Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mission Beach, San Diego, CA…

Mission Bay sailboats

Mission Bay Walk Mission Beach is a narrow strip of beaches between Mission Bay Park, where we are staying, and the Pacific Ocean. Mission Beach is also adjacent to a hip little neighborhood called Pacific Beach. This area is accessible to us with an easy bike ride of less than three miles, or a short drive with free roadside parking (2 hr. limit) or a longer walk.

Whether you walk around the edge of Mission Bay Park or walk along the oceanfront sidewalk there is lots to see and do in this area. We found an online walking tour that started bayside at the ZLAC Rowing Club which, started in 1892, makes it the oldest women’s rowing club in America!

Mission Bay homeMission Bay limes

Mission Bay homeFrom here we walked across the footbridge alongside many bay front homes of varying styles of architecture. Most of these homes appeared to be rentals and few appeared as if people actually lived in them. Even the rentals were nicely landscaped and we saw one house with a front porch that had a small lime bush brimming with fresh limes… great place to have a Corona or Cuba Libre I would think. There were sidewalks perpendicular to the bay walk leading in amongst cottages and flowers that were very appealing and beckoned us to walk in to explore.

The Bay was beautiful as sailboats and paddle boarders were enjoying the sunny day. Across the way we could see the Mission Bay Yacht Club. Before long we had reached the Belmont Parkmain road of Mission Boulevard and across the boulevard  a large roller coaster sat idle. The roller coaster is part of the Belmont Park amusement center of which we chose not to visit. Crossing Mission Boulevard past the amusement park we found the sidewalk parallel to a wide sandy beach and the Pacific Ocean.

Lots of interesting people were seen on the sidewalk such as rollerbladers, joggers, skateboarders, bums and tourists scattered all along the walkway… This oceanfront sidewalk is also dotted with some very interesting condos and cottages. Again most are vacation rentals but several along the walkway were very interesting to look at. The loop walk that included both the bay and the oceanside views made for a very enjoyable afternoon.

Sinbads CafeAt nearby Pacific Beach we found a small tavern called Sinbad's Café and Hookah Bar. I had read they had a nice happy hour and sure enough they were serving one of California's crafted beers called Arrogant Bastard for $2.25 a draft. After a couple of cold drafts we headed back to the Mission Bay and enjoyed the sunset from our front porch…

Friday, September 28, 2012

San Diego’s Old Town…

Old Town San Diego Casa de Estudillo 2Cosmopolitan Hotel and Wagon

After seeing signs to Old Town we finally decided that we should go explore that part of San Diego. Old Town is actually Old Town San Diego State Historic Park which covers six blocks. We arrived at the free parking lot for the Historic Park and made our way over to the Visitor’s Center.

At the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Information Center there were one-hour walking tours given daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. by the Park Service but they are restricted to only places within the park’s boundaries so we opted to head out on our own and take it all in at our own pace. At the Visitor's Center we noticed an HO scale model of Old Town showing the town as Old Town San Diego Casa de Estudillo 3it was in 1872 along with some audio history and picture books to look through.Upon arriving at the Visitor Center we also noticed that the park employees dressed in time period clothing lending to the charm of the park experience. Old Town has been restored to closely approximate what it looked like in its heyday during the time frame of 1822-1872. It never recovered from a fire in 1872 because building had quickly begun for the the "new" San Diego nearby.

Old Town San Diego CitizensWe started our walk near the Plaza del Pasado fountain in the Old Town Plaza. The plaza is a large green space that served as the public square where all the major events such as "bullfights, bull-and-bear fights, executions, fiestas, and other Spanish-Mexican public events" would take place.   

Walking around the Plaza we saw many reconstructed houses from the 1860's and several of them house modern businesses suchSeeley Stable Museum as restaurants and souvenir shops. Soon we saw the former Cosmopolitan Hotel that is now a restaurant and it even has a nice historic looking bar.

Nearby is the Seeley Stable Museum that in 1867 housed a stage coach line that carried mail and passengers between San Diego and Los Angeles. It now is home to many historic wagons and stage coaches from the days long ago. There were also many other artifacts from the old days such as some Indian pottery from the area and some pretty cool Mexican saddles.

Another neat building was the Casa de Estudillo which is a adobe house with its own enclosed plaza. The house belonged to a man that had eleven Old Town San Diego Casa de Estudillo 1children. Interestingly the house was renamed Ramona's Marriage Place. It later became the inspiration for the novel Ramona written by Helen Hunt Jackson since she was said to have based the character of Ramona on one of the adopted daughters of the Estudillo family. Not only was the home with its period accented rooms neat to see, but the inviting garden plaza within the center of the u-shaped home housed a beautiful wooden pergola (gazebo) and a water well. it was a very functional and comfortable looking home and one could imagine the energy it once had with the eleven children frolicking in and around the pergola.

Church of the Immaculate ConceptionCloser to the part of Old Town not within the Historic Part was the scenic Church of the Immaculate Conception. Construction started in 1868 but due to funding shortages it wasn’t completed till the early 1900’s. Farther along we saw one of California's first two-story brick houses called the Whaley House which at one time was the County Courthouse.

Outside of the Historic Park we found more shops, restaurants and bars but there were also a few historic gems in that part of town as well. One was the Casa de Lopez built in 1835 that was renamed to the The Long House as the owner kept adding rooms as his family grew. It is now a restaurant. There was Old Town San Diego Entrancealso available for viewing one of the first jails in the area. All I know is if we kept prisoners in jails like this there wouldn’t be as many repeat offenders.

The area looks like a place that comes to life after dark and maybe one day we will return for a happy hour and dinner to check out the nightlife…

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

College Football Gameday… SDSU vs. SJSU…

UCSD Football 001

UCSD Football 006Football season is upon us and as each Saturday came and went Sharon and I inwardly began to realize how much we have missed the College Game Day Experience. As you may or may not know I was formerly a statistician for the Texas A&M Football team. Not only did I get paid to watch the football game from the press box but as part of my compensation I also received two game day tickets.

UCSD Football 005Sharon was the beneficiary of the tickets and would often take one of our kids along or at the very least one of her friends. Prior to and after A&M games a good friend of ours graciously invited us to a large tailgate where we would bring a dish and enjoy the company of all those in attendance.

Although we had not really discussed it before, we broached the subject and discovered we both felt that Football Game Day was what we missed most about our former home. So when our neighbors here at Mission Bay RV Resort one day asked us, "Why don’t you join us to an Aztec’s game?", we thought… Why not? Game day arrived last Saturday and the University of San Diego Aztecs were scheduled to play against the San Jose State University Spartans.

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The Spartans hadn’t won in San Diego for 60 years but were sporting one of their best teams in ages. We were hoping for an exciting game and arrived at the game about 20 minutes before kickoff to enjoy some of the pre-game pageantry UCSD Football 015that is part of college football. As kickoff time neared there was a bit more excitement in the air but I can tell you one thing for sure… even though this game was in Qualcomm Stadium (pro stadium for the San Diego Chargers) and despite the fact the fans were pretty excited there just was no comparison to the sense of awe one receives from the tradition, spirit and energy at Kyle Field, home of the Fighting Texas Aggies!

A great game it was as each team put up lots of points albeit on pretty weak defenses. The score flip and flopped back and forth until San Jose State finally scored late in the game and secured its 38-34 come-from-behind victory over the San Diego State Aztecs. All in all it was a really fun evening and we were able to get a little College Football “fix” even though it wasn’t quite the atmosphere we were accustomed to in College Station, Texas…

Monday, September 24, 2012

Exploring Shelter Island…

lots of boats

Yellow HibiscusShelter Island isn’t really an island since it is connected to the mainland by a causeway. The “Island” was created as a result of dredging from San Diego Bay and as such it offers protection to the yachts and boats at the yacht clubs. It is a popular weekend spot for picnickers, fishermen and boaters.

The lack of traffic on the island makes it san diego skylineperfect for getting in a nice walking tour. The hike is about two miles long and is flat and easy for anyone. Parking on the island is free so we decided to park near the Shelter Island Boat Launching ramp. From here there is a fantastic view across the bay of the skyline of the city of San Diego. We imagine it is an even nicer view at night…

As we left the boat ramp we passed the Shelter Island Gazebo, one of many Tunaman's Memorial 2exhibits found on Shelter Island designed by a local artist named James Hubbell. Looking toward San Diego one can see the area known as the America's Cup Harbor. It was given this name in honor of the America's Cup yacht races held there in 1988, 1992, and 1995. Then we noticed a cool bronze sculpture of three fishermen working to bring in a catch called the Tunaman's Memorial overlooking San Diego bay and the nice beach on Shelter Island. Across the bay we saw the Naval Air Station and a large group of planes on its grounds.

The walk continued along a nicely laid out trail along the bayside and we watched sailboats meandering peacefully along the Japanese Friendship Bellblue Pacific waters. Along the walkway there are several well placed and inviting sitting areas with Bougainvilleas draping over frames in such a way as to provide both shade and vivid splashes of color. Nearing the end of Shelter Island there is another art feature, the Bell of Friendship.  The Bell faces a beautiful view of the bay as it empties out into the Pacific Ocean. It weighs two and a half tons and hangs in an open wooden façade. There is a definite Buddhist feel when you are near the bell as the design is very zennish (if that is a word). It was presented to San Diego in 1960 by her "sister city," Yokohama, Japan and is on display at Shelter Island. Near the Bell is the another of Hubbell’s works, a beautiful mosaic tile fountain.

Fountain Shelter IslandRounding the tip of the island just across the way from the fountain is the Harbor Police building situated across the bay from the palatial homes of the La Playa district in Point Loma. From there we started heading back along the opposite shoreline beginning behind the Kona 102_9910Kai Resort and looking out over the harbor.  There were hundreds if not thousands of small boats and yachts, some with very interesting names.

We thought the Kona Kai Resort was beautiful, well appointed and meticulously landscaped. We also really appreciated there was access to such a nice walkway all the way around the island along the shoreline for visitors to enjoy. Once we got past the resort area we Fountain Shelter Island 2went back across the street and returned to our car. A great walk, one I am sure we will do again before leaving here.

We still haven’t decided what we will do next. We are scheduled to leave here on Oct.15th but haven’t entirely ruled out staying in this area longer. We are thinking we would like to spend a month or more in Southern Arizona in either Yuma, Mesa or in the Parker area. Anyone out there with any suggestions for parks in these areas or any other parks in Southern Arizona?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mission Trails Regional Park…

Mission Trails 001Mission Trails 004As stated in our last blog we took our RV over to La Mesa RV to see if they could repair our water leak. We left it there all day but instead of hanging around and waiting we gladly brought our CRV along to give us freedom to come and go.. After checking in we took off for the nearby Mission Trails Regional Park.

The Mission Trails Regional Park is a huge park comprised of over 5,800 acres and utilized by many San Diego residents as a means of escape from city life. The Visitors Center is a well appointed and attractive building that has a small interpretative trail as you enter the facility. There is no charge to enter the park or any fees for parking making this a pretty nice place for us retirees.

Mission Trails 013There was a lot of information at the Visitors Center about the The Kumeyaay Indians who were the first people to extensively live on the lands that include Mission Trails Regional Park. They have a replica of one of their traditional homes behind the center and Sharon entered to see how it was… An even smaller space than that of an RV so we won’t consider this as a future home!

There are over 40 miles of walking trails for all levels with some being very easy to those requiring lots of effort climbing over 1000 feet in elevation. We chose the short and unassuming Visitor Center Loop that was less than 2 miles in length. The landscape at Mission Trails is classic California Scrub where we encountered a lot of California Quail and we able to spot and hear the abundant bushtits and wren-tits.

Mission Trails 002Mission Trails 007

The hike we took was not difficult at all and the scenery along the way was nice but not overwhelming. Much of the land at this time of year is mostly covered in brown grass or shrubs that have gone dormant until the next rainy season. As a result there wasn't a lot to see and explore but the walk was very pleasant and prefect for us since we didn’t know how much time we had to kill before the La Mesa service center called us. Now that they have figured out how to repair the leak all we are waiting for is a call letting us know when they will be able to reschedule us for the 4 hour repair. They assured us they will be able to work us in well before our planned exit date. Until then we will continue to enjoy our time here at Mission Bay RV Park.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Torrey Pines and UC San Diego Campus…

La Jolla and Torrey Pines 054

La Jolla and Torrey Pines 050One of the main reasons we chose this park was simple… location, location, location… La Jolla is 10 minutes away, San Diego’s downtown is 12 minutes away, Pacific Beach is 8 minutes away and Mission Beach is less than 5 minutes away. And since we are near several campuses, we decided to set aside a day to tour the campus of the University of California, San Diego. My friend had mentioned it was a must see for us since we enjoy campuses.

An added plus was that on the drive over we could stop by and see one of the La Jolla and Torrey Pines 051most famous public golf courses in the USA – Torrey Pines. We saw a sign for the Torrey Pines Lodge so we pulled into the parking lot to park so we could take some time to tour the lodge, the grounds, the golf course and the club house. As we walked to the front of the Lodge we noticed the greeters in front of the lodge were wearing kilts. Sharon also noticed once we were inside this historic lodge the bellhop was wearing a vintage uniform.

La Jolla and Torrey Pines 053The lodge was cozy, quaint and elegantly understated so we wondered what it would cost to stay and play golf at the lodge. A “Special Price for Two” online included a two night stay and two rounds of golf at the Torrey Pines Golf Course and was only $2150.00!!! Wow... has to be the most expensive public golf course in the USA!!! Loved the sign though!

Next stop was the campus of UCSD… really interesting architecture on this campus and a couple of stunning buildings and oddities… The starkness of some of the modern architecture gave the feeling almost of being in a top secret Research and Development center. And with this campus housing only one of two super computing facilities, it just may be…

As we made our way around campus there were a couple of really interesting buildings that caught our fancy. One was the Geisel Library as seen in the header photo and the other caused us to look and look again because oddlyLa Jolla and Torrey Pines 055 enough, it had a house impaled on its corner!

The Geisel Library was “…named one of the world’s 25 most modern libraries, the
futuristic concrete and glass Geisel Library building was designed by world-renowned architect William Pereira in 1970. This campus landmark was named for Audrey and Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) in 1995. The building’s unique geometric design has inspired descriptions such as “a beacon” or “a grounded spaceship bringing knowledge to an imperfect world.” A large unreal looking building and one we feel you must see to truly enjoy.

Not far from the Geisel Library is the other fascinating building… the Do Ho Sul Fallen Star. What is the Do Ho Sul Fallen Star? It is the “…18th permanent sculpture commissioned by UCSD’s Stuart Collection. It reflects Suh’s on-going La Jolla and Torrey Pines 060exploration of themes around the idea of home, cultural displacement, the perception of our surroundings, and how one constructs a memory of a space…. Suh’s small “home” appears to have been picked up by some mysterious force and placed or crashed onto the seventh floor of Jacobs Hall at the Jacobs School of Engineering.” It was fun to look at it from several angles.  It was another of the many interesting buildings on campus. We will probably have to revisit the campus another (sunnier) day…

On another front we took our motorhome in to have it looked at to see if La Mesa RV could repair our water leak. After leaving it there all day we found out that it can be repaired in their shop (they think) and that Tiffin will cover the expense since it was a manufacturing defect. But… we have to schedule the actual repair for another day since it will take a full day to repair it… Sigh… At least we can get it fixed here without having to hurry over to Red Bay that is, if all goes well at our next appointment…

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Free things to do along the La Jolla Coastline…

Shell Beach

La Jolla and Torrey Pines 021The best way to start a day according to Sharon is to drive to La Jolla and go to the beach. We usually enter at the southern edge of La Jolla Shores by car and then drive north along Coast Street to street parking near Jenner and Prospect Street (2 hour free parking) unless we are lucky enough to land some of the 3 hour free parking near the La Jolla Cove.

A stroll along the shoreline from just south of Gull and "Lunar Scape"the Children's Pool north to the La Jolla Caves really cleanses one’s soul with the panoramic ocean views, the white sand beaches, the sandstone cliffs and the waves rolling in and crashing onto the beach. Now Sharon is still a bit nervous along the cliffs especially with all the warning signs (like the one above) but she is starting to get over the fear of falling again and her healing has been going exceptionally well.

La Jolla Snorklers

La Jolla CoveBesides simply walking along this 3/4 mile of beach there are other activities we find very fun, free(great for the budget) and interesting to do:

  • we enjoy simply observing the artistic beauty of the slowly eroding sandstone cliffs that, over time, leave behind some of nature’s art. 
  • another interesting activity we enjoy doing is exploring the tidal pools to observe the remnants left behind by the high tide,  such as the anemones that are always fun to watch
  • all along the shore there are opportunities to watch birds, seals and other wildlife; we saw many California Ground Squirrels, Harbor Seals, Sea Lions and I also got to see several juvenile Spotted Sandpipers and some Black Turnstones…

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  • A couple of blocks away from La Jolla Village there is a place known as La Jolla Cove. It is accessible by a stairway and at low tides the tide pools hold hundreds or even thousands of hermit Tidal Pool Anemonecrabs.At the bottom of the stairs lies a small and popular sandy beach. At this beach the surf is lessened because it is in a cove making it  excellent for a swim, to just sit and catch some rays or  to look at the tidal pools at low tide. Also at La Jolla Cove there was some excellent snorkeling where we were able to observe two things we have never seen before… we saw lots of Garibaldi, the California state fish which are a striking orange color and we got to swim with Harbor Seals and Sea Lions!!!

Young Harbor SealLa Jolla Cove Seals

We read that one can snorkel with Leopard Sharks at La Jolla Shores Beach but have also heard they may have already left the area. We may return if we hear anything more about them being there as that too sounds like fun. We are definitely enjoying the weather and water temperatures.  It brings us a smile knowing that once again we have a beach bag packed and ready in the car in preparation for any spontaneous beach stop in the days ahead…