America 2017: Day Two (22 October)

She’s in love with California
And that west coast sunshine dream
These ain’t no holly woods
And these hills ain’t Beverly
Ain’t no beaches on these backroads
No sunset on the boulevard
She’s in love with California
And breakin’ my heart

                                                         – Tim McGraw

Saturday 22 October 2017

San Diego, California

I slept like a log last night: nine hours without one interruption. The alarm woke me up at 7:30am and I started the day with a 4km jog down Century Boulevard, because I figured that we’d spend most of today sitting in the car on our way south. We’re tucked right in the back of our hotel, the Travelodge LAX (which is really nice, by the way) so it felt like I’d already walked a kilometre from the room to the front desk. It was a beautiful cool morning before a very hot day in Los Angeles, and the exercise felt good.


After breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and drove downtown so mum and dad could see some of Los Angeles’ iconic sites. We drove Sunset Boulevard in one direction and Hollywood Boulevard in the other – Mann’s Chinese Theatre, El Capitan Theatre, the Roosevelt Hotel, we saw them all this morning – before going up into the mountains around Griffith Observatory, where the views of sprawling Los Angeles are amazing.


Then, we headed south down the I-5 to San Diego, which is about two hours’ drive from Los Angeles, but a world away in terms of the urban sprawl. It’s a beautiful coastal town with many great beaches, and lots of outdoor activities. After the unmitigated chaos of Los Angeles, it was nice to be in a normal city of about 1.3 million people.


We’re staying at the Days Inn near San Diego’s Sea World, in a district where there are pretty much every hotel chain imaginable. It worked out well, because we’re very close to where my friend Kevin and his wife Ashley live. I’ve known Kevin almost seven years to the day, and met him during my first trip to Chicago. We’ve kept in contact since, and some of you might know that I actually journeyed over here and up to Michigan in late July to see him get married – an epic weekend.


It’s great to be down here visiting on their turf, and we had an amazing night in Ocean Beach, one of San Diego’s most beautiful neighbourhoods. It started at a local brewery a few blocks back from the beach, continued on to a taco joint basically on the beach, and then at a rooftop bar and finally at an ice cream shop. We witnessed a sunset by the famous Ocean Beach Pier that none of the photos I am adding to this post could ever do justice. A San Diego sunset on Ocean Beach is something that you should definitely add to your Bucket List. It’s simply stunning. As was the food tonight, the beer, the company, and the all-around vibe of OB, as the locals call it.


I can’t think Kevin and Ashley enough – especially on a Sunday night – for being such awesome hosts. It was a laugh-a-second kind of evening, and that makes two spectacular days in a row here. What a great weekend it’s been for catching up with friends in the state of California! I’m so blessed to have such great friends as these.


Despite the heatwave-type weather they’re expecting tomorrow, we’re going to do some hiking around the Torrey Pines state park, and explore more of San Diego.


If the start of our vacation has been anything to go by, it’s going to be a huge six weeks.

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