Summer 2021 Tour: San Diego, California, Episode 1

It was Wednesday, June 2, 2021, and time to roll down the road to see how far we could go. California planned to remove most pandemic restrictions on June 15, allowing most businesses to open at full capacity and vaccinated persons to remove masks in most situations. We had our eye on New Mexico even though the state had not yet announced changes to their COVID restrictions. A week or so in San Diego would be sufficient time to see how the situation progressed, and we could visit with our son Kevin and his better half Bailey.

We made a stop at Castaic Lake RV near Magic Mountain for the night and arrived at Chula Vista RV Resort the next day. On June 4 we went to check out the fitness center, vowing to keep our fitness routines intact while on the road.

I was pleased to meet the yoga teacher who asked if we were attending the class. “Well, I wasn’t, but I will now,” I said. “Let me get my mat.” For the next week and a half, except weekends, it felt like I had a personal yogi teaching me new poses and critiquing my form since I was the only person who showed up.

Why had we not found Chula Vista RV Resort sooner?

Chula Vista RV Park was definitely a step up from the RV park in La Mesa where we usually stayed while in San Diego County. Staying in La Mesa may be more convenient, but the rumble of semis at all hours of the day and night was always a nightmare. Had we found a quieter place to stay for future trips? Not so fast. Read on.

What will happen to the beautiful palm trees and other vegetation?

Chula Vista (Beautiful View)

Chula Vista is the second largest city in San Diego County with a population of 268,000. The city’s 52 square miles is composed of a variety of coastal landscape, canyons, rolling hills, and mountains. We were disappointed to learn Chula Vista RV Park would soon close since it was in the way of the 535-acre Bayfront Project. The new project will eventually include residential options, a hotel, and conference center. Another RV Park, Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay, recently opened near the Sweetwater Marsh to take its place.

Chula Vista’s vibrant historic downtown on Third Avenue between H and E streets invited us to park the car, stroll through the Chula Vista Memorial Bowl and Park, and continue on the street past restaurants serving Mexican, Italian, Asian and American fare. Other businesses and shops include jewelers, clothing and accessories, gifts, salons, spas, and others.

We saw several of these on the sidewalk. A bike rack, perhaps?

We parked near the 3.8-acre Memorial Park where there is lush green grass, lots of trees, an amphitheater, swimming pool, play equipment, and gymnasium.

No water in the creek during our visit
Clumps of flowers dotted the grassy area
The amphitheater sets the stage
Jacaranda trees were in full bloom
Welcome to Third Avenue in Downtown Chula Vista
Culichi Town coming soon to compete with the plethora of other Mexican restaurants in Chula Vista
Buildings on Fourth Avenue

Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and Living Coast Discovery Center

Kevin and Bailey thought they’d seen it all in San Diego County until we found a new place for them to explore. We arrived about an hour after the Living Coast Discovery Center opened and boarded the shuttle that took us to the center. There we found an aquarium with an assortment of sea creatures, aviaries with birds of prey and other birds, a composting display, and various trees and plants. For those who find the San Diego Zoo too large or expensive, they should consider the Discovery Center. The views of Sweetwater Marsh could not be beat, so we ventured along the native pollinator garden and the trail leading out to the bay. My favorite part was the giant sea turtle at the front of the center.

Touchdown Turtles
Sea Creatures Sculpture at the center’s entrance
Cans, plastic bottles, and other trash fill the turtle’s shell
Octopus through the looking glass
Compost demonstration and garden center
Yes, take my photo, please
Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep here? Go away.

Bailey and I took turns taking our group photos at the entrance to the Native Pollinator Garden. It would have been difficult to get the arch in a selfie. The garden had an excellent display of different plants and shrubs, and they were all abuzz with bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Bailey, Jon, and Kevin
Linda, Jon, and Kevin
Even cholla make tasty blooms for pollinators

Along the trail leading to the bay, we saw several cement pads that are the ruins of the Hercules Powder Company. The company was the largest of 11 kelp-producing plants in 1916 along the Southern California coast. The company processed the kelp, combined it with other ingredients, and produced gunpowder. They ended production after World War I. I wonder who had the idea to create gunpowder from kelp.

Giant kelp was a major ingredient in the production of gunpowder during the early 1900s at this site.
Ice plant sparkles in sunlight while showing off its blooms
Sweetwater Marsh, ship to the right, Coronado Bridge, and San Diego skyline

Minus the buildings and trees on the horizon, the marshland is what must have greeted Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo from Spain in September 1542 when he arrived in San Diego Bay aboard the San Salvador.

View of Sweetwater Marsh toward Chula Vista

Other things visitors might do and see in Chula Vista:

  • Swim, splash, and slide at Aquatica San Diego in Chula Vista
  • Have a picnic at Chula Vista Bayside Park
  • Attend a concert at North Island Credit Union Amphitheater
  • Take a tour at South Bay Salt Works

Upcoming episodes include a hike in Torrey Pines, a quick visit to Imperial Beach, a walk from Liberty Station in Shelter Island to Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, and a trip to Valley de Guadalupe in Baja, Mexico.

Safe Travels and Stay Safe

Updated: July 8, 2021, to remove photo that was not in Chula Vista

4 thoughts on “Summer 2021 Tour: San Diego, California, Episode 1

  1. Sounds like a very interesting area – with lots to do! The Living Coast Discovery Center sounds great. I never knew kelp was an ingredient in gun powder. I look forward to your coming posts. Safe Travels, and enjoy your day!

    Liked by 1 person

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