Mission Bay RV Park, San Diego, California; High 68F Low 57F, light rain.
I can hear rain on the roof now, after a day of warm air and clouds over the ocean. The predictions have changed over the last few days, with only one thing in common. Tuesday was to be our best sunny day, and it was. The last two days have been cloudy, but still warm, at least to us. I noticed that many of the comments for these days in San Diego are affirmations of what a great place it is to visit. Hard to imagine that in so many years of living in California I visited San Diego so rarely, and remember almost nothing about it at all. I must have been a young teenager the last time I was here.
We have enjoyed ourselves, but haven’t done so much that we are exhausted and overwhelmed. I could see how that could happen here. It is a big city with a great deal of art and entertainment, and a lot of outdoor space to do outdoor things. If we had our bikes and kayaks with us, we would no doubt be exhausted by now, but we decided on this trip to leave them behind. No matter the destination, it is hard to dig the kayaks out of the snow and load up the bikes. It is a bit like grocery shopping when you aren’t hungry, sometimes hard to imagine what you want to eat. In the same way, it is hard to get excited about biking and kayaking when the temperatures are single digits. If we come back here, you can bet we will be sure to bring both bikes and kayaks.
The last two days are still a bit of a blur. Some things stand out, especially the neighborhoods. We did some of the normal sightseeing things expected of San Diego visitors, but we also wandered down unknown streets discovering lovely surprises along the way. One of the best was the area called Mission Hills, a neighborhood west of the more talked about Hillcrest area, and just up the hill from the famous Old Town San Diego. A web site that I later found when searching for information called it “the neighborhood you dreamed of before the world changed”. There were broad sidewalks, and beautiful old bungalows from the 20’s, small and tidy and lovingly refurbished, and not a for sale sign in sight.
We spent the afternoon yesterday exploring Balboa Park, home of the San Diego Zoo, but also home to 14 world class museums, countless manicured gardens, fountains, and pathways meandering through the wooded hills just minutes from the central part of the city. We had Abby along, and decided against trying to see the museums, but one could easily spend a long day just exploring this beautiful park.
Later in the afternoon we drove through Hillcrest and Mission Hills to arrive in Old Town San Diego at just the right time for an amazing Mexican dinner at Fiesta de Reyes, with gas lit fires scattered around the patio to keep us cozy in the cool evening.
The morning rain was light today, and the skies lightened enough mid day to make our trek to Coronado quite lovely. We drove across the Coronado Bridge and I searched for the small home where I lived as a four year old. I can remember what it felt like, and remember the policemen bringing me back when I “ran away” to the beach just two blocks away. I think I found the street. It will be fun to go home and search for the old letters that just might have the address of that little house on them.
We drove south to Imperial Beach, within view of Tijuana, and on this gray day, I could find very little about it that was appealing. We drove back north to find another well known Dog Beach, where Abby could play ball and I could just sit and listen to the ocean. The Dog Beach is adjacent to the Naval Base and is actually on military property. It was a bit confusing trying to figure out exactly where to go, and the signs were not very clear at all. The military gate guard was helpful though, and pointed us in the right direction.
Later we parked closer to the Hotel Del Coronado, an amazing landmark on the southwest perimeter of the island. The hotel has the distinction of being the largest wooden building still standing in the US. Since it was a cool afternoon, we left Abby for a bit while exploring the lobby and grounds of this famous site. The woodwork was impressive, and everything was lustrous and beautiful, but the interior of the main part of the hotel was really dark! All that gorgeous dark wood from the late nineteenth century can be a bit oppressive. Much has been written about this wonderful old hotel, and the gift shop was amazing with a special emphasis on Marilyn Monroe, who stayed here during the filming of “Some Like It Hot”. The hotel was well featured in the movie.
We opted for an ice cream cone from the hotel sweet shop and were a bit aghast that two single cones cost us $12.65. Sheesh. Then as we explored the sun deck overlooking the beach, we saw the burgers went for merely 15.95 each, and even came with a pack of potato chips. At least they were Kettle Chips. It was lovely when the sun came out, and for a short time the beach lit up a bit. I still would much rather be camped in my MoHo than staying at this beautiful old hotel.
We drove back into downtown San Diego to explore the much touted Gaslamp District, only to discover that much of what makes this area fun to visit are the restaurants and the night life. The restaurants lining the street were busy with folks eating outdoors, and the sidewalks were lined with folks from the nearby convention center, identified by their matching dangling name badges. We walked a few blocks but since we weren’t ready for more restaurant eating, there wasn’t that much to keep us there.
Instead we drove a few more blocks to search for another well known area called “Little Italy”. Once again, the restaurants and eateries seemed to be the major form of entertainment. In spite of the descriptions of “boutiques and shopping”, there wasn’t much to entice us to park and walk again. It might have been because it was a cool winter day, but there didn’t seem to be much going on in this area either.
It is surprising how close all of this is to our little spot in Mission Bay, with the Pacific Highway leading right from downtown, past Old Town and Sea World, past the turn to Fiesta Island and once again home at the RV park. Almost anything of interest in the main part of the city is within fifteen minutes or so of the park.
I can see how San Diego would be a nice place to live if you liked cities and all that they have to offer. It is a nice place to visit, for sure. But I do notice that I am feeling the pressure of people and the lack of open space. I am ready for the next stage of our little getaway to begin, starting tomorrow morning when we hook up the Tracker and head east for the desert.
The rain has stopped for now, and I am finished with my latest book. How long has it been since you read a book that was amazing for its language? I found myself wanting to reread and highlight passages just for their eloquence, and for the feeling they gave me. When so many books lately are quick reads that are simple entertainment, it was wonderful to slip into the magic of prose that lifted me from everyday life. Remember Margaret Atwood? I read “The Handmaid’s Tale” a very long time ago, but just found another old novel of hers, “Cat’s Eye”. It was a haunting story of a difficult time in a girl’s youth, but the writing itself is what made the book sing.
Tonight, rain on the roof. Tomorrow, rain in the desert. But still, it isn’t snowing and it isn’t freezing, and rain or shine, the desert hot springs pools are waiting.