San Diego, California—the perfect place to escape a heat wave

The weather forecast predicted a week of heat-wave temperatures for California and Arizona on April 9, 2018. Since the best places to hang out when it’s scorching hot are a forest at high altitudes or along the coast, we headed for the San Diego Resort-Sunland in La Mesa, California. Although in the 80s, it was better than panting in temperatures that approached 100 degrees.

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Urban wildlife

The goal of our recent San Diego visits is to explore places we have never been before. We checked off Mt. Helix, Cabrillo National Park, and Lake Murray on this trip.

Mt. Helix

The children of Mary Carpenter Yawkey built the 12-acre Mt. Helix private, non-profit park as a tribute to their mother in 1925. Open year-round, the park attracts residents and visitors to explore the trail that circles the crown of the mountain; engage in a fitness work out by using the amphitheater steps, seats, and retaining walls; and to marvel at the 360° views. After tackling the steps five or six times, I surprised myself and managed the seats as well.

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Mt. Helix Amphitheatre
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Smile for the photo op
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Contemplating life
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Cross at the top of Mt. Helix
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One of the 360° views from Mt. Helix
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Not a clear day in San Diego

Cabrillo National Monument

We visited Cabrillo National Monument a few years back, but that was before I had my National Park Passport. So off to Point Loma to add another stamp in my book.

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Gettin’ a bit shaggy there JT

Lucky for us low tide coincided with our arrival. We wandered around the rocky intertidal zone for about an hour, peering into the pools to watch the sea anemones and snails going about their business. Witnessing sea life under the water takes a little patience A quick glance won’t do if the aim is to watch the animals move around. Other creatures clung to the cliffs for a bit of sunbathing while waiting for the onslaught of waves at high tide.

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Tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument
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Gooseneck barnacles
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Sea anemone and snails in a small pool
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Staghorn kelp, perhaps?
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Couples share a moment as the waves roll in
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Oh, how I adore your limpet eyes
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Pink barnacle clinging to a rock
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A ranger leads students and chaperones through the tide pools
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Pelican Air Force on duty

We stopped off at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, cooled off while watching the movie at the visitor center, and gazed out at the views of San Diego’s skyline and watercraft in the bay.

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Old Point Loma Lighthouse
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Exhibits inside depict life as a lighthouse keeper

The monument recognizes the arrival of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in September of 1542. Cabrillo was the first European to explore the west coast of the United States. He described the bay as “a closed and very good port,” and named it San Miguel. Another explorer, Sebastian Vizcaino, changed the name to San Diego 60 years later.

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Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo monument statue
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Black Phoebe flycatcher, perhaps?

Military uses of the point include a military reserve beginning in 1852, the installation of gun batteries in 1899, and a harbor defense system during World War I and II between 1918 and 1943. Visitors can see remnants of the batteries and an old radio station where an exhibit of “They Stood the Watch,” depicts the military history of Point Loma.

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Battlement near the lighthouse

From the ocean to the San Diego skyline, the views are spectacular from the monument.

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Ocean views
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San Diego skyline
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Rosecrans National Cemetery

Lake Murray Reservoir

Less than two miles from our base camp, Lake Murray Reservoir is a convenient park to visit, enjoy a lakeside walk and a bit of nature, or grab a picnic table and eat lunch. A 3.2-mile paved service road outlining the lake’s perimeter and ending at the dam is popular with walkers, joggers, and bicyclists. Fishing is also available. Or, rent a paddleboat or a kayak on a first-come-first-served basis from the concessionaire. We chose a 6-mile walk around the lake, turning around just short of the dam.

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Lake Murray Reservoir
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Here fishy, fishy, fish
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Paved trail around Lake Murray
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Rent a paddle boat or kayak
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Osprey nest

It’s a Wrap

That pretty much concludes our 2018 Winter Tour. We left San Diego on April 15, 2018, took a detour through Lake Havasu to take care of some business and arrived home on April 20.  This was our longest tour yet, a total of 81 days, almost 12 weeks.

More stats:

  • 8,200 miles on the truck
  • 5,153 miles on the 5th wheel
  • 23 RV parks
  • 6 5th wheel repairs (entry steps, sewer connection, room slider, front jacks bolt, spare tire carrier, propane door)
  • 3 presidential library and museums
  • 8 national parks, monuments, or trails
  • 1 amusement park
  • and a whole lot of other sites

As much as we love being on the road, we were both glad to make it home safe and sound. Time to dust ourselves off and catch up with family and friends.  Oh yeah, Jon has a long list of RV preventative maintenance projects to complete before our next tour.

Before we packed up the rig and hit the pavement again, we needed a little vacation. A roundtrip Alaskan cruise from San Francisco seemed the ideal adventure for these two road-weary travelers.

Safe Travels

George H. W. Bush Library and Museum in Bryan, Texas

We left Fort Stockton on Sunday, February 18, 2018, under sunny skies and 70-degree weather. As we made our way east on Interstate 10, the skies darkened, temperatures dropped to 60 degrees, and mist mingled with the burning of methane gas from the oil rigs. The smell was overpowering and a headache soon developed. Hopefully, eating a bite of lunch will ease the pain.

The colorful paint on El Chatos Mexican Restaurant in Ozona enticed us to sample their menu. The parking lot full of vehicles (there were plenty more than the two in the photo) signaled that it was a popular local draw.

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The inside was painted as bright as the outside and, sure enough, it seemed everyone who walked in the door knew someone sitting at a table.

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Diners expressed greetings to their neighbors as a wave across the dining room or through the exchange of a few words while walking to and from the buffet. A hot cup of tea and a delicious plate of food soothed my aching head.

We found Junction North Llano River RV park a perfect place to stop for the night. The Llano River flowed a few feet from our site as roosters crowed, doves cooed, and other birds chattered high up in the pecan trees.

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Clouds with occasional drops of rain and high humidity followed us to the Galloping Snail in Bryan, Texas, our stop for two nights. The next day we headed out to the George H. W. Bush Library & Museum near the Texas A & M University campus in Bryan, Texas. Clouds threatened to let loose buckets of rain.

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George Herbert Walker Bush (Bush 41) served one term as president from January 20, 1989, to January 20, 1993, after serving as vice president from 1981 to 1989.

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Interesting how George Earned his Name

Some of the key events that occurred during George Bush’s presidency include the bailout of troubled savings and loans banks, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, the fall of the Berlin wall, and the capture and conviction of Manuel Antonio Noriega on drug trafficking charges.

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1989 Lincoln Towncar Presidential Limousine

Exhibits include photos, narratives, and artifacts that detail the president’s life and career.

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Bush’s Military Career
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Photos and Equipment Similar to What George Might Have Used

This exhibit detailed the lives of George and Barbara and their family’s lives.

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Type of Car Owned by the Bush’s Early During Their Marriage
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Exhibit on Bush’s Time as Congressman

This president’s library displays a replica of the oval office while he was in office, which is available for taking personal photos behind the desk.

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Take a Selfie Behind the President’s Oval Office Desk

I liked this story about Barbara and her mismatched tennis shoes. One day she mentioned that she preferred the old-fashioned Ked tennis shoes. George contacted the company president who sent George 24 pairs of Keds in different colors and patterns. George then gave the shoes to Barbara for her birthday. To tease her husband, she divided the shoes into three piles, one pile to use while at the White House, one pile to use at Camp David, and the third pile to use at Kennebunkport. None of the piles contained two shoes that matched.

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The Keds Story Shows the Family’s Humor
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Sit Down, Relax, and View a Video About the Bush’s
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Camp David Office

The replica of the White House Situation Room gives visitors an idea of the setting where the president receives intelligence briefings by the U.S. National Security Adviser and members of the National Security Council.

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White House Situation Room

The Persian Gulf War conducted under the code name Operation Desert Storm was one of the defining moments of George’s presidency. Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, and on January 17, 1991, the war began with air strikes. Ground troops deployed on February 24, 1991, liberating Kuwait with little resistance from Iraqi troops. President Bush called off the ground offensive since the war’s objectives had been met, sparking criticism for not taking out Saddam Hussein.

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Exhibit on Desert Storm
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Millie Greets Children in Each Exhibit. Inside the Cupboard is a Lesson.

I liked looking at all the gifts that are presented to the president while in office, including jewelry, vases, dishware, baskets, quilts, and various art pieces from around the world. The Gate of Kuwait is the most special piece in this collection. Kuwait’s leading citizens once used similar doors as the primary access to their walled homes. The gate, over 100 years old, represents the gratitude of the people of Kuwait. The plates framing the door bears the names of the 149 American servicemen and women who were killed during the Gulf War.

 

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Gate of Kuwait

 

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Various Gifts Given to the American People During Bush’s Presidency

 

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The Painted Rock was a Gift From Nicaragua

 

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JT Sits Down for a Chat with George

It is fitting that the statue below found a home at the George H.W. Bush Library and Museum. A sister casting, a gift of friendship from the American people to the people of Germany, was unveiled by President Bush on July 2, 1998, in Berlin on the 50th anniversary of the Berlin airlift.

 

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The Day the Wall Came Down by Veryl Goodnight

 

 

 

 

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Bronze Statue of Bush

Since visiting Lyndon Johnson’s library and museum and now George Bush’s, we have enjoyed reliving the history we lived through, learning a little more about the men and their families, and trying to understand the stress that each man must have gone through during their time in office. There’s one more presidential library and museum in Texas and we plan on visiting the two in California on our way back home.

Safe Travels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kicking it in San Diego, California – Part 2

Top on our list for choosing San Diego was, of course, our favorite resident. Our son Kevin moved there shortly after graduating from high school and has adopted it as his hometown.

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Kevin Catches Me Taking a Candid Photo While Jon Shows Bailey Something on His New Phone.

We understand his choice given all the beaches, hiking trails, and nightlife that is available. And don’t forget the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and Balboa Park. Who wouldn’t want to live in this subtropical zone with high temperatures that range between 66 and 77 degrees and lows that dip between 49 and 67?

Sunset Beach

After a day of hanging out at the trailer, we met up with Kevin and his girlfriend Bailey Bishop for a walk along the cliffs at Sunset Beach. The popular spot draws people out of their homes and apartments to enjoy the last hour or two of the day before the sun sinks into the Pacific Ocean. With clear skies and temperatures in the high 70s, we joined the fun.

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Swimmers Check Out Conditions
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Catching Dinner

When I stepped out of the car, moist ocean air reminded me of another reason I come to San Diego. The whiff of the ocean breeze and the moisture that settles on my skin provokes a sense of calm I rarely experience anywhere else.

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Boulders Piled Up On Beach Prevent Cliff Erosion

I hadn’t realized I missed the beach so much. We would have stayed at Campland on the Bay Resort as usual if they had not raised their rates to $96.00 a night. La Mesa RV will have to do for future stays as long as I remember to visit the beach more often.

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Beautiful Day at the Beach
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Nice of This Pair to Pose for a Photo

Ocean Beach Brewery

Ocean Beach Brewery’s rooftop restaurant was another great place to watch the sunset from our bistro chairs and table we were fortunate to snag. The place was hopping when we arrived with barely any standing room near the bar.

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Ocean Beach Brewery Rooftop. How Many Cell Phones do You Count?

Jon said the El Diablo double burger with a red onion spicy aioli on a brioche bun was the best he had ever eaten. I enjoyed the Mona Lisa, a marinated grilled chicken breast, roasted red pepper, fontina cheese, with a spread of spring mix basil pesto on a ciabatta roll. Crispy French fries and a glass of Hidden Gem Dunkelweizen on tap accompanied our dinner selections.

The Gulls

Kevin surprised us with tickets to the Gulls, an American Hockey League team affiliated with the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks. None of us knew anything about hockey, but with tickets around $20, it seemed like an inexpensive way to spend a few hours.

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The San Diego Gulls on Ice

We watched with excitement as The Gulls managed a goal on the Tucson Roadrunners, then the Roadrunners scored, and back and forth, the players skated from one side of the rink to the other. With mere minutes left on the clock, the Gulls took advantage when the Roadrunners replaced their goalie with another player leaving their net vulnerable to attack. The Gulls pulled ahead and won the game when they easily shot the puck over the undefended Roadrunners goal line, not once, but twice. After this game, I might adopt hockey as a sport to follow in the future.

The Big Game

The Super Bowl is the one and only football game I watch each year, often hosting a party for friends and family. Our fifth wheel with it’s 32” television hardly has space for a party. Fortunately, Bailey’s parents invited us to join them for the big game.

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Jon Watches the Game with Ray and Cherrie Bishop
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Oops! Bailey Catches Me in the Act.

We were treated to a spread that included chips and queso, guacamole, and salsa; pulled pork sliders with a tangy slightly hot barbecue sauce and coleslaw to cool it down; and a variety of hot wings. These cute little football deviled eggs were delicious.

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Cutest Little Deviled Eggs

Even after all that food, none of us could resist the Knock-You-Naked Brownies. They were gone before I had time to take a picture.

The Super Bowl for me isn’t at all about the game. It’s about the food, great company, halftime, and the commercials. The food and company was a hit, the halftime show entertaining, and a few commercials made me smile while I shook my head at others.

Although I’m not into football, I did find the game entertaining this year and managed to cheer along with everyone else when the Philadelphia Eagles won. Who could not wish a close game win for the underdogs? Maybe the gamblers who bet on the Patriots were peeved, but we were ecstatic.

Our San Diego stop had come to a close and it was time to say good-bye. The next day we hit the road headed east for who knows how long.

Safe Travels

Kicking Off 2018 Winter Tour in San Diego, Part 1

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.

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Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center
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Hello Up There

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.

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Old Mission Dam

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.

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Old Mission Dam

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.

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Bridge Across the River
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Are You Coming?

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.

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Stop Awhile and Rest in My Shade
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Edible or Toxic?
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Just a Puddle

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.

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High Tension Wires

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.

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The Trolley

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.

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Cafe Sevilla’s Place Settings

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.

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Yummy Bacon Wrapped Dates
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A Flight of Sangria

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.

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Stage
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Not Your Ordinary Bar Stool

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.

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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).

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USS San Diego (CL-53) Memorial

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.

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USS Independence (LCS-2)

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,

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One America Plaza

while the Hyatt’s roofline resembles a standard screwdriver.

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The Hyatt

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.

Safe Travels

San Diego CA

Tuesday, March 6, 2017, and time to head toward home. But first, San Diego beckoned us to stay a few days. We try to make it to San Diego a couple times a year to visit with our son Kevin, breath in the sea air, and soak up the rays. Campland by the Bay is our favorite place to park the rig.

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Campland by the Bay Marina

I must have been exhausted because I was content to hang around the campsite for three days. Kayaks, bicycles, and paddleboards available to rent at the marina and even my camera could not entice me to stray too far.

We finally ventured beyond the confines of the resort to walk along the Mission Bay path on Friday. Sadness overcame me when we walked past the abandoned mobile home park across Rose Creek from the Campland RV park. The city kicked out the residents and is planning the future of the property and surrounding area.

We’re glad to know the city has spared Campland by the Bay from the same fate for at least three years. The city extended the campground’s lease, due to expire during 2017, for at least three years and possibly up to five, while the city receives feedback on options and contemplates its final decision.

Known for its gastropubs and breweries, it made sense for San Diego to host the Best Coast Brew Fest, which benefits Cancer for College. Our son invited us to the event on Saturday, March 11. With our little plastic mug in hand, we lined up at Mission Brewery’s tap truck for a taste of the dark lager.

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Mission Brewery’s Tap Truck

After samplings from a few more of the 50 breweries represented at the fest, we moseyed on over to the food trucks. Two for the Road served up tasty lobster rolls and salmon burgers. We considered ourselves lucky to find a park bench to serve as our dining table and chowed down while Saved by the 90s played in the background.

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Food Trucks at Best Coast Beer Fest
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Saved by the 90s Band San Diego

Kevin’s sunglasses reflects the festival scene.

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Kevin Todd at West Coast Beer Fest

Kevin’s girlfriend, Bailey Bishop, models the latest fashion trend in jewelry for the beer fest crowd. Munch on a pretzel while standing in line for the next taste.

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Bailey Bishop at Best Coast Beer Fest

As the day progressed, the lines grew longer. With blue skies and warm weather, no one really cared. They visited with their friends and sipped their tasties.

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Embarcadero Park, Venue for Best Coast Beer Coast

A couple takes time out to enjoy the view and watch the low tide.

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Takin’ A Break

San Diego is a casual city, and on warm days residents and visitors alike don shorts and T-shirts, with sandals or tennis shoes. A red polka dot dress and pair of stilettos screaming, “Take my picture,” caught my eye and the lady in red agreed.

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“Take My Picture, Please.”

Uber and Lyft drivers picked up some extra coin by driving inebriated beer fest attendees to their next destination. I was so glad to exit our Uber driver’s car after a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

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Beer Fest Attendees Catching an Uber or Lyft Ride

The Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park sounded like fun. We stood in line to pay our fee then crowded in with everyone else to view the pink blooms. Dodging running children, strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs on the narrow dirt paths became a challenge. The Festival was not the time to expect a serene stroll among the flowers and trees. Discouraged by the long lines at the food counters, we left to eat lunch in the courtyard of Panama 66, the restaurant next to the San Diego Museum of Art.

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Japanese Friendship Garden, Balboa Park
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Cherry Blossoms
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Koi

Later we walked along the street between the buildings toward the Fleet Science Center watching street buskers on the way. The performers are usually legit: musicians, jugglers, caricature artists, mimes, and magicians. This is the first time I found a group suspect.

Somehow I had never before managed to take a picture of this statue in front of the House of Charm.

 

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El Cid Statue and House of Charm

 

A large crowd had already gathered when we arrived. Three of the young men collected money from the circle of people while another promised an exciting stunt involving the five people selected from the crowd and standing in the open circle. Ten minutes later, the action began. The five people bent their backs, and the announcer took a spot several yards away. He ran toward the five people and performed a flip over their backs, and that was it. End of the show.

Although the trick was cool, the man who dropped twenty bucks in the hat expressed his displeasure of seeing only one stunt after the leader of the gang goaded him for fifteen minutes. Many people walked away shaking their heads and possibly feeling duped. Fortunately, we were not among them.

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One Stunt Performer

The magician at the other end of the street who passed a hat at the end of his show, however, was worthy of our money.

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Magician Performer

We ended the day at The Headquarters at Seaport Village. While waiting for our table at Puesto (great place for tacos) we wandered in and out of the stores, took pictures with the balloon art, and visited the San Diego Police Headquarters museum.

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#WhatLiftsYou @ KelseyMontagueArt
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Jon’s Long Lost Aunt? Alas, No Jackie Todds in the Family Tree.
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The Fog Rolled in at Sundown Turning the Sky Gray.

It was now Monday, moving day again. We wanted to spend a few days in the Anza Borrego Desert. With no reservations, we were out of luck. It didn’t make sense to go for only one night, so we headed up Interstate 15 toward Yucaipa Regional Park to visit with a couple of friends.

Safe Travels!