October 31, 2012
After breakfast Linda and Ed offer to take us on a tour of San Diego. Christof wants to go to REI, a specialty sport shop, where he buys some parts for his bicycle, and two tiny fold-up chairs, like the one Tom, the cyclist we met at the Grand Canyon, had in his trailer.
Lunch at a restaurant in Pacific Beach, with a view of both the boardwalk and the ocean. Today is Halloween and a group of elderly ladies, dressed to the hilt, are celebrating.
The Pacific looks no different than the Atlantic, grayish-green water, dotted with surfers riding the gentle waves in to shore.
I feel short-changed and a feeling of disappointment overwhelms me. After our long, hot pilgrimage to California, I was expecting something more dramatic and life changing, than just another innocuous sea -side scene. My vision of the Pacific Ocean – formed by Beach Boys songs and stories of arduous pioneer treks across the continent to its distant shores, was of a magical, mythical place where dreams come true, home to the Hollywood dream factory. The people dog- walking, roller-skating, and strolling by hand in hand, are far too pedestrian to fit this image. This, the golden land of opportunity, where streets are paved with milk and honey?
From Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, I know it’s also the place where refugees, searching for a better life, experienced bitter disillusionment, their hopes dashed to the ground like waves crashing onto the shore during a storm.
At the bay we do get an impression of how clean, livable and attractive San Diego is. A flock of pelicans, which add an exotic touch of enchantment, pass overhead migrating like geese in New England.
The next stop is a visit to The Midway, an aircraft carrier commissioned in September 1945. Too large to fit through the Panama Canal, and finished after the war it was commissioned to serve in was over, it spent years patrolling both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic during the Cold War, before deploying for active duty during the Vietnam War.
After launching more than 3000 combat missions – without any losses – during Desert Storm, it left active duty, retired to San Diego where it now serves the public as a museum and center of Naval History.
We spend two hours on board, exploring the vast ship, surprised that despite its ability to transport 130 aircraft, the bunks and provisions for the enlisted men are so cramped and modest.
We went on a car tour through the Gaslamp Quarter, a vibrant district of Victorian buildings filled with shops, eateries and cosmopolitan life. A wonderful example of a city preserving its architectural past, for present and future use.
At Souplantation, an all you can eat buffet – my first ever – we fill up on delicious soups, salads and desserts.
Exhausted from a day of sight seeing and eating, all we can do in the evening is to lounge on the sofa watching reruns of Las Vegas shows.