San Diego, CA: 5/1 – 5/14/19

We After four days exploring in Joshua Tree National Park, we headed west on 10 to 86S to 22S to S3 to 78W to 79S to 8W to 5N and into San Diego.  We travelled past the San Felipe Hills, up and down winding roads with varying landscapes.  I love taking pictures while we are driving since I am pretty much always the passenger, especially when we are towing the trailer behind us.  Not only does it give me something to do, but I have become awestruck with the changing terrain.

Orange Trees
Flat, sandy landscape with mountains off in the distance
Sandy- rocky hills and ravines
Golf Resort in the middle of it all
Mountains with lots of vegetation
Eight-foot tall yellow flowering plant
Driving through a rocky canyon
Back to green vegetation
Originally an Art Gallery – Now a Promotional Products Company (Nice Car)
Lake Cuyamaca
Welcome to the city of San Diego…Hello Palm Trees

Our home for the next two weeks was located between the two main highways in San Diego, Routes 8 and 5.  It doesn’t look that way from the picture below, but if you were here with us, you can “hear” the truth.

ADCA65EA-FDDC-45C1-A2F5-9F16DBCD851FWe are the first slot in Row A, which is just to the right of the Santa Fe sign in the picture above.  The light colored building #5707 to the left is the main office plus all of their amenities.  The pool and jacuzzi are in the front on ground level, and there are rental apartments on the second floor.  There is a large community room for cooking and relaxing.  In addition to a large kitchen with two separate ovens, it features a pool table, a ping-pong table, two bar-style tables with four chairs each, about six chairs and one flat screen television on the wall.  It’s a great place to practice my yoga.  Behind this recreational room is a new laundry room complete with ten washing machines and ten dryers.  There is also a small gym with treadmills, free weights, a few weight-strengthening machines, as well as a conference room that can be partitioned off for privacy.  Everything and anything we need is within a relatively short driving distance. It’s just very noisy compared to where we have been.  It is a major city after all.

Home for two weeks

We were told by office staff that we need to be careful that our bikes don’t get stolen.  They have been having problems with stolen bicycles recently.  The bikes, as well as our new water toys, are now all locked and covered behind the trailer.

Our first day here we took a short drive to Mission Beach and took a two-hour walk along the Pacific Ocean.  It was breezy with warm temperatures, but it was a little too cold to be swimming, but just perfect for getting your feet wet.

B18E9BFF-E519-480C-8849-9A1E2CA8EB9BIt looks just like the Jersey Shore, doesn’t it?

9ECB9C22-1D9E-408A-BF1F-118174D72EBFLater, we met my nephew, Patrick, and his beautiful dog, Harley, for lunch at Fat Fish Cantina grill on Mission Blvd.  Margaritas and sea bass.  Yum!


9F2AEB94-CBBD-46AA-9AD3-C1AAEF8ED1EAOn Friday morning, we decided to check out the trails at Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego.  No charge for parking or admission.

925A280B-4DD3-45E2-A412-13BCB6E89DE2.jpegIt was a series of rolling hills with multiple trails breaking off to offer varying terrain.  We chose the South Fortuna and North Fortuna Loop, a 6.3 mile trek with a 1,348’ elevation gain, that we completed in just under three hours.  It is outlined below in yellow.

577BA202-AC90-495B-9424-016765CF9CF6While it wasn’t crowded, it is obviously a popular spot for locals.  There are 24 trails that you can choose from, and you can decide if you want to get your heart rate up or prefer to take an easy stroll.   When we began the hike, it was mostly cloudy with quite comfortable hiking conditions.

693C7DE0-BEC3-49C1-8CA4-435009E08CC5The green hills slowly added bursts of yellow.

258EF641-08BB-45E4-8DE1-C4977ABDA326Beyond the stunning sea of yellow, you can see many homes built high on the hills.


This bridge was donated by Troop 985, an Eagle Scout Service Project…brought back memories

In addition to the sea of yellow were spurts of other stunning colors.



4BAC8704-D969-428B-B489-8462A852BDC5Finally, we saw even deeper, darker yellow flowers with an orange center.  Simply beautiful!

ED63AB58-9360-4850-9CDA-A06B9206FDF1It was still a bit cloudy when we reached the first peak.

South Fortuna Summit

It wasn’t long before the sun broke through the morning clouds and we could feel the humidity.  We don’t know if it was smog or some sort of haze that prevented us from seeing the Pacific Ocean in the background.

North Fortuna Summit

I felt really good today, even though my expression above clearly says something to the contrary.  My bronchitis is over and it’s time to get the lungs functioning better again.

Somewhat close to the end of the trail, there was a bicycle pump available for use.  We have never seen this on any hike before.  Maybe its a California thing?

18E19C8A-8595-4BF1-A495-6080685F2C07.jpegWe plan to go back and hike here again, as well as do some mountain biking, which is allowed on some of the trails. Goodbye bronchitis.  Hello climbing heart rate!

On Saturday, we took our second beach excursion to Windansea Beach, which is just south of La Jolla.  After the clouds blew away this morning, the sun was once again out and shining.  The air temperature was in the mid 70’s, which made for very comfortable beach weather.  We parked for free on a side street and walked one short block to the free beach.  If you zoom in on the picture below, you can see the surfers.

F0784484-1A3E-447D-AB7A-A78E78061C5E.jpegThe water temperature was roughly 64 degrees, and it was only chilly when you first got in.  The surf was quite rough.  Right after I took this selfie, I lost my balance, went up in the air, and landed on my right butt cheek.  Luckily, I saved the phone from getting wet.  I am a nut.  I will probably have yet ANOTHER bruise.

895A4071-9A04-4B0B-9B6D-DA92F1351350There was a wedding taking place about 250 feet from where we were sitting.  I took a picture, but it looks like I missed the bride.  She was gorgeous!  I wonder what the odds are for good weather for a Californian beach wedding in May.

BBCCFE28-8D80-471E-810D-9E1B27EE6A42Scott braved the rough water much longer than I did.  I was happy on my blanket.

4E4329C7-6914-4004-89FD-DA49A4CF17CBWe walked back to our car, changed out of our wet clothes, and had a picnic lunch.  Then, we went back to the beach to sit for awhile and take in the landscape.



E13D165A-2D69-4AE1-9752-FB279159AE79What a gorgeous day!  When we left, we passed many homes with meticulously landscaped front yards.  Albeit small, I really loved this setup.

8D5A389A-64D1-49EC-A409-16A44B395EFDLa Jolla Cove was our third beach to visit.  It is a small, picturesque cove and beach that is surrounded by cliffs.  The Cove is protected as part of a marine reserve; underwater it is very rich in marine life, and is popular with snorkelers, swimmers and scuba divers.  There were many group kayakers with guides as this is a popular spot for non-motor boat sports as well.

AD7387F1-D859-4431-BB8F-D06C779B2475It was a perfect day to be out on the water.  Although it was only in the mid-sixties, the bright sun felt wonderful as we rowed about, around, and through the cave.  We saw several seals taking in the sun, as groups of seabirds hung out above on the edges of the cliffs.  After two hours of frolicking, we headed back to shore.  I had only done this once before, and at that time I easily flipped my kayak over.  As I reminded myself to keep the kayak facing the shoreline to stay afloat, it took only a second for it to flip over.  I scrambled to catch my hat, suntan lotion, and YETI water bottle.  Now, I am zero for two for kayak landing. Scott got onto shore with no mishaps.  I had to wait on the boardwalk with the kayaks while he went to get the truck.  I was FREEZING!!!!  All of a sudden, that light wonderful breeze was ripping through my wet clothing.  My lips even turned blue!  It may be time to invest in a wetsuit.

Monday morning was cloudy and cool with the threat of rain.  We were trying to decide what to do. By 11:00, the sun began to peek out, and we took a ride to Black’s Beach near Glider port in Torrey Pines bluffs.  We were dressed to hike, not swim since it was only in the low 60’s.  This beach is best known for the great surfing, and a section of it is a legal nude beach.  We liked the idea of a 300-foot hike down to the beach, but you wouldn’t catch me carrying a surfboard with me.  These are die-hard surfers who have no problem carrying their board down and then back up the 300-foot cliff, and they are there wearing swim shorts or wet suits.  I felt a little uncomfortable seeing naked men walking along the shore.  Where does one look?  So awkward.  In the photo below, I am looking south.  You can see some paragliders in the background.  It looks so cool, but I have no desire to try that sport.

CC4B1AC6-3543-42D4-9485-DF40B46DBF06The next picture was taken at 200 steps up from the bottom.  It doesn’t look as steep as it really was.

34F9C8AE-8581-481E-9332-C6F0C38A4588Our next hike was El Cajon Mountain, which is a 10.6 miles lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Lakeside, CA.

00A048CA-2AFB-4452-9F7C-898BF00E46F1 It is a mountain in the Cuyamaca Mountains, and is a prominent natural landmark in the East County of San Diego. The summit of El Cajon Mountain is at 3648 feet.  The mountain is almost completely surrounded by private property or and indian reservation, but the mountain itself is mostly within the Cleveland National Forest or the County of San Diego’s El Capitan Open Space Preserve. There are many different hikes and climbs up El Cajon Mountain, with difficulties ranging from a class 1 hike all the way up to a class 3 scramble.  All the climbs are difficult due to the considerable elevation gain.  The trail head is located within the community of Lakeside, CA.  We parked in the lot and made our way up a road to reach the trailhead.

CCE547A1-8F7F-476A-B0B3-BAF26711B5C3Most of the trail was dirt covered and surrounded by luscious greenery.

B3BF9104-1FD8-4461-9120-6F79C81F0CC3The flowers were also in bloom, and the smell of lavender was ever present.

B04D5C45-336A-4E52-A7E4-021A750E4DFE703DEEE4-3F0E-4636-990E-C01F9691049CFBF38D28-5E8F-459C-B0AF-5FCF873F0407Luckily, it was overcast throughout the entire hike.  It would have been uncomfortable with the sun as there were no shady spots.  At times, the clouds were engulfing us.

0002EB98-2C53-4853-AA56-BCD0021F664BThen we came upon a most unusual sign, which we have never seen while hiking.

A87253E4-6366-4C79-938E-9DA3A1A2D2C4I actually thought about turning around since it would not be just going back down, but rather down and up and down and up.  This was a tricky hike.  We continued on another two miles until we reached this sign.


At this point, we were so close to the summit.  The terrain became narrow and rocky.  We made it!

AF8D160E-D737-42DC-B626-EC57756CB14DScott noted that the boulder behind us was the true summit.

767B57AF-BAD0-49F4-B109-10252F06F36FHe wanted me to join him.  This was my reaction.

09B66C0A-3AAE-470E-B129-ADA87114E957It took of just over five hours to go 10.5 miles.  Total elevation gain was 3,616 feet, even though the summit was slightly higher than that number.  I was very tired, but I felt really good when it was over.  We need more of this in our daily lives.

No cooking that evening.  Better to spend it with my nephew again.  We dined at The Fish Market Restaurant, Top of the Market, at the San Diego bayside.

6711E71A-1A20-41B2-8BC4-910EF2B4F210We walked around outside after our meal and took in the sights.  We saw the National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military and the Kissing sailor statue also known as Unconditional Surrender Statue.

A3A13A04-2A40-4AD4-85E5-F2A9691FB4DAEABE7622-1206-4CA2-A11E-F12E341122F6The next day we became tourists with an old army buddy of Scott’s that lives in San Diego.  Charlie picked us up and our day together began with lunch at George’s at the Cove, a famous seafood restaurant overlooking La Jolla Cove.  The seals were playfully barking below to my delight.

97C7BD61-CB2D-4AA9-BACE-50561A5BBAFDOur next stop was Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Park which offers great views of the city.

AB8FBE80-A954-4852-AB51-84FE06C5B34201649B34-BC81-4888-A552-FCEB13E97826We got back in the car and drove to Seaport Village.


7F1306F0-7404-4F86-8C27-B4233C1C677DCharlie pointed out various famous locations as we continued our tour.

53F5A545-E630-42D1-9EA2-C2679D96CFEEI had no problem being a back seat passenger.

9796449D-3724-45E6-B284-F13B33546E67Thursday, May 9th, was Scott’s 56 birthday.  He enjoyed a home-made Italian dinner of Bow Tie Pasta with sautéed vegetables and sweet sausage, finished off with a dollop of ricotta cheese. Yummy!

52805229-84C5-492B-BEE9-B05E495A0A64His birthday gift was a map of the United States National Parks.  Now we can track our progress.  Red pins reflect 2018 park visits, green pins are for 2019 park visits, and the white pins represent places we have skied.

ADB127C5-678A-4CF6-919E-899277F28151We couldn’t leave San Diego without going to the San Diego Zoo.  One of the highlights of the day was this very silly orangutan who entertained the humans.


We were lucky to get up close to a Grizzly Bear who was preparing to eat.

EDE8D8CB-C50A-4E6F-AD3D-415248ABA2B647A22EFE-11FD-476C-B060-AB914E29D556F83765B5-B69C-4C0F-A1C8-5128433D4E31My favorite animal, the monkey, entertained the humans as well with their acrobatic stunts.  Here are some babjust hanging out and contemplating life.

778111EA-6868-4D7F-9485-912051D8B227Since walking around the zoo all day in cool temperatures wasn’t enough, we went home to take a quick nap, shower and then headed over to the Civic Center to see Jerry Seinfeld live.

6A578E31-F7E0-4708-BEA1-D3B419735E46Another famous landmark is the Coronado Hotel.

CB964EA4-B2BA-4881-AFF3-7C06C0830A83You can get to it by taking the ferry…


…or by driving across the bridge, which is how we traveled.

What better way to end our travels in San Diego than to be guests at my nephew’s home.  He was quite the griller, and his home that he shares (with two other male roommates ANd a large dog) was spotless.   Needless to say, I was very impressed.  It was a great evening!

DBE9F996-EC53-4FE8-AF6D-C36E72A8E9682177B1AC-2795-4CAF-AA2D-D00FB13D392288C1138B-14B2-42FD-8045-FA0B71195E4648D68610-5696-4DBF-8471-96A171588A60How many times did we watch the replay of the final second of the game when Toronto beat Philadelphia in the NBA Conference Semifinals?  What an exciting win for Toronto!

The time has come to leave Southern California.  We will be storing our RV and heading back to Jersey for my mom’s 90th birthday party and a wedding.  To be continued…


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