewhere cool to watch the sun come up." I said. 

We bust out Google and type in "best places to watch the sunrise in San Diego."

We find a very popular hike called Cowles Mountain Trail. After informing Nolan that I in fact did not bring the correct shoes for hiking thinking this was about to be a beach bum trip (silly me) we looked at the difficulty. It said only three miles, and I'm assuming the sand had not been rubbed out of our eyes yet because we start hiking, and about a mile up I am drenched in sweat and realize we are definitely not half a mile from the top.

Mind you, I am wearing fashionable backless sandals, big flowy yellow pants and a tight , practically see-through bodysuit carrying my bulky camera bag.

Turns out the hike was a three mile hike up the mountain, and three back down. Now, I hike, so the distance wasn't the problem. The problem was I hadn't eaten in over 12 hours, was on zero sleep, and was trying to keep up with Nolan while in flip flops to try and at least catch a glimpse of sunrise at the top.

We get to the top and it's fog as far as the eye can see. We decide to wait it out because a foggy view of the city would of been cool too!

But nothing.

Here is a photo as we got about halfway back down, some of the fog had cleared but that was all I could capture.

Here is a photo as we got about halfway back down, some of the fog had cleared but that was all I could capture.

The fog didn't clear and a woman showed up with a boombox and two screaming kids while at least 20 people were sitting in silence trying to enjoy their morning on the mountain. Safe to say, half of us got up and left at that point. 

Now this might sound like a lot of complaining, and while I was very annoyed at the time, no one ever regrets a hike! I got to start my morning with some exercise after being in the car all night, and had about 100 people tell me "Good Morning!" while passing them. 

From there we got breakfast downtown San Diego among Comic Con attendees, and then headed straight to La Jolla to prance around the beach. At this point, all I wanted to do was shoot. So Nolan stayed behind to nap on the beach and I walked along the shore passed all the crowds, the pier and into a rocky and decently rough cove. At this moment, all of the past troubles were worth it. I was completely alone on this beautifully hazy and rocky shore breathing in the ocean air and shooting a new landscape. 

As I was walking back, my neck couldn't have turned quicker when I noticed a badass surfer chick heading to the waves in a bright red top that I knew would contrast beautifully with the water. You would have thought I was paparazzi the way I turned around and started shooting. I'm so glad I did because this has become one of my favorite photos that I've taken recently.

I get back from my three mile walk to Nolan face down in the sand dead asleep and a back as red as the surfers shirt. 

I wake him up to tell him my next mission is to find an ice cold beer. His plan was to find a surf board and get on the water. We go separate ways again and I go off to find a fun place to drink a beer in the cute beach town of La Jolla. Luckily I found an adorable bar close, order a beer (coincidentally by a brewery called Mission), and found myself talking to a lady in her 70s from the area and a couple from Phoenix. We shared laughs and we all went our separate ways. 

I head back to the beach to meet back up with Nolan and after an impromptu selfie shoot, we were on our way to Los Angeles.

His surfboard matched my all-yellow outfit so duh I made him take a photo of me. 

His surfboard matched my all-yellow outfit so duh I made him take a photo of me. 

As we leave, we made one more pitstop before heading to the road again. La Jolla Cove, a place famous for it's mass of seals that hangout there. After driving the perimeter forever we find a 20 min spot, jump out and sprint to the seals. I got some adorable shots, and we were back in the car just in time to avoid a ticket.


So mind you, it is about 2:30 pm and we have done all of the above in a matter of half of a day without sleep. As we head out on the two hour drive to Los Angeles, I finally got a chance to sleep. With traffic, we got to our destination in Echo Park by 5:30pm and watched the sun go down over downtown LA from our friend Bri's front porch. We ended the night with drinks and dancing in Venice and Hermosa, Venice was a place had been wanting to check off my list for a while now, and had a BLAST.

My new friend Bri,who was an amazingly sweet and fun host to us, sits in her beautiful Los Angeles apartment Saturday evening before we headed out for the night. 

My new friend Bri,who was an amazingly sweet and fun host to us, sits in her beautiful Los Angeles apartment Saturday evening before we headed out for the night. 

We stayed up the entire night, and woke up at 1pm the next day, high-tailed it to the nearest In-n-Out, and were on our way back to Phoenix by 5:30pm Sunday. Also, my poor foot felt as though someone had dropped a cement block on it from the hike the previous morning.

Safe to say my bed had never been missed more and I slept way too long on a very sluggish Monday, but it was well worth the exhaustion. I got to see and do so much in just one weekend. I am so thankful to live somewhere that so many places are just a weekend trip away and I refuse to ever take that for granted.

If you learned anything from this blog, it's always pack hiking shoes regardless of what you THINK you're going to be doing, don't go into a trip with too many plans and expectations and try to roll with the punches, and lastly my reoccurring lesson is NEVER say no to a spontaneous trip.

- Alyssa



Alyssa SmithComment