Saturday, June 7, 2014

Road Trip... Part 5

We got up the Wednesday morning in Encinitas and decided to drive down to the Pacific Coast Highway for the trip into San Diego. (There was no chance of hitting a dead end this far down.) I wanted to show Arden the beautiful city of La Jolla and what better way to get there than to drive down the coast. We needed gas so went across the street from the hotel to a station. On the way in I saw these signs posted together....

I'll just leave that there.

On the way down the coast we crossed a bridge and came to a wonderful stretch of public beach. We stopped along that beach for breakfast. We had two cheese bagels from The Nosh along with butter and cream cheese. We planned well. We sat in the car and ate, watching the swimmers and the few surfers who were looking for that one big wave.

When we were done with our bagels we headed on down toward La Jolla, stopping first in La Jolla Shores. We got out and walked on the public beach there. The water was still surprisingly cool but there were a few brave swimmers in it. Just around that point and up above the water about 40 feet lies the city of La Jolla.

I had told Arden that once she saw La Jolla she might not want to go back home. She was a bit skeptical. Then we drove into town and down to the waterfront...

We walked out on the rocks to take most of the pictures. There were waves breaking onto the rocks but we were far enough back not to get wet. Or so we thought. I snapped a couple of quick pictures of an incoming wave....

The second picture was taken just before that wave soaked me from head to toe! It was a little bigger than I thought...

We wandered around those rocks for about an hour before we had to climb the face of the hill back up to the van. We were both wearing flip flops - not exactly climbing shoes. Now we were headed for Coronado Island and the Hotel Del Coronado!

We got back on I-5 and drove through downtown San Diego to the Coronado Bridge - a span that's 200 feet high at it's highest point and nearly 3.5 miles long. It drops down onto North Island, home of the North Island Naval Air Station. The road turns South and goes down through the city of Coronado to the Hotel Del Coronado, on the Southern tip of the Island. The road continues down the Silver Strand - a thin stretch of land that connects to the mainland in the Southern part of National City, not too far from Mexico.

On the way back up the Strand we stopped at a little park. From there we had a great view of the bridge.

We walked around for a few minutes just to stretch our legs. During that walk we came across this incredible Bird of Paradise plant:

Once back to Coronado, we parked across the street by the marina and walked up to the hotel. On the way we passed the Glorietta Bay Inn, an old plantation turned into a hotel where I stayed the last time I was in Coronado in 1999. 

I didn't get a good overall photo of the hotel itself but did get a couple of detail photos...

The stained glass window on the front of the hotel is supposed to be Queen Califa - a fictional character from a Spanish novel and believed to be the namesake of California.

We wandered around the grounds then ended up in the back of the hotel in an open air restaurant. We wanted a drink and a chair and that's what we got. Two margaritas with a view...  $31! But the waiter took our picture and I took a picture of a cactus garden in a 3x6 foot planter box that I wish I could do here at home. (I suppose I can but would have to move it into the house in the winter.) The hotel staff wasn't really happy with me for standing on a chair to take the picture...

Finally it was time to meet Kathy and John. We were going to a Cajun restaurant called Bud's Louisiana Cafe, just off the 15 freeway. Since it was rush hour I allowed 45 minutes to get there from Coronado. We headed back up through the beautiful little town of Coronado and over the bridge again. From the top you can see the Navy shipyard.

Surprisingly, it only took us about 2 minutes to get to the restaurant. The traffic wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. Kathy and John arrived early as well so everything worked out fine. We ate very good Cajun food (I had Crawfish Etouffee) and enjoyed some great conversation and catching up. Even though her sister and I had been divorced for a long time, Kathy is still family. I like that.

I'm embarrassed to say we took no pictures. I don't know how we did that. We talked and laughed and none of us thought to get out the camera. Duh.

When it was time to leave the restaurant Arden and I had decided we were going to start our trip home that night rather than get a hotel until morning. She wanted to stop in Marfa, Texas, on the way back. Marfa is a tiny town in Southwest Texas where people see lights in the desert that cannot be explained. The sightings are well documented and people have offered explanations but as of yet the explanations haven't worked for every sighting. More about that in my final post.

We headed East across Southern California on Interstate 8. As we climbed into the mountains the temperature dropped from the mid 70s to the mid 60s, then began climbing on the other side into the 80s. We drove through Yuma, Arizona, and on into central Arizona before stopping at a busy rest area around midnight to take a nap. There was a guy next to us in a pickup sleeping on the bench seat with his head on the arm rest and his feet hanging out the window on the other side. It was still about 80 degrees but there was a breeze so it wasn't too terrible.

I woke up around 4am and was unable to go back to sleep. I told Arden I was going to keep driving. Tucson was 2 hours away and if we left now we'd get through there at 6am, before the traffic started. She said OK and went back to sleep.

As I got near Tucson it began to get light. I tried to get a good picture of the sunrise but it didn't turn out very well....

We stopped on the Southeast side of town to grab coffee and ice, then kept moving. The next exit on I-10 was Wilmot Road - where the federal prison complex is. You know I had to drive out that way and see it. The old FCI is on the East side of the road and the USP is on the West, about half a mile down. I like to drive by and take a look at federal prisons if I'm in the area. Particularly those I haven't seen before.

We got back on I-10 and headed East, back across New Mexico and into El Paso, Texas. From I-10, on the West side of El Paso, you can look across the Rio Grande and see the run down homes and shanties in Mexico. It's strange being that close to another country.

By the time we got to Texas, Arden was driving and I wasn't feeling well. I was developing nausea that would come and go so I got in the passenger seat, laid it back all the way, and tried to rest as we made our way to Marfa. And it only got worse.

To be continued...

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