Sunday, February 20, 2011

Travels 2010: San Diego and Las Vegas

Travel-wise we stayed close to home in 2010 since my ambulation was still not 100% and also since my ankle is made of titanium, I could be worth money in 3rd world countries.

We knew of a couple that moved from San Diego to Cary, North Carolina, purchased a very nice house, moved into it then one spouse went into their new laundry room and started to cry because they did not live in San Diego anymore. That peeked interest. Speaking with anyone who lives in San Diego, was born and raised there, or like our friends, lived there for a time and left; they all claimed it was the best place in the US to live. Never asked why, wanted to find our ourselves.

Both Donna and I had been to Southern California before, just not San Diego. We found the area to be a wonderful place, Mediterranean climate, nice people, and many points of interest. We also noticed high taxes, the worst traffic in the world, and a huge density of people and structures. Plus Gertrude Stein could have been speaking about the Los Angeles area and not about Oakland when she said it "lacked theme". Still Donna and I wanted to find out what was so great about San Diego so we flew there last September.

Our first night we went to “Bring Your Pet Night” at Petco Baseball stadium just for the novelty of seeing a lot of dogs at a baseball game. The next several days we went to Balboa Park, a city park. The Park was wonderful! Balboa Park contains the world famous SD Zoo and 15 impressive buildings of Moorish, Italian, and Spanish influence surrounded by ornate, brightly tiled fountains and gorgeous flower gardens. Each building is a museum or cultural center. There is also an open- air Pipe Organ Pavilion with nightly organ concerts – we went twice.

Being in Southern California, we also drove up to La Jolla Cove to see the sea lions and rich people. We ate at Georges by the Sea in downtown La Jolla that had wonderful scenic ocean views. They sat us by the kitchen though, since we looked like most patrons’ grandparents and were probably not helped by the fact my khaki’s had the ever present soup stain from the previous meal - not black jeans with the pre-cut designer knee holes and the Mercedes CL600 convertible which the pants could sit in. The wait staff gave both hurried and slow service, probably unsure if we were early or late to our AARP meeting - the food was very good though. We then drove south to the less affluent Pacific Beach that was filled with an eclectic mix of young families, old folks, teenagers, and on the boardwalk, young people with tattoos and the pallor of a recent stay at a correctional facility. More our kind of people.

We took a city tour that brought us across the Bay to the iconic Hotel del Coronado, a landmark structure with large wings of white clapboards topped by red-shingled roof expanses and turrets. The back of the "Del" faced the beach and was landscaped with large swimming pools skirted with hundreds of white chaise lounges and very unique and beautiful plants. Donna knew many of the flower varieties without looking at the attending signs, I of course, added to the enjoyment by saying, "Look, a plant!" The beach looked perfect, but we couldn't understand why everyone was at the pool and not many on the beach. Why spend $500 a night on a beach vacation and go to the pool? It would be like getting a ticket to Augusta and then spending your time playing miniature golf. We knew the answer to the riddle as several Navy fighters skidded low across the beach (San Diego has a very large naval presence) and provided the same decibel level as the front row of a Stones concert. The backwash from the jet engines probably gave birth to the beach's divots. Just hope they wait to start the strafing runs during the off-season.

For such a large city, San Diego was easy to get around with one stipulation. If you travel there, be sure you have a map of the area with the shopping malls clearly marked. San Diegoans seem to place them in high regard. Directions always seemed to be given by major highways and malls. ”Right, you want to take a left about two miles before you hit Fashion Valley Mall… if you approach the Westfield Mall, turn around.” San Diego? People like it because it is Southern California without most of the attendant problems – size, traffic, etc….but has malls. If they ever put up a public sculpture downtown it will probably be a statute of a shopper.


As you know, I have been extremely concerned with our economy. Since the past and present Administration has made no headway increasing the M1 money supply to kick-start aggregate lending. I, well, you know the old saying, “if you want to get something done….”

So I decided to take Donna to Las Vegas for two days on the way back to North Carolina.

We also stopped off to see our friends Kathy and Jay Healey: photo provided (I’m the handsome one.) Always a unique place, Las Vegas routinely commits a hit-and-run on the notions of a mundane and ordinary life. A pile of neon that stands in protest of “buy and hold, keep your nose to the grindstone, and a penny earned.” A city where the hare wins the race and still has time for the casino buffet. In the morning, coming out of the breakfast buffet at the Bellagio (Donna had pork – totally out of control!), she won $90.00 at the slots. So much for the economy! We did notice that a lot of the men of my certain age all seemed to be dressed entirely in black and had very young ladies on their arms; must have been their daughters. That night we celebrated our largess by doing some fine dining at a steakhouse in the Paris. Walking through the spacious dining room filled with men in black and their “daughters”, I noticed one large, elderly gentleman seated between two “daughters. He was dressed entirely in white – white shoes, socks, pants, shirt and suit coat. He had jet black hair. He was smiling. He looked like a lone cue ball resting on a black felt pool table of eight balls. He reminded me of a character in one of the old Universal International black and white horror movies from the 60s. You know the asylum orderly, dressed in a white uniform, who forgets to secure the lock of the maniac’s cell while picking up the supper tray. That always happened early enough in the movie to give you enough time to run up and get some popcorn before the maniac took his revenge. Snacks with carnage
We shouldn’t blame the orderly though. He was probably just thinking of his daughter.

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