"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Monday, September 14, 2020

San Diego, CA!! So much to do and see!!

September 2020 Southern California Loop

Our first stop heading to San Diego was at the Elks Lodge in Oceanside where we stayed 2 nights.  #34 for FHU.  It was clean but very cramped, full and the camp host was a bit rude.

San Diego, CA
Sweetwater Regional Park

Our first few days were the same as weeks previous.  Hot and dry here in California.  As we get closer to San Diego it is now a bit humid too.  Soon enough the above picture will represent the rest of our time in Southern CA.  
We were recommended by some of our RV friends, Ruth and Rene.  Sweetwater Regional Park is a great place to stay if your touring San Diego.  It sits just up above the bay in the hills.  $30 for FHU is a steal in California!  Long concrete sites, many pull throughs, plenty of privacy between sites.  They do charge $1 for the dog though.  We stayed 10 days here. 
Site #30, our back-in site.

View looking down with the ocean in the distance.
There is so much we want to do here so I broke September up into 2 parts.  We stopped in to the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia.  Everything closed due to Covid, but you can walk around the buildings and large grounds.  There are 21 missions in California which began in the late 18th century as a way to convert Native Americans to Catholicism and expand European territory. Spain was responsible for the missions, which were believed to be  attempts to colonize the Pacific coast of North America. There lasted from 1769 until about 1833. The missions brought new cultural and religious ideas to California, though some say it was close to slavery. Many Native American ways of life were lost as well.

Beautiful architecture, grounds, gardens and cemetery.
After looking at the remains of the old buildings we walked down the steps to the water system.

Laundry was done on these lower steps when flooded.

Very large trees surround the mission.

The cemetery had graves dating back to 1863.

This person was born in 1811.
I really loved the lines and shapes of this part of the mission and enjoyed playing with the scenes.

Oldest Pepper Tree in California, above.
Pretty gardens and plants.

I loved this tree covered with large pink blooms.  You see these and some with purple blooms around here.

Afterward, what else?  A brewery stop.  There are so many fantastic breweries here Steve had to be picky which ones he wanted to visit.  Black Plague was one he really wanted to stop at and he loved the IPAs.  They had a nice food truck too so we split a Pulled Pork sandwich.

Riding our bikes along the ocean was a fun time too.  As I put this blog together what stands out is how much Covid rules there are.  Masks, sanitizer stations, social distancing are all around and most everyone is participating.  I didn't plan it that way but you may notice these in many of the pictures.

Gorgeous day to bike!

Our second oldest, Shane, happened to be in town for the weekend so he treated us for lunch at The Belching Beaver.  They make a Peanut Butter Stout that our kids just love.  

Watching the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean are a treat from our campsite.
We pass this crazy house as we leave the campground and drive down to San Diego.
The bay is much larger than I thought.  This is the view driving over the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.  I figured we would kayak here but it's too windy and choppy.

Coronado is a long peninsula with pricey, touristy homes and businesses.

It is also home to the iconic Hotel del Coronado.   Beautiful Victorian  hotel.  It is the second largest wooden structure in the United States and was designated a California Historical Landmark in 1970 and a National Historic Landmark in 1977.
We drove back to our campground south to Imperial Beach.  It's only 3 miles to the Mexican border as the crow flies.  There is another great bike trail that runs from here up to the hotel.  We take note of a park we can leave the truck and ride the 15 mile round trip ride.
Plenty of windsurfers and kite flying out here.  We spot a carwash and decide to give Hoss a good cleaning.  I'm not sure what kind of dye is in the soap, but Steve's hands were stained for a couple of days.

Hoss all nice and shiny again.
We have been to 3 out of the four corners of the US.  We were looking forward to stopping at the furthest Southwestern spot located in the Border Field State Park.  Of course it was closed to Covid!  We were bummed that we couldn't drive through.  We were within a mile and a half and couldn't even see it.  Too bad.  Not sure when we'd be in this area again. That is part of the Wall pictured above.
So close, yet so far!
We hiked a bit around the outer trails but it was hot and we were tired and hungry.  We stopped in downtown Chula Vista for a beer tasting and a couple street tacos.  With Covid, you cannot beer or wine taste unless you order food.  They cannot open their kitchens so food trucks are all over.  We were not impressed with the food or the beer here.
On the way home we spotted this...
Not good.  The "Valley Fire" started up in Alpine, 25 miles northeast of us.  Since it was strangely burning in a westernly direction, we had to keep a close eye on it.  Our next two stops are even closer.  We may need to change plans.  Fire season has been brutal to California in 2020.
This is the view of the smoke quickly rising behind our trailer to the north.
It swirled around and smoke even covered the coast making for eerie skies and a fantastic sunset.

The fire continued to burn most of the last 2 weeks we were here.  The skies were mostly smoky and gray.  Sometimes ash would float down.  Visiting Little Italy in downtown San Diego was high on my list.  We kept masked and away from people as much as we could.  Tables continue to be spread out and there is no inside dining allowed.  This is the largest "Little Italy" in the US.
Italian eateries and shops line the streets.
Steve was not too impressed by the IPAs at Bolt Brewery though.
I love walking places like this as it reminds me of  "home".  We wanted a glass of wine and some Arancini. These are stuffed rice balls, breaded and fried.  So yummy!
Served with rosemary bread, oil to dip and a little sauce.  Perfetto!

Even Hurley was served water, sans gas, as we dine al fresco.
We continued our walk and when I came upon this different type of desert, I knew we needed to try some.  iDessert by Jean Phillipe is known for making Meringues.  I chose the Strawberry, #2 above.
The outer shell is made in meringues.  You can see the white chocolate pearls inside.  It was delicious!  Not overly sweet at all.

Steve took a day off midweek so we could visit the San Diego Zoo.  I have not been here since I was a kid and really wanted to come back.  I'm not a zoo fan per say.  I hate to see animals that normally run, jump and live in miles of wildlands, caged.  At least they do a really good job of making their habitats large and like their normal habitat.  Since it was Wednesday we figured it would be less crowded.  You had to buy tickets ahead of time as they limit the amount of people during this time.  I will say, I was very impressed on how many disinfectant stations were everywhere and how much staff were all around spraying handrails and many other surfaces.  There were stickers reminding people of "high touch areas" that kids would be mostly using, etc.  At times there seemed to be more staff than visitors.  Mask wearing was mandatory and you had to fill out a form and get your temp taken before you could even go in.
The San Diego Zoo is the largest and most innovative in the US.  It's $60 for an adult ticket.  We easily walked at least 5 miles in the park.  There is a tram but that was closed due to Covid.  Some of the walkways are steep. This zoo is very lush and natural and the plants are as fascinating as the animals.  It was still very hot and humid out and we weren't sure how long we'd last wearing a mask.  We arrived early when it opened and stayed the entire day.  We walked every inch of the park and saw everything.  We were so tired when we headed out.

Sleepy guy.

I'm just including a few of my favorite animals.

Young Giraffe curious of me taking his picture.

Look at the thickness of these Elephant bars.

I loved this little tree.

Such a bright purple!

Another sleepy guy.

This Tiger was one of my favorite!

The Flamingos were my very favorite as a kid and still my favorite to watch now.  This mom was feeding her baby.

Baby stretching out his wings.

It was a long day!  Time to get back to Hurley.

Green Flash Brewing had a nice outdoor area to enjoy your beer, food and bring your pooch too.

The fire is still raging out of control days later but staying away from San Diego.  It's mostly burning in a wild area.  The smoke has been a daily nuisance but making pretty sunsets.

Soldiers, sailors, Indians and missionaries occupied the land at the San Diego Presidio  in 1769.
On September 28, 1542, Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo became the first European to visit San Diego Bay.

After walking around the Presidio and ready the history, we drove up a nearby hill to visit the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial.  It has a view of the ocean and mountains in a 365 degree view.

It was nicely done with panels in granite of those memorialized here.

From our previous drive we found that we could park at Coronados Cay Park and begin our bike ride back into Coronado to better check out the famous hotel.
It was a nice ride that meandered between the ocean and the bay, past marinas, wildlife habitats, beaches and homes.  You can see the bridge in the distance.  Notice you can still see the smoke in the air.

After driving around the hotel, we took the trail along the beach back to where we parked.

This place is huge and impossible to capture in a picture.
A nice memorial sand sculpture.

With our bike ride finished we hit one more brewery, Hopnonymous.  They had great BBQ and beer.

Touring the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier is a must do here.
While you can only tour part of the main floor and the top, it was still amazing!  General admission is $26 for adults, $18 for veterans.

This was a fascinating tour.  I'm not really into military stuff but I loved this tour and talking to some of the veteran volunteers.
Across from the Midway is this large statue.  I've seen one in Florida too.

After the tour we drove to Lucha Libre Taco Shop our friend, Scott, recommended.

Yummy food.  There was no place to dine outside though so we ate in our truck!
Afterwards we meandered through Old Town and sipped and munched.

Very pretty gardens and lots of restaurants and shops.

Our last day found us very busy.  We had picked up donuts at The Donut Bar, also recommended by our friend Scott.
I really wanted the Bacon Maple but they were all out.  This place sells out early!  I chose the S'mores Poppa Tart.  Lots of chocolate with a whole chocolate Pop Tart inside!  So good!  It took me two days to eat it though.
Then we headed for a long day at Balboa Park.  This place is gorgeous.  You feel like you're in Spain.
Balboa Park was originally called "City Park," but was renamed after Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, in honor of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, held in the Park that year.  Balboa Park was declared a National Historic Landmark, and a National Historic Landmark District in 1977.  There are over 17 museums, miles of walking, shopping, restaurants, theaters, gardens and the zoo.

The architecture is amazing!  The details incredible!  I wish we could've walked inside but most were closed.  What a beautiful area.  If  I lived here I'd have to be within walking distance to here.

There are some REALLY big trees here.  See the girl laying on part of the roots?
This landmark Moreton Bay Fig Tree is the largest of the Ficus macrophylla represented in the park. It was planted as a small tree in a garden of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.  It is hard to tell just how huge as it was fenced off for some reason.

Our final stop was a drive to see the Cabrillo National Monument and Lighthouse.  At $40 for both of us we decided to pass.  We drove through  Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery next to it and walked around.

So many graves.  It reminds me of Coloma, near San Francisco, where there are actually more people that live underground than above. Very solemn place.

Interesting to find out the very first American born in California is buried here.
Something else interesting I learned a while back.  While spouses can be buried here, their gravestones must face the opposite way.

And that ends our time in San Diego.  The fire is still raging, but not in thelast two places we will be just an hour away.


  1. What a great stop...so much to see and do! Some of that architecture is spectacular...they don’t build anything like that anymore. Pink hands from a car wash soap is crazy! Too bad you had so much smoke.
    Stay safe and healthy!

    1. Yes, so very much to do. I think we managed to do/see what we wanted. It would've been nice to go into some of the museums though.

  2. Nice photography! My favorite is the flamingos also. I would love to see them in the wild.

    1. Thanks. It was a hard post to pare down. Probably should've made it two posts.

  3. So many breweries, so little time, and don't even get us talking about the donuts! Although we know there is a lot to see and so in California, we just cannot get ourselves to drive south of Redding. Northern California is the place for us!

    1. Ah, those donuts were something else! As a Northern CA Girl, I know what you mean! But we wanted to give it a go so we won't need to go back!


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