We both got a good night’s sleep and were up early in the morning. We went across to the Blue Pearl for breakfast – you guessed it, Russ had French toast and I had oatmeal. At least we get a pot of hot water to make our tea and were able to have two from each pot. They even offered to make a cuppa to go at no extra charge.
Apparently at this time of the year San Diego has Grey May and next month is June Gloom. Because the currents of the Pacific in this region come up from the colder areas before swirling around the California coast it takes the water a longer time to warm up at San Diego than it does further up the California coast, and this affects the weather here.
The weather was overcast but the cloud cover was expected to burn off later in the afternoon. Russ decided he would only need his t-shirt, but he packed his poncho in case. I wore my windcheater and took my poncho also.
Don, the driver, had mentioned that the courtesy shuttle for the Old Town Trolley Bus arrived at the Dana at 8:30am each morning – not a minute later – for any pickups. We had already booked our Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour for two days in San Diego so we only had to present ourselves and our cameras and wait for it to arrive.
Our driver was Smitty, and the Dana was the first hotel for pick up so we got to see quite a bit of the area while travelling to other hotels before we went to Old Town. When you first step on the trolley Smitty hands you a pink sticker which identifies that you are on the Mission Bay route for pick-up and return. At Old Town you get off the courtesy trolley and validate your passes which are changed into two one day tickets. Then you wait for the next trolley to leave on the tour.
It is very well organised. The trolley buses leave Old Town every half hour. The entire tour of eleven sites takes approximately two hours from Old Town back to Old Town. If you want to get back to the hotel later in the afternoon via the courtesy shuttle you need to be back at Old Town before 4:15pm. They have handouts for all passengers which informs you of approximate times for each stop along the route throughout the day, and another for those of us from the Mission Bay area with our times of pick up from each site.
We determined that it would be much easier to do the entire tour and then go back where we wanted to spend time. We actually should have done Balboa Park on the first day, but ended up doing USS Midway instead. I was very glad to get to spend the extra time at Balboa, but it meant we then needed to hurry our time at Midway.
We took numerous numbers of photos and the weather did get better as the day progressed. Crossing the Coronado Bridge I was very grateful to be wearing the windcheater as the wind had a bit of a bite to it.
The windows on the trolley buses are plastic sheeting in the back and glass at the front. However, the glass ones can only be opened at the bottom, whereas the plastic ones can be rolled up and out of the way entirely, which makes for better photos.
San Diego is a lovely city. It is bigger than I expected, but it is sprawled out. It has been saved from becoming just another cityscape by the fact that the airport has no more room to expand, and therefore the buildings can be no higher than five storeys in most places to allow the planes to drop down onto the runway.
It is the busiest single only runway airport in the US. It has over 600 flights per day and they depart or arrive every ninety seconds. They are surrounded by military compounds so there is no place to go. Apparently the pilots say it is an interesting experience to arrive at San Diego airport.
The people are very friendly and cheerful, and a large number of ex-military personnel choose to retire here. Many of these people are volunteers at the USS Midway Museum – there is even a special group for any wives who are interested in being a part of the museum volunteer staff.
Coronado is not an island, but you won’t find that out from the people who live there as they like to foster this idea as much as possible. It is actually a peninsula and has been voted the best beach in the USA for many years. It actually has been voted in as the twelfth best beach in the world. As you travel along the promenade at the beach you see a lot of low sand dunes with salt friendly growth along the tops of the dunes. However, if you could see the same sight from the air you will find that the dunes spell Coronado.
Around the corner from the posh area of hotels and residences at Coronado is the Navy SEAL and Marine Training Facility. Navy personnel who pass the psychological examination and wish to become SEALs will then come to Coronado and undergo an extensive and very intensive training schedule for six weeks. Of the hundreds who undergo this training approximately only 30% manage to pass the ordeal and be presented with their Navy SEAL pin. Training updates continues to take place here for all Navy SEALs.
Before the Coronado Bridge was built to handle the excessive traffic which comes to Coronado on a daily basis, most to work at the Navy base, the only way to gain access quickly was on a fleet of ferries. It quickly became obvious that they would never be able to handle the increase in traffic that continues each year. Coronado is not a suburb of San Diego but is a municipality in its own right with its own Mayor etc. Many rich and famous people take their holidays, or make their homes, on Coronado. Many of the US Presidents have spent holidays on the island also. The last to do so was Bill and Hilary Clinton and family.
The major roads have a decent centre way down the middle of them and these have been planted out with a variety of trees and flowers.
It is important to understand here that when the San Diego area was first discovered by the Spanish nothing happened for two hundred years until King Carlos of Spain was afraid that Russian trappers coming down the Bering Strait would start to settle the area and it would be lost to Spain. This is when he sent the military and the missionaries to begin colonisation of the area.
The ground around the shore and deep harbour was flat and covered with sparse chaparral, sage brush and cactus. There were many rabbits, which were hunted by the Native American Indians in the area, but Coronado itself had no fresh water supply.
A lady called Mary Sessions was a botanist who lived in the San Diego area after it was settled and ceded to the US (including Coronado) and she spent many years collecting seeds from other countries. The local San Diego council asked her to provide trees and shrubs for them to use to populate the city area. She explained to them that she would be unable to assist them unless they were prepared to give her several hundred acres for her to plant the seeds before they could be transplanted into their final destinations.
Her many acres were provided up near Balboa Park, and Mary Sessions is known as the Mother of San Diego. Many of the trees and shrubs which grow in this area are from Australia, Spain, South Africa and the dryer parts of Brazil and Asia. The jacaranda trees were in bloom, and the Naked Coral Tree was seen in all its glory.
We heard lots of local history during the course of the Trolley Bus ride, but haven’t been able to remember as much as I would have liked to do.
By the time we made it back to Old Town and got on the courtesy bus back to the Dana we were both ready for a rest. As usual, Russ did his meditation and I downloaded the photos for conversion. I had managed to get the Picasa program in a free download so it was not quite as cumbersome a task as it had started out to be.
When Russ had completed his meditation he decided it would be worthwhile to try my cord with his computer. It worked! Halleluiah. We left the computer charging and went across to the Blue Peal for a late tea. The hot chocolate here is almost as nice as Turkey. Russ decided to have spare ribs tonight and I had chicken fettuccine (after I removed the offending vegetables that shouldn’t have been there in the first place – broccoli, cauliflower, carrot and zucchini).