Southern California beach communities.

Weekend Beach Reprieve from the Madness

Ok, maybe the title is a little melodramatic. However, it’s April 2021 and madness is still prevalent no matter what spectrum you view the world from. So, if you think the whole world has gone crazy, you’re not alone.

San Diego Retreat

Technically, we only spent half a day in San Diego of the four day extended weekend trip. San Diego was the highlight and we want to go back. It was a nice break as we hadn’t been out of Las Vegas since September 2020 when we went to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Don’t believe everything you read/see/hear in the news. California is doing just fine. We observed the majority of people going about their lives, pandemic be damned. Masks were required inside every venue, but outside in the open air I would say 3/4 of the people were without masks. Old and young alike.

As you can see by the many pictures posted here of our trip, we always had our masks at the ready. No big deal. The only real inconvenience was at lunch on day 3. We were on San Diego’s embarcadero which was limited in dining choices. Not because of the pandemic, because of rent, I assume. We had wait 45 minutes for a table at the Fish Market San Diego. It was worth the wait.

Southern California beach communities.

Overall, the trip was a success. Although, we skimped on our hotel accommodations and our cheap hotel room was a low point. We’ve stayed in some dives before, but this one could use some updates. More on that later.

Day 1- San Marcos

We were quickly reintroduced to the congestion that is part of California. Having not lived in the Bay Area for over 3 years I had forgot what real traffic was like. Our drive from Vegas was held up by at least an hour when hit the bottled up California freeways. This was on a SATURDAY.

We made it to San Marcos by early afternoon and was able to check into our less-than-stellar accommodations. As I said above, this was the low point and by the history of low points goes, I really don’t have much room for complaints here.

We made a beeline to the beach. Only to be met with more congestion. The nearest beaches were in Oceanside and Carlsbad. The parking lots were full and traffic moved slow. It was the weekend and traffic here is to be expected. But, we’re in a pandemic and California is on fire, right? This was not the case. People were out enjoying the 80 something easy breezy weather in force.

We wanted to visit the The Fields of Flowers in Carlsbad, but were turned away because we didn’t have reservations. A pandemic reality. Too bad, but our fault for poor planning.

Our fist day wasn’t all ruin. We found a great Vietnamese restaurant, Chef’s Pho and Grill in San Marcos. Not only was this restaurant handling the pandemic in brilliant fashion, the Pho was really good as well. Pho is one of my favorite Asian meals. Dana and Feiya could take or leave it, but I take every chance I can get to slurp down a tasty bowl of Beef Stew Pho. Good Stuff.

Dana had a conference to attend to Saturday and Sunday night, so we went back to the room a rested before taking Dana to her obligation. Pretty quiet first day, as most of it was driving.

Day 2- Encinitas

On Sunday we made our way to the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. We secured a 10am reservation after our debacle the day before. We found a line of about 15 people when we arrived. We virtually had the place to ourselves.

Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.

I love botanic gardens. I used to visit the botanic garden in Denver several years ago and try to visit them in cities that I visit. The San Diego was a nice garden. They have a good collection of plants from around the world and have ample representation of native California foliage as well.

Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.

This botanic garden is what you would expect with meandering walkways and trails. There’s some nice water features, albeit it was surprisingly small. We spent a good hour and half walking the gardens. We grabbed some cool photos and headed on with our day. It even had some cool botanic artwork infused into the gardens.

Feiya and I forgot our masks. We didn’t realize until we were 10 minutes away from the hotel. I didn’t want to lose 20 minutes to drive back, so I whipped into a CVS. Dana had a small clean cotton spare mask for Feiya. She went into the store and came out with a green plaid mask for me. She said it was the last one. I soldiered on with the mask for the day.

You can see below that we had some hits and misses with the timer on my camera.

Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.

For lunch we found Encinitas Fish Shop on the 101 in downtown Encinitas. It was typical Southern California health food fare. If you think you can’t get your fill on a salad, think again. They had a cool modular menu that offered many varieties to a fresh menu. Very ingenious of them! The staff was great and the food was spectacular! Five star all the way.

Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.

After lunch we took a short walk down to Swamis Seaside Park. A cool surfer haven where we found a bench by the seaside cliffs and watched the surfers gliding atop the waves in the ocean below. I couldn’t help but notice the eclectic mix of people at the park. I saw people driving expensive sports cars and others who probably make parks like this their permanent residence.

Southern California beach communities.

I’ve always had an affection for surfer culture. It was alive and well here as I saw people of classes interacting with each other on a common ground– surfing. I’m not na├»ve enough to not know there is conflict among the surfing community in Southern California, but here I saw perfect harmony. And that harmony is what I’ll implant into my memories. I’ve had several brushes with the surfing public and as a lifelong dreamer of belonging to this community, it’s all I have. I’ll accept it at that.

After spending some time at the beach we did our next favorite thing to do, thrift store shopping. We found a cool thrift store in nearby Cardiff, Rancho Coastal Humane Society Thrift Shop. Feiya and Dana both found some cool clothes. The staff was very cool and I highly recommend it.

I have to mention the dinner Feiya and myself had. After we dropped Dana off for the 2nd night of her conference we decided on pizza for dinner. We ordered a pizza from Sorrento’s Pizza in San Marcos. It’s a family owned and run Italian restaurant. The service was great and the pizza was incredible!

Day 3- San Diego and Imperil Beach

Monday was to be the highlight of our trip. We had booked a 2 hour boat tour of the San Diego Bay about a month before we took the trip. The boat cruise didn’t disappoint. The boat was comfortable and the Covid restrictions were tolerable. Masks were required, but technically they were a floating restaurant so if you were seated you didn’t have to wear a mask. The lunacy of it all!

Photos below were taken before our boat tour on the San Diego Embarcadero.

Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.

These photos were taken during our boat tour on the water.

Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.

Here’s some bad photography on my part. Dana always likes to pose for photos, but as you can see my Ricoh GRII has issues with the auto focus. 2 of these photos she’s out of focus and 3rd has a distracting background. It’s not smart like most modern point and shoot cameras that will detect faces. After looking at them on the PC they made me smile.

Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.

I’ve always knew there was a Naval Base in San Diego, but I never realized the sheer presence that the Navy has in San Diego. At least 75% of the bay is or was occupied by the Navy. I’ve never been much of cheerleader for the military.

However, after witnessing a training exercise by the military in the bay I changed my perspective on the military. The photos below shows a rescue training exercise being conducted by the Navy in cooperation from another tour boat company, Hornblower Cruises & Events.

As you can see from the photo the boat is cruising at operating speed, at least. The helicopter hovering above was flying in tandem with the boat. While they were moving through the bay they helicopter was lifting people off the deck of the boat. This was a rescue training operation.

It made me think– this is a good use of our military might. Imagine that! Our military used to snatch our citizens out of peril. I know the military has been used in such cases, but this was different. Here they are training for a rescue mission on our soil to save our citizens (and visiting citizens as well). This should be the top priority of our military.

Today, our military is used to shore up our resources, mainly oil. Oil is an expendable resource that is primarily used by private industry. We can live without oil. Really, we can. What we can’t live without is water and people. Therefor, the bulk of the military should be allocated in the preservation of those resources. We can’t survive without water and we need people.

Yes, I’m looking at the world through rose tinted glasses, but I don’t think I’m that far off. Anyway, kudos to those who on that sunny Monday spent it practicing on rescuing our citizens within our sovereign borders. More of that please!

We ate lunch at the Fish Market San Diego. It dined on the deck overlooking the bay. The food was delicious, but the service could be improved. I won’t rant to much about the service as I’m sure they were hamstringed by the Covid restrictions. Overall, a great dining experience!

Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.

Onto Imperial Beach

On our boat tour the tour guide mentioned Imperial Beach and the beautiful drive across the bay the small beach community. It was a great recommendation and was one of the highlights of the trip.

We crossed the Coronado Bridge and landed in Coronado on well, Coronado Island. We then navigated through the busy little town and headed south.

Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.

We passed the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. This is where the Navy Seals are based. I could see the training courses they had to circumvent through their training. As I’ve said before I’m no cheerleader of the military, but I do respect the sheer physical and mental obstacles these guys overcome to make it to the elite team that is the Navy Seals. I don’t think I could have done it in my prime. Hat’s off to them!

Imperial Beach is small beach town just north of the Mexican border. I imagine it’s population is primarily made up of military personnel. I could be wrong, but that’s the sense I got from being there. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful place to visit or live. We visited the beach and took a nice long walk to the Imperial Beach Pier. We had ice cream and found lot’s of photo ops. I would rank this day a 10/10.

Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.

Carlsbad Sunset

Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.
Southern California beach communities.

To round out our last full day of our extended weekend sojourn we visited Carlsbad State Beach to watch the sunset. It was a cool evening, but the splendor of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean was amazing, as it always has been. I’m so glad I get to share moments like that with Dana and Feiya. We watched the sunset over a gaggle of surfers waiting to catch those elusive evening waves. A perfect Southern California evening to end a perfect Southern California weekend getaway!

Another Amazing Adventure

That concludes another family adventure with the Rowlands. I have to admit with Dana’s conference schedule and Covid restrictions I wasn’t expecting much from this trip. But, as I’ve learned from past trips no matter the hurdles we have to overcome we always find a way to have a great time.

All photos were taken with my Ricoh GRII. I had my Sony A6000 with me, but having the Ricoh in my hand just feels better. Probably not the most practical camera for this trip, but it’s my favorite.