October Update – P2 – San Diego and Desert Shenanigans

When we left off last, I shared with you the incredible story of “the shittiest night ever” – if you missed it, you can read October Update Part 1 HERE!

We slept one exhausting night in the San Bernardino Forest until making our way into a city on the outskirts of San Diego. We delivered something to a woman named Kari, who turned out to be a godsend for us.

Kari has a suite above her garage with a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. She invited us to stay there for over a week – purely out of the kindness of her heart. It was amazing to be able to stay on her property which had chickens, a beautiful garden, and a pool in the yard. She was an incredible host, and on our first day there she and her son took us for a hike and for dinner. Believe it or not this was Matthew and mine’s first hike together – I’ve been trying to get him to do one with me for years! We hiked up Potato Chip mountain.

I normally would have shyed away from a social situation like this – hiking for hours with someone I don’t know – but I decided to be open to the experience and it was well worth it. Sometimes you just have to be a YES person and do something that makes you uncomfortable. You probably won’t regret it.

See why it’s called Potato Chip?
Our family at the top!


There are so many highlights from San Diego – where do I start? There was Black’s Beach, San Diego’s nudist beach. To get there is a bit of a hike, but one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. A cliff hangs over you on one side, and the ocean welcomes you on the other. It was a very mellow and chill beach. Of course it’s not for everyone, but we are comfortable enough to be around nudity and no one was bothering anybody, as it is at most nude beaches (I believe).

We also went to dog beach, and the area was definitely a bit more lively. The weather wasn’t as nice that day, but it was still fun exploring the neighbourhood.

As you well know by now I am into healthy food, so finding Evolution Fast Food was a highlight for me. It’s a fast food stop with healthy food! Amazing burgers, shakes, wraps, desserts and more – all plant based. We went there twice in the matter of a couple of days because after the first round, we just couldn’t get enough.

Ocean Beach
Near Black’s Beach
That chocolate shake was HEAVEN

Moving on from San Diego was bitter sweet – we were having a great time there but it was time to get the show on the road!

We drove to LA and met up with my friend Kim. We grabbed coffee and headed to Venice beach. I know travellers go on and on about the LA traffic, but let me tell you that traffic was BAD! Maybe the worst in the world? It’s incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced! And we had driven through New York and across the southern states.

I was holding onto the sides of my seat for dear life – and Matthew is an excellent driver. Venice beach was crazy busy, but cool to see. We didn’t have much time as we needed to find a camping spot for the night, so we hit the road.

The next day we moved to the spot that we would camp at for over a week. We found it on iOverlander (an app that helps you find off the beaten path camp spots). It was off a side road on a pass leading out of Palm Dessert.

Morning Coffee 
The view

The view was absolutely stunning, especially at sunrise and sunset. We got into a routine: each morning I would go to the Starbucks down the road and work for 3-4 hours while Matthew stayed with the dogs, got groceries, and ran any other errands we needed done. In the afternoon we would head back to the site. It was hard to do much, as the temperate was burning hot almost the entire time we camped there. We would make our meals, play with the dogs, and I would read. Not having data or access to the internet gave me a chance to unwind. We would get into our tent at sunset and watch a movie together on the iPad.

On one of those days we took a day trip to Slab City – known as “Squatters Paradise” is also called the last free place in America. Everything looks very post-apocalyptic, but this isn’t just a tourist attraction: people actually live there. It’s home to snowbirds, squatters, and people just looking to live in a seriously off-grid community. There is no electricity, no running water, and no law enforcement.

I am interested in alternative ways of living, and the lifestyles here are definitely alternative. Aside from the lifestyle itself, there’s also the interesting look of Slab. I often found myself looking around in wonder: is it junk or is it art?

And sometimes it was just junk, just art, or kind of both.

Slab City was a place that lived up to our expectations in terms of how cool we heard it was. I highly recommend it for anyone passing through if you’re into seeing something a little wild, different, grungy and unique.


The second half of October was a whole lot of sunshine. At this point, us Canadians are almost sick of the blazing heat. We can’t leave our dogs alone in the car – ever. We can’t escape the heat at our campsite – even being in the shade leaves us sweating. By this time, we were ready for a change.

It was time to head North, after a quick stop in Palm Springs.

Things are really about to change in November – and not the way we planned…

Until next time!


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Welcome to Standing Strong Wellness, where we embrace how much a strong body supports a strong mind! I'm Jen Standing - Certified Nutrition Consultant, Blogger, Food Lover, and CEO behind SSW. I'm a wellness-nerd who loves sharing my knowledge with others on all things food, fitness, nutrition, and mental health - stick around for tips on all of those topics!

2 thoughts on “October Update – P2 – San Diego and Desert Shenanigans

  1. Holy smokes these views!!! Ahhh I just love San Diego. My husband and I always say we wanna retire there one day.

    What a fun trip! Thanks for sharing this adventure with us It gave me the travel bug. haha

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