San Diego, CA

January 31 – February 21, 2014

Wow, we really liked San Diego! We are not city people per se, so when we arrive in a city we are always a bit guarded. San Diego, which technically is a large city, feels like a laid back group of small towns. We were staying 20 minutes away from downtown San Diego, in the small town of Jamul, but we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. And we were! Coyotes sang to us at night and the stars shone brightly, while the morning sun created artwork on the desert mountains. Pretty cool, huh?

Our first taste of the city was to explore its origins, Old Town San Diego. In fact Old Town San Diego is considered the ‘birthplace of California’ as it is the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. It is houses the first of California’s 21 missions, which really led to the colonization of California.We enjoyed our afternoon admiring the old church, the old architecture, the many shops, and some delicious Mexican food!

Our next mission was to recognize the first European, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, to step foot on the US west coast in 1542 at the Cabrillo National Monument. This monument sits on a peninsula with an amazing view of downtown, the Naval base, and the Pacific Ocean. It also houses a historic lighthouse and some amazing tide pools!

While on this amazing coastline we had to explore its beauty. So we hopped in the towed and onto the Pacific Coast Highway. Our first stop was to pay homage to one of our Gurus, Yogananda. His Encinitas home is remarkable. It is on the bluff overlooking the beautiful beach with surfers frolicking and birds soaring. It is no wonder Yogananda used this abode to write his memoir, Autobiography of a Yogi. Next, we explored Oceanside, California. This beach goers paradise and surfing mecca was quite beautiful at sunset, despite its popularity. We even witnessed a marriage proposal. To finish off this perfect day we stopped by an amazing brewery beer garden, Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido.

Yogananda's Encinitas Retreat

Yogananda’s Encinitas Retreat

 

Being the animal lovers that we are, our next stop was to the Birch Aquarium and Children’s Pool in La Jolla. The aquarium was fantastic and we were lucky enough to watch the resident Loggerhead sea turtle swim! This juvenile Loggerhead was discovered injured in a New Jersey power plan’s cooling canal and due to its injuries and probable congenital defects is not releasable so it is now home in the Birch Aquarium. After, watching sharks swim, admiring more seahorses than we have ever seen, and touching some sea cucumbers and starfish we hopped back in the car and went to the nearby town of La Jolla. La Jolla is the seasonal home to many Harbor seals. In fact, it is one of their birthing grounds. We admired, from afar, the Harbor seals and their pups. Unfortunately, because these are wild animals and swim to any beach, not just the ‘roped’ off one, many were on the public beaches. To our dismay many tourists were disrespecting these beautiful creatures and taking advantage of the ‘photo op’. Sometimes, I really wish people would put their cameras down and just observe nature from a respectable distance. After all, we ALL deserve personal space and privacy. Additionally, cameras have a zoom feature for a reason. Ok, I will step off my soapbox now.

Since our visit corresponded with Humpback and Grey whale migration we decided to test our fate and go for a whale watch. We were not disappointed. We saw a humpback ‘watching’ us and several migrating Grey whales, along with a couple dolphins, harbor seals, and sea lions.  After getting off the whaleboat we had a nice sunset stroll along Mission Beach. Then watching people frolicking at Belmont Park, San Diego’s oceanfront amusement park.

Because we were in the land of never ending sun and summer like weather we HAD to enjoy the local farmers markets. And let me tell you, there is one just about every day of the week all year long! Now that is something I can get used to. On this day we visited the 4 block long Little Italy weekend farmers market. We stocked up on fresh veggies, fruits, and fresh baked bread then walked over to the San Diego harbor. While exploring Broadway Pier we stumbled upon a Tae Kwon Do tournament. It was very enjoyable watching 5-60+ year olds honing their skills!

San Diego is world famous for Balboa Park and we picked a Sunday to visit so we could listen to one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs, the Spreckles Organ. They had free organ concerts every Sunday and this piece of history is awe-inspiring. The concert we watched also featured a pet parade and animal inspired songs as it was dedicated to the San Diego Humane Society. It was fun! Of course after the concert, we explored the rest of this famous park. The Conservatory was one of our favorite stops.

So we didn’t go to the world famous San Diego Zoo while at Balboa Park, instead we went to San Diego Zoo Safari Park! We have visited the Balboa Park zoo in the past and it is an amazing zoo, but this time we wanted to see something a little different with even bigger exhibits. The Safari Park is an impressive place. It consists of 1800 acres and over 3500 animals. Our favorite exhibit was the Lion Camp with 2 adults (male and female mating pair) and their 4 8-month old cubs. Talk about playful energy. It was amusing to watch the cubs play and dad roar. Another favorite was the African Plains Safari. This enormous habitat allows several species of giraffe, rhinoceros, water buffalo, wildebeest, and lots of species of antelope to roam free. We even got to admire 1 of the 5 Northern White Rhinos left on Earth.  We also appreciated the troop of Gorillas. I think they were somewhat bored of watching all us humans, but we cannot get enough of these beautiful creatures. Another favorite exhibit was the Cheetah Run! Yes, that is right we witnessed an adult male cheetah run off leash at full speed. Pretty cool! Unfortunately our camera skills are not fast enough to capture such an experience. And did I mention there were Lions, Tigers, and Bear, Oh My!

When we weren’t exploring the surrounding area we were busy doing ‘normal’ things like watching the Super Bowl, going to the movies, eating at fantastic local restaurants and breweries, and having an insurance appraiser visit the RV so that we can finally get the deer damage repaired. That sums up our three weeks in the San Diego area; we had a wonderful time and probably will be back.