Sunday, February 26, 2017

San Diego, CA - Refrigerators

Quite a few years ago we went to Arches National Park in Utah where we signed up for the Fiery Furnace Tour, a real basic introduction to rock climbing techniques. Really basic. Really, really basic. On this tour we met a couple from Belgium, Danny and Marlene. The Fiery Furnace is a hike through a maze of red rocks with a few challenges thrown in. We head into the rocks.
Here’s one. You have to maneuver between these two boulders with nothing to stand on. Here’s Gary strutting his stuff.
Here’s Marlene coming through a narrow slot with the ranger watching over us all. How did he do that?
There were other challenges but the hike was great fun and we had a good group. Actually, we are returning to Arches National Park this summer and hope to do the hike again. Here we are at the end of the hike. (My, someone really had lots of fun cutting our hair, didn’t they?)
And, here are Marlene and Danny.
Here is a current picture of them with their first granddaughter. (That's got to be a Belgian Disneyworld in the background.)
We’ve kept in touch with them throughout the years and, now that she’s retired, Marlene has been reading my blog. She read our blog about our new house in Mesa and commented on our refrigerator. ‘Only in America could refrigerators be so big.’ So, I challenged her: send me a picture of your refrigerator and I’ll make it a star - in my blog. So, for comparison, here is the refrigerator in the home we’ve just bought but don’t move into until early October. Big and, really, much bigger than we need. We’re only two here.
And, here is hers. Now, first, I’m really impressed with her home. Great view, cool dining room light, nice cupboard. But, check out this refrigerator and how it matches the cabinetry. Nice. And, sure enough, it is smaller than ours. Then she happened to tell me that they have 2 of them. Aha. changes the equation. They live in a village where there are no grocery stores so they need more room to store groceries between visits.
And, that’s a comparison of two refrigerators. My, isn’t that an exciting topic for a blog? I must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel to use this topic to fill a blog day. But, it gave me a chance to review old pictures and enjoy them again. We hope to get to Belgium some day soon and hope that Danny and Marlene can visit us in our new home. I want to give them a reason to visit America again.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

San Diego, CA - Last Ocean Fix

It’s Saturday and we leave on Monday for the deserts of Tucson, AZ. Tomorrow forecast is 100% rain so this is our last day on the beach. We headed to one of our favorite beaches to walk - Torrey Pines. We’ve been here before this year but this has a long sandy beach, high colorful cliffs, nature, a cool loop trail and - well, what’s not to like about Torrey Pines?

And, guess what? It’s Saturday, sunny, warm and tomorrow is cool and rainy. We had to park a mile away. The beach was packed
and the trails looked like the local mall.
Remember the old question: how many angels can fit on the top of a pin?
But, hey, we’re here too. We love it when so many others enjoy nature and the trails as much as we do. We need more spaces like this and the more that people visit them with their families, the more that we will have.

Here’s my favorite hiker - all dressed up in her very best hiking outfit.
The trail is so used and we have had so much rain that the trail is pretty rutted in spots.
To get to the trail, we walked from our car to the Park, then up the road to the top and now we’ve plummeting down to the beach below through folded sand cliffs, verdant greenery and views on every side. .

Above us the gliders are in full swing. Nice wind, sun and views. This is only one group. There was another one further away just as big. We’ve never seen so many at one time.
We finally reached the bottom through a narrow slot in the sandy cliffs. They’ve put in a new ladder.
Oh, yeah, did I tell you that at the bottom of the cliffs is Black’s Beach - the ‘clothing optional’ beach? Whoo-eee. Where are my dark glasses so Gary can’t tell where I’m looking? (Maybe I should make this picture a little smaller in case someone is looking over your shoulder.)
Nancy, the grand adventurer, climbed out on this rock. For the first time ever in 6 years we were able to walk out to the rock and keep dry. Usually, it’s surrounded by water but today, the tide was out, way out. Looks like this island is full.
We started in sun then the clouds rolled in but the sun came out as we were walking the beach back to the car.


And, we saw the falcons on their nest. No little chicks yet but the nest is ready.
Is there any doubt in your mind why we like this hike.

Cool day. Good last hike.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

San Diego, CA - Trails, Bricks and Meatloaf

One of the grandest places to spend a day in San Diego is in Balboa Park, a large city park with restaurants, museums, kid museums, theaters, outdoor venues, gardens, statues, beautiful buildings and the San Diego Zoo is here, too. In February Macy’s sponsors a 2 for 1 month in the park and we’ve taken advantage of this every year we’ve been here.

It started in 1835 when city leaders designated a large section of land for recreational use, making it one of the older such sites in the US. 1400 acres were added in 1868 and the land was put in trust to be a park forever. In 1892, local horticulturist and botanist Kate Sessions leased 36 acres for a nursery and thus began the marvelous gardens that still grace the park.

In 1910, with preparations already underway to hold an expo to coincide with the opening of the Panama Canal, the park was named for the Spanish explorer Vasco Balboa, the first European to cross Central America and see the Pacific Ocean. A number of the buildings as well as much of the present-day look and feel of the park can be attributed to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.  Scheduled to last only one year, the 1915 Expo was extended for a second year, and more than 3.7 million visitors came to the expo during its run.

Twenty years later, San Diego hosted the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition to boost the local economy during the depression. Additional structures and landscaping were added to the park, including the Old Globe Theatre, International Cottages, and Spanish Village, all of which are still in use today.

In 1977, Balboa Park, and historic Exposition buildings from 1915 and 1935, were declared a National Historic Landmark and National Historic Landmark District, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here’s the first building you see as you enter via the Prado, the main avenue into the park. It’s the Museum of Man with its iconic tower and weather vane. Must be Balboa’s ship crossing the oceans.


Here’s one of their main exhibits now. Hmmm, maybe not this time.
Another museum.
We often see musicians, magicians, artists performing in the main avenue through the park. Today we saw the bubble makers. Huge bubbles and the kids were racing to pop them
On the grounds we like these tree trunks. How do they twist so much?
We’ve walked the trails many times, but always enjoy the ability to enjoy nature in the heart of the city with millions around. Balboa Park is so large that you can find solitude around the next corner, down the next trail or at a picnic bench in the middle of the park. But, the recent heavy rains and the many people who roam throughout the park have taken their toll on the trails.
One recent storm actually took down some trees.
One of the trees fell across one of the busiest routes through the city - and right at rush hour. A tree, with a 5’ diameter trunk and huge branches fell on a car and crushed the front end but the driver was unharmed. The traffic was snarled for hours and most were diverted to other routes. What a mess.

When the original rescue teams came, they had only a small chain saw. like raking a yard with a fork. You can see where the tree lay across the roadway here - from the small pile of branches on the left hand side to the branches on the right hand side.
Here’s a better picture of some of what was left when they removed the larges of the trunk pieces.
We had a great hike around Balboa and - we’ll do it again next year. Great place to hike.
The next day we had lunch with my aunt and took her down to an area called Liberty Station. Back during WWII, it was where Naval training took place and many officers had their offices. Marilyn, whose husband was an officer used to shop at the Exchange here. After the Navy left, the area sat vacant for many years but was recently remade into shops, art studios, museums, restaurants, a high school and lots of homes which cost well above 7 figures. They designed a central square with a fountain and walkways and Marilyn donated for several bricks for it. She hadn’t been to see the bricks recently so we brought her down.
There were quite a lot of bricks to look through but we finally found all of them: Marilyn Flynn Mullins, Com. Robert D. Flynn (her first husband who died about 20 years ago), her daughters: Pamela Dana Flynn, Patricia Lee Flynn (Tish), and Capt. Fred Mullins, her current husband.
We toured the new shops and museums of Liberty Station and then headed over to her house where she had made a dinner for us. Meatloaf, marinated carrots and line jello salad. Delicious as are all of her dinners.
So, just to embarrass her, here is a picture of her in the late 40’s.
She’s quite the traveler and has visited all 7 continents, and, believe you me, if you mention a place in North America, she’s been there too. We love to ask about her travels and where she’s been. She actually lived in China during the war so we discussed this too. In the end, she thinks that the safari to Africa was her favorite. And, Fred agrees. Funny thing, they were not married when they took that trip but, to save the expenses of paying for single tents, they put up a curtain and had separate baths. We were shocked to hear this. Hey, they’re quite the modern people.

Monday, February 20, 2017

San Diego, CA - Beach Tidings

We like this campground for the location, right on Mission Bay, 10 minutes from Pacific Beach and this is the view I have as I drink my coffee in the morning.


Across the bay is Sea World. We see paddle boarders, crews of 8,2,4, canoes and others walking the beach of Fiesta Island across from us. Can you see why we have our reservation already for 2018 and 2019?


Although, it’s not always ’Sunny Southern California.’ Sometimes it rains, and rains and rains. Here are some rainfall totals from yesterday.


But what happened first was wind speeds of 30+ mph with gusts up to 50+ and more. Right from the south so the beach that you see here slowly but surely was blown into the campground. We had sand that swirled around the front of our RV and then dumped right outside our door - 3” deep. The campground maintenance staff was busy for the next few days shoveling it all up and depositing it back onto the beach. Sometimes they used a front-end loader.


Here’s the most expensive site in the park, right on the beach with faux grass in front and a nice little wall. Well, it ’s the nicest in the sun but when the wind blows, this is the first RV it hits. This guy had the most sand in his site for the whole park. You can see all the sand on the ‘grass’ and all the sand he has already shoveled off and piled up out side his site. Maintenance helped with the sand removal but, at times, it was do it yourself. Yesterday, I collared a maintenance worker as he tooled by on his cart and asked for a shovel and broom to clean our site. He brought them back to us and then helped us get the sand up. This guy must not have been able to collar a worker. I was in the right spot at the right time.


One final picture of the changes wrought by the storms: here I am standing next to a ‘tumbleweed’ that blew up onto the sidewalk. They were piled high here. Lots of them were stopped by the chain link fence to the right. These are actually shore plants, not tumble weeds that blow around. But they sure look like tumbleweeds as they tumble through the campground and land between cars, under RV’s and in corners.


How about another huge pile of sand? Yep, the beach. We’re back to Ocean Beach, one of our favorites: it has a lo-o-o-ng pier, marvelous white sand beach, people to watch, a cool little coffee shop with the best peanut butter chocolate chip muffins (The New Break), rocks to clamber over to walk further down the beach and - well, what’s not to like?

So, fortified with a muffin, we’re off down the pier, the signature feature of OB. It is NOT the longest pier on the west coast, it is merely the second at 1971’, but it is the longest CONCRETE pier. Here’s a picture that I got online that shows its entire length. Phillip Colla has a beautiful picture here. You can see the restaurant in the middle of the pier, the cliffs off to the right hand side in the sun where we walk he rocks and way off to the right is Mexico - the island in the distance.

The extensions add 193’ to one side and 360’ to the other.


Lots of tourists crowd this pier on the weekends though it was originally built for fishermen so they wouldn’t get their lines tangled in the vast kelp and rocks beds that lie near the surface of the water here. With the pier, the fishermen are able to fish in 25’ - 30’ of water and catch fish that live in deeper waters.

It was officially christened on July 2, 1966, just in time for the Independence day weekend. Over 7000 of San Diego’s then 600,000 residents were there to celebrate its opening.

Interesting Facts:

Ocean Beach Pier was originally named the San Diego Fishing Pier. The original plaque is still there.


The pier has over 500,000 visitors per year. (We can attest to that, we’ve seen thousands in the times that we have been here.)

Many people believe the Ocean Beach Pier is the longest pier in CA. It isn't. At 1971 feet it is the longest concrete pier on the west coast. The pier at Santa Cruz is 2745 feet.

The 1st fish caught on the pier was an 8-inch perch, first thought to be a type of sunfish. The 2nd and 3rd fish caught were a gray shark and a crab. (Now, who in the world is keeping records and how did this person see the very first fish caught?)

The most common fish you will witness being caught on the pier are herring (often called queenfish). There is no limit on them.

Then CA governor Edmund G. Brown made the first cast off the OB Pier and reportedly fished for 5 minutes. As he fished, a large cabin cruiser with a banner reading "Reagan for Governor" circled the corner of the pier. Brown caught nothing and was defeated in November. (Coincidence?)

Currently no fishing license is required on the pier.

In 1991 over $2 million was spent on the pier to repair damages caused by winter storms.

I like picture from under piers showing the regularity of the columns and the waves rolling in.



One of the reasons we came today was to see the waves which were supposed to be over 10’ tall. We expected surfers to be ecstatic about this but there were few to be found. The waves were cresting at unusual places and, when they crested, they were dissolving in foam, not good for surfing. But, great for watching.

Since the rain had been pretty heavy the night before, we expected to see some damage along the sand cliffs. Thankfully, none of the cliffs seemed to have been any more damaged than they were before. The blue tarp and the sand bags held. They had beefed up the blue tarp which now covered more of the cliff than when we first saw it a few weeks ago and they had added the sand bags to hold it down.


The waves frothed and splashed as they crested.


Some hit the pier with such force that you can feel the pier move.




And, as we headed home we saw this. Perfectly arced over the city.


Do the birds have a tape measure to ensure they are the right distance apart? Look how evenly spaced they are.


And, the pelicans, grace in the sky.


Any day at the beach is a day well spent.