Beauty and Ugly – Day 25

Day 25 – April 25, 2003 – Friday

Beauty and Ugly

Those of you who have been to San Diego know.  Those of you haven’t have undoubtedly heard how beautiful it is.  Well, it’s even more beautiful than that!  The sky and water are always azure blue.  Most of the buildings seem to be crisp white.  And the trees and plants and flowers combine a beautiful green with the other colors of the rainbow.  An important part of the beauty is due to the lush vegetation here; it must be the perfect climate and soil for making every tree and plant look healthy and beautiful.


Of the 626 towns that we have now seen on this trip, Savannah and San Diego are way at the top of the list for most beautiful city.  The two are as different as can be.  You might have to give San Diego the edge because of the weather here.  68 degrees most of the day with brilliant blue sky and bright sunshine.


Barbara asked Linh at the Marriott Courtyard this morning what it’s like to live in a place that is so beautiful with such an incredible climate.  She loves it, but she said people here take the climate and beauty for granted; they expect it to be sunny and beautiful every day.  Linh noted that there is a big trade-off to living in a place like this.  The cost-of-living here is sky high, and most people who live here know they will never own a home, as they just can’t afford one.

As we got dressed this morning, we saw on Fox News that ships were returning to the San Diego Naval Base from the Iraq War.  Three guesses where we went.  We tried to get on the base to wave and shake hands and hug soldiers, but a female in fatigues with a machine gun would not let us in.  I tried to take a picture of the lovely entrance area, but she told me I couldn’t.  Once again, I was wishing Rose was here to help.  I drove away, but after hooking a U and driving past the base again, I snapped a photo.  We also stopped and spoke with some of the ABC TV folks who were there to cover the event.  I was close to Fort Bliss when the POW’s returned there, and I regretted not heading there for a few photos, so we didn’t want to let this opportunity pass today.


What we saw of the Naval Base was very impressive.  We were very close to the border of Mexico at Tijuana, but we didn’t want to spend any of our San Diego time in Mexico.


Flags and yellow ribbons are everywhere in San Diego.  We always see this in military towns.  I didn’t realize San Diego had so much military, but it’s everywhere – naval bases, naval air stations, combat training centers, and on and on.


There is no way to see San Diego in one day, but that’s all we had, so we made the best of it.  To others, we would recommend several days, and begin with a trolley tour that covers the main sights in the city, and then explore on your own after that.


We started in Balboa Park, and we took a trolley ride around the park.  Rick Diaz was our driver/tour guide.  Balboa Park is filled with fabulous museums, beautiful buildings, and gorgeous trees and flowers.  I asked Rick if San Diego has anything like the world’s largest ball of twine, and he laughed.  Then he showed us the Spreckels Organ – the world’s largest outdoor organ and/or musical instrument.  It has 4,530 pipes.  Mighty impressive.  Then Rick told us a story about his gall bladder surgery.  The gall stone removed was about the size of a golf ball; he has it in a jar at his home.  He was quite the celebrity when he went to the lab to get it; all the medical folks wanted to come out and see the guy who produced such a monster.  All of us on the bus decided it MUST BE the world’s largest gall stone, so that gives San Diego two world’s largests.  I told Rick that in a number of towns across America, he could open a museum in his home and make money charging admission to see it.


That got me to thinking that perhaps there is a better use for the collection of over 100 hotel shampoo bottles that I am amassing from the journey.  Instead of auctioning them on ebay, maybe Bozzie Jane and I should open a museum to display them…or donate them to a place like Sponge-O-Rama or Harry and the Natives.


Anyway, we had a lot of laughs with Rick.  It turns out he is an actor and singer.  You can hear his music at  Rick Diaz.  He’s also in an upcoming movie.


We met Allen, Bill, and Walter at the Balboa Park Visitor’s Center.  We had a nice chat, and when Bill ( commented on the beads I was wearing, he asked if we had been to Mardi Gras.  No, I explained that the beads were a gift from the Floating Neutrinos.  Then I told them the whole story of meeting Poppa and Aurelia Neutrino (Day 18).  I explained that I don’t normally wear beads, but I am a little superstitious, and I figured anyone who floats on a raft from New York to Spain and lives to tell about it has some good luck going on, so I will continue to wear the beads.  Bill then took off his Hawaiian Lei and gave it to me.  How nice!  It matches my outfit really well.  My beads are green, purple, and white, and now I have a lovely purple, green, and yellow lei to wear with the beads.  I did notice the stares from men became a little more shocked-looking once I added the lei.  It may be a little too much color for most men.  Some guys just can’t wear purple.


Coronado was our next stop.  We drove over the San Diego – Coronado Bay Bridge, and we saw the Del Coronado Hotel, a massive place that is really something.  It’s a Victorian-style hotel built in 1887, and it is one of America’s largest wooden buildings.


We met Steve, a Coronado lifeguard.  Great guy.  He gave us several recommendations on places to go and things to see.  I asked him whether any Baywatch-looking babes worked on the beach in Coronado, and I believe the answer was no.  He said we missed the rescue of a sick little sea lion that morning; the folks from Sea World came to get it so they can nurse it back to health.

We met a man named Bill after he saw the signs on our car.  I gave him some information about Big Bend as he and his wife are planning a visit there, and he told me to get ready because I will love Sedona, Arizona.


Barbara had the honor of picking a lunch spot.  We had pizza at Island Pasta.  It was nice sitting out on the sidewalk, and Sharon our waitress was a lot of fun to talk with, but we prefer Domino’s.


We saw the San Diego Convention Center, the stadium where the San Diego Padres play, and Gaslamp Quarter – a downtown area filled with neat restaurants and shops.  We also stopped to see KC Barbeque, where scenes from “Top Gun” were filmed.  And we saw Seaport Village – another shopping area catering to tourists.

Old Town San Diego is the area where California and San Diego were first settled.  There are wonderful old, authentic buildings there, but virtually all of them have been turned into gift shops.  Not as bad as Tombstone, but not what we expected.


Mission Beach is the home of Belmont Park.  Nice beach and a cute little Coney Island-like area with a big wooden roller coaster.  On the boardwalk there, we met Malene, Tanya, Sonja, and Astra.  They’re from Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, and they are here for a year attending a language school.  They asked me to take their picture with their camera, and I was happy to do so.  I did tell Sonja of Germany that when she goes home, she needs to tell everyone in Germany that the Americans are great people, and their country needs to support us.  She wasn’t buying it.  As nice as she was, I’m afraid I don’t believe we should let anyone come here to study who comes from a country that doesn’t support the US.


Next up was a drive through La Jolla – the ritzy area of San Diego.  Lovely restaurants and shops.


From La Jolla, we headed to Point Loma – the very tip of San Diego out in the Pacific Ocean.  We saw the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Point Loma, and several Top Secret military installations.  We were able to get some San Diego skyline photos from Point Loma.  What a gorgeous city!  We had planned to shoot sunset photos from Point Loma, but there were signs that indicated the area was closed and we weren’t supposed to be there.  There were other cars in there with us, but I could just see that female sailor in fatigues with the machine gun picking me out of the crowd Vincent Passarelli-like as the one to nail for trespassing.  So, we headed for Ocean Beach.


Ocean Beach has the longest pier on the West Coast, so we took some photos from the shore and then snapped pics all the way out to the end of the pier and then back on shore.  It was an excellent place to shoot the sunset, and it is the first time in 25 days that we have had an unobstructed view of the sun as it disappeared on the horizon.  I did learn that the automatic focus on the camera malfunctions if the very center of the camera is pointed directly at the sun, so I lost some good photos.


We were too tired to go out to dinner, so we decided to hit In-N-Out Burger again! Outstanding!

We kept asking, but we didn’t find anything really quirky in San Diego.  That means there’s an opportunity here.  If Rick decides to open a museum with his gall stone, then Boz and I would consider donating our shampoo collection to help get it started.


The main lesson we took from today is to appreciate what we have.  It’s hard to believe that people who live in such an amazingly beautiful place with a great climate would take it for granted, but most apparently do.  This lesson was also conveyed to us today when we knew that just a few feet away brave men and women were returning from a war fought for the purpose of protecting our country and our liberties.  We should all appreciate what we have as Americans.  And then there’s my traveling partner – back on duty.  As is all too often the case, I know I appreciated her more when she was gone, but I’m mighty happy to have her back.




To those of you who have emailed to tell me how ugly my shoes are….After 25 days on the road, perhaps I have lost all perspective, but they don’t look THAT ugly to me.  🙂   I’m definitely into comfort at this point.



Bozzie Jane is here and we’re in the car. We left the hotel at about 35,051 at 11:00. 68 degrees.

Sprekle’s organ, 4530 pipes.

35063 we’re coming over the Del Coronado Bridge and have entered the city limits of Coronado. It’s just been an enjoyable little bit of time at Balboa Park; the highlights were seeing the world’s largest outdoor organ and/or musical instrument, meeting Al, Bill (he gave me a lei at the visitor’s center) and Walter, seeing some beautiful buildings, architecture, gorgeous grounds, and then meeting Rick, the owner of the world’s largest gallstone.

Rick has got a CD out and he’s going to be in a movie. He gave me his website and I will link to it.

Coronado had one of those little temperature or thermometer deals. They were looking for 200,000 compared to Truth or Consequence who was looking for 5.

There’s major flag action here. I think that’s because it’s a military town and people are always more patriotic in a military area.

I met Steve, the lifeguard; he was a nice guy who gave us recommendations for restaurants. He told us that Dr. Beach of the Trail channel was out here this morning because they’ve named Coronado the best beach, and they rescued a little sea lion. The folks from Sea World came to pick it up and nurse it back to good health.

We also met Bill who travels a lot. He saw the signs on the car.

We were at the US Naval Station where a lady with a machine gun wouldn’t let us in so we took a picture as we drove by. Then we went to the Guest Lamp Quarter; we saw the baseball stadium where they have a bunch of work going on.

35078 2:56pm as we leave The Guest Lamp Quarter, historic heart of San Diego. It is basically the number of restaurants down near the Convention Center where we took a picture.

We just toured Sea Port Village.

Toll Town is little nicer than Tombstone but basically just a bunch of real old buildings from when California was first settled. They’re all giftshops now. Now we’re at Mission Beach where they have even the world’s largest or something wooden rollercoaster.


We met Malene Estra from Germany or Holland.

7:31 pm 65 degrees 35123 we’re at Ocean Beach where the sun has just set. It definitely sets earlier here than it does at some other spots because I think it was 8:26 that I took the last sunset picture which was in Big Bend. There are really nice unobstructed views of the sun going down the whole time, so that was a first. We were on the longest pier on the west coast—Ocean City Pier.