I bet you are wondering why I flew to Cali.
About 4 years ago, one of favorite friends whom I met during our fresher year at Brockport, packed up her car and drove across the country. The friendship I have with Liz—or The Other Liz, as I prefer to call her—is one that no matter how long it’s been since we’ve spoken, we can easily pick up as if we’ve spent everyday chatting. (It must be because she’s a Libra.)
So after almost 5 years since we last saw each other—when I drove up to Brockport to celebrate her turning the big 2-1 and my car broke down twice along the trip—I finally ventured out to the west coast for spend some QT.
As she is a hard-working girl, and I had booked inconvenient flight times to accommodate my bank account, I decided to spend Thursday and Friday in a rental car—I was one click away from booking a convertible for kicks—exploring the span of coast between LA and SD.
Let’s revisit the highlights:
What can I say, I was hungry.
Visitors’ Center & PCH
(No, not Publisher’s Clearing House!)
As I am not one for directions, or traffic, I ditched the freeway in search of the “Pacific Coast Highway” in hope of a better view—and what a view it was! The lovely old fella who worked at the visitors’ center, and had grown up two towns away from me on Long Island, was delighted to help me find some off-the-beaten-track places to visit.
This was not as cool as the marketing photos looked, but I think I was looking at it from the wrong angle. Located in Carlsbad, it was just rows and rows of vibrantly colored flowers. Awwww
Self-Realization Fellowship Ashram Center, Encinitas
Who knows what that means, but it houses the meditative gardens, which was the most mesmerizing and tranquil place I have yet to discover. Tastefully overgrown with deep green vines and tree leaves, the narrow passages are framed with exotic bright flowers. Periodically, I came across small shielded coves housing ponds with frogs and goldfish. At the top of the steps, passages led off towards the cliffs. Emerging from the leaves there is nothing but ocean to see, smell and hear. I LOVED IT!
I spent a couple hours here, just sitting, smelling, listening, meditating, looking… I think if I was ever to dream of a fairy tale wedding, here is where it would be: deep amongst the overgrown trees and over looking the bright blue Pacific. No bond made at this place could ever be broken. (Geez, where did that come from?)
Another Beach Town I can’t Remember The Name Of
I stopped randomly on the side of the road after passing some shops in search of some souvenirs! My aunt had just told me, if you see a psychic, go while you’re driving along. I got out, walked back and there in the window of the cute eccentric shop I was heading for, was a sign saying there was a psychic there for the day. I went, I had a reading, you’re not hearing about it!
Torrey Pines State Reserve
The park ranger at the gate (who charged me a parking fee, argh) said there was miles and miles of hiking trails. There were miles—about six miles, but for a state that is known for driving fun cars along Freeways, I guess this is significant. Little did he know he was talking to a gal who walks across countries. (I’m so humble!) I went for a sufficient walk along the cliffs and down to the shore. I walked along the shore for quite a while until it occurred to me that I had to get back and the tide was coming in. This was very pleasant until I took a different, less populated, route back up and realized I had gone quite a bit out of the way of other people. Then, of course, knowing the way my brain works, I began imagining news headlines declaring the attack and murder of a young NY gal in a quite CA-state park during her relaxing meditative trip to the west coast to visit a long-lost friend—and I picked up some speed and hurried back.
San Diego Uni and La Jolla
So this is where my cousin James pops in. Before departing I had requested some recommendations of what to see from my cousin who spent a number of years living, going to uni and partying in SD. He recommended a number of bars, restaurants and some good drives.
I spent the remainder of the day taking my time to get to my hostel driving through the hills of La Jolla around the Uni. It was beautiful, leaving me flabbergasted as to why I went to the snowbelt of upstate NY for my degree. Hungry and tired at this time, I found the boardwalk and hit up the Hostel.
At this point my mood was irritated by not sleeping he night before, flying across the country and then driving for hours caused. Before even arriving at the hostel I had booked, I checked the price tag on having my own room at a motel across the street—not on sale. I went to the hostel accepting two things: 1) It wasn’t that bad; I would just make the most of it; I have definitely experienced worse; 2) I had grown out of hostels.
I was given a small tour and directed to my room. It turned out that the majority of the 10-bed bunkroom was already full of girls who seemed to have moved in. I nodded as they rambled on in a language I could not identify while playing with their laptops, ipods and electronic hair accessories, while tripping over their massive, ‘I-packed-everything-I-own’ suitcases. And they were not happy when I asked if I could use the plug their ipod speaker system was plugged into in order to plug in the floor lamp that was in the bathroom. (I know, I know, I should have showered in the dark.)
I showered, I got dressed, I left to walk the boardwalk. Oooo, not a good idea. I ran back up the deserted streets, past some odd looking characters, to my car and drove off to look for food. As I was realizing with more certainty that I was not in a place I wanted to get lost alone, I discovered my cell phone was dead and the charger back in the hostel. I decided this was priority.
Upon returning a large number of people had congregated on the back porch of the hostel to which my bed was on the other side of the wall from. Alone in my room, I plugged in my phone and laid down to wait for its beep.
Two hours later I awoke to a party. Ok, so you know the AT&T commercials where a scenario plays itself out in the background while a ‘phone user’ discusses the affects of having missed an important call because of no service. Well, do you know the commercial like that where the traveler discusses how having missed the call to go to Brussels, he is stuck in a hostel with the techno twins, Slad and Veter. Yeah! That was where I was. All I could hear was techno, screaming in foreign languages and overall early-twenties, beach bum kinda fun.
All I wanted to do was sleep. Luckily I was tired enough that I did, hour-by-hour, waking up to reevaluate the scene before repassing out in my jeans. Until 4 am, that’s when I woke up to a drunk British girl trying to climb into the bed above me. I had heard her accent earlier when she dropped her stuff off and exclaimed to her traveling partner, “Let’s go get pissed!”—leading me to prepare for one hell of an awakening.
By 6am, I was up, dressed, packed and OUT!!!
San Diego Zoo
I spent the morning driving around the main strip of SD. I drove the scenic drive by Mission Beach and along to Ocean Beach. I drove to where James had mapped out his old apt—stopped to take a phone pic to send back—and continued to the downtown area. I noticed a café I remembered reading about in his email: It had great breakfast tacos, something about being good morning after food. I considered it, but then remembering that I HADN’T been hanging out with the techno crowd, opted for a diner that offered less spicy options.
I continued on the scenic route till I reached my ultimate, long-awaited, destination. Ever since I watched some discovery show about the SD Zoo Pandas, I’d been dying to do. (I have a bit of a soft spot for zoos.) This was seriously like a dream come true.
(Ok, this is getting long, I’ll continue later!)