13. San Diego, California

Days 33-38

We headed out of Joshua Tree National Park excited to be able to get away from the constant wind – except we didn’t! The truck was buffeted by strong gusts along the roads to Palm Springs. And as we approached we saw field after field full of wind turbines. This is obviously a very windy area!

We decided to stop for brunch in Palm Springs. Ed and Izzy are obsessed with bacon and we discovered there is a restaurant that offers ‘flights’ of bacon, i.e. a tasting selection – of 5 different types, so that’s obviously where we ate! It was wonderful – very chi chi!

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Palm Sprigs seemed immaculately clean, well organized and full of beautiful people, beautiful interiors shops and beautiful restaurants! We did not really fit in!

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As we drove towards San Diego we were somewhat disturbed to find ourselves driving on the I10. For those who are unfamiliar with Houston, the I10 is the major interstate highway that runs across the middle of Houston and which I used to use on a daily basis. To have driven over 3000 miles and be on the I10 again was somewhat of a surprise!

One of our main requirements during this trip is finding accommodation with space to park the truck! At 23 feet long and 8.5 feet high that’s not always easy! Ed had found a little cottage at Pacific Beach, one block from the sand, with a long private driveway and it turned out to be perfect. We could walk to the beach in 2 minutes, cycle directly onto the beach side cycle path and we had restaurants & shops on our doorstep.

Izzy’s BFF, Charlotte, flew over from Houston with her parents to spend a few days with us. It was great to be re united with all of them – over several cocktails!

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Our first day in San Diego we took a bike ride along the bike path from Pacific Beach, south, through Mission Beach and around the bay. They really do seem to love beach volleyball in San Diego – we must have seen over 500 courts on the sand! The whole area was beautiful, with families out enjoying every kind of beach and water sport imaginable. I had thought our ride would be around 8 miles – it actually turned out to be nearer to 20. Ed was navigating and I am not sure if he did a really bad job and took us on the wrong route or if he actually did it on purpose so that we’d all get more exercise!

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Pacific Beach was stunning. The sea was a little chilly but the sand was perfect for wave splashing and digging holes for trapping crabs!

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While in SD we were very excited to be reunited with a great friend from our days in Jakarta. It was wonderful to see Cristine, Cooper and Lolly. We’d been in Indonesia together for 2 years, 12 years ago and last seen them in Singapore 7 years ago!

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They took us for a wonderful hike in Torrey Pines State Reserve

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and for tacos at their favourite local Mexican hole in the wall.

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We topped of the day with seal spotting at la Jolla.

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They were very cute, if a little smelly!

Our next outing came in the form of Sea World.

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I was a little worried about going as I was concerned about animal cruelty – surely the orcas and dolphins should be swimming in the ocean – not performing tricks for humans? However the website was full of information about their animal welfare programs etc so we decided to risk it. It was Memorial Day and we expected the park to be jam packed so we paid extra for the tickets that get you to the front of the lines. Determined to arrive at the park ahead of the crowds, we set an alarm for the first time in 5 weeks – it was a bit of a shock to the system!

As it turned out, perhaps because the weather was a little overcast, or maybe since everyone was too busy playing volleyball, it was a very quiet day at the park! We were able to walk straight onto every ride and into every show with no waiting. By modern theme park standards SeaWorld is a small park – but there was certainly enough to keep us entertained for the day. We enjoyed the various thrill rides. I especially loved the Manta Roller Coaster. I found it scary enough without actually causing me to have a heart attack like the big coasters usually do! I rode it 5 times!

We enjoyed the Sealion show.

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At the Orca show we sat in the “splash zone” and boy did we get splashed!

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It was great to be at the front and be as close as possible to the magnificent creatures but the view of the show is not actually that great. My top tip is to sit above the splash zone or higher for the best overall view of all the action.

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Having learnt our wet lesson we sat at the back to watch the dolphins and pilot whales!

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I have to say during the shows they explained SeaWorlds’ extensive research and conservation programs. I believe most of the animals at SeaWorld have been rescued but can’t be returned to the ocean. I do hope this is true….

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Our final day in San Diego we bid a sad farewell to Charlotte and then headed to the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier.

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This was an absolutely amazing “museum”. You can tour the whole of the ship and the free personal audio tour gives and incredible amount of fascinating information. At one point Izzy asked me ‘What’s that?”

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It was the circular telephone dial we all grew up with – to my astonishment she had never seen one! I showed her and JJ how the dial worked!

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As we packed up to leave San Diego I was unlucky enough to fall off the back of the truck – onto a cactus. It’s fair to say in the battle between the cactus and I, I won – the cactus was essentially crushed – but I did walk away with various puncture wounds and a very sore shoulder!

We had a great few days on San Diego – would love to go back and explore the various areas we didn’t make it to this time.

What Ed says: San Diego was a real surprise and well worth a visit. The down town area has been rejuvenated and now boasts a huge array of restaurants and nightlife – we enjoyed dinner one night at the buzzing Gaslamp area. The beach options are numerous but the jewel in the crown is the USS Midway. This was the first of the super carriers and the former flag ship of the US Navy. It has been incredibly well set up as a museum and is run by former sailors and officers who served aboard. These men who served aboard (women were not allowed at sea during Midways’ time) are delighted to answer questions and share information.  The talks on launching and recovering aircraft which take place on the flight deck and the tour of the control tower are well worth it. The shear size of this city at sea and the logistics behind it are fascinating. I think you need to allow a full day to go around the whole of it – we found ourselves a little short on time having arrived a 12:30. They start to ask you to leave at 16:30 as it takes so long to find everyone and get them off by 17:30! If you are a fan of aircraft the decks are loaded not only with the aircraft that flew from the Midway but with an interesting selection of other planes and helicopters. I would like to go back to spend a full day on the Midway. Fabulous.

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We recommend:

821 Diamond Street – 2 bedroomed cottage booked through http://www.710beachrentals.com – great location.
Harry’s (a fabulous, family run, 50’s style diner) in La Jolla for breakfast.
Robertos (various branches around San Diego) for fast Mexican street food.

Next Stop : Los Angeles, California

One thought on “13. San Diego, California

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