Lakeside Sunday

Rancho Santa Margarita Lake

After a long work week and flipping through movies after another, Netflix finally got the best of me. I knew I had stayed home far too long as I was starting to feel a bit crazy. I had to get out of the house so, I drove to Rancho Santa Margarita Lake for a dose of sunshine and nature.

Rancho Santa Margarita Lake is probably one of the best lakes around in Orange County. It has an easy 1.1 mile loop trail with outdoor fitness stations, free parking, benches, a recreation center with a pool and is within walking distance to restaurants (yes, they have Starbucks too!). My favorite part of the lake is the backdrop view of the Santiago Peak or Saddleback Mountain while strolling through the paved pathways.

After my 2nd loop of the lake I sat down in one of the benches and watched the birds and turtles swim in the water. It was a much needed break from the daily routine.

Christmas Lightings in Orange County.

From Christmas decorations to lighting displays, it feels to me like the holiday spirit is in full effect around here. Last night, I decided to see a few Christmas lightings near my neighborhood. It was something that I’ve never done before and I thought the one in Dana Point was done quite nicely.

If you’re interested in viewing a few neighborhoods that have lighting decorations up you can see a list on this map. Pls. keep in mind that I haven’t seen every single one on this map to vouch for how they look and all. Although, I can confirm for the Dana Point Harbor location. Happy Lighting Hunting!

Morning Hike at Las Ramblas

Hiking Las Ramblas

Today’s morning hike kicked my booty the rest of the day because I am beat! This was my first time hiking at Las Ramblas Trail located in San Juan Capistrano. Though worth it, I did not expect the trails to have very steep hills. The whole hike took about 5 miles where we took 2 different trails called “Las Ramblas” and “Patriot Hill”. Both had good views of Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano which made the hike worth it. One downside is the lack in shades so, if you decide to come here make sure to bring a good hat and plenty of water or go early in the morning when the weather is a bit cooler. Otherwise, be prepared for the heat beating down on you.

Celebrating My Birthday.

Cake

Thus far, June had its ups and downs. With the re-opening of the economy I’m in no hurry to get back to the “new normal” life. California supposedly had an increase in COVID19 cases due to more tests being done but, I don’t know what’s true these days. I’ve continued to stay home, keep my distance and limit the amount of people I socialize with (if, at all). In addition, my work has allowed me to continue working remotely from home and that’s been working out pretty well for all of us.

Besides the on-going Corona crisis, I turned a year older a few days ago. It was a sad moment waking up in the morning and being reminded of how I am older and in no way close to where I want to be at the age I am now. Honestly, if I had a forward button I’d probably would’ve done it. Anyway, I turned my sorrow instead to focusing on work followed by challenging myself to bake a vegan cake. My bf and I took turns figuring out the ingredients of the cake and even though baking this cake took forever it definitely lifted my mood. The cake was a success and given the situation of celebrating my birthday during COVID19 era, not being able to travel and turning older, I’d say it was a productive day.

Vegan Cake

Five Things To Do in Orange County, CA

Castaway Park

Did you know the largest city in Orange County is Anaheim? Did you know it was founded by the Germans? At one point the Germans lived near the Santa Ana River and combined the name Ana with heim (it means home). The Germans got it right because Orange County is home to me. With so many things to see and do, it’s no wonder I keep coming back.

Here are the Top 5 Things To Do in Orange County in no particular order.

1. Hit the Beach
Without a doubt, going to the beach is one of the most popular things to do in Orange County. We have more than 100+ beaches to choose from on a 40 miles coastline. Just take a look while you drive down highway 1, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway. You’ll see through this highway the different cities how each one has its own character and as you go through, start counting the amount of beaches you see along the way. It’s almost impossible to count them all.
 
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2. Amusement & Water Parks
Besides the beaches, Orange County is home to the biggest attraction in the world and draws about 18.6 million visits (in 2018) known as Disneyland. It is a staple of Orange County that is a must-see. Another theme park worth noting, although not widely known in compare to Disneyland is Knott’s Berry Farm. Besides the price difference, read here to assess which option suits best for you or here. See other lists of theme parks here.

3. Shopping
For the amount of public beaches we have in Orange County, we also have a comparable amount of shopping centers around. One notable mall that you should know is South Coast Plaza. It is the largest shopping center on the West Coast of United States and is conveniently located near John Wayne airport. For those with long layovers or general shopaholics (like me), you can access this mall via 405 fwy in a mere of 8-10 minutes depending on traffic.

Other Malls:

4. Hiking/Cycling
Hiking and cycling is one of the most popular things to do here in O.C. We have numerous parks with trails around to choose from. The City of Irvine alone is nationally known for its “well-planned parks, greenbelts, open space and interconnected bike network.” Here are a few of my go to places to hike.

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5. Spas and Wellness
In O.C., we are health conscious mentally and physically. It’s quite common to see locals in their gym clothes while running errands which, brings me to Spas and Wellness Centers as one of the Top 5 Popular Things to do in O.C. When it comes to Spas and Wellness centers, you can find various options from moderate to luxurious places. There’s no right or wrong way to go on this one.

Links:
Spa Finder
Spas and Wellness in O.C.
Wellness Experiences

May Update: Stay at Home Order Lifted

Exploring San Diego

Word around town is that today is the first day of the “Stay at Home” Order in California being lifted. We are entering Phase 2 which means a few businesses are allowed to re-open for curbside pickup such as retail. Certain guidelines are still in effect like wearing a mask when entering restaurants and social distancing. My employer also have started asking us to work in the office next Monday but, I’m still doubtful about the whole re-opening the economy considering that the virus is still around. I definitely don’t want to risk getting infected especially for someone with asthma which puts me in a “vulnerable” category.

On the contrary, a few other countries are also re-opening their economy. I thought it was nice to see people living their “new normal life” taking a walk outside, jogging, soaking in the sun and the likes. I guess time will tell how this whole thing will play out for all of us.

How do you feel about the economy re-opening at this point in time?

Mid-April Update

Me in Orange County

It’s been over a month now since we’ve been hit with the “Stay at home” order in California. I’ve lost my patience in the negativity over the news for COVID-19 and thus, have decreased my daily checking.

California stands on a soft re-opening and have opened a few beaches in my area and as far as I know, critical surgeries have resumed (not cosmetic related surgeries per se). As for activities, well, most of the hiking routes or trails I usually go on have stayed open this whole time and that has not changed at all. We’re still maintaining social distancing, the “Stay at home” order is still in effect until told otherwise and wearing masks is still mandatory in most stores. However, I have started seeing a lax in wearing masks lately in compare to the beginning of this month.

The latest update regarding COVID19 in California are strikes that’s happening in a few cities. People are getting antsy in re-opening early and start work again. It is a very tough situation we are all in because on one hand you have people dying and on the other, you have people needing work to live. I can sympathize on both ends and I’m not posting this to start a political debate whether we should re-open early or not. I am hopeful that we will return to a “new normal” soon, until then, stay positive.

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Orange County Moving Guide.

Castaway Park

If you’re reading this then I can assume you’re thinking about moving to Orange County for whatever reason it may be. In any case, Orange County a.k.a “OC”, is a great place to be. We have direct access to the beach, the mountains and everything else in between. I’ve lived here pretty much my whole life and every time I move away I always seem to come back. It could be the fact that my family lives here and that the weather is great most of the time but, one thing I’m sure is that O.C. is home.

My goal for this post is to provide help in some way for anyone moving to O.C.

Accommodation

Accommodation is likely the biggest expense you’ll have when living in Orange County specifically in areas like Irvine, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar, Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, and/or Dana Point. Renting and/or buying a home here is one of the most expensive in the nation. I’ve lived here most of my life and the standard rent costs around $1200 not including utilities. There are a few places like studio apartments that costs the same or less but, generally they are smaller in square footage and/or do not have a proper kitchen.

For “budget” accommodations, you’ll likely find it more in areas like Anaheim, Tustin, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa (certain areas), Huntington Beach (certain areas). Although, it seems that rental costs keeps going up every year in California.

For me, the key to a good accommodation for working professionals is location where there’s direct access to freeways, a proper set up (a full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom & parking). Keep in mind that the closer you are to the beach the more expensive your accommodation will be.

Obviously, all of this will depend on each individual’s situation.

Read important articles here, here, about the cost of living and 15 most expensive cities in USA. Find apartments to rent on zillow and use the filter base on budget.

Door Knob

Job Market

I’d say the job market here is pretty competitive relating to the digital world. The industries in real estate, health care and tech are huge. Big companies such as Amazon and Google have offices here, therefore, there’s an immense amount of work but, they’re highly coveted too.

Places to find jobs are:

  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Craigslist
  • Recruiting Agencies: 24-Seven, Robert Half, Aquent, Onward Search

Transportation

Your own car is your best friend. Our roads are very wide and since we don’t have a proper metro or train system, a car is vital as means of transportation.

The train system that we do have has a limited route. Personally, I’ve never taken the train in Orange County (it’s in the works) but, I do know that it goes all the way to downtown L.A. and San Diego. Here’s a map of the railway system.

Other means of transportation is Uber & Lyft. It is quite popular here and reliable. I’ve never had a problem finding an Uber ride at 2am or 4am. I’ve used either one when I have to go to the airport or on weekends when I have a party to go to where drinking is involved.

Things to See or Do

There’s endless of things to see or do here in Orange County. We cater to pretty much every activity one desires from the beach to the mountains, shopping, game rooms, or parks. We have access to most things. Here are a few lists of activities:

Hikes, Parks & Trails

Beaches

  • Huntington Beach
  • Downtown Laguna Beach
  • Dana Point
  • Newport Beach main beach
  • Corona Del Mar
  • San Clemente

Read more here and about the neighborhoods in detail (or here).

Casa Romantica

Museums

See more here.

Other Activities:

Grocery Stores

  • Trader Joes
  • Whole Foods
  • Ralphs
  • Vons
  • Albertsons
  • Aldi
  • Sprouts
  • Costco
  • Gelsons
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Rite Aid
  • 99 Cents
  • Dollar Tree

Malls

Direct message me if you have any specific questions.

First Thing I Will Do After the COVID-19 Crisis Ends.

selfie_losangeles | astintabroad

I’m sitting here letting the title of this post marinate for a little bit. I feel that we’re far from the crisis ending anytime soon but, I am hopeful. One day, when this ends and I am sure it will, I want to be ready for the things that I missed doing or took for granted before the crisis started. These are in no way in any particular order.

  • Make Travel Plans
  • Re-start my social life and make plans to attend events
  • Dine in and have a good meal
  • Go swimming or sit in a Jacuzzi
  • Go on a long hike
  • Go to a movie theater
  • Smile at strangers
  • Smile when I see the grocery stores well stocked again
  • Buy toilet paper and hand-sanitizer (since I’m now running low)
  • Continue my blog

On to you.

Helpful article: https://medium.com/mind-cafe/5-steps-to-take-now-so-you-can-thrive-in-the-post-coronavirus-world-e2f63fedc1d6

Coping During My 2nd Week of “Stay At Home” Order.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, life is pretty grim around here in Orange County, California. People are being “furlough” left to right, hiring freeze is abundant, grocery stores rarely has any food in stock and the list goes on and on. When will it stop? Nobody knows, at least until we start seeing the number of people infected start dropping then things will hopefully ease up.

For now, I’m at home working on my laptop. Work, on the contrary, is the consistent thing in my life that’s “normal”. I’m focused, busy and on track with my usual routine prior to COVID-19 crisis. I’d say I’m pretty lucky in a sense that there’s nothing out of the ordinary with my day to day routine. I’ve adapted quite well working remotely from home as I’ve been doing that on and off in the last year. The only thing different for me is keeping my distance from strangers and going to the grocery stores to find most things out of stock.


The other day I went for a run around my neighborhood and I’ve never come across people dodging each other as far away as crossing the street the minute they’re about to cross paths. It felt weird because nobody ever did that prior to the crisis. On one hand, it’s good that people are respecting the rules but, there’s also the feeling like this could become the new reality indefinitely. For me, the thought of never talking to strangers at all is weird. Let’s say I’m lost and didn’t have access to any phones. How would I get help if, nobody will want to talk to me? I know, I’m talking nonsense and don’t get me wrong, I’d rather be safe keeping my distance than be sorry; but, admitting this is our current reality of facing the unknown is an adjustment to say the least.

Despite the changes that has happened after the crisis started, I do like seeing a lot more people going out for a walk or running outside (while keeping social distancing in mind). Personally, I’m happy that I’m given this time to FaceTime with friends and family from all over the world, re-connecting through social media, taking online courses, blog, binge watch movies or shows, reading articles, organizing, purging old files and preparing to donate a few items. In retrospect, I try to keep it positive by doing the things I like to do on a daily basis, get a good sleep, eat as healthy as possible and survive.

How are you coping lately?

Read my post on helping you stay occupied: https://astintabroad.com/2020/03/19/good-reads-links-to-help-you-stay-occupied/