Monday, July 10, 2017

Staycation in San Diego

Children's Beach, La Jolla

This past weekend we hosted an out of town visitor. Doing so gives us a chance to view our home stomping grounds through the eyes of one who does not live here.  I'm posting a series of photos from the weekend to share our experiences.  Hope you enjoy!  After picking up our guest at the airport, we were headed for dinner, but had extra time before our reservation, so we detoured to the La Jolla Cove.  A picture tells a thousand words, but what's missing is the sound of the happy children in the water, and the barks and *aroma* of the many sea lions.  In fact, the beach pictured above used to be covered with sea lions; now there's a happy balance between the humans and the other mammals.

Another view of Children's Beach

After a great dinner at Red Tracton's we headed home in time for a spectacular sunset.
Headed out bright and early the next morning, in time to catch the first sailing on the Flagship Spirit of San Diego Harbor Excursion ( ) - one of our favorite things to do with out of town guests.  If time permits, we love doing both the north and south tours, each lasting an hour. No tour is ever exactly the same; on this tour we saw a warship headed out for a long deployment as well as the First in Class SS America doing training exercises, with her sailors and marines "lining the decks" - a very stirring sight.  

Our ship, the Spirit of San Diego

This ship was headed to see on her way to a multi-month deployment

First in Class SS America on a training exercise; her sailors and marines were lining the decks!

Rich, Joan & Rodney relaxing on the back deck of the Spirit of San Diego
Fishing boat loading up on bait at the 'Bait Barge"; typically the barge is covered with seals and seabirds hoping to snag some bait.  
This tug reminded us of Theodore from Thomas and his Friends : - ) 
The Patriot is operated by Flagship and speeds around the bay at speeds up to 50 mph. 
We were treated to saltwater spray as the Patriot made a 180 turn near our ship!

This floating pen houses seals and dolphins being trained by the Navy to be able to detect underwater mines or unauthorized divers near navy ships.

$6 billion ship under construction at NASSCO

We disembarked from our ship and headed over to The Fish Market for lunch.  MMMMM Lobster!  From there we headed over the the USS Midway Museum.

Our guest in the "Boss" seat in the Bridge
Our guest at the wheel of the Midway
After a full day on the Midway and the Spirit of San Diego, we had an early dinner in anticipation of a very early wake-up call the next morning.  We were headed across the border and had to meet our coach at 7:15 AM...We booked a trip via Day Tripper Tours, a San Diego-based touring company specializing in day trips from San Diego.  It was founded by a school bus driver who learned a lot about touring the area from taking school children on field trips!  While most of their offerings are day trips, they do have more extended overnight trips as well.  It was a good way for us to dip our toes into Mexico with a wonderful guide.

We had three destinations - Rosarito Beach, Puerto Nuevo and Tijuana.  

The Famous "Papas & Beer" right on Rosarito Beach

Fancy riding a horse on the beach?  You can do that!

It was very early in the day; the beach was full of scenes like this

Coconut & Shrimp - interesting combo, but seriously the fresh fruit available at this stand smelled heavenly!

Entrance to the Iconic Rosarito Beach Hotel.  The original building from the 1920s, built of adobe, is still standing (but our guide recommended the much newer high rise for more comfortable, air conditioned rooms.) 

Reception area of the Hotel's Spa.  Beautifully tiled!

The legend says:  Through these doors pass beautiful women!

Our guide recommended checking out the vintage murals in the hotel's lobby.  They are actually frescoes which took over two years to paint.

There was a motorcycle club charity event taking place at the hotel; twice a year "Rolling Deep for Charities" sponsors a ride into Rosarito and distributes bicycles to children in the community.  This Harley had a gorgeous Mexican tooled leather seat.

From Rosarito Beach, we headed further south to Ortega's Restaurant in Puerto Nuevo, a tiny, sparsely populated town on the coast featuring 30+ lobster restaurants.

Baja lobsters have no claws but are muy delicioso nevertheless!
For dessert a little flan...
It was a cloudy and overcast day but Ortega's colorful decorations make it a very festive spot.
After our lovely lunch at Ortega's, we headed back to Tijuana for a quick stop at La Vienessa Bakery for some awesome baked goods.  Mexico, like the USA, is a melting pot; many of the local pastry shops / bakeries were founded by Austrian immigrants.   A note about our day trip and crossing the border:  Passports are required to go into and return from Mexico.  There was a border crossing lane designated for coaches; in our case a Mexican Customs agent boarded our bus and gave us our visa forms to complete.  We then walked through customs and a metal detector while our bus was x-rayed; we re-boarded the bus after it was cleared.  Coming back into the US was very similar - got off the bus with all our purchases, and went through the same sort of customs / immigration lines as one would when re-entering the US at an international airport. It was a very full day; we crossed the border into Mexico at about 9 am and were back at our car by about 6 pm.  

The next day we had our own sightseeing planned - a stop at the San Diego Glider Port in La Jolla, then a run up Mount Soledad, followed by a drive down the coast and visits to Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument and Coronado Island. 

View of the glider port; unfortunately no one was gliding yet!!!
Partial View from Mt. Soledad - it was a very foggy day!
On our way we stopped at Crystal Pier, at the foot of Garnet Street in Pacific Beach.  The Pier is actually a hotel dating back 90 years; there are several cabins built right on the pier, ranging from studios to two-bedroom kitchenettes.  We used to stay here as kids (our parents loved staycations too!)  It's very special to be in one of the cabins at high tide and feel the waves underfoot. 

Crystal Pier has a public section and is used primarily for strolling or for fishing  This is the stickered-up fish cleaning station. 
Idyllic, right?
From Crystal Pier we headed south, to Point Loma and the Cabrillo National Monument, the smallest of the US National Parks.  It's located at the very tip of Point Loma and is named after Joao Cabrillo, the Portuguese explorer who, sailing under the flag of Spain, discovered San Diego Harbor.   This is the view looking from the top of the hill down toward the current lighthouse.

There is an older 19th century lighthouse at the top of the hill and it's open to visitors.  This is the view down the nautilus style staircase in the lighthouse.  The bedrooms and living rooms for the keeper's family are arranged around the staircase. 
This is the light at the summit of the old, retired lighthouse

After our visit to Cabrillo, we headed to Coronado Island, across the beautiful blue arching Coronado Bridge.  (I was driving so no photos!)  We drove by the Coronado Hotel, then headed out along the Silver Strand, which prior to the bridge was how one got to Coronado.  Finally we headed back toward home, for a nice Italian dinner and another relaxing evening at home (spent going through photos from our lovely weekend.)   I hope you enjoyed this little taste of San Diego!  

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