Monday, 4 March 2013

S'more San Diego

Wow, there is so much to do here! We have had a few lunches out at fun restaurants. Hodad's is a "Diners, Drive-ins & Dives" recommended burger joint. The walls are adorned with surf boards and licence plates and the special seat in the house is inside the front end of a VW caravan. Portions are humongous! Chris ordered a double burger and could only eat 1/3 of it. My baby burger would fill any 'lil tike for a week. Our milkshake was incredible, served in the traditional icy metal can with a huge hunk of ice cream floating on top. We watched a plate of onion rings being delivered to a table nearby. They were piled as high as a wedding cake! Food was super fresh and hot with tons of mild onions, tomatoes and lettuce.


Phil's Bar-B-Que is famous for their ribs. With pink smoke lines and fall off the bone tenderness, they met our expectations. Especially notable was their excellent fresh coleslaw and homemade bar-b-que sauce. Naturally, we had another meal later with our leftovers. When we dine out we usually share one item or order different things with leftovers in mind.

We shared some delicious, authentic Mexican carnitas on the outdoor patio in Old Town. With the sun filtering through the flowers and vines above us, great service and food, we enjoyed the ambiance at Fiesta de Reyes.

So many museums, so much time. The Railroad Museum in Balboa Park proved to be a great source of entertainment and information. A number of railroad enthusiasts have reproduced local rail lines representing various time periods like the 40's, the 60's and present day. The scale of each diorama is different and the smallest one is a marvel that tiny details could be recreated in such finesse. All nature of scenery, life in small towns, cities and the country are portrayed aa are the activities appropriate for each setting: factories, shops, fairs, farms, lumber companies, lakeside resorts and so on. No details are overlooked such as prisoners working to build a bridge, graffiti on a billboard and a cyclist who has fallen and is being helped up by a buddy. It reminded me of the care my Dad took each year in setting up his Christmas village with lights in the train and people hustling around town and always, someone had dropped a gift or a skier had tumbled down the hill.

There were a couple of experts working on new additions to the scenes and adding personal enthusiastic comment and descriptions for the mechanical and electronic setups. Many great train photos, signs, lights and paintings were exhibited on the museum's walls and glass cases were crammed with retro model trains of all brands, sizes and eras. Along the floor, ran a "donor's track" continuing the names of many companies and individuals who keep the museum running.

We visited the Museum of Photography the same day but were disappointed with the limited displays. The gift shop was more interesting with old postcards, camera inspired mugs, clothing and jewellery and great photography books. We watched a couple dancing on the patio outside the Timken Art Gallery. French cafe music was flowing out into a sunny Valentines Day and the sweethearts could not resist a waltz plein air. The "jester" looked on in approval!


Little Italy is a vibrant, small community with many traditional and upbeat restaurants, shops and art galleries. We visited on a warm Saturday when the weekly market was in progress. Local vegetables and citrus fruit stands stood beside displays of olive oil, homemade tomato sauces, gorgeous breads and beautiful blooms. Live musicians were part of the fun. We had slurped up a slice of Venetian pizza in a great cafe so we were able to resist the treats on the vendor tables.

Note photo of Liberace with young musician! ha ha



As in every corner of San Diego, we found another museum. We watched a skywriter spell out a message of love, before we entered The Firehouse Museum. They had a great display of pumpers and ladder trucks dating back a hundred years. A wide variety of helmets, medals, fire extinguishers and fire boxes were on view in this informative display of heroism and bravery. One wall had a bunch of antique fire insurance plaques that protected the owner's homes in case of fire. In those days, a home without a plaque was not likely to have the fire wagon attend to their burning dwelling! I had never seen a display of fire bombs, glass devices filled with chemical solution to douse the flames.



 fire bomb
We see seabirds flying, floating and diving in "our bay" beside the campground every day. Fish,over a foot long, jump across the mirrored water's surface and we even saw a Momma Dolphin and her pup swim in to the bay on a feeding expedition. However, we wanted to see more and could not resist heading to the world-class San Diego Zoo. It was a chilly overcast day but the animals did not seem to mind the poor weather.  We wandered for hours though the various
environments peering into dens, poking the camera through fence holes, inspecting below branches and searching under water. Our adventure proved worthwhile. Highlights were the swimming hippo, close-up giraffes, squawking-posing-playful-flamingos, a variety of funky birds, koala bears and lounging rhinos and as always, the gorillas.

                                                                Hiding from the rain in the rock's hollow.
                                    Great bronze sculptures throughout the zoo. polar bear sleeping.

                                                                         Does me bum look big in this?
                                                                              panda in need of a bath
                                                         Keep your hands up and put the banana down slowly!

                                                                                         top notch
                                                                                           top notch
The Museum of Man at Balboa had rather tired displays. The Inca castings from the 1940's were interesting as were the colourful, contemporary Mexican sculptures. The special exhibit "Instruments of Torture", from Europe, was fascinating in a weird way. The gruesome and morbid ways that man has treated man over the ages is incredible. Some of the apparatus dated back to the 16th Century. From devices to weaken the victim to extract information from them or to punish prisoners before killing them or simply to publicly humiliate citizens, these instruments were both ingenious and horrific. Many of them were decorated with intricate patterns, creative designs or special materials. The collection was private so photography was not permitted but to give some insight, torture and mutilation devices varied from "The Rack", "The Stocks", "Chastity Belts","Finger Screws", "Skull-Crushing Helmets" and a wide array of saws, hammers, knives and spiked-chains. The contraption that made us cringe the most hung a naked human upside down by the ankles, legs splayed, where a huge blade would slowly saw the individual half. Need I say more? The most alarming thing about the exhibit was the knowledge that a number of these methods of torture are still in use in our world today .

                                                                Chris & Caron try to liven up the displays.
Mexican metal sculpture 
                                                                                       google image
                                                                                     google image
                                                                                        google image

With relief, we reentered our world unharmed. Weather here has been sunny and temperatures average between 65-75 F.





  1. Cool tour! Thanks for all the information. Safe travels.

    1. Thank you for the feedback. Cheers, Caron

  2. omg where to begin....hmm, sounds like you might be staying longer than the montha and now i see why :)...train museum stuff, unreal
    ....funky looking pasta..esp/ licorice looking one :)
    ...soo love the assend of doing a flamingo head shot right now :)
    ..those girls you were standing with reaaally need a! anorexia or what??
    .so lovin'...lach and i were trying to guess which route home, or here :) you would take, considering dicey mar-apr weather..sorry, wrong subject to bring up
    ...thanks for posting the temps, helps with envy :):)

    1. After six weeks in San Diego, we still did not see everything on our list. We had wanted to return to that Mom & Pop Italian restaurant for a meal but will have to do it next time. When I was in elementary school, I loved to play with the huge dollhouse that my friend Marilyn's grandfather had built. It was amazing. I think that when I see dioramas such as the Ringling Brothers Circus or the Railroad Museum,my inner child is thouroughly entertained! As an artist, it is uplifting to see that art is important to all facets of life and it is everywhere. And yes,our route home depends entirely on weather. Love from Caron