CrossFit San Diego


CrossFit round 5 thrusters and burpees
I recently learned about ‘CrossFit’ training from some friends I’ve made at my local gym. They receive their workout regimen the night before from CrossFit and carry it out the following day at the gym. Just last week I learned there is a worldwide CrossFit competition where the winners receive $275,000 from Reebok!

It turns out a team from San Diego (Invictus in Point Loma) is currently ranked #1 in the world after the 4th week of competition. Competitors from around the world meet at their local gyms to perform a routine announced the previous night by CrossFit and they are ranked by how quickly they carry out their routine. Apparently, Invictus is home to 3 of the world’s top 10 individuals but even if you were to remove their scores, Invictus would still rank 3rd in the world.

I checked out what I’ll call their 5th and final regular season competition on Friday night. They had to perform 7 sets of thrusters and burpees for a total of 84 reps. Men had to use 95 lb and women 65 lb weights. It blew me away to see what these people can do. And, you can’t just judge a book by its cover because some of the smaller people totally outperformed the ones with huge muscles.

To help you get better grasp of how the competition works, here’s a glimpse of the competition I attended where there are heats of competitors racing against the clock.

The next event will be a regional final at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on May 25, 2014. I’m told tickets sell out quickly. If you want to learn more, visit the Crossfit Games website.

One of the top women’s performers on Friday night is a lady who runs Haunted San Diego Tours. (She’s the one in the foreground of the video.) You’ll see her in the photo below that Victor and I took as we plan some joint advertising of our tours.

Buses for City, Coast, and Ghost Tours

Finding Meditation in San Diego


My guest blogger today is Carli Leavitt, the editor of Carli is a San Diego native with a wealth of knowledge about local attractions, hotels, beaches and nightlife venues in Southern California. Enjoy reading her article about finding meditation in San Diego:

Gold domes along California Highway 101 signifying Self Realization TempleTravelers who vacation in San Diego may get caught up in the hustle and bustle of downtown or the sometimes crowded beach scene. San Diego can seem like a big beautiful city packed with tons of people and no true solace – but that’s only if you don’t know where to look. With over three million residents, San Diego definitely isn’t lacking when it comes to a social scene, but for visitors looking to get away from it all in America’s Finest City, the best place for relaxing meditation is the Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas.

San Diego County happens to be home to one of the most amazing meditation grounds in the world. The Self-Realization Fellowship (or SRF as it’s often called) is home to an incredible meditation garden high atop a sea bluff above the gorgeous and famous surf spot, Swami’s. Located in the quaint coastal community of Encinitas in north county San Diego, SRF is just 30 minutes from downtown San Diego, but makes visitors feel like they’re a world away.

Landscaped stairwell to see ocean views at the Self Realization Fellowship Gardens in EncinitasThe north county coastal region of San Diego attracts yogis and yoga enthusiasts from all over the globe because of its laid-back vibe and health conscious culture. You’ll find restaurants catering to a healthy, yoga-infused lifestyle such as the Lotus Café focusing on healthy cuisine with vegetarian and vegan options, just a few blocks down Highway 101 from the meditation gardens. It seems there is a yoga studio on every block of this beach community, scattered in between countless local surf and skate shops just steps away from some of the most beautiful beaches on Earth.

Encinitas is an interesting area with a large population of people who love surfing and yoga. One morning they’re in their wetsuits at famous surf spot, Cardiff Reef, rubbing elbows with local surf celebrity Rob Machado, and the next their perfecting the crane pose at a local yoga studio. Of course, you don’t have to be a yoga aficionado to enjoy meditation and take advantage of the relaxation this area has to offer. The Self-Realization Fellowship is the best place for meditation in San Diego County with a gorgeous tropical meditation garden overlooking Swami’s beach. The gardens have flowing streams, koi ponds, waterfalls and lush green foliage with winding footpaths creating a serene environment for meditation. It’s open to the public so visitors can sit and get lost in the sounds of the ocean, resident birds and breezes blowing through the ferns in this beautiful coastal garden.

Ocean views from the gardens at the Encinitas place for yoga and meditationThe timeless spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi was written at the Self-Realization Fellowship Ashram Center in Encinitas by founder and renowned yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda. Its overwhelming beauty and serene location make it a popular destination for visitors from all over the world, looking to meditate in these inspiring coastal gardens just 25 miles north of San Diego.

For guests staying in one of the downtown hotels in San Diego, SRF is an easy drive up Interstate 5 or a relaxing drive up Highway 101 along the coast. It usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour to get to the meditation gardens from downtown depending on traffic, but it’s definitely worth the trip. For those traveling to San Diego without a car, the NCTD Coaster also runs from downtown to Encinitas for an easy and stress-free public transportation option.

The convenient location and stunning coastal setting make the meditation gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas the best place to find solace and meditate in peace in San Diego County. Get away from it all on your next San Diego vacation by making time to meditate or take a stroll through these unique oceanfront gardens.

Elephant mural on the Meditation Center gift shop in EncinitasThe SRF meditation gardens are located at:

215 ‘K’ Street
Encinitas, CA 92024

Tuesday – Saturday 9am – 5pm
Sunday 11am – 5pm
Closed Mondays

I hope you will follow up on Carli’s recommendation to visit the SLF gardens in Encinitas. My wife and I visited for the first time this past weekend and really enjoyed the visit. The gardens are in full bloom, the birds are chirping away, the babbling brook is full of koi, and the views of the Pacific Ocean, where the garden reaches the seaside cliffs, are spectacular.

Although we were lured to the Pacific Highway side of the Meditation Center by the gold domed structures you’ll see along the roadway, the entrance is actually a one block walk down K Street. Quite a few people were enjoying the meditation gardens on the day of our visit but there are a number of nooks and crannies where we found secluded benches and a grassy knoll next to the pool, which used to be used used by Swami Yogananda, to sit and enjoy the atmosphere of the gardens and watch the surfers on Swami’s Beach below.

What’s that Mini-Cruise Ship That Has Been Parked in San Diego Bay?


January 22, 2013

The other day, a guest on my San Diego tour asked me about the cool looking mini-cruise ship parked in San Diego Bay, right between the Maritime Museum and Cruise Ship terminal on Harbor Drive.

Yes, it does look like a mini-cruise ship since it’s longer than a football field and has two helipads. But no, it’s actually the 19th largest superyacht in the world and when first built in 2010, it was claimed to the the largest expeditionary yacht in the world able to traverse long distances without refueling.

It’s been in San Diego Harbor for the past two months and you can still see it today. I’m not sure who’s brought it to town since it is owned by a Russian Billionaire, who also owns what is now the largest superyacht in the world, but charters these boats out to others. I have heard rumors that there was a Russion Billionaire who was visiting La Jolla and is now traveling the Southwest. However, I don’t know if the two are connected.

Anyways, keep your eyes open when driving or walking along Harbor Drive in San Diego. What may look like a cruise ship could in fact be one of the largest yachts in the world owned by someone famous. Here are the pictures I’ve taken and a little background on three superyachts I’ve seen San Diego. If any of the superyacht visitors are reading this, I’d love to take a tour of your yacht!

Superyacht Luna in San Diego Bay

Owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. It’s the 19th largest yacht in the world at 115 meters long (377 feet …longer than a football field!) and has two helipads. Abramovich apparently started off selling rubber ducks and built an empire that now includes the Chelsea football team. [Yacht photo taken December 30, 2012]

Wikipedia Profile for Roman Abramovich
Luna Profile on

Superyacht Attessa in San Diego Bay

Owned by American billionaire Dennis Washington along with Attessa IV (see comment below post), which is the 27th largest yacht in the world at 100.6 meters long (330 feet) and has a helipad. Washington started a construction business to build highways in Montana and branched out into mining, railroads, shipping, and more. [Yacht photo taken July 7, 2012]

Wikipedia Profile for Dennis Washington
Attessa IV profile on

Superyacht Ice in San Diego Bay

Owned by Russian billionaire and politician Suleyman Kerimov. It’s the 39th largest yacht in the world at 90.1 meters long (295 feet) but surprisingly no helipad as it was built supposedly to be an environmentally friendly yacht. Kerimov started as an economist before helping to start a bank to invest in struggling companies, which obviously became quite successful. He also served in the Russian Duma. [Yacht photo taken September 4, 2008]

Wikipedia Profile for Suleyman Kerimov
Ice Yacht profile on

Largest Yachts in San Diego

The yacht rankings above will change as it seems each week a newer, longer yacht is introduced to the world. There’s a good chance we’ll get to see some of them not only because they like to visit San Diego but when I took a tour of the Port of San Diego, I learned that billionaire’s like Larry Ellison and Paul Allen send their yachts to San Diego for repairs and maintenance.

I’m curious if any of you know what are the largest yachts home ported in San Diego. If you have some ideas, let me know!

Monopoly at McDonalds Advertises that San Diego is the Luckiest City


I agree. Watch the new McDonalds video, read my reasons on why San Diego is the luckiest city, and then share your thoughts on why we are the luckiest city in the U.S.

Monopoly at McDonalds

This McDonalds commercial caught my attention over the weekend during the NBC Sunday Night Football Game when I heard ‘San Diego’.

Looks like we’ve got a new resident moving into town because San Diego has the most sweepstakes winners and the fewest lightning strikes. Gotta like those odds. Update: McDonalds took the video off air now that the Monopoly promotion has ended. Basically, the commercial shows two buddies, one of whom is going to move to San Diego because it has the fewest lightning strikes and most sweepstakes winners so he feels he’ll be lucky once he moves to San Diego.

I hadn’t heard about San Diegans having great odds for winning sweepstakes but it doesn’t surprise me based on all the stories I’ve gathered as a tour guide in San Diego, some of which I share below. I’m certainly not surprised we have the fewest lightning strikes because we rarely ever have a lightning storm but don’t let that fool you into thinking most San Diegans know how to stay out of harm’s way. Since it is such a rarity (seems from my experience over the 14 years I’ve lived here that there is maybe one thunderstorm a year that I can at least hear somewhere off in the distance), I’ve seen many people ‘race outside’ to enjoy the rare spectacle.

Why San Diego is the Luckiest City

Here are a few stories about people from San Diego hitting it big with a little luck on their side:

Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia) – The founder of one of the world’s most used web sites is Jimmy Wales. Before Wikipedia’s time, it’s eventual founder Jimmy Wales moved to San Diego and set up a small internet hosting business in Pacific Beach. He had an idea to create an online encylopedia called Nupedia that was being created by experts in their respective academic fields. However, after a lot of time and money being spent on the project, they had little to show for it. That’s when a lucky opportunity struck. Larry Sanger, who was running Nupedia for Jimmy Wales, got together for dinner at the former Mama Mia’s in Pacific Beach with an old friend Ben Kovitz who had just moved to San Diego. Ben started sharing with Larry the new concept called wiki’s. A week later Wikipedia was launched so anyone on the internet could help work on the project and the rest is history.

Jewel – The signer Jewel was living out of a van and performing in a local coffee shop in Pacific Beach before she got discovered. Word about a surfer girl with an amazing voice singing on Thursday nights made its way to a friend of a friend who happened to know someone at Atlantic Records…and again, the rest is history.

Charles Brandes – Charles Brandes, one of the most successful investors in the country and owner of the most expensive home in San Diego County, which the County Assessor initially valued at $60 million before it was challenged, was a young stockbroker in La Jolla when a retired guy walked in the door and offered to mentor him. Who happened to walk in that fateful day when Brandes was in charge of handling the walk-ins? Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffet’s mentor, who had just moved to La Jolla to enjoy his retirement.

There are many interesting people in San Diego who have had fortuitous opportunities. What are your stories about lucky San Diegans?

Marvin Hamlisch – I love what he had to say about San Diego


I was sad to see musician and conductor Marvin Hamlisch passed away yesterday. He was a very entertaining conductor for the Symphony Pops Concerts in San Diego. I’ve always wondered how San Diego attracted so much of his attention. Maybe it was for the same reason why so many people want to live here.

I tweeted a comment he made during the Jane Monheit concert with the San Diego Symphony last year: “San Diego has great weather … and it has La Jolla. What more could it want?” I certainly agree.

But, I also read that he served as a Principle Conductor in Pasadena, Seattle, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee on top of all the other work he was providing for various productions. How was he able to be in so many places at the same time?! I’ve always wanted to be in multiple places or working on multiple projects at the same time. If anyone knew his secret, please clue me in!

Well, I’m glad so many people in so many cities got to see Hamlisch in person. He brought beautiful music and joy to our lives.

Have a good day.

One Olympic Participant from San Diego Who Is Not Being Covered in the Local News


There are many locals competing in the 2012 Olympics in London. In fact, there are over 80 Olympians from San Diego who are receiving great coverage from the Union Tribune.

However, there is one San Diegan who the local media isn’t talking about but she’s the one getting most of the air time on NBC.

That person is NBC sideline reporter Alex Flanagan. She’s the one interviewing the Olympic winners after their competitions. For quite some time, Alex has been the sideline reporter for NBC’s broadcasts of Notre Dame football games and their Sunday Night NFL Games. She also served as an NBC host during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

A few months back I met her husband Kevin who’s just launching an interesting business…selling shoes made from recycled materials. You can read more about The People’s Movement, which is based in Solana Beach.

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