Category Archives: travel

Hiking Battle Mountain off the San Diego Beaten Path

During a visit to San Diego I stayed in Rancho Bernardo on the north end of town and looked for ways to spend some time outdoors, while also venturing off the beaten path.

The Battle Mountain hike I went on checked off both those boxes. You’ll find Battle Mountain just off I-15 with its entrance oddly enough between two houses in a highly residential area. I initially discovered and captured this hill on another walk.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

I wound up doing this climb just after dawn on an overcast morning.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

The short 15-20 minute hike was peaceful. It was a little steep and rocky at times but all-in-all not too bad. I noticed a lot of erosion along the way. My legs definitely got a workout. The climb is roughly 800 feet.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

Once at the top, you will see up-close the 20 foot white cross that has stood since 1966. Battle Mountain got its name from a battle that was held nearby in San Pasqual Valley in the 1800’s. This spot was originally called Mule Hill as soldiers from those battles had to kill mules in order to have food to eat.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

Expansive panoramic views awaited me at the top. I saw all the residential housing of northern San Diego County, along with Starvation and Iron Mountains, Lake Hodges and more.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego California hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

Lake Hodges, San Diego, California

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

The hike, well almost run, down the hill took only a matter of minutes. It was a great morning in the Rancho Bernardo part of San Diego walking/hiking up Battle Mountain and taking in the views. For anyone looking for a quick hike and something off the radar in northern San Diego County, this is your spot.

Tip: For a longer hiking adventure I highly recommend the San Dieguito River Park Trail, in which there is an entrance literally right across the street from Battle Mountain.

San Diego hiking, Battle Mountain, Rancho Bernardo

What other off the radar outdoor spots would you recommend checking out in San Diego?

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Back to sharing skylines I go which leads me back to the A Million Skyline Looks series.

The latest edition comes from Southern California and a city known for its mild climate all year long, beautiful San Diego.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Downtown scene from the San Diego–Coronado Bridge.

I was excited to get a first taste of what San Diego has to offer. Most of my shots are from Coronado Island and along San Diego Bay as well as from random spots on the interstate. Always have that camera ready in the car, especially if you are a passenger! Palm trees make me happy so a lot of the skyline views made me smile even more. Well without further ado.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Beautiful Downtown San Diego from northbound I-5.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks from across San Diego Bay

Skyline straight ahead, opposite San Diego Bay.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Heading onto I-5 northbound. San Diego, California front-and-center.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks from Tidelands Park on Coronado Island

Palms trees guarding the skyline in Tidelands Park on Coronado Island.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks from Coronado Island

San Diego, California cityscape straight ahead!

Sailboats guarding the San Diego skyline

Who is ready to set sail in Downtown San Diego, California?!

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

What a harbor and city view these palm trees get to experience every day. Looking southward.

Beautiful Downtown San Diego, California amongst the palm trees

Capturing the San Diego skyline and palm trees every chance I get.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks, California

Heading off California State Route 75 and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge into town.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks, from the San Diego-Coronado Bridge

Looking straight down Harbor Drive from up-top the San Diego–Coronado Bridge.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Always have that camera ready as a passenger. You never know when a skyline will present itself.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks, from the friendly skies

Skyline peaking through the window upon descent into San Diego International Airport.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Coronado Island greenery amongst the San Diego, California cityscape.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Out on the open Tidelands Park trail.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Just a typical clear, warm day in San Diego from Coronado Island.

San Diego: A Million Skyline Looks

Out on the open road capturing the San Diego skyline amongst palm trees.

What other spots would you recommend capturing the San Diego skyline from?

An Updated Ten Travel Tips for a Day Road Trip

It’s almost time to get out on the open road on a day road trip. Have you planned ahead? Spontaneity and just getting into the car and going can lead to some great trips no doubt. However there are some things that you should take into consideration before and during your roadie.

Day road trip tips - The Adventures of elATLboy.com

It’s been five years since I wrote my original post on this. The basics have stayed the same. A lot has changed though in terms of technology and in me getting more perspective from additional time on the road. Below is an update on my post and the day road trip tips I have found helpful.

1. Check the weather. The days leading up to a road trip and/or right before you get in the car, head to The Weather Channel website or app and check the forecast. You could also do a simple search like “Charleston weather” in Google, quickly becoming informed. Hmmm let’s see… winter storm? Maybe I should venture there tomorrow instead.

Day road trip tips - check the weather

Follow the weather on your phone throughout your adventure as well. You’ll increase the chances of not running into a sheet of ice (been there), high winds or getting caught up in a deluge of rain. You might change course on the spot. Who knows that could lead to an unexpected adventure and you’ll be safer.

Additional Tips: While you are at it check for major construction along with Googling “<NAME OF DESTINATON> traffic”.

2. Get a good night sleep. A day road trip could last a full 24 hours or more. I look at it like this. The longer you make the day, the further you can travel away from home and double back, meaning the more you can see. I love taking advantage of the extended daylight hours in the summer. If the sleep thing doesn’t work out then you are going to need…

3. …fuel, I mean coffee! Bring some from home. If desperate grab some at a travel center or truck stop ha-ha. As the day goes on make sure to refuel at indie, mom and pop coffee shops along the way. At least that’s my philosophy. I love experiencing something new, sometimes getting tips on things to do from bulletin boards or the locals sipping java inside. Drip Drop Drink in Muskegon is my-go when exploring the beach towns along Lake Michigan in Pure Michigan.

4. Charge, charge, charge. It’s not just you that needs to be fully charged. Make sure your Galaxy 7 or iPhone X and camera are ready to go. You will want to have enough juice to take pictures, post to Snapchat, Instagram live stories, ask for advice on Twitter, etc. Have those chargers and spare batteries, along with a portable power pack or two handy. A lot of people have USB ports in their vehicles these days. Bonus for getting extra juice while you are driving!

5. Fully stock your vehicle. Learning from experience, I make sure to have a blanket, bottled water, extra clothes, wind-shield washer fluid, flashlight, jumper cables, spare tire, emergency snack food, etc. Also check your oil and other fluids, along with your tires.

Day road trip tips - have a spare tire, windshield washer fluid, jumper cables

6. Have navigation help. Some people use Gladys (GPS), but many more gravitate to Google maps on their phone these days. The key is to have them available. Back to the word spontaneity. Make sure to put all navigational aids away at times for adventure sake. When I personally seek help I still like having my trusty, old-fashioned atlas alongside. The Waze app can help here as well.

7. Bring cash including change. You never know when you’ll need it for tolls and parking meters. When you call for help to fix a flat tire or for general road-side assistance, a lot of the time cash is the only payment option.

8. Hit the road on an empty stomach. You can snack and have your coffee, but be hungry and ready to eat so you can try some local cuisine. It’s not a day for McDonald’s or hitting up the vending machine at a rest area. How about a stop at Skyline Chili when road tripping through Cincinnati along I-75?! As far as chains go I will allow stopping at a random Waffle House ha-ha. Some of my best day road trip memories started or ended there.

Day road trip tips - stop at a Waffle House

9. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Hopefully there will be lots of getting out of the vehicle to explore. Some jogging, hiking and climbing could be in order. I once traveled fifteen miles on foot while in the heart of Chicago. With the cost of parking in a big city it’s better to centrally park and use public transportation or walk to everything.

10. Even with planning as described in the tips above make sure to have semi-plans. In other words be out there on the open road with an open mind. There it is yet again, my word of the day, spontaneity. Of course there will be places you marked to experience. You must also be willing to get sidetracked with random finds. The unexpected can be the most gratifying.

day road trip tips - lake mead, las vegas, nevada

Checkout my original day road trip tips post.

Any other day road trip recommendations? I can’t wait to see all of you out on the open road.

The 2017 Coffee Moment(s) for Me

Happy Holidays everyone! We have almost reached the end of another calendar year. 2017, as with every year before it, brought a lot of coffee consumption and time in coffee shops. Siphons, Ethiopian V60 pour overs, flavored lattes, coffee cocktails and a lot more coffee was consumed from all around Ann Arbor and Michigan, Northwest Ohio, Atlanta and Las Vegas.

The year in coffee is highlighted in the short Flipagram video below. I love the song I used last year, “Coffee Shop” by Gorilla Zoe, so it is making another appearance. The cover photo honor this year says it all. “Coffee” is spelled out front-and-center on the building upon approach. I get goosebumps every time I see that magical word like I did here at Milan Coffee Works in Milan, Michigan.

As I mentioned a lot of time was spent in Ann Arbor drinking coffee. This year to go along with The Adventures of elATLboy Instagram, many of the photos come from Coffee Ann Arbor. I started this venture on January 1st. The goal is to highlight everything that college town Ann Arbor and the surrounding area has to offer to terms of coffee.

Too many more coffees in 2018! I look forward to seeing you all in Ann Arbor and out on the caffeinated open road. Cheers! Aaron

Check out the great coffee moments from last year in The 2016 Coffee Moment(s) for Me.

Hello Downtown Atlanta Skyline from the Jackson Street Bridge

It was a recent Fall morning in Atlanta. My brother and I were heading to Condesa Coffee in the Old Fourth neighborhood. I had been to this coffee shop and part of the city numerous times before. This visit would be different though.

Condesa Coffee sits along Freedom Parkway, knowing that driving westward on gets you straight on shots of the Downtown Atlanta skyline. I’d always pass under the Jackson Street Bridge, a popular skyline viewing spot. Guess what? Until this very day, I had never driven or walked across that bridge.

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

It was worth the wait, seeing a perfect shot of the Downtown part of the Atlanta skyline. I love how Freedom Parkway seems to sit perfectly in the foreground. It was just as beautiful as I had seen on so many Instagram posts. Many of you will recognize this scene as it’s a major part of the movie, “Walking Dead”.

Being the morning, but past rush hour, traffic was limited on Freedom Parkway making it easier to get my camera in focus. It definitely should be on your Atlanta bucket list.

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Looking off to the right, I was able to get a shot of the Downtown skyline with Atlanta’s tallest skyscraper, Bank of America Plaza, just off to the north.

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Tip: When going to Condesa Coffee I usually have no problem parking on John Wesley Dobbs Ave NE just east of Boulevard NE. Make the quick one block track over to the bridge via the Freedom Park Trail, which is something to experience in its own right.

The perfectly blue morning sky made for a great first experience on the Jackson Street Bridge. I look forward to checking out the same view at night and on days with various cloud types in the future.

What other scenic spots would you recommend for checking out the Downtown or other parts of the Atlanta skyline?