In January Jamie and I celebrated 10 years of marriage, and to mark the occasion we planned a 4-day, 3-night excursion to San Diego. Just the two of us. Neither of us had ever been to California before and we were ready to have an adventure!
My mom flew down from Kansas City to take care of the kids and did an amazing job. Seriously, our family schedules exhaust me all the time and at least I know the lay of the land around here -- where the restaurants, schools and parks are located, how to do the bedtime routines, reminding Jack to go potty, etc... She didn't have the benefit of knowing all our family rituals and household details, yet came down to our turf and managed everything beautifully. Big award to RoRo (her nickname)!
So with her taking care of things at home, Jamie and I flew out last Thursday morning. Our plan was to spend the first two nights at a cabin on Lake Henshaw, about 80 miles north of San Diego. It would be a quiet, nature-filled and private retreat for us. The place we were staying said it had a cabin "nestled in the hill" on the lake. We envisioned just that, complete with crisp mornings with birds singing, and clear nights of stargazing next to the fire we'd build.
More on that later. First, we needed to get to the lake. Our flight was smooth and we hopped in our rental car and headed north from San Diego. We stopped in a small community/suburb called Scripps and had lunch at an awesome family-owned seafood restaurant (AJ, the food references are especially in your honor). It was called Nugent's Fishgrille, and Mrs. Nugent herself was our hostess. Jamie got the cajun tuna sandwich (with what looked like a 14-oz. filet) and I had the sliders. Awesome. And Mrs. Nugent visited with us a while and mentioned that if we liked the hiking, we had to go to Torrey Pines and do it there. Later on we loved her for that.
And then we arrived, and this was the view out our cabin door:
We were nestled in a hill, alright. A paved hill, right smack in the middle of a big parking lot that included a bar/grill and about five other cabins mere feet from our own. And we had to cross the parking lot, the highway, and some other property to get to the lake, which in Texas terms was a respectable puddle. No fire pits, either. The cabin walls were thin and there were no curtains on the windows, giving us as much privacy as a glass house, basically.
We're not usually very picky, and we certainly weren't looking for luxury. All we wanted was a private place out in nature, but once that wasn't working we turned in our key, got in the car and continued the adventure! First we stopped near the town of Julian for some of their famous apple pie. We had the dutch apple pie, hot, with cinnamon ice cream. Then back in the car on the beautiful California roads (amazing hill country, vineyards, fruit fields, ostrich farms, etc...) to figure out where we'd be spending the night.
We ended up at a hotel not more than 100 yards from the restaurant where we'd eaten lunch! But it was perfect. The staff upgraded us to a jacuzzi room with a king bed for dirt cheap, and we couldn't have been happier.
We woke up Friday morning and drove to the Wild Animal Park. It's like a zoo, but with a much more open setting. Here are some pics and captions, and then tomorrow I'll bring you part 2 to finish the recap of our trip:
Here's a look at how open the terrain is. Giraffes, antelope, rhinos... all together in a more natural habitat.
It might be hard to see, but a baby is nursing under its mother here.
Bird of paradise
These female gorillas were having a showdown. The one on the right didn't want her blankie stolen. They were quite entertaining.
Okay, maybe not a totally natural habitat, but Land Rovers sure are comfy.
--Hiking at Torrey Pines
--Touring the Midway aircraft carrier
--Hotel Salomar and the gaslamp quarter of San Diego