Canine Companions: Providing Exceptional Dogs for Exceptional People

Canine Companions: Providing Exceptional Dogs for Exceptional People

Southwest Region of Canine Companions Trains and Matches Service Dogs with Those With a Physical Disability

“There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life, no matter what its location, age, gender or disability.” -Sharron Angle

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for dogs. I grew up with a Border Collie who was so smart and energetic. As a teen, I would try to save any dog I possibly could, searching for their owners if they were missing, or feeding them if they didn’t look like they had eaten. As a college student, I fostered sick dogs in my apartment to help a local non-profit. So when Geno Spatafore from Canine Companions in San Diego invited me to their Oceanside location for a tour, I was immediately interested. This non-profit organization raises puppies for over two years before handing them off to aid a person with disabilities. They are always interested in accepting volunteers, and they are working diligently to make sure that those with a disability in San Diego can get the help they need. In this video with Geno, who is an active volunteer at Canine Companions, you’ll hear about the history and goals of Canine Companions, the day to day activities, training descriptions from Contract Trainer Cath Phillips, and information on how you can help. Take a look:

Canine Companions placed 59 dogs in homes of the disabled in the Southwest Region in 2015, and they are on track to do a similar number this year. They have around $40,000 to $50,000 invested into each dog before it gets placed, but if there weren’t so many volunteers, that number would be much higher.

The breeds that Canine Companions works with are the Black Labrador, Yellow Labrador, Golden Retriever or a mix of any two of the three. The program works with specific breeders in a closed loop system, so that Canine Companions knows the dogs will be a perfect fit for the program. Male Labs or Golden Retrievers are always pure bred so that breeding never becomes an issue, but many times, it’s the puppies with a mix of the two breeds that end up having the most knowledge and intuition during training.

Canine Companions

Puppy raisers (volunteers) watch over and take care of the puppies from 8 weeks old until they are 18 months old. They spend a lot of time with them, teaching them commands and practicing, and also going to group puppy classes, which is required for all puppies and puppy raisers. Every other Saturday different puppies show up for a 45 min to 90 min class in Oceanside with Contract Trainer Cath Phillips. The puppy raisers usually also pay for the veterinarian bills and dog food. Some puppies are even raised in prison systems, but do get allowed out of prison every so often to spend a few weeks outside of the facility. During their time outside of the prison, they experience sounds of ambulances, pots whistling on the stove, and other things they would not otherwise experience in prison. This is a very strict process (read more about it here) where four to five prisoners rotate the responsibilities of the puppy raising until the puppy is old enough for graduation. The puppies raised in a prison setting surprisingly have a higher rate of graduation, so this program truly helps inmates as well as the puppies they care for.

By the time the puppies are around 18 months old, they will have been taught about 30 commands by their volunteers. Then, they continue their training with Canine Companions’ staff instructors for an additional six months before they complete two weeks of Team Training alongside their new partners. By the time they graduate, they know about 40 commands to help people with disabilities with practical tasks like opening doors, retrieving dropped objects, activating light switches and more.

Canine Companions

After they are fully trained and ready to be matched, they go through a two week process where people with disabilities and their families reside on site at Canine Companions! There are many rooms, just like a hotel, except that each room has its own accessible bathroom, making it easy for all people with disabilities to come, learn and match perfectly with a dog. The volunteers and professional trainers who have been working with the dogs their entire lives usually know almost immediately which dog will be the best fit for each person.

New York Times best selling author Dean Koontz and his wife Gerda are significant benefactors for Canine Companions. A portion of Mr. Koontz donation went to the building of the Team Training Center and many of the studio apartment-style rooms where the recipients of service dogs reside during the matching process. Mr. Koontz became interested in Canine Companions while doing research for one of his books.  He has subsequently written several books about his dog, Trixie, from the dog’s perspective.  Trixie has now passed, and Mr. Koontz, his wife, and their golden retriever, Anna, reside in Southern California and remain huge supporters of Canine Companions.

Canine Companions

Although the waiting list is around two years to receive a trained service dog from Canine Companions, do not let that discourage you or someone you know, from applying. You can go right on the Canine Companions website and click “apply for a dog” to begin the process. Although there has been some “cape fraud” debates about dogs in public providing service to their owners, (check out this article and about a “service cat” attacking patrons in a restaurant) Canine Companions strives to be the gold standard when it comes to service animals. About non-service dogs, Geno said,”A dog can’t help but help you mentally,” however at Canine Companions, they focus on a few very specific and clearly defined service roles for their program. There are four categories of service animals: facility dogs, hearing dogs, service dogs and skilled companions. Learn all about the differences on this page of the Canine Companions website to decide which is best for you.

One thing Geno mentioned while I was touring the facility is how touching it is to see kids and the general public talking and reaching out to those with a disability to learn more about (or pet) their service animal. People with a disability don’t have to experience the awkward stares and comments, and instead can be included in conversations and even sought out, making them feel loved and appreciated. Of course, whenever you do interact with an individual and their working dog, you should always ask permission before touching and/or petting the animal.

Canine Companions

 If you’re a veteran, I thank you for serving our country. Also, I wanted to let you know that VA usually takes care of vet bills for service dogs that are matched with veterans with a disability, so do not let cost deter you from applying.
If you are not a person with a disability, there are so many ways you can still get involved with Canine Companions. The organization is always looking for puppy raisers, (apply online) and other volunteers to help around the site with housekeeping and maintenance tasks. You can also get some friends together (even if you don’t have a dog) and walk in DogFest! DogFest is a community outreach and fundraising event that is free to join. Participants can create a team and raise money in a competitive sense for the event, held this year at NTC Park at Liberty Station on Saturday, Oct, 29th. Find out more information on the site, and join in for the fun! There will be entertainment and vendors, and San Diego Lifestyle Blog will be participating too. Board member Lance Weir and his dog Auggie will be there to tell their inspirational story, and NBA legend Bill Walton will also make an appearance this year, so don’t miss out!
Canine Companions

Amanda Cascadden, Lance Weir, Auggie the dog, Geno Spatafore

Canine Companions is a non-profit that almost anyone can take an interest in. Whether you love dogs, have a family member with a disability or just appreciate what Canine Companions is doing to help people in San Diego, it is easy to see how incredible this organization truly is. This special facility in Oceanside is open for tours the first Thursday of every month, so stop by, say hello and see all of the activities going on daily! Have you been a puppy raiser before? How was your experience with Canine Companions? We’d love to hear from you!

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Six Birthday Party Ideas for Kids in San Diego (Tips From an Eight Year Old)

Six Birthday Party Ideas for Kids in San Diego (Tips From an Eight Year Old)

Finding the Perfect Birthday Party Ideas for Kids in San Diego Can Be Tricky

“At her birthday, my seven-year-old daughter will say that she wants these big cakes and certain expensive toys as presents, and I can’t say no to her. It would just break my heart. But when I was little, for birthdays we just played outside and we were happy if we got any cake.” -Goran Ivanisevic

Birthday Party Ideas For Kids in San Diego

Ah San Diego, home of every kid having a birthday party every single year. I’m kidding, but seriously, ever since I moved here from Michigan a few years ago, it seems as if birthday parties in San Diego have become increasingly popular. My son turned eight this summer, and had quite a tough time deciding where he wanted to have his birthday party. If you have a child in San Diego, you know how hard it is trying to find the perfect place to plan your child’s birthday party. It needs to be somewhere that your child loves, somewhere that the other kids will love, and somewhere that’s easy on us parents. I searched all over, and debated with my son over several ideas before we made a decision. Here are the best ideas we came up with this year:

Birthday Party Ideas For Kids in San Diego

Moonlight Beach

Moonlight Beach is one of the best birthday party ideas for kids in San Diego. There is a curbside unpacking area where you can pull all the way to the beach and unpack everything from your car before you find parking. If you have a lot of children coming to the party, this idea really is the easiest way to go. You can also rent the grassy area above the beach (next to the big parking lot) if your party is indeed larger. They have a jungle gym park that is so fun for kids, and they have restrooms and a washing station for after you’re out of the sand for the day. The only thing left to figure out for a birthday party is what activities the kids will do. Sometimes even after just an hour or so at the beach my son can get bored.

My eight year old’s tip, “Moonlight beach is a wonderful place to be. Many people are there every day to surf, tan and relax. Your children will have fun building sandcastles and crashing into the waves. I did not pick this as the idea for my birthday party this year because there is not an area that provides free drinks and shade. My friends may get hot or tired.”

Birthday Party Ideas For Kids in San Diego

Cinepolis Movie Theater

Going to a movie at Cinepolis is a great party idea for a smaller group. We have written a lot about this movie theater as it is a luxury theater that our family loves so much. You can invite everyone to your child’s favorite movie at Cinepolis, have dinner, treats or candy (right in your seats!!), and let them have just fun with all of their friends and enjoy a relaxing birthday night. It’s a great birthday party venue for both food and entertainment.

My eight year old’s tip, “Choosing the movie theater is good because you and your kids can have a wonderful time enjoying the movie and eating choclate coverd prezetels and more yummy snacks. I did not pick this option because there were no good movies out at the time.”

Birthday Party Ideas For Kids in San Diego

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has many safaris available for birthday party ideas for kids in San Diego. There is an age limit on certain safaris, so you’ll want to make sure that everyone you invite is old enough to go on the one you choose. You will get to experience wildlife, while also allowing your child to engage with their friends and have a silly, fun time. If your son or daughter likes animals, it’s the best of both worlds! Contact the Zoo Safari Park for more specific booking information.

My eight year old’s tip, “The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is great for ages 6 and up. Your party can travel in the back of a covered open air safari truck to visit at least two field enclosures and get an up-close view of Asian and African birds and mammals. You have an opportunity to feed giraffes for only $110!”

Birthday Party Ideas For Kids in San Diego

Bowling Alley

The bowling alley is where my son had his birthday party last year. It was so much fun, we can’t wait to go back and bowl there again. He almost wanted to have another bowling party this year, but we decided to try something else. Bowling is an inexpensive way to gather all of the kids and be sure that they will have a fun time. They are always watching each other bowl and trying to figure out how they themselves could do better on their next turn. The kids can eat their pizza and drink soda while continuing to bowl, and the staff provides tables for gifts, cake, and more! (The alley we celebrated at even made the cake for us!) The bowling alley idea is great for teaching kids all about patience and team camaraderie, while also allowing them to have SO much fun!

My eight year old’s tip, “I had so much fun celebrating my birthday at the bowling alley last year. My favorite part was the food. Every food item was tasty.”

Birthday Party Ideas For Kids in San Diego

Video Game Truck

About a month ago, my son was invited to a birthday party just down the road from our home. We walked down to the address on the invitation, and a huge green truck was parked outside. It was a gaming truck! There are several companies who provide this type of party, but the basic idea is that a big truck comes with many games, screens, and controllers to allow party goers to play video games for the whole party! If your child likes video games, I highly recommend this option, as most of the kids attending will love it as well. If different kids want to play different games, no problem. They have TVs inside and outside of the truck! You can have the truck park right outside your house, making it easy to plan out food and gifts in the same location, and it is a GREAT way to keep the party goers busy!

My eight year old’s tip, “There are so many good things I could say about this idea. The games are good, there are a lot of consoles, and each console has four players, so you can invite a good number of people.”

Birthday Party Ideas For Kids in San Diego

Rockin’ Jump

If you haven’t heard of Rockin’ Jump (sometimes known as Sky High) you probably don’t have a child. Almost every parent in San Diego has heard of (and probably been to many times) this place by the time their child is around age 6 or 7. You get a wristband from the front desk, and then it’s a free-for-all in this giant warehouse building filled with trampolines and foam pits! Even parents can enjoy a bit of childhood by joining in and jumping along! This is where my son finally decided he wanted to host his birthday party this year, and it couldn’t have been a better idea! They have special birthday party rooms in the back for cake and pizza time, and they call the party name out loud over the speaker so kids (and parents) know when it’s food time! (My fiancé and I were too busy recording slow-mo slam dunks on the basketball hoop trampoline to hear our party being called!) The staff was so friendly and helpful, I am sure we’ll be back to host a few more birthdays there over time!

My eight year old’s tip, “Do your children like trampolines? Well then take them to Rockin’ Jump. This is a fun place where there is dodgeball with trampoline floors, two giant trampoline areas and more!!! There is an awesome rope swing where you are on a trampoline and you bounce off it and grab onto a rope that swings you into a pile of foam balls. There is also 3 birthday rooms for multiple parties in one day. I chose this place for my birthday because it’s great!”

Birthday Party Ideas For Kids in San Diego

Birthday Party Ideas For Kids in San Diego

What birthday party ideas for kids in San Diego do you like best? Where are you planning on holding your child’s birthday party this year? I am sure there are more ideas out there that we haven’t heard of yet, so let me know and I’ll add them to the list!

What Living in San Diego Can Teach Me

What Living in San Diego Can Teach Me

Celebrating My 26th Birthday Today and Focusing on What Living in San Diego Can Teach Me

“It takes a long time to become young.” -Pablo Picasso

Even though I’ve only been alive for 26 years today, now that I’m officially in my “late twenties” I’m feeling pretty thoughtful about life, and I believe that living in San Diego can teach me a lot going forward. I feel I’ve learned so much, and I know I stil have a lot left to learn. Here are some of the main things I’ve learned in the past 26 years, a few things I’m looking forward to learning from this wonderful city, and what I am doing today on my birthday to celebrate where I am right now in life.

The skills I’ve learned most over the past 26 years are:

Living in San Diego
Dedication
Dedication is something that I never cared about too much until I was about…25. This past year, I’ve really started to realize that if I want something, I can’t just ask my parents, find an easier, round about way, or “not worry about it” like I did when I was 20 and the world was at my fingertips. I’m getting more interested in fitness and health the past few months, and what I’m finding out is that if you want something you MUST be willing to put the work in, and not just put the work in, but stop complaining. (This is something I’m still working on.) If you decide for yourself that you want to lose 10 pounds, and then you complain every time someone brings a donut around you, it’s counter productive. You must be dedicated to your goals.
Living in San Diego
Mystery
Mystery is something no one ever brings up, but I think it’s something very important that I’ve learned over the past 10 years especially. Going from a bold 16 year old who could drive anywhere in the world, to an 18 year old living on my own with a child, and then a 21 year old who could go anywhere and get as crazy as I wanted with no apparent consequences, I thought mystery was the anti-life. I figured you neeeded to get out there as much as possible, become friends with the entire world and live wild and free. Now I see that there is no real problem with living like that, except when it gets boring, which often times doesn’t take more than a year or two. I have learned that mysetery is the key ingredient to keeping life balanced. Yes you have to have friends, but you also have to have down time, photos you don’t post to social media, and “inside stories” with your real true friends.
Living in San Diego
Passion
Passion is one of those things that I consistently see people lose as they grow older. They forget what they wanted when they were 18 and graduating high school. They forget that the hard working jobs in between are supposed to be just that, in between. You’re supposed to be stressed and feel pressured, but only until you figure out the key components to your success, to your goals and your dreams. As I head into my late twenties, I want to remind myself that it’s ok to be silly, have fun times, take a day off here and there and just live. Life goes way too fast not to.
What I think living in San Diego can teach me going forward:
Living in San Diego
Time Management
You would think that a full time Realtor in San Diego with a child would be able to figure out how to manage her time perfectly, but nope not yet. I have yet to master this skill, and I’m thinking it may just be a life skill you sharpen over time. Living in San Diego will help me perfect this skill because there are so many incredible things to do in this town, so you truly have to manage your time well in order to get your work done, and set aside some time to relax and cut loose.
Living in San Diego
Work Ethic
There is no better city to teach you a work ethic than San Diego. Ok, maybe Los Angeles and New York have higher rents, but around southern California, this is one of the most expensive cities, and when you’re committed to living here full time, you have to decide what you’re going to work hard at, and go for it every day in order to succeed. In Michigan where I grew up, you really didn’t have to work too awfully hard to be able to pay your rent and enjoy the two months of summer when they did come around. Here in San Diego, it’s much different. You actually want to be outside enjoying your life 365 days a year, which is tough to do when you need to work full time. I am excited to learn more about how people here in San Diego seem to manage this skill with ease.
Living in San Diego
Healthy Living
I think living in San Diego helps you achieve a healthier living style, almost faster than any other city. There are SO many activities to do outside here, that it’s impossible to ignore your figure and eat all the junk food you want, without wanting to or being invited to some outdoor activities where you will burn calories. I haven’t figured out why this city is so into fitness, but I am more motivated now than ever to find out. I am working out more since I moved here than ever before in my life, and now with juice bars like Vitality Tap popping up everywhere, I am so intrigued to learn all I can about nutrition as well.
Living in San Diego
Today for my birthday, I am heading down to Del Mar to shop a bit, and then relax on the beach. There is no better place in San Diego on your birthday then on the beach, laying in the sun, putting all of your worries aside. I am going to head to Sbicca for dinner (they have the BEST lettuce wraps) and then head home to reflect on my life so far, and how amazing it has been. Especially since living in San Diego, I have had the most incredible opportunities to meet new people and experience things that have caused me to mature a lot. I feel so incredibly blessed to be living in San Diego, and I am so happy to be 26 and celebrating my special day today!
Living in San Diego
Have you grown up in San Diego and if so, what do you think growing up here has taught you? Do you think you have a lot left to learn from America’s finest city? I would love to hear your opinion!
For Movies in San Diego VIP-Style, Check Out the Atom Tickets App

For Movies in San Diego VIP-Style, Check Out the Atom Tickets App

Atom Tickets is Providing a VIP Experience to the Movies in San Diego and Soon Nationwide

“A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it.” -Alfred Hitchcock

The Atom Tickets app is a social mobile ticketing application that allows movie goers to purchase movie tickets in advance, and include friends in the fun! When I first heard about this app, I started thinking about how annoying it is when you have to wait for your friends outside of the movies until everyone gets there, and then go in together. Then you all have to wait in line to get popcorn and soda, and hopefully not miss the beginning of the movie. It’s quite a process, and I was really excited to learn about how this company has turned the experience of going to the movies in San Diego around completely. I sat down with Veronica from the Atom Tickets app and had the opportunity to learn all about how their application is making is more convenient than ever to go to the movies these days. Watch what she has to say:

With the Atom Tickets app, there are several cool aspects that will make your movie theater experience better forever. Here are a few:

This Atom Tickets app has the same easy-to-follow format as Uber and Starbucks, making it so simple to sign up, pay for movie tickets, select options and eventually return to purchase again. It is already integrated into all Regal and AMC movie theaters, so when you get to the theater, there are no extra steps. You just walk up, scan your code, and head straight for the Atom Tickets concessions line.

You can always check the app to see what movies are coming out soon, even if they’re not at an AMC or Regal Cinemas theater, and you can get information quickly right on the app including trailers, similar movies, and more. No need to head over to IMDB to learn more about the cast, it’s all right in the Atom Tickets App.

You can pre-purchase tickets, for you, another friend, or an entire group. Purchase within the app, and send the link with QR code to all your friends who you’ve paid for! Oh, and don’t forget to order your concessions right in the app also, they will be waiting for you (hot food, cold drinks) when you arrive to walk into the theater. There is a special Atom Tickets app line where you go directly to pick up your snacks. Think Cinepolis, (our family LOVES Cinepolis) but at SO many more theaters, with the same great pricing of a regular theater!

It’s fun to start a “rally” and find out when all of your friends are available, (time and day, maybe whole weekend) right within the simple chat area of the app! You can add them right from Facebook, so their information and even their face will pop up in the app. Once your whole group decides on a good time and movie, you can order your tickets and concessions. If your friends buy tickets before you do, you will see exactly in the theater they are sitting so you can buy tickets for seats next to them No more waiting outside and missing any bit of the movie!

Right now, you get a FREE ticket to the movies in San Diego if you download the app! No gimmicks, just straight forward awesomeness. Download the app for FREE, put your card information in so that it is on file, and checkout. You’ll see the free movie right in there as you checkout, and you can head to the movies as soon as possible for FREE! It doesn’t get much better than that!

movies in San Diego

I am loving this idea, and have already started using this app quite a bit. It just makes it so easy to enjoy movies in San Diego, “VIP-Style.” Atom Tickets will be nationwide by Labor Day this year, so you will only be hearing and seeing more and more from this helpful company. Have you seen the Atom Tickets concessions lines at theaters yet?! We’d love to hear your thoughts!

De-Skunking our Dogs…YUCK!

De-Skunking our Dogs…YUCK!

Have your dogs been sprayed by a skunk? Here’s what to do!

dog sprayed by skunk

At 2:30am this morning, I woke-up to our dogs barking, which usually means that they need to go outside to the bathroom.  We keep our dogs, Cocoa Puff and Cream Puff, in an indoor kennel at night with nice comfortable bedding, so I had to go downstairs to let them out.  As soon as I opened the door to let them outside, they ran around the corner and started barking non-stop. In the dark, I couldn’t tell if they were in a fight with another dog or what was going on, so I stayed away. As I watched the dogs fighting and barking, I smelled something disgusting like burnt rubber or burnt plastic. I ran inside to see if there was something on fire, and then it hit me, a skunk had sprayed the dogs. This skunk wasn’t nearly as cute as Pepe le Pew from the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon.  It was disgusting. Cocoa Puff was still barking and Cream Puff was attacking the skunk, which she eventually killed.

dog sprayed by skunk

I had to keep the dogs away from the skunk or they would have continued to mess with it.  So I brought the dogs inside and put them back in their kennels.  MISTAKE! I tried to go back to bed, but the dogs wouldn’t stop barking.  Somehow, my fiance Patrick was able to sleep through this whole ordeal!  Imagine that?!  To keep the dogs from barking, I came back downstairs and slept on the couch with the blanket over my face to partially block the smell. In the morning I went upstairs and Patrick woke-up and said, “What is that smell?  Did you cook that dinner last night with a lot of garlic?”  I told him the whole story, and he said, “We have to get those dogs outside!”  I said, “How?  The dead skunk is still out there in the back yard.”  He said, “Put them on leashes away from the skunk and I’ll move the kennels outside and take care of the skunk.”

dog sprayed by skunk

I texted our dog groomer about 3:00am telling her about the incident, and asking if she could come early the next day to clean the dogs.  She runs a mobile grooming service.  She is really terrific, but “conveniently” (for her) she was unable to come today to de-skunk and bathe the dogs, and even tomorrow was iffy.  Patrick called a couple of other mobile grooming services and all were booked today.  A couple of them offered to come tomorrow, and would charge us $115 per dog, but we read that you should de-skunk the dogs as quickly as possible after they get sprayed, and the clock had already been ticking for some time.

dog sprayed by skunk

We found the de-skinking formula online, and went to the grocery store to get the ingredients. If your dogs get sprayed, don’t use the old “tomato juice” method to clean them.  The reasons can be found here.  Use the new de-skunk formula.  Everything online and the professional dog groomers all agreed on this, and even though I’ve never tried tomatoes, the new age mixture worked 99% great. Our daughter, Shea, agreed to help me clean the dogs for a “modest fee.” We also found a guy online that could remove the dead skunk for $100, although we already had put it into a plastic bag and moved it from the back yard to the front next to the garbage can.  We didn’t want to put in into our garbage can and cause yet another odor problem.

dog sprayed by skunk

Lessons Learned

  1. Don’t bring “skunky” dogs inside.   If you do, you can remove the skunk stink from the house by boiling vinegar, and placing cotton balls soaked in vanilla extract throughout the house. (Although we tried both of those, and are now lighting candles and thinking about baking cookies and cooking bacon tomorrow morning if all else fails.)
  2. Use the de-skunking formula as quickly as possible after the pets have been sprayed.  If you don’t have the proper ingredients on-hand or cannot quickly acquire them, then use vinegar as a substitute for the de-skunking formula.
  3. If you need to clean the dogs at the house, do it outside.  We considered taking them to a dog cleaner, but it would have “skunked” the car, causing even more issues.
  4. Adding a quarter-cup of baking soda with your laundry soap can clean your clothes, dog bedding and anything else that came into contact with the skunked pets.
  5. Put saline solution in the dogs’ eyes.  It will help with the stinging and the burning.  We read that dogs can be blinded by for one or two days if they get sprayed directly in the eyes.
  6. If you need to explain to a Hispanic housekeeper what happened:  El Zorillo.  She will understand.

dog sprayed by skunk

Has your dog been sprayed by a skunk? What did you use to get rid of the odor?

 

Moonlight Beach : A True Family Friendly Beach

Moonlight Beach : A True Family Friendly Beach

Volleyball Courts, Children’s Park, Bonfire Pits and More: Moonlight Beach is a True Family Friendly Beach in San Diego

“The moon was up, painting the world silver, making things look just a little more alive.” -N.D. Wilson

Moonlight Beach
The first time I heard about “Moonlight Beach” was last fall during a midwife visit in Encinitas. (Check out everything there is to do in Encinitas!) My midwife suggested we check it out with our 4 year old as it has a great play ground and is a wonderful place to have lunch and spend some time before heading back down into the heart of San Diego where we live. Being the beach bums at heart that we naturally are, we punched “Moonlight Beach” into our GPS and headed straight there following our appointment with her.
Come to find out, Moonlight Beach is actually a State Beach and is located about one fifth of a mile beyond the point where Encinitas Blvd turns into B Street after it crosses HWY 101. There isn’t a major parking lot but we easily found a spot along the street. They do however have a “loading zone” right by the entrance of the beach so if you’re planning to spend the day or have surf boards, picnic supplies etc to unload you can do so easily before finding your parking spot on the street.
Moonlight Beach
The first thing I noted was how clean and modern the beach is. The restroom facilities are spacious and well-kept with high ceilings and lots of natural light coming in. They are located right next to the play ground area which is fully equipped with all the fun of slides, swings and of course monkey bars galore! Our 4 year old had a blast playing there for nearly an hour before we could convince her to come with us out closer to the sea. There were a handful of local mamas there with their babes, chatting, snacking & playing in the beautiful Cali sunshine. It was not overly crowded by any means, but had a nice amount of people to socialize with.
Moonlight Beach
Between the playground and the sea at this incredible San Diego beach is a nice expanse of soft, blonde sand. There are 3 volleyball courts, which are actually quite well-known as a place for doubles to come and enjoy a game of bump, set & spike. (Our friend Ella loves playing volleyball at this beach!) Along with the volleyball courts, there are some grass umbrella covered tables for a shady spot to enjoy a snack or drink.
We made our way down a cement pathway that leads towards the water and kicked off our shoes as it all turned into sand. The familiar soothing feeling of bare feet sinking into soft sand always instantly soothes my soul. Feeling grounded & refreshed, I inhaled a deep breath with closed eyes and then opened them to really take in the beauty of this place. To my left was an endless strip of beach and crashing waves, to my right (North) the same, except it also had cliffs with lovely homes overlooking the horizon. How can you not wonder when you see them what it must be like to wake up to this view everyday, or catch these sunsets each night!!? GORGEOUS!
Moonlight Beach
We walked for a bit and then plopped down on some sand and enjoyed some snacks we had packed (never leave your house without food and water when you have a 4 year old – they can become ravishingly hungry or thirsty at any moment and patience isn’t a priority for them!) The tide was on it’s way out & the sun was just perfect with the gentle ocean breeze. This was a beach we MUST return to again, I thought to myself.
A few days ago we went again and this time at sunset with my mom who is in town visiting. Now that it’s in the middle of summer and more of a touristy time of year, I noticed the beach was busier but again, we found parking easily and it wasn’t too packed the way some beaches get in these months. This beach is also the normal spot for some great events like the annual Switchfoot Bro-Am Surf Tournament. When I took my mom the other day, the sunset was AMAAAZING ! Orange, pink, yellow & blue danced together in sky and sea creating such a stunning show for all who stood by watching. It was hard not to be captivated by the beauty & that was apparent because nearly every person on that beach had their smart phone out trying to snap, video, Facebook and Instagram what was unfolding before us! lol 🙂 As that neon orange sun dipped below the horizon, the sky continued to light up in vibrant colors. Behind us, we could see bon fires lighting up. The smell of grilled meats filled the air & music from a drum circle created a true California summer night ambience.
Moonlight Beach
After enjoying the evening, we grabbed our flip flops and blanket and headed back to the car. Just before stepping off the sand and onto the sidewalk to make our way to the car, I looked up and low and behold what was beaming back at me?.. The moon, so bright, so big, so bold!… ah haaa.. there you are, Moonlight Beach! <3
xo, Chels

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