Oceanside, California   10/7 – 10/29 (Part 2)

Oceanside, California   10/7 – 10/29  (Part 2)

After San Diego, it is a relief to get back to Oceanside.  Here we have all that perfect Southern California climate without the massive traffic and crowds that infest the big cities.  True, Oceanside is still part of the supercity that extends from Tijuana to Los Angeles, but over here there is still some open space.

Oceanside is a multi-layer cake of a city.  The first layer is the beach and the downtown area between Interstate 5 (AKA “The 5”) and the ocean.  This is where California Dreaming takes place.  The beach is sprinkled with deeply tanned young (and a few old) surfers and beach denizens.  Close to the beach is a nice variety of food and drink, hotels and motels, beach gear shops, and lots of little “Quickie Mart” stores for overpriced liquor and beer.  Pretty much any day of the week there is live music someplace.  On Thursday and Saturdays, they have a Farmer’s Market.  On Thursday night they have a “Sunset Market” with an amazing variety of food tents, arts, crafts, produce, and music.  On weekends, the long-haired locals and the buzz-cut Marines mix together (mostly) without incident.

The sun sets on another relentlessly beautiful day
You can almost smell the coconut suntan lotion
You can never tell who is going to be on the Pier
Ocean Highway follows the coast for miles and miles
Get your tacos, BBQ, lumpia, pad thai, roasted corn, or ice cream at the Sunset Market

The next layer of the city starts North of The 5.  This area is a little more spread out, a little warmer and drier.  The hills get bigger and housing developments, all sporting red brick roofed faux haciendas, spread like melted ice cream.  Industries, big box stores, breweries, and strip malls start out here in the “inland”.  Freeways run like rivers to the ocean.

On The 5
East of the 5, North of the 78, heading for the burbs
Abbey style ale, that is
Happy hour at the Works
Another happy hour with some great beers.

The last layer of the city lies even deeper inland.  Tendrils of suburbs wend through valleys, following veins of freeway.  The hills have turned into low mountains, fringed with garlands of large homes, gloating over what must be a great view.  The open spaces become agriculture or golf courses.  The dense multiverse of greenery that thrives on the coast gives way to the high chaparral.

OK, but think of the view

This is also the area where the Missions were built, three centuries ago.  The Spanish clergy came to convert the local people, the Conquistadores came with them to make sure it stuck.  Or something like that.  Check your history books for a long and twisted history with the lands and people changing hands frequently.  We visited the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia and found a beautiful old building that has been lovingly restored.

Founded in 1798

A very rare wooden octagonal cupola

As you may recall, we have been looking for a place to settle down.  Using our lavish beachside rental as a home base, we scoured the area for a new home.  The more we saw, the more we knew what we wanted.  Finally, we found a bargain with everything on our list.  After two years of traveling around the country, we are going to be rooted again.  At least for                 the seven months of the lease.  After that…?

The view from our deck. I am going to miss the sound of the waves, the smell of the salt air.

Next up:  Some thoughts from Marylu

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San Diego  9/21 – 10/7  (Part 2 – dentist)

San Diego, California: Population = 1,406,630 (San Diego – Tijuana metro area = 4,922,723), elevation = 62 feet, Average January low temp = 49º, Average July high temp = 74.6º, Average precipitation = 10.34”, average annual rainy days = 41.5

We are staying in San Diego for a couple of extra weeks after Brother Father Bill’s retirement.  On the way here, I broke a chunk of tooth off, so I need some dentistry and, reportedly, Mexico is a great place to get it.  My vague memories of a ragged, sketchy Tijuana back in the 1970s are, I hope, obsolete.

Past the McDonalds, around the corner and onto the Path
Welcome to Mexico

I am hoping I can get everything done within the two weeks in San Diego we have booked so far.  My first appointment is on Tuesday.  The light rail takes us to the border  and a taxi drops us at a modern high-rise office building.  The exam is thorough, and includes a complete set of X-rays.  The technology is new and impressive.  A small, minimally intrusive probe is placed, I hear a little buzz, and up there on the flat screen, an X-ray appears.  The verdict is root canal, post, temporary crown today, a permanent crown next week. (Total: $800) They use a team approach.  Each member of the team is specialized on part of the treatment and they all perform their tasks together with careful precision.  About two hours later, I am tired but not really too sore.

A little ways away from the border, the buildings area tall and modern. Up on the hills, homes cluster together to share the view
Whatever you need done to your teeth, these guys can do it

Back across the border.  The worst part of the whole day was not the dentist, but the interminable trek across the maze that is the border crossing.  At least we did not drive.  The line for cars entering the States is long and wide.  The train whisks us back to the park-n-ride.  We find a brewery nearby to relax in for a while.  Mexico is a strong influence here in the Barrio, and I have a Horchata stout for starters and a michelada for dessert.  It is taco Tuesday but, even though they look and smell muy delicioso, I am going to have to wait for soft pasta later.

Driving into the USA takes a while
Interesting beers and great tacos

The rest of our time in San Diego is pretty low key.  We get caught up on a few things, we have lots of great food and beer, we visit some local attractions.  Our rental is just a few blocks from Balboa Park, home to 17 museums, lots of performing arts venues, gardens, trails, and an enormous zoo.  On this visit, we see the Natural History Museum.  Southern California is home to an incredibly diverse population of plants and animals.  Used to be lots of dinosaurs too.

Cali critters
Gotta really love birds to love a condor
A very large frog
A dire wolf and a saber-toothed tiger
Giant sloth

Way, way back in my youth, I decided that I wanted to join the Navy and see the World.  A few signatures and a physical and I was on my way to San Diego.  Boot camp was mostly a huge expanse of asphalt that we were constantly marching on.  Along the sides, in neat, military order were rows of barracks and a big mess hall.  Some time after my Naval Adventure — saw the world, mostly water — the whole boot camp was taken over by San Diego and converted to shopping, restaurants, museums, and so on.  It became a Destination.  Out of curiosity, and with Brother Father Bill as our guide, we stopped by to see what they have done with the place.  Big improvement!

Sounds a lot better then “Boot Camp”
The food got a lot better too
A tall glass of Arrogant Bastard and some tuna poke after a hard day of marching around the mall

Back when I was in the Navy, I loved San Diego for the climate and for being so green and exotic, compared to Minnesota.  This time around I am not impressed.  San Diego has grown huge, overcrowded, and clogged by freeway after freeway criss-crossing the city.  Off the freeways, the city streets are narrow and crowded and lack parking even in the residential neighborhoods.  The homeless are camped everywhere.  The airport is right downtown, with the flight path and noise right overhead.  We will be glad to get out of San Diego.

Next up: Oceanside again

San Diego  9/21 – 10/7  (Part 1, Bill Retires)

San Diego, California: Population = 1,406,630 (San Diego – Tijuana metro area = 4,922,723), elevation = 62 feet, Average January low temp = 49º, Average July high temp = 74.6º, Average precipitation = 10.34”, average annual rainy days = 41.5

San Diego is just a short hop down the coast from Oceanside.  The several cities along the way blend into one another like scoops of ice cream on a warm day.  By the time we reach the city limits, the mega-city is huge and densely populated, swarming with aggressive traffic.  Freeways criss-cross everywhere in every direction.  Once again, we thank the inventors of GPS for finding our path through the labyrinth.

Freeways are woven into San Diego like vines in a fence
Just follow the blue line

Our mission here is all about family.  Marylu comes from a family of 8 siblings who (generally) get along famously.  As I quickly found out when I married into this family, the wits are quick and the cracks are wise, so try to keep up.  We are gathered here to celebrate Brother Father Bill’s retirement from the Navy.  Bill is a Catholic chaplain who has had an extraordinary life of adventure and service to God and Country.

The whole Dorwart gang, from 2014

The ceremony takes place aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.  She is currently tied up in San Diego in preparation for her next deployment, the Persian Gulf.  The many workers and sailors scurry about the pier, dwarfed by this gigantic mountain of steel.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt, or as the crew calls it, “The Big Stick”

Inside the Roosevelt, our party is led through grey passageways, up and down ladders, and through cavernous compartments.  The ceremony is taking place on the hanger deck, which has been draped with an American flag the size of the one in “Patton”.  The Boatswain’s whistle announces the arrival of the officers.  Stern looking men in crisp white uniforms speak in glowing tribute to Bill (aka Lieutenant Commander Dorwart).  Memorabilia is presented.  A solemn flag ceremony is performed.  More than a few proud tears leak from the watching eyes of friends and family.

The officers honor one of their shipmates
Brother Father Lieutenant Commander Bill addresses the gathering

Later on, the friends and family gather on the beach for a picnic and some informal time together.  Later still, we gather for a sunset cruise around the San Diego Bay.  This is a very loving family and goodbyes take a really long time.  Smooth sailing everyone.  Good luck on your next mission, Bill.

Party on the Coronado Beach
San Diego at night

Next up:  San Diego (still)