Go to Point Loma, San Diego for Incredible Views and More

For anyone planning a trip to San Diego, California make sure you include Point Loma in your plans. This area has many things to offer and is definitely one of my favorite areas of San Diego. First off, the location is fantastic. You are within a short drive to most other parts of San Diego. More importantly, the views are amazing from a couple of spots in Point Loma. Sunset Cliffs is in a close race with Cabrillo National Monument for best view.

dsc04008

Location:

Point Loma Peninsula and Coronado peninsula make up San Diego Bay. Point Loma is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the San Diego Bay, Old Town, and the San Diego River. The Point Loma surrounding area is close to the airport and has easy access to I-5 and I-8 freeways. There are many hotels in this area in all price ranges.

Cabrillo National Monument:

The Cabrillo National Monument honors Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who landed in the San Diego Bay in 1542. There are amazing views of downtown, Coronado Beach, and the surrounding areas. You can see the lighthouse that once stood guard off the coast of San Diego and learn about some history associated with it. The Fort Rosecrans national cemetery is also nearby and is a somber reminder of the many men and women who have died for our country.

dsc04010

Be sure to check online before you go to Cabrillo National Monument to see when low tide will be and get there as soon as it’s low tide. You can see anemones, crabs, barnacles, and other sea creatures as you wade around in the water. Just make sure you plan on leaving by 4:30 because that’s when the monument that includes the lighthouse closes. There is a $10 admission fee that is waived if you have a National Parks Pass.

dsc04018

dsc04013

dsc04015
View from Cabrillo National Monument

For Shopping and Dining:

Liberty Station is a converted military station full of unique shops, restaurants, breweries, and the awesome Liberty Public Market. I was surprised at how big both Liberty Station and Liberty Public Market are. We went thinking we would have lunch then check out a store or two but ended up going through several shops and bought some really cute things. Our lunch at the Fig Tree Cafe was excellent and I recommend it. There are also many art galleries and studios at Liberty Station.

Walk Along Sunset Cliffs for the Views:

Last but not least there is the stunning Sunset Cliffs neighborhood in Point Loma. There is a small walking path along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, with sheer cliffs going down to the beach or ocean on the other side. Although it is safe for the most part, the cliffs are unstable in areas and people have fallen to their death or been seriously injured so caution is warranted. You can also explore Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, a 68-acre city park on the western edge of Point Loma. I loved Sunset Cliffs so much I wrote an entire post just on the area.  You can read about it here:  A Must Do in San Diego, Sunset Cliffs.

dsc03956
Sunset Cliffs by day

Other Things to Do and Seasonal Activities:

Harbor Island is a small strip of land in Point Loma where you can check out the boat parade of lights in December, fireworks on the 4th of July, and America’s Cup boat race. During the rest of the year it’s a nice spot for a picnic, a walk along the shoreline path, or to view the skyline at night. If it’s a fishing trip that interests you, Shelter Island is a good place to leave for that. Many whale watching excursions also depart from here in the summer and fall.

No matter what your interest may be from shopping to viewing nature to playing in the ocean or just having a relaxing picnic with a gorgeous view, there’s something for everyone at Point Loma.

dsc03973
Sunset Cliffs at sunset

How many of you have been to San Diego? Where are some of your favorite places for great views?

Happy travels!

Donna

 

Things to Do on a Rainy Day in San Diego- Balboa Park

On  a recent vacation to San Diego I found myself in an unusual predicament: what do you do if it’s raining? With so many activities geared towards the outdoors, what are your options if the weather actually isn’t its usual perfect?

Balboa Park seems to be the most obvious choice, with its collection of 15 museums, you could easily spend a rainy day at one or two of them. We started out at Fleet Science Center and even though it was a Tuesday, the place was packed. Apparently everyone else had the same idea.  Finding a parking spot took about 20 minutes and a lot of circling around.

dsc03907
Balboa Park

First Stop:  Fleet Science Center

Fleet Science Center is a hands-on science museum with more than 100 exhibits. There are two floors and while the main floor was a mad house with kids running everywhere, there was an area we found to be much quieter, “Cellular Journey.” Here you could learn about human cells and cellular research.  My daughter enjoyed the virtual reality exhibit “Journey inside a Cell.” She enjoyed the main exhibit area as well despite how crowded it was. There are the usual displays such as using marbles to teach about physics and spinning discs on a moving surface. You can also learn about San Diego’s water sources or build structures with blocks.

dsc03901
Fleet Science Center

We spent 2 and a half hours here with the basic admission which costs $19.95 for adults and $16.95 for children ages 3 -12 at the gate. If your child has received an “A” in science or math in the past 3 months, bring in their report card for free admission. For an extra $10 per person you can see the special exhibit, “The Art of the Brick,” with more than 100 sculptures made from Legos. This is at Fleet Science Center through January 2017 but we did not go. We also did not go to the Fit-a-Brick Build Zone, Tinkering Studio, or Kid City (for kids 5 and under), all of which would have extended our time there.

Second Stop (after lunch):  Museum of Man

After a delicious lunch at the nearby cafe Panama 66, we decided to go to the Museum of Man. We added on the special exhibit “Cannibals: Myth and Reality” for a total of $20 for adults and $12.50 for children up to age 12. The  Museum of Man is unlike any other museum I have been to and I really enjoyed it. There was a touring exhibit, Beerology, on the history of beer around the world that was fun and interesting. Race: Are We So Different is a unique perspective about the human race. Monsters is a display about real and make-believe monsters around the world. There are also pretty extensive Mayan and Egyptian galleries. Plus there is an anthropology exhibit “Footsteps through Time” that was nicely done.

dsc03909

dsc03911

dsc03915

dsc03916

“Cannibals: Myth and Reality” were worth the extra price for tickets. The exhibit covered everything from cannibals in popular media such as movies and books to evidence of cannibalism in English royalty. There is information on how they used body parts for medicine and how the definition of cannibalism became misconstrued. We played the “Donner Trail” game to see what we would have done if we were one of the early travelers to Oregon and conditions became so poor we were stranded and starving.

We spent about 3 hours at the Museum of Man. You can also go up in the tower for an additional $22.50 for adults and $16 for children ages 6 to 12. If you take the California Tower Tour at the Museum of Man be prepared to climb 125 stairs in 40 minutes. In return you will have views of the rest of Balboa Park including the zoo, downtown San Diego and the bay, Coronado Peninsula, and as far as Baja California and Mexico.

dsc03910
Museum of Man Tower

Money-Saving Tips:

If you plan on spending shorter periods of time in museums, you can buy the Balboa Park One Day Explorer pass for $45 for adults and $26 for children up to age 12. This gives you admission for up to 5 museums in one single day. Another alternative if you plan on going to several museums in Balboa Park is to buy the Multi-Day Explorer for $55 for adults and $29 for children up to age 12. This is good for one admission to each of the 17 museums for 7 days, and can save a considerable amount of money. Balboa Park Explorer Pass

dsc03930
This place is so cool at night!

 

A Must Do in San Diego, Sunset Cliffs

On a recent vacation to San Diego, I discovered Sunset Cliffs.  A friend of my husband’s had mentioned that it was a good place to watch the sunset but he said it in passing, kind of like he was just throwing out random places to go.   I didn’t think much of it at the time. I also had read that Sunset Cliffs is a nice place for a hike. However neither of these raised my expectations much at all but after the second recommendation I thought maybe we should go and check it out.  I was floored when I actually saw this place.

We drove to Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, parked, and took a few steps from the car.  My daughter and I both stopped dead in our tracks, looked at each other, and exclaimed, “Wow!”  It was one of the most stunning scenes I have ever seen.  You hear the cliche all the time that a place is “breathtaking.”  If ever a place is breathtaking, it’s Sunset Cliffs. This is nature at its most beautiful.  The contrast between the Coastal bluff, rocks, and ocean are something you really have to see in person to fully appreciate.

dsc03959
Sunset Cliffs by day

Here’s my best description of experiencing Sunset Cliffs:

As you’re looking at the beautiful blue shades of the water crash against the tan to brown bluffs, you can literally feel stress melt away.  You hear the waves crashing and the birds calling to each other and see the birds flying from rock to rock.  There’s a slight breeze that brushes against your face and you see the sun start to drop into the ocean.  The sky changes from blue to pink and yellow to orange.  Finally but quite suddenly, the sun drops into the ocean and disappears.

If I had just one recommendation for anyone going to San Diego it would be that they see Sunset Cliffs.  I can’t emphasize it enough because I wish others would have emphasized it more to me-if you do nothing else, go to Sunset Cliffs.  Get here well before the sun sets so you can find a parking spot and walk around to get multiple viewpoints.  Although some people call Sunset Cliffs a place to hike, it’s really a walk along a two lane road, but don’t let that deter you.

Although there is an area where you can get down to the beach, I didn’t feel comfortable going that route with my middle-school-aged daughter.  We watched locals and their dogs go down the rocks to the beach like it was nothing but we weren’t that brave.

dsc03973
Sunset Cliffs at sunset

Besides the trail that runs along the road, there is Sunset Cliffs National Park,  68 acre park that borders Point Loma and runs along the Pacific Ocean, of which 50 acres contain conservation areas for multiples species.  If you time it right you may spot a California gray whale as they migrate from the Bering Sea to Baja California and back.

How to get to Sunset Cliffs:

Go down Sunset Cliffs Blvd. until you reach the end, and turn left onto Ladera Drive. Turn right onto a dirt road and you should see a parking lot.  If you get here an hour or more before sunset, you shouldn’t have any problems finding a spot.  If the parking lot is full, there should be plenty of off-street parking, as long as you arrive early.

Viewing Tips:

Don’t crowd around where everyone else is- find your own private space to enjoy the view in peace and quiet.  You’ll see pockets of people scattered along the cliffs but it’s a big enough area that you can still find your own little slice of heaven.  Also, stick around a while for the show.  It’s beautiful how the clouds and light change shapes and colors over time before sunset, during, and post-sunset.

Coronado, California- a Relaxing Beach Get-Away near San Diego

One thing comes to mind when I think of Coronado:  beaches. The beaches in Coronado are spectacular and among the best in the San Diego area, and some even say in the world. Coronado Central Beach runs along Ocean Boulevard and is flanked by beautiful mansions. The sand is powder white where it is dry but closer to the water it gets darker and has flecks of gold from tiny pieces of mica that sparkle. This is what they mean when people talk about the golden beaches of southern California.

dsc03889

dsc03880
Coronado Central Beach is one of the widest beaches I’ve ever been to

Coronado has several nice beaches to choose from other than the larger aforementioned Coronado Central Beach, based on your preference and needs. North Beach is dog-friendly and is mostly visited by locals. Glorietta Bay Beach is family-friendly with its playground, restrooms, grassy area, and small sandy beach. Silver Strand State Beach has a Bayside beach, picnic areas, and access to Loews Coronado Beach Resort. Ferry Landing Marketplace has a pier, grassy area, and small beach with views of downtown San Diego.

Where to Stay

Coronado is an island across San Diego Bay in San Diego, California with a famous hotel, Hotel del Coronado and its iconic red roofs have been photographed many times. It is a beachfront resort with a spa and many dining options. Since it opened in 1888 the rich and famous from Thomas Edison to US presidents and a long list of actors have stayed here. An ocean view room with one king bed in mid-November is $787 per night plus $28 daily resort fee plus $37 to $47 per night for self or valet parking, respectively.

dsc03883
Hotel del Coronado
img_0093
Unique Dragon Tree at Hotel del Coronado

“The Del” as it is affectionately known is a place well beyond my family’s budget. Instead we chose to stay at the much less expensive Cherokee Lodge Inn. Here, rooms in mid-November range from $145- $185 per night with free off-street parking, free wi-fi, and free vouchers for breakfast at Panera Bread, only one block away.  To help with minimalist packing, (see my post Never Check a Bag with an Airline Again) they offer free laundry in a common access area. Finally, Cherokee Lodge Inn is just 2 1/2 blocks from the beach and is an easy walk.

dsc03852
Cherokee Lodge Inn

What to Do

There are many shops and restaurants along Orange Avenue, including Coronado Brewing Company, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge, and Bay Books. For the best ice cream in town, head over to Moo Time Creamery, also on Orange Avenue.  Lamb’s Players Theater and Coronado Theater are good places to see a concert or live show. During the summer months Spreckels Park is a fun place to enjoy free concerts and enjoy a picnic with your family.

There isn’t a lot of nightlife in Coronado; it’s more of a place to relax and unwind. After running my 40th half marathon in my 38th state, Silver Strand Half Marathon, California-38th state, Coronado was the perfect place to just hang out and spend time with my family. We went to the beach every day and did some leisurely shopping and went for walks enjoying the beautiful scenery. It was perfect before we began our adventure in San Diego.

dsc03808
Imperial Beach pier

For more information on Coronado, see the city’s website Coronado.

Directions: Take I-5 South to the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge exit (California Highway 75). Cross the bay and drop down onto Coronado Island. The first stoplight is Orange Avenue. Turn right to the Ferry Landing or turn left to the central business district, the beach and the Hotel del Coronado.

2016 in Review- A Year of Running and Traveling

2016 is just about over and I feel the need to summarize my year, especially since I’m a new blogger.  I’ll spare you the month-by-month blow, but just focus on the highlights.

My first race of the year was the MacKenzie River Half Marathon in Eugene, Oregon on Easter Sunday in March, see my post:  McKenzie River Half Marathon, Oregon- 36th state. As you can see, it was the 36th state I ran for my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states.  I’ll let you read the post if you haven’t already for the details.  After the race, my family and I drove to Bend and my post on our adventures there can be read here:  Central Oregon-Eugene and Bend.  We also saw tons of waterfalls at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area; see my post here:  Enjoy waterfalls? Try Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in Oregon.

IMG_20160402_172451552
One of many waterfalls in Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

Just about the only significant thing I can say about May is that’s when I started my blog at WordPress.  Yay!  I officially became a blogger then.

Straight after the race in Oregon, I had to start training for my next race, The Boulder Rez Half Marathon in Boulder, Colorado in June; post here:  Boulder Rez Half Marathon, Colorado- 37th state.  This was my 37th state and one of the hardest half marathons I’ve ran because of the high elevation.  We also had a nice vacation after this race and you can read all about that in my post on Boulder here:  Colorado in June- Hiking in Boulder and my post on Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park here:  Colorado in June- Estes Park and RMNP.  I highly recommend spending some time in all three places (Boulder, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Estes Park) especially if you enjoy hiking and nature.

IMG_20160607_105717594
Lake Estes in Estes Park, Colorado

Two days after we returned home from Colorado, we left for Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia for the weekend.  I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and as you can guess from my blog post title, I had a fantastic time.  My post can be found here:  5 reasons Busch Gardens Williamsburg has something for everyone.  We also went to Colonial Williamsburg for a bit and you can read about that here:  Colonial Williamsburg without a ticket.

Still in June, two weeks after going to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, we went camping in Asheville, North Carolina.  I love going to Asheville and hadn’t been camping there in several years so it was good to get back and do some hiking and enjoy the beautiful parks there.  See my post on that here:  Camping in Asheville, North Carolina.  No surprise that June was a total whirlwind.  Fortunately I didn’t have any races coming up soon so I took a break from training and just did some shorter runs when I could.

IMG_20160625_100933012_HDR
Asheville, North Carolina

In August, I went back to one of my favorite southern US cities, Charleston, South Carolina.  I love so many things about Charleston, from the people to the historical buildings to the beaches and the incredible food.  I highly recommend going there if you haven’t before.  See my posts about Charleston here:  Top 5 Things to Do in Charleston, SC with Kids without Spending a Ton of Money and Charming Charleston- How to visit without breaking the bank.

DSC03744
Charleston, South Carolina

Also in August, I started training for my next half marathon, The Silver Strand Half Marathon in Coronado, California in November.  Fortunately, September and October were fairly uneventful except for my daughter’s birthday and some school-related events and swim meets for her.  I needed that time to focus on my training plan so it was good to not have a lot else going on.

I left for Coronado, California on Veteran’s Day in November and ran the Silver Strand Half Marathon two days later.  You can read my post on the race here:  Silver Strand Half Marathon, California-38th state.  I have posted some of my favorite things we did in California and have more coming.  We spent almost three weeks in the San Diego area and it was absolutely fabulous.  My first two posts are:  Is San Diego Paradise? Not Quite… and Planning a Trip to San Diego? How to Choose Where to Go.

20161113_070235

Finally, in December, I started training for my next race, Dogtown Half Marathon in Washington, Utah in February.  I came down with a cold while in San Diego (toward the end of our vacation) that unfortunately turned into a sinus infection and bronchitis after I got back home, so my training has gotten off to a rough start but I am putting in the miles. I dread running my long runs in January because I’m just not a cold weather runner, but I’ll have to deal with that when it comes.

Happy running and happy travels to you all!  Donna

 

 

 

 

Planning a Trip to San Diego? How to Choose Where to Go

According to this Wikipedia page, there are 85 neighborhoods and communities in San Diego.  That’s a lot to try to sort through if you’re planning a vacation to San Diego and don’t know where to start.  At least for me, it was a bit overwhelming at first.

The Basics

Most first-timers usually plan on going to the usual spots:  Downtown San Diego (Centre City), Old Town, Pacific Beach, Balboa Park, possibly La Jolla, Ocean Beach, and Mission Valley depending on how much time you have.  I’m certainly not saying to just go to these places.  They just seem to be the more common places for first-timers to San Diego.  Here’s a brief description of each of these areas.

Downtown San Diego 

This area includes 7 districts, the most popular ones with tourists are Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza, and Little Italy.  The 16 1/2 blocks of Gaslamp Quarter mostly contain night clubs, shops, and restaurants.  94 historic buildings, built mostly around 1870, in Gaslamp Quarter put it on the National Register of Historic Places and make it San Diego Historic Landmark #127.  Many events and festivals are held here.  Horton Plaza is a small city park that is also a historical landmark, designated by the city of San Diego in 1971.  Little Italy is full of (not surprisingly) Italian restaurants, Italian shops, art galleries, and apartments. There are many events and festivals throughout the year in Little Italy.

dsc03865
US Grant Hotel behind fountain in Horton Plaza Park
dsc03872
Davis House, the oldest house in “New San Diego”

Old Town

Old Town is the oldest settled area in San Diego and is the site of the first European settlement in present-day California.  It contains Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and Presidio Park, both of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Old Town is also huge, with 230 acres of land.  There are many restaurants, shops, art galleries, and historic buildings and sites.  Old Town State Historic Park is free to tour the buildings which include 5 original adobes, San Diego’s first newspaper office, a schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, and many others.

img_20161118_142006141
Old Town

img_20161118_130720242_hdr

 

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach runs from Mission Bay to La Jolla and has a very long boardwalk (3 miles) that goes along the beach into Mission Beach, ending at Mission Bay.  You’ll usually find PB pretty crowded with people shopping, rollerblading, cycling, and walking.  This area is also a popular spot for nightclubs and bars.  I found it interesting that Eddie Vedder, the musician most famous as the lead singer for Pearl Jam is originally from Pacific Beach.

 Ocean Beach

This is an interesting area in San Diego.  It is home to the longest concrete pier in the West, Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, coming in at 1,971 feet (why they chose that distance is beyond me).  You won’t find many chain stores here because the residents have led several protests of chain companies through the years.  You will find many bars and a thriving nightlife scene here however.  Fun fact:  Ocean Beach and Point Loma are home to a large population of feral parrots that are mostly active at sunrise and sunset.

Balboa Park

In 1835, 1,400 acres of land in San Diego were set aside for the public’s recreational purposes, making it one of the oldest places in the United States dedicated to public recreational usage.  Balboa Park has an incredibly detailed history, much of which you can read on the Wikipedia page here if you’re interested.  In my opinion, Balboa Park is beautiful and I enjoyed just walking around here taking in the scenery.  In addition to several museums, there are 10 gardens, multiple theaters, the San Diego Zoo, the Naval Medical Center San Diego, playgrounds, walking trails, and an enormous sports complex with a golf course, baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, swimming pool and more. You could spend weeks at Balboa Park and still not see and do everything, it’s that enormous and that complex.

img_20161121_142139134-animation

dsc03907
Balboa Park

La Jolla

This community in the northern part of San Diego is perhaps best known for its beautiful views and beaches.  Surrounded on three sides by ocean bluffs and beaches, people aren’t the only ones to have taken up residence in La Jolla.  Hundreds of seals have made Children’s Pool Beach and Seal Rock their home, making the area a popular tourist hangout.  La Jolla is an expensive resort area full of art museums, high-end shopping, and some of the most expensive homes in the country, with a median home price of close to $2 million.  The Torrey Pines Golf Course, Torrey Pines State Reserve with some great hiking, and the famous Black’s Beach (a nude beach) are also in La Jolla.  Finally, La Jolla is also home to University of California, San Diego and numerous scientific research facilities.

dsc04034
Seals at Children’s Pool Beach
dsc04030
La Jolla

Mission Valley

One of the most historical places in San Diego, Mission Valley was the first Spanish settlement in California, in 1769.  Today Mission Valley uses its prime location in the middle of San Diego for the placement of apartments, hotels, and retail shops.  Although the Presidio of San Diego and Mission of San Diego de Alcalá were established in 1769 in present day Old Town, the Mission was moved in 1774 to its present location in Mission Valley.  The general boundaries of Mission Valley are Interstates 5 and 15, making for easy access to other parts of San Diego.  The green line of the public trolley system also runs through Mission Valley and the main hub for buses is at the Fashion Valley Transit Center and Mall.

img_20161118_111157983
San Diego Presidio Site

Of course these are just some of the most-visited areas in San Diego for first-time vacationers.  Depending on your situation, you may choose to go to other areas.  You may only have time to visit one or two areas.  I know someone who went to San Diego for a work conference and only saw the Gaslamp Quarter downtown.  She greatly missed out on other areas of San Diego obviously, but her conference was downtown and she only had time for that brief glimpse of San Diego.

What if you only have time to see one or two areas of San Diego?

I personally would recommend going to Balboa Park, La Jolla, and Point Loma.  OK.  That’s three areas.  It’s really hard to limit it less than that.  If I was hard-pressed to choose just one place I think I would say go to Point Loma.  The views from Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument are stunning.  That’s what I think of when I think of San Diego- ocean bluffs with views like nowhere else in the world.

For those of you that live in San Diego or have been there before, where would you recommend?

 

 

Is San Diego Paradise? Not Quite…

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:

dsc04030

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.

dsc03892
Some desert greenery at Presidio Park in Mission Valley
dsc03893
It’s not all palm trees in San Diego

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.

dsc03948
The views don’t get much better than this

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.

dsc04058

 

Silver Strand Half Marathon, California-38th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. California was my 38th state.

While technically not in San Diego, Coronado, the location of the Silver Strand Half Marathon, is a suburb just a short drive from San Diego. I had heard great things about San Diego and wanted to go and see it for myself for years. When I saw this 2016 race and realized it fit into my daughter’s school schedule perfectly, I signed up and planned a vacation for my family.

Packet pickup for the race was Friday and Saturday at Roadrunner Sports before the race on Sunday (Veteran’s Day weekend). It was well-organized and efficient. We received our shirts, technical tank tops for women and technical short-sleeve for men, bibs, and a few coupons and samples. There were plenty of volunteers so everything went quickly and efficiently.

dsc03789
Packet Pickup at Roadrunner Sports

Other than a half marathon, the race also included a 5k, 10 miler, and half marathon for skaters, handcyclers, and wheelchair racers. The 5k started at Imperial Beach but the rest of the races started at Sunset Park and finished at Imperial Beach. There were over 3500 runners in the half marathon alone, so this was not a small race. Roadrunner Sports Pacing Team was also on the course.

When the race began at 7:30, it was 63 degrees and partly cloudy. Within 30 minutes, the sun was out in full force and it was quickly heating up. The course was crowded and I had to constantly jockey for a spot for the first mile, while I got bumped by others and tried to avoid bumping others. By San Diego standards, Coronado is flat, and I was glad I didn’t have to run hills on top of the heat. My quads took a pounding, however because of the flat terrain. The race was mainly along Silver Strand Boulevard and was a point-to-point course.

20161113_070235

20161113_072148

20161113_072219_hdr

I stayed at my goal pace for the first 5 miles or so but then the heat really started to get to me. Despite drinking fluids and dumping ice cold water over my head, I just couldn’t keep cool. I slowed about 15 to 20 seconds per mile for the next 6 miles. The last 2 miles were my slowest of the race. There was a hill at 11 miles that I had heard locals talking about and I was a bit concerned. It wasn’t a steep hill but it seemed to go on forever especially given my tired quads. At this point all time goals went out the window and the goal was just to finish without walking.

There were 5 bands on the course, all of which were really good. Because most of the course was on a road that was closed off to traffic for the race, there were almost no spectators until we got to the Imperial Beach area. There were aid stations every 2 miles with ice cold water and Gatorade. There were also volunteers handing out gummy bears along the course in a couple of places.

At the finish there was the usual:  orange slices, bagels, a variety of mini muffins but sadly no chocolate milk, only water. There was a beer garden supporting the Challenged Athletes Foundation at the finish. They were asking for donations from runners. There were several vendors giving out free samples such as protein drinks, aloe water, Naked juice, water bottles, and more. The medals were cute and pretty hefty. My finish time was 2:06:46.

dsc03823
The finish was just around the corner!
dsc03829
Imperial Beach pier

Parking was a challenge since the only parking was off-street, which was limited and difficult to find. I stayed in Coronado the night before the race less than a mile from the start (at Cherokee Lodge Bed & Breakfast) so I just walked to the start but my husband had to park several blocks from the finish. Since it was a point-to-point race, I couldn’t just walk back to my room. It felt like a very long walk to the car because I was so tired and dehydrated after the race.

All in all, this was a scenic race and pretty well-organized but I have mixed feelings about it and am not sure if I would recommend it. I’ve heard it’s a bit cooler in June, so maybe that would be a better time of year to run a race in San Diego. But then again it would most likely be hilly, so I guess you have a choice of hot and flat or (a bit) cooler and hills if you’re going to run a race in this area.

dsc03833

Silver Strand Half Marathon