I didn't keep up with my Bloglovin' feed or any other social media while I was gone so I apologize that I have no idea what's going on with any of your lives right now! I'm slowly getting back into it.
I wasn't sure how to capture everything I wanted to share about my trip and it's just way too much for one post. So I've decided to break it down into 2 or 3 posts and possibly an extra one to get out all my feelings and things I learned along the way. Get ready for picture overload! I had to really reign in my picture-taking over the course of the trip because I had limited storage capacity on my iPhone and it was HARD. Everything I saw was breathtaking and picture-perfect and I wanted to capture it all so I'd have those memories forever. But with or without the hundreds of photos I took, I know I'll remember not only the sites I saw but the feelings I had out there.
If I could sum up my trip in one word, it would be this: AMAZING. I had felt for many years that when I finally got to CA, I'd fall in love with it and I was so, so right. The landscape is so vastly different from anything in the Northeast and so stunningly breathtaking, especially along the coast. It was like nothing I'd ever seen.
I'll start the recap with San Diego, "America's Finest City", since that's where I spent the bulk of my time (other than the wedding at the end of my trip). I did SO many activities that I actually had to jot little reminders in my iPhone's notes at the end of each day so I wouldn't forget what I saw! I am not a 'sit still' kind of person and especially on this vacation, I intended to see and do as much as I could. Yet, I didn't really plan anything at all! It's amazing how many things just worked out day-to-day out there. I definitely felt so completely supported by the universe and absolutely LOVED traveling solo! In fact, it's something I'd love to do at least once a year to explore new places.
SD Day 1: After a 5.5 hour flight from Baltimore, I arrived in SD around 1:30pm PST (4:30pm EST). I then had to grab a rental car and find my way to my first Airbnb which was in the Ocean Beach/Point Loma neighborhood. I ended up getting there around 2:30 (I think) and the owners were working so they left a key for me to let myself in to their place. I loved it immediately. It was super low-key and cozy and I actually passed out on the giant bed in my room for an hour or two before I woke up to church bells chiming outside my window and took these pics (hence the rumpled bed!):
I waited until one of my hosts returned from work so I could meet her and she was wonderful! They were a young couple (prob younger than me) who both worked in the education field and were super accommodating and sweet. Then I headed down to Ocean Beach for my very first encounter with the Pacific Ocean. It was MAGICAL!
I walked down the sand and dipped my toes in the water and just took it all in. I couldn't believe I was actually in that place with my feet in an ocean I hadn't touched in all of my 36 years. It was pretty emotional.
By that point I was starving so I decided to eat at South Beach Bar & Grille, which was recommended to me by blogger Chelsea Dinen (whom I've been following for 4ish years and has lived in SD). They have an outdoor balcony right on the beach that overlooks the ocean and pier. I ordered fish tacos and watched as the sun started to set, and felt like the luckiest person on earth at that moment.
The guy next to me struck up a conversation, in which he def used the expression "west coast/best coast" when talking about his home state!
Then, I took off to walk the long fishing pier and ask strangers to take my picture:
After the sun had set I walked back to the main street where they were having an evening farmers' market! Can you get any more CA than a farmers market at the freaking beach?! I bought some fresh eggs for breakfast and some homemade organic coconut milk sorbet in a glass jar. And then finally decided to head back to my house and call it a night.
SD Day 2: I woke up to the church bells outside my window chiming "Amazing Grace". Oh Hi Jill, the Universe DEFINITELY thinks you belong in San Diego :)
I ate those farm-fresh eggs and some fruit my hosts had given me up on their SUNNY TERRACE before setting off to see a million different sites (and walk a million miles):
Like I said, I really had no agenda or plan for any of this trip, other than to let things come to me naturally and decide each day what I wanted to do and see. And see I did. On Day 2, I drove downtown to explore Balboa Park. Which was much bigger and more beautiful than I had imagined. Here are a few pics:
After walking around the gardens for a couple hours, I started to work up an appetite so decided to head over to a neighborhood I like to frequent in any town that has one:
I should have sat down to a giant bowl of pasta, but it was midday and hot and so instead, I found a cute little juice bar and had my first acai bowl. In Little Italy. Hahaha
It was yummy. Then I decided to explore the neighborhood a little and happened upon a beautiful little church with open doors so I went in and said a little prayer thanking God for allowing me to be in this place at this time.
One thing I love to do when traveling and exploring new places is to stop into churches. I don't know why. They just call to me and in I go.
Then I hopped in my car and drove to La Jolla for what would be one of many mind-blowing experiences on this trip. The directions to La Jolla Cove take you down a very narrow, very steep curved little road, from which you cannot see anything. Until you get down to the bottom and turn the corner. AND THEN. I nearly cried. Your view opens to the clearest, starkest coastline you may have ever seen. Huge cliffs dropping into the Pacific Ocean, dotted by beaches at some points and sunbathing sea lions at others. I had never (up until this point) seen ANYTHING like it. I feel like I'm being redundant by saying everything is beautiful, but it was. I am so captivated by nature in normal situations but this was just beyond. I did lots of climbing, exploring and wandering. And of course taking pictures next to REAL LIVE sea lions. HELLO.
After being blown away by those views, you might think Day 2 would be over. Oh but you'd be wrong. More to see! Onto Pacific Beach for some more exploring and even more walking. There was just so much to see and my days in SD (for now!) were numbered.
I walked the length of their sidewalk (boardwalk?) until I got tired, wishing I had rented one of the bikes I saw when I first started (!) and then turned around and walked back. And waded in the ocean for a little.
I finally headed back to OB near sunset and decided to walk to a little taco place my hosts recommended for dinner. The tacos were good and cheap. I got carne asada because apparently ground beef tacos are not really Mexican?! Who knew. Not me. I walked home with my dinner and ate on the terrace and then crashed in that giant bed like the walking dead.
SD Day 3: I had decided I wanted to do at least one day of hiking while in SD because there were so many trails nearby. Originally I had planned on exploring Torrey Pines but one of my hosts suggested Potato Chip Rock and somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I remembered hearing about this infamous pinnacle and said HELL YES, I'm down for that. So I headed about 30 mins northeast of the city to Lake Poway and began what I thought would be a fairly easy hike on a 'heat advisory' day in the park. Suh-weet! Great timing Bean. There were heat advisory signs all over advising everyone not to proceed with the hike unless they had at least 2 liters of water per person. I randomly googled this beforehand and stockpiled water.
And then began the nearly 2,300 ft ascent to the rock. I had no idea the total mileage for this hike was 7.5 miles roundtrip and STRAIGHT UP! I saw several people start and then stop because of the heat. But I kept going. I am a pretty fast hiker and only stopped a few times to sip water or take a pic, but it still took me nearly an hour and a half each way. Going up was rough but reaching 'the rock' was incredible. I ended up hiking in close proximity to a group of 2 guys and also a single guy for most of the way. Sometimes one of us would pass the other but we were always around each other. Most times joking or urging each other on with encouragement. When we finally reached the top we rejoiced together and we took turns taking each other's picture atop the rock.
I'M ON TOP OF THE WORLD!
The way down was steep but far easier than the way up! As I passed people going up, struggling, sweating and huffing and puffing, I offered them encouragement, fully knowing their pain.
I came down the mountain a sweaty mess and then drove back to SD to meet up with a high school acquaintance I had not seen in 10-15 years! He had seen my status on FB and messaged me that he lived there and did I want to hang out? WHY NOT?! Except today was the only day we could make it work. I texted him as I made my way back and he graciously offered to let me shower at his place before we went out. Showering at someone's place you haven't seen or talked to in over a decade??? Could potentially be awkward. Nah, Sign me up! After I cleaned up we headed to a neighborhood called North Park for happy hour and dinner. We did happy hour at a bar and then yelped a good sushi place for dinner.
Class of '97, represent!
I went back to my place, ate some of that homemade coconut milk sorbet and once again crashed like a dead person in my bed.
SD Day 4: My last morning in San Diego. I ate breakfast on the terrace, packed my bags, thanked my hosts, and then set off for LA. On the way I stopped to buy a San Diego magnet. My whirlwind trip to SD was over and I felt I was leaving a little piece of myself there as I drove north. I had a feeling one day I'd be back to pick up that piece of my heart SD had captured.
OMG I'm sorry for the length of this post! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I had no intentions of it being this long and this was only the first 3 1/2 days. I intend for this to be a travel diary that I can look back on so if you skipped all those words up there and just browsed through the pics, kudos to you. SD was and is a beautiful, beautiful place.
Part 2: Los Angeles and San Francisco....TO BE CONTINUED...
Have you ever been to San Diego?
Do you find these pictures as captivatingly beautiful as I do?!
Would you shower at a high school classmate's house whom you have not seen in 15 years?! HAHA