the Backpack ~ Strange and Unexpected
when I post something from the archives, it involves bringing
back an essay or article or such that had appeared on the In My
Backpack web site and was removed during one of the updates or
computer issues over the years.
entry is a bit different though… in addition to appearing on the
site, it was part of the Travel
Trilogy project… or, more specifically, Strange
and Unexpected: Backpack on the Road – Volume Two: California.
that means a couple of versions exist… somewhat specific, almost
definitive versions if you will… the work that was on the site,
and the chapter that was edited and potentially revised from that
piece and used for the book.
material was originally posted on February 12, 2006. It was later
published in April 2013. Some minor proofreading edits and adjustments
may have been made while bringing the material back to the site
in this posting.
~ ~ ~
six, Thursday, April 21, 2005
to a day trip to San Diego. In retrospect, it might be said it
was designed to reflect the old quote from Willy Wonka and
the Chocolate Factory… “So much time and so little to do.
Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.” And, in retrospect, as
is so often the case the management of time is essential to how
much we’d see.
got lists about San Diego and the areas around it… La Jolla… Balboa
Park… Old Town… the Gaslamp Quarter… USS Midway… Coronado… Point
Loma… lighthouses, museums and aircraft carriers… and more!
the reality is that we have a lot of options, and very little
time… very, very little time. And yet, some things are just falling
into place or simply not drawing a ton of interest.
boys and Tigg aren’t overwhelmed by the thoughts of touring an
aircraft carrier. See it? Yes. Take pictures of it? Sure. Pay
to head on board and walk around it? Not so much.
some of the other locations aren’t getting incredible responses
top it all off, unfortunately, Tour Guide Bob isn’t ready with
a true game plan for the whole day. As we begin though, I do want
to give credit to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Fabulous,
fabulous web site that offered a guide section that was truly
outstanding. It gave us some great basic suggestions, even if
we didn’t use them all. Definitely a resource to check out if
you are heading to the San Diego area. (And… for this trip --
no past experience and no GPS -- in hindsight, I wonder what might
have developed on this trip if we had a Garmin with us.)
to the rest… well… take the highlights you can from our day…
started off by heading down to La Jolla. I’d been doing some different
investigating about the Pacific Coast Highway, and for the most
part had decided not to drive much north of Los Angeles because
of our resort’s location and some of the plans we had made. So
during our visit, we had a limited experience when it came to
driving the coast (something I will definitely change on another
visit). But one thing I wouldn’t give up on for this trip was
finding some seals. They tend to take shelter… I guess more accurately,
they tend to take up residence… in coves and inlets. While trying
to find them, I was directed to a stretch of the ocean in La Jolla.
we found them.
Jolla has a lot to offer a visitor, but to be honest… we didn’t
do a tremendous amount of exploring. We parked, checked the way
to get to the shore, and headed down to a path that I have heard
referred to as the coast walk. (Although I don’t know if that
is the official name or not. The best thing I can tell you is
to head in toward a section labeled Prospect St/Prospect Pl. We
came off of Route 5, connected with La Jolla Parkway and used
that as the beginning of our trip in.) The path led us around
the coast line and through some tremendous park areas. As we approached
the seals there were some fantastic examples of local wildlife
all around. They are located in a place I saw called Seal Beach
on the internet, but it is not the same Seal Beach that is closer
to Long Beach and Los Angeles. (Yes, I did get confused thinking
of them as exactly the same from research before we left pretty
much right up until sorting out my paperwork after getting back
seals were incredible… and they really didn’t do anything. There
was a wraparound wall that created a sheltered beach… which of
course the seals had taken over. We probably spent at least forty-five
minutes just staring at the seals, the water, and taking pictures.
there it was off to Balboa Park. Some friends of mine had compared
it to the Smithsonian… a collection of museums that had a diverse
set of interests represented. While the collections weren’t as
impressive as those in Washington, the parks and gardens around
the building were beautiful. A word of warning though… the museums
aren’t free. (I recommend visiting the area, and there is a web
site for Balboa Park that should be a huge help in planning places
to go, operating hours, and other assorted details.)
driving around a bit blind to start out, we settled into a parking
lot that seemed to be near several museums (and we did walk to
all of them quite easily from our parking spot). We were just
outside the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum. And while
we didn’t visit the exhibits in this museum, we were hungry and
saw a note that said the Time Out Café was located inside.
It was very quiet, the café was pretty nice, and the food
ate and then walked outside, deciding to check out the San Diego
Aerospace Museum. And this is where things get a bit funny for
the day. (Funny strange… not funny ha-ha.)
you have looked over some of my travel articles on this web site,
you may have noticed that I have been quite fortunate in my ability
to travel… and these articles really only reflect a limited amount
of the traveling I have been able to do in my life so far. (And
yes, I do realize how lucky I have been.) That said, it also means
that I have the ability to compare some things that, perhaps,
realistically shouldn’t be compared… because they just weren’t
meant to be viewed against each other. You might remember earlier
I compared the San Diego Zoo to the National Zoo in Washington
and Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence. In all honesty… the
comparison seems to work. But San Diego against Providence? Yeah…
not so much. You get the idea.
been to the Kennedy Space Center (Florida) twice in my life. I’ve
been to the National Air and Space Museum (Washington, D.C.) multiple
times. The San Diego Aerospace Museum was good. There were some
really interesting facts and exhibits inside. And yet… I couldn’t
shake the feeling that it wasn’t quite on the level of the Smithsonian.
of me? Yup. But it was my impression. An excellent place to visit
overall. I just didn’t get everything out of it that I expected.
up was the San Diego Automotive Museum. With motorcycles taking
up a large portion of the show space, we had a good time walking
around here. Tigg even found a drive thru display for Jack in
the Box. And guess what? Remember that debate from day four, when
Tigg claimed Jack in the Box served tacos? Umm… turns out she
was right. In the middle of the Jack in the Box menu on display
there it was… tacos.
took our time leaving the park area… in part enjoying the scenery…
and in part getting a bit misdirected by the roads. Here’s a brief
(mumbling out loud trying to figure out how he got on the path
back to the parking lot we had been in): “Ok… that’s where I
Tigg (moments later, but oblivious to Bob’s comments): “Isn’t
that where we were?”
drove down to the water and parked next to the U.S.S. Midway.
Only planning to stay for a few minutes, we got out of the car
and I… I… I dropped the video camera.
this stop we drove to the San Diego – Coronado Bay Bridge. This
is a beautiful bridge… with a fabulous view. But get your directions
straight. Using a map I had of San Diego, I stayed too close to
the shoreline for too long, and we had to double-back along city
streets I wasn’t completely prepared for as I tried to find a
way to get back on route 5 and head over the bridge to Coronado.
pulled over to a section my notes say was Bridge Beach. I can’t
find it in any of the official information about Coronado now,
but it was located just after the Hotel del Coronado. The setting
was gorgeous… and as we walked the beach and stared off to the
west, I was sure I could get us to Point Loma.
still have no real clue how I did it… this could be read as yet
another amazing accomplishment for Tour Guide Bob, or yet another
stroke of uncanny luck working out for the best… but we arrived
at the Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma Lighthouse. The
bad part was the timing, since we arrived just as the area was
shutting down for the day. Still more breathtaking views… San
Diego is one of the most beautiful and friendly cities I have
ever been to, and I will get back there to see more of it someday…
and a nice ending to our day of sightseeing.
have said that this day was a bit strange overall though. And
I’ve tried to explain that in bits and pieces as we have gone
through things. We saw a lot… we had some fun… but overall it
was a low key day with some great moments that just didn’t match
up to our full expectations. And here, as we get ready to start
heading back to our room, I am going to get into an example showing
why some of the day was so good, while other moments were a bit
had been trying to stay on the coast as much as I could for this
trip. What I kept finding though was that the Pacific Coast Highway
spends more time inland than on the water once you get south of
Los Angeles. Despite knowing that now, during the trip I kept
looking at our maps trying to work out alternate routes and roads
along the water whenever possible. And I kept running into twists
and turns and dead ends every time I did.
back from Point Loma, I was at a red light that had about four
different islands merging and separating traffic onto a main road
going under an overpass. As I tried to judge the lanes, the green
light, and look for signs indicating the road I wanted to get
on, a man stepped off the sidewalk and… well… if he ever reads
this, I’m sorry for scaring him.
getting completely lost on a few streets that didn’t appear on
a single map but were the only options to follow in the direction
I was heading (I swear we passed the vicinity of Sea World fifteen
times)… I finally gave up on getting us to a place to watch the
sun set over the Pacific Ocean, used a sign that brought us to
the highway and got back on route 5.
spend $40.80 on gas… the first time in my life I have ever put
over $40 in a gas tank. (Not only will it not be the
last time I accomplish such a feat, but within a few months of
getting home the rising prices of gas allow me to do it filling
the tank on a much smaller car.)
get off the highway when I see some buildings that appear to give
us an assortment of dinner choices. We head in to a restaurant
called Chevy’s… which we enjoyed on occasion when there was one
in Warwick, Rhode Island, but that location has now closed.