Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Where in the World is San Diego?

I woke up Monday morning to the realization that I had never been so far from home in my life.  It was a fleeting thought—and had nary an impact on my heart rate—but faded as I settled into my frenzy of "new city exploration."
My hotel room balcony overlooked San Diego Bay.  It wasn't exactly a view of the beach (technically I had a great view of the bay between the Hilton and the convention center) but it was more than I had expected.

I took a quick run from the hotel along the bay up through Seaport Village and to the USS Midway and back.  Sunday night after getting settled into our rooms my coworkers and I walked through the Gaslamp District and ended up at Ralph's.  We needed a coffee can (Mark it zero, Dude).  But seriously, we all got food to take back to the room, so after my run Monday morning I ate breakfast in the room.

Monday's conference schedule was spartan.  Basically all I needed to do was pick up my badge and decide not to attend the plenary session.  I kept seeing people with cool GIS "superman" t-shirts that looked like our badges.  I wanted one but discovered that early Monday morning they were already sold out.  In protest I boycotted all ESRI User Conference activities for the rest of the day.

Then I decided Monday should be my sightseeing day.  Right away I discovered I could buy a four day transit pass for $17 which gave me unlimited access to light rail (trolleys) and buses all over the area.

After acquiring my pass I jumped on the next trolley headed north.  I wanted to scout out some ideas I had for exploration.  After three stops my spider sense tingled and in an act of desperate spontaneity I jumped off at Little Italy.  

I wandered through the area for awhile.  It was too early for lunch or I would have eaten there, but I ended up getting back on the train after 45 minutes or so and continued north.

My next impromptu detraining occurred at Old Town San Diego.  Again, I spent some time wandering through the state historic park, Fiesta de Rey, and the tourist trap quarter.  I described it to my boss as "Gatlinburg in a spaghetti western."  I did find a great little café (Congress Café) where I got a fantastic breakfast burrito with chorizo for lunch.

Then I had to decide: back to downtown or ride the trolley to the end of the line?  You know me; I decided to ride to the end of the line.  I'd hoped to figure out an expedient way to Mission Trails Regional Park for a trail run later in the week, but my explorations revealed no train proximity to the park.  Or at least it didn't seem like I could get there by train.  By the end of the week I was adept at riding the bus and figuring out routes but it was too late by the time I had my confidence up enough to try something like a trip back to Mission Trails.

I rode to the end of the green line at Santee and then backtracked to pick up the orange line to downtown closing a huge trolley loop.  I hiked back to the hotel for a little while before heading out again dressed in swim trunks for a jaunt out to Coronado Beach.

I took the ferry across San Diego Bay to Coronado Island (which is technically not an island) and walked a mile and a half to the beach.  Okay, that wasn't the best decision I made all week.  But it was worth the sore feet to get to see and swim in the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

I didn't stay long as I had already had a packed day.  I'd left my phone at the hotel.  While it was liberating to make such an unknown venture with only sandals, swim trunks, t-shirt, and enough money for the ferry, it was also a bummer not to have a camera with me.  The ride back across the bay toward the San Diego skyline had me kicking myself.

Coronado Resort Hotel

Along B Avenue, Coronado

San Diego skyline across San Diego Bay from Coronado

Another scene along B Avenue

B Avenue

Being footsore I took a pedicab from the ferry dock to the hotel.  Planes, trains, pedicabs and (eventually) buses...and of course walking...got me around all week.  Other than the white knuckle cab ride from the airport (and a milder return to SAN) I didn't get in an automobile the whole trip.

I met my coworkers for dinner at the Tin Fish.  I opted (as always) not to eat seafood, though despite my lifelong aversion found my mouth watering as I watched trays of fish fly by my head.  The burger was good, but I kept eyeing those delicious looking fish tacos.

After dinner we all went our separate ways, and after finding a nice little ice cream shop a block from the hotel I landed back in my room feeling satiated.  Night fell under the same gray sky that had hung over the coast all day.

Tuesday morning I headed to the conference.  

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