Ingrid's Staycation in La Jolla, California

Great La Jolla Vacations!

When my parents moved to Southern California in the early 1960s, they settled in the San Gabriel valley area, east of Los Angeles. After the seasonal rains in the winter and early spring, the summer brings hot, desert weather. The green wild oats and foxtail grass blanketing the rolling hills turn brown as the temperature often reaches triple digits.

To escape the heat, we went to the beach.


At first, we drove an hour each way to the beach for day trips. My three brothers and sister and I body surfed and boogie-boarded until we were waterlogged.

We were happy as kids playing side by side at the beach with our parents. These beach trips gave us family time during a period when we all had school and different sports and activities.

Sometimes we stayed at hotels at beach cities - Laguna Beach, Newport Beach - for precious vacation time.

Sometimes we rented beach houses.

We loved our vacations at beaches along Southern California’s sun kissed coastline.

When I was 16, I injured my right knee while playing on the high school basketball team. Later, I joined the high school swim team to rehabilitate and continue my passion for competitive sports.

I still have a passion for swimming. In this photo, I'm beaming ear to ear for two reasons - I just completed the 2011 La Jolla Tour of the Buoys 1.5 mile course AND I saw a green sea turtle while approaching the first buoy.

Back to my high school days...My dad knew I loved the ocean. He took me down to the local SCUBA shop where I took diving lessons.

After all of those years of body surfing the waves as a child, I never ventured below until I discovered SCUBA diving. Wow! So much beauty under the sea. It was exhilerating to dive in a kelp forest among the Giant Sea Bass, the gliding Bat Rays, and crawling, neon nudibranchs. I was hooked on SCUBA diving.


When it was time to apply to college, I naturally chose UC San Diego in La Jolla. In fact, I only applied to one campus. La Jolla and San Diego encompassed the balance of natural landscapes – beaches, canyons, desert and mountains – with urban culture – museums, music, theaters, and of course, a great university.


UC San Diego in La Jolla reminded me of the best of my hometown - being near the theaters and museums and offering outdoor activities. I knew UCSD was a good match for me.

During my first quarter at UCSD I took two courses: Introduction to Underwater Biology and Shakespeare on Stage.

And I joined the UCSD SCUBA Diving club which gave us access to a key to the gate to the long & steep road to Black’s Beach. We used to explore the famous Scripps underwater canyon by kicking out a few hundred yards on the surface from Black’s Beach and diving down over 100 feet. It was thrilling.

I majored in Literature and Writing. I wrote fiction and non-fiction and I was co-editor and contributor of the UCSD Journal of Undergraduate Research.

I added an emphasis in photography. My college roommate Rebecca introduced me to analog, 35-mm single-lens reflex film-based cameras. I took portrait, landscape, and street photographs during my travels to Europe and China.

I learned to process black and white film, and use negatives to print photographs in a dark room. I learned how to improve a photograph in the dark room by changing the development time, shading, quality of paper, or changing the chemicals.

Sometimes I sent my color slides to a professional lab or camera store and I used to wait expectantly for days before my color slides returned.

Today, with digital cameras, I can take endless photos without buying rolls of film. And I can immediately “process” the images on my home computer by simply uploading the photos from my digital camera.

And I can use Apple iPhoto software to present an entertaining multimedia slideshow with accompanying music. Digital cameras and multimedia software have greatly improved the economy, speed, and delivery of images.

During the days of analog camera with 35 mm film, I took an underwater photography course and rented a camera and underwater housing a few times while SCUBA diving. Today, waterproof digital cameras allow snorkelers and SCUBA divers to take photos up to certain depths without housings.


Even though my education and career took me to Europe and China, Texas and Florida, I decided to return to the beauty and sophistication of San Diego.

Fast forward to the new millennium. Over the past several years, in the summer, I have been hosting nieces and nephews in San Diego and La Jolla with ocean safaris. For up to a week at a time I have taught them how to snorkel and photograph underwater at the La Jolla Underwater Ecological Reserve.

After exploring sea caves and sea lion rookeries during the day, we head for San Diego’s attractions in the evenings – the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Safari Park, and Sea World.

My mom really enjoys a day at the horse race track. For the past few years, I have gifted my mom a day at the Del Mar racetrack. This annual excursion has evolved into a two-day visit. This past summer my parents stayed at the La Jolla Shores Hotel where we soaked up the sun’s rays and watched the waves roll in while we studied the Racing Forum. We had a great time!


My dad is a huge fan of Piatti’s restaurant in La Jolla Shores, so he was a happy camper when we got to dine there. The oil & vinaigrette dip and the calamari are great ways to start any meal at Piatti’s.