Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Intentional Tourist

It wasn't all fun and surfing.  I did do some conferencing.  My first session Tuesday morning was a bust.  Two of the three presenters bailed and the remaining guy had a short and informative talk. 

Then I went to the expo.  Of course I was blatantly casing for swag.  I didn't want to talk to most of those people. I just needed free stuff for my kids.  I found a couple of those Rubik-type pyramid puzzles and grabbed them.  Otherwise the swag haul was pretty shallow.  Oh well.  I almost bought an ESRI bike jersey.  It was a good price, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by the designs.

The rest of Tuesday was unmemorable.  I went to another session or two, but wasn’t dazzled.  Most of what people were talking about could have been conveyed via a YouTube video.  The last session I attended on Thursday was the best and it was all about using mobile devices/technology to engage the public.

Jane Jacobs with mobile devices

Back out on the street Tuesday afternoon I finally understood what a Mediterranean climate is. When the sun did finally come out on Wednesday (just in time for my surfing lesson!) I finally understood the allure of SoCal.  On Wednesday I fell in love with beach communities.

Monday and Tuesday had been nice.  The highs were in the 70s, and despite heavy humidity it felt really nice walking around.  Wednesday and Thursday I experienced the unique phenomenon of looking outside to the sunny landscape, bracing myself for the heat, and being completely shocked when I exited an air conditioned building into a pleasantly warm world.

I also started to find my previously flawed impression of California being unraveled.  I kept forgetting I was in California.  The people seemed like most of the people I know elsewhere.  The homeless had the same vehement Tourette's I've heard in other cities.  

I was frustrated at the lack of crosswalks throughout the metropolitan area (Coronado was particularly ill-designed for pedestrians) but encouraged by the numerous motorists who stopped and waited on and even encouraged pedestrians to cross busy streets in the absence of decent pedestrian treatments.

There was a lot of good food.  I ate at the Tin Fish (and wish I’d gotten fish tacos!), Filippi’s in Little Italy (massive slab of lasagna), the Congress CafĂ© in Old Town, and some pizza place in Seaport Village.

Tuesday evening I planned to go out to the Point Loma Lighthouse.  I could take the trolley to Old Town, pick up a bus, and then change buses in Shelter Island.  My intent was to get out to the lighthouse early enough to explore but late enough that I could catch the sunset and then head back.

One reservation I had about wheeling around a strange city was ending up in the “wrong” part of town.  I have no reservations about seeing and experiencing new things, but I definitely didn’t want to stumble into a high crime area.  Shelter Island ended up being a regular beach community, and it was a good thing: the bus from Shelter Island to Point Loma had stopped running abut an hour before I got there.  I had not researched the route adequately.  I ended up jumping back on the same bus and heading back for the transit center at Old Town

My adventure attempting to get to the lighthouse was good experience for my trip to Mission Beach the next morning for the surf lesson.  Wednesday morning’s train and bus ride to the beach went smoothly.  By the time I was officially a surfer and headed back toward San Diego I was feeling pretty good about my transit navigation skills. 

I was so wiped out from surfing that I ended up basically crashing back at the room until dinner time.  By the middle of the week I felt like I had already seen more than on other similar trips to other places.  I was starting to run down as well. 

Thursday morning I woke early and traveling light I took the bus over to Coronado for a run.  My intention was to jog around town taking some photos of stuff I had seen on Monday and then run down the coast south toward Imperial Beach until I had gone 6 miles.  Then I was going to jump on the bus headed back north and across the bay to San Diego

Coronado Beach was beautiful under seablue skies.  Point Loma glowed golden in the morning sun.  I ran along the edge of the water looking for shells to take back for Bean.  I was intent on the sand at my feet when I heard a voice:

"Are you military sir?"

"What?"  I looked up from my phone.  Or from scouring the wet sand for cool shells.  "Oh, no."

"You'll have to turn back here sir," he said.

Poor grunt had to guard the beachhead against oblivious tourists.  Wonder what he did to deserve such miserable duty?  And so I turned back and headed for the hotel.  I'd've swapped places with the guy.  I didn't want to leave the beach.

Conferenced the rest of the day Thursday.  Wandered around Seaport Village at lunch looking for giftses to take back through security at the airport.  My family doesn't deserve such fine trinket souvenirs, but I couldn't wait to see the looks on the TSA agents' faces as their scanners picked up $100 worth of cheap magnets, keychains, and sundry novelty items.

There was a conference shindig at Balboa Park on Thursday night.  I agreed to meet up with a coworker and some friends to go out there.  Being a career anti-social that was my first mistake.  I’ll get to the travesty that was the Balboa Park party in tomorrow’s post.

Friday was a long day of travelling back to my home in the East.  We were up at the crack of dawn and on a plane as the sun was bathing the West Coast. It took nearly four hours to get to Atlanta and then another hour to Louisville.  But then I was home.  Mandy picked me up at the airport, and I was glad to be back with her after a week in a strange land.

1 comment:

  1. I really need to stop reading your posts... it's just making me miss California. Although I never lived in San Diego, I had a couple of friends who went to college there and one who moved there in adulthood to work in news, so I spent a lot of time roaming the beaches, shops, and just being able to enjoy the city. I think it's worse in the winter to read about these sorts of trips - though I'm not sure it's much easier now. :O)

    When we took our Midwest bicycle tour a few summers ago, I had an idea of what it would be like in this part of the country. When we arrived and explored, it was almost nothing as I expected. The people as a whole were thoughtful, intelligent, helpful, and the surroundings were beautiful with rolling hills and warm sunshine. I soon came to realize that we are all just people, and for the most part we are just trying to get by and enjoy the times with friends/family/etc. Rude people are everywhere - homelessness is something every city/state deals with - and I think (at least generally speaking) most people are decent no matter where one roams. Though there's always exceptions.