Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Ah, San Diego...

Originally uploaded by Marinade Dave.
Recently, a friend of mine moved to the San Diego area, where his sister and her husband and children live. I had met them when they came to Orlando last year and we got to be pretty good friends. They are very, very nice people. They invited me to come out there when he moved and see what that part of the world is like. It's beautiful, to say the least and a wonderful gift from them.

We flew in to San Diego airport the day before Super Sunday and headed east on I-8 for the mountains. They have a ranch on North Peak, which is 9 miles south of Julian. I thought I would need an oxygen mask. We were 5,675 feet up. I was fine. No problem breathing at all. That night, I went outside and looked up at the sky. I saw stars that I never thought existed. Billions and billions of them, just like Carl Sagan said. The air was so crisp and clean. The Pleiades, or 'Seven Sisters' star cluster was so bright, I almost needed to wear sunglasses. I looked off to the east and the lights of a city were clearly visible. This was El Centro, 68 miles away. It looked about 5 miles from me. The surrounding areas were magnificent. Mountaintops, valleys, canyons, a lake and desert below us. The most gold ever mined in California came from Stonewall Peak, which is pictured here, a few miles from us. We were actually higher. You think of San Francisco and the "Forty-Niners," but, no, this one was the mother lode.

When the fires of 2003 rolled through, they lost their house and other structures. A local fireman saved the barn. They have three horses. They built their home atop the barn, incredibly well designed by them. These are very unique and talented people, resilient to a fault. The wood came from their land. They use as much as they can from their own resources without disturbing (and in harmony with) nature. They will rebuild their house.

Cold weather set in. Sleet, freezing rain, rain and snow. Watching the Super Bowl at 3:30 in the afternoon with friends from the area, staying warm by a fire. Good food and drink. What more could one want from life? Warmer weather?

Well, we came down the mountain Monday morning. The temperature was warming up and ice was falling off the trees. It was 36 when we left and 66 down below. Two hours later, we were eating lunch at the Poseidon restaurant in Del Mar, right on the Pacific ocean. Amazing. Freezing to soaking up the sun in no time at all. I should have left my jacket in the car. We went to Torrey Pines Golf Course, home of the last Buick Invitational (which Tiger won,) the 2008 U.S. Open, and, where Scott Peterson was arrested. I have an actual Torrey Pine Cone. Ebay, anyone?

The remainder of my time was spent in Encinitas and surrounding communities, mostly along the coast. It's interesting to see how nature erodes the coastline. Homes that are worth millions of dollars are poised to one day drop into the sea, hundreds of feet below. Instead of row houses, like in Philadelphia, there are many homes stacked on top of each other, up and down hilltops. Many hilltops more inland from the sea have homes built around the top for a beautiful vista, overlooking valleys. This is expensive property and similar to lakefront property in Florida because of the exclusive nature of its location and panoramic views. The temperatures range from 50-70 degrees pretty much year round. On my final day there, we went to the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetary in Point Loma, overlooking San Diego from the north. What a view. This is where many naval veterans would prefer to be buried, even more so than Arlington.

When it comes to the cost of living, yes, it can be more expensive than other areas. Housing, for sure. But, you can find seasonal items like 6 lbs. of navel oranges for a buck. 3 heads of lettuce for 99 cents. Gas ran about $2.10/gallon for reg. unleaded. I bought a disposable camera for $10.99 in Orlando and bought another one out there for $6.94. Same one. Taxes are higher, but, hey, so's the income. Everyone will find something to praise and complain about, no matter where they go.

Friends told me, before I went, that I would fall in love with the San Diego area. They were right.

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