Sunday, March 11, 2012

San Diego -- Day Four

Today was the first day during our stay that the weather did not dawn a perfect California day.  It was cooler and completely overcast.  I opted for long pants rather than shorts and, because we were headed out on the open ocean for a whale watch, wore a fleece jacket too.

Back to The Broken Yolk for breakfast, where I uncreatively enough had the same breakfast as yesterday (french toast and scrambled egg with an enormous glass of OJ).  Hey, why mess with perfection.  That breakfast lasted quite a while for me.

Having never been that far offshore before, I loaded up on CVS brand Dramamine, just to ensure that breakfast stayed with me.  We boarded the ship at 9:15 and set sail around 9:45.  The trip through San Diego Bay was pretty placid but once we got out on open water the rolls set in.  I picked the spot at the very point of the bow to stand (or rather, plant myself with a death grip on the railing) while we traversed the peaks out toward where they thought whales might be.  Now mind you, I have never done a whale watch, which seems odd given that I'm about 4 minutes from Gloucester, MA, the whale watch capital of Massachusetts, but I have seen whale encounters on tv.  Let me just say I was more than a tad disappointed.  In my head I had visions of whales surging up out of the water and landing with a crash so that I actually had the feeling I was seeing a whale.  I was first to spot a spout of water off the bow and yes, that was a whale.  I was a bit confounded by how excited the other tourists got by seeing these spouts, which were the only sign we had that we were seeing something.  Then the whale might dive under and we'd see a part of its back.  And twice the/a whale fluked, which meant we saw tail.  But that was it.  I sort of felt like the whale (or whales, who knows for sure) was wearing a burqa and tantalizing us with little glimpses of flesh.  The naturalist who was narrating our trip really tried to do the after-sell on our way back to shore:  "You have just had an amazing experience with three grey whales!!!"  Really?  You had me fooled.  Perhaps others have had better experiences, but for me it was sort of a non-starter.

What was pretty cool though was seeing the harbor seals floating around and lounging on the larger buoys on the way in and out of the bay.  And on the way back in, a pair of dolphins raced the boat, swimming right below me at the bow.  That was pretty neat to see.

From the whale watch, we hopped in the rental car and drove up to Carlsbad to visit the flower fields.  The fields are made up of 50 or so acres of ranunculus, only about 10 acres of which was in full bloom the day we visited.  That is a pretty substantial patch of flowers, but bear in mind I've had the mothership of all flower experiences at the Keukenhof in Holland during tulip season, so it was tough to beat that.  By now the day had cleared up and was warmer and sunnier, so it was nice still to be outside.

We decided to drive the Pacific Coast Highway back to San Diego.  It was a gorgeous day to do it and we stopped at a few of the state beaches along the way for the requisite photo opps.  We don't have a whole lot of open, long unencumbered beach like that at home so for me (a water sign) it was really relaxing.  It would have been nice to either throw the top down or roll all the windows down and crank some tunes, but it was a might bit cool for that.  I was ragingly jealous though at all the cyclists I saw enjoying their bike lane the whole way (Massachusetts readers, a bike lane is dedicated space for cyclists on the road. IMAGINE THAT!)  I was seriously hungry for a ride outside by the end of the afternoon.  I can't imagine riding with that view every day...

By this point I was seriously suffering from the lack of exciting animal experiences today (I mean, really, did you read days two and three?) so I used the electronic gadgets at hand and managed, somehow, to find the cove in La Jolla where all the seals hang out.  That was worth the effort and aggravation and the near arrest for texting/using Suri while driving.  These seals just hang out on the rocks right along the sidewalk, barking loudly, fighting for sleeping space and surfing the waves coming on shore.  That was cool.

Now we were hungry, so again with the gadgets (iPhone and Garmin GPS haven't let us down yet!) and we found a user-rated 4 1/2 star Mexican restaurant in La Jolla.  Lots of locals, off the beaten tourist path.  Su Casa Mexican Restaurant felt like an institution when we walked in; you know, the kind that hasn't been updated in years but is still in business because the locals keep going back.  I had a very nice margarita (the kind that comes in the shaker and you actually get two drinks out of) and the combination platter with a chicken enchilada, taco and chile relleno.  I was pleased but felt that the Old Town Mexican cafe did it better.  We were denied the opportunity for dessert by our server (that would be why you didn't get a 20% tip, my dear) so we had Baskin Robbins after we refilled our car ($4.85 a gallon?  REALLY?) on our way back to the hotel.

The plan had been to pack and watch the Amazing Race and The Good Wife, but I managed to pack before falling fast asleep.  All the fresh air and sun were catching up to me and I had an early wake up call on Monday.  Another day well spent....

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