Monday, January 25, 2016

San Diego - the Prequel

When I first started looking around at how to knock California off of my 50 state list, the first decision was to pick the city. Los Angeles is too big, no thanks. San Fransisco and the rest of northern california has a TON of marathons to choose from. Large, popular marathons that I may end up participating in anyway. But in the end, San Diego had that vibe that I really wanted to check out. Looking around some, I found plenty of road and trail marathons, and a few ultras, but the San Diego 50 really looked like the winner to me. I couldn't work out the logistics to go in 2015, but 2016 seemed like it might work. I thought it would be fun to take a whole week to really experience the SoCal scene, and I still can't believe that it all worked out as well as it did.

My plan was to take a day to fly out there, 2 days to play before the race, 2 days to play after the race and a day to fly back. I came up with this plan in the early fall of 2014, then actually registered for the race when it opened in July 2015, bought the plane tickets around September 2015, then procrastinated the rest of the details. Since Kelley doesn't fly I was planning to do the trip by myself, but Mom wanted to join me out there. Then Dad wanted to get in on the act too. I love travelling with my folks, so this was setting up to be a blast.

The Prequel is the first 3 days. Wednesday 1/13 was fly out there day. The flight was easy, everything happened on time.
Mississippi River

Snow covered Rocky Mountains
After landing, I got a couple of shots at the airport. It felt so amazing to be on pacific time!
Selfie at the airport

Palm trees!
I had a punch list of California things that I wanted to do while I was there that I couldn't get on the east coast. I was hungry after getting the rental car and getting checked into the hotel, so the first thing to come off of the punch list was a Double-Double from In-N-Out burger. That was totally worth the wait! Outstanding fast food. Mom & Dad got to the hotel while I was eating, they caught a later flight from SC and a cab from the airport.

Play Day 1
View from the hotel

We started out thursday with breakfast at the hotel then made our way to the San Diego Zoo! This is one of the nicest zoo's in the country, and one of the only zoos with Panda bears. This zoo is loaded down, and was a blast to walk through.

Me and Dad in front of the zoo

Koi - had a moment of zen there

Koalas in the tree

That polar bear was quite happy


The Panda playing in a tree! His momma was asleep in the next room

Hanging with some birds
After the zoo, we had to go up to the north side of town for the packet pickup at a local running store. It was empty, so we got to talk with the running store owner for quite a while, and he gave us some great local knowledge.

After that we ran some other errands, I had to stop by a Target to pick up a headlight I forgot to pack, but we ended up at La Jolla Cove for punch list item #2. I wanted to put my feet in the pacific ocean for the first time. The pacific beach ended up being beautiful. There was a hotel in the cove where we got some drinks and got to chill for a while. It was a pretty epic way to end the day.

The Cove! La Jolla (which I found out was pronounce la hoya) is really pretty

First time got my feet in the pacific ocean!

How many selfies can one man take?

Since our bodies were still on eastern time, we generally retired around 6:30 pm every night.
Mom in front of the palm trees in La Jolla

Play Day 2:
I wanted the play days before the race to involve more walking, and then after the race to involve more sitting around. So we started day 2 by getting out to the northern end of the San Diego Bay and hitting Cabrillo National Park, one of the punch list items for me. It was a beautiful cliff-side park with a military graveyard, overlooked the island in the middle of the bay, you could almost see Mexico from there. It turned out to be more beautiful than I expected.

Pacific ocean - the mountains bleed right into the sea there!

Sandstone cliff in the parking lot

Coronado Island - military side

Hanging with Cabrillo

the Old Point Loma Lighthouse

the military graveyard

After that we got lunch at Phil's BBQ, and that was amazing. In the Carolinas, we take our BBQ very seriously, and that stuff was on par or better than most of the BBQ places here (but Kelley still doesn't believe me). After lunch we went to visit the first Mission in California. It's still a practicing catholic church, but has been around since 1769. The 2' thick mud walls and ornate statues and gardens were just beautiful. We're southern baptists, not catholics, but Mom still lit a candle.

Daddy's home!

Inside the chappel

Bell tower

Mary & Jesus statue - notice the cactus and other plants around there. so neat!
After that we went to Mission Beach since it was close by. Where east coast beaches have street parking, then you walk a path to get onto the sand and everybody hangs out on the sand and in the water, west coast beaches seem to be more based around a concrete boardwalk. The sand is black, there were no seashells, and the shoreline was very soft. It's all coves, so there is no running miles on the beach like we can do on the Atlantic. Very different but I absolutely loved it.

This is kelp! Mom is standing next to it for scale

Beautiful soft sand, residential on the right
 Mission Beach was mostly residential/rental condos on this side of the beach, but there was a more tourist-y side that we eventually found and picked up some gifts for Kelley and the kids. It was your typical beachside amusement, with a roller coaster, arcade, and plenty of shops. The funniest part was that it rained while we were walking through there, and people had no idea how to handle it. Apparently it never rains there, so watching the locals scream like they were going to melt was hilarious to me.

My parents in the restaurant of the new hotel
Mom & Dad weren't thrilled with the hotel that I picked out on google maps so we switched from a best western in El Cajon to the Porto Vista downtown. This was a much nicer hotel. We got dinner in the bar and called it an early night. I had to wake up early (by Pacific Time standards) for the big race!

1 comment:

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

That's awesome that you got to tack on some fun days to this trip. And how fun that your parents were able to join you. I bet they loved that! I have never been to San Diego but my little sister has been several times as it's not too far of a drive from Tucson and they absolutely love it. Since her husband is in the military, they stay in military housing but it's right on the beach so that works out really well for them!