After being on the road for a month it was time to settle back into a “community” and settle into Chula Vista RV Resort for the next three weeks. Our drive from Joshua Tree took us west again towards the coast and down to the south western corner of continental USA. Chula Vista is between San Diego and Tijuana nestled on San Diego Bay.
We arrived at the coast with “large swell” warnings for the south western coast. Our location was well protected by the Silver Strand and the San Diego Bay so no danger of flooding for us. We did want to see them so we went for a motorcycle ride over to Ocean Beach Pier to see them. With the waves swelling 6 to 8m high the pier itself was closed, but the beach was not. The power and the majesty of the waves was mesmerizing!
We walked along the boardwalk and June did some artisan jewelry shopping and Larry took pictures of the waves crashing against the pier. With the holidays being a week away the beach even had a holiday season theme to it, a very crooked Newtonmas tree decorated with beach balls.
After watching the waves for a while we drove down to the tip of Point Loma to Cabrillo National Monument. This gave us a very good over view of San Diego and the Bay, where we could watch the swells roll into the rocks below. The drive to here and home took us right through the downtown harbor front area and also past the San Diego Airport which is literally situated right beside the skyscrapers of the downtown core!
We got a feel for the city on our motorbikes with the ride yesterday but today we got to know it a little better on our bicycles. San Diego is ranked in the top 5 of US bike friendly cities. Our first outing took us downtown and to the pier. After exploring the pier for a little bit we then boarded the ferry that went from the pier of downtown over to the ferry dock on Coronado.
With a reward of Stone Cold ice cream for each of us we continued on the Bayshore Bikeway. The path took us through Coronado and then along the Silver Strand which separates San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It then loops around San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge at the south end of the bay. We finished the ride heading up the east side of the bay back to Chula Vista. It is a nice 40 km loop that soon became part of our almost daily routine.
The path took us through Coronado and then along the Silver Strand which separates San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It then loops around San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge at the south end of the bay. We finished the ride heading up the east side of the bay back to Chula Vista. It is a nice 40 km loop that soon became part of our almost daily routine.
To immerse ourselves into the Chula Vista RV community we signed up for a few activities offered by the resort. The first thing was a hike at Elfin Forest which was about a 45 minute drive north of San Diego. The trail, named The Way Up, was a nice little 2.5 kilometer hike up 300 meters to a look out. We got to know Byron (who organized the hike) and his two daughters Brooke and Brayah. The only other hiker was Ray. It was fun walking with these other full time RVers sharing stories and getting to know some new friends.
With Newtonmass about to start, we decided to tour the USS Midway before all the holiday traffic arrived.
The USS Midway is a decommissioned aircraft carrier from the US Navy. We had checked the website which stated to allow 3-4 hours to tour the museum. It was an excellent day which took us 6 hours to almost cover the exhibits.
With the self guided audio system we toured the ship from top to bottom. From the mess halls, to the admiral’s lounge, to the boiler rooms, to the “island” ( control tower ) it was a very interesting adventure. We enjoyed 2 excellent “lectures” on the deck from a retired admiral about how they land and take-off, an incredible feat!!
The most interesting part of the day however, was when we were in the boiler room and we started talking with Jack. Jack is a 94 year old docent/veteran. He was very knowledgeable about the workings of the carrier, even though he spent his years of service serving on a destroyer. He joined the navy in 1943 when he was eighteen years old and found himself in Europe, where he actually was at Normandy on D Day! When he told the small group of people that had gathered there, everyone got goose pimples. It was a very powerful moment. He also spent the Korean War serving on a destroyer.
We would often take the bike path back around the Bay and the Strand to Coronado. This time our destination was the Dog Beach. It is the last 3 to 4 hundred meters of the Coronado Beach where it is an off leash area for the dogs to run and play. The layout of the beaches was brilliant. The main beach area no dogs are allowed giving ample space for people to relax pet free. Then the dog beach gives the dogs a chance to run and play without disturbing any people. We would go just to see and pet dogs, June loved it!
Since we were only about 13 km from Tijuana Mexico and the International Border, we cycled down to the International Friendship Park. This is a park beach area along the Pacific Ocean at the US/Mexican border.
Standing there it gave you the feeling of anything but friendship. The border wall stretches out into the ocean. There is also a “no-mans” land of about 10m and then lots of razor and barb wire coils. It was a strange feeling of freedom on our part knowing that we could cross over and come back no problem while the people standing on the other side of the wall had very little chance of crossing over to this side.
With the “dreaded” caravan staying at the sports stadium just on the other side of the wall it did feel surreal. On our way back home we swung over to Imperial Beach and the pier. From this vantage point you could see Tijuana as well as San Diego.
With the holidays now upon us we took in a couple other park events. The first one was an evening of caroling. It was a fun night and a chance to connect with a few more of the people in the resort. Then on Christmas Day we joined about 80 other people for a mid afternoon potluck. We finished the day by watching the Sound of Music, which brought back some wonderful memories of when Wanda and Charles got engaged while watching it at the farm.
We continued exploring the area on our regular bicycle ride which took us over to Coronado on the bike path. This was a good “birding” experience as well as there were numerous Willets, Curlews, Mallards, Coots, Gulls and Terns just to name a few in the Wildlife Refuge. There also is a pink flamingo that has come to San Diego Bay for the holidays. It is not a normal location to find Flamingos so they are not sure if it was blown off migration or just escaped from the zoo. Either way, it sure adds colour to the Bay and we stopped every time to admire it’s beauty and colour.
We also had the bonus pleasure of 2 sightings of a flock of big white American Pelicans, they are twice the size of the Brown Pelican we see skimming the water all the time.
Most of the cycling here has been relatively hill free, so we decided to cycle inland about twenty kilometers up to Lower Otay Lake. This gave us a nice 200 meter steady climb up to our turn around point, which also happened to be the location of the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Centre. It is one of the USA Olympic Athlete Training Sites and had everything from soccer and lacrosse fields to archery, tennis courts and cycling tracks to name a few. We stopped and chatted at the visitor center and she informed us that this week there was an elite rugby camp going on and there was a game starting between the American and Canadian U19 Boys rugby teams. So, of course we had to go and watch for a bit before heading home again.
San Diego is also known for its Zoo and the Balboa Park. One cycle route took us into the heart of the city and to the site of the 1915 Exhibition which is now known as the Balboa Park area. It features lots of hiking, cycling trails, a rose and cactus garden and a small poppy field. Museums and horticulture buildings are also in the heart of the park. The ride home then took us through the Gaslamp Quarter which is the entertainment district of San Diego.
Having an RV resort that is within the city landscape means that there usually is public transportation. This is important for us, as we only have bicycles or motorbikes but like to get dressed up every once in a while. So every Sunday afternoon in Balboa Park they have free pipe organ recitals at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
This is the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ. It currently has 5,017 pipes after a renovation in 1980. It was originally built for the 1915 Expo and opened up on New Years Eve 1914. The original organ had a little over 2,000 pipes. We wanted to take in the recital so we took the trolley and bus service back to Balboa Park. After walking around the rose and cactus gardens and the botanical building we enjoyed a pitcher of sangria in the central patio area. The pipe organ recital was nice but it is not as powerful as some of the ones we have heard in the cathedrals where the sound is encased.
After the concert we walked downtown to The Nolen, which is a roof top bar that is 14 stories above the city. We timed it perfect for happy hour and sunset, PLUS, it was a great location for a pre dinner drink that turned out to be some of the best happy hour drinks we have tasted! For dinner, we headed down to the Fish Market, located on the water beside the Midway. We were a bit leary about eating here as it looked very “touristy”, but it turned out to be excellent!!!
This spot also hosts the Bob Hope Memorial, as well as the Unconditional Surrender Statue, signifying a sailor arriving home and kissing his sweetheart. Love it, or hate this statue for what it may, or may not be, it is pretty impressive in size.
The year 2018 ended as an overcast, dreary, wet day so we just stayed inside and rested. We didn’t even go to the New Years Eve celebration in the park that used the New York celebration at 21:00 our local time as new years, ( a lot of old people in our new life! ) We used the evening to watch some movies and managed to stay up until midnight and the beginning of 2109. We could see the fireworks from Tijuana from our motorhome. Then it was time for bed.
We spent New Years Day exploring downtown San Diego on our bicycles. This worked out perfectly as traffic was very light. San Diego is a great cycling city so even regular traffic is not much of an issue.
We explored the downtown area of Gaslamp Quarter. This is mostly filled with restaurants and coffee shops and most were filled with customers. We sat and relaxed on the pier of Seaside Village with a coffee and watched a New Years Day Regatta sail through the Bay. We finished off the start of 2019 with drinks at our neighbours Adam and Natalie’s after watching another beautiful sunset.
With another hike on the calendar Byron picked me up and off we went. Unfortunately June was a little under the weather and could not join us. Which was too bad because todays hike took us up to Potato Chip Rock! Yes, it did look like a potato chip and yes, I took some potato chips along to eat when at the top!
It was a nice 11.5 kilometer hike that gave us a great view of the San Diego Bay area. We could see Tijuana and could almost see LA. There were snow capped mountains in the distance to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It was a very nice hike and a good day.
Now, when June was a young, 8 year old girl her family went on a road trip from Niagara Falls to Oceanside, California. Since we found ourselves about 100 km south of Oceanside we decided it was time for a road trip.
We decided that with all the city and interstate traffic, rather then taking our Harleys, we would rent a car for the day. We ended up with a new Volkswagen Beetle convertible which worked out great! The drive took us up the coast, not the most direct or fastest route to Oceanside, but we hoped the most scenic. We went through Mission Bay, La Jolla and Torrey Pines before we really could see the Ocean. Most of the first hour was bumper to bumper traffic and not very nice, even though this is some of the richest areas of San Diego. Finally, around Del Mar the road took us along the coast. Once along the coast we went through Encinitas and Carlsbad before finally arriving in Oceanside.
At Oceanside we walked the beach and a picture of June standing at the waters edge with thoughts of a picture taken over forty years ago with her Mom and brother. As we walked the beach June was obviously thinking of that trip long ago and of her Dad who unfortunately passed away a couple years later. As we walked June was looking for a sign that her Dad was walking with her. Now, we have spent a lot of time along the oceans over the last 2.5 years and have found bits and pieces of the elusive sand dollar. This time as we walked and the wave receded and right before us was an intact sand dollar shell! We picked it up and made sure that there was not a small animal still living inside it. There was not so we carefully carried it back to our car. As we were walking back and waiting to cross the beachside street an old convertible drove by us with its top down and music playing. The music was the song “Downtown” by Petula Clark, not a song you hear very often anymore, except maybe if you are driving with us as it is on our play list. This was also interesting, as this was one of George’s (June’s Dad) favourite songs. It was almost a sign saying “I put the sand dollar there for you and I am still with you!” Now, not to be outdone by her husband, as we were heading out of town the license plate on the car in front of us had the name EVA in it. We took it as a way of June’s mom letting us know that her and George were here. Now, although we do know these are all amazing coincidences, it did make our hair stand up a little.
With our time in Chula Vista rapidly coming to an end we did one last cycle over to Coronado to the entrance of the dog beach. Our pink friend was still hanging around so we got to say goodbye to the flamingo as well. Then at sunset we met a beautiful chocolate lab named Rio, and of course his humans, John and Suzzanne. We ended up sitting with them at the resort happy hour and enjoyed chatting for a couple of hours. They were just starting the full timing RV life and had some questions for us. We look forward to meeting them on the road again sometime.
On our last day we decided to head into Old Town. Old Town San Diego marks the site of the first Spanish settlement on the U.S. West Coast and features 12 acres of Mexican heritage and historical sites, colorful shops, early-California-style restaurants, museums, a theater and the restored Cosmopolitan Hotel. It is now a State Park and we were told it has some great Mexican restaurants.
We toured the Wells Fargo Company building and learned how they were very vital in the development of the west, due to the stage coach line that they invested in to move mail and money between their east coast and now west coast operations.
We decided to indulge in a very good steak burrito and a couple of margaritas. The margaritas were 64 ounces and were very good. However, we did not leave our visa behind like we did in San Antonio last spring! We finished the day back home with Byron and Jaylin with some farewell drinks.
It is amazing how quickly three weeks can come and go. As we packed up and pulled out of Chula Vista we were a little sad. Not only because we were leaving, but because this RV Resort property was to be ripped up to build a big convention center. edit: we have recently learned that the RV park area will not be ripped up for a couple of years, so we will be back!!