A COVID California Vacation: What I learned about traveling during a pandemic.
My boyfriend Ismael & I recently took a trip to San Diego CA last week and while we DID have a lot of fun, a lot of fails, and a lot of food... One thing this trip was not lacking in was
From minor virus policy inconveniences to large groups ignoring COVID precautions entirely.. This trip had been anything but boring.
First things first. The car ride.
From our home in Tucson to our Bayside hotel in San Diego, we were looking at approximately a 5 and a half hour drive.
Something you should know about me? I get relentless motion sickness. In cars... at theme parks... ever since I was a little girl. And NONE of those fresh air, aisle seat, Dramamine tricks work for me. It's inescapable. ( This becomes relevant later during the trip lmao )
So I fully expected to suffer on the way there. And so I did. Moving on.
Next. WOO! Hotel. As you can see by the blue "No Covid in Here" stickers on the doors, the Best Western was taking all the necessary precautions to keep their guests squeaky clean.
The issue? No. Free. Muffins.
Yeah you heard me. COVID restrictions in the hotel meant no complimentary breakfast buffet. (AKA the BEST part about staying in hotels!)
Literally one of the main deciding points of which hotel we stayed at. The others included carpet color, distance from the beaches I was shooting at, and having balcony.
The balcony part held up! :)
Day two. Let's talk about it.
Hang in the hotel.
What really happened? I made reservations for two single kayaks (unknowingly) in La Jolla. Where did we go? Coronado. So here's a pic of me in Coronado where we THOUGHT we were 30 minutes early. Took some photos, bought some souvenirs. All fun and games until we attempt to check in to a closed building. UGH!
Quick drive over to La Jolla. Check in.
Problem solved. Kinda.
Please enjoy these shitty Powershot pics through a plastic bag lmao.
So we HIT that water and we are OFF sister! Ready to kayak our little booties off and make memories. That went well for all of maybe 5 minutes. Remember earlier when I talked about my very unforgiving motion sickness? Pheeeewwwwwww.
She's got NOTHING on sea sickness.
Seriously. I thought I was gonna Ralph. Or pass out. Or both.
not a good time.
Sooooo we turned around and paddled back. I insisted that Ismael continue on but of course he didn't want to leave me alone. Especially if I was feeling ill. So we kissed our $100 goodbye and came back to shore where Ismael totally ate it and flipped his kayak.
Thinking some good food would lift our spirits, we headed to a cute little Italian joint just a short walk from our hotel.
Food LOOKED fucking amazing.
Like I'm actually convinced that they gave me cooked noodles with no butter, seasoning, sauce, ANYTHING. SO PAINFULLY BLAND.
I considered asking the server to just take it back and remove it from the bill (it was that bad) BUT we were already running behind for the shoot, I was STARVING, and I figured some plain ass noodles and veggies wouldn't be the WORST thing
considering I was still a bit queasy from our kayaking endeavor.
So I paid the twenty bucks for my overpriced bland ass noodles and we were on our way.
Our first session of the trip was due to take place at Black's Beach. I was under the impression that there was a mere 10 minute hike to get to this location, but boy was I mistaken.
The hike (which I later found to be over 2 miles) was easily a 30 minute trek. Down.
Luckily there are man made steps to lead you along the way, but with 40+ lbs of gear on me and no hiking experience like... whatsoever.. my dogs were BARKIN.
My quads were burnin. And needless to say, after the morning I'd had with the kayaks.. I was in NO shape to be doin no damn hike. But I could see the beautiful beach, and I had made a commitment to my couple to be there. And duh, the pictures turned out amazing:
Just as we were wrapping up the session, a HUGE wave came out of nowhere and absolutely SOAKED our things. All of our things. Our towels in the sand. The models clothes. Ismael's phone. We almost lost the hotel key. My flip flops got swallowed back into the ocean. It came so quick and I only had the good sense to grab ONE thing.
My camera bag.
Which thankfully was housing all of my equipment, phone, and vlog camera.
It was seriously a horrifying experience. To think of what would've happened if our backs were turned. If I COULDN'T save my camera bag. If Ismael DIDN'T save his phone in time.
Gives me anxiety just thinking about it.
Needless to say, that put a damper on the evening. It was now dark and we had a HELL of a hike ahead of us. With our now SOAKING wet, sand covered beach towels. You can imagine how much extra weight we were lugging at that point.
So now we're frustrated, exhausted, and hiking barefoot in the dark. That's when my anxiety kicked in, making it even harder to breathe. Long story short, I had enough HIKING and PTSD for the week and decided to scout a different location for my day 3 couple. Ugh.
We're almost done. Still with me?
Day 3 we decide to spend thrifting. Well, Ismael decided. I'd been dragging him along to my photoshoots so it was only fair that HE got something out of the trip too. MY favorite stop though? Shake Shack! (pictured) He was in love. Good times good times.
For my day 3 couple's shoot, we settled on none other than Sunset Cliffs.
Thinking I had escaped another evening of rigorous physical exercise and trauma, I was SUPER excited to try out some new ideas & get new content by the ocean.
Imagine my surprise when I see the following signs..
And no visible path down to the beach..
And it gets worse from here.
So I'm trailing my couple (two EXCEPTIONALLY fit San Diego locals) and I realize I'm about to go MF rock climbing... greaaaattt.
Reminder... 40 lbs of gear sister. No hiking experience.
You know those situations where everything in you says "stop, this is dangerous" but you keep going to avoid making a scene?
Yep. me too. But we make it down!
and I take some DAMN good pictures. BTS on my YouTube Channel!
Coming back UP was the struggle. The huge loose rocks that we'd barely made it across just an hour before were now wet from the rising tide and slippery from the mud. Not to mention COMPLETELY unmarked so we lost our way coming back up.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't shitting my pants just a little.
By the grace of god, we make it to the top again. My legs are SO sore from the day before and I also managed to ✨scrape my knee✨ so I was now;
-alone in the dark
-in an area I've never been before
Ismael had skipped out on this shoot because he had some more shops he wanted to hit, and the shoot was more for myself anyway.
So now I can't contact him, and I have no idea where he is or how to help him find me.
I end up standing and waiting by the area he originally dropped me off and at prayed he'd just have the common sense to search the area for me.
Thankfully I was right, and he showed up about 15 minutes later. We were both tired, dirty, and frustrated about the situation. Once again, food would be the answer.
We hit up a local Mexican food place just a short walk from our hotel, King and Queen Cantina. After a short wait we were able to be seated in our own plastic wrap cubicle.
(hi COVID precautions)
Great food, AMAZING guac, great experience.
Before I wrap up, I wanted to go over a few Honorable Mentions of the trip:
- Having no access to drinking water in the hotel and being denied fountain water + ice from a gas station due to COVID.
- Getting Jack in the Box for dinner on Day 2 and waking up with severe diarrhea
- Leaving our beach towels halfway up the pathway from Black's Beach because they were just too damn heavy to bring up
- Forgetting to charge my vlog camera every. single. night. we. were. there.
- PMSing the entire trip
DAY 4: OUR FINAL DAY
Our last day in San Diego ended up being the highlight of the whole trip. I woke up anxious about the car ride home in combo with my queasy tummy that never fully recovered from kayaking and Jack in the Box. But the morning we checked out of the hotel and did our final rounds of downtown San Diego is one that I will not only NEVER forget, but cherish forever.
We started our day at Corner Bakery Cafe where we both opted for lunch options rather than breakfast! Very good food and I FINALLY got my muffin 🥰
I got Chicken Carbonara and a Cinnamon crunch muffin while Ismael got a Club Panini and an M&M cookie.
Overall one of the best dining experiences of the trip (I'm a sucker for a breakfast date) and a good opportunity to enjoy each other & reflect on our trip.
We then hopped on two birds which I'd never actually done before! We have plenty of these suckers in downtown Tucson but I've never had any reason to hop on one.
We had the time of our lives zooming up and down roadways and checking out some last minute souvenir shops for our loved ones. We had so much fun in the cool breeze of San Diego that our laughter filled the air and we continued even after we were finished shopping. In total we spent about 60 bucks riding these things.
And I'd do it again😂
Then it was back on the road. 5 and a half hours with no inconveniences surprisingly. And I will admit that riding in a car that long with the loml wasn't so bad after all. Perhaps the seasickness humbled my car sickness LMAO.
So overall, this trip was a headache and a half. I'm not gonna lie. It was our first trip together as adults and during a PANDEMIC on top of everything else. It was hectic. It was confusing. It was a learning curve for sure.
But it was also such a point of growth. In our relationship, our problem solving skills, my photography, our interest in seeing the world.
This trip served us more than just some good times and a relaxing vacay.
It served us experience.
a LEGENDARY first trip story.
So I really hope y'all enjoyed taking this journey with me and got a good laugh out of it. Life isn't always smooth sailing but it's about taking the lessons and the good out of every moment and applying it to future situations. COVID is effecting every individual and state differently right now and it's important to do your best to listen to safety guidelines and abide by new regulations to keep everyone healthy! Love y'all, stay safe. ❤️