Celebrating Winter Solstice on the Beach in San Diego

A day at the beach is great any time of year, but it feels particularly great in December.

San Diego might be the best place in Southern California for a beach visit. The SkiZer was lucky enough to spend a couple of days exploring San Diego’s gorgeous beach locations and came away mighty impressed.

The low-angle winter solstice sun painted beach communities in golden light, temperatures were in the 70s, the sand enticing and warm.

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Black’s Beach near Torrey Pines.
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The foot ferry from downtown San Diego goes to Coronado.
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The Hotel del Coronado is the centerpiece of the pristine beach there.
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La Jolla Shores is a wide strand, a great place for a walk.
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Visitors check out the seals and sea lions near La Jolla Cove.
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The recreation path on Mission Beach attracts a steady stream of traffic.
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A surfer leaves the waves of San Onofre in north San Diego County.
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Sunset Cliffs on Point Loma offers great views of the crashing waves.

Why Winter is Special at Crater Lake

Crater Lake is one of those places that makes your jaw drop at any time of year. But visiting in winter makes it even more special to the SkiZer.

The hordes of camera-totin’ tourists are long gone, and in their place, a gorgeous coat of snow makes this spectacular place even more beautiful. Heavy snow closes the Rim Road and it becomes a trail for Nordic skiers and snowshoers.

In other words this wild place just gets wilder, and you know how much SkiZer likes it when that happens.

SkiZer spent the day skiing eight miles along the Rim Road, taking in the ever-present views of the lake. It was warm — temps were in the upper 40s — and the skiing was fantastic.

What a great way to start the Nordic ski season.

Day 4: Crater Lake

  • Distance skied: 15K
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Doug Orr passes a group of snowshoers.
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SkjZer and Doug Orr ski along the Crater Lake Rim.
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Doug Orr and the SkiZer pose above the lake.
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Doug Orr skis a meadow on the return to Rim Village.
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Wizard Island looks great covered in snow.

Day 5: Crater Lake Backcountry

  • Distance: 15K
  • Distance for season: 29K
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Doug Orr climbs on the Rim Road
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SkiZer ascends the path through a glade.
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The view from the south rim.

 

Who Has the Best Rides in Seattle’s Bike Share Battle?

Suddenly, Seattle has 9,000 bike share rides parked everywhere you look around the city.

Ever wonder how well they work?

So did I. Last month, over the course of about 10 days, I tested the bikes offered by Spin, ofo and LimeBike, and came away with a favorite.

Spin, you work the best.

Read my entire story here at Crosscut.com.

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Riding the LimeBike near the Seattle waterfront.
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A lineup of ofo bikes in front of the Gates Foundation.
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Passed by a faster bike on the Elliott Bay Trail. 
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The Spin bike at Seattle Center.
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LimeBike’s handy phone holder.
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And the winner! Spin has the fastest bike.

It’s a Brave New World of Snowmaking at Crystal

With sunny skies returning to the Pacific Northwest after weeks of rain, SkiZer felt like taking a mental health day in the mountains.

It was a quick trip to Crystal Mountain for day 3 of the season. The weather was great, and it gave SkiZer the chance to see Crystal’s new $5 million snowmaking system in action.

Clearly it’s working. Coverage is sketchy at most Northwest resorts after torrential rains washed away the snowpack at Thanksgiving. But the lower slopes at Crystal are covered and looking good.

SkiZer wrote about the snowmaking system earlier this fall for Crosscut.com in this story.

As for the day, it was fun. Much of the mountain was closed as Crystal waits for more snow. But what was open was skiing very well, and SkiZer’s mental health has been successfully restored.

Day 3: Crystal Mountain

  • Vertical: 27,000
  • Vertical for the season: 57,000
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A snowboarder waits to drop in on Green Valley at Crystal Mountain.
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Mount Rainier makes a welcome appearance after weeks of stormy weather.
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The top of the Rainier Express, with dramatic skies.
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Powder Bowl on Silver Queen Peak was closed, but looked inviting.
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A skier rides through snowmaking mist near the bottom of the Forrest Queen lift.