Pacific Beach San Diego, 2008

Saturday, October 18

A dreary, rainy, cold morning in Chicago – 36 degrees when I left home at 3:40 A.M. for the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake. My flight was full and I was not able to score an exit row seat as I allowed another couple to get to the counter before I did. This was irritating because I’d been sitting at my gate for 1-1/2 hours and they simply walked up to the counter, stood there, and within 2 minutes, the agent arrived and they were given the last 2 exit row seats! Much to my delight, I am in Seat 10D and there seems to be a lot more room on this plane than the ones I take to Boston, even though I thought they were the same planes. My backpack filled to capacity with my camera case in the large section and all my other goodies in the other 2, fits nicely under the seat in front of me and I still have plenty of legroom.
It had been clear sailing through baggage check in, and yes, it cost $15.00 to check my suitcase. I’m not flying 1st class this time around!

We taxied from the gate on time at 8:25 and we landed at 10:17. Our flying altitude was only 30,000 feet so I had no trouble with my ears on descent. I grabbed my suitcase and was outside San Diego airport at 10:30. It is warm, not a cloud in sight, I shed my sweatshirt, got out my sun glasses and am ready to begin my beach adventure!

The rental car places are not at the airport, but a few miles away, but there are shuttles running to take you where you need to go. There was a line at Dollar Rental but it didn’t take very long at all. They tried to sell me insurance of course, but I said I had it. However, when I was asked for my proof of insurance I realized I’d forgotten to bring it! I will have to contact my agent and get a copy of it faxed to me.

My car was a black Dodge Charger that had obviously been in some kind of accident and had been side swiped! I’ve never rented a car with so much damage before and was not real happy about it. I got out my camera and proceeded to document the damage. Both sides of the vehicle were scraped from front to back, the right front was very badly scraped and dented, as was the left rear, and there was a spot on the right wheel flare that looked as though they had tried to bondo it. As I was leaving I also circled on a diagram all of the places and signed as did the guy at the gate. I hope this turns out to be good enough when I turn it in. Later when I talked to my mom, she asked why I didn’t ask for another car – I didn’t think of that which was stupid on my part! The windshield, inside and out, was also filthy. I have rented from Dollar several times before and never had this kind of experience. I should write a letter.

I was glad I asked the attendant at Dollar for directions because what I got from Map Quest would have taken me the back way as he called it – which I later discovered was true and would have taken me quite a bit longer. I arrived at the hotel at 11:15, but my room wasn’t ready yet as check in was 3:00. I checked to be sure I would be given a 3rd floor room as I’d paid extra for it. The young man, Jay, who would prove to be quite nice and helpful, told me I did and actually had the “bestest view” in his opinion. He quickly corrected himself and said “the best view” and I chuckled along with him and said there was nothing wrong with “bestest” and I often used the word myself.

I parked my car in the underground parking (which would be $10.00/day) and took a walk down to Crystal Pier. Crystal Pier is one of the oldest wooden piers in the country, but what makes it unique is you can drive on in order to get to the cottages located on the first part of the pier. I was pretty hungry and walked over to Joes Crab Shack which would end up being my favorite place to eat. I ordered the Fish n’ Chips and it was excellent! I sat outside watching the people and waves crashing thinking ‘What could be better?’

I returned to the hotel and my room was ready. I got into some shorts and headed for the pool to try to get some color most especially on my legs. I had put some self-tanning lotion on them, but they almost glow in the dark they are so white! I needn’t worry about what I look like in shorts with my chubby legs since there was a woman at the pool who had at least 50 pounds on me, wearing a hot pink string bikini! It was quite disgusting actually.

 

Looking down the Boardwalk towards Mission Bay

Looking down Pacific Beach Boardwalk towards Mission Bay

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Pacific Beach Boardwalk and Crystal Pier with the Cottages for rent

 

My room is a corner room on the 3rd floor facing the ocean and the view is spectacular. It would appear that I have the “bestest view” – Jay was correct! There is a small stand of palm trees directly in front of me making the view prettier as far as I’m concerned. Just off to my left is the Pacific Beach Life Guard Station – which is like the Headquarters you see on ‘Baywatch’. The lifeguards drive around in white Ford Expeditions and since the Station is right here, there are no Life Guard Towers in the immediate area. I will still keep my eyes peeled for buff young Life Guards!

My room is quite clean, has a love seat, king size bed, large desk and a large Armoire with the TV, microwave, mini fridge and 4 drawers. The love seat is on the same wall as the TV meaning I will have to sit in bed to watch TV. The opposite wall has 2 windows overlooking the pool with the heating A/C unit. The bathroom is large by hotel standards with the usual amenities. There is only 1 bar of soap however and when I opened it, it broke. I put one piece in the shower and left one piece at the sink – hopefully they will leave more in the morning. I’m glad I always bring my own.

I took a walk down the Boardwalk to the south and quickly realized I’d picked one of the best places to stay. Every place I went past, including the Best Western, were extremely run down, with most of them looking like they had not seen any repair since the 1960’s and they all had college age kids hanging around, drinking, being very loud and obnoxious with music blasting from large speakers the size of which were common in the 1970’s. Many of the rental places were not much more than shacks.

The boardwalk is always busy with bike riders, skate boarders, people on roller blades, joggers and people simply strolling. I learned quickly that you have to be constantly aware because people on bikes, skateboards and roller blades, wiz by you at close range and fast. To the south, with the shabby rental places, there are also bars and small shops selling the usual tee shirts, board shorts, knick knacks etc. Directly in front of my hotel there is a place with cement benches and bike racks – it is also where several homeless men gather. They don’t gather at the other areas with cement benches and I assume it is because there is also a large public bath/shower house right across the street from my hotel. My hotel is right at the entrance to Pacific Beach making it quite busy at all hours. When I arrived, there was an awful lot of noise and cheering coming from the PBC (Pacific Beach Club) and I later discover it is a Wisconsin Badger bar and they were watching the football game. The restaurant next to the PBC is an Iowa Buckeye fan based establishment. How weird is this?

As many people on Trip Advisor said, it is rather noisy at the Ocean Park Inn, but then, they do advertise that it is on the Boardwalk so it is to be expected. The homeless start to gather around 6:00 A.M. and are gone around 11:30 P.M. As it was Saturday nite, the PBC was pretty noisy until after midnight, but I suspect it will not be the rest of the week. I left my sliding glass door open to listen to the crashing waves before falling asleep. However, I did close it around 12:00 P.M. because of the drunk, loud groups of young people walking around outside. I suspect too that this will not be a regular occurrence. This isn’t Boston, where I walk a whole lot more, and my total miles today were a mere 7.65 today. It was a gorgeous 74 degrees today with a clear blue sky all day long. Towards sunset a few clouds rolled in but the sunset was still spectacular. This were taken from my balcony – does it get any better than this????

Sunset as seen from my balcony

Sunset as seen from my balcony

Sunday, October 19

It is overcast this morning and the weather man is promising it will clear up bringing lots of sunshine and the high around 70 degrees. This is perfect as far as I’m concerned! I tossed and turned all nite long I think because the mattress was quite soft and the pillows quite hard! I was out of bed by 6:15 A.M. I watch the homeless for a while marveling at how people live this way. This morning there is a young girl with them and she just came from the bathhouse with a wet head and wringing out a pair of shorts that she promptly hangs over the railing to dry. Soon the men disperse with some of them leaving their belongings behind as well. There must be an unwritten rule of the homeless that you don’t touch each other’s belongings. The stuff is not strewn about, instead it is left neatly in a large backpack and shopping cart.

Starbuck’s is right across the street from the hotel – I always seem to stay within close proximity of Starbuck’s don’t I? I am not sure why some people on Trip Advisor complained about the free Continental Breakfast. There was a variety of muffins, scones other pastries, a variety of bagels, bread, cream cheese, jelly, butter, 3 types of cereal and 2 Belgian Waffle makers! There is also a juice machine and coffee maker. I don’t know what people expect for free but I found it more than adequate to start the day.

I took a drive to downtown San Diego this morning parking at the Maritime Museum on the Embarcadero. The drive took about 10 minutes. Pacific Beach is the largest beach community in San Diego. As you would expect, there are beach communities all along the San Diego coastline. I was surprised to discover that San Diego is the 8th largest city in the United States. Once I left PB (Pacific Beach), the drive is freeway driving, along the 5 which is also the way that I took from Dollar rental.

I picked the right day to come downtown since the parking meters are free on Sundays. Otherwise, it is a quarter for 12 minutes. I walked over to the Tourist Information Center and chatted up the 2 elderly men working there. I decided to take the Harbor Ferry over to Coronado. I assumed that where it dropped us off was at the Hotel Coronado, but unfortunately I discovered that it was a 20-minute and 8 block walk. The ferries left every hour and since I didn’t think I could really spend that much time here, I walked along the water for a while and returned to San Diego. While walking I almost walked into a very small commitment ceremony of 2 women. I don’t think they would have appreciated me in their wedding video!

Back in San Diego I drove in the direction that I thought was the Gaslamp District. Of course I was wrong and just like San Francisco, most of the streets were “no left turn” and one way. In other words, I could see where I wanted to go, but couldn’t get there. Since it was my 1st day, I didn’t really feel like wasting a lot of time figuring out how to get there and returned to the hotel. I needed to look at a map before I made my next downtown trip.

I stopped at the Surf Shop below the PBC and ended up buying a pair of cargo pants. After doing so, I wasn’t quite sure why since what I really needed was another pair of shorts because I only packed 2. The nite before I left I completely unpacked my suitcase into a smaller one, then a larger one, both times taking different things out before settling on my original suitcase. In the process, I removed a pair of shorts, replacing them with a pair of pants! Why didn’t I just leave well enough alone?

I’d read about fish tacos before getting here and I was determined to try it even though it didn’t sound very good. I think because I was thinking of your Taco Bell variety of taco. I ordered a grilled shrimp taco from the PBC on a corn tortilla and ate it outside at one of the benches in front of my hotel. It was wonderful! It was nothing like a Taco Bell taco. It had cut up grilled shrimp, shredded cabbage, 2 different shredded cheeses, a tasty pesto of some kind, a white sauce and a lime wedge with a container of red spicy sauce. It only cost $4.99 and I couldn’t close the tortilla around it all because it was stuffed so much. I will definitely be getting this again and I think it just might be my new favorite food.

I walked a little further down the Boardwalk than I did yesterday but it was all rentals past a certain point and just as raunchy as the others. I returned to my room, put some sunscreen on my nose and cheeks and sat by the pool for about 30 minutes. There was a nice breeze just like yesterday, but I just get so bored laying here. Yesterday while I was at the Embarcadero, I had bought a ‘Save the Whales’ tee shirt from a vendor (a portion of the profits go to an organization that helps save whales and seals) who told me that in La Jolla, what used to be known as Children’s Pool (a beach area) had been taken over by Sea Lions and the state decided to allow it rather than try to get rid of them. I stopped at the front desk and Jay gave me directions and reiterated that the Sea Lions are there 24/7 365 days a year and sometimes you can see babies too. That was enough to convince me, I set out for La Jolla.

La Jolla Cove is an unforgettable beach in San Diego ideal for snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and swimming. La Jolla Cove is a part of the La Jolla Underwater Park meaning it is a marine refuge area with specific restrictions in order to protect marine life. No surfboards, boogie boards or inflatable devices are permitted, but the cove is usually swarming with snorkelers and swimmers looking to take advantage of this beautiful area. The ocean floor at La Jolla Cove is often covered with bright orange Garibaldi, the California state fish, seals, sea lions and countless other striking local sea life. With the protection of sea cliffs, this area rarely has high surf making it ideal for safe snorkeling and water play during the summer months. A white sand beach is inside the cove and although small, it’s a beautiful secluded area to lay in the sand and soak up the San Diego sun. The cove in La Jolla also has a gorgeous grass park above the sea cliffs perfect for playing Frisbee, enjoying a picnic or catching up with old friends against the backdrop of the cove La Jolla.

San Diego’s La Jolla Cove attracts visitors from all over to enjoy the protected waters of the La Jolla Underwater Park as well as the beautiful town of La Jolla. Meaning “The Jewel” in Spanish, La Jolla really is a gem among the coastal communities of San Diego. As home to the Birch Aquarium, La Jolla Shores beach, the Children’s Pool

– See more at: http://www.sandiego.com/beaches/la-jolla-cove#sthash.4mAR0hnV.dpuf

There were quite a few Sea Lions lying on the beach as promised and just a few pups. For the most part they just lay there and some of them reminded me of dogs as they lay on their backs with their front flippers (that are much smaller than the rear ones and resemble feet) up in the air. They look a lot like rocks lying there and many of them were covered with sand.

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Upon my return I went for dinner at Joe’s, getting the Fisherman’s Platter and what would become my new favorite drink, a Pink Pomegranate Mojito. It was quite tasty indeed much like drinking a pink lemonade with a kick. My dinner consisted of 20 scallops, 4 Jumbo Butterfly shrimp, a fish fillet, fries and cole slaw all for $14.99 and everything was wonderful. Mom would like it here because they don’t serve cocktail sauce with their fish; they serve tarter sauce.

After dinner I walked the 5 blocks to Cold Stone Creamery (I wish I didn’t discover this place because I cannot resist it) and brought it back for later. The homeless had started to gather for the nite and tonite there was a young woman who was either very drunk, on something, or just nuts. She was yelling and screaming at the homeless guys and she took off after a young couple that had walked by. She started yelling at the young woman not to look at her –yelling that she wasn’t crazy. Every other word out of her mouth was the “f” word so I won’t repeat what she said. I closed the curtains in my room and peeked through them watching her. She would calm down only to begin yelling, jumping up and down and jabbing any of the guys that would try to calm her down. A young kid came by I thought, to get his bike. I saw instead that he had a skateboard and she jumped all over him, jabbing him in the chest, yelling at him and finally grabbed his board and flung it onto the beach! She sure was scary.

The Red Sox were playing in the Playoffs and I broke out the ice cream and watched them loose yet another game. The crazy woman had left and the guys were gone by 11:15 when I went to bed. 6.59 miles today.

Monday October 20

I got out of bed at 6:45 with heavy fog and very low visibility. It would be a great day to sleep late but I got up anyway. According to the weather man it will clear up and be cool again today – funny that their idea of cool (in October yet!) is 70 degrees. It’s my idea of perfect. I took my time showering and getting ready. I went for my Starbucks and had breakfast, trying the waffle maker. There was a Mexican family with 2 little boys who kept taking plates and silverware, playing with them and the mom would put the stuff back! How disgusting – glad I’d already eaten before they got there.

I took off for downtown to try to find the Gaslamp District again. You would think that I would have actually studied a map after the other day, but I didn’t. I knew that I needed to go down 5th Avenue but I’d come in from a different direction, and I did find it and parked at 5th and E Street. It was only 9:15 so nothing was open yet. I walked a square to G Street and 6th and back to the car. I’m sure at nite it is quaint looking, but it really isn’t much during the day other than stores and restaurants. I was not impressed. Perhaps if I were a shopper, I’d feel differently.

On my way out of town, I headed in what I thought was the direction of 5 North but all I did was get myself further and further into downtown so I headed back towards the water and North Harbor Drive knowing I could find the freeway that way. I figured since I was down there I may as well as go to Seaport Village. Parking was $3.00 an hour and I was only there for 15 minutes because like the Gaslamp District, this was nothing more than boutique shops. I guess I thought it would have something to do with boats and the sea and a village depicting sea life.

Ok, how about trying to find Balboa Park? Which I did, but where the heck do you park? One road was closed and under construction and the only thing to do was to go back the way I came and there was no parking there at all. Again – look at a map and know exactly where to go. Last try for this morning is Old Town. Um so, this is it? This is Old Town? What a wasted morning of driving around. Did I mention that besides parking lots which I’m sure cost more than I am willing to spend, all parking is metered and parallel and there was no way I was going to attempt that on these busy streets in a car I’m not familiar with.

My consolation prize was to get 2 grilled shrimp tacos and it is most definitely my new favorite food. I wanted to eat outside again but for some reason the homeless didn’t leave the area today. It was too windy and cool on my balcony since the sun wasn’t hitting there yet, so I ate at the desk in my room. I’m glad this disappointing morning is over.

After lunch I sat in the sun at the pool for an hour. I was able to get a hold of mom and had her go over to my house to get the phone number of my insurance agent and was able to have them fax a copy of my Proof of Insurance to the hotel. I walked in the surf and the water was quite pleasant not cold at all like the Atlantic is at this time of the year. I’m very surprised at how empty the beach is and how small the waves are (although there are always guys out there attempting to surf). Perhaps it’s the time of the year? Maybe in the summer months the waves are higher – I would think they are because I did read that they have surf competitions here. I sat at the pool for another 15 minutes before deciding to check out Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma Lighthouse. Yesterday I had got a sheet from Jay at the hotel with points of interest complete with directions and Cabrillo was on it. More and more hotels are providing directions to area attractions, which is great!

Even though there isn’t a cloud in the sky, there is always a haze when you look off in the distance. I walked out to the lighthouse, took some pictures of the Monument, the bay and the lighthouse. This is where the Grey whales pass on their annual migration in the winter. I read that as many as 28,000 whales pass this way during the months of December to February. I chatted a bit with the woman who worked in the gift shop before heading back to the hotel.

 

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I decided to go to I Hop for dinner because I just didn’t feel like spending that much on dinner tonite. When I was done, the sun was just beginning to set and I began taking pictures. The sunsets really are stunning, over the course of the week I took 234 shots of them! Here are 2 from tonite.

Once the sun sets, it does get quite cool. I went and got a Pumpkin Spice Late and sat out on my balcony to enjoy the view. The crazy homeless woman returned yelling her head off once again. This time at one particular homeless guy, she kept jabbing at him until finally one of the other homeless dragged her away from the guy. With that, the guy said, ‘Hey man, you’re bleeding.’ ‘Yeah, she slugged me in the mouth’ ‘And I’ll do it again, you want a f__ing piece of me? Huh? Come on! You want a piece of this?’ and she went after him again and this time 2 of the guys had to pull her off. She kept at this guy until she finally left – hopefully she won’t be back.

After shaving my legs that nite and putting on moisturizer I realize that I am putting hair conditioner on my legs! I check the bottle and sure enough, I have been using hair conditioner as moisturizer and moisturizer as hair conditioner for the past 2 days! I guess it pays to use my glasses. I was wondering why my hair felt funny but since I wasn’t using my normal hair products, I just figured that was it. I had wondered why the moisturizer was so thick. What an absolute dope I am huh? Although I did have quite a laugh at myself.

I looked over my map and the brochures that I have and plan on going to Old Town in the morning and then on to Balboa Park. I didn’t drive in far enough the other day. I’d also like to go to Tijuana, the zoo and maybe drive up the coast a bit. We’ll see how things go. I’m disappointed in my tanning, I just seem to be getting red and hopefully it will turn to tan. I sure don’t tan as easily as I did when I was younger. Maybe I should just put on my tank top and spend a few hours instead of just one. 5.51 miles today. At this rate I sure am not burning enough calories compared to what I’m eating.

Tuesday October 21

Today is the day of many plans. Once again it is very foggy but supposed to burn off and be in the mid 70’s. I took off for Old Town around 9:00 and stopped at another tourist Information place along 5 and got directions to Balboa Park.

Old Town is not really what I thought it would be – do you sense a pattern here? I found a few things that looked interesting, but thought that I could get them cheaper in Tijuana. I roamed around for about an hour and took off for Balboa Park.

The sun had come out and it was definitely getting warmer. About half way there I need to go to the bathroom – this is the 3rd stop since I left the hotel. This was not a good sign. I parked in a lot with some museums and the Sports Museum had a public bathroom and the front desk also had a map of the park so I would know where I was going.

The architecture is beautiful and I wonder if some of it is Terra Cotta – I’d have to ask my dad when I get home. Most of the things to see are in one general area and I recognize where I’d driven in the day before. Much to my dismay there were groups of let’s call them “Mommie Walkers” in their spandex with their fancy strollers made for jogging and their screaming 2 year olds running around. There were also several school groups on field trips lending itself to more screaming kids. I honestly don’t remember doing that as a kid. Running around and having fun yes, but screaming? No. I also don’t ever remember any of us running wild on field trips. But then, there was a thing called discipline when I was growing up unlike today’s world where you “talk” to children.

The Globe Theatre was undergoing construction on the outside. As I walked around the back I was stopped by a construction worker. He asked if I just wanted to take a picture and then told me I could go ahead, but to be careful and watch for trucks. Because of the tall wooden barricade all around the area, I really wasn’t able to get the shot I wanted, but it was nice of him to let me try.

Top of the Golden Globe Theater

Dome of the Museum of Man – Balboa Park

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Museum of Man – Balboa Park

I got a California Sandwich from the Japanese Friendship Garden. It was crabmeat piled high (reminiscent of the corned beef in NYC) on potato bread, cucumber, avocado and Wasabi mayonnaise. It came with Japanese Potato salad that really didn’t taste much different than American. I was only able to eat ½ of the sandwich and brought the other half back to the hotel. It was so nice having a mini fridge. That is one of the things that the Radisson is lacking in Boston, as well as a microwave.

It was only 11:45 when I got back to my room and there was still an awful lot of fog once you got to the beach. I grabbed my passport and headed to Tijuana. There was quite a bit of traffic on the 5 until I got south of the city. People drive like maniacs on the California freeways, but I was loving it. I was even learning how to drive like a cabbie when in the downtown area. When I got to the US boarder, I parked at a lot that I had a $1 off coupon for. I wasn’t really sure where to walk from there as I saw people heading in 2 directions. I opted for the path that would take me across the footbridge because that is what I remembered Marylyn and I doing some 22 years ago.

Soon I was through the turnstile and in Mexico! There are actually quite a few people walking with me and I notice they are all Mexican. The footbridge is much longer than I remember it being. It was al enclosed and snaked around and over the freeway. When I get over the freeway, I look at the long line of cars waiting to come back across into the US. I also notice the long line of people waiting as well – there are hundreds of them! I look and don’t really see any evidence of town. None of this is as I remembered it. I remember walking over what was more of a bridge, and then we were immediately at a check in point where they asked how long we would be in Mexico and had to show either a driver’s license or a passport. Town was not all that far away, but I didn’t even see any place that looks like it is downtown or where I should be walking alone. All I see is are 2 filthy “bars” selling beer and tacos – I can’t even call them buildings. They were nothing more than stands really – it was pretty disgusting and the entire area looked worse than an alley in the worst part of any big city. This certainly wasn’t somewhere I thought I should just aimlessly walk into not knowing where I was going. No, I think I’ll just go back to the US.

LESSON LEARNED: ONCE IN MEXICO YOU CANNOT SIMPLY TURN AROUND & GO BACK TO THE US

The turnstile that I’m talking about is like in some subways – not what you pass through entering a store. They are like 8 feet tall, and as they turn, there are interlocking bars if you will. You cannot go backwards through them, but I try to decide if I can anyway. Hmmm I wonder if I time it just right if I can squeeze in? Damn! What in the world was I thinking that I could just turn around and go back? Obviously I wasn’t thinking. 2 young Mexicans see me going back and forth and chuckle and say, ‘No, you can’t go back through.” I swear under my breath and make my way back across the footbridge. I get to the line of people and pace back and forth wondering if I can slip in somewhere and looking for some kind of official person, finding no one. I am approached by a guy telling me he’ll get me across for $5.00. He has an identification tag around his neck and I tell him I just need to get to the parking lot across the border. “Si.$5.00”

I got into a mini-van with 11 other Mexicans all jabbering away in Spanish. I had asked the guy how long it would take and he told me 15 minutes so I figure it was worth it because there is no way that I’d get through that line in 15 minutes because it wasn’t even moving. We literally drove about ½ block! We did not get into the line of traffic waiting, but used a lane for buses and we stopped right at the Border Inspection Building and got out. Once in the building I see that there are at least 100 more people waiting in line inside. The others from the van walked right up to an agent at a counter and went through. I followed them. Once outside I see the damn footbridge and think that I’ll end up doing the exact same thing. I spot a police officer and ask him where I go to get back to the parking lot, and tell him what I’d done. He laughed and told me where to go once I got to the other side of the footbridge. I leave the parking lot and am told that my coupon was not good for that time period – I assume what they meant was since I was only there for an hour that I couldn’t use it. It cost me $5.00 to park, $5.00 to get back to the U.S. So much for my trip to Tijuana. When I returned home and told some people at work what I’d done, they told me I was crazy to have even attempted to cross into Mexico on foot with all that was going on there, and then scolded me even more for getting into a van. Oh well, it made for an interesting story 🙂

On my return I decided to drive over the Coronado Bridge and to the Hotel Coronado. The bridge is packed with cars going the opposite way and I wonder why there is so much traffic at 3:00 in the afternoon. I then remember that they tend to start work much earlier in California and so leave much earlier than we do. I reach the other side of the bridge and drove a few blocks and turned around and went back. I didn’t think to actually check the map because I thought that where the bridge was, was the side of the island that the hotel was at. Again, check the map. Check the map. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

The waves are quite a bit higher today and people are having a little more luck surfing than normal. I would guess they are about 7 feet today as opposed to the 3 feet they’d been the past few days. Still, no one really manages to stay up for very long. The waves break very quickly if that is the correct term, making them not that good for surfing. I stroll along the boardwalk for a while watching the activities and then go for an early dinner at Joe’s.

Tonite I had the New England Platter. It was 2 pieces of beer-battered fish, shrimp stuffed with crabmeat, a fresh crab cake, onion strings and fries. And of course, another pink Pomegranate Mojito. I had a male waiter who was terrible. He was very slow and not very attentive. When I got there, the people at a table next to me asked the Hostess to send their check, which was my 1st clue. It took him quite some time to do so and to take my order. He never came and asked how things were until I was almost done eating, at which point I asked for my check. Needless to say I didn’t leave him much of a tip.

After dinner I grabbed my camera and strolled the other end of the boardwalk waiting for the sunset. While doing so, I noticed a man in his mid 50’s, neatly dressed, walk over to a back pack lying on one of the benches, take out a shirt and change. He sure didn’t look like the typical homeless person but the next morning I saw him with the group that hangs by my hotel. He must’ve been new and learning the ropes so to speak. I went to Cold Stone Creamery and got an ice cream for later. I was really tired for some reason today and fell asleep at 9:00. I woke up an hour later because the homeless were shouting about something so I closed my slider. 7.38 miles walked today.

Wednesday, October 22

It’s very foggy again today and I don’t really have any plans other than to just hang out after going to Mission San Diego DeAlcada. It’s the 1st mission in San Diego and only 20 minutes away.

 

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I laid out in the sun for 2 hours today! I even took my towel and lay on the beach for an hour. It’s the first time I laid on a beach since the last time I was in San Diego some 22 years ago! I just don’t know how I used to do this for 4 hours a day. It is so boring. Something else… I don’t remember it being so hard to walk in the sand. That is one heck of a work out. I hope after today that I start to get some color – I really am not noticing too much yet except for my nose.

I decide to rent a bike – something else I’ve not done in over 25 years at least. I took off wobbling down the boardwalk on what they call a beach bike. The handlebars are pulled back and they have the big knobby tires. It felt like it needed a front end alignment or could it be me? They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but boy, I didn’t feel very in control. I kept looking for the hand brake which of course they were coaster brakes. I rode about 2 miles before bringing it back. It wasn’t as much fun as it looked. Maybe if there were not so many people that you had to dodge it would have been.

I went to Fat Boys for dinner because I was craving beef. I walked along the pier after I ate watching the surfers and I had tried to catch up to one of the Kite Surfers, but of course, he was moving way faster than I could. Once the sun begins to set along the beach, everyone just stops and watches it. It really is gorgeous. Once it sets, the horizon glows red for quite some time. I’m feeling rather warm this evening, maybe I got a bit too much sun? 5.81 miles walking, 2 miles riding.

Thursday, October 23

Yesterday started a warming trend and we are under a Red Flag warning because of the high temps and Santa Ana winds. It was 98 in downtown San Diego yesterday. It was in the mid 80’s here. I hope it’s not going to get too hot because I’m going to the zoo today. I’m on the road at 8:30 and the zoo opens at 9:00.

I’m able to park in the 1st row of parking and I am beginning to notice that things are really not that crowded. I don’t know if it’s because of the economy or the time of year. I suppose it could be a combination of both. Tickets were $34.00 because I bought it at the gate. I should’ve bought it through one of the kiosks because it would have been $28.50.

I don’t know if it’s because it’s early in the morning, but most of the animals were asleep. The zoo is not at all like I remember it, there just doesn’t seem to be much here. I only see 1 or 2 animals in each display. The zoo is beautiful – the landscaping is great – it is like being in each habitat because everything is real. That also means that a lot of the exhibits are dark because there is so much foliage. You’re able to get quite close to many of the animals – so much so, that I’m sure had the Giraffes put their heads down, I could have touched them. The same with the elephants and camels and similar animals. The big cats are behind heavy cages since they had one escape last year. That also makes them hard to see, or at least hard to get a good picture because the cage obscures the photo. The Giant Pandas were asleep and had their rear ends facing forward until finally the baby turned around. These are 2 of my favorite zoo shots. The baby panda looks like a stuffed animal doesn’t he?

 

Baby Panda at San Diego Zoo

Baby Panda at San Diego Zoo

Lion at San Diego Zoo

Lion at San Diego Zoo

I left the zoo at noon stopping at the exit to get a hot dog before I left, they wanted $5.99! I wasn’t that hungry. I was more than disappointed in the zoo. The number of animals was so small and the entrance fee was so high. By the time I left it was quite warm and I’m glad that I’d gone 1st thing in the morning.

I drove through downtown looking for Dollar rental so that I’d know where to go to drop the car off. In all of my travels, I never ran across it so I figured I’d better find it. I knew it was only 2 blocks from the freeway and thought it was near Sassafras Street. I didn’t find it on Sassafras however and because it was so darn hot, I gave up and quit driving around. I stopped for gas and gave up on that too because the pump kept shutting off. I tried like 10 times and was getting so irritated, the more irritated I got the more the heat bothers me. I asked the woman inside if there was a problem with the pump and she said that it was because of all the regulations they have that the pump has to create an air-tight seal or it will stop. She said some cars are worse than others and agreed that it is a pain in the neck.

I decided to lay out again at the pool but only last an hour because there isn’t much of a breeze today and I later find out that it was 88 degrees even down here at the beach. I went for a walk along the surf and looked for some shells and stones for the gal at work but only found a few very small shells. The beach is really smooth – down by the water I mean. I guess I’m so used to the beaches on the East Coast being so full of rocks and stones. I was so tempted to just go into the water even though I didn’t have a bathing suit. But I only had the 2 pair of shorts so I didn’t. But it looked like so much fun to jump into the waves like so many people do all day long. Especially since the water was so warm.

Tonite was another Fat Boy dinner. Another spectacular sunset tonite – I should be used to them because at home I experience spectacular ones too. But I think the fact that they are over the ocean, and you know how much I love the water, it is that much more breathtaking to me. I’m starting to get sad because tomorrow is my last day here. 6.73 miles today.

Friday October 24

I really am not ready to go home yet. I went to all of the places that I wanted to, even though so many of them were a disappointment. I decide to stick around again today, after all it’s vacation and I don’t have to be on the go all the time. It’s the beach, no worries as they say. Relax. I’m going to take in some sun again because finally I’m seeing some color on my face and arms. Not so much on my legs. It’s as if the parts of my body that have been out of the sun for so many years, just won’t tan.

Before hitting the pool I drove back downtown after looking at the map and the address for Dollar. I find it right away this time. I’m very surprised at the low number of exits for San Diego but what is nice is that no matter where you exit (in my experience at least) you can get right back on. Unlike Chicago where you cannot. Gas has come down from when I arrived from $3.25 to $3.09 and I topped off the tank and didn’t have any trouble at a different gas station. It was still early when I got back so I took a walk down the boardwalk and went into the shops looking for tee shirts. I found one for $4.99 with an emblem on the front and design on the back so that was a great price. I also found a cool sweatshirt for $9.99 but I thought I’d better be sure I had enough room before buying it. I’d already bought a pair of cargo pants, a hat and 4 tee shirts.

I was poolside by 11:00 and stayed there until 1:00. The tops of my feet were burning, and I took that as a good sign that I might actually get some color out of it! I went upstairs and my room still wasn’t cleaned so I went next door and got a Lobster taco on the advice of the bartender the other day. After I ate I took another walk on the beach and then sat at the pool for another hour. Ok, so this was as much sun as I’m going to get and as much color as I’m going to end up with. Still my room isn’t cleaned! I took a shower because I was pretty sweaty after spending so much time in the sun and then had the front desk print my boarding pass for tomorrow. I returned to the store for the sweatshirt because I did have room. On my way back I see a Woody station wagon with a surfboard on top and get it for dad’s car collection.

I return to my room at 4:00 and still it has not been cleaned – this is ridiculous. Do they think that I’m leaving today? Just as I’m leaving for another walk Housekeeping arrives. I have my camera with me and the way the sun is shimmering off of the water and the surfers makes for a pretty landscape. I keep waiting and waiting following different surfers trying to get them as they glide across the waves through the reflecting sun. However as I said, no one really stays up very long in this surf.

Back to Joe’s for one last dinner and I get the Fish n’ Chips and a Mojito. While I was eating I noticed something squirming on the street below and looked on my way out. It was some kind of lizard that had been run over and lost it’s tail. It’s insides were half out but it was still alive and opening it’s mouth in aggression. I felt so sorry for it and wished someone would just run over it and put it out of its misery (after I walked away so I wouldn’t see it)

I got back to my room for my last sunset. I will miss these that’s for sure. Once the sun had set completely and all that was left was the red glow, I went one last time to Cold Stone Creamery. I noticed coupons at the front desk, but didn’t look at them closely until today and wish I had. They were $1.00 off and I had assumed that they were like in Boston – after buying a specified amount, you could get something off or a free one

You can see the surfers in this shot. I was rather surprised that they stayed out there every nite even after the sun set. I always thought you’re supposed to stay out of the water at nite. I guess that’s just in the movies. Only 5.25 miles today

Surfers waiting, watching the horizon

Surfers waiting, watching the horizon

 

Saturday October 25

I had no trouble when returning the rental. They didn’t seem the least bit concerned about the damage. I was at the airport by 9:30 and was surprised to find out my suitcase only weighed 42 pounds! I really thought it was going to be over the 50 pound limit – I guess my buying this lightweight suitcase paid off. There were an awful lot of people from the cruise ship that was in port at the airport. An elderly couple next to me were talking with another couple and they mentioned their next cruise. The cruise they just took was 35 days and the woman was talking about her around the world, 101 day cruise. I couldn’t imagine being on a cruise for 35 days, let alone for 101! I chatted with them for a few minutes until they opened the counter at the gate and I went to see about an exit row seat. Once again I didn’t get one, but then as I found out on the way down, these seats really were not that uncomfortable.

While in the bathroom a woman came in from a missionary group and she was throwing up like crazy! Sure enough, the group was on my flight. Also on my flight 2 rows behind me, a screaming infant. The couple next to me were the children of the couple across the aisle from me. I say children, but they were older than I was. As we taxied to the gate we came to a stop and the captain came on and said that he was on with the tower about a wait issue. At least that’s what I thought he meant. Then he said that we were 400 pounds over weight but he thought he could get the tower to let us go. It took awhile but finally we were on our way 30 minutes late. Originally I was excited because the captain said our flight time would be 3:30 hours so I’d be able to make a bus and not have to wait at O’ Hare. Now I would have a wait of at least 1-1/2 hours. There was much chatter on the plane of people wondering what they were going to do – throw off some people’s luggage or what?

Another smooth flight and we touched down right at our original time of 5:45. Before we landed the flight attendant made announcements for at least 5 minutes of where to get connecting flights as far away as Frankfurt Germany. I was starving and stopped at McDonald’s before going down to the baggage claim. When I got there, there were about 25 of us waiting for luggage – everyone else were catching a connecting flight and our flight was full. It took a long time for our baggage to start arriving and even longer before I saw mine. I started to panic just a little that with all the connecting flights, perhaps once again my suitcase was lost. Finally it arrived and I settled in to wait for the bus. We got to the Crystal Lake Holiday Inn at 8:40 and it was freezing! I had changed into my shorts at the airport because they were more comfortable than my pants after eating so much the week before. I got home at 9:15.

It was a great trip and I think I would like to go back. I will do some more studying before I do so that I don’t make some of the same mistakes, most definitely concerning Tijuana. I was talking to our Shop Foreman who has a sister in San Diego. He said he was talking to his nephew about going to Tijuana. His nephew said that wouldn’t be a very good idea and he really didn’t want to go there now. I guess it is very dangerous right now with drug wars and over 150 murders so far this year. Hmmmmm….. maybe it was fate that kept me from going huh? God putting obstacles in my way to prevent me from going there?

I discovered that even though there is a lot of traffic at any hour on their freeways, and people drive very fast, they are also very courteous drivers. They would let you in, wave you in, or slow down for you which is certainly not like here in Chicago! On many of the entrance ramps there were stop lights and only 1 car was allowed per green light. Beach life is something I could get used to for another week, but it’s not what I’d want all year long. I would miss the seasons especially Fall and the snow. From pictures I’ve seen I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near here in the summer with the number of people packed on the beach. My room was in dire need up updating and I asked at the front desk why all the rooms around me were more modern and I had a 1970’s bedspread. I was told they were in the process of updating the rooms. The 4 rooms that I saw around me had cotton duvets on the bed, not the paisley floral print that I did! It still was a great place to stay, the pool was never crowded while I was there, and that view was magnificent. I could do without the $10.00 a day parking fee, but what are you going to do?

Since San Diego has near perfect weather year round, the homeless are going to be evident. The police as well as the Life Guards stop and chat with them; obviously not concerned that they are there. One of the guys at the front desk told me that some have been here for many years. They didn’t disturb anyone that I ever saw (other than the crazy girl) and they kept to themselves never even asking for handouts. I noticed that out of shape people are not the norm – there were very few overweight people. I would say that 90% of the people were pretty buff – especially the guys which was ok with me! As I said, the Boardwalk was a constant hive of activity – bike riding, skateboarding, rollerblading, walking and running. This IS California after all and it IS the beach! Dress code is sunglasses, tee shirts (or not for the guys), shorts and flip-flops (or barefoot). Definitely my kind of place! A car is a necessity and next time I may just splurge for a convertible. I spent $485.00 in 7 days. That includes my bus to and from O’Hare, 4 tee shirts, 1 sweatshirt, pair of pants,1 hat, souvenirs for my sister & dad, bike rental, all food and drink, tips, parking and entrance fees. That really isn’t too bad (that does not include hotel, airfare and car rental).
I spend that much for 5 days in Boston and more than that for 4 days in NYC. Nope, not bad at all.

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