The Coast News Group
Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, home to 6,000 sea creatures, is open again and employing pandemic-safe practices for visitors: mandatory face masks, hand-sanitizer stations, reservations and timed tickets. Courtesy photo
Columns Hit the Road

Hit the Road: Whale watching, other ideas as county slowly reopens

San Diego County is opening up ever-so-slowly and businesses and attractions are looking to bring back new and former customers.

That includes Oceanside Adventures , which runs whale/dolphin-watching tours, wine cruises and private boat charters out of Oceanside Harbor. To celebrate the reopening, kids ride free with two paid adult tickets for whale-watching through October. What’s out there? Whales (fin, minke, humpback and the big blues) and four species of dolphin. Face masks required onboard.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is open with new procedures to keep everyone safe. Guest capacity is limited, so reservations (timed tickets) are necessary. Face coverings required for ages 2 and up. The aquarium is home to 6,000 sea creatures, including the wondrous sea dragons and an amazing rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtle from New Jersey who has a bionic prosthesis.

A two-hour drive northeast of North County will bring you to Big Bear Village at 6,752 feet and some autumn color. Check the Fall Foliage Prediction Map for locations and times of peak autumn color throughout the United States. Photo by Brian Lettieri

Autumn arrives at different times in different places. In the Northeast and Midwest, the changing of colors takes place according to latitude; in the West, it’s all about altitude.

To figure out what to see when and where, check out the Fall Foliage Prediction Map, published annually by The link also provides some fifth-grade science to explain how the leaves change colors.

Attention hikers: The ultimate trails challenge in the U.S. is taking shape, thanks to Rue McKenrick of Bend, Oregon, who is working to create a route that circumvents the country. After through-hiking the “Triple Crown” — the Appalachian (2,190 miles), Pacific Crest (2,650 miles), and Continental Divide (3,100 miles) trails — he decided on another challenge. According to a story on AFAR, McKenrick has sketched out a route that connects the Pacific Crest Trail to the Appalachian Trail. Called the American Perimeter Trail, the 12,000-mile route is a work in progress. Check it out on Facebook.

And here are a few new products to make your travels, whenever they happen, a bit easier and better:

Old Trapper Zero Sugar Beef Jerky — I confess: I’m not a jerky fan, but I passed this around to some active people who are and got a unanimous thumbs-up. They liked the taste and were delighted to find a portable snack that boasts no sugar, only 2 grams of carbs, 0.5 grams of fat and a generous 14 grams of protein per ounce. About $14/8-ounce package. Several flavors and sizes.

Safe Catch — Speaking of portable protein: Safe Catch, a seafood company that claims to be the only one in the industry that can test every fish for mercury, offers several flavors of tuna and salmon in travel-easy pouches. When energy bars wear out their welcome, try some sustainably caught, wild pink salmon (Citrus Dill, Italian Herb and Rosemary Dijon); and ahi or albacore packed in olive or avocado oil ($4.29/5 ounces). Safe Catch Elite is Paleo-, Whole30- and Non-GMO project-certified. Endorsed by the American Pregnancy Association. Some varieties have no added salt.   

The HandiGuru silicon bracelet will keep hand-sanitizer (and sunscreen or insect repellent) close by and easy to use. Courtesy photo

HandiGuru — Make using hand sanitizer a little more convenient with HandiGuru, a silicone bracelet that dispenses hand-sanitizer. It was invented by Santa Barbara artist-turned-entrepreneur Benjamin Anderson. Comes with a squeeze bottle and applicator tip for easy refilling. The bracelet, which eliminates the need for bulky bottles, also can be filled with sunscreen or bug repellent. You’ll never get caught without sanitizer. Comes in gray, blue and black. $12.95.

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