The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.
Monday, March 10 through Sunday, March 16, 2014-Coronado, California, Week #2: Another week in paradise, we remain nestled in our little camper between the blue Pacific Ocean and pristine San Diego Bay.
Throughout our stay at Fiddlers Cove RV Park, we focused on relaxing. Kit did it her way…..
The waters of San Diego Bay were perfect for paddling about. There was the protected marina in our front yard that provided an opportunity to see some incredible boats up close.
Such as the one above… After chatting with the owner of this beautiful Ketch while he puttered about and I bobbed around in my little yellow kayak, he offered to take me for a sail! Terry, a retired Navy guy and current UPS driver, spends most weekends on his boat. Being a Sunday he was buttoning things up to make the trek back home to Yuma, Arizona and unfortunately we were to leave before next weekend (insert sad emoticon thingie here). However, Terry said I could take a rain check, even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so I will look him up next year when he plans on being retired and living on his boat full time!
As I paddled further into the marina, I sadly noticed there were some nice boats that looked as if they had sat on their mooring with little or no attention from their owners. Such as the black hulled yawl in the below photo.
I couldn’t quite figure out what that object hanging from the aft mast was, so I paddled closer.
Yep, an Osprey nest built on what looked to be the radar platform! Obviously this boat has not been under sail for quite some time…..pretty sad!
Tiring of the protected waters of Fiddlers Cove, I ventured out of the breakwater and into San Diego Bay.
Starting the GPS Tracks App on the iPhone before placing it in a dry-bag, I paddled toward the Coronado Bridge approximately three miles up the bay.
Passing well clear of the US Navy Amphibious Base, because there were security signs everywhere warning to stay clear and because that’s where the US Navy Seals are trained and educated at taking care of business…..if you know what I mean!
I was making pretty good progress toward my goal as the city of San Diego skyline came into view.
Realizing that I could actually make it to the bridge, and paddle under it, gave me incentive to keep cruising on. Even though I had been on the water for quite a while and needed a break…..if you know what I mean, staying hydrated and everything, as I was.
Soon I had a nice view of the San Diego Skyline framed within the Coronado Bridge.
It was a real thrill to be kayaking under the very same bridge I used to cruise under on an old beat up, World War Two destroyer back in the 1970’s when we left or returned from deployments.
On the far side of the bay I could just make out some of the modern Navy warships that sat at piers while being overhauled at one of the many shipyards that dot the bay. Many were ships I had worked on during my 21 year career with various defense contractors.
OK, Now I really had to make landfall…..but where? Fortunately the prestigious Coronado Golf Course was located on the bay, and fortunately the tide was out revealing a small spit of sand suitable for beaching a small kayak, and fortunately even though there were golfers plying the course on the bluff above they were paying absolutely no attention to me so…..all’s well that ends well, if you know what I mean?
As I made the relaxing paddle back to the RV Park, I was hoping that Kit had as nice and relaxing afternoon as I had.
Yep, guess she did!
Speaking of Kit, she has a new hobby.
Can you guess what it is?
Even though this trip to San Diego was to be under the radar, there were a few folks that we wanted to see. My oldest friend from grade school and the person I routinely got into mischief with back in those days was Rodney. He and his delightful wife, Gloria are now retired and living in Tecate, Mexico.
Inviting them up to our camper at Fiddlers Cove, we had a blast talking over old times and enjoying barbeque and beer in the warm California sunshine. Rod and Gloria have a beach place on the Sea of Cortez which they invited us to on our next trip out west. It was great seeing them both and upon leaving, Gloria presented us with some homemade Jalapeno Jelly, which we have been enjoying ever since!
Next month, the village of Coronado is playing host to the officers and crew of the Navy’s newest warship. The Coronado (LCS-4) is scheduled to be commissioned on April 5th at North Island Naval Station.
Photo from US Navy website
This state of the art Trimaran is a Littoral Combat Ship and was built in Mobile, Alabama by a consortium of builders including General Dynamics and its subsidiary, Maine’s own Bath Iron Works. A very fast, very capable and very flexible warship, the Coronado can be outfitted with a variety of Mission Modules tailored to the specific warfare capability needed. Kit and I have been offered tickets to that gala event by a good friend back home that works on the project. Unfortunately we will be eastern bound long before April 5th rolls around so had to respectfully decline.
There is a fellow RV traveler that is staying in the park who we originally met a few weeks ago up in San Louis Obispo. Dave and Janet are full time RV’rs, a life they assumed following their retirement and the selling of their home in upstate New York. Coincidently, we had the same general travel plans and kept bumping into them at various campgrounds as we both hopscotched down the coast.
Also coincidently Dave is an avid Geocacher and offered to take me on a search of geocaches nearby…..so off on our bikes we went. It must have been “newbie luck” as I spotted the first cache hidden in the pickleweed of San Diego Bay.
However Dave, with over 1,200 finds to his credit showed his experience and found the next couple of caches as I was scratching my head and staring at the Geocache App on my iPhone.
While on the hunt for more finds, we noticed a number of bike riders on the pedestrian/bike path that were similarly dressed and sporting flags affixed to their bikes.
Dave, a retired Army Sargent Major and I a former Navy guy, quickly realized it was a ride dedicated to The Wounded Warrior Project. Many of the cyclists were on recumbent or hand-cycles due to the loss of limbs.
We stood alongside the path at respectful attention giving thumbs up and applauding as these military heroes peddled by.
It was a humbling and inspiring moment and refocused our attention to the things that really matter in this world. Thanks Veterans, we are very proud of you!
Eventually, nearing the time we figured we better be getting back to the RV park, Dave took pity on me and stood aside while I stumbled about and found the last cache hidden in the shoreline vegetation and camouflaged with sand and seashells.
A great day on the hunt for some nicely hidden caches in a beautiful environment with a seasoned pro…..life is good! I actually doubled the total of my lifetime cache find during the three hours we were out. Thanks Dave for the patience and mentoring, I know have a renewed appreciation for the sport of Geocaching!
After getting cleaned up, Dave, Janet, Kit and I went into the village and enjoyed a great Italian meal at an upscale restaurant.
As mentioned in the last journal, the pedestrian and bike path that parallels The Silver Strand connects the town of Imperial Beach to the Village of Coronado. It is nice paved and fairly well used pathway…..one we frequently walked or biked on during our stay.
However, for us that prefer dirt beneath or wheels, part of the path is augmented by an adjacent mountain bike trial.
Being on foot or bike affords one the opportunity to notice and enjoy all the beauty along the way.
Or appreciate the unique art work that is scattered about.
Or, yes…..to even stop and smell the beautiful spring flowers.
One day while we were walking to the village, we came upon this operation at the municipal boat launch which is located next to Glorietta Bay Park.
These folks operate an adventure ride called Aquatic Aviation. The red 55 foot hose is attached by way of an adapter to any standard high horsepower Personal Water Craft (PWC). The “pilot” straps into the apparatus consisting of boots and a pair of water jet nozzles, called a “Flyboard”. Once in the water the pilot then has the PWC operator increase power and he is lifted out of the water on two columns of high pressure water.
Stability and directional control is accomplished by body position and hand movements allowing the pilot to navigate laterally across the water with the PWC in tow.
The Flyboard has sufficient thrust to lift the average pilot up to 35 feet in the air.
And an accomplished Flyboard Pilot can do aerial summersaults……
…..Recover to normal flight…..
…..and link another summersault till he gets tired or dizzy, or sane…..whichever comes first.
The pilot can even plunge headfirst into the water, dive to 35 feet and then porpoise back to the surface and into flight mode once again. Missed getting a photo of that operation!
The folks you see in the photos above were actual paying customers. The two young girls were twins from Vermont on a spring break trip to visit their aunt, the grey haired women at right. All gave it a try…..even the 64 year old aunt!
As mentioned in the last issue, Ferrari’s are as common in Coronado as Subaru’s are in Maine, and they seem to be only sold in the color red! This particular beauty was spotted just outside the west gate of North Island Naval Air Station. And as with most Ferrari’s, they head you see poking above the headrest is indeed grey.
As I turned the corner where the Ferrari was waiting at a stop sign the driver waved. Being a friendly sort, I waved back and then pulled to the curb so I could snap a couple of photos as he accelerated away from the stop.
It wasn’t till a few days later when I downloaded the camera I noticed something familiar about the license plate.
Yep, New Hampshire…..a neighbor from upta home! In retrospect, I bet he noticed our Maine plates and that’s why he waved. Or maybe he noticed the good looking chick sitting next to me!? Shhhhh, don’t tell Kit!
After yet another enjoyable day of playing tourist in Coronado, we treated ourselves to yet another enjoyable Mexican meal.
At Costa Azul Cantina, I ordered the Carnitas and they were pretty darn incredible. Kit enjoyed a loaded burrito which she liked as well. We both enjoyed a large cold draft of Arrogant Bastard…..gotta love that name!
So…..the “Restaurant Score Card” during our stay in the San Diego reads as follows:
- Costa Azul
- The Prado
- The Lazy Dog
- Miguel’s Cocina
- Lou & Mickey’s
- Five Guys
- The Pier Café
- Ono Grinds
- Bill & Kit’s Webber Grill
OK, that last one is barbequing on our new Camper Grill, which we did a number of times turning raw steak, chicken and hamburger into tasty meals.
There are many friendly folks camped at Fiddlers Cove RV Park, and with the great weather everyone was out and about. One couple we enjoyed visiting with was Bob and Judy from Colorado.
They had just purchased a new camper, which you may notice over their shoulders, and were on their maiden voyage. Kit, expressing an interest in the trailer was invited to take a look inside…..and I tagged along. A smaller (by today’s standards) three slide unit by Excel, the trailer was pretty impressive with many “residential features” including a pair of leather recliners. Kit is sold! Bill still likes their tiny, and paid for, camper. Who will ultimately prevail?
As you know, Kit is an avid reader and a real library aficionado. So one bright sunny day she wanted to drive into San Diego and experience the new Central Library. Now normally I would drop her off and search for something more to my liking to explore. However the architecture of the brand new structure that dominates the southern edge of downtown intrigued me so I followed along.
The six month old, state of the art library, covers 500,000 square feet and features nine stories of books, classrooms, computer labs, and reading rooms.
The architectural capstone of this beautiful structure is a steel mesh dome made of individual “sails” suspended on cables.
These sails, a prominent architectural element, also provides sunshade to the 9th floor which contains a massive reading and reflection area with incredible views of downtown San Diego and many points beyond.
Kit immediately felt at home and sat in one of the many overstuffed chairs to enjoy a read and partake in the incredible views.
On two of the floors of the new San Diego Central Library exists a Charter School, a first in the nation partnership. Currently consisting of only two grades, there are plans to add additional levels of education in the future.
This unique and beneficial city resource can be serviced from throughout San Diego County by automobile which would utilize the two levels of underground parking, or by the established and well used San Diego Trolley System which stops in front of the libraries front doors.
The San Diego Central Library is fantastic, and will serve the citizens for many generations to come! Check it out if you’re ever in the area.
Following our visit to the Central Library, we decided to explore the nearby Gas Lamp District of downtown San Diego.
This formally seedy area of waterfront in the old industrial section of town has been totally gentrified and turned into a major local asset and tourist draw. The restored factory buildings have been converted into shops, taverns, restaurants and condos. And nearby, right on San Diego Bay is the Convention Center.
After walking around a bit, we decided to have an early (Blue Hair) dinner at the famed Lou & Mickeys.
Where we both enjoyed the signature Fish and Chips made from locally harvested Ling Cod recently hauled up from the deep waters off San Diego.
The meal was excellent, and as you can see, quite plentiful!
Following dinner, Kit set off on a search for some retail therapy and I walked a few blocks to the south and visited Petco Park.
The 42,000 seat stadium is at appropriately at 19 Tony Gwynn Way and is the home field of the San Diego Padres.
Its open design faces north and gives most fans an excellent view of the game as well as views of San Diego Bay, the downtown area, as well as Balboa Park. Known as a “hitter’s park” the outfield fences are low and just beyond the park lie many bars and restaurants. A bit of trivia, the first homerun hit during major league play at Petco Park was caught by the bartender at The Kansas City Barbeque Restaurant. A grassy area just outside the ballpark is called The Park at the Park and allows folks to enter on game day for a mere five dollars and sit on blankets to watch the game. Petco Park is a nice small town baseball park in a large city.
Growing up in the area Kit and I have a number of friends and family that still reside nearby. On each year’s trip we try to see as many as we can while still balancing our need and desire to see some of the sights as well. On the morning before we left, we were treated to a visit from Kit’s brother John and his very pleasant wife, Lu.
Being retired, they make their home in South San Diego and we had a very nice, albeit too short visit with this busy couple.
Another person we wanted to see was yet another friend from the old neighborhood. CeCe works for the TSA and was recently transferred back to her home city after tours of duty in Boston and Alaska. We met her down at Seaport Village, a shopping and dining mecca in downtown, right on San Diego Bay.
After a fine meal at The Pier Cafe, we lingered over coffee and shared stories of our common history as well as our separate paths in life.
As Kit and CeCe walked the adjacent promenade, I made a beeline for a collection of kites I had noticed at a nearby waterfront park.
The owner of most of these brightly colored machines was the owner of the local kite shop out on a busman’s holiday and impromptu marketing mission.
I had a great time talking story with Scott about various kite configurations and their flight dynamics……and I learned a great deal as well! I was amazed that he could answer my endless stream of questions while keeping a very fast high performance kite in the air, and performing some pretty complicated tricks as well! Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get near as good at flying my kites someday.
Well…..as the moon rose over downtown San Diego…..
…..and as the Golden Hour of sunset illuminated the nearby park…..
…..we say goodbye to our friend CeCe…..
…..and another beautiful day in Paradise!
Kit’s Bits: As a former SD girl, now a small town New England girl, it’s nice to come out this way and enjoy our “home town” as a tourist, finally. We’ve both always loved the sights of SD but never have had or taken the time to enjoy them. This visit allowed us to see several places we’ve always wanted to see. The weather was absolutely perfect and the new RV Park in Coronado was the perfect spot to park our little trailer. We still have more sights and more people to see, so, will definitely be back. Even though SD is certainly “America’s Finest City” though, we both love our home town of Brunswick, ME and would never leave it. SD though, is a perfect diversion for the winters ;), if you know what I mean…