Well, after almost nine months away, I’m back in my home State. I still have a long way left to go, but it’s not going to be the same. Throughout most of this trip I was seeing new places - exploring the parts of this country I’ve never seen before. But from this point on, I’ll be re-visiting places I’ve been before. It’s not that I won’t enjoy this last part of the trip, it’s just going to be different.
But traveling from the east over to the coast I come across someplace new right from the get go. San Ysabel valley. Coming from the desert, the lush green hills, fertile farmland and shady oak trees create a soothing paradise. I like the meandering curvy roads and the picturesque views around every corner.
I stop at a place called Dudley’s Bakery and pick up their “famous” fruit bars. They turn out to be rectangular molasses cookies with a couple raisins thrown in so that they can call them fruit bars and mislead you into thinking you can eat more than one without the guilt. But in a kind of divine intervention to prevent me from eating half the bag, just one mile up the road I notice a pretty little nature preserve. So I put away the cookies and walk down the dirt road, following it to a brook in an oak covered valley. If I was a homesteader back in the 1800’s, this would be the place I’d settle down.
The next day I’m in San Diego. It’s a beautiful city and set up in a way that makes it pretty easy to maneuver. Since I’ve been to the Zoo and Wild Animal Park and SeaWorld multiple times, I decide to do something different this time and go to some art museums in Balboa Park. It’s a perfect day and while I wait for the museums to open I walk around the fragrant gardens and fountains. Balboa Park is really beautful with lots of unique highly ornamented buildings housing museums. It was built to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal and so it has a planned cohesive kind of feel to it and everything is packed together within easy walking distance.
Up the coast I stop at Scripps Birch Aquarium. It’s a good little aquarium, packing a lot of interesting vignettes of sea life into a small space. I liked the windows showing the changes in the sea floor of the Pacific Coast from Southern California all the way up to Washington. There was also a great temporary exhibit on seahorses. Even regular sea horses are so strange looking, but this exhibit showed some of the more rare species. It's hard to really accept that they're real... they just seem so alien. But beautiful too.