This isn’t a travel blog… but, as a blog about our adventures, I feel compelled to write about our San Diego experience. Have you ever experienced effortless flow on vacation? Maybe this is more common for others. For Susan and me, vacations are typically more mentally exhausting than rejuvenating. We always return from vacations feeling like we need a vacation to recover from vacation. It sounds weird, but something about the energy required to navigate a new place, to find the best restaurants, bars, attractions… all while avoiding the touristy spots is mentally draining to us. Plus, there is the self-induced anguish of, “We’re on vacation – we’re supposed to be having LOTS of fun! Are we having fun? What aren’t we doing that could be more fun?” Basically, our vacations never seem to flow. So, imagine our surprise when our San Diego vacation provided 9 days of pure, effortless fun and enjoyment.
There’s something about this city that just works for us. And everyone is Just. So. Friendly!! Seriously, everyone was so nice on this trip! I suppose there’s a direct correlation between friendliness and weather. With an average of 263 days of sunshine each year, how could anyone possibly be grumpy?? Or, perhaps the friendliness that we experienced was simply a reflection of the happiness that we were feeling in this city. Either way, it was one of the factors that made this trip the unbelievable experience that it was.
Susan left for San Diego 3 days before I did, since she had to work. The whole reason this trip came about was because Susan was selected as an Assessor for the San Diego Police Department’s Promotional Assessment Center. So, she worked on Monday and Tuesday, and I arrived on Wednesday. Travel days are typically brutal on me. Between motion sickness and anxiety over flying, I’m always a complete mess. I always arrive at my destination in a Dramamine fog, and just want to sleep the rest of the day. Which is pretty much what I did on this trip. I took a taxi to the hotel, and slept until Susan was done with work for the day. Then, the rest of our vacation unfolded like this…
Wednesday: I slept off *most* of the Dramamine fog, and then we went to dinner at Sandbar. This restaurant has stacked up some impressive awards for their TKO style fish tacos, and I can attest that they’re definitely the best I’ve ever had! A good beer selection, great happy hour specials, superb fish tacos and a super friendly wait staff made this a highlight of our trip. Plus, the fact that you can gaze out to the ocean while sitting on the rooftop patio doesn’t hurt, either. Oh, and while doing said gazing, there were 2 whales putting on a show for us about 200 yards out from shore. Jumps, blowhole spouting, the whole nine yards…. it was so awesome!! After dinner and a “show,” we needed dessert, and headed to Baked Bear for some build-your-own ice cream sandwiches. You pick either cookies, brownies or doughnuts as your “sandwich” and select from a crazy amount of ice cream flavors for your “filling.” Phenomenal. Seriously. I wish we had a Baked Bear in Charlotte!
Thursday: While Susan worked, I checked out Hot Yoga at CorePower Yoga in Mission Valley, and then wandered around Balboa Park for awhile. I grabbed a hot dog from one of the cart vendors, and sat near a large fountain to do some people watching. And, man, was it some good people watching! A lot of people were taking their photo in front of the large fountain, and the poses I saw were priceless! I call the most common pose “The Conquistador.” Hands on hips, one leg propped up on the fountain ledge, glancing over the outside shoulder… like you OWN that fountain! LOL. Unfortunately, I was too busy laughing at everyone else to take my own picture in front of the fountain. But I did get some pics of the Cactus Garden and the Rose Garden (below). I scooped Susan up around 5:00pm and we went to dinner with some of the other Assessors at a sports bar in Gaslamp to watch the NFL draft.
Friday: Friday was my BIG ZOO DAY!! Definitely a highlight of the trip. I just love all the aminals (yes, I meant to say aminals). I’m gonna need a baby panda and a baby koala ASAP. Holy crap, those little fuzzballs just melt my heart. I wandered around the zoo for 7 hours. Yes, 7 HOURS!! And those 7 hours were fueled by peanut butter & fried banana pancakes from Great Maple. Pictures of those amazing pancakes and the little fuzzies below…
I really did love the pandas, and went back to see them twice despite the 30 minute line. I learned something interesting, though. All the Giant Pandas in the USA are actually here on lease. They’re owned by China. So, all the babies that are born here will actually be sent back to China eventually to be entered into their “Panda Training Program.” Whatever that means.
Saturday: Hot (extremely hot!) Yoga at CorePower Yoga in Clairemont Mesa. Brunch at Urban Solace. “The Madame” was amazing, and Susan has promised to learn to make it for me. 🙂 After brunch, we headed out to Torrey Pines to check out the golf course. I absolutely want to golf there one day, but it didn’t really fit into our plans for this particular trip. But, from what I could see, it’s a spectacular golf course!! Then, we headed out to find the infamous Ho Chi Mihn Trail. The trail head is a bit obscure, and hard to find, which just added to the adventure of this hike! Google Maps will take you right to the trail head, but you won’t believe it, because you’re in a neighborhood with beautiful, multi-million dollar houses. The trail was made and is maintained by local surfers, and is hands-down the most amazing trail I’ve ever hiked. At first, it’s very unassuming. A flat trail, with spectacular views of the ocean. But then, you start descending down to the ocean. And this descent involves navigating through what I call “sand tunnels.” It’s beautiful and exhilarating and a little bit terrifying. Honestly, there were a couple parts where we questioned our decision to hike this trail. At one part of the trail, where Susan and I were cautiously inching our way down a particularly slippery and sharply sloped area, a couple local surfers politely trotted by us at full-on jogging pace, while holding their surfboards. We watched them as they gracefully made their way down this trail that we were crab-walking at snail’s pace. It was impressive, to say the least. Near the end of the trail, it gets so steep that you have to use a knotted rope to descend to the ocean. Amazing. Just amazing. Here we are on the trail.
After strolling along the ocean for awhile (Caution: this is very close to the nude beach, Black Beach, so prepare to see some skin!), we were ready for some beer. We headed into North Park to check out Belching Beaver Brewery. The Peanut Butter Milk Stout is delicious!! And the “Beaver Snack Bowls” were the perfect appetizer before dinner. We grabbed dinner at a little, authentic Mexican place (it was okay, but we’ve had better in Charlotte!). Then, we played arcade games at Coin-Op, a bar and arcade for adults! I saw this place on our walk to dinner, and couldn’t wait for dinner to end so we could get back there and play some games! Although I was the one all worked up and excited to go, once we got there, Susan was the one who couldn’t peel herself away from the pinball machines. (Note to Self: we must buy a pinball machine in the near future!) After kicking Susan’s ass at pop-a-shot basketball and hogging the pinball machines for far too long, it was time for dessert. So, back to the Belching Beaver Taproom for a Beer Float. Root Beer floats are one thing… but a Beer Float?? I had to try one! I had the float that was made with the PB Milk Stout beer and PB ice cream with whipped cream and PB cups. It sounds delicious, right?? Well, I discovered that it wasn’t really my thing. LOL. The beer is great, and the ice cream is great, but the two together was weird. Regardless, I’m glad that I tried. 😉
Sunday: Yoga at CorePower Yoga in North Park. Brunch at 100 Wines. Most epic brunch experience EVER!! We sat there for 2 1/2 hours and loved every second of it. We started with the Manchego stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates (amazing!) and moved on to main courses all while enjoying not 1, but 2 carafes of champagne. $8 carafes with your choice of juice, served in adorable, little mini-pitchers. We had pineapple, cranberry and orange. SO GOOD!! Oh, and Susan (being the friendly, extroverted person that she is), helped our waitress unfold a large umbrella on the patio, so she bought our 2nd carafe for us. Remember what I was saying about everyone being so friendly here??? Then, after that much champagne, it was nap time. We headed over to Coronado beach, laid on our yoga mats, and took a nap in the sunshine. Somehow, when we woke up, we were hungry again. We knew we wanted to watch the sunset that night, so we headed towards Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. Near there, we stopped for dinner at Hodad’s. (A “Hodad” is a person who hangs out at the beach and pretends to be a surfer, but really can’t surf). Susan and I realized, sadly, that we were Hodad’s. Perhaps if we lived in San Diego, we could shed that title and actually learn to surf! 🙂
Dinner at Hodad’s was another amazing experience. It’s such a popular place that a line forms and wraps around the outside of the building. So, like everyone else, we got in line and waited. And it was well worth the wait. Cheeseburgers, fries, onion rings and milkshakes. Not much else on the menu, but they’ve completely mastered these menu items! After dinner, we walked some of the trails at Sunset Cliffs and watched the sunset. And watched people watching the sunset. Good times.
Monday: Laid at the pool, sipped iced coffee and read. This was the warmest day of our trip, and I wanted to get some sun! Also went to check out a really cool suspension bridge in the middle of the city. It sways as you walk across, but seems pretty safe. 😉 Susan and I rounded out our vacation with another CorePower Yoga class and a great dinner and drinks at the original Karl Strauss Brewery.
Truly an amazing vacation, and we’re already planning our next trip back! Afterall, I do still need to golf Torrey Pines. And Susan needs to eat at The Great Maple.