Thursday, October 12, 2006

Why I Love San Diego

Boy, that's not something that I can really relate fully. I moved there straight out of college back in 1996. My buddy Tom started grad school at USD a few month before I gradumeated from Salisbury and I agreed to meet him out there when I got freed up. The day after my graduation party, I packed up the Jeep (sans hardtop, duh) with surfboard and mtn bike and my buddy Tony and pointed West. We only got rained on once, for about 5 minutes in TN. I spent my time there doing the 'growing up' that I didn't do in college. It was a great time of no money, surfing, riding and hanging out just four blocks from the beach and two blocks from the main drag, Newport Ave. This was Ocean Beach (OB), not downtown SD. It was stoneytown at the north end of Sunset Cliffs and Point Loma.

Susan and I went out there for our 6th wedding anniversary to spend some time together, away from the daily grind. Of course, we love our kids more than anything, but we needed some time away alone. They spent the time being spoiled by all of their grandparents in the Philly/Annapolis area. I don't think they even missed us...

Susan and I stayed at the Inn at Sunset Cliffs which is the absolute best place in the world to go. It used to be residences right on the cliffs but it has been remodeled as a hotel. Open air, not a lot of rooms, heated pool in the courtyard, putting green overlooking the ocean and cliffs, outdoor fireplaces, lounge chairs... the works! We had a 'poolside queen' room which was a kitchen (we never used), living room, full bath with double headed (front/back) shower and queen bed. You wake and sleep by the sound of the ocean. It's also across the street from the bus stop AND liquor store with a little market inside and a hot food cafe next door. This place is worth checking out and it ain't expensive.

My buddy Pete owns this place called Bike Tours San Diego downtown, in the Gaslamp on 5th and Island. He sent one of his guys out with a couple of hybrids for us to borrow while there. Sweet. Locks and all. Pete is a Jersey boy, originally, and San Diego has always suited him. He's been there over a decade now and has a lovely wife and daughter. Lucky guy.

So, San Diego is one of the biggest cities in the US (top 8, I think) and it's east and west borders are Arizona and the Pacific, respectively. That's the county of San Diego, anyway. It's friggin' huge. The city is small and has basically no traffic by DC standards. Paradise, to be sure, as long as you can afford it. Everybody wants to live there so jobs ain't fallin' off of tress, if you catch my drift.

So, for pics we have the view west from our room at the Inn at Sunset Cliffs, bike parking - SD style, view west down Newport Ave from Sunset Cliffs Blvd and finally, my old house at 1977 Sunset Cliffs Blvd, me as Tour Guide Barbie pointing out the different surf breaks on the cliffs.

I would regret not mentioning the food. I loved living in OB because of the great variety of amazing food that was out my front door. Besides being able to skate down to the beach break at the pier with a surfboard, the food was amazing. The year I moved there, a place called Ortega's opened up on Newport. Luckily, it's still there. They've opened up another huge place a block off of Newport, but I love the original small place. It was opened up by two brothers from Mexico City. It's just the best damned Mexican food I've ever had, and I've had a LOT over the years. They have the best mole poblano sauce on the planet. Susan and I ate there twice and she f'in LOVED it. She would move there just for Ortega's. Just remember because it is not to be missed. Always take the recommendations of the staff on what to eat. Here's a shot of the original storefront that seats maybe 30 with six sitting outside. Homemade tortillas in flour or corn and everything is made right in front of you, short-order style, which is incredible.

We did the normal touristy stuff, just on bikes. I still know my way around out there and didn't get lost, even without a map. We rode the bike paths around Mission Bay, from OB past Sea World into Pacific Beach (PB) and down through Mission Beach, across the bridge, past the Marina where Tom lived after he moved out of the house and bought a boat, then right back down Sunset Cliffs Blvd to Rancho, the other amazing Mexican joint in OB. There are other Mex places, but these are the best. Rancho is your typical Cali-Mex joint, with tons of veggie and vegan options and a great carne asada burrito. They also have a nice little outdoor patio with tons of vegetation so it feels like you are in the jungle. It seats about 15 out there, really close quarters. It was great for the post-ride meal. We went out on the ride without really thinking about it and came back about 3 hours after we left. It was a beautiful day with a nice ocean breeze. Here's Susan, chilling in post-ride coma at Rancho.

We followed it up with a solid nap then hit the town for some strong, cheap drinks that seem to be the hallmark of OB. Pacific Shores. Where else can you get a glass of wine and a strong liquor drink for $8 with tip. No, they don't take credit cards... And I'm fine with it. If you go out and spend $20 drinking there one night, you'll be hungover. It's that kind of place and I love it.

We also made fish tacos one of our must-dos. Susan never tried them when she was in SD with Dawn a few years back, but we got some killer ones from South Beach, overlooking the OB pier and the beach. Total bill for beers, bloody marys and fish tacos (all plural) was about $25 with tip. And I tip well.

Here's big daddy, downtown at Rock Bottom, puttin' em back. Porter. It was good. We rode the bikes down to Point Loma and Cabrillo to check out the light house and the nice view. It's a bit brutal on a cheap hybrid, but whatever, it's bike riding. After that, we hopped over the saddle in Point Loma and rode downtown to see Pete's shop. Of course, we managed a few beers at Rock Bottom Brewery where they craft tasty beer. That's my drinking/riding shirt now. It confuses the enemy. It's an 'enemy confuser.' Thanks for that one, Bush. Here's a shot of Cabrillo. It's one of two that we have of Susan and me. And it's not even of the view from the lighthouse, but rather a view OF the lighthouse, from below, of course. I suck. At least in THIS one I took my sunglasses off.

Here's a shot of the chopped and pimped HoDad's mobile. It's a burger joint, right on Newport. They have half of a VW bus inside the place that you can sit in. It's all painted up and the headlights work. They have the greasy-style down pat. It's a place to refuel and they'll put damn-near anything you want on your burger. Not vegetarian friendly. I'm just glad that they spend their money in the right place, namely a chopped Vee-Dub bus, pimped wheels and fake surfboards on the roof. Good livin'. We actually saw this thing driving around so it's functional, but I can't imagine that it's a good road-tripper. Board-hauler and grocery-getter, yeah, but that's about it. I hope it has a boomin' system. That would just be perfect.

So I was in Vegas a few weeks ago, then cruised out to San Diego for vacation and NOW I'm being pimped out to San Jose with the SRAM boys to get intimate with their new forks. I'm leaving for a few days of shuttle runs with my buddy Lars (see previous postings) on some big bikes. Big Ed (you know who HE is, right?) will be driving the truck and Mike is along as the token rider from SRAM. I bought some new armor today so I should be in good shape but you never know. The 'log rides' out there are on the tops of redwoods so you end up six feet in the air and drop to - guess - nothing. The dirt has some built-in travel, but it will still be high-consequence. It should be cool enough to keep the full-facer and the pads on for the climbs (yes, there's always SOME climbing in the Demo forest) but we'll see. Rattlesnake down into Aptos via Deliverance? Or just a few runs on Braille to get the bikes dialed? Who knows. Who CARES!? I'm stoked. I didn't get to ride Santa Cruz at the Specialized event as they moved it to Reno (oof) so this will be a nice reprise for the year. I shouldn't be on a plane for the rest of the year. Here's hoping, anyway. I'm going to do my best to hit somebody over the head with a brick and come home with a new Totem fork. Wish me luck.

So, to sum up: too much travel makes mike a slow boy, I loves me some San Diego, Susan likes OB, I still like to ride bikes.

Ok, one-legged OB sketchy seagull and I'm out...


At 11:13 AM, Blogger gwadzilla said...

divorce meditation?

sounds like a great anniversary trip!

my wife and I should plan a sans kid experience like that

good thinking!


we celebrated 7 years this past week

At 3:08 PM, Blogger Big Daddy Mike said...

Damn Blog spam. What's up with that? Congrats on year 7!


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