All Good Things

Sadly, must come to an end.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

On our last day here in Carlsbad, we walked the beach to enjoy our last taste of warmth before heading back home. Although relatively cool here, with high temperature of about 70°, it’s in the mid-twenties back home.

We first visited the Cardiff Kook, who has new attire, and was celebrating yet another birthday.


The San Elijah Lagoon empties into the ocean in Encinitas, and it’s interesting to observe the wave action in the estuary.


We say goodbye to the sand and warmth of Southern California.


Our generous hosts took us to a delightful show this evening, “An American Christmas,” by the Lamb’s Players Theatre. The theme was “A 1917 Feast & Celebration.” The cast entertained us with stories, songs and dance from that era. They also assisted with serving and bussing the tables during our meal.

Lamb’s Players started in 1971 at Bethel College in St Paul, Minnesota as street theater. However, the season is pretty short in Minnesota so the founders moved it to San Diego the following year. They moved indoors a few years later, and are now located on Coronado Island. Lamb’s Players have been doing “An American Christmas” for 26 years, with a different theme each year.

The entertainment started even before the dinner began, with performers dancing or circulating among the guests to welcome us and help us get into the feel of 1917. The show centered around a “family” and their friends who had invited us to dinner and were determined to make our experience memorable.

In one skit, several members “read” from the headlines of 1917. Among the tidbits of news were stories about the Panama-California Exposition which ran from January 1, 1915 to January 1, 1917. There was discussion about the election of 1915 and immigration – some things never change.

The performance was hosted by the US Grant Hotel, built by Ulysses S Grant, Jr, and named for his father. It opened in 1910, and the cast marveled over the fact that many of the rooms had their own bathrooms!

The cast are all very talented, some playing musical instruments, all singing, and many dancing. It was a delightful way to bring a memorable trip to an end.

Posted in An American Christmas, California, Lamb’s Players Theatre, San Diego, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

San Diego History Lessons

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dave and Kathy took us to Old Town San Diego this morning, on yet another sun filled day.

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer, landed here in 1542 and named the site San Miguel. However, Gaspar de Portolà i Rovira, a Spanish soldier and administrator, constructed a military outpost called El Presidio Reál (Royal Presidio) here in 1769, and named it San Diego, which name stuck. Spanish soldiers began building residences in the early 1820’s, using adobe brick. The town came under Mexican rule after Mexico gained its independence in 1822. It remained part of Mexico until 1848 following the US-Mexican war.

Although San Diego benefitted from the gold rush of 1849, it soon declined. Future development occurred in nearby New Town. Fire destroyed much of Old Town in 1872. Sugar magnate John Spreckels began efforts to revive Old Town in 1907. Over the years, many buildings were renovated, and the area became a State Historic Park in 1968.

There are several museums, staffed by volunteers in period costume. As with any good historical attraction, there are many shopping opportunities. We resisted most, did stop for a root beer float. Yum!

Our next stop was Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, California’s first Mission, founded in July 16, 1769 by Junípero Serra, a Franciscan priest. Father Serra planted the first vineyards in California at this site, although they did not survive.

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá was the first of 21 missions along the California coastline. The first church was destroyed by attacking Kumeyaay Indians in 1775. Reconstruction was mostly completed by 1790.

In 1834, Mexican Governor Figueroa confiscated the missions and put them up for sale. The locals could not afford to purchase them, so the mission properties were broken up and given to military officers who had served in the Mexican Spanish War. After the US took over the, the US Calvary used the Mission as a military presence from 1850-1857. The lands were returned to the Catholic Church in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln. The property was in ruins and had to be restored.

The Mission was named a minor basilica by Pope Paul VI in 1976, and is also a National Historic Landmark. There has been some archaeological work done here over the past several years.

We visited Liberty Station at the site of the old Naval Training Center San Diego, which had operated here from 1923 – 1993. It is now a thriving retail and commercial center in Point Loma. We had late lunch/early dinner at a delightful diner, where I enjoyed one of my favorite meals – cheeseburger, french fries and chocolate malt. I’m so stuffed!

Final stop of the day was at Cabrillo National Monument to view San Diego at sunset – beautiful!


Posted in California, Missions, San Diego | Leave a comment

Olympic Training Center

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today we visited the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, aka the Olympic Training Center. One of three Olympic Training Centers in the US, this one opened in 1995 to serve athletes training for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was taken over by the City of Chula Vista at the beginning of this year. The United States Olympic Committee continues to provide funding (at least through 2020) for the facility. There is no charge to the athletes.

The training center sits on 155 acres, with views of the Otay Mountain Wilderness and access to the Otay Reservoir. We saw several sky divers over the mountains on this perfect day for leaping out of an airplane.

There are fields for hockey, soccer, rugby; BMX race courses, archery ranges, both inside and out, plus much more. Athletes can stay on site at one of the three dormitories.

We were able to see members of the US Rugby team in action and young BMX racers from the Netherlands. We could see several people training on the track, including at least one team comprised of a visually impaired athlete and his/her guide. These two are tethered together for the race, so the guide needs to be at least as fast as the athlete.

We spent the afternoon at Dave and Kathy’s home. They have been very gracious host over the past week and a half. This surprise connection has proven to be one we greatly appreciate.



Posted in California, Olympic Training Center, San Diego | Leave a comment

Beach Days

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Today, we drove up the coast to Laguna Beach, which is known for its many art galleries as well as beautiful beaches.

Every year from mid-November to mid-December, there is a Winter Fantasy Sawdust Art & Craft Festival in Laguna Beach. This was the 27th year for the winter event, a summer festival celebrated its 52nd year in 2017. There were 520 arts & crafts booths, plus demonstration areas, food and beverages, and entertainment. The dirt ground is covered with sawdust (mulch) to keep the dust down.


We also spent some time downtown, and walked along the beach. It was another beautiful day.


Monday, December 11

It’s nice to have a day with nothing scheduled. This morning, we went for a long walk on the beach – it was a perfect day for it. When we visited the beach a few days ago, high tide occurred at about 10:30 am, so we had to dodge the waves. Today, low tide was closer to 11:00 am, giving us much more beach area. The height fluctuates only about 3-5 feet, but it certainly made a difference in how far we could walk.

It’s easy to see the difference by looking at the algae on the rocks and shoreline. Most of the rock is sandstone which invites people to carve their initials and/or messages. It’s easy to see the erosion that’s occurring – at some time, this beach will extend further inland.

It was a good morning for surfing, with waves that provided some long rides for local aficionados. They look like they’re have a wonderful time – understandable.


Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

Posted in California, USA Travel | Leave a comment

Coronado Island

Saturday, December 9, 2017

We met friends, Dave, Kathy and Susan in San Diego, and headed to Coronado Island with them. Coronado Island is across the bay from San Diego. It was mapped in 1602, and named by Sebastian Vizcaíno, a Spanish explorer who also named the city of San Diego. Coronado is Spanish for “crowned one,” giving the island its nickname of “Crown City.”

Coronado was incorporated as a city in 1890, two years after the famous Hotel del Coronado was built. It quickly became a mecca for the rich and famous from around the world. During WWII, many navy pilots stayed here, while training at the North Island Naval Air Station. The island was accessible only by ferry until 1969 when the Coronado Bridge was opened. It functioned as a toll bridge until 2002.

We explored the area a little bit before going to the Hotel. There is an outdoor Surfboard Museum with 25 metal sculptures that tell the story of prominent surfers, showing the shape and size of their boards as well as the dates represented.

Next stop was the Hotel del Coronado. Both interior and exterior of the hotel are stunning. There is an ice skating rink on the site, and when you get tired of that, you can walk a few feet to the beach.

Like everything else right now, the hotel is decorated for Christmas. This year, for the first time, they have an inverted tree in the lobby. Apparently, that’s a new trend.


Our next stop was the USS Midway Museum. The ship was commissioned in 1945 as the largest warship in the world, too large to go through the Panama Canal. During its 47 year history, it was the first ship to successfully land using auto pilot technologies, its pilots shot down the first MiG of the Vietnam War, it led the evacuation of Saigon, operated in Operation Desert Storm and rescued Americans fleeing the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991. It was decommissioned in San Diego in 1992, and opened as a museum in 2004.

While touring the museum, we noticed billowing smoke to the south. Southern California is not the only place to experience the recent wildfires. Tijuana, just a few miles south, has been dealing with them as well.


The fires do provide some beautiful sunsets, which isn’t much consolation for the thousands of people who’ve lost so much recently.

Posted in California, San Diego, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rhinos, Giraffes and Cheetahs, Oh My!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Last night, I was concerned that the San Diego Zoo Safari Park might not be open today, as it is only about 25 miles away from the wildfires that have been raging north of us. Fortunately, the day was quite clear, so we were able to go. The park has an evacuation plan that kicks in if the wildfires come within ten miles.

Cousin Dave and his wife, Kathy, with their daughter, Susan, picked us up this morning for our trip to the park. It is comprised of 1,800 acres, and is home to over 2,500 animals and millions of plants. The park opened in 1972. Its primary purpose is breeding and conservation. The animals live in a natural habitat that replicates as closely as possible their native habitat.

We visited the meerkats, gorillas, and flamingos, as well as a two-month old cheetah (very cute.)

We then took a two hour caravan safari which afforded us the ability to see many of the residents, including rhinos, giraffes, and several species of antelope, among other animals. We even got to feed the giraffes (they love acacia leaves) and rhinos (apples are their favorite treat.) By the way, giraffe tongues are dark blue, and very wet.

After the safari, we went to the cheetah run to see just how fast the cheetah can run – 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds, sort of like a Tesla. The cheetah was released from confinement to chase a decoy. It was almost impossible to catch it on film when it was running.


It was a good day overall. The fires are still raging, and we could smell the smoke as we rode back to our condo. Tragic situation for the locals.

Posted in California, San Diego, USA Travel, Wildfires | Leave a comment

Butterflies and Smoke

Thursday, December 7, 2017

We visited Butterfly Farms in nearby Encinitas. The farm was established in 2013 to study the relationship of pollinators and butterflies, concentrating on the Monarch Butterfly. There is a 2,000 square foot Vivarium (butterfly free flight house,) where they can study the butterflies in a controlled environment.

We were surprised to see the milkweed here, which doesn’t look anything like what we have in Minnesota.

We saw several varieties of butterfly and caterpillars. Of course, there were Monarchs, but also Giant Swallowtail (black and yellow,) Queen (gold with black border and white spots,) and Cloudless Sulphur (yellow with gold/white spots.) There was one strange looking one for which we couldn’t determine the variety.


We stopped at a beachside restaurant for lunch and enjoyed watching the surfers and sailboarders out on the water.


During lunch, the alarms went off on almost every cellphone there. The Los Angeles area is experiencing several wildfires, which are being fanned by the Santa Ana winds. The fires are now extending into northern San Diego County, close enough for  us to see the smoke. It was enough to block the sunset.




Posted in Butterflies, California, USA Travel, Wildfires | Leave a comment