Kim and I loved our stay in San Francisco. There was a diversity in the people, the places and the food that made me feel like we just scratched the city’s surface. That said, a big reason for our trip to California in mid March was to absorb some sunshine, so we were anxious to head just north of the border.
I walked out of the baggage claim in San Diego’s airport and immediately stripped off my sweater, boots and rain coat. I could barely keep my eyes open in the bright afternoon sunlight. Kim asked me if I remembered to bring sunglasses, and I realized that I wasn’t sure if I even owned a pair.
Our friend Lainy, who was Kim’s college roommate, picked us up and drove us around the San Diego Bay to her apartment. We promptly exchanged our jeans for shorts and headed to Pacific Beach to catch up over fish tacos. Like us, Lainy left the familiar surroundings of DC for the prospect of a western adventure. We knew very little of her new life in San Diego since her departure from the east coast two years ago. Lainy introduced us to her boyfriend, who kindly offered to take us out on the bay in his sailboat. Despite being boarded by the Coast Guard for a random safety inspection five minutes into the trip, we enjoyed a very relaxing afternoon of sun and sea.
The next day Kim and I drove up to La Jolla, a beautiful neighborhood just north of the San Diego Bay. The morning was dense with fog and the green surf was unusually rough as we walked along the oceanside. Fortunately for us, the waves drove a large number of harbor seals to a seek refuge on nearby beach. Together we observed the seals of all shapes and sizes resting warming themselves in the sand. With each wave that encroached on their resting places, the seals raised their heads and tails in unison. It was odd to see marine animals recoil from water with such disdain, but having just escaped the drenching rains of Oregon and Northern California, I could relate.
After a great brunch in La Jolla, we head back to Pacific Beach and did our best seal imitations by nestling ourselves into the sand and listening to the surf. With the afternoon sun on my face, I fell fast asleep and woke up feeling more refreshed than I’ve felt in months.
The next day, Lainy joined us in the afternoon as we cheered on our alma mater in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The game quickly turned into a drubbing but we were happy just to be reminiscing about college in a beachside bar 3,500 miles away. Rather than romp around the city in a vain attempt to hit Sea World and every other tourist destination, Kim and I decided to spend another afternoon on the beach, frequent Taco Surf, a legendary taco and burrito shop, and take a scenic drive to Kate Sessions Park. Perched atop a low-rising coastal mountain, the park overlooks downtown San Diego and the rest of the bay area. As Kim, Lainy and I lay in the green grass with the sun drifting down toward the sea, I started to wonder just what life could be like living in seemingly eternal sunshine.
We also traveled to nearby vista at the Mount Soledad Memorial for an even more expansive view of the surrounding hills and coastline. Aside from some rather unattractive rows of gated communities, the views were stunning.
In the end, we didn’t manage to see the Hotel Coronado nor Balboa Park, nor the San Diego Zoo before heading back to Oregon. I’m sure those places are beautiful and fun in their own ways, and I’m excited that they give me a great excuse to return at my next opportunity. In the meantime, I’m more than content to have relaxed over California burritos and frozen yogurt with my friends.
Kim and descended from sunny skies into rain clouds as we landed back in Portland, but we landed feeling restored and, deep down, glad to be back in our new hometown. After all, in two in a half months, we’ll be enjoying an Oregon summer.