Category Archives: Stay Loco

Inexpensive and fun things to do in Northern San Diego County.

Leucadia: The Sunday Farmers Market With Rosie Daley

Rosie Daley goes green at the Sunday Farmer's Market in Leucadia.Credit: Bob Bretell

Shopping with Rosie Daley is like boarding a roller coaster –you just hold on and go along for the ride.  A dedicated  locovore,  this vivacious chef believes that  good food shared with friends and family  is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Perhaps it was her enthusiasm for fresh food and healthy living  that motivated Oprah Winfrey to hire Rosie in the 1990s as her personal chef.  The two collaborated on a book, “In the Kitchen with Rosie: Oprah’s Favorite Recipes.”  Rosie co-authored another book,  “The Healthy Kitchen: Recipes for a Better Body, Life and Spirit” (Knopf, 2002), with integrative medicine expert, Dr. Andrew Weil.

Apples for apple date bars. Photo Credit: Bob Bretell

 Most Sundays you can find her at the Farmers Market in Leucadia (Sundays 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. /185Union Street (at Vulcan) Encinitas, CA. / Map /  on the school playground of the Paul Ecke Elementary School)   where she shops and chats with neighborhs like fire fighter Steve Meichet who plays with “TheLeucadia Locals.” (See related story, below.) 

Rosie, who calls herself a culinary artist,  takes a spontaneous approach to cooking, planning her meals according to the food available at the market,  in her own garden, and the staples on hand in her kitchen.   “There’s nothing pre-meditated about coming here,” she says. “That’s the fun of it.”

Because it’s at the school yard, it’s more like a family outing.  The kids get to meet the farmers and see where fruits and vegetables  come from.   It’s a chance to talk with your neighbors,  get some fresh air and exercise.  There is also music, and smiles.  It’s a social occasion.  Rosie Daley 

Richard Frost and Rosie Daley at Farmer's Market in Leucadia Photo Credit:  Bob Bretell

Richard Frost and Rosie Daley at Farmer's Market in Leucadia Photo Credit: Bob Bretell

 Cruising along the rows of more than 65 vendors, she stops at a stall to get  composting tips from  Richard Frost, a geologist and passionate gardener who sells seeds, starter plants and mulch.

 At another stall, she inquires about a farmer’s health.  “He’s been sick and we haven’t seen him for a while,” she explains. “Whenever anyone is not here, we miss them.” 

Tasting a gigantic plump date, she pronounces  it “delicious”  and considers how she can used dates in the meal she will cook later on for guests.  

  “I can serve them in a salad with greens and feta cheese,  or stuff  them and bake them for an appetizer.  Apple date bars for desert is also good.”

Bakery goods and prepared foods also on offer. Credit: Lydia Breen

Get live reports from the farm. Photo Credit: Lydia Breen

 Guavas are in season, so she scoops some up to decorate her kitchen counter. Moving on, Rosie buys feta cheese and greeens, and some locally-grown blood red oranges; she will freeze the juice in ice cube trays and add them to hibiscus flower tea.

 Making the case for locovores, Rosie Daley says locally-grown food stays fresh longer and requires little preparation.  “When you have fresh ingredients you don’t have to do that much to them.”  She  says she likes to shop regularly at the  market because the items on offer change frequently.  “If you don’t come for a week or two, you can miss out on something.”


The market has seven certified organic growers. Photo credit: Bob Bretell

 A few more  items go into Rosie  basket and her shopping is complete.  At the shaded picnic area, she joins Donna Butnik, a fellow members of the 101 Artist Colony.  Both women painted banners for the Arts Alive Banner Contest and volunteer to work with kids to make art from recycled materials.

 The market has seven certified organic growers, a drawing card for the many health-conscious surfers, runners, bikers and practitioners of yoga who live in the area.  Locovores say they make the Sunday Farmers Market in Leucadia  part of their weekly routine. Many like to walk or ride their bikes there, whiling  away part of the day shopping, listening to music, visiting with friends and eating – Jamaican, Indian, French, Mexican, etc.  Parents love the market because the fenced-in schoolyard is free of traffic  and it  has a play ground.


Green Power

In cooking demonstrations she occasionally hold around the country, Rosie talks about how  people can incorporate healthy foods and healthy living into their lives.  “I try to show them how to make food fun.  And I tell them to make sure that they don’t miss out on what’s important in life.” 

Rosie Daley’s trip to the Sunday Farmers Market in Leucadia shows she likes to practice what she preaches.

Photo: Lydia Breen

Leucadia Farmers Market – Sundays 10 a.m. p.m. /185Union Street (at Vulcan) Encinitas, CA. /Manager: Ron La Chance / (858) 272 7054/ Map /   On offer:  65-70 vendors (7 certified organic vendors).  You’ll find produce, prepared food, plants, jewelery etc.   Covered picnic tables, fenced-in playground and music most Sundays 


  Loco and Laid Back:  The Leucadia Locals Garage Band

The Leucadia Locals will play at the Farmers Market in Leucadia on the last Sunday of the month throughout the summer. Pictured: Steve Meiche, guitar; Harley Feinstein, drums; Kirk Cumming, guitar and Oliver Kolpin, guitar.

 The Leucadia Locals are a garage band without delusions of grandeur.  “We like playing  for our neighbors,” says guitarist Steve Meiche, who claims the Sunday Farmers Market in Leucadia  is a perfect venue for them.  “When  you play in a club, the audience can be very critical.  The vibe here  is so accepting.” 

 These guys are in it for the fun, playing a mix of Honky tonk, country and rock, a style that Meiche calls “a funky blend, much like Leucadia itself.”  In May, the Leucadia Locals  will be play at another hyer-local venue,  The Encinitas Sports Festival on Moonlight Beach (May 15-16th).  You can also hear them throughout the summer on the last Sunday of the month at the Farmers Market in Leucadia.

Most of the musicians have other gigs:  guitarist Steve Meiche (fire fighter), drummer Harley Feinstein (attorney),  guitarist

Tile artist Roz Light. Public installations featuring her work can be see around Encinitas.

  Oliver Kolpin (C.P.A),  Tony Horner (pediatrician)  steel pedal guitarist Bob Siggins (neuroscientist)  and saxophonist Baird Whatley (architect).  Guitarists Kirk Cumming and trumpet/guitar player Tim Winter are  full-time musicians who  play occasionally with the band. 

The group’s size changes from five to seven members – or more, depending on who is around at the time.  It’s an easy-going approach to playing together that is reminiscent of  the neighborhood brass bands in New Orleans.

The group  came together when  Meiche was practicing in his garage and his neighbor came over and asked  if he could join in.  In time,  other neighbors and friends came on board.  (It’s how things seem to work around Leucadia, an informal place full of creative people.)     

 “When you walk through the streets of  Encinitas, you can always her music, “ says Meiche who who books gigs for the band.    “From professional musicians to amateurs… jazz musician Peter Sprague lives around here, so does  guitarist Nina Anderson and Ben Redmond of Super Wave.”

In April, they  played at the Encinitas Garden Festival and Tour, where plenty of  local art –  including art by of his wife, tile artist Roz Light,  was on display in backyard gardens, fences and walls.   “There  are a lot of artists here,” explains Meiche  “ It’s all about art and music.”

For more info on the Leucadia Locals,  email Steve Meiche: 





Shaun White Finds Inspiration at YMCA Skatepark

Shaun White at the YMCA Skatepark in Encinitas, CA credit: ESPN Magazine

“I’ve been coming here since I was six.  I’d beg my parents to take me and they’d eventually drop me off for a couple of hours. I skated every day at this park. I learned all my tricks here. It’s my inspiration.” Shaun White on YMCA Skatepark in Encinitas, CA as quoted in ESPN Magazine, 2008


See Related Post: Homeboy Shaun White Wins Gold!

by Lydia Breen

ENCINITAS, CA. Shaun White isn’t the only pro to skate at the Ecke YMCA Skatepark,  but he and Tony Hawk are surely the most  famous.  Many of the world’s best skaters have honed their skills here, skating side-by-side with kids as young as five, some even younger.      The entire sport has been enriched by the interaction in Encinitas between skaters of varying abilities.   In 1995 Tony Hawk took a talented nine year-old Shaun White under his wing.  Other local skaters surely helped White advance, including Mike McGill who invented the McTwist. in 1986.  Twenty-four years later at Vancouver, White seconded McGill’s act with a Double McTwist 1260, nailing his reputation for skating the half-pipe heads over, under, around and through the competition.   (For the science of Shaun, see this clip on:  “The Double Cork.” another of new trick White had up his sleeves at the Olympics.  For great videos of snowboarding tricks see this link. )

Shaun at 18 Credit:

How does White manage to get so much air out of the pipe? Mike Wilson, co-manager at the Ecke YMCA Skatepark, ventures a guess: “I think his pumping technique helps him reach those heights. The way he bends down and positions his legs. When he’s pumping, he’s putting a lot more effort into it…He lands tricks like they’re nothing.”

White goes heads above the competition Credit:

To see how Shaun gets so much air, see: 60 Minutes segment about Shaun White and Tony Hawk doing tricks at the YMCA Skatepark.  (See also cool photos from that shoot)

Mike Wilson was a 15-year-old street course skater, entering competitions around Encinitas, when Shaun White was just coming up in the sport. “At first he couldn’t do an Ollie or a kickflip,” explains Wilson.  “But he got good real fast. His progression was so good – faster than anybody else.”

Mike Wilson, co-manager, Encinitas YMCA Skatepark (foreground) as a young skater, Caleb Van Neil, watches Paul-Luc Ronchetti, a skater to keep your eyes on in up-coming competitions.

Could White’s skateboarding skills have helped him win the Gold in snowboarding at Vancouver?   Wilson thinks it’s likely:  “You learn to be more technical when you have to land on wheels…”

(For Shaun White’s own comments on his altitude see this link. )

Homeboy Shaun White talks to kids at YMCA Skatepark in Encinitas, CA Photo credit: Lydia Breen, Cafe Libre

During the summer White takes a break from snowboarding.  That’s when you might find him at the Encinitas YMCA, where he is able to shed his superstar status, relax and be treated pretty much like everyone else.    “He’s a really nice guy,” says Wilson, who explains that the young skaters think it’s normal to share the park with so many well-known pros.

YMCA skatepark instructor, Sammy Lee, shows how it's done.

“I think Shaun has good memories here. He grew up skating here.  When he comes, it probably makes him feel like he’s a kid again.” – Mike Wilson, co-manager Ecke YMCA Skatepark, Encinitas, CA.

Mike Wilson eyes new crop of talent a day after homeboy Shaun White won the gold at Vancouver Credit: Lydia Breen, Cafe Libre

Wilson’s first job at the Y came in 2002 when he got a summer job at the skatekpark.  By 2008, he was co-manager, along with Heather Randant.  The job fits him like a glove: “I really can’t imagine doing anything else.  What job could possibly be better than this?”

San Diego County is said to be the skateboarding capital of the universe and the Encinitas YMCA Skatepark sits at the center of this world.  Skaters have moved here from afar – Brazil, England, the east coast – just to hone their skills at this park.

Annika Vriklan is a dedicated skater at YMCA in Encinitas Credit: Lydia Breen, Cafe Libre

Mike Wilson is a gifted, generous teacher who is glad to share what he has learned from years of street course skating:  “I feel like I get the sport. I’m happy to spread that knowledge with the kids here.”

Caleb Van Neil gets pointers from a pro Photo credit: Lydia Breen

Caleb Van Neil gets pointers from former pro Neal Mims Photo credit: Lydia Breen

Lesson accomplished Photo credit: Lydia Breen

10 Cheap Thrills In Paradise: Encinitas, CA

Tidepools at Swami's Beach

Tidepools at Swami's Beach

 A  San Diego Beach Town Offers Low-Cost  Fun
by Lydia Breen

Looking for a  relaxed getaway?  Entinitas, California is an iconic Southern California beach town with lots of low-cost outings for nearly everyone – sports enthusiasts, nature buffs, art lovers, music fans, gardeners, readers and food enthusiasts.  Take a look at this list:

Ducky Waddles Emporium

Ducky Waddles Emporium

 1. Go Low-brow     

Ducky Waddles is a hidden treasure for aficionados of pop surrealism, low-brow and outsider art. The largest after-market selection of Shepard Fairey’s works are here.  Also on offer is a wide assortment of books on a art technique, criticism, and artists’ biographies. There’s also a good selection of early and first edition fiction, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac and others.  Store owner and sububculture-lover Jerry Waddle  calls his place as a  “a book store, art gallery and center for cultural studies.”  Patrons are encouraged to hang out, browse the shelves, access the free WiFi and chat..  Bring your own caffeine or other non-alcoholic drinks.   Check their website for poetry readings, music and other special events.     

Down the street, Lou’s Records has a wide assortment of used and new CD’s, DVD’s and LP’s. Get a tattoo next door at 454 Tatoo and Body Piercing. Popular eateries along the Leucadia strip include the long-time hang-out, Pannikin’s and Mozy’s Cafe, specializing in healthy Carribbean, Mexican and vegan eats (although service can be slow).  The somewhat more upscale Turkish restaurant, The Bird House Grill, is also nearby.
Ducky Waddles Emporium: 414 N. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas: (760) 632-0488; / Lou’s Records: 434 North Coast Highway 101, Encinitas;(760) 753-1782. 454 Tatoo and Body Piercing: 454 N. Coast Highway 101,(760) 942-2333/Pannikin Coffee & Tea: 510 Highway 101(760) 436-5824; Mozy Cafe: 698 N. Coast Highway, Encinitas: (760) 944-9168: the Bird House Grill 250 N. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas (760) 944-2882.
Susan Hauptman

Self-Portrait with Dog, 2001 charcoal, pastel, and hair on paper © Susan Hauptman, courtesy of Forum Gallery, New York.

  2. Go Hi-brow    

Two miles inland (still in Encinitas) the Lux Art Institute offers an unusual opportunity to consider the creative process over time of a world-class artist. Visitors are guided on a liaison-led tour where they observe an artist-in-residence at work. Examples of their finished pieces are on display in a gallery next to the studio. Invited artists live on the grounds for two weeks to several months, during which time visitors are encouraged to return to observe how the artist’s work has evolved. (The price of admissions allows one person to make two separate visits.) The Institute’s serene setting LEED-certified building were designed to reflect “an open relationship between the artist and the site.” A path featuring sculpture and sustainable landscaping takes visitors through part of the Institute’s four-acre site that overlooks the San Elijo Lagoon. Contemporary artist Iva Gueorguieva will be in-studio Jan. 16 – Feb. 6, 2010. After your visit, return downtown to unwind at the E Street Café, where owner/artist Dominic Alcorn has an exhibits his own and other artist’s on his walls.  E Street offers a large selection of specialty coffees, teas and juices. Ask Dominic to suggest a drink.  Try a “Monkey Love” made of espresso shots, dark chocolate , banana, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and nutmeg ($4).Their soups are yummy (try their Thai Red Pepper Soup.). So, too, are their sandwiches, vegan treats and deserts. Lux Art Institute.    

You’ll find a wide range of patrons,  from little kids to business people, also lots of bohemians, artists  and students.  Alcorn’s love of people and the arts is evident in the events he works hard to organize there.   Tuesdays it’s open mic night, which often includes poetry as well as music. (6-9:30). Thanksgiving weekend, concerts are scheduled for Friday and Saturday evenings (7:30-9 p.m.). Thanksgiving Day hours: 7a.m. – 1 p.m.  Check out their calendar of events.     

Luxe Art Institute: 1550 South El Camino Real Encinitas, CA 92024. Hours:  Thursday & Friday 1-5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 – 5.  Under 21: free;  others: $10: (760) 436- 6611. Evenings of music, art and refreshments are free and open to the public every third Wednesday of the month. Street Café: 128 W. E Street, Encinitas:  (760) 230-2038.  Hours:  7 a.m.-8 p.m Sun – Wednesday.  Friday and Staurday 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Leucadia-Encinitas Farmers Markets: Sundays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Leucadia-Enciniatas Farmer's Market

  3. Slow and Loco     

If it’s in season in Southern California, you can probably find it at the Leucadia-Encinitas Farmer’s Market. Geared for locovores, there are plenty of families and young people who come (many on their bikes)  to shop for food then stay on for brunch, live music and to chat with the farmers about gardening techniques, recipes, sustainable agriculture, etc,  All produce comes from certified California farmers; most within San Diego County.     

Locally-grown flowers

Locally-grown flowers

   Seven of the growers have certified organic farms.  Fresh fish, tuna jerky, goat cheese, local honey, even vegan dog biscuits (natch) are on offer.  Indian, Mexican, Jamaican and other food stalls offer tasty treats. Annel and Drew’s Kitchen is a favorite, offering scrumptiously presented food.  Try their Loco Veggie Salad ($6/$8), grilled organic artichokes or lamb sliders ($6/$9/$12)     

 Leucadia-Encinitas Farmer’s Market, every Sun 10 a.m.-2 p.m., except Easter. Paul Ecke Elementary School, Union & N. Vulcan Sts (858) 272-7054. Annel and Drew’s Kitchen (they also do catering): (858) 246-6962, cell: (858) 210-5094.

photo credit: San Diego County

   4. Explore a Treasured Ecosystem     

The San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve in Encinitas  is one of the few intact coastal wetlands left in Southern California.   Fresh water and salt water meet in this peaceful shallow water estuary near San Elijo State Beach.  Up and down the coast of California our coastal wetlands have been reduced by pollution, erosion, land development and lack of rain, providing all the more reason to value the Reserve and the many species of flora and fauna it protects.     

Blue Heron (photo: Dennis Ancinec, San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy)

   Forty percent of the birds in North America pass by this lagoon on their way to Mexico, Canada and places in between.  Fall and Spring are migratory months, a peak time to visit this birders’ paradise. There are lots shore and water birds to spot, including herons, egrets, avocets and stilts. With luck on your side, you might see an endangered clapper rail, which is on many birders “get” list.Take the 

Coyote Photo Credit: Dennis Ancinec

Coyote (photo credit: Dennis Ancinec, San Elijo Conservancy

half-mile loop around the visitor’s center. Alternatively, there’s another trail around the lagoon that starts at the Rios Avenue trail head. The Conservancy offers free, docent-led tours every Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Nature Center. Another two-hour tour at the Rios Ave. trail head takes place the second Saturday of the month at 9 a.m. There are lots of up-country trails east of the I-5 Freeway, where you can spot mule deer, bobcat and other critters in coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats. The Reserve’s 915 acres are yours for discovering – admission is free.  Hike early;  it is  the best time to spot animals.    

For advice on the trail that best suits your needs, call the Nature Center. After your walk, visit the Center to learn about the cultural history of the area that was once populated by Native Americans living in coastal villages. Picnic tables with a lovely view of the lagoon and ocean are available on the Center’s upper deck. Watch a lonesome fish jump as you peacefully much your sandwich. The San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Center partners with the non-profit San Elijo Conservancy, another useful source of information. More information rules, regulations and maps can be found on the two organizations websites. The Reserve is open during daylight hours.If you are taking one of the longer trails, don’t forget to carry in drinking water!The Nature Center at the Reserve is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily but Christmas. Address: 2710 Manchester Ave. Encinitas.Tele: 760-634-3944. 

Self Realization Fellowship, Encinitas Photo Credit: Jeff Dowler

 5. Seek Truth and Beauty     

 The Self-Realization Fellowship Retreat and Hermitage is an iconic Encinitas landmark that helped popularize mediation and anchor the community as a home for the counter-culture lifestyle.   Sunday afternoons you can tour the Hermitage, the home where Paramahansa Yoganda wrote his classic spiritual guide, The Autobiography of a Yogi. The room in the Hermitage where he received many distinguished guests in the 1930’s is now preserved as a shrine. Exit through the upper gardens that hug the cliffs, offering  a stunning ocean view.  Then make your way through the luxuriant meditattion gardens. Before your visit, have lunch  across the street at Swami’s Café, a local haunt not affiliated with the ashram.     

   The Hermitage is open Sundays 2-5 p.m., except in inclement weather; admission  is free.  The Meditation Gardens are also free; open Tues.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sun. 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. Swami’s Café: 7 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday – Sunday.   

Meditation gardens Credit: Lydia Breen

photo credit: Surfrider Foundation

 6. Score a great ride   

 If you can afford to splurge just once over the holidays, this may be the time and place. Winter is the best time to surf. Local surfer say  they’d have to kill you if they divulged their favorite spots. But you can’t go wrong if you surf at Swami’s or San Elijo State Park.  Surf shops and schools along Northern San Diego County’s coast offer friendly, helpful advice.  The Leucadia Surf Shop is one of many.  If you don’t have gear, you can rent a wetsuit ($10/24 hr.) and board ($5/hr; $20/24 hr.)  Private or group surfing lessons can be arranged through  Kahuna Bob’s Surf School. Another favorite is the Eli Howard Surf School at the San Elijo State Campgrounds. Rent boards and suits ( $15/item/day) or take a two-hour group lesson ($60/person including equipment). For lessons in the winter call a couple of days ahead; most classes this time of year are in the morning, the best times to surf. Bull Taco’s offers a low-cost must eat experience at the San Elijo State Campground for surfers, bikers, campers or other sun worshippers. Don’t pass up on one of their amazing daily specials. Call ahead if you’re in too much of a hurry to chill on the deck while they prepare your food. Park outside the campground along Hwy. 101.  

Believe it or not, surfers have a serious side. The Surfrider Foundation works to protect the ocean water, beaches and surrounding wetlands. The non-profit organization recently won a lawsuit against a major oil company in which the court recognized for the first time, that  “breaking waves are natural resource deserving protection.” For locally-sponsored Surfrider Foundation events, great info. and resources – including a report on water quality at local beaches – see link to their website, below.  

Wednesday nights (6-9 p.m.) you’ll find plenty of surfers groovin’ to ukulele music at Today’s Pizza and Salad. (Copious amounts of beer may help you acquire a musical taste for ukuleles). A traditional hula dancer performs at 4:30 p.m. Thursdays it’s bluegrass; most Tuesdays they break out the accordions. Call ahead for details.  

Sam Breen

Leucadia Surf Shop: 1144 Coast Highway 101 Encinitas, La. (760) 632-1010, Eli Howard Suf School at San Elijo State Park  in Cardiff and Moonlight Beach, Encinitas. (760) 809-3069, Bull Taco’s at San Elijo State Park in Cardiff. Hours:  Mon-Sat: 8 -6; Sundays,  8-5 p.m. check out their website or call the Encinitas chapter at (858) 792-9940. For the Encinitas Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation about local events,  call: (858) 792-9940 or check their website at  The California Surf Museum: 321 Pier View Way, Oceanside, CA 92054; (760) 721-6876. Hours: open daily 10 am -4pm; Thursdays until 8pm. $3 adults; $1 students/seniors/military. Free on Thursdays. 101 Cafe: 631 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside; (760) 722-5220‎. Surfcam – by beach. Weather Underground (Encinitas forecast)    For schedule of local Surfrider Foundation events: check their site or call the  Encinitas chapter. For more on Bull Taco: see my previous post     

The Rock Horror Picture Show plays Fridays at midnight, La Paloma Theatre7. Act Horrid

 7.  Act Horrid     

Appropriate dress is appreciated but not required at the Friday midnight showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the historic La Paloma Theatre in downtown Encinitas.  The second Friday of the month at midnight is Monster Lingerie Night, with prizes.  This historic theatre was opened in 1928 at a gala attended by silent film star Mary Pickford (a.k.a.”America’s Sweetheart”).  Rumor has it that Pickford rode her  bike to the gala from the ranch she owned with her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. of “Zorro” fame.  La Paloma currently hosts community events, music concerts as well as art house and mainstream films.  If you have forgotten your Goth clothes, downtown Encinitas has plenty of hip, used clothing stores.  Some of the best bargains can be found at the Community Resource Center’s Thrif Store, across the street from     

La Paloma Theatre in downtown Encinitas

the theatre.  Women’s tops go for $3-5; pants and sweaters range from $5-$8.  Their designer rack is more expensive, but well with a look.  They’ve also got bathing suits, towels, picnic gear, etc.  Once every three months everything in the store is half off; the next sale is in December.  Proceeds from the store support the Center’s domestic violence shelter.  You won’t find better bargains or consistently kind people at any other shop in Encinitas.  Ask Karen, the store manager, for help putting your Garth garb together; her brother owns La Paloma.     

The Encinitas Public Library - the patio looks out to the ocean

 Back to Mary Pickford..La Paloma Theatre recently held a retrospective showing of her films.  To compliment the event, the Encinitas Branch of the San Diego County Public Library has put some of her personal items and letter on display in the front lobby.  (There’s also a letter to Mary from Clark Gable.)  The library ‘s community meeting room hosts many exhibits; currently it’s featuring an exhibit of digital art.  The library is truly a beautiful gift to the community.  Located on a hill, two blocks from La Paloma, downtown.  You can hang out there for hours on the patio overlooking the ocean. Inside, there’s lots of magazines and Wi-Fi.  Non-members can sign up to use the library’s computer for one hour.  Grab an expresso outside at a cart operated by Global Grind Coffee.     

La Paloma Theatre: 471 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas; (760) 436-5744; General admission: $9; $7 matinees.  All tickets are cash only/ Community Resource Center’s Thrift Store: 111 C. Street, Encinitas. Hours:  open every day except holidays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. /Encinitas Branch of the San Diego County Public Library: 540 Cornish Drive, Encinitas (760) 753-7376.  Hours:  Mon-Thurs 9:30-8 p.m.; Fri and Sat 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun 1-5 p.m. (closed holidays).     

Ecke YMCA Pool

7.  Get Physical     

For $10 ($4.50 for under-20’s) you can spend the day at the the superb Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA. You’ll feel instantly at home here.  No hype, no hustle.  Swim in the (comfortably heated) Olympic-sized pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and weight rooms.  Take any number of yoga, dance or other classes. Check their daily schedules on-line. Exit through  the back lobby; there’s free coffee and Wi-Fi, good company and a huge T.V. for après-sports.     

Kids take a break at Ecke YMCA Skatepark

While you’re there, pul-ease go see the  Y’s skatepark.  Some of the best skaters in the country hang there – along with lots of daredevil little tykes.  You’ll feel like you should be paying to watch.  (The skatepark is located  in the back of the Y’s site, near the baseball fields) .  You’ll need your i.d. when you check in at the courtesy counter.Magdelana Ecke Family YMCA: 200 Saxony Road, Eincinitas, 92024; (760) 942-9622. or (760) 635-3055.  Skatepark:  (760) 635 – 3055 xt. 1038.     


photo credit: Davey Boyd

8. Build Your Dream Home     

Moonlight Beach is a hyper-relaxed hang-out for families and young people.      You can boogey-board down sand hills (rent them for $3/hr.; $12/day) watch the sunset and then stoke up a fire pit for a BBQ with S’mores chasers.   Sunday evenings, join in on a drum circle..     

Sunset at Moonlight Beach


9. Rally!     

South Carlsbad State Beach has lots of opportunities for volleyball enthusiasts.  Bring a net and ball or ask to join others.  Lots of activity at night – bonfires, etc.  For all-day breakfast or lunch walk up the hill to Roberto’s Very Mexican Food Restaurant. Their California Hash Brown Burritos ($4.25) are popular.      

Roberto's Very Mexican Food

 Try a Lite (a misnomer) Burrito ($3.10) or one of the Combo Special, like the Enchilada and Chile Relleno Plate ($5). Address:  1900 Coast Highway 101, Leucadia. (760) 634-2909.     


Hula Hoop Dancing at Swami Beach parking area

10.  Whatever goes around…     

Take a hula hoop dancing lessons at Swami’s Beach on Saturdays, at 1:30 p.m. ($10)   Jam after.     

Watch or join the surfers on the beach.  Walk down to San Elijo Campground and eat at Bull Taco’s (see my previous post). Make designs in the sand. Swami’s: Located directly south of the Self-Realization Center.     

Divine Design at Swami's


Seek Truth and Beauty

The Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas, CA

Self Realization Fellowship Retreat and Hermitage -Photo: Jeff Dowler

– by Lydia Breen

The Self-Realization Fellowship Retreat and Hermitage helped popularize mediation and anchor Encinitas as a home for the New Age lifestyle.

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Homeboy Shaun White Wins Gold!


Homeboy Shaun White talks to kids at YMCA Skatepark in Encinitas, CA. photo credit: Lydia Breen, Cafe Libre

by Lydia Breen
ENCINITAS: Sammy Lee, instructor at the Ecke YMCA Skatepark, encourages a seven-year-old to get his speed up by pumping himself over a ramp.

Shawn White warms up

Shaun White warms up at Ecke Skatepark in Encinitas, CA. during the summer of 2009. Credit: Lydia Breen, Cafe Libre

He calls out: “O.K., Noah, do it.  Really grab it!”

A handful of pre-teen-aged boys on boards rush by in slim black jeans, strands of hair flying out from under their stickered helmets.

“Some of these kids get good fast,” explains Lee, 21. Like many, Sammy refers to the sport (some say art) of skateboarding as ‘skating.’  “It’s so rad, looking at these kids.  It reminds me how I felt about skating when I was first starting out. “

An eleven-year-old glides along a rail at the street course, landing on the ground with a thump. Sammy Lee smiles like a Cheshire cat.  “That noise–the ping of the truck (axel) sliding on the rail. I could go to sleep with that sound.”  A young skater nods in agreement.

shawn white 008

Break time at the Y's summer camp for skaters Photo credit: Lydia Breen

“Skating basically saved my life,” says Lee whose mother died when he was twelve; his father passed on three years later.  “Skateboarding kept me out of trouble.  Any kid has the potential for trouble.  But if you give ’em enough outlets, they’ll go home tired at night.

Sammy turns back to the course and calls out: “Kyle, as soon as you feel yourself pop off to the top, lean forward. “

If you don’t know much about the fastest growing sport in the nation, you couldn’t find a better place to see it in action than the Encinitas YMCA. The facility has reached near iconic status in the skate world, where  Tony Hawk and Shaun White are claimed as homeboys.  It’s a hidden gem, tucked away in a corner of the Y’s massive sports complex, close to Interstate Highway 5 and downtown Encinitas, CA.

“There’s so much young talent here,” says Mike McGill, one of the most innovative skaters of the 1980s and a driving force behind in establishing the park in 1989.  McGill continues to be one of its most enthusiastic supporters.   “These kids really inspire me,” he says.  “They’ve got a lot of enthusiasm and creativity.

Mike McGill: These kids...have lots of enthusiasm and creativity. Photo credit:

Shawn White and lots of other top pros train at the Skatepark.  It has a street course, two world-class cement pools (bowls) and a vert ramp that was used at the 2003 X Games and designed by Tony Hawk.    Parents can’t seem to say enough good things about the Skatepark’s exceptional facilities and staff of skaters who monitor sessions, oversee the after-school program and teach classes to kids as young as age three.  Beginners learn how to step on a board, balance, and push themselves up a ramp.  The Skatepark is run by co-directors Heather Randant and Mike Wilson.

“It’s hard for the little kids at the city parks; they can get pushed around,” says Jeff Timpson, a father who helped build the ramps.  Jeff’s 12-year-old son, Zane, was recently featured on a show for Fuel-TV.  “The Y’s young adult staff has taught so many kids how to skate.  They pump ’em up and give ’em confidence. ”

Jeff recalls a time he saw a young kid skate the cement bowl for the first time, a scary moment for anyone:


Annika Vriklan Photo credit: Lydia Breen

“Mike Wilson was standing at the bottom, inside the bowl, holding  his index finger up towards the kid and said:  ‘All you have to do is track my finger,’” explained Jeff. “ The kid did what he was told and was off.  It’s wonderful to see the kids conquer their fears and challenge themselves.  That’s an exhilarating feeling that will stick with them all their lives.”  The Y’s rules are strictly enforced.  Everyone must wear helmets and youngsters under-18 have to hear elbow and knee pads.  There’s also no swearing, bullying, smoking or drinking.  Still, the Ecke YMCA Skatepark maintains enough of an edge to appeal to kids.

“This place is unique,” says Mike McGill who continues to skate there regularly. “There’s no other park around where parents can have confidence and kids can have fun.”

“There’s a saying,” says Y staffer Sammy Lee: “’ A little nonsense is cherished by the wisest of men.’ Adults sometimes forget what it’s like to have a good time.”

Long-time skaters say some of the brightest, most creative people they know grew up skateboarding.  Many liken the ramps and bowls to a canvas. There’s a lot of freedom, style and imagination at work.

Skate pro Andy MacDonald agrees.  “Skating is about self-expression; it’s about being creative. I grew up playing team sports, but skating

Andy Macdonald credit:

is different,” says Macdonald. “Once you learn the basics of skateboarding, there’s no right or wrong way. It’s all trial and error.  You learn at your own pace.”

Articulate but unassuming, Macdonald won the World Cup Skateboard series eight years in a row.  He has competed in every X Games since it started and landed more medals than any other pro skater.

“You won’t find a lot of rivalry and competition at this park. It’s like a family or a club,” said Macdonald, who started skating at the Ecke YMCA in 1992.

McDonald  is amazed by how fast today’s young skaters learn new tricks and make innovative changes to old ones.  “I didn’t start until I was 12.  But the age keeps going down.  Kids are starting at six or seven–or younger. They skate like they’re made of rubber.”

Television and skateboarding video games get some of the credit for helping kids execute tricks that took the previous generation of skaters years to invent and perfect.  They say the visuals give young people something for their minds to chew on.


YMCA skatepark instructor, Sammy Lee, tells kids: "You're gonna fall down, but then you get up try again. That's how I learned."

“The kids will see a skate video that a dude worked on for over a year to get right,” explains Sammy Lee.  “He’ll be doin’ gnarly things, going really fast.  Kids will watch the video and study it.  The ones who feel ready to take it on will say: ‘O.K., let’s go out and try it.’ “

Twelve-year-old Sammy Schoonderwoerd is one those kids.  An Ecke Y regular, Sammy recently mastered the McTwist, a 540 degree backside aerial turn, well-known to insiders, that was invented a quarter of a century ago by Mike McGill.

“At first I was just messing around–it’s a really hard trick,” confides Sammy.  “Then I got serious. One day, I landed it but slid. A few days later, I landed it after about ten times.  After that, you pretty much have it.  My record is three times in one day.”

Sammy may be one of only five or six kids his age who can do the McTwist.  It doesn’t hurt that he shares the vert ramp with the guy who invented the trick.  Skate videos also help.  “I can slow down a video and zoom in on a certain position, maybe see where they’ve got their shoulder when they go into a turn,” explains Sammy.

“It took me six years six years to do the McTwist,” says Andy Macdonald. “It took Sammy three weeks. I can remember so clearly the satisfaction I felt the day I got it down.   Here at the park, I get to know the kids and see them progress as they take their tricks to the next level. That inspires me.”

Summer Camp at Ecke Skatepark, 2009 Credit: Lydia Breen, Cafe Libre

The inspiration works both ways.  “Skating alongside so many pros, seeing them try the same trick over and over again…an environment like this creates a lot of passion among young kids. It motivates them and gives them a sense of determination.” says Sammy’s dad, Rick Schoonderwoerd, who helped build some of the Skatepark’s ramps with Jeff  Tinsdale and others. “Some days there’s so much talent at the park that I feel I should pay to watch.”

Parents say the pros that skate at the Y are genuinely nice people, many of them fathers themselves, who are generous with advice and support.  They search for an equivalent.   The Lakers shooting hoops at a neighborhood court?  Tiger Woods practicing alongside amateurs?

The experience can be invaluable.  “One time I saw a kid go off the vert ramp– it was his first time,” says Zane’s dad, Jeff Tinsdale. “He ‘squashed the bug,’ which means he fell pretty hard. The kid sat on the bench and sniffled, trying hard not to cry.  Andy McDonald went over and brought him his board.  Andy said:  ‘Hey, I’m proud of you, that took a lot of courage,'” Tinsdale recounted.  “Can you imagine what it meant to that kid for one of his idols to say that to him?”


Kieran Anderson, 12, knows what that feeling is like.  He credits pros at the Skatepark for teaching him almost everything he knows.  He learned the Miller Flip from watching Chris Miller at the park. Pro Josh Nelson gave him tips on doing hand plants.

These days Kieran prefers doing lines in the bowl to the vert-ramp Photo credit: Lydia Breen


Josh Nelson, a Skatepark regular, skates feverishly up, down and around one of the Y’s cement pools, grinding the edge with a ferocious

Josh Nelson's invert photo credit: smallbeating

sound.  When asked what he is looking for  in up-and-coming talent he replies: “I like a flowing style, a sense of fearlessness, a kid who’ll ride the whole bowl with a sense of power.”

Nelson grew up in Northern San Diego County.  “It’s the birthplace of skate parks. The first cement pool in the world was built here.  A lot of those early pools disappeared for insurance reasons. Now they’re coming back. I grew up skating with Tony Hawk.  We all thought we’d be done early.  But I’m nearly 39, and I’m still skating. Now these guys are fathers;  they are coming back to skating, and they’re bringing their kids with them.”

Josh Nelson looks down into the bottom of the cement bowl and smiles at a  handful of excited six and seven year olds, like beetles skittering on a hot sidewalk.

“The sport promotes a healthy alternative lifestyle. It’s becoming more acceptable.  In our day and age, dreaming is so lost.  Around here, there area lot of happy people because they are living their dream…Skating has never let me down.”

Shaun White: We fall, pick ourselves up, get back on again. and credit: Lydia Breen, Cafe Libre

Bull Taco: Sunday Brunch With an Ocean View

the deck at Bull Taco's

View frm the deck at Bull Taco's at San Elijo State Park near Encinitas, California

by Lydia Breen

Greg Lukasiewicz and Laurel Manganelli, owners of the Bull Taco Cafe ENCINITAS:  He  used to wear designer suits and Ferragamo shoes.  Now he wears sandals and shorts.

Greg Lukasiewicz and his wife, Laurel Manganelli  owned a 12,000 square-foot fine dining restaurant in Pasadena, CA. with a nightclub, a wine bar and two private dining rooms.  Fed up with life in the fast lane, they traded their  million dollar restaurant for an outdoor café with a million dollar view.

They’re having the time of their life, working side-by-side with family and friends in Northern San Diego County, developing local seafood-based  fare  to a rabidly loyal and growing customer base. He has even found time for his newest  passion: spear fishing.

The couple took charge of the concession  at San Elijo State Beach Campground, off Coastal Highway 101 in Cardiff, CA., a business that was held for years by Laurel’s family.  Today, Laurel runs the store where campers come to buy charcoal, s’mores fixings and beach hats.  Daughters Halie, 11, and Devon, 13, sell shaved ice, a job Laurel had at the same store when she was their age.

Greg runs the café, where patrons sit at picnic tables and look out over the cliff at surfers and sun bathers.

“Life is beyond perfect,” says Greg. “It’s more than I ever could have imagined.  I can cook at the grill and look out at the ocean — I can see all the way down the coast to La Jolla.   It’s far beyond anything I expected.”old globe surfing 009

Life flows at a relatively relaxed pace.  It’s a welcome change from the grueling schedule the couple kept seven days a week for  fourteen years. “I think I was the first to say I couldn’t go on anymore, “ says Laurel.  “ I felt like our kids were growing up without us. It was as if we were working for our investors. As a couple, we always said family comes first.”

The choice was more difficult for Greg who has owned four restaurants.   “I was a little hesitant at first  to leave Los Angeles because my family lives in Pasadena.  I had a following there, and the investors wanted me to keep developing more restaurants.  But  I wasn’t home enough.  Now I’m learning to scale down.  I don’t take for granted the magic life has to offer. ”

The couple bought a modest house in Oceanside next to Laurel’s mother.  Greg  took a year off.  He helped  Laurel set up the campground store and he spent lots of time with his kids.  Eventually, he wandered into the café kitchen at the campground, where the most exotic  item on the menu was nachos and cheese.

He  began to experiment  with the kind of food he himself loved to eat: gourmet tacos, which are an after-hours favorite for the culinary cognoscenti of Los Angeles.  Slowly and quietly he let his business concept grow.

Last summer Bull Taco was born.  The name is an homage to Restaurant Bulli in Spain, founded by world-class chef  Ferran Adrià, dubbed the “Salvador Dali of chefs” by Gourmet Magazine.

Bull Taco specializes in local fresh seafood and organic produce.   Grilled fish, oyster and duck tacos with salsa, onions, cilantro and lime are priced at $1.75 – $2.50.  Lobster, crab, abalone and tacos cost $5-$10.

Early mornings on the deck you can grab a breakfast burrito, juice and espresso.   For the less adventurous, nachos and cheese, bean burritos and smoothies are a safe bet any time of day.

The butterflied catfish plate with ponzu sauce  is a mouth-watering tip of the hat to chefs Wolfgang Puck and Shiro.  It serves two at $15.  Hamburgers are available off-menu, but only when organic heirloom tomatoes are in season–because, according to Greg, “the only way to eat a hamburger is with a slice of heirloom tomato.”


Bull Taco Café – San Elijo State Campground 2050 S. Coast Highway 101 (at Chesterfield Drive), Cardiff by the Sea.

Open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 6 a.m.-7 p.m.  Cash only.  Non-campers must park outside on the street.  Dogs on a leash are welcome. Bikers and others can call ahead for a pick-up.   Tele: (760) 436-6601.