Thursday, August 13, 2009
California, Here We Come!
BEWARE! This post is suffering from an absurd number of pictures; continue at your own risk.
As our summer vacation -- a rather wistful one, since it's our last family vacation before the wedding -- we decided to visit my parents' old stomping grounds in Southern California. My dad was stationed at Camp Pendleton as a chaplain, so he and my mom became familiar with the San Diego area during that time. My older sister was just a baby, so it was almost as new to her as it was to me!
Our first two days stayed on the Naval submarine base at Point Loma. Our lodgings were right on the water -- I could have jumped from our fourth floor balcony and landed on the rocky beach below, but I decided not to.... *wink* Alas, no photos, since apparently the base is too *top secret* to be captured on film (or memory chip). We did get to watch a sub come in to the harbor; one by one, crew members spilled out of the sub hatch as the two tugboats approached!
The rest of our time we stayed on Coronado Island, which is One of The Most Gorgeous Places on Earth. In my book, anyway.
The best thing about the beach there? The sand *glitters!* It's a mixture of white and black sand, and little tiny gold flecks that sparkle in the sunshine. None of the locals could explain it to us, but my research has come up with an explanation of mica. Isn't that what they use in make-up?
The beach is also a good place to find some shells, including sand dollars. They're a different variety from our Gulf Coast dollars, interestingly.
The most famous attraction on Coronado, however, is the gorgeous Hotel Del Coronado -- which has been a fashionable watering place since it was built in 1888. Frank L. Baum actually wrote several of his books (including some of the Oz books) while wintering on Coronado. The hotel is absolutely gorgeous, both from the beach:
... and in person:
The luscious panelled lobby was incredible! I've now visited two of the three great wooden hotels from America's Golden Age -- The charming Belleview Biltmore in Clearwater, Florida, and The Hotel Del (though we've only stayed overnight at the former). Just one left -- The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island! One day...
Old Town San Diego was another treat. It's actually a state park, with a bevy of shops and little show-yourself-around museums. My favorite shop, hands down, was The Johnson House. I felt like I had just walked into the pages of a Victorian Trading Company magazine! Antique dresses, lovely jewelry, lace gloves, top hats, parasols -- the whole nine yards! The perfect place for a souvenir, in this case a blue cameo locket (have I mentioned that I adore cameos? Well, I do!).
I've already mentioned the San Diego Zoo in my last post, but I have to rave a bit more! I could have spent days in there, looking at all the amazing animals (or letting them look at me -- I'm not quite sure what zoos are really for...). My favorite was probably the hummingbird aviary -- watching a hummingbird take a bath three feet away is quite exhilarating! The exhibits were gorgeous, and the whole place felt like a tropical paradise. The flowers! Oh, the flowers!
And on a whim, Tiffany and I decided to partake of an old childhood favorite:
As soon as I took a bite, I started laughing! It's been so many years since I've had cotton candy that I'd completely forgotten the sensation of eating it! Delicious and hilarious!
On Sunday afternoon, we attended a free organ concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. This is no ordinary pipe organ -- it's an outdoor pipe organ pavilion, and the organ itself has 4,500 pipes!
The architecture is gorgeous, and the music was unbelievable. We opted for a large umbrella (which you could rent for $2), and it turned out to be a merciful protection from the merciless sun!
We also traveled up to La Jolla (Luh Hoy-ya) Cove, which is another breathtaking place -- my kind of coastline, with rocky caves and not much beach!
I love the squirrels on the California coast! The pattern of their fur reminds me of bird feathers -- and they're just so cute and perky!
Of course, no account of a trip to San Diego is complete without mentioning the weather! For us poor baked Floridians, the temperate climate and cool breezes were delicious!
Well, there was one more destination on this trip, but I think it deserves its own post -- this one is shockingly long as it is! Besides, it will be nice to keep it a Surprise.