Thursday, 23 April 2015

California- San Diego

Santee Lakes is just outside San Diego,
Santee from the SR52 driving into town

at the end of the Green Trolley Line.
Green Trolley at the Trolley Square in Santee
It’s a beautiful spot with seven artificial lakes


surrounded by hills (the hills were very green this year

Green Hills
- last year they were brown). 
2014 - Brown Hills

 We are beyond Lake 7 in the RV section –a huge pull-through site, probably 90 feet long and 30 feet wide.
The land in the forefront is the end of the row, so makes our site very private


We can park the truck at the back or front of the Airstream, so we switch it around depending on the winds and how we feel! We just drove in, and unhitched- everything is level. It rained for the first two days we were here, so we didn’t do much until late afternoon of the second day. We decided to shop and go to Costco, but so did the rest of Santee. Vons, Sprouts and Costco were all packed with shoppers. We discovered that the Walmart here is the older style, without fresh produce and meat. This is the first one like this that we have come across in the States.

After the first two days, we ran out of fingers to count the days of warm sunny weather and blue skies.

The tower at Trolley Square - mid March
We have decided that we do not need to play frantic tourists this year, so we have been somewhat mellow in seeing the sights. We have been into San Diego a few times, but not tried to see everything at once. We took the Green Line trolley in, and strolled along the Embarcadero. Last year’s unfinished section, at the foot of the Sante Fe station, is now complete to the Maritime Museum ships, with wide, brick walkways by the water and a couple of parks by the road.  We picked up delicious clam chowder, with fresh warm baguette, at the Fish Market beside the Midway, and ate at a table in the park in the shade. We meandered down the Embarcadero,
One of the many monuments, this one to SS San Diego
"Our Silences" on the Embarcadero
 The eleven bronze sculptures, "Our Silences", by Mexican Artist Rivelino, have appeared differently in each of the cities they have visited- Mexico, Rome, Lisbon, Brussels, Moscow, St. Petersburg London, Rotterdam and Madrid San Diego has chosen to place them in one long line, five facing five, with the touch-box for the use of people with visual disabilities at the end,on the Embarcadero.

past the harbour,

stopping to watch a naval ship arrive in port, and on to Seaway Village.
Seaway Village Restaurant over the harbour

We found the bookstore by the pond for a capuccino.

By the Bookstore, a restful view
We hopped the trolley to Little Italy –
Looking up from the Trolley station
new for us- and wandered through part of a delightful neighbourhood. It felt like a friendly little community in the middle of a city- sort of like The Beach for you Torontonians. There are Happy Hour specials everywhere- Tuscany Tuesday at one restaurant, Wine-not Wednesday at another, and ThIrsty Thursday at a third. Pubs and bars have outdoor seating and hostesses greeting everyone. 

We were too late to go to Old Town, so we went down another day. We wandered along the dirt street,

in and out of shops with folks in period costume selling beautiful silver jewelry and brightly coloured Mexican pottery at one, cigars at another, making and selling salt-water taffy at the Candy Store, and coffees and teas at another shop. These were all in adobe buildings. So, even though it was very warm outside, it was cool inside because the walls are very thick.  There was one set up as a restaurant would have been, with elegant, but mismatched tables, chairs, buffets and dishes. One building housed the interesting  history of the Wells Fargo Stagecoach line,

A trainload of stagecoaches being delivered westward

Be sure to follow these rules if you travel with Wells Fargo!
including a stagecoach.

Seats 9, but the best seats are in the middle inside

We walked outside the Historic park area along streets of interesting stalls, shops and restaurants,

entrance to the restaurant

The beautiful fountain and tile staircase

and the first church to be built outside the Missions.

On our way back we walked through the colourful Mexican Market to the street, passed the huge barn and came to the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

The Cosmopolitan has the balcony

It is built in a square, around a courtyard, with rooms on the outside,

and a restaurant and bar in the middle. It was Happy Hour- so we sampled their Margaritas- wonderful-

before heading home.

One weekend, we met up with a friend from Montreal, who is working a week or so per month down here. This became Zoo weekend. Saturday we went to the Zoo in Balboa Park, San Diego, which houses over 3,700 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies in an area 4.306 million sq.ft..

It has been in operation since 1915. There was lots of walking up and down hills [except when we took the escalator up a particularly high cliff], but we had a wonderful time. They have huge enclosures for the animals. This zoo pioneered the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits, recreating the animals’ natural habitats. Some of the animals were asleep, so it became a challenge to find them in their enclosures. We never did get to see the panda bears
This is as close as we came to seeing the Pandas
as they were asleep when we went in the morning, and later the lineup was over an hour long, so we decided to leave that section. Lots of the animals were active though.
African Flamingo
Reindeer in the Tundra
Polar Bear with his[her?] lunch of lettuce
Southern Gerenuk- Tanzania
Not a Wolf, but a Maned Wolf
Two of the Elephants
It was a beautiful walk on trails through various types of forest. We also took the sky-ride across the zoo to get an incredible bird’s-eye view of the area.
The view across to Balboa Park

We saw a group of beautiful, brightly coloured parrots as we rode. Later that day, I noticed in a small paragraph on the internet that the parrots that had escaped at the zoo had been returned to their enclosure!  We walked through Scripps Aviary

Great Blue Turaco

African long-Tailed Hornbill


to the Lost Forest to see the tiger and the Gorillas, including the baby just a few weeks old.
Female and the baby Gorilla
We wandered through the Urban Jungle,
Grant's Zebra
Masai Giraffes and Gazelles

the Outback, Koalafornia,
The cute Koala
and The Galapogos
Galapogos Gerro Azul Tortoise
before heading home.
The next day we drove north to the Pasqual Valley area near Escondido, to the San Diego Safari Park,
The view across the valley
a 1,800 acre park with a large array of endangered animals from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South Americas and Australia. There is a wonderful bird aviary of exotic and unusual birds. It is a semi-arid environment with animals in enclosures
Asian Tiger

Bamboo by Asian Tiger exhibit

and also large free range enclosures,
looking across the African Plain

explored only by a tram ride, to view the expansive African exhibits- antelopes, giraffes, buffalo, rhinoceros and cranes.
Rhinos right at the start of our ride
Ostrich on the Plains
Several species were often together
Getting a drink from one of the ponds

On our way back from our ride, we spotted a hot air balloon. It was tethered but went up 400 ft, giving passengers a wonderful view of the whole area,
John's picture of the Park

including the lion on the roof of his Range Rover in his enclosure!.
Surveying his "Kingdom"

The reddish dot to the left of centre is John!
John, of course, had to go and really enjoyed the experience!
Look at that grin!
I took pictures from the ground!

La Jolla (La Hoy-ya) is a favourite trip, so up the coast we went. They are doing massive roadwork in the town. We finally parked by the beach

looking north
and wandered along the boardwalk and along the streets of this part of town. There were some wonderful little stores - a fabulous coffee shop-

a short walk up from the Beach...wonderful coffee, interesting menu
 and many surf board and beach bicycle rental stores. We needed our “seal fix”, so drove around the coast to the Children’s Beach and watched the seals for a while from a couple of different places.

relaxing in the sun
We even saw one sea lion on a rock with the seals.

Even a Sea Lion
Then we walked along the coastal park,

and a couple of main streets

A long climb back to the main street
back to the car.

We had not been to Point Loma, so decided to take a drive. Point Loma is a seaside community within San Diego. It is hilly peninsula which defines San Diego Bay and separates it from the Pacific Ocean. In 1542, the Portuguese explorer, Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo led the first European expedition to come ashore in present-day California. We wandered through the excellent museum at the Visitors' Centre which explained the history of the area.

Model of Cabrillo;s Ship
Painting depicting landing in San Diego Bay
There are two military bases a national cemetery, a national monument, a university and residential and commercial areas. The huge cemetery is on both sides of the main road, going right to the water from the road,

row upon row of white markers. We walked around the point to see the Cabrillo National Monument,

and look down on the Bay
Part of the Naval Base in the Bay 
and catch sight of Coronado Island and the “Del” Hotel,
The Del is to the left of the group of tall buildings [condos] at the south end [right]
of the Island.

then toured the Lighthouse.

The original Lighthouse- now a museum

One of the Lamps used.
As we left the point, and drove down the main street, we discovered Treasure Island, which is attached to the Peninsula by a causeway, is . It is actually a former sandbank which was built up in the 1950’s using material dredged from the Bay. This is a delightful, small island with a marina, a beautiful beach,


parkland and boardwalk, a couple of hotels

and restaurants and a fishing pier.

A Restaurant on the Pier
 Strolling along by the Bay, was a perfect way to end the day.


One day, we talked to a couple from Julian on the trolley ride into town. It sounded like such an interesting place, we decided to take a trip up there. It is a delightful little town east of San Diego, north of I-8. The drive is beautiful, through valleys and mountains on winding, narrow roads.

The lower hillsides were covered with purple bushes,
Tiny flowers on bushes are wild lilacs
which we discovered were wild lilacs. We drove past the edge of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park,

past small towns set into the mountain, to the town of Julian.
Julian's Main Street
We had a delicious lunch at Granny’s Kitchen and Coffee Shop Café, and dessert at the former firehall, now the Candied Apple Pastry Company, Bakery and Bistro.
This was once the Firehall.
 Glorious flowers were blooming everywhere.

Rosemary bushes were in many gardens and hedges
California Poppies and bright purple Iris were popular

We had a special visit with a former classmate of John’s from U of T days. She is now working at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), and gave us a very interesting tour of the facility.

We met another U of T friend in Del Mar, just north of San Diego on I-5. Lunch was at a very busy little café on the main street. We wandered around town,
Part of Main Street in Del Mar
Driving down to the ocean from the highway
and down to the beautiful beach.

Since it was Spring Break somewhere, and a beautiful warm day, the beach was packed with families and students, and the water alive with surfers.

Just as we were getting ready to leave for a drive up to Torrance to see my sister, a friend we had met at Santee last year appeared at the door of the Airstream. We had a quick visit, with a promise to see them later. We drove up I-5 to Los Angeles for a quiet lunch with my sister, before heading back along the Pacific Highway

Pacific Highway, beside the railway and the ocean

to San Clemente and I-5 through Camp Pendleton

Flores Viewpoint, Camp Pendleton
and back to Santee.

Our last few days in Santee were spent visiting with our friends and their 2 dogs, going out for dinner and sitting by the pool.
We lounged by the pools or in the Hot Tub
or had lunch by the lake
We did take one afternoon drive to Coronado Island, and walked around for an hour or two, then drove home. We had planned to return to La Jolla, The Embarcadero and to Balboa Park, during our visit. However, we have decided to return to Santee Lakes next year, so we will revisit these places then. We scouted out all the sites available for next March, and chose a private, pull-through site at the end of a row, then booked it!
Each day here was indeed, another day in Paradise!

No comments:

Post a Comment