Saturday, September 5, 2015

San diego part 2 FOOD, conference food!

Here's the part every person with food restrictions frets about. . . dining out and attending conferences!   Well, I'm here to say San Diego is the PLACE to go if you have food restrictions!   
First night in town was on our own. My roommate and I went to Edgewater Grill. Their GF menu was slightly smaller than the regular menu. It had a LOT of options.  They even gave me half an avocado on the side as I'd asked.  

Interestingly, the waiter said he'd check on the GF dessert, since i have to be soy free as well. I did say I cannot have soy protein or oil, but can have soy lecithin (and the people on the soy allergy Facebook page, it's really amazing how many people can have one part of soy but not another or some can't have any kind of soy at all)..  Anyway, the waiter came out at the end of the meal and said that they "could not legally serve" me the gluten free dessert because they weren't sure if it had soy in it or not.  I thought that was quite an interesting and unique way to phrase the "we're covering our butts" sentence. 

After travel, and trip back from Point Loma:  32,894 steps, 3500 calories burned and the night wasn't over yet!  
Good morning, San Diego.  View to the east from our balcony.  During the day I wouldn't even have noticed the mountains, but they're lit up so nicely with the dawn. 
I actually had clothing set aside to workout on Friday morning, but when I woke up (first at 330 pacific, then at 600), my body said "no thank you" to that and I just got ready for the day. 

Last year at this pancreatic cancer (volunteer) conference I had to request the gluten free meals at each buffet and wait about ten minutes for a plate to be brought up. .. and keep an eye out for that wait staff so I could get the plate from him/her. This year. . .   Oh, THIS year, I was happily surprised.  However, I spoke with a woman with three food restrictions and she said last year was great for her, but she was having problems this year with getting food.
Everything was buffet and it was ALL labeled!  

Day 1: Breakfast 
Okay, I brought the Chia seeds from home. Otherwise, all gluten free. :-) 

I wasn't sure about these guys during our break, so I snagged several packages of popcorn that was safe. . . and snagged a few more for the next day. From last year I knew there was no popcorn offered the second day. 
I did later have these little pastry macaroons and they were very good.---->  but I wasn't sure if the 'Gluten Free Dairy Free" dessert was soy free, so I didn't have it.  
Lunch Day 1:  My own UDIs bread I brought from home (I generally don't have an issue with large holes in my UDIs), Great salad with kalamata olives, asparagus and swordfish. YUM.  I wanted to take two slices of fish, but decided against it. I wish I had. It was fabulous. 
Afternoon snack was dried fruit and cheese cubes on skewers.  They had rice krispie snacks there marked GF and I saw a couple people ---whose tags said they were gluten free--eating them. I asked if they knew for sure what they were. These people asked why. I said, because Rice Krispies officially have malt in them and they stopped making the GF version. OH, they said. One then said she didn't really need to be GF, just eats that way at home, the other stopped eating hers.  I didn't mean to be a debbie downer, but I was curious if they'd verified with someone.  Apparently the answer to that question was 'no'.   

Dinner the first night was basically appetizers around the terrace.  

I stuck with the spicy red snapper fish, shrimp, and tuna sushi.  It was delicious and so fresh!  Reminded me of being in Hawai'i which was appropriate as Friday night was themed luau :-) 

12,450 steps isn't bad for being in a conference most of the day!  

Conference Day 2.  First things first. I awoke at yoga time/central time and said, "No, 3:30am is TOO early to go to the gym when I have a full day ahead of me."  I fell back asleep until 6am Pacific time. (I really don't know how the east coasters do the time change!)  I headed to the gym. I hate that there's not a lot of air movement in these places. I do love the treadmill system they have though. . .I entered that I wanted New Zealand and I ran with the scenery of the southern island. I did the same last year and really enjoyed it.  After fifteen minutes on the treadmill and sweating badly, I decided to do some yoga and some squats with the kettle ball.  There is *always* THAT guy in the gym though, isn't there?   I tried to tuck myself back into an alcove, but there was a guy moving around on the stationary weight equipment and stopping often on each one. There was also the guy doing the "phew, phew. phew" breaths lifting heavy weights.  For some reason I thought the "hmmmmm" comment came from Guy A and not Guy B.  Creepy enough, but I was doing yoga flip dog at the moment and was really creeped out by whoever did that.  Thankfully Guy A left soon after and no more pervy noises were to be heard.  Back in the hotel room I was cursing having brought my hair straightening products when I should have just brought my 'leave it curly' stuff instead.  I did get a good 45 minutes in of exercise which I was happy to have done, considering all day meetings were again ahead.  

Breakfast was more of the same.  Eggs, yogurt, fruit.  I did snag some cream cheese packets for the trip home on Sunday though. I figured they'd come in handy with my bread.   I did ask for some of the gluten free breads, if they had any left, as the plate was empty. The manager not only brought me some, he also brought me the label from the package so I could verify I could have it all. Almond flour, no soy :-) 

The mid-morning snack was dried fruit. No cheese today, regardless of what that sign said!   
Lunch was out on the terrace again (fabulous place, great weather, great views) for lunch.  Everything was again labeled and since it was Marriott, I just had to find the guy in the odd colored shirt to ask him ingredient questions for the soy issue :-)  
Seriously, I love this Marriott and their food signs!  
My lunch:  salad with Kalamata olives and goat cheese, fish and chicken, and the pistachio tart thing that I just ate the cherry filling. 
As I was leaving, they were bringing up more GF treats as they ran out.  
They brought up a plating of three things and one looked foamy. . . it did have soy . . . but they looked SO yummy. They kindly offered to find me something else, but I was actually pretty full after lunch so I declined. Plus, it was humid and hot and they didn't need to run around trying to find me something.   

Saturday's afternoon snack time rolled around. . .we'd been having fun in the meeting, plus we'd had meetings with the same groups yesterday as well, so we started relaxing around each other.  We head out into the break area and find that we can get NAKED. . . Naked juices that is.  Geesh, what were you thinking?!   Some people had never had them before. They did actually have a straight up OJ one, which I'd never seen before, so I grabbed it. Most of the others had blueberry in it. (yuk).  I love blueberries baked in things, I like the smell of blueberry juice. I cannot stand the taste of blueberry juice or fresh ones.   

No one really knew what the Mango Panna Cotta meant besides 'cottage cheese' maybe. but Mangos--see my explanation of blueberries.  The blueberry almond clusters had everyone grabbing more. Apparently they were divine.   

After two days of conference (yes, we actually did meet and just not eat!), we had the awards banquet
Goat cheese and pecan salad pictured with the gluten dessert   

I love places who know how to do gluten free RIGHT.  
You want to know what the only difference was between my dinner and every one else's???  
Everyone else had a sauce poured over it.
Yes, that's it, just a glaze that had gluten in it.
Otherwise, we all had the layered potato, a round of beef with mushrooms, a fish, green beans and the lovely carrot.  
The gluten free dessert.  I ate the raspberry and chocolate sauce. 
After the awards, we had some dancing to do and chatting with old friends and new ones. Finally headed to the room around midnight!  Ach, so late!  Because it'd been more than 24 hours, I didn't get a chance to take a picture of my motoactv steps counter or calories burned. Drat!  

I got up about 6am to go for a run, deciding to spend this time outside along the waterfront. It took me about half an hour to go a mile and a half because I kept stopping to take pictures and look at the beautiful scenery!   There were the naval ships at Coronado Island, the sun rise coming up behind the bridge to said island, and a Dole container ship preparing to unload.  Heading back to the hotel I came up to the San Diego Convention Center home of the Comi-Con :-)  

This is the Freedom Flame presented by Mexico to the citizens of San Diego.  
I thought it was beautiful with the early morning sun reflecting. 

I grabbed a banana and headed off to the airport. My Lyft driver had actually played baseball (back in the 80s) for the local team in my city!  Pretty cool.  Then we kind of connected when he asked why I was in town, I shared it was for a pancreatic cancer conference and he said  his wife is a pediatric oncology nurse.  I think that has to be one of the hardest professions.  He said too that he attends the funerals with his wife.  

At the airport, I met other pancreatic cancer people and then I had the opportunity to get bumped from the flight.  (YEAH!) Free money, AND I got to get home before my plane would have even left the connecting city!   Thank you for different hubs into my regional airport.  The bad news ended up being that we had to fly around the connecting city for a while because of weather, which meant we arrived at the gate five minutes before my flight started board. . .and I had to run from Detroit A70 up to A40 to get to the connecting terminal and run over to the mid C gates!   Glad I wore my workout pants and not the bluejeans! One doesn't see many people running in airports anymore, but I was one of them Sunday!  

I arrived home before my original plane was even suppose to land at the airport--almost 12,000 steps later, and I was surprised it wasn't more.  
The dawn announcing Sunday morning.  
I'll leave you with this gorgeous view, and the ask to pay it forward, whatever "it" is. 
Be kind to another person, pay for a coffee, volunteer at an event or more.  Help make this world a kinder place, a better place, than how we may have found it.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

San Diego (part 1) sightseeing, run, problem

Conferences always bring so much angst to people, let alone those of us with food restrictions! Before heading out though, I made up some meals for The Mike to enjoy while I was gone. Half cup meatballs he could pair with some pasta, a mexican lasagna, and cubed and baked butternut squash. 

Wednesday I felt like I was running around like a headless chicken getting groceries done, meals prepped and baggage *packed*.  Sometimes I'm good at packing and this time I just seemed to want to toss in five outfits for two days of meetings!  Not to mention shoes! How does one decide on just one pair of shoes? 

I had the luggage in the car Wednesday night and got up just before 4am to head to the airport for my 7am flight.  (yeah?).  I got about three miles down the road when I said, "I'm hungry. oh, snap, where's my food bag?"  U-turn back to the house to get the bag from the refrigerator, kiss The Mike good bye (again) and he was awake enough to know I was leaving (he didn't know I'd left before), and I was on the road again.   Flight:  Iowa to Twin Cities to San Diego.  I found other pancreatic cancer volunteers heading to this conference, as well as a researcher who wants me to get in her group. With my Melanoma and mom's pancreatic cancer, there's a chance that the two can be related (which is pretty much Pres Jimmy Carter's family history).  

When I fly, I always try to get the window seat, figuring to leave the aisle seats for those with longer legs, plus I enjoy looking out the window at the scenery.  Square fields in the midwest, round crop circles (from irrigation) in western Ks, Ne and Colorado.  As such, I got to see. . . . THE GRAND CANYON in all its glory. We had  been over it enough to go from the little canyon (below left) to the large canyon (center) when the flight attendant made an announcement and everyone threw open their window shades and leaned out to see. . .even my seat mate who thought 

Canyon of the Grand variety.
East half of Grand Canyon
When I had gotten to San Diego I met up with others at the luggage carousel to carpool to the fabulous hotel. I checked in, arranged for a LYFT ride and headed over to Point Loma to explore the historic lighthouse and run/walk back to the hotel.  [If you don't know what Lyft is, it's like a Uber, it's a car service with some local driving his or her own car to take you to your destination. All billing is done through your smartphone/email. In San Diego, a taxi would have been a $50+ ride to Point Loma, Lyft was under $25--with tip] I always take my glowstick/whistle with an angled end on runs with me, and it came in handy for peace of mind on the lyft ride too. 
The direction from which Cabrillo would have arrived at Point Loma. National Park info
Mountains in far distance = Mexico, island out to the front and left =Coronado
I was surprised at how mountainous the peninsula was. I expected it to be lower to the ocean.
I wondered around Cabrillo National Monument for about an hour. I kept to the paths at the top. If I'd had the car, I'd have taken the liberty to enjoy the paths down to the ocean, but I didn't want to get too tired before I started my return.  I enjoyed my snack of Chobani, talked with some bicycle locals who were doing a photo shoot of new carbon fiber bikes, and then headed back to the hotel. Distance: about 10 miles.  I started out running. . . at least until I got to this:  
Just outside the park was one the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.  It's odd to see brown grass, but this area had signs it was undergoing renovation.  Perhaps they're putting in a hardier, drought resistant grass?  Major General Joseph H. Pendleton (namesake of Camp Pendleton) is interred here. I didn't see his resting place, but I found several men from Iowa and spied the resting place of a female WW2 veteran.
So then I start running again and worked my way up the peninsula. One of the gift shop ladies at the national park told me the peninsula is about 3 miles. Wow. It took me an hour an a half to go 3 miles. hahahahahaha.  One has to have  a great attitude when exploring a new city!  
Because of the severe drought, I was quite content to see all the brown space. I thought it interesting signs had to be placed here and there around the city.  There was a meeting on desalination going on at our hotel. Oh, how I would have loved to have been part of that event!  

On my way to Point Loma, I had a small Nalgene bottle of water in my waist pack CamelBak mine is an older design of this one. Knowing I'd want to stuff  things into it, I didn't take the bladder. .. well, that and it had some penicillin growing in it since I rarely use the bladder,  so I had the small Nalgene bottle and then a small Fuji water bottle with me as well.  I refilled the Fuji bottle at the cemetery and continued on my way.  

I enjoyed running back through the quiet neighborhoods and little shops.  I found it interesting that in Iowa we park cars on the sides of the streets as well. . . we just don't really have people parking boats outside their homes though!

About 3.5 miles from the hotel yet, it seemed to be getting hotter. . and I was taking longer than I thought, plus it was actually humid in this city!  I figured part of the sluggishness was from having five hours of sleep and still being on central time while in the pacific time zone. While the body said 5pm, the clock said 3pm. By this time I had half a bottle of water left and stopped inside the police station (it was right on the running path) to ask about a refill. The kind woman there did refill my bottle with blessedly cold water, and then kindly told me I should wear a hat to prevent my face from getting red in the heat, it'll lead to skin cancer she said.  I tried to explain my face is always red when I run and she didn't understand. Ah well, I've already had skin cancer too-and the melanoma showed up between my toes in a non-sunny spot!  Plus, the sun was mostly at my back. I was more concerned about getting burned there, and kept reapplying the sunscreen I had (I had smartly taken a mini spray can which worked for my back!).   Okay lady, yeah, next time I'll wear a big wide brimmed hat while I run. Uh-huh.  

Thank you Police Dept for your really cold water
I carried on for a bit further and then came upon this park I wanted to explore.  Almost directly across from the airport in San Diego is the Cancer Survivor's Park. Part of why I was in San Diego was for leadership training for Pancreatic Cancer and we want to double the survival rate by 2020. It's currently 7%. Plus, now I'm a Melanoma cancer survivor.  
I thought this sculpture was quite moving.
Entitled "Cancer.  .  . There is HOPE".
Sculptor: Victor Salmones
According to the plaque: "The back five figures are cancer patients and their supports preparing to enter treatment, represented by the maze, notice their fear, determination and hope on their faces in contrast to the joy of those of the front three, signifying successful treatment."  
Throughout the park there were signs to helping those with cancer and the steps they must take:   
1. Cancer 
2. Commitment 
3. Knowledge
4. Treatments
5. Physical Welfare
6. Mental Welfare
7. Positive Thinking

As always happens, by the time you get to the last mile or two of a run you have that energy back and you can just visualize the finish line even if you can't see it.  I was so ecstatic when I saw "Marriott" on the side of the building!  
My badge of honor today. . . dirty legs.

I went out to dinner with my roommate for the trip, bayside seating, spied the coast guard doing some excursions, and had a fabulous slice of salmon with veggies and a side of avocado :-)  
This concludes part 1. . .
part 2:  Conference food to make you drool :-)