Why San Clemente Quickly Became a Go-To Spot

Kristen is one of the friends you just want to have. She’s the most loyal and thoughtful friend and she also lives in a great spot in California. When I hopped off the plane in LAX Thursday night, we had only roughly talked about our weekend plans. She’s lived out there over seven years and we’ve been able to do all the landmarks during some of those trips (Santa Monica Pier, Beverly Hills, Disneyland) so there was nothing that I was overly drawn to do. 

To my surprise Kristen and Zack had this whole thing planned out. We stopped for a quick bite in Irvine with Zack and headed to San Clemente. She had booked us a cute little Airbnb right on the coast. San Clemente is the southernmost beach town in Orange County. We crashed pretty quickly Thursday night but were excited to enjoy this spot come Friday morning.

Local Coffee Shop

We headed to this cute little coffee shop just a short walk from our place called High Tide Coffee. Incredibly instagrammable except that pretty much every spot in this beach town is in this category. While the coffee was great, I really loved this spot because they let you pick you mug, and they had a nice assortment of pastries including gluten-free, dairy-free donuts. That is the mothership in my opinion! Plus, it was pumpkin flavored and even SoCal was a cool down from Atlanta, so it felt so much more like fall. 

Waterside Brunch

After we chilled for a bit that morning, we decided it was time for a true brunch/lunch. I am always trying to add brunch spots to my 30 before 30 bucket list items, and I was able to add quite a few places to that list this weekend. Our Friday spot was called Pierside, it didn’t sit directly on the water, but it had an ocean view, and was super reasonably priced. We helped ourselves to a shrimp and guac appetizer as well as some incredible avocado bruschetta. Our main dishes looked more like breakfast with a delicious egg scramble and the BEST (no exaggeration) fingerling potatoes. 

Savory American 

After a great beach day, we headed back on their great beach trail (a 2.2-mile one-way route that hugs the beach the whole way) to rest and get cleaned up. For dinner we headed to their downtown strip area, slightly off the water. There is no lack of options but we wanted some simple so we headed to a spot called The Local, I was feeling a little full since my body thought it was closer to 10pm and just grabbed a Thai Salad and some Brussel sprouts to share, who knew these would be the perfect example of a well done Brussel sprout. Blistered to perfection with a balsamic glaze was a fun way to stay simple, but tasty. Kristen got a monster burger which she said was delicious. 

Sweet Treat

If you want to know something about Kristen, she has a hankering for ice cream and as beach towns across the country do have no shortage of ice cream shops. We found this spot on Del Mar called South Swell Hand Dipped that had all natural, no additives selections of gelato. While at that point I was stuffed, we both tried several flavors and were blown away!

Cultural offerings 

Saturday morning, we went for a nice run out and back of the beach trail and had our hearts set on this crepery called La Galette. Located right next to Pierside we loved having a water view while we enjoyed our French breakfast. We split a sweet (berries and cream) and savory (chicken sausage, potatoes, and cheese) and thought both were 8/10. We walked around for a bit and decided it was time to make our way back towards Irvine for a special spa day that Zack had surprised us with. 

If you are a runner you’ll love the North Beach Trail that overlooks the water. It’s a 4.5 mile out and back and flat as a board, the ocean air providing a really nice breeze as the sweat starts to glisten.

10/10 would recommend San Clemente and we would go back again in a heartbeat. 

Have you ever been? Any other spots you love?

The Awe of Acadia

I’m only assuming here but when you think of National Parks I’m assuming your mind goes to the “biggies”: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Zion. Acadia wasn’t even on our radar several years ago, but after my family shifted to wanting to do more outdoor adventure trips we quickly made a list of national parks that we wanted to see. So while my family was planning an out west adventure (the only one of those I’ve seen is the Grand Canyon), Jon and I were looking for something a little closer to home for our anniversary.

By now you’ve probably read, or at least seen, the posts about our time in Boston, but Maine was special. Before I dive into Acadia specifically, I’ll give you a little overview. We flew in and out of Boston because it was WAY cheaper than flying into Portland or Bangor, however it’s a near five hour drive north especially if you take regular breaks. If/when we go back I would spend the extra money flying into Bangor so you have extra time to spend in Maine/Acadia.

Because of that drive I routed us a few times to lighthouses and restaurants that allowed us to experience more of Maine as a whole, which was stunning!

Nubble Lighthouse

We stayed in a wonderful little motel a little north of Bar Harbor (the town next to Acadia), called Belle Isle. Although the room was small, it gave us just what we needed, and the grounds were gorgeous and super well maintained. It’s just a couple miles in when you cross onto Mt Desert Island and a little less expensive then staying in the heart of Bar Harbor.

We quickly headed over to Bar Harbor for dinner and our first views of the incredible Maine coastline. It was really stunning. Something I’m so used to being a regular to the Florida Atlantic area is that when you look out into the ocean you just see vastness. It’s just ocean forever. But here, it’s little islands everywhere; some with mountains, some big, some tiny, the sunrises and sunsets hitting them all in a completely different way. It just makes you pause and take all of these mental pictures you never want to lose.

While that first evening we didn’t go into Acadia, Bar Harbor has a great coastline trail that you could literally walk forever with its views and cool breeze.

Friday was definitely the most epic. After researching the best sunrise hikes in Acadia, Cadillac Mountain was on our radar. Then that was 100% confirmed by one of Jon’s co-workers. The catch with Cadillac Mountain is that it’s the first spot in the US to see the sunrise, which also means it’s the earliest. About an hour and change earlier then Atlanta, so if you want to hike it you are out the door by 3:30am in route to park at the base. But it was absolutely worth it in EVERY WAY. Pictures do not do it justice, but hiking it up and down (we took two different paths to get different perspectives) was one of the most incredible experiences, but also one of the most rewarding. Side note: you can drive to the top, you still want to go early to get the entirety of the sunrise, and the parking is limited. Poor Jon looked at me like I was nutty, but when you are married to a an 8, 3, 1 on the enneagram there was NOTHING that was going to make me drive to the top verses having the fulfillment of hiking it. 

I wish I could go ahead and tell you what kind of feast we had to celebrate, but that’s for next blog post. 

After a satisfying breakfast we took time to relax on a bench overlooking the harbor. The boats starting their days and the sun starting to dance higher and higher. Jon took time to nap after such an early wake up call, while I read further into what it means to feel like it’s okay to not be enough because Jesus is enough and we get to be utterly and completely FREE in that. Heavy reading for vacation, but a truth that needs to be hammered in. And then before we knew it, it was TIME. 

Time for what? For only three hours a day the tide lowers to open up a walkway of a sandbar to Bar Harbor Island. Technically part of Acadia national park, roughly between 9am-12pm you walk across onto this island and an easy two mile hike up to the hillside overlooking all of Bar Harbor and the northern side of Acadia National Park. It was a lot after such a hike that morning but 100% worth it, this “trail” is steady with people so stay aware, but not full enough that you risk being trampled.

We got back to Bar Harbor around 11 or so and headed to lunch. Again for next blog post and then back to the motel for a much needed and well deserved nap. 

We took the evening easy, walking the coastline trail again, shopping, and eating great food.

Saturday morning was Jon’s favorite part! I wanted to get in a trail run and Jon had a spot he really wanted to check out that ended up serving as the perfect spot for an easy run. Jordan Pond. It sits in the middle of the park surrounded by beautiful rolling hills and an epic sunrise. It’s right at 3.25 miles around and flat the whole way. While easy for 85% of it, there is a little bit of rock climbing at two points so be careful! 

After we left Jordan Pond we drove around the Southside of the island, taking in the south part of Acadia and its incredible views. We had one last breakfast in Bar Harbor before we packed up to head to Boston. We were sad to have to end this part of our trip, but as I said before when (not if) we are to do it again we will fly into Bangor and spend more time in this beautiful place.

Let me know what you think? Have you been? Anything you loved that I didn’t mention?

Until foodie time,

Jordan


Playing with Passions and Remembering the Reason

I like to run… if you are reading this you most likely know that already.

After my competitive swimming career was over in 2012 and I had recovered from 13 years of my body being subject to incredibly intense training, I missed the competition, I missed the goals, I missed seeing how far my body could go. But I wanted to live my life on purpose no matter what I chose as my sport or physical activity of choice.

During college cross-training had involved a good bit of a running, I could naturally hold my own so I thought I would give running a shot. It started with running ONE mile around the front of my parents neighborhood – it’s a convenient one mile loop – and then TWO miles around the bottom loop at Little Mulberry Park, just a few miles from where my parents live. It felt good, I was running farther and faster, so I signed up for a 5K. It was a disaster. To this day, it still haunts me. That was in November of 2012. It would be a full eight months later before I would try my hand at an actual race. The Peachtree Road Race in 2013 was that moment and while it was grueling, rainy, and exhausting it sparked something new in me. Half Marathon #1 was then placed on the calendar. At this point it wasn’t so much a passion as it was a physical outlet for work days.

Thanksgiving Day of 2013 was long, painful, and really really cold. My first half marathon ever was a crisp 18 degrees, and that 13.1 was happening after recovering from knee pain due to lack of stretching and appropriate recovery. Thankfully, I finished and then hopped on a plane two hours later for a three and a half hour flight to Denver. That is never a good game plan. Yes, my dad half carried me through airport and down the sidewalks of this new and short adventure.

I loved the feeling of finishing, but I needed a do-over. You might not love the first races you ever do, you might think it’s not worth it, you might think you’ll come to love it. And maybe that’s true, but I challenge you to give it one more shot. So I signed up for the Nike Women’s Half in DC slated for April 2014. After spending several weeks fully recovering I hopped back into running slow and steady.

Mom took me up to DC and we explored the city where her and my dad fell in love and explored the way Nike took over and made it an unforgettable experience (it’s also where I found Nuun Hydration). I toed the line against the backdrop of the sun rising above the Capitol and off we went. Words don’t fully embody and describe what happened to me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually during those two hours. It wasn’t any faster than Thanksgiving, but it was completely different in the best way. Something clicked.

I say spiritually and it could raise eyebrows, but here’s what I mean: I have always loved the athletic industry, but as I named our athletic association “the devils playground”, it’s a dark world that can leave you dry and stale when your complete identity is wrapped up in the sport you do and the publicity and acknowledgment you get. The Lord sparked something in my mind that made me wonder how I could enter in to that space and help change that perspective. That we are far more valuable and purposeful than an athletic endeavor.

Unfortunately, the road was more winding and roller coaster-esque than I would have preferred. I am rather shy at first and can be independent to a fault and that caused issues as I tried to get more involved in the running community, but still maintaining the one-man show bit. There had to be more.

My times got faster which helped build confidence, and after I moved back to the city and Jon and I got married with community around us I had very little reason to not show up for the community and start building those relationships that the Lord was pressing me to step into. I started showing up for a group run, but at this time running became more of an obsession. I was taking it too far and still trying to figure it out on my own. Enter over-exercise, disordered eating and everything spiraled be down to the pit.

Passions aren’t meant to be paramount. Jesus is our purpose, and the passions are that which we are used to point to him. I lost that in this season, and it took so many months and even years to work through mud and create, what I hope to be, a beautiful story that shines light into darkness.

Enter book right, during this season of recovery and refocusing my passion and purpose it brought lies and darkness that I didn’t even realize was there due to events that had occurred many years ago. In every way this season has been incredibly hard, but it’s also been incredibly restorative and refreshing to weed out some of the yuck and let the Lord start to light it up and give it beauty. And now I sit here smoothing out some of the final edits in my first book centered around all of this and I am so excited to share it with you in the coming months.

Let your passion shine His light, and remember where your focus should truly lie. Identity’s don’t come from earthly things, they come from your Creator.

For now friends,

Jordan