Saturday, June 3, 2017

I Traveled to California and Arizona! (Part 2)

Welcome back!  Here's some more about my adventures I took with my husband!  Last month!  If you haven't read part 1, click HERE to read that first.

CW: Mentions of destroyed communities and suicide at the end of this post.

Wednesday morning, we got up relatively early (vacation early, so around 8) and on the recommendation of our AirBnB host, we walked to the Balboa Golf Course, because he said they had a really good breakfast there and a great view of Downtown San Diego.  So we did :)  And he wasn't lying...

After some pancakes and mimosas, we walked back to our tree house and made a plan for the day.  Turns out it was going to be a low-key day which, after doing so much museum hopping today, I was ready for.  We read in our tree house for a while and then made the drive out to Point Loma to see Cabrillo tidepools and generally see what all was out there (because we didn't really know).

Turns out there's quite a bit out there if you look hard enough.  One of the better-known places to visit there is the lighthouse, but before we made it up there, we found a bunker that was an old radio station during World War II.  I didn't know this before, but after Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, the Army (or whoever) thought that San Diego would be next.  So they really started preparing the area closest to the ocean for war, training in people to triangulate locations of ships out at sea, training them on how to use the guns, and training people in on the radio to communicate and assist with triangulating.  So we went in that bunker.  It's very small but worth visiting.  It's just down the hill from the lighthouse.  There was also another bunker slightly up the hill where they used to shoot the guns, but it was closed up tight.  I know, I jumped down in front of it to see if I could slide through the small window facing the ocean, but that was closed up with metal doors too.  I decided not to pursue it any further.  I probably would have gotten stuck in the bunker with a million spiders anyway.

The lighthouse was neat to see.  The stairway is cramped, but judging by the number of beds in the lighthouse, it could house a family of 4-5 people, which I thought was incredible.  I also didn't realize that keeping a lighthouse was a whole family affair.  It's wasn't super easy like changing out the enormous light bulb every once in a while, but you had to keep up the house itself.  Everything needed to be clean, the garden needed to be kept, and then on top of all your lighthouse responsibilities, you were also kept busy by making sure there was clean water available and other odd jobs around town.  The life of a lighthouse keeper is far from dull, I understand.
Once we finished looking around the lighthouse and grounds immediately beside it, we kept walking down a path and it turns out that we had stumbled along a really great path to observe the annual Grey Whale migration.  It's way too late in the season to see them migrating-- they're mostly up near Alaska now with their babies-- but I was excited because as some of you know (mostly if you're my immediate family), I have spent the past five spring semesters with this one fifth grade teacher and her class as a volunteer (and lately, as a substitute teacher).  One of the projects I have done with the kids is tracking the spring migration of different animals, and one of those animals has been the Grey Whale.  So to see where the whales swim by, even if I didn't actually see any whales, was super cool for me.  I'd love to return to this place in the spring (earlier this time) to see the whales swim by.  I think that would be just incredible.  I'll add that to my bucket list.

From there, we drove down to the tidepools.  There really weren't many walking paths out there, so it was just easier to drive.  Fun fact: once we got down to this low point, Jack got a message on his phone saying "Welcome to Mexico!"  Apparently, we were close enough, though we never set foot in Mexico on this trip.  Jack turned off the cellular capability on his phone at this time.  And really, it was for the best, because even though we arrived long after low tide, there were still some really interesting things to see in these tide pools.  Here are some pictures of what we saw and found:

Don't worry, it's dead.
I put a dead crab on Jack :)
Found a real crab hiding under this rock :)

Anemones cover themselves with pebbles to stay moist when they're uncovered during low tide.  How smart!
We had a card we were looking at that told us what kind of things we could find in the tidepools and we noticed that there was a lot we hadn't seen yet.  For example, we didn't see a starfish or many actual fish.  We decided that we would look up low tide for tomorrow and go to more tidepools bright and early tomorrow.

After heading "home" for a bit longer (napping, reading... it's vacation, we can do what we choose, right?), we got to meet with some family for dinner and catching up!  It was extra fun to catch up with them because they recently had a baby and she was wonderful to meet :)

Thursday was another great day.  Much like yesterday, we went to see the tidepools, but instead of driving to Point Loma again (you do have to pay to get into the park, which is kind of a drag), we drove to La Jolla to see the tidepools there.  We still didn't see a starfish, but since we got there at 9:30 AM (before low tide), we still saw a lot of really great things.  So many crabs, a lot of barnacles, limpets, and a surprising number of fish.  It was really cool.  And we were able to walk really far out into beds of seaweed that is normally covered by salt water.  That's not something we get to do every day, so that was very special.  And then of course, since we were back in La Jolla and on the beach, we just happened to be right by seal rock again, so paid the lovely neighborhood seals a second visit.  Morning time must be the optimal time to see animals.  I once visited the Minnesota Zoo in the morning with my mom and the animals were super active then.  It was the same thing here with the wild seals.  Yes, a lot were still sunbathing, but several were swimming around in the water.  One particularly sassy seal was just a kick to watch!

After we had had enough time with the seals, we decided to head over to Chicano Park.  On the day we visited Balboa Park, we were talking to someone from London who has lived in San Diego for the past few years and when she found out we were just visiting, she told us that Chicano Park was one of her favorite places to visit.  We'd never heard about this before, so we made the trip to go check it out.

The story behind Chicano Park is that this was once a big neighborhood where many people from Mexico and other parts of Central America made their homes.  One day the government decided they needed a highway that cut right through that neighborhood, so houses were torn down.  This once unified neighborhood was now split in two.  There were protests about the construction of this freeway (which now leads to Coronado, a wealthy island neighborhood near San Diego).   To help bring some semblance of a community to this place, murals have been created on the underpass itself, sharing the history and culture of the people who are here.  It was a really interesting and devastating part of the city at the same time.

Following a lunch of carnitas burritos (with pretty much the best rice ever... I can't even, you guys), we got back in the car and took the Coronado bridge to Coronado.  This bridge is extremely tall to allow ships to pass underneath it without it opening up.   So we got a great view of San Diego before driving into the fancy town of Coronado.  We didn't come for anything except the beach.  My mission was to find the Sand Castle Man, or at least his work that he left behind.  It took a while of wandering and walking in the water (which in and of itself was nice), but we did find his sand castles!  There were three of them in the same area that he completed for companies that must have been having meetings or something at Hotel Coronado (which is right on Coronado beach... I'm told that this place is rather famous, but I'd never heard of it before).  One cool thing about this beach is that there are flecks of mica in the sand which looks like gold.  It's a fancy beach.  From what I could tell, this was a great swimming beach and I could see why there were so many families there that day.  It's a really nice place to be.

In the evening, we headed into Old Town San Diego which is known for being extremely touristy, but it was good fun at the same time.  We ended up having ice cream for dinner like the healthy adults that we are and then walking up the hill to the Mormon Battalion site.  This wasn't something we expected to do, but that's part of the adventure, right?  It was an interesting museum.  I think the people working there (at least the younger people) were on their two-year mission.  They dressed up in pioneer dresses and took us through a surprisingly interactive tour.  Like, even the pictures moved and our tour guided pretended to interact with them.  It was goofy, but oddly I enjoyed it.  The whole museum was about how the Mormons came west through Westward expansion (you can't do it for free, apparently).  They had to volunteer for the U.S. Army and be prepared to fight, though they never actually fought a battle, which is good.  Still, the journey was tough and trying for everyone.  This was a free museum and the people working there are so nice.  You should pay them a visit next time you find yourself in San Diego :)
There was just one last thing that we did on this day, and it was something that I had been looking forward to for weeks when we initially found out about it: The Whaley House.  This is a house that claims to be the most haunted house in America.  I'm not sure about that, but I was so excited to go through the house.  Thomas Whaley, the patron of this house, moved here from New York and started a series of businesses throughout his life.  He was a very entrepreneurial spirit.  Anyway, he's the one who built this house (he didn't see a problem with building this house on the site where people were executed after committing crimes.  I mean, what could go wrong, right?).  The house would become a General Store and granary, a courthouse, a family home, and a small theater in its time.  He married and had children, many of whom died in the house.  His son died of scarlet fever at 18 months and I think the most famous death of his children is that of Violet.  She married in a double wedding and her marriage ended in divorce (which she had to be convinced to get).  She became so distraught that she had to be on suicide watch after her first attempt.  Her second attempt worked and she died after being brought into the house.  If you go on the evening tour, you are encouraged to take flash photography (several in any one place you stand) and look for figures and orbs of light as well as pay attention to the things you feel in your body.  I got several pictures where the lens of my camera is clean, but little lights can be seen in one picture and in a different location in the next several snapshots I take.  I swear a felt someone try to hold my hand.  You can believe or you don't have to, but this was such a fascinating experience for me and I'm really glad I got to go through the house at night.

I'll end this post here!  There are still more adventures to tell you about, so keep an eye out for that post in the next couple days!

Thanks for Reading!


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