Sunday, October 28, 2012

From the Santa Catalinas to San Diego and back

October is almost gone; having visitors at the beginning of the month, and then going to California last weekend has made the month fly...

A couple of weeks ago, I drove up to the top of the Santa Catalina Mountains one afternoon after work--the forest was alive with fall color, an unexpected change from the cactus-studded lower slopes around Tucson...These scenes are from 'Bear Wallow,' around mile 22 up the Catalina Highway:

Above 8000 ft., there are a couple of little valleys whose soil and microclimate are just right to support deciduous woods more reminiscent of a Northeastern forest...Drive up high enough in Arizona, and you will find autumn at the top of a 'sky island' in the desert.

Driving back down at sunset, about halfway down,
looking out over Thimble Peak and the Tucson mountains beyond...

Last weekend, in California...

Some of the underwater faces at the Birch Aquarium in San Diego:
Placing my iPhone right up against aquarium glass 
and then waiting for something to swim into view--some fun shots...
clockwise from top left:
weedy seadragon, moray eel, 
a shrimp, and then--
can't resist, must say--"found Nemo"

...watching surfers from Crystal Pier:

...dozens and dozens, calmly waiting...meditative...

While in CA, took advantage of the dining possibilities 
in one of it's 'Asian ETHNOBURBS,' 

Inland southern California may lack the glam of the Pacific Coast, but its culinary reality is no less 'Pacific Rim.' No need to venture into urban Los Angeles for a taste of Chinatown or Koreatown--East Asian restaurants full of East Asian families are part of the scene in what have come to be called the 'ethnoburbs' of 21st-century suburbia.

If you find yourself passing through Chino Hills east of L.A., check out "Young Dong Tofu." Korean BBQ is becoming ubiquitous, ('it's the new Thai'), but "soon-du-bu" is still off most non-Koreans' radar. Snicker if you must at the restaurant's name, but it's named after a district in Seoul. And inside this unpretentious strip-mall-eatery, you can imagine yourself in the Korean capital.

Complimentary pancakes wih soy-scallion sauce greet you as you contemplate the Eng./Kor./Chinese paper placemat menu. Resist the bbq temptation and go for one of the boiling red bowls of 'soondubu' tofu soup--Korean comfort food. (Don't let the color scare you--it's not THAT spicy.) Your side of rice will arrive in an oven-heated 'dol-soht' stone bowl, along with a mini-buffet of 'bahn-chahn' side-dishes; the kimchi is awesome. The bowl of raw eggs is not a mistake, nor is it a health-hazard--they're meant to be broken into your soup, which will arrive still bubbling--the egg will be quickly poached in your fiery mini-cauldron.


A few days ago, after work, I decided to go for a trail-run into Bear Canyon,
at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains--
such a contrast from the evergreen-and-deciduous forest at the top:

About a half-mile in, there's a natural arch up the eastern wall:

Overlooking the entrance of the canyon:


 And, from just a few hours ago, tonight--moonrise over the Santa Catalinas:

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