Vagobond in San Diego

At this point, San Diego sits among my favorite United States cities. The climate is perfect, the ocean is beautiful, and it just has a certain something that makes it feel good.

The area of San Diego has long been inhabited by the Kumeyaay Indians. The first European to visit the region was Portuguese-born explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailing under the Spanish Flag, who sailed his flagship San Salvador from Navidad, New Spain. In 1542, Cabrillo claimed the bay for the Spanish Empire and named the site San Miguel. In November of 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno was sent to map the California coast. Arriving on his flagship San Diego, Vizcaíno surveyed the harbor and what are now Mission Bay and Point Loma and named the area for the Catholic Saint Didacus, a Spaniard more commonly known as San Diego.

Yesterday was a mellow day. I had a hard time waking up, actually I think we all did. But once we were up went gangbusters. Kevin and Erina had the day off and wanted to show me a little bit of what makes SD special so we headed to Ocean Beach (OB) and got some burritos near the beach. OB is a cool little neighborhood of hippies and thrift shops with plenty of hippies wandering around, but not so many dirty hippies, more the variety that surf.

We drove by the largest wooden roller coaster in the United States and into the vicinity of Seaworld, but I think we were all looking to enjoy a little bit of the less expensive delights of this great city, so we passed on both.

And then we went into one of San Diego’s crown jewels, Balboa Park. Rocky Balboa was cool, but man, what a beautiful park! Here is the real deal on it, after all Rocky is a Philadelphia icon, not a SD guy at all:

Balboa Park is a 1,200 acre (4.9 km²) urban cultural park in San Diego, California, United States named after the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa. The trees here were planted by the famous American gardener Kate Sessions. Placed in reserve in 1835, it is one of the oldest sites in the United States dedicated to public recreational usage. Besides open areas and natural vegetation, it contains a variety of cultural attractions including museums, theaters, gardens, shops and restaurants as well as the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977

While Beesan, Kevin, Erina, and I walked in the park we watched these two guys notice each other. It’s a fairly typical California car custom for custom cars. One guy raises his hydrolics then the other does, basically like dogs sniffing each other’s butts the first time or more like saying, hey, look at my underpants! then they both got out of the cars and admired each other’s rides.

At the park I had the chance to briefly meet up with my new friend Beesan, a Palestinian American girl I sat next to on the plane when I flew from San Francisco to San Diego. On the plane, the guy next to me had taken the wrong seat and then Beesan showed up. We chatted fairly non stop on the way down about school, life, travel, and Islam. So even though she only had 15 minutes to hang out, it was nice to sort of firm up one of those random friendships that travel brings about.

We had thought to visit the Museum of Man but since we were arriving late in the day, we opted to jst sort of walk around Balboa Park and check it out. We had shave ice (which I have to say was nowhere near as good as Hawaiian shave ice), explored some little galleries, and went into a nice little fine art museum that had a fairly amazing collection of old masters. The Timken Museum of Art.

When we left the park we headed back to their place near Qualcomm and made some homemade pizza. I made the dough, Erina made the sauce, Kevin prepared the toppings and the result was spiritual pizza that rivaled that of the Kalalau Valley on Kauai. We barbecued the pizzas on a ceramic stone so the pizza tasted smoked and my contribution was my favorite flavor of pizza , cashew and pineapple.

At my suggestion we had a little menage-a-trois….jeez, get your mind out of the gutter. Menage-a-trois is a fantastic California red wine produced by the folie-a-deux vineyard. It’s a marvelous value wine that tastes like it should cost $50-$60 but can usually be found for between $8-$15 if you are lucky. Last night I found a bottle of menage-a-trois for right around $9. I was introduced to this wine by that paragon of taste, Mink Hippie. Thanks Mink! The wine went really well with the pizza.

It was a superb ending to a superb day.

It’s been a very nice couple of days here in San Diego. I arrived at Erina and Kevin’s and Erina was still at work and Kevin had accidentally locked himself on their 3rd floor balcony. Erina arrived home and let us both in the house and then in a sort of tragically funny way, Kevin, a furniture maker had made a coffee table with a big glass top that was designed to sort of wobble. He was showing it to me and jumped on the table top to show how it wobbled and at that point, a weak spot in the wood let loose and the table shattered into a thousand pieces. I was very impressed by his ability to simply laugh it off and say that it simply gave him the ability to make a better table the next time.

Yesterday, while Kevin was working Erina and I went to see the new gangster movie “Public Enemies”. I liked it. Of course, I’m a guy that always loves the films set in the Great Depression. My fedora is still in Canada but Dawn has offered to send it to me when I have an address I can get things at. As it turns out, I will be going to my brother’s place near Salt Lake City tomorrow and will probably be there long enough to have her send it to me.

Another bit of good news is that I managed to get myself off the no license national registry and have talked with the Hawaii driver license office and they are going to let me renew my license by mail. So in a few weeks I will be motor capable again. What a relief! I had thought I might have to go to Hawaii to take care of it and airfare right now is sky high at about $800 so I’m glad not to have to spend the limited funds I have to get this taken care of.

Since I am so close to Mexico, I had considered heading south of the border to where the dollars I have would stretch a little further, but at the moment, that isn’t really a great option so it will be a relief to revisit Salt Lake City, one of my favorite stops on this nearly 8 month epic journey and spend a little time there. Just to refresh my own memory, this trip started in the beginning of december and roughly followed this course:

Honolulu to Portland to Sacramento to Salt Lake City to Chicago to Boston to Providence to New York to Barcelona to Valencia to Alicante to Granada to Gibralatar to Tarifa to Tangiers to Fes to Rabat to Casablanca to Marrakech to Sefrou to Sevilla to Lisbon to Porto to Bordeaux to Paris to Amsterdam to Rotterdam to Brussels to Bergamo to Milan to Fes to Casablanca to Madrid to Frankfurt to Dublin to Quebec City to Sudbury to Winnipeg to Vancouver to Bellingham to Seatle to San Francisco to San Diego to Big Bear Lake to Palm Springs and to San Diego. Whew!

Yes, I’m a bit exhausted and shocked that I am still on the go. What a long, strange trip it’s been! I haven’t had much money for any of it but I’ve sure covered some ground. 3 continents. A dozen countries. Scores of cities and hundreds of friends, new and old.

I’m ready to get back to my Sweetie but sad that the travesty in Big Bear has robbed me of the money I thought I would be bringing back to marry her with. It makes seeing Public Enemies all the more powerful…


Vago Damitio

Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

One thought on “Vagobond in San Diego

  • August 16, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Vago! I wish I had known you were in San Diego. I am currently residing in America’s finest city with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson’s. Yes, I am a grandma. I have Ethan Andrew who is 2 and Lucas Alexander who is 5 months old. My son-in-law Nick is in the Navy which is why they are here. When they left Everett I had to follow. I had recently lost my mother to ovarian cancer, was unemployed and unattached so it was the perfect time to make the move. Nick is being deployed to Afghanistan and Frankie is in school full-time so they needed the help. I miss Bellingham terribly. San Diego is not my favorite place. I lived here for 11 years before I moved to Bellingham. Too many people and they are not very nice. I like going into a store and knowing people and they know me. I am a small town girl at heart. Nick is going to put in for orders to a reserve ship in Everett when he gets back next August so with any luck I will be headed home late 2010. I will be here until then so if you head back this way shoot me an email. I would love t catch up. Good luck with your job and travels. Oceans of love! Tracy

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