Thursday, May 22, 2014

San Diego 2014

Even though this was trip #5 (I think), I was no less excited about getting back to San Diego. Had we run out of things to do, things to see?

Not even close. To start with, we arrived while the place was suffering through an uncharacteristic heat wave. We're talking 39C in a place where normal is 22C. So the heat, coupled with the drought California has been enduring, led to massive wildfires all over San Diego county. Nine in all, with the biggest on the Marine base at Camp Pendleton. You could see the smoke as we approached the area by plane. It looked like the county was being bombed. We were lucky that the fires were happening well north of us, so no smell, no danger. But all the smoke in the air made for some spectacular sunsets.

The heat wave petered out by the end of day 3 and the temperature fell back to normal. But while the heat was on, we tried to find shelter from the sun and the heat and we found a great cool spot by the water at the south end of Mission Point at the park. A nice bench under a huge tree and a refreshing breeze off the water was all we needed. there aren't a lot of trees in this part of the city, so what we found was a goldmine.

One thing I noticed while the heat wave was still around is the effect it had on the cloud patterns and how people reacted to them. You see, normally, San Diego experiences coastal cloud cover early in the morning until the sun burns it off (usually by noon). Then just before sunset, the clouds roll back in from the ocean which prevent people from seeing a great sunset (down to the horizon). But while the heat was around, the coastal clouds were kept at bay, which provided a rare opportunity to see the sun go down below the horizon for a change. This was obviously a novelty, because we saw people stop what they were doing and stand and watch the sunset on those nights. The smoke from the fires made the sun very red too.

So, we had some new (to us) things to check out on this trip. I had always read about a mountain town called Julian. It used to be a mining town way back and eventually became an apple orchard area, which spawned an apple pie business or two, or three. This is what Julian has become famous for - their pies. I like pie. So we had to go. The drive there is spectacular. At one point, at an elevation of around 4600ft, there's a vista point where we stopped to look out over the land and could see the desert of Palm Springs way off in the distance. Julian itself is very much like Black Diamond Alberta, old-style pioneer-era buildings. We found some pie. Apple-caramel-pecan. We ate of the pie. And it was good. Actually, Darlene called it 'the best apple pie I've ever had', so there's that.

On our way back westward, we passed orange orchards in the San Pasqual Valley, northwest of Ramona. That caught me off guard.

Since we passed through Vista on the way west, and since we had heard that the Little Cakes Cupcake Kitchen had won the cupcake wars, again, we should stop in and try. I left totally understanding why they win.

One of the things that always confounds me about Canada is the sheer non-existence of decent variety of men's clothing. What we do have isn't cheap either. This is why every time we go to the US, I'm usually checking out Macy's for their sales on men's clothing - especially shirts. Well, I hit the jackpot this trip. We found a Macy's in Carlsbad that was so big, it had to occupy two separate department store spaces in the mall. In one space was just furnishings and men's clothes. I scored big-time.

This time around, I wasn't going to get hobbled by a ridiculous roaming package from my native cell provider and used a Roam Mobility sim the whole time I was in the US. Worked out well and it was nice not having to always try to find free wi-fi everywhere.

Anyway, it was yet another great trip and I'm already missing the sound of the surf.

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