Day Trip to San Diego, California with Kam of Campfire Chic

March was a rough month on my side of the screen so I needed a quick escape last weekend so I clear my head. I wanted to get out of the house so I wouldn’t keep staring at the piles of papers I need to file/shred/recycle or trying to unpack all the things (which really needs to happen).

So Alex and I took off early Saturday morning and headed south to San Diego.

San Diego is just a few hours away from where we live, I lived there part-time during graduate school, and it is our default “We need to get away but be home tonight” day escape. After a quick breakfast at home, we jumped in the car and we were on our way.

Grotto Bouldering Area at Grotto Climbing and Yoga in San Diego California - Campfire Chic

Grotto Climbing & Yoga

Our first stop was to a new bouldering gym (and climbing studio and training center) that opened a few months ago. I received a press release from the San Diego Tourism Board highlighting all the climbing opportunities in San Diego and Grotto Climbing & Yoga in the Grantville/Mission Valley area of San Diego was highlighted in the release. If you are familiar with the 8 freeway, it is across the freeway from San Diego State University and right next door to Adventure 16.

We were welcomed by co-founders Bryan and Matt and I got an in-depth tour of the facility while Alex immediately went to start climbing. Matt gave me a brief overview of the gym, how the gym hosted a Setter Showdown in March, and we chatted a bit about how San Diego State University students were slowly finding the gym and enjoyed studying in the lounge area (free wifi, plenty of workspace, and just a few feet from your next project? I wish this was around when I was in grad school!). Bryan took me through to the dedicated yoga studio and “the yard” which is the outdoor training center that has a 60 degree and 30 degree overhang area, giant peg board, campus board, TRX bands, kettlebells, and a bunch of other equipment that climbers embrace for training.

Grotto Climbing and Yoga Bouldering Gym in San Diego - Campfire Chic

If you’re looking for longer bouldering routes, Grotto Climbing & Yoga needs to be on your list of places to visit. The grotto climbing area allows for longer routes…think 20 feet of routes that traverse, climb, and meander their way up and under the grotto walls. The setters work on a 6 week calendar so you’ll always find something new as they make their way around the gym, putting up new routes on Mondays and Thursdays.

We also met Justin of Local Juice Co. at the gym, he’s a member and he brings his son on the weekends to run around and to give climbers samples of his awesome cold-pressed juices.  We tried all the different types he was sampling and ended up going home with the watermelon one (I can’t remember the name!) and a great green juice called Renew. So good.

Iced Tea at Cafe 21 in San Diego California - Campfire Chic

Cafe 21

After stopping in ad Adventure 16 for a quick look, Alex and I headed Downtown to the Gaslamp location of Cafe 21. We were welcomed by the manager, Angelina, and were escorted through the eclectically decorated restaurant. It was really warm outside so I was happy that we got a window seat inside. After ordering, our server made a few suggestions for things to try and explained how Chef Layla Javadov focuses on fresh, local ingredients and that Cafe 21 is known for their different infusions…from different cocktails to the sangria they proudly display in the lobby, to the custom tea blends featured on their menu.

I’m nosey as hell and as I looked around to see what others were ordering for brunch, I declared that Alex and I would return during Comic-Con weekend for one of the Bloody Marys with grilled cheese skewers, the Sangria flight, or maybe the mojito flight, because why not. The omelettes that come in skillets looked amazing and I had a hard time not staring at the stuffed French Toast.

Cafe 21 Gaslamp District San Diego California - Campfire Chic

What we ordered: Madonna Mule (a gin-version of the Moscow Mule with lots of citrus), Pomegranate Pai Mu Tan iced tea (what I’m brewing in the photo at top), roasted eggplant sandwich with poached eggs, stuffed flatbread (one veggie and cheese and one braised shortrib with red bell peppers), side salads, and for dessert we had the creme brûlée cheesecake, and the (seasonal) bread pudding French Toast with kiwi and raspberry compote.

After lunch, we walked around the outdoor mall downtown called Horton Plaza and had a good time seeing all the big groups of people enjoying the fantastic weather as we walked around the Gaslamp District. We are only ever in the Gaslamp area of San Diego during Comic-Con weekend so it was interesting to see it on a normal weekend. Less crowded, less stressful, and it was easy to find whatever we wanted (hello, iced americano).

If we had a little more time in San Diego, we wanted to visit the Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego and possibly go paddle boarding. We will have to start with those places next time we need a quick day away from home and see what else San Diego has to offer.

More places to consider for your microadventure in San Diego:

  • Favorite Hike: Iron Mountain (okay, so this is the only hike I’ve done in San Diego)
  • Favorite San Diego Breweries: Stone Brewing, Coronado Brewing Company, Ballast Point (San Diego is a craft beer Mecca, there are  more breweries than I can count)
  • Favorite Family-Friendly Attractions: Self-Realization Fellowship, San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park & Museums, Birch Aquarium, the beaches!

This quick escape to San Diego was made possible through the San Diego Tourism Authority, which connected us with Grotto Climbing & Yoga and Cafe 21. The opinions and views shared in this post are my own. 


in California, Microadventure, Weekend

Red Rocks Rendezvous 2015 - Festival Grounds

What: Red Rocks Rendezvous (RRR) is the largest climbing festival in the United States. It is an annual event that is open to all types of climbers…from the brand new to the more advanced. Clinics are held by world class climbers and there is a festival where brands and organizations are able to connect with climbers.

When: This year’s event was held March 27 – 29, 2015. It’s an annual event so I expect next year’s RRR will be held around the same time.

Where: Red Rocks National Recreation Area just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. The festival is easier to get to than I anticipated and we were able to stay in a hotel nearby.

Why: Alex and I wanted to attend the 2014 event but found out too late. We jumped on registration as soon as it opened and were so excited to get the opportunity to go to the event, meet more climbers, and learn more skills to help us climb outdoors.

Red Rocks Rendezvous 2015 - Campground

Red Rocks Rendezvous 2015 - Shuttles to and Hiking to Crag

We missed our clinics on Saturday so we made sure to get to the festival grounds bight and early on Sunday morning to make it to our trad climbing clinic. Our guide was Peter Croft and we both knew we heard his name before but decided to not ask too many questions (that’s what wikipedia is for!) and while we didn’t actually do any climbing, we learned several skills that will help with our climbing in general. We met another climber who goes to our gym and another young woman from LA who climbs outdoors with her friends but wanted some more skills so she can be more independent from them.



Usually, the photos you see of RRR involve a sea of flannels during the day and a crowd of puffy jackets by night. This year’s heat had everybody in shorts and tank tops and lugging gallons of water to the climbing areas in order to beat the heat.

I wish we were able to make it to the other clinics and get some time actually climbing, but this was a good introduction to the event. I’m looking forward to attending in the future…and adding on the extra day for even more climbing!


in Adventure, Climbing

Black Diamond Carabiner Gridlock Screwgate Review - Campfire Chic


I like to keep things simple when I’m at the climbing gym. I like that I have an entry-level harness and very basic climbing shoes. Maybe it’s that I like inexpensive gear that gets the job done?

One of the recent updates I made to my gear? A new carabiner that I use when belaying a lead climber.

I use an ATC-guide from Black Diamond which is admittedly a little much for gym climbing (here is a good option) but I’m comfortable using it and like the little teeth on the brake side of the device. I now pair my ATC with the Black Diamond GridLock Screwgate Carabiner.

Why the change?

Even while belaying for top rope routes (at other gyms, my current gym uses GriGris for top rope routes), I noticed that my ATC/screwgate carabiner system was cross-loading* too often. I wasn’t comfortable with the cross-loading while I was learning to belay during our lead climbing class and I noticed one of the other students using the Magnetron GridLock carabiner and knew I wanted to make the switch.

I love my screwgate carabiner! It’s lightweight and fits nicely with the belay loop on my harness (Petzl Luna – new version here). There is a little bit of a learning curve with using this type of carabiner. You need a few extra movements to get the carabiner set up properly but once you’re accustomed to the movements, you’re set!

You can find the Black Diamond GridLock Screwgate on Amazon (affiliate link), Black Diamond, The Gear Co-Op, and

*A guide to carabiners has plenty of definitions and is put together way better than what I could ever do.


in Climbing, Gear Review, Review

Roundup of helpful articles, blog posts, and videos from around the net



I’m behind. I’m scattered. I’m saying yes to too many things (typical). I’m in a transition phase that needs to be sorted a bit before I can settle back in.

But I have a plan. I have a few plans, actually. I need to cross off a few big at-home tasks (putting our bed frame together, finding a dresser, buying some lamps because my workspace is dark, laundry) before I will less like I’m treading water, but I have plans for the 30 Days of Lists newsletter subscribers, I have plans for an update to the Spark ecourse, I have plans for the next update to Write365 app, and I have plenty of travel plans.

Here’s to writing big-ass lists, paydays, and weekends.

This week’s Essential Reading:

  • 3 tips for making family adventures a success
  • I’m hoping to make it out to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks this fall and the photos in this post are making me consider spending extra time in both parks
  • If your area of the world is starting to thaw out and you’re thinking of hitting the trails, be sure to know how to prevent (and heal) blisters before lacing up your boots
  • You need to see this mini-album by Vanessa (guest posting) and how animals are a part of her life…it goes beyond pets…it talks about her tattoos, her zodiac, and so many things that are so HER and it’s gorgeous and beautiful and I can’t get enough of it
  • Pinterest marketing guide
  • Do you know the different ways to use Google Maps to make traveling easier? I would add one tip to this post: take screen shots of your directions in case you lose connection. Alex and I do this whenever we go on long drives or if we know we’ll be someplace that has less-than-stellar connection
  • I love Erika’s Make Art Every Day in 2015 project and the piece she made for Portland is no exception. I wish she would make prints of some (okay, all) of her pieces
  • 5 productivity hacks to try today…I really like #2 because I know that having a messy apartment really stresses me out (in fact, I rage cleaned a bit before sitting down to this post because things were out of control). I’m not against having a few messy projects out and a few piles of things here or there, but having a tidy space helps me focus


in Essential Reading

Adventure and Travel Books for Microadventurers - Campfire Chic

This is one of those “it’s been a long time coming” tasks. Having a page on this blog dedicated to the travel and adventure books Alex and I read has been on my list for the past 6 months. I kept putting off hitting publish because I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to format the page and other dumb excuses.

It took needing to kill some time while I wait for movers to arrive for me to just hunker down and get to work.

The page will be updated occasionally to include new books that we finish reading so if you have books you’d like to recommend, let me know! I’ll pick them up from the library and get to work.

Click here to find your next adventure & travel book or resources



in Adventure, Books, Review

Scrubba Washbag Review - Travel Lighter by Bringing Less and Washing Your Clothes with this Mini Washing Machine

You’re the traveling type. You plan your next trip while in the middle of your current trip. You like to go off the beaten path and see what new cities have to offer you. You also like to keep things light and only pack the bare minimum…but sometimes you wish you packed that extra pair of underwear or curse the heavens as you try to wash spilled coffee out of the one pair of jeans you brought along. Avoid washing your clothes in tiny (and maybe dirty) sinks or wasting time at a laundromat by bringing along the Scrubba Washbag.

Scrubba Washbag Review

Earlier this week, I needed some gym clothes but just finished a marathon laundry session and didn’t have enough dirty laundry left to justify running a load of laundry. We are experiencing a big drought it California so Alex and I only run full loads of laundry so a few pairs of shorts and a handful of sports bras wasn’t going to cut it.

Cue the Scrubba.

Scrubba Washbag Instructions and Review - Campfire Chic

I grabbed a few pairs of shorts, sports bras, and a bikini that needed a quick wash and decided to give the Scrubba a quick test run. I was a little skeptical of the triangle-shaped package that arrived from and wasn’t sure if it would be a lot of work to get my clothes clean. I figured I had nothing to lose because at least my clothes would be clean and I’d be able to go to the gym the next day.

I was tossed in my few items, added a small amount of detergent, some water, and got to scrubbing. A quick rinse later and my clothes were ready to be hung up to dry for the night. We’re slowing moving into our apartment so I had to get creative and used a some wire shelving as my drying rack as my actual drying rack is missing in action. The clothes I cleaned are all athletic wear and fairly quick-drying, so they were perfectly dry by morning.

Alex seemed pretty impressed, too. We agreed this small-but-mighty item will be joining us on our trip to Japan in a few months so we can save room in our bags (because I fully intend on bringing home an outrageous amount of Hello Kitty stuff) and feel fresh while walking around.


  • The Scrubba is super lightweight (about 5 ounces) and packs down fairly small so you can stow it in your camping supplies or your suitcase easily.
  • The scrubbing board inside the bag helps to agitate the detergent and clothes to get the washing going.
  • You can do small loads of laundry very quickly (scrubbing takes between 30 seconds and 3 minutes for larger/dirtier loads)
  • It’s pretty easy to keep the Scrubba clean. When I was done with the wash, I flipped it inside-out and tossed it into the tub so it could dry off before I packed it back down.


  • This may be a hassle for families with young kids who go through a ton of clothes. If you’re staying in a hotel with washing machines available, that may be a better bet for you, as those shorts/sports bras/bikini were all I could fit in before I got to the fill line on the bag.
  • I’m not sure how much detergent to use. I use the Method pump for normal laundry so kind of guessed that one pump of detergent was enough for my small load of laundry. I’ll be packing some detergent in small travel bottles when we go on trips

You can check out more about the Scrubba on the website. I partnered with Earth Easy to write up this review, they sent me the Scrubba for free but the opinions expressed in this review are my own. I only share products with Campfire Chic readers that I think they will enjoy and the Scrubba is one of those products. Contact me if you have questions or concerns about these reviews.


in Review

The Essential Gym Bag Items for After Work Workouts with Kam of Campfire Chic

So Katie from The Morning Fresh is sharing her training secrets in her series #couchtocrush and I’m trying really hard to improve my climbing and overall fitness so I’ve been hitting the gym a lot more than ever in my life.

A little background: my undergraduate degree is in Kinesiology with an emphasis in fitness and health promotion. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the field (especially once my advisor told me that nobody would hire in-house health promotion positions…yet we have those kinds of positions at my current workplace?) and I wasn’t particularly active. Sure, I took my required fitness courses (weight lifting, fencing, volleyball, rock climbing, swimming, badminton, etc.) but other than that I wasn’t hitting the gym or hiking very much. I knew the mechanics and could put together a fitness routine based on your goals and 1RM but I wasn’t interested in working out at all.

So here I am,  several years later, finally interested in being a gym rat and using my degree to help me improve my overall strength and aerobic fitness.

I try to keep my after work gym bag pretty lightweight and only holding the things I totally need. I sometimes stow my bag under my desk at work and I don’t want to lug a heavy bag with tons of extra stuff up and down the stairs. I keep my smaller essentials (hair ties, tampons, etc.) organized in a small pouch so I’m not digging into the bag looking for one damn thing.

I don’t have my bag down to a science and I’m probably missing something truly important so please don’t be shy and let me know what needs to be added to this list in the comments.

My climbing bag has evolved a bit to include a handful of extra things to make going to the workout area of the climbing gym more comfortable and less of a bore. Some of the things in my gym bag are more for comfort/vanity purposes and not things that are required to have a good workout*.

In my “after work” gym bag: 

Foot Notes™ Athletic Shoe Charms

I shared a photo on Instagram a couple of weeks ago of the Foot Notes™ on my climbing shoes. There are a few people at my gym with the same pair of shoes so if I leave my shoes in a common area, I sometimes forget which pair is mine (not really, mine are pretty tiny) and I’d rather not have somebody else try to fit their feet into my shoes! These “shoe charms” are cute and lightweight and seem to catch the light right when I need a reminder to not give up and to keep climbing. Since then, I moved the Foot Notes™ to my Nikes to keep me motivated in the gym…especially as I go through some of the #couchtocrux workouts and foam roll at the end of the night. I’m planning on grabbing a pair for my hiking shoes (custom: just wander) and switching these back to my climbing shoes so I can pick out something more running related like 1 more mile and just breathe.

You can get a pair of Foot Notes™ from Momentum for yourself with coupon code: CAMPFIRECHIC for 15% off (good through April 13, 2015). Momentum sent the first set of Foot Notes™ to me for a possible review and I’m glad to share this company with you. I know that Campfire Chic readers set goals and put in the work to achieve those goals…these little reminders are a nice physical reminder that you’re a badass.

Shoes – Nike Lunarglide

Those bright babies in the photo above are Nike Lunarglide 5s. They were from the Nike Factory Store in Portland, but the newer model can be found here (you can find the 5s on Amazon). I need a little extra stability with my shoes and I like a lighter weight shoe, so these are perfect for my current needs. The bright color is a little out of my comfort zone but I fell in love with them (and the price tag!) so now I’m more motivated to put them on and spend some time on the treadmill. I’m a strong believer in wearing things that make you feel good while you’re at the gym so while I technically had a perfectly good pair of shoes at home, these are the ones that are motivating me to keep up my workouts!

If you’re not sure what kind of shoe would work best for you, try finding a running shop near you that offers consultations for customers. You may pay a premium for the service, but you’ll notice the difference right away when you put on the shoe that best works with your movement. My parents would drive me out to a shop during high school so I could get new shoes for cross-country and track and it was such a difference between getting those shoes rather than the cheapest pair from a sporting goods store.


My “Essentials” Outfits from Fabletics

My workout clothes have gotten out of control thanks to Fabletics and their wonderful leggings…okay, so most of their items are going on my basics list. Salar leggings, Suva Run shorts, Aventura and Oula tanks, Vaasa bras, and the Forward Tee style shirt are in constant rotation and are the first pieces I encourage women to try when they are submitting their first Fabletics order. I’m a Fabletics ambassador so if you have questions about the different types of clothes, ask away…I probably own one or two! Also, if you are new to Fabletics, there may be a great deal going on right now, like getting your first look for 50% off when you become a VIP. This is my referral link (helps me get more clothes!).

Figure out what types of clothes make you feel the most comfortable. I know I prefer to wear a pair of quality leggings with an oversized tank top most days so I have plenty of leggings and aventura tanks to keep me happy. I love the Forward Tee so much that my black tee is the first thing I pack when I travel and will sometimes be worn to work when I’m running low on blouses (aka always). When you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing, you’ll be able to focus on the fun you’re having during your workout.


Hairties & Headbands

My gym sometimes has a basket of cheap hairties in the locker room but they seem to disappear quickly (along with the tampons, who is hoarding tampons??) so I make sure to have at least 2 spare hairties and a headband in my bag. I’m slow on the trend, but the tie style hairties are my current favorite because they come with different designs and they’re gentler on my thick hair. The Fabletics ones are a great buy and I also have a set from Loft that have a more Safari theme going on (similar from Loft, similar from Charming Charlie, similar from If you’re just looking for headbands, look for types that say they are “no slip” so they don’t fall off mid-stride. You can find generic brands at the drugstore or Target but honestly, the ones from Fabletics are pretty awesome (similar from The North Face) and stay in my hair even if I’m a little on the grungy side.


Wet Wipes…because sometimes a shower can wait 

There are showers in the locker room, but sometimes I need to freshen up quickly and get out the door so having some baby wipes to get the chalk off of my face is really helpful. I buy a small travel size pack of baby wipes or stow a Paper Shower in my bag so they don’t take up too much room in my bag.


Fueled By: Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate from Guayaki is energy drink of choice. It’s not like some of the overly sugary energy drinks that may be associated with late drives or long gaming sessions, which puts it toward the top of my list. I also have the regular tea bags at work (in mint and green tea) to keep me awake at my desk. I like these drinks because they don’t make me jittery and they don’t make my stomach feel funny after drinking them. Sometimes the sugary drinks available make my stomach upset and that’s the last thing I want to feel when I’m in my harness and up a 50 foot wall. Try the mint flavored one, it sounds a little off-putting but it’s delicious!

Yurbud Headphones

My Yurbuds are my go-to headphones. Alex borrowed (and never returned) my yurbuds a few years ago so I bought a lower model in sea green/mint and I love them. My ears are a little too small for traditional ear buds so the cone shape to these are perfect! I’m able to listen to podcasts or workout mixes (I currently use the RockMyRun app for mixes because I’m too lazy to make my own) while lifting or foam rolling.

*As with any other activity, consult your doctor before hitting the gym or trying a new workout.

This post has a few affiliate links to Amazon. Using these links helps support Campfire Chic — during 2015, I will use the Amazon Associates credit generated from sales made through these links to help buy supplies for the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County. If you’d like to help make that happen, simply visit this post in the future and click on one of the links before shopping on Amazon. Every little bit helps. 


in Active, Review