Tag Archives: Moonlight Beach

Birthday For One


When we embarked on the road trip I decided I needed to be at the beach on my birthday, it’s a grounding place for me. A reminder of the circle of life as I almost drowned as a kid when a wave washed me off a rock and I got caught in the undercurrent. You would think that after an experience like that that I would be fearful of the ocean but for some reason, that trauma never manifested into a lifetime of fear. Instead, it’s a place of peace and contentment.

I wasn’t looking forward to that first birthday without Auntie Boogie to celebrate with through our traditional phone call and song. It’s painful to know you will never share your birthday again with someone you shared it with your whole life and that first one looms large like storm clouds. You know the storm is coming but no amount of shelter can protect you from the fierce gale about to blow through and the accompanying golf ball-sized hail pelting everything in its way.

And so, on the morning of October 24th, we drove to Moonlight Beach, discovering upon arrival that they were having a festival. It was like they knew I needed a party. We got there early enough to get parking in the parking lot and to find a spot under one of the umbrellas.


Singing the song of his people

I buried my feet in the sand, just enjoying the tiny grains enrobing and cooling my skin while Chaz wandered down to the water to take pictures and enjoy the sand and surf…and multitude of seagulls – I always forget how many seagulls inhabit Encinitas until I’m there. When I was ready, I walked down to do the same. There was ample time for us to people watch from under the thatched umbrella. Before we left to meet a high school friend for lunch, we strolled along the circuit of tents, surveying the variety of merchandise and services on display. My favorite was the skateboard art – I’ve always been fascinated with skateboard and surfboard art.


SK8 Art for SK8 Art workshops.

Later on, we met some of my band friends for dinner and to see Dead Man’s Party (the Oingo Boingo tribute band) for their Halloween show. If you aren’t from SoCal or don’t know the history here, Oingo Boingo was a huge part of the culture through the latter half of the 70s, the 80s, and the first half of the 90s and they did shows on Halloween. I was never able to see a Halloween show or see them live at all which is why I jumped at this chance. Dead Man’s Party might not be the real deal but they come damn close in sound and energy.


Total Distortion – the Social Distortion tribute band opened for Dead Man’s Party and I was not disappointed there either.

While I had fun at the beach, being with friends, and seeing a live show, it was a day filled with sadness. Each time I found myself enjoying the moment I’d tear up feeling like I shouldn’t be, then choking those tears down because Auntie Boogie would’ve wanted me to celebrate. I had to acknowledge the feelings of loss and emptiness before I could enjoy myself again and then repeat when they surfaced again.


That day was a mixed bag, but getting through it using all the tools I have to manage grief made last year’s birthday a bit easier.There is still a gaping hole within me because she was a force in my life. Time doesn’t heal all wounds but it can change the shape and feeling of the pain as it passes and we grow.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 3, 2017 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Real Settings


The Encinitas sign at night.

I never planned on setting Family Ties in Encinitas, or even in California. Unconsciously, the settings I was imagining as I wrote the first draft were familiar to me. In the end, connecting my characters to a setting I knew helped me to better connect with them. The same thing with The Downward Spiral. I didn’t intend to set it in San Diego, it just made sense to me that I set it there which led to me connecting the story and characters to characters from another book I’m working on and its fictional setting in Southern California – if you’ve read The Downward Spiral feel free to guess which characters you’ll see again in the future.

There are more real settings in Family Ties than in The Downward Spiral. While in Southern California on our road trip I took some pictures of places mentioned in Family Ties along with some pictures that inspired a scene in The Downward Spiral.


The fictional Encinitas High School and La Costa High School in Family Ties are based on different areas of San Dieguito Academy (formerly San Dieguito High School). The parking lot is where Sara gets picked up and dropped off at La Costa High School. It has changed a bit since I went to school there but not too much.


This is the courtyard of the school where Sara, Arissa, Jason, and Damien spent many lunches.


Outside the fictional biology room and where Sara and Jason spent lunch alone further down.


Magic Mountain which was mentioned but did not have a scene. I took this as we were driving to L.A. from Napa.


A view of Moonlight Beach from the parking lot. This is the first beach mentioned in Family Ties.


The picnic tables at Moonlight Beach where one scene took place in Family Ties.


Cardiff State Beach where a couple of nighttime scenes were set. It wouldn’t be nearly as pretty if I tried to take a picture of it at night, though.

For more on Encinitas, you can check out this video from the Encinitas Coast Life Blog.


Entrance to Hotel Del Coronado.


The backside where Sara and Jason would’ve walked through to get to the beach…


There were more places I wanted to take pictures of after leaving Coronado but we got called away and had to go back up to Carlsbad. Included in what I wanted to take pictures of was San Diego Bay, which had a scene in The Downward Spiral.

While researching Jason and Sara’s apartment in L.A., I searched for buildings within walking distance to UCLA and found the Levering Arms. They included floor plans in their photos and I chose one of them as their new home.

The other real setting I used in The Downward Spiral was Balboa Park. We met up with my friend and fellow author, Richard D. Mellinger, one afternoon and spent several hours wandering through the park while chatting. I’ll share more about that in another post. What’s important for this post is that I was inspired to write a scene that takes place in the Japanese Friendship Garden on the deck of the Inamori Pavillion. The garden is rather large and Inamori Pavillion, if you take the same route we did, is a natural stopping point before returning to the entrance.


This bridge is one of several in the garden. One of my favorite things to photograph in Japanese gardens are the bridges, particularly drum bridges.


Ikebana inside Inamori Pavillion.


Last but not least, the koi that inspired a funny moment in The Downward Spiral.

My next book takes place in mostly real settings but it’s also set in the 1990s, so many of the businesses that I use are no longer around. In some cases, the buildings themselves have been torn down. Intrigued? I’ll give you a little peek of one location in closing…

Make Horse


Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: