Paradise. That’s how my husband would describe San Diego in the months leading up to our vacation there. This is a place neither he nor I had ever been to so our ideas and descriptions were based primarily on things in the media and online photos and articles we had read online. I’ve been to Los Angeles, Long Beach, Ventura, Anaheim, Napa Valley, San Francisco, and Yosemite so although I have spent some time in California over the years, I had previously never been much further south than Los Angeles.
I had seen photos like this one taken in La Jolla and this is what I had pictured in my head for San Diego:
I wanted to go to San Diego for years but just hadn’t made it until November. I am running a half marathon in all 50 states and hadn’t ran one in California. For years I had thought my race for California would be the Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay but then I heard about the Silver Strand Half Marathon in Coronado, just outside San Diego and thought that would be my ticket to San Diego. San Diego is a very hilly city and none of the races appealed much to me until I found the one in Coronado.
The Silver Strand Half Marathon is about as flat as half marathons come, perhaps a little too flat even, but it sounded like a good race so I signed up. I had heard the weather in San Diego is pretty consistently around 60 to 70 degrees F for the highs most of the year so I didn’t think weather would be a factor in the race in November. I was wrong, but that’s another story. Silver Strand Half Marathon, California-38th state
I knew San Diego has a lot of people since it’s the 6th most populated US city, but it kind of hit me like a brick when I actually went there. Six lanes of traffic on both sides of a highway divider are common (for 12 lanes of traffic!) for the highways all over San Diego. This makes for a constant hum of traffic from all of those cars and is worse in some areas than others. Plus, depending on where you are in the city, it’s not uncommon to hear airplanes (military and commercial) flying pretty low overhead steadily throughout the day.
Houses and apartments seem to be piled on top of one another in places, as everyone is scrambling to get the best view. Finally, San Diego is expensive! Housing, food, gasoline, utilities, parking, and just about any other expense I can think of is much more than where I live and many other parts of the United States.
Don’t get me wrong. San Diego is undeniably one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It’s just not quite the paradise I had thought it would be. Perhaps it’s my own fault. Maybe I just hyped it up too much and it could never live up to such high expectations. After all, when you dream about going to a place for years, and see all of these idyllic photos online, how could any place ever really live up to that? I would happily visit San Diego again and again, however, and hopefully will in my lifetime. I just couldn’t justify paying the high price to live there. I’m sure if I was born there or if I moved there before I had a family I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, though.
I spent almost three weeks in this vibrant city and will be writing about my adventures in upcoming posts here. My family and I started our vacation in Coronado, as I mentioned above, then moved to the middle of San Diego in Mission Valley, and finally to Del Mar, just north of San Diego. We planned activities based on suggestions from friends who live in San Diego as well as things I found on my own. I found the area to be very inspiring to me as a writer and would constantly be jotting down notes to remind myself to write about when I got back to my room. Hopefully these posts will inspire others who have not been to San Diego to visit and see for themselves what an awe-inspiring place it is. It may not be paradise but it’s pretty close.