Tag Archive | San Diego

Pool Time

I was going through some photos I had transferred from my old phone to my computer, and came across this gem from my trip to San Diego last April.  The special effects in the photo are due entirely to the fact that my old phone was haunted.  Yep, my old phone camera was extremely simple, and had no reverse color special feature that I could ever find.  Yet it would randomly take photos like this, which I actually thought turned out very cool…

san-diego-pool-time

Would you swim in water that color?

It also made me think that I am in dire need of a vacation.  Someplace warm, where I can sun myself by the pool.  Soon…

At least it is the weekend!

San Diego 2016: The Bahía Resort

I don’t often (or ever?) devote a whole blog post to a hotel, but The Bahía at Mission Bay is a pretty neat hotel. It is right on Mission Bay, on a spit jutting out into the water. One side has a marina, the other side looks out on another section of the bay.

Guest can take a ride on a historic steamboat

Guest can take a ride on a historic steamboat

The Bahía is an older hotel, first opened in 1953, and it has been added onto over the years. There are various types of rooms and buildings. We were in a suite with a bedroom with two queens, and a well-stocked kitchen with full sized fridge, microwave, dishes etc. We were pretty excited that we were in the suite, because we were upgraded at no charge! They even gave us a fruit and chocolate plate with strawberries, grapes, apples, and dark, milk and white chocolate in molded seashell forms. Too cute!

The hotel gave us this fabulous fruit and chocolate (yes, the shells and flower are chocolate!) spread

The hotel gave us this fabulous fruit and chocolate (yes, the shells and flower are chocolate!) spread.  We sort-of ate some of it before we remembered to take a photo…

 

The resort has all sorts of activities for adults and children. A beautiful pool and huge hot tub, a nice exercise room, tennis courts, and shuffleboard. If you get bored with all that, there’s a shack right next door that rents paddleboats, stand up paddleboards, big wheel paddlers (not sure their real name), and if I remember correctly skateboards. I read that there was a place nearby that rents bikes and tandem bikes. You could do a different activity every day of your stay!

And, the resort has two harbor seals who live at the resort. The Bahía is designated as a rescue approved home for harbor seals who cannot be released into the wild. Both seals have limited vision, and were rescued early in their lives, before they had an opportunity to learn how to care for themselves, so they both would have virtually no chance of survival in the wild.  They live out their lives here, content to swim around their pool and play with toys, and get their two square meals a day. The wild Black-Crowned Night Herons appreciate their meal time too, parking themselves nearby to see what scraps they can get.

Rescued Harbor Seals live there!

Rescued Harbor Seals live there!

 

A Black-Crowned Night Heron waiting for dinner at the seal pool.

A Black-Crowned Night Heron waiting for dinner at the seal pool.

The Bahía also has a series of little duck ponds for little birds, surrounding by beautiful flowers – birds of paradise, hibiscus and others.

A Mandarin Duck. Not native to California, but he was so stunning!

A Mandarin Duck. Not native to California, but he was so stunning!

It was spring, and there were lots of ducklings swimming in the resort's ponds

It was spring, and there were lots of ducklings swimming in the resort’s ponds

 

This gorgeous hibiscus was blooming at the resort.

This gorgeous hibiscus was blooming at the resort.

The only thing I didn’t really like about the resort was the restaurant. I blogged about it previously… The food was nothing special and both times we went the service really lacked… Hopefully they will turn it around for future guests! Luckily, there are several restaurants within a 5 minute walk of the resort, with amazing fish tacos, salads, flatbreads, and grilled cheese sandwiches just some of the options!

A White Bird of Paradise plant at the resort

A White Bird of Paradise plant at the resort

I would absolutely stay there again – what a great resort!

 

San Diego 2016: The Del and the NAT

The last day of my San Diego vacation I was on my own. Angela and Allysa had departed the previous day, and Renée left that morning to attend her conference at the hotel. I had several hours until my 5 pm flight, so I packed up and took off for a bit of solo touristing.

First up, I decided to head over to the Hotel del Coronado. I have ogled it on websites and friends’ travel albums for years, so I didn’t want to leave San Diego without seeing it in person! It is a big hotel; actually it is the second largest wooden structure in the United States, (second only to the Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon – which I still totally want to visit, by the way). It was built during the Victorian Age of Grand Hotels; when it opened in 1888 it was the largest resort in the world.

The beach side of the Hotel del Coronado

The beach side of the Hotel del Coronado

The Del, as it is often called, is famous for its round pavilion tower. It was a construction marvel, requiring fresh water to be piped under the bay from San Diego, and lumber to be shipped from Eureka, California. It had electricity right from the beginning, although the builders ran the electrical wiring through gas piping, just in case that new-fangled electricity thing didn’t work out… The hotel is right off the beach, with gorgeous views of the water.

The street side of the Hotel del Coronado

The street side of the Hotel del Coronado

I wandered around the outside and checked it out; there are some areas that are only open to guests though. Inside, on the bottom floor, there are shops and a little coffee shop café. This is where it really gives itself away as someplace where the other half lives… The shops are super ritzy, and drip coffee costs $5!

I would love to have a spot here on a hot summer day.

I would love to have a spot here on a hot summer day.

The Hotel del Coronado has hosted its share of famous people, including Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and Mae West, as well, as several Presidents. McKinley, Taft, and Wilson, all stayed there, and so has Barack Obama. Although it is out of my price range right now, I hope to be able to stay there one day, but an outdoor selfie will have to do for now! Hopefully it will be a famous landmark for another hundred years!

My attempt at a selfie with The Del - sort of a fail...

My attempt at a selfie with The Del – sort of a fail…

 

I love the Historical Landmark signs...

I love the Historical Landmark signs…

After checking out The Del, I decided to spend a bit more time at Balboa Park. I wanted to visit the NAT, short for the Natural History Museum. They had a couple of movies on whales that were included in the price of admission, one in 3D! I watched Ocean Oasis, about Baja California and the islands off of it, and the phenomenon that allows this area to team with ocean life. And I also watched Whales in 3D, which had the most incredible underwater footage of several whale species. What majestic creatures!

A reproduction mammoth skeleton at the NAT

A reproduction mammoth skeleton at the NAT

I also had time to see the exhibits, including one on the fossils in the San Diego area – it was very interesting. They also had a whole collection of skulls; rodents, birds and larger mammals. It was fascinating to be able to compare the different shapes and sizes of skulls. I know, I am a little morbid, but I found it very fascinating!

Ammonite Fossils at the NAT - I loved these!

Ammonite Fossils at the NAT – I loved these!

It was the perfect amount of time at the NAT – I was just finishing up with the exhibits when it was time to head out to return to the airport. I did get a bit freaked out though on the drive back to the airport. The rental car return is very poorly marked, and I circled around the streets near the airport for a while before I found it. ARGH! Luckily, I managed to find it in time, and checked in and made it through security with enough time to spare.

What a wonderful trip!  I can’t wait to return to San Diego!

San Diego 2016: Mission San Diego de Alcala

The Mission San Diego de Alcala was the first mission founded in Alta California, in 1769 by Father Junípero Serra. The location of the current mission is the second location, having been moved to more fertile soil five years after the mission was established. The original site was on a bluff overlooking the water, where the Presidio was located (there is a park preserving the site, but no original historic structures remain), so it is aptly named Presidio Hill. The Presidio was also founded in 1769, a few months earlier than the Mission.

The front of the Mission San Diego de Alcala, California's oldest mission, founded 1769.

The front of the Mission San Diego de Alcala, California’s oldest mission, founded 1769.

Colonists began arriving shortly after the mission was built, but sadly, there was an uprising by the Native Americans, who killed the priest and two other people and burned the mission.  It was rebuilt at the original site as a fireproof adobe, but in 1774 it was moved 6 miles inland along the San Diego River to ensure a consistent water supply.  Like other missions from the time, it was destroyed periodically by earthquakes; in this case earthquakes struck both in 1803 and 1812.

Most of the current mission was rebuilt in 1931; at that time only one wall of the mission remained, and the rest was a ruin. The mission has a self-guided tour, where you can walk through the priest’s quarters, the church, the garden and a smaller chapel. The tour was interesting, as there are several informational signs detailing what life was like for the priests and the Native Americans living at the Mission.  It is an active Catholic parish, so if you want to go inside the chapel, you do need to time your visit so that it is not during Mass.  Or, alternatively, you can attend Mass and experience it in this beautiful historic church.  The Mission San Diego de Alcala is designated as a Basilica, or a church of historic significance.

A view of the Mission church

A view of the Mission church

 

The altar in the Mission church

The altar in the Mission church

The garden was beautiful, with lots of blooming flowers, including several interesting colors of Bougainvillea.  The mission also has two historic bells in the bell tower with a description of the history of the bell. I love reading about the little details of a place. The three small bells on top are copies of originals. The large bell on the bottom left (in my photo taken from the garden) is an 1894 recasting of the original Mater de la Rossa bell. It is the largest of the two larger bells, weighing 1200 pounds!  The bottom bell on the right is from 1802, and weighs 805 pounds.  It is amazingly intricate with a crown motif on the top.  The cross at the top of the bell tower is made from timbers from the original Mission.

What a unique color of Bougainvillea!

What a unique color of Bougainvillea!

 

A gorgeous Hibiscus flower at the San Diego Mission.

A gorgeous Hibiscus flower at the San Diego Mission.

 

The Bell Tower at the San Diego Mission

The Bell Tower at the San Diego Mission

In the garden there is an area with the stations of the cross, and interestingly they have an abstract representation taking center stage.  If you aren’t familiar with the stations of the cross, they are:

  • One: Jesus is Sentenced to Death
  • Two: Jesus Takes His Cross
  • Three: Jesus Falls
  • Four: Jesus Meets Mary, His Mother
  • Five: Jesus is Helped by Simon
  • Six: Veronica Helps Jesus
  • Seven: Jesus Falls a Second Time
  • Eight: Jesus Talks to Some Mothers
  • Nine: Jesus Falls for the Third and Last Time
  • Ten: Jesus is Stripped
  • Eleven: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
  • Twelve: Jesus Dies on the Cross
  • Thirteen: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
  • Fourteen: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
The abstract representation of the Stations of the Cross

The abstract representation of the Stations of the Cross

Off the courtyard is a small chapel (La Capilla), with the altar and choir stalls that were brought over from a 17th century Spanish convent. They were amazing.  The stone floor in La Capilla came from Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City. 

The altar of the small chapel, La Capilla, at the San Diego Mission

The altar of the small chapel, La Capilla, at the San Diego Mission

 

The choir stalls in La Capilla

The choir stalls in La Capilla

 

Some of the Native American artifacts in the Mission museum

Some of the Native American artifacts in the Mission museum

The Mission San Diego de Alcala was beautiful and it was certainly worth a visit to see this historic site.  And it brings my total of California Missions up to 6.  I still have so many more to see!

 

San Diego 2016: Balboa Park Afternoon

Our server at The Prado gave us a really good tip. She told us about the Imax movie, National Parks Adventure, that was playing at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. We managed to rush over there and get our tickets just in time for the next showing, and tucked into our seats just as they were starting the movie. It is narrated by Robert Redford and features Conrad Anker, one of the most famous mountain climbers and adventurers alive today. It is totally full of spectacular scenery of our National Treasures. The Prairie Dogs are adorable, and the aerial photography is amazing. It is worth seeing if it is playing someplace you’ll be!

After the movie, we checked out a little shop for some souvenirs, then made our way over to the Japanese Garden. The Japanese Friendship Garden was founded during the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition, and has several Koi ponds, Bonsai trees, a Zen garden for meditation, and a tea house (separate admission fee for the tea house). I was a bit disappointed that you could only see the Zen Garden from inside.  I would have liked to sit out in the open air to enjoy it.  We wandered up and down the paths of the two acre garden, and found some cute ducks chillin’ in the lower stream. We just did the garden, but it would be fun to visit a Japanese Tea House at some point in my life!

Angela checking out the Koi at the Japanese Garden

Angela checking out the Koi at the Japanese Garden

 

Some of the Koi at the Japanese Garden

Some of the Koi at the Japanese Garden

 

A view of the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park

A view of the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park

The Koi were amazing – big and beautiful and they swam right up to you. I’m sure they were expecting their dinner… I started naming them, because of course I’m just like that. And the bonsai trees were pretty. It takes such talent to train them in those tiny, pretty shapes! We even found a couple of lizards hanging out on the paths. One of them was not impressed that Renée touched him!

My lizard friend at the Japanese Garden. He liked us until Renée touched him...

My lizard friend at the Japanese Garden. He liked us until Renée touched him…

 

My girls at the Japanese Garden. Aren't they adorable?

My girls at the Japanese Garden. Aren’t they adorable?

 

Me at the Japanese Garden at Balboa Park

Me at the Japanese Garden at Balboa Park

After we left the Japanese Garden, there was talk of finding a restaurant that had karaoke (this was NOT my idea). I have to admit that I was a bit relieved that we couldn’t find any place, as I am an absolutely terrible singer… Instead we went back to the resort and walked down to the beach, to a restaurant called Draft. We ordered beers – they have close to a gazillion on tap from all over the country. I had the Bell’s Brewery Amber Ale. And the grilled watermelon salad was to die for. It was so delicious! I hate to admit that I loved it so much that I didn’t even offer to share. I hope you can understand and forgive me… My friends ordered chorizo flatbread, which was also very good, but spicy!

My scrumptious grilled watermelon salad at Draft

My scrumptious grilled watermelon salad at Draft

 

Chorizo Flatbread and Bell's Amber Ale at Draft

Chorizo Flatbread and Bell’s Amber Ale at Draft

Unfortunately, it was cloudy and cold that evening, so the sunset was barely visible, and it was really too cold to sit out on the beach to watch it anyway! So we enjoyed our beer and food at the bar, and caught the tail end of one of the Stanley Cup Finals games.  Hockey isn’t really on my usual list of activities, but I enjoyed it with my friends.  And Draft was a great ending to a good day!

 

San Diego 2016: Balboa Park Morning

Our third day in San Diego was spent at San Diego’s premier park, Balboa Park. Balboa Park has a long history in San Diego, with land originally set aside in 1835 to be preserved in a natural state. Nothing was done with the land for a while, but in 1868 a park was created out of 1400 acres.

 

Improvements weren’t started until 1902 when a development plan was created, and then movement picked up when city leaders decided to host the 1915 Panama–California Exposition there to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal; 1910 – 1915 were a flurry of building activity. Much of the current aesthetic of the park was created during this period, and the Spanish Colonial Revival Style of most of the buildings was determined at this time.

The Bell Tower at Balboa Park

The Bell Tower at Balboa Park

 

The park is beautiful, but has had its fair share of controversy over the years. There have been the usual debates about whether to demolish or restore old buildings that were probably never intended to be long-term structures, the park went through a period where crime was commonplace, and there were several rapes and murders, and the usual issues with determining who would be responsible for funding special events and renovations.

 

But despite all this, Balboa Park is unique in that it contains several dozen museums and gardens within its borders, many of which are free for visitors. It is truly a spectacular place to spend some time – you could be here for days and still not see it all. On my trip, although I visited twice, I only saw a tiny slice of what the park has to offer…

 

We began our visit at the Visitor’s Center to get a map of the park and figure out the lay of the land (donation appreciated). We started out near the Museum of Art, checking out the outdoor sculptures – a good time was had looking at the art and becoming a part of it!

Allysa almost got eaten by a dinosaur...

Allysa almost got eaten by a dinosaur…

If you know what year this sculpture was made, you know what year these lovely ladies were born!

If you know what year this sculpture was made, you know what year these lovely ladies were born!

 

Then we visited the Botanical Building and checked out all the beautiful plants growing inside. There were many varieties of orchids, a million kinds of ferns, including staghorn ferns, and many other plants.  We lingered there, taking photos and pointing things out to one another.  Outside of the Botanical Building is a Koi Pond, with lily pads and ducks swimming around.  It is a popular attraction for children and adults alike.  Angela befriended a busker who was attending the local college; his musical talent will hopefully ensure that his dreams of being a professional musician.  Then we can say we knew him when…

The Botanical Building, with the pond in front.

The Botanical Building, with the pond in front.

 

The Botanical Building with a cool figural fountain in the front.

The Botanical Building with a cool figural fountain in the front.

 

Palms and ferns inside the Botanical Building

Palms and ferns inside the Botanical Building

 

Orchids at the Botanical Building

Orchids at the Botanical Building

For lunch we went to The Prado, apparently one of the more well known restaurants in San Diego. We all indulged in lunch time cocktails – because isn’t that what you do when you are on vacation!? I had a Passion Caipiriñha – it was fabulous! I had the steak tacos, there was still plenty of food, even after I shared with everybody! It was a great meal – with fantastic service!  And our day was only half done!

Renée got a little excited about her cocktails!

Renée got a little excited about her cocktails!

 

My steak tacos at The Prado. Amazing!

My steak tacos at The Prado. Amazing!

 

 

 

San Diego 2016 – A Little SUP-ping!

The second day of my San Diego trip began a little later than it might have otherwise, due to our late night of debauchery the previous night. We were all upright in reasonable order, but nobody was feeling particularly bright-eyed or bushy-tailed… We headed over to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, and had a “meh” meal with another round of horrible service. We decided at that point that we weren’t going to do any more hotel meals!

After breakfast, Allysa and Renée settled down for a nap, and Angela and I went over to the pool and hot tub. We relaxed and chatted, and spent some time just snoozing in the sunshine.

In the early afternoon, we lazily wandered down to the beach and found a restaurant for lunch called Sand Bar. They had amazing tacos! Their fish tacos are apparently award winning, but I thought the carne-asado taco was even better! Watch out for the spicy guacamole though, it really packs a kick!  I should have taken photos, but I totally forgot…  Fortunately Renée took one!  She’s my food porn soul sister…

A Carne-Asado taco at Sand Bar

A Carne-Asado taco at Sand Bar

After lunch, we went back to the hotel and Renée and I tried our mad skillz at Stand Up Paddleboarding. It was the first time either of us had ever been, and we got the briefest of lessons before we were set loose in the marina to SUP away. We both started out kneeling; it was much easier to keep your balance that way, but it is very hard on the knees. We both stood up and practiced paddling around – it was harder than I thought it would be to keep my balance!

Me, just starting out.

Me, just starting out.

There were a few tense moments as the wind was blowing me further out into the bay, and I was trying to keep my balance while paddling frantically to get back closer to shore… At one point I did consider just jumping off the board and swimming back in (I’m a strong swimmer), just in case no one was going to effect a rescue! I did manage to paddle back into calmer waters on my own though.

Me! Stand Up Paddleboarding!

Me! Stand Up Paddleboarding!

I had a great time– I was able to look down and see fish, sea slugs and little rays in the water beneath me! And that was just in the very protected waters of the marina.  I loved it! I will definitely do it again, but I don’t think I’m anywhere near ready for ocean SUP-ping. The water will have to be pretty calm… Think small lake on a calm day…

Renée and me, SUPping! Do we look like experts!?

Renée and me, SUP-ping! Do we look like experts!?

Angela and Allysa decided to walk to the grocery store for dinner items and set off for the 2 mile walk. Then Renée and I went and picked them up with the car when walking home with all those groceries seemed impossible.

We had a dinner of cheese, crackers, fruit and wine, and then headed out to take a cruise on the historic steamboat that is operated by the resort. The Bahia Hotel has two historic steamboats – ours was the Bahia Belle and a ride on the boat is free for hotel guests. There is a cash bar, a DJ with a dance floor, and an upper open-air level where guests can see the view, or the city lights after dark. It is a beautiful boat, but we were all still tired from the night before, so we were all duds…

The two Bahia steamboats, by day...

The two Bahia steamboats, by day… We were on the small, blue one.

 

One of the steamboats, at night...

One of the steamboats, at night…

We finished off our evening playing Deer in the Headlights – a card game that was billed as being sort of like UNO. Sound like fun? We thought it would be, but it turns out that it is fun only if you have the memory of a genius elephant… We had to consult the cheat sheet every. single. time. to figure out what cards to discard, who to give them to, etc. It was not a game suited to anybody who has had any alcohol, or is tired, or has the memory of a mere mortal, or is easily distracted… It was maddening! Pretty soon we decided that just drinking the wine without playing the game was better!

But it was still a nice end to a relaxing day.

San Diego 2016: Put Your Dancing Shoes On!

Day 1: April 23, 2016

My friend turned 50 on the day that we got to San Diego. And she wanted to go dancing. So after we finished up at Cabrillo National Monument, we headed to where any self-respecting birthday girl would want to go to start a birthday off right. Happy Hour! We went to happy hour at the hotel, which had good drinks, but the service was terrible! We did much philosophizing, and much laughing, and much getting tipsy. And there was a shot for the birthday girl in there too…

Then we headed back to the room for the briefest of naps, got gussied up and headed out on the town. A recommendation from the hotel led us to a Mexican restaurant called Baja Betty’s in the gay district of San Diego, with good food and a lively atmosphere. Our birthday girl was the center of attention with her sash, her tiara, and later, her balloon hat! Margaritas and shots of tequila may have been consumed…

An Uber ride later and we were at the Hard Rock Hotel, ready to dance the night away. We had been told there would be 80s music, and we were the ones who got everybody out on the dance floor, but the DJ was terrible! Even though almost everyone was requesting 80s music (not just us!) he refused to play any! We had to make do with the bumping rap preferences of the crappy DJ… We still had fun, but it would have been better with good music.

Of course, there’s a bit more that I can’t tell you, because what happens in San Diego stays there too! Don’t worry, it was all very PG – but I promised my friends… 🙂

It was certainly the latest I have been out in a long time, and we fell into bed at close to 2 am, after having been awake for almost all of the previous 24 hours.  I felt like we had certainly made the most of our day!

San Diego 2016: Cabrillo NM

Day 1: April 23, 2016

My trip to San Diego began early, with a 5:00 am flight, but fortunately, I didn’t get the in-depth groping from the TSA agent that my girlfriend received. Something about the waistband of her pants made her seem like a terrorist, so she got more action than a prostitute in a lumber camp… I jest, but they really did give her the once over (more like twice or thrice over!), and she was not happy. It all seemed like a bit much for 3:45 in the morning…  What we do for the love of travel…

Our two flights were non-eventful, and we got to San Diego at about 9:30 in the morning, where we waited for ages for our rental car! It was easily the most banged up rental car I’ve ever seen!  I wasn’t going to have to worry about a scratch that we put on it! I put X’s and O’s all over the little diagram where it asks you to document any existing damage and took pictures of the car with my phone, and then we were on our way.

We checked into our hotel, but our room wasn’t ready yet so we changed into shorts, stashed our luggage with the bellman and made our way to Cabrillo National Monument!

Me! I loved this sign with its ship!

Me! I loved this sign with its ship!

Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the first exploration of San Diego Bay and the West Coast by Europeans: Spaniard Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.  Cabrillo had been a part of the group of Spanish conquistadors that landed in Mexico and wiped out the Aztecs.  After that Cabrillo settled in Guatemala, where he was given vast land holdings, but his spirit of adventure caught up with him and he was selected for a mission to explore the West Coast.

Oh that view! Cabrillo National Monument

Oh that view! Cabrillo National Monument

The three ships in Cabrillo’s expedition landed at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542, likely at the spot known as Ballast Point (the Ballast Point brewery is named after this spot, and their Grapefruit Sculpin is excellent by the way…).  They declared it an excellent port, and Cabrillo named is San Miguel.  The name was changed to San Diego about 60 years later.  Cabrillo continued north to Monterey Bay, and it is speculated that he got as far north as Point Reyes before bad weather forced a turn back south.  The expedition wintered in the Channel Islands, where Cabrillo died on January 3, 1543, after a scuffle with the local Native Americans caused him to fall and shatter a limb.

A view of the water at Cabrillo National Monument

A view of the water at Cabrillo National Monument.

 

A Pelican flying at Cabrillo National Monument

A Pelican flying at Cabrillo National Monument.

The monument was designated by a proclamation signed by Woodrow Wilson in 1913; the original purpose was both to commemorate Cabrillo’s landing and to protect the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which was constructed in 1855.  Approximately 877,951 visitors come here each year.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse - Built 1855 - Third Order Fresnel Lens

Old Point Loma Lighthouse – Built 1855 – Third Order Fresnel Lens

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse was first lit on November 15, 1855, and guided sailors into San Diego Bay for 36 years from its perch 422 feet above sea level.  But on March 23, 1891, the third order Fresnel lens was extinguished for the last time, and a new light took over, built closer to sea level.  The problem with the Old Point Loma Light was that they hadn’t realized when building it that the heavy fog in San Diego often obscured that light that far from sea level.  Oops…  But the lighthouse remains, and it is now open to the public.  I went into the Lighthouse and saw the restored keeper’s quarters and various rooms, and was able to peek into the tower from below.  I have heard that they open up the tower one day a year to the public for visits, but otherwise it is protected by a metal grate.

The Third Order Fresnel lens in the Old Point Loma Lighthouse

The Third Order Fresnel lens in the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

Cabrillo National Monument also has one of the best vantage points in the country for watching the annual Pacific Gray Whale migration; not far from the Lighthouse is a whale watching area where visitors flock in the winter.  We were there too late to see the whales, but we were able to see the Coronado Islands in Mexico off in the distance.  The view was spectacular!

The statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo

The statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.

Not far from the Lighthouse is a large statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo; it was placed there in 1988 after the original 1949 statue began to deteriorate from so many years of being exposed to the elements.  The statue was a popular place, with lots of tourists posing with it, or having their picture taken with the bay in the background.  My friends made a friend, a ground squirrel was clearly accustomed to being fed by the tourists.  We didn’t give in to his begging.

The very friendly ground squirrel who was looking for his next handout...

The very friendly ground squirrel who was looking for his next handout…

 

A cute lizard sunning himself near the Cabrillo NM Visitor's Center

A cute lizard sunning himself near the Cabrillo NM Visitor’s Center.

We took the path down closer to the water and watched the waves crash against the rocks.  Geologically, the rocks are formed from sandstone, shale and siltstone; they contain fossils of ocean dwelling mollusks, and dinosaur fossils have been found here as well.  It was neat to see how the ocean has carved these cliffs into very interesting patterns.  Visitors can also go further down and explore the tide pools and check out the creatures that inhabit them.

The waves have carved these rocks into some interesting shapes

The waves have carved these rocks into some interesting shapes.

 

Girlfriend selfie! Allysa is wearing the tiara for her birthday, more on that in an upcoming post.

Girlfriend selfie! Allysa is wearing the tiara for her birthday, more on that in an upcoming post.

On the way out, we got a view of the Rosecrans National Cemetery, with its perfectly straight rows of graves.  There is something so peaceful about cemeteries, I loved seeing this one in its perch high above the water.

Rosecrans National Cemetery, overlooking San Diego Bay

Rosecrans National Cemetery, overlooking San Diego Bay.

Cabrillo National Monument was a worthwhile afternoon outing – I loved it!

San Diego Sunshine

Just after Christmas, a friend of mine from my previous employer was talking about heading down to a conference in San Diego in April. We started discussing the idea of us flying down a bit early, and doing some touristing for a few days before her conference started. We also ended up inviting two other friends from that same former job. These three friends all happen to be turning 50 this year, and one turned 50 on the first day of the trip, so it seemed like a great opportunity to celebrate!

San Diego in April isn’t super-warm – mostly calling for temps in the mid to high 60s. Not really ideal pool or beach weather, so I planned some activities to keep us busy. I was trying to keep in mind that these ladies aren’t all as interested in history and nerdly pursuits as I am. It’s so hard to plan for so many personalities!

We had a great time all the same, and posts will begin shortly!

Oh that view! Cabrillo National Monument

Oh that view! Cabrillo National Monument