Saturday, July 25, 2015
We got back down to the Carr Peak trail below the intersection to the peak. This was very overgrown but it felt great to get back on terra firma again. We never did catch up with Holly, Doug and Gina but we did meet several groups going uphill, including two USBP agents, a young couple with their young girl, and a few other groups. We never stopped for breaks and instead went right back to our cars by 1pm.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
I've been trying to get my trip report from San Diego done this past week, going through the photos and editing what I have been adding here. I'm also trying to keep up with my Amazon reviews. It was my goal this summer to get down to "Zero Reviews Due" on my "To Be Reviewed (TBR) list what was at 72 items earlier this spring. I'm now down to one book and five various brands of personal hygiene products. My ranking while I was in San Diego slipped only slightly, to #415.
My eyes are on Sammy. He's been holding on these last two years since Sara died. He's now showing his age, with his white muzzle and his droopy eyes and that cyst on his left eyelid. His daily pills of tumeric and glucosamine seem to help his mobility, but he walks slowly and whenever I take him for a walk, I go at his pace while the other three dogs run along.
Saturday, July 18, 2015
There were already cars parked along the street and people on the beach.
A deflated soccer ball was Minnie's fetch toy for today and both dogs got into the game. There were many people and there dogs here, and the smaller space meant more dogs per square foot. Dogs were coming from all directions to play, and one exuberant young Chocolate Lab came running toward Minnie and Sadie. This was a rough-playing pup wo thankfully did no harm to my girls, however, this same pup viciously attacked a senior Husky walking along the shore with its owner. It's scary how fast these dangerous encounters unfold. I didn't see the entire fight, I just heard the yelping and the owners screaming. The owners of the Chocolate Lab were able to get the dog off the Husky, the Husky and the owner walked away. The dog was bleeding from its mouth but its thick fur kept it from any more serious injuries. The owners was understandably upset, lured the dog into the water to wash off the blood, and then left the area while the Chocolate Lab and its owners stayed on the beach. I had my eyes on that dog, as an attack on either of my dogs would not have ended as peacefully as with the Husky.
The sun was finally rising above the marine layer, but dark storm clouds offshore were also bringing in lighting and more rain. I got the dogs off the beach when a beach patrol came up in an SUV to warm all people out of the water due to the lightning. This car drove up and down the entire beaches with their megaphone. People were still coming TO the beach but I won't take that risk. I waited for the hose at the water fountain to clear out so I could wash the salt off my dogs, but people kept coming up to use that hose. This hose was the one plus over the other dog beach, but I must say I like the other beach more because of its size and location.
Sadie vomitted in the van but the watery upchuck was clear and landed on the cooling pad. Lots of water helped ease her discomfort. I sat inside the van for a bit to see if the storm would blow over, but when a convertible pulled up behind me with a boxer in the back seat waiting for some beach fun, that's when I left to return to the base for my morning shower.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Hummingbirds flitted around us. Minnie found some shade behind some rocks, but I soon moved to the higher rest area where there were more trees and more shade for both dogs and me. This spot faced the south and the San Diego skyline. People kept coming up from this end, masses and masses of people of all shapes and sizes. It was the Super Highway of hikes. Most people came, took in the view, drank some water, took some selfies and left to go back to their cars. I was on the peak for over an hour, letting the dogs rest. It's not like I had to rush somewhere and allowed the dogs to rest, knowing also that the longer we stayed on the peak, the hotter it would be for the walk back down. I opted not to continue the hike to Pyles Peak and instead return to our van.
This time I was able to get back to I-8 and the Pacific Highway south to go through town and the Coronado bridge. One can see all the Navy ships from the bridge. There is no toll now in either direction and I made it straight to the downtown area and managed a shady spot for the dogs in a parking spot that still had 1:17 hours left. The dogs rested in the cool shade while I went across the street to photograph San Diego's skyline. Then I walked a few blocks south on Orange Avenue, the main shopping street here. I even spotted the Coronado brewpub! I'm not a shopper anymore so the stores didn't lure me in (no interest in paying California prices anyway) and I wanted to see what else was around, like the Navy base next door which takes up most of the northern tip of Coronado. I rested a bit in the van while still parked in the shade before driving to the Navy base.
Security on this base is high, as it should be. Cars go in via one exit and out another via a separate street. Every ID card is scanned. I drove in and out of the base several times the rest of the day, so I'm sure guards were wondering what I was doing. I drove around to locate the NEX, the lodge, the gym and to get an overall feel of where the important things were located. The gym was my first place, where I went in to use the shower facilities. I hadn't showered since leaving Arizona Wednesday and my hair was looking plastered to my head. I wanted to make sure I was cleaned up before hitting the brewpub for Happy Hour. The dogs were quite content napping in the shade with the windows wide open, and I made sure I parked away from main traffic flow. With a new set of clean clothes and a clean body, I was now ready to explore the area.
I parked the van in front of the brewpub and by a palm tree that provided additional shade for the dogs. The brewpub was already crowded for Happy Hour. I found an empty stool at the edge of the counter and soon I had another neighbor to my left, a blonde woman about my age named Laura. Laura lives on the island and frequents to pub often. She let me sample some of the beers so I settled for a Golden and later a salty dog, both beers with low alcohol rates. I also had a Happy Hour Swiss cheese burger for $7.
Laura and a few other locals made for fun chatmates. The crowd at the counter was older, like my age and up and all very friendly. Laura has lived on the island for 12 years. She's divorced now, but once was a flight attendant for a major airline, but quit that job when she had her son. She now makes $12/ hour. How does she live off that while living on the island?
Another man to my right proved to be Belgian born. He came to the US to fight in the Vietnam war and is now an American citizen. Wearing his long greying hair in a pony tail, he still speaks with an accent. Both he and Laura told me they come to the pub quite often as they like the beer, food and owner, but the owner won't hire either of them because of their age. Hearing that was a bit of a turn-off, but that's when I noticed all the servers were young and perky.
I wanted to stay longer and chat with the locals, but the pub was getting crowded and I wanted to explore the island more, find dog beach and the other famed beaches. I told Laura I'd be back, but circumstances dictated otherwise. I never did find the dog beach and ended up driving the length of the island (it's really a peninsula) to the Tijuana River estuary along the international border. The entire shore is plastered with high rise condos and hotels, so seeing the beach is reserved for hotel guests. Traffic was everywhere. Bored with the mundane, I returned to my starting point on the north end.
I made it back to the northshore just as the sun set its last pinkish colors on San Diego's skyline. I stayed on the Navy base now, checking out the NEX, surfing the internet while in the McDonald's parking lot as a steady rain now fell over the city.
I eventually parked the van in a Navy lodge parking lot. No cars were around us and we had a quiet, undisturbed night.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
The small business area of Ocean Beach on Newport Avenue intrigued me. Bright lights and street musicians entertained the passers-by, so I opted to stay in the area for a meal. I chose a small corner brewpub, Pizza Port with its long family-style benches and counter order, parked the van by the entrance so I could see the dogs, ordered a small mushroom pizza and one 12-ounce glass of the day's featured Pale Ale, and ate my meal on the front patio. The beer was OK but nothing great and the pizza was just OK as well. But what ruined the mood for me was when an employee came outside to us patio patrons and told us the patio would be closing at 10pm because of the town's noise ordinance and that we would have to leave. It was 9:40pm and I still had half a beer and pizza to eat! The other three couples all got up and left and the employee started cleaning up around me. That was his way of telling me to leave. At 9:50pm I did leave, but the rush out of there ruined what could have been a decent dining experience. By 10pm the entire downtown area seemed shuttered.
It wasn't until late in the evening that I heard about the shootings at a Chatanooga Marine recruiting station, where five Marines and a sailor succumbed to the shooter's bullets. Luckily the shooter was killed by police. The shooter was a naturlized citizen born in Kuwait who apparently had depression issues. Oh, so it's quite OK for a depressed man to take up arms and start shooting people at random? Sounds like a premeditated plan. I had my radio station set to just one station during my entire time in San Diego, and that was the local NPR station. I heard the same programs all day long.
The trail quickly picked up more hikers who passed us by, and the dogs had to be at their best behavior. Several trails switch off from the main trail to Mount Woodson and I had to be vigilant. Warning signs remind people to carry at least two liters per person AND per dog, and to watch out for rattlers and mountain lions.
The dogs were both well-behaved around other hikers, although Sadie did bark at other dogs on the trail.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
I should have left at least two hours earlier, because I didn't get to the ocean until just after 9pm. But maybe leaving at the time I did also helped me avoid all traffic around Tucson, Yuma and San Diego? It was a smooth, uneventful drive. I drove the entire length of I-8 as it ended in Ocean Beach (where the Original Dog Beach is), right across the San Diego River and Sea World, which was launching its 9pm closing fire works as we arrived. The scenery didn't get exciting until I reached the hills east of Yuma.
The one stop I made for them was in Yuma, AZ, on the Colorado River. I let them dip their paws in the river under the bridge at Riverside park, where a few people were still chilling in the water. I had their travel water bowl filled up for them as well, so that they never were thirsty.
It was already dark when I made it to Dog Beach. People were still running their dogs and that's what I did, too, keeping the dogs on the sand and away from the water. The overcast made this a very dark walk and I had to be careful where I stepped. There was much kelp on the shore, but the dogs seemed more happy just getting out and running, although they stayed near me. The blue lights of Sea World reflected in the water, but it was otherwise a quiet walk along the beach. The dogs barked at a few people but seemed more content sniffing the new smells.
My first order of the evening was getting close to my first planned hike: Mount Woodson in Poway. The streets were mostly clear but getting oriented from San Diego to CA163 was a bit unnerving at first. I eventually found a dark, quiet spot in a well-shaded bank parking lot across from a McDonald's where we rested for the night for an early start in the morning.