San Diego is a favorite destination for us so selecting the location for the kick-off of our 2018 Winter Tour on January 30, 2018, wasn’t difficult. During our stopover in San Diego, we searched for places we had never stumbled upon before.
Mission Trails Regional Park
Mission Trails Regional Park was our first pick. I’m glad past city leaders realized the benefit of setting aside a swath natural habitat for future generations to enjoy. Although the town encroaches near the edges of the park, urbanites and visitors alike can spend a few hours in the wilderness and learn about the history of San Diego in the early 1800s.
We started at the Visitor Center located off Mission Gorge Road. After grabbing a map and discussing trails with the volunteer, we escaped the busload of school kids that had arrived shortly before we did.
We drove directly to the Old Mission Dam, which is registered as both a National Historic Site and a California State Historic Landmark. Kumeyaay Indian laborers, under the supervision of engineers trained in Mexico, constructed the 250-foot dam to provide a year-round water supply for Spanish settlements.
Construction consisted of cementing rocks and boulders together using mortar made of lime and crushed seashells. The dam created a reservoir that spanned the length of three football fields. A flume lined with hand-made tiles delivered water from the reservoir to the Mission San Diego De Alcala crops about three miles away and another 2.5 miles to the Mission. Today the reservoir is now a pond and the flume is no longer present.
We followed the Oak Canyon trail along the San Diego River, through sagebrush, chaparral, oak trees, and grassland. Critters rustled through the underbrush as we approached and birds flew from grass to tree tops.
Every once in a while, I forgot we were so close to an urban setting. Then a plane would fly overhead, the roar of the highway traffic would seep into my ears, or a semi would rattle its exhaust brakes as it slowed.
At one point I heard rushing water. I picked up my pace at the prospect of seeing a waterfall or rapids in the desert environment. I knew it was just around the corner only to find more grass-covered hills. Around the next hill, still no water, nothing around the next hill either. Then I finally looked up.
What I heard was not the rush of water flowing but the rush of electricity through the high tension lines. Silly me.
There are 24 trails to explore in Mission Trails Regional Park with plenty of choices whether hikers prefer easy, moderate, or difficult levels. I envision future trips to San Diego so we can experience more of what the park has to offer.
Trolley Ride to Historic Downtown
The Trolley has existed since 1981, yet we had never jumped aboard. I suspect the reason is due to the ease of getting around town in a vehicle. Since our RV site was adjacent to the 70th Street stop, we hopped on for a ride to the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown.
A day pass was $5.00 plus $2.00 for a reusable Compass Card. We saved the Compass Card to use during our next trip to San Diego.
Craving tapas, we stopped in at Cafe Sevilla for a flight of sangria, bacon wrapped dates and empanadas. It turned out to be a great choice.
The rich bacon wrapped dates melted in our mouths and the trio of empanadas contained generous helpings of meat wrapped inside. Next time I think we will stick to the traditional red sangria, although the apple and citrus glasses did have a crisp taste.
Cafe Sevilla also offers Spanish music and dance lessons, making it a great place to have a birthday or anniversary party with family and friends.
Harbor Drive led the way toward the Midway Aircraft Museum where ships are often docked in port along the Embarcadero. First we came across The Headquarters.
Once the San Diego Police Headquarters, the courtyard is now home to restaurants, shops, and art galleries. The hallway to the restrooms contains a height chart to use as a background for taking selfies and a jail room with mug shots of prisoners.
Along the embarcadero is a memorial to the USS San Diego (CL-53).
The memorial was sponsored by the USS San Diego (CL-53) Memorial Association, Inc. to honor the “valiant and remarkable service of the cruiser USS San Diego and the men who served aboard it during World War II.”
Take a look at this stealth-like ship. They offered tours of the USS Independence (LCS-2) but did not allow bags, a no go for us since we both had backpacks. Instead, we gawked at the ship from the pier. The trimaran build allows flexibility for the military crew to employ different types of operations.
As we walked back to catch the trolley we admired a unique characteristic of San Diego’s skyline. One America Plaza, the tallest building in San Diego, sports a Phillips screwdriver roofline,
while the Hyatt’s roofline resembles a standard screwdriver.
Other buildings also have unique designs that makeup San Diego’s skyline.
Next week we finish up with Part 2 of our visit to San Diego.