San Diego: Vegas for Dogs

Crowds of pooches walk up and down the sidewalks of downtown. Some are primped and looking suave for potential mates. Pop music hits play from audio speakers in bars and clubs throughout Gaslamp Quarter.

There’s not a big molly scene, but there is doggy beer available. Canines don’t really need to catch a buzz though. The natural excitement from human admirers and gawkers is enough for their doggy midbrains.

There’s no gambling, but they do take chances with each ass-sniff. There are no brothels, but humping abounds. This is Vegas for dogs, and the fun occurs relentlessly.

San Diego prides itself on dog friendliness. Even the stadium the Padres play in (Petco Park) reflects this. There are tons of activities and events for pooches. They are catered to at every other restaurant, and even some beaches are accommodating. The best place for dog-splashing and puppy-sun bathing is arguably Coronado Dog Beach.

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Django, #HMPYG’s proud mascot
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Photos taken at Coronado Dog Beach

 

Coronado Dog Beach

To get a feel for the environment at CDB, check out this 30-second audio clip:


CDB is located on Coronado island over the bridge from San Diego. It lies at the far end of beaches. Dozens of breeds are represented here. The most common we saw were corgis. You can also spot dachshunds, bulldogs, German shepherds, pits, Dobermans, pugs, and many others. One adorable sight was a Basset hound whose ears draped down to the sand.

Kyle from Encinitas brings Pippa, his Golden retriever/poodle mix, to this beach all the time.

“This is the best by far. Others don’t allow dogs during the summer, but this is open to them all year-round.”

As I trotted the sands with my own dog, I overheard someone remark how dirty Ocean Beach dog beach is. Ocean Beach, just a few miles away, may be the most popular pet beach. Around us, there wasn’t any trash or feces in the sand. Coronado is a well-kept community in general. It helps when there are million-dollar homes on every single block. There’s no doubt this beach is in nicer shape than OB.

Getting Your Pooch Ready

It’s no secret that this blog uses affiliate links. It’s how we’re able to continuously operate, give charitably, and fund projects like Arizona News Organization.
Here are some suggestions for getting your pooch ready for a smooth and enjoyable vacation. As someone who has taken their dog on many various excursions, I make these recommendations from experience.

Kurgo Dog Harness

This harness is durable and reliable. The Wedding Therapist and I have used ours for over two years now (not this particular one but pretty similar). Django finds it pretty comfortable, and it even survived as a chew toy when he was younger. For tuggers and pullers, a harness is a must-have.

Grain-Free Dog Food

We initially dismissed grainfree food as an overpriced commodity for rich granola dog-owners. However, we noticed some real positive changes once we made the diet change. Django ate less grass, was puking less, had healthier stools, and his coat shined. This food is definitely more expensive than brands like Iams and Purina, but you will likely benefit in the long run from less vet bills.

PoochPlanet Dog Bed

This bed, like the harness mentioned previously, is a favorite because of its durability. It’s also perfectly sized for the car backseat.

It’s a great bed to have for road trips and the bedroom.

Jambox

Tunes for yourself as you have a glass of vino in the hotel. Tunes for Fido when having some downtime on his own. The quality is pretty superb for this price point. Our jambox has been rocked in San Diego, Mexico, Northern Arizona, and pretty much every other dogcation we’ve taken.

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Don’t hesitate about bringing your pooch to San Diego. It’s almost a guarantee they’ll have a good time. Whether they’re a barhopping Bichon Frise or a Yorkie that just wants to chill on your lap, there’s something for every doggy.

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Ridiculously Awesome Travel Gear

Some items are suave and stylish. Some are pretty damn cool. Some are random. Here is a list of ridiculously awesome travel gear. 10% of all commissions go to various nonprofits (WorldWildlifeFund, AndreHouse, Thirst Project to name a few).

 1. Cigar Flask

Great for destination weddings, or if you’re just one classy sonuvabitch. As a cigar enthusiast, I wouldn’t recommend keeping stogies in the holder for more than a day. As for the whiskey, carry it along for as long as you’d like!

2. The Nixon Rotolog

My brother gifted me this watch over ten years ago. I get compliments on it ALL THE TIME. The teakwood is such a nice touch. I went so far as to have a teak wedding ring to match it.

3. Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

My Bose headphones only come out when I travel. Why? I think of it as a special treat reserved for the most special of occasions. The sound quality is remarkable, and the ear padding is incredibly comfortable. I look forward to those trips where I can put the ear buds away and savor the sounds of the Bose.

4. Retro Square Shades

The epitome of classic. These retro square sunglasses are never going out of style. The shades come from Sunglass Warehouse. For less than $15, you can’t go wrong.

**#HMPYG readers now get 20% off with the code HMPYG20!!**

5. Vetelli Hanging Toiletry Bag

As you can see, this bag is nice. It can be used as a hanging toiletry bag or as a flat-lying Dopp kit/accessory bag. It’s designed by Italians and made from high grade synthetic leather. It received a 5-star average out of 799 customer reviews.

6. myCharge AmpProng Plus Portable Charger

I’ve tried portable chargers that are total crap. I’ve tried good ones that are way overpriced. This is by far the best option. It comes with the convenience of plug-in prongs so that it charges directly into the wall. It supplies power to any device for long stretches of time (they advertise 45 hours). The myCharge is a must-have for anyone using their phones (or tablets) often while traveling.

7. Orthopedic Ass Pillow For Those Long Flights

Need I say more?

Nine Stunning #NaturePorn Photos

Cover Photo: Jen Grand

1. Cascade Mountain, Upstate New York

Photographer: Alicia Paniccia

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Alicia is pictured here with her two pooches, Avalanche and Gunner. Avalanche is a recent rescue, adopted with the help of Craigslist. Avalanche is a Belgian Malinois and Gunner is a border heeler.

Cascade Mountain is part of the Adirondack Park in upper New York. It is located about 6 miles east of Lake Placid.

This photo has a sumptuous color balance between the rusty sunset, green pine trees, and the neon dog leashes. Alicia’s body provides a great reference for the grandeur behind her.

Believe it or not, this was shot with an Apple iPhone 7.

2. Zion National Park, Utah

Photographer: Kenneth Smith

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Ken transforms scenes into vibrant visual art. He alters the images to give a painting-like feel to them. Not only does he focus on natural settings, he has gorgeous portraits of French buildings at night as well.

Ken works with a Canon 70D and editing that is brilliant. He is currently retired and resides in a beautiful section of France.

Zion National Park is the #5 most visited park in America. Attendance is starting to grow by the millions each year.

3. Prescott, Arizona

Photographer: Joshua Enns

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Josh Enns is the mystery man featured on the cover photo of It Takes One Tent to Rule Them All. He took this shot on his GoPro HERO5.

In the foreground is Ringo, Josh’s adorable mixed-breed canine. Django, also a mix, is my fur baby in the background. Django and Ringo are the best of friends and have traveled all around Arizona together. This photo is an action shot as they ran wild through the snowy forests of Prescott (Northern Arizona).

4. San Bernardino Peak Trail, California

Photographer: Nelson Hernandes

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Again we have a beautiful balance of color put forth by a vibrant sunset. This trail is not too far from Los Angeles, and is a few miles away from the amazing Chino Hills State Park.

I wanted to know more about this trail. Nelson pointed to the Manzanita field as a trekking highlight. He stated that this part of the trail is “super gorgeous” and that he was amazed by the amount of beauty within the trail.

Nelson used a Sony Alpha a6300 for this shot.

5. Silver Falls, Oregon

Photographer: Sarah and Raul Alvarez
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I became acquainted with Raul’s photos through a Facebook group. He captures some of the most sublime features of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. It was pretty hard to settle on just a couple of photos, as every one he posts is miraculous.

The reason I chose to feature this photo is the wet woodland feel to it. It’s different than your standard sunset or mountain pic. The sky is gray, the log in the foreground is soaked, and you feel cold looking at this. The rushing rapids add life to the scene.

Sarah and Raul sport a Nikon D750 camera.

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Retro classic sunglasses never go out of style. Get your next pair for less than $20

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6. Delray Beach, Florida

Photographer: Frank N. Hornyak

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Frank Hornyak harnesses light like it’s a Jedi force. This shot evokes harmony, tranquility, but also a grand energy permeating over the ocean.

Instead of a lightsaber, Frank uses a Nikon D7100. He resides in Florida and has a serious passion for photography.
Delray beach survived massive hurricanes in 1928, 1947, and most recently in 2005 (Katrina being just one of seven major hurricanes that year). Despite the wild storms, Delray beach attracts millions of people per year. It is also a spot for great surfing!

Check out more of his photography on his website!

7. Central Oregon

Photographer: Raul Alvarez

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Raul gets two features, because his work is that awesome.  Rudy, the pooch pictured here, is too handsome to handle. The beauty of the landscape is subtle. No cliffs, no dramatic mix of color. Just a peaceful, serene scene.

8. Arches National Park, Utah

Photographer: Nick Wrzesinski

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Nick is insanely talented. You probably know him from our Back Pooching article. He’s the man responsible some of the many awesome shots of Penni. His subjects range from dragon flies to the Milky Way galaxy.

This is a shot of the Delicate Arch from the Arches National Park. The photo was taken in honor of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. You get a mystical feeling as you look at this photograph. You being to realize why Utah is considered God’s country, and how imperative it is that you go there some day.

9. Palouse Falls, Washington

Photographer: Jen Grand

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Jen Grand’s photography is absolutely mesmerizing. Her subjects range from canyons like the one pictured above to ominous dead trees to night owls. Her work indicates a superb intuition, vehement passion, and aesthetic intelligence. You will not regret following her on Facebook.

I tried not getting my hopes up when I saw her photography. Why should she let me benefit from her awe-inspiring talent? Upon messaging her, she provided me permission almost immediately. I was delighted. Jen’s work is special, and I am honored to be able to provide some insight on this work.

Palouse Falls is a spectacular site when you look it up. It is part of the Snake river, and is set in a beautiful network of canyon lands. The falls are located in Southeast Washington.  It is Washington’s official state waterfall.

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Jen Grand, on the art of photography:

To this day my favorite moments are when all else falls silent, and I simply feel the spirit of the land resonate through my being while looking through the viewfinder.

I Was The Last Pirate in Montego Bay

  I was the last pirate to visit Montego Bay, Jamaica. My kindred seafarers roamed the coast centuries ago. I was there in 2009. You could say that some things have changed since then. Instead of drinking at some colonial Spanish tavern, I was downing rum at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. Hundreds of natives were trying to sell me pot instead of hog lard. Audio speakers blared Sean Paul rather than the sea shanties of old.

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I didn’t do anything remarkable in Jamaica (other than win a bottle of Appleton rum at a resort contest!). Jamaica is a very remarkable place, however. The beaches are pristine, the culture has a very unique aesthetic, and the history is rich.

Calico Jack

In 1655, William Penn, under the brutal rule of Oliver Cromwell, violently seized Jamaica from Spanish settlers. This set off a war and resulted in British dominance over the island for over 300 years. This British conquest also led into the Golden Age of Pirates. One of the most famous duos: Calico Jack Packham and Anne Bonny.

Calico Jack brought this flag into popularity:

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It is a symbol of cruelty, fun, corruption, fantasy, thievery, adventure, and barbarity. Calico Jack Rackham enjoyed all of these things. A General History of the Pyrates (Dover Maritime) details the beginning of his career:

“The 24th of November 1718, was the first Day of his Command, and his first Cruize was among the Caribbee Islands, where he took and plunder’d several Vessels..”

Do you remember the scene in the first Pirates of the Caribbean where they raid a ship looking for Jack Sparrow, he sneaks onto the English boat, and sails away with complete ease? This was partially based on a real Calico Jack encounter in Cuba (scroll to: “Rackham Steals A Sloop”). The story goes that Jack Rackham and his crew snuck onto a prized sloop that the Spaniards seized from the English. While doing this, Rackham cleverly used his own ship as a decoy. The English raided the decoy, and Rackham sailed off.

Calico Jack sailed the waters of Cuba, the Bahamas, and Kingston, Jamaica. He is notorious for seizing the Kingston merchant ship out of Port Royal, Jamaica. The Brits eventually caught up with him and took back the Kingston, however. As countless numbers of pirates came in and out of Port Royal, I’m sure the English were often on their guard. Calico Jack wasn’t the only badass to frequent this legendary town.


The “Wickedest City on Earth”

 

Port Royal, right outside of Kingston, earned the aforementioned nickname with the help of dirty, depraved pirates. One in every four buildings was reportedly a brothel. When I visited Jamaica, the brothel came to you, but that’s another story.

Contrary to the misconception that rum was the pirate drink of choice (it wasn’t until later in the 1600’s they began to imbibe), they were often winos. Passersby in the street were expected to drink from wine set outside. My experience, on the other hand, consisted more of a mandatory Red Stripe every time I passed this beautiful pool:

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The pirates loved their wine, however, and their treasured stashes were mostly plunder from Spanish cargo.

I imagine old Port Royal to be like scenes from the TV series Black Sails. Orgies, gold, gratuitous violence. But it’s hard to say, because a chunk of the city is now under sea. Being the buccaneer version of Gomorrah, Port Royal came to its tragic end with a massive tsunami and earthquake in 1692.

Montego Bay

Like the rest of Jamaica, Montego Bay has its history of English dominance, piracy, rum-drinking, and Patois slang. As I sprawled out on the beach, puffing a cigar and admiring the indescribable beauty, I asked one of the locals a question I had for a long time.

“What does bumbaclot translate to?”

The answer is vulgar, and if you really want to know, Google it. I finished my cigar, waded through the ocean, and dreamed of what miraculous destiny would come upon me later in life. Eight years later, as I write this, I’m still a pirate.

Here’s proof:

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I shared many conversations with the Jamaicans about Usain Bolt, Rastafarianism, their independence, the land they know and love. Jamaicans are extremely prideful. They not only sell you handmade products, but will talk at length about the meanings and relevance behind their art. Sure, crime and corruption is high, but the people keep to one simple mantra: no problem. Easily one of the top 10 Caribbean destinations, Montego Bay is the place for a laid back pirate-wannabe.

Note: You may click the Calico Jack flag above to be linked to a pretty sweet pirate shirt.

A special shout out to Neville Spence’s Facebook group for the support.


It Takes One Tent to Rule Them All

In this article, we’ll look at three tents. One is being reviewed upon request. The second is my personal tent that I use for camping excursions. The third is a piece of gear that is bringing some hype to camping/backpacking forums.

1. Bushnell Roam Series 8.5′ x 3′ Backpacking Tent

I surfed the Backpackers Basecamp forum and could not find any opinions on this tent. My outdoors comrades did not have any information as well. There is this helpful video, however:

Reviewers on various sites stated that this product is very durable and is a pretty good size. The poles are aluminum, and the seams are taped. The larger pole is sleeved while the smaller foot-end pole is clipped. A backpacker in Alaska reported that this tent was able to withstand 40-50 mph winds and rain.

The price, $62.35 is pretty great if you ask me. The tent, weighing 3.6 pounds, comes with a nice interior design equipped with gear pockets.

Pros: Cool gear pockets on the interior, reported durability, affordable.

Cons: Lack of reviews within the backpacking community, requires staking and some time to set up (not freestanding).

Best used for: light to moderate backpacking excursions.

2. Embark 7.5′ x 4.5′ 2 Person Dome Tent

I’ve brought this bad boy to Havasupai, Prescott (Arizona), West Clear Creek (Arizona), and pretty much every other camping excursion within the past three years. It takes about 5 minutes to set up, and I’ve had no problem with the fiberglass poles or the base material (I will also note: I’ve never had to use a ground tarp).

I did have one of the cords on the rain fly come apart. I was able to fix this with some knotting and a carabiner.

Personally, I’m going to hold onto this tent for as long as I can. I don’t see any sense in spending a lot of money for another tent (unless going on a really long backpacking trip). It is heavy, however, weighing 6.1 pounds.

Pros: Extremely durable, comfortable, easy to set up, waterproof.

Cons: Heavy, the rain fly cording could use improvement.

Best used for: Car camping, though I’ve used this for 20-mile backpacking trips.

3. Big Agnes – Happy Hooligan UL Tent, 2 Person

If you have cash to blow, then the Happy Hooligan is the way to go. The fly and floor are silicone-treated nylon ripstop fabric. The waterproof polyurethane coating on the rainfly is a great way to stay dry in the elements. The Happy Hooligan features DAC aluminum poles, making the weight a little heavier but the aluminum stronger.

This tent is a two-door with plenty of mesh to keep the bugs out. It’s also marketed towards stargazers.

The tent weight totals out to be 3 lbs, 9 oz. This is on the heavy side for people who take ultralight seriously.

Overall, this tent is top-notch quality, but debatably over-priced (it costs upward to $380).

A side note, Big Agnes’ Blacktail 3 was selected by TheWireCutter.com as the best tent for car camping and occasional backpacking.

Pros: Reported as extremely comfortable, top-of-the-line material, waterproof, two-door.

Cons: Very pricey, almost 4 lbs.

Best used for: light backpacking; car camping.

Check out the #HMPYG article on putting camping hacks to the test.

Music Feature: Narkatta

“Consciousness in contemporary music is expanding exponentially. The number of artists in my musical family that help critique each others’ works of art and support each other has been steadily increasing since we started creating. Same with the number of musicians in my scene with the environmental positivity.” – Narkatta, IDM artist

Our generation is defined by a melding of diverse influences, styles, cultures, and concepts. Take, for example, the world of American cinema. The top grossing films of 2013 included an animated musical drama set in Scandinavia (Frozen), a Marvel comic-book hero installment (Iron Man 3), and a dystopian novel (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) brought to life with the help of a pseudo-rock icon (Lenny Kravitz). It’s cliché to point out effects of globalization and the internet, but necessary.

There are instances when this cultural agglomeration is highly embraceable. Mix a dance track that features David Bowie and Indian raga themes, and I will swing like a gibbon. The blending of great music is a refreshing gift, a shaking of proverbial dust off old records.

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I remember being at house parties early in the night with Narkatta spinning. Good music came along with every flawless transition. Recognizable Notorious B.I.G. tunes would blend easily into Dead Prez. Jimi Hendrix would meet Wu-Tang within carefully planned beat parameters.

Narkatta deviates from conventions, but still manages to make you dance. His wide range of styles bring about a special groove and charisma. His most recent work has aimed to incorporate deeper relevance to his productions. MalLabel Music describes the latest EP, Cosmic Currency – EP, as follows:

His newest EP, Cosmic Currency is a shining example of how that light illuminates each of his pieces as an artistic expression of the divine. ‘Divine DNA’ opens the EP with a glitchy exploration within ourselves while ‘Genoeconomics’ explores a multi-faceted journey of Eastern tones. ‘Decommodification of the Modified’ guides us through various elements of consciousness and finally, ‘Chrematophobia’ closes the EP with an almost confusing amalgamation of textures over a subtle Eastern rhythm meant to reflect the idea that the existence of money in society only confuses our purpose.

This would ordinarily evoke critiques that the music is pretentious. However, when you listen to the tracks, you can tell that a lot of effort and thought went into each creation.

I sat listening to the track “Invocation of Lakshmi,” trying to figure out who would be a good comparison to Narkatta’s work. The truth is, I couldn’t do it. This is a good thing. There are times when artists are so blatantly imitating or contriving, it’s a noticeable distraction. Such is the case with the band Jet (that’s a whole other argument). Narkatta is pure and idiosyncratic. The music draws from unique concepts and great sampling work. In “Funkraum” (labelled Dispatch 003 mix), Lauryn Hill precedes “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. This is a combination that’s polar yet intuitive. Two powerful feminine souls from two very different generations. His blending and melding is an aptitude that can keep your attention for hours.


On a final note, Narkatta gives his Zarathrustrian take on artistic endeavor.

“There are two massive forces of darkness and light that are consistently at odds with each other, and the stronger the darkness may be right now, the light is just a strong and equal. It’s all about which side one chooses to perpetuate.”

Narkatta can be found on SoundCloud, Facebook, Bandcamp, and more. His Cosmic Currency – EP can be found on Amazon.com as well.

We suggest these NoonTec ZORO HD headphones when listening to Narkatta.

Some tracks have now been featured on the #HMPYG Spotify playlist.

Remember to like #HMPYG on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

Sponsored by:

Elamor Sports Armband

Getting Good Camping Deals

Shopping for camping gear can be tricky. Let’s say you go to REI, and get a really good price on a stove. Walk over to another section, and you’ll probably be overpaying for synthetic blend shirts. The same goes for places like Target, Cabela’s, and other department stores. That’s why I like to shop online. You can pick and choose from various retailers without sacrificing value. See below for some basic recommendations, strategies, and tips…

HMPYG-recommended Amazon.com deal:

Amazon.com, as we know, is a classic site. It’s where I bought my Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad. I use this pad on every camping and backpacking excursion I go on. Amazon has it listed for $54.95, which is pretty damn good. It’s very portable, takes about 7 big breaths to fill, and quite comfortable. I’m a side-sleeper, and many people I’ve talked to recommend it for this kind of sleep.

For shades:

One store that is ridiculously awesome for sunglasses is Sunglass Warehouse. There is a huge selection Captureof cheap but stylish shades. You definitely don’t want to risk losing those $250 Raybans on your next outdoor excursion. I personally never buy sunglasses for more than $40. These glasses look good and feel good for the price.

 

NEW $-SAVING UPDATE: All of our readers get 20% off sitewide with the code HMPYG20. You’re welcome 😉

Be smart.

Another great way to get good deals is to use your smartphone scanner while at the storeCapture (you can search for “QR Scanner” in the app store). If you find a better price, show it to the sales manager. They’ll tell you they’ll match it or apologize. If they do not match it, just make sure to bookmark that link and save it for later.

Grab a Sunday paper.

The other day, someone at my workplace stated that “only grandpas read newspapers!” Yeah, well, this grandpa is gettin’ deals. I saw a camping chair advertised for $6 last Sunday. This was after I had visited five different stores a few weeks ago trying to find a cheap chair. With tons of advertised specials and coupons, it’s worth dropping a few dollars for the Sunday print.  It’s also nice to give your eyes a break from electronic screens and lights. And who knows, maybe you’ll find one of my articles in the New York Times someday.

Plan ahead.

Finally, make sure you’re planning and giving yourself as much time as possible. I’ve paid more than I should have plenty of times because I simply didn’t give myself enough preparation. This leads to pressured and impulsive buys. Pick up winter gear on the offseason. Shop online and give yourself a few weeks to receive shipped items. Pay attention to the deals people are telling you about. Stop and breathe. No life is savored when you’re in a hurry.