In the last few days, we have completed our tour of the Balboa Park area with visits to the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of man, and the Timken Museum of art. As it turned out, we unintentionally saved the best for last. All were worthwhile and had many interesting and educational exhibits.
As a change of pace, we also drove to the coast above San Diego to the Carlsbad area to enjoy the view from the beach and see how life along the coast might be.
Enroute we also spotted a sign for the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park and made a quick detour to have a look. Now the name Leo Carrillo may not mean much to you, and I confess I did not recognize the name immediately myself, but when Anneke, reading the guide book, said he was in the TV show “The Cisco Kid”, I knew we had to stop. If you were a kid watching early TV in the 50’s, you likely have seen this western show. It always ended with -AHHH Cisco—AHHH Poncho! Carrillo purchased the ranch property and additional land in the 1930’s and designed and built the building still on the site. The ranch saw many parties with the likes Will Rogers, Clark Cable, Carol Lombard and many others. It also was a place that sought to help the local community and to preserve a way of live that was rapidly disappearing.
The coastal towns of Oceanside and Carlsbad were pleasant and a great place to spend time in the sun by the water. Needless to say that large amounts of money will be required to live there or for that matter to spend any length of time in beach front hotels or rental units.
Yesterday, we ventured to Balboa Park in San Diego, which contains 13 museums and various other tourist attractions. We went with a package ticket that reduces the cost if you see most of the museums in a seven day period. We visited the Natural history museum, the Model Railroad museum and the San Diego Museum of Art. It is a very nice area that was originally built to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.
I am glad we bought the combined ticket, because while nice, these museums were not worth the individual entry fee. The most disappointing was the Museum of Art. While housed in a beautiful building, the exhibits were limited. The Toledo Museum of Art shines in comparison.
The Model railroad museum was mostly ongoing displays from local railroad modeling clubs, but still interesting. The Natural History museum displayed local finds from various local areas and a lot of activities for school age children.
We are looking forward to hopefully being impressed with the remaining exhibitions in the day ahead.
Today was a complete change of pace. We went whale watching. It was a great day with plenty of sun and as luck would have it plenty of whales, dolphins, seals and pelicans. Best estimate was about a dozen Gray Whales. These whales are nearing the end of the longest migration of any mammal. Round trip from Alaska to the Sea of Cortez is 12000 miles.
We also managed to get to the south of the continental United States’ most south Western point.
The Wild Animal Park is designed to allow wild animals to live in captivity as close as possible to their natural environment. Besides providing the public with a chance to see animals in this environment, the park is active in a world wide effort to breed animals that are in jeopardy of becoming extinct. They are quite successful in this effort with many births in the park each year.
We spent most of the day walking the park and enjoying the animals. It is an expensive experience compared to a regular zoo, but you can observe the effort that goes into the care of the animals and the cost involved in making the park work while managing over 1800 acres.
This was the day to start the exploration of San Diego. We thought it was appropriate to start with some history of the area. So, we began with the Old Town State Park in the oldest part of San Diego. This park is designed to preserve the history of the settlers who came here in the early to mid 1800’s and showed the transition from a land controlled by Mexico to one eventually controlled by the United States.
We toured the buildings and the history exhibits and learned about the life of the high born and the average citizen of the period. Then we headed into the surrounding area and selected one of the many restaurants specializing in Mexican food. We had an excellent lunch which inspired us to continue the exploration.
We headed out towards Point Loma to the Cabrillo National Monument and the preserved lighthouse on the point. Enroute, we took a small detour to drive by the area made famous by the America Cup races in San Diego. This Shelter Island area has huge yacht clubs and marinas. A great place for boating recreation.
We arrived at Pt Loma in time to visit the lighthouse before sunset over the Pacific Ocean and to observe some of the Gray whales very close off shore as they continued their annual migration of 12000 miles. This was a great way to mark our western most point of the trip.
Yesterday, we traveled south in heavy construction and California traffic to reach our most western destination of this trip. We are camped in a small canyon in the mountains 40 miles northeast of San Diego. The first sign in the resort I noticed was a warning as you enter the lake area to be aware of rattlesnakes. I hate snakes! It continues to be cold in the evenings with the lows still in the high 20’s, but the daytime highs here at 3500 feet elevation still are in the mid 60’s. The forecast is for temperatures to reach the 70’s in the next week.
Today, we headed still higher to visit a locally well known bakery in the mountains to the north. Excellent breads and, oh yes, pastries!! Then we continued north and up to reach the village of Julian, founded in the 1870’s as a mining town. It is now doing well as a tourist trap and apparently as a weekend get away area for the big city folks, based on the housing prices we saw. One fixer upper of 515 square feet on a postage stamp lot was asking $450,000. Clearly, not on our short list of places to retire. Besides, as we were navigating the twisting roads we hit a black ice area from a previous snow fall that had not melted due to shade. This, at midday with a temperature near 50 degrees.
One surprise in Julian was finding the Dutch based RABOBANK. This was a bank we used while living in The Netherlands.
We also visited several local wineries, and particularly enjoyed Orfila Vineyard in the outskirts of Julian. It is small producer of a limited number of wines of quality. Good value on the tasting process, with the non driver tasting seven different wines, and the opportunity to chat with the owner of the vineyard. Needless to say we ended up buying a number of his fine products. When we left I could not help feeling a little bit like I was in the movie “Sideways”.
We had a chance to drift back in time today. We started with a drive on a section of the historic route 66, with a stop at Peggy Sue’s nifty 50’s diner for breakfast. It was indeed a “blast from the past”. I also had my first ever chili omelet for breakfast (or any other meal for that matter). The place was not much to look at from the outside, but was traditional 50’s on the inside with uniforms of staff and music to match the décor. It was really a fun way to have breakfast.
We then took a tour of Barstow, Ca and have determined that this will not be on our short list of places to retire too. In fact, it will not likely be on any of the long lists either.
We then headed back to the Calico Ghost Town for a second short visit and watched the street gun fight-not quite the OK corral-but still amusing. We also visited the town cemetery, which reflects the rough environment that the town existed in.
We are now making preparations for are trek past Los Angeles and down into the greater San Diego area, where we will be staying at the Ramona Canyon RV resort. We are really hoping for some warmer weather.