Weekend Road Trip: Phoenix to San Diego, California for James’ Birthday
Odometer (Legend): 543,881
Odometer (ILX): 175,686
Trip Distance: 730 Miles
You really can’t get a much better 7-day weather forecast than this. Highs in the 70s. Lows in the 60s.
It’s no wonder us Phoenicians don’t think twice about flocking to the coastline in mid-summer for a gasp of sea air from time to time. Yesterday afternoon, I was sprawled in the shade of a palm tree on the grass at the Hotel del Coronado. The Pacific coast was a picture of perfection: a light breeze, the sound of the crashing waves, and the smell of fresh flowers. The grounds at the “del” were immaculate as always. The historic hotel, built in 1888, has always been a place for San Diego’s elite to vacation. It’s no wonder the cost for 2 hours of parking is $30 and brunch costs $90.
My seven friends and I didn’t pay for either, as we’d opted to park several blocks away (for free) on a surface street and we ate at Panda Express instead. But at least the scenery didn’t cost us a penny, and I think a couple of the guys may have even snagged a seashell or two to take home as a souvenir.
The reason for the season was a birthday gathering: James turned 30 last week and he decided to take the party to Southern California. It’s only about a five-and-a-half hour drive from Phoenix to San Diego, and with enough advance notice, James was able to arrange an “AirBNB” home for our group in the convenient North Park part of town, right off the I-8 and I-805 freeways.
Kyle took the wheel of the ILX on Friday afternoon for the drive out so that I could telecommute from the road, in the passenger seat. By the time we descended to sea level at the coastline, the sun had dipped below the Pacific and nighttime had fallen. Our three-story home for the weekend was right off Idaho Street & El Cajon Boulevard: “The Gateway to Mid City.” Saturday morning took us to Pacific Beach which was bustling with people and entertainment. The water temperature was brisk initially but really not all that bad. I’d forgotten my flip-flops so I spent $5.99 on a two-pack of them at CVS Pharmacy which promptly fell apart as soon as a strong wave ripped one off my feet. I guess I got my money’s worth.
We spent the evening in San Diego’s uptown “Hillcrest” district, exploring the streets, freeways, and cuisine. I twas a a contrast to see the many people outside enjoying the weather. Central Phoenix after-hours is usually somewhat of a ghost town in comparison.
That brings us to our visit to Coronado Island on Sunday morning. Once isolated from ‘mainland’ San Diego, Coronado (Spanish for “crowned one”) became connected in 1969 thanks to a 2.12-mile, curved bridge. It’s five lanes wide with the center lane reserved for emergency use as well as a reversible lane for peak traffic times. Up until 2002, the bridge cost a $1.00-per-car toll for westbound traffic, but that toll was discontinued after the original bond had been paid. Today, the roadway carries 75,000 vehicles per day. We encountered fairly heavy traffic not on the bridge itself, but after arriving on the island and making our way to Hotel del Coronado. (not my pic here)
Interestingly enough, the San Diego – Coronado Bridge is the third-deadliest “suicide bridge” in the United States. Between 1972 and 2000, some 200 people jumped to their deaths. There are signs along the road urging people to call a suicide hotline. Yikes.
The Hotel del Coronado is home to what is believed to be the world’s oldest living Christmas tree. First decorated in 1904, a huge pine tree on the grounds continues to be decorated every December. Unfortunately I didn’t snag a picture of it, but it was far too big to fit in the viewfinder when I walked underneath it anyway!
Interstate 8 brought us back to the desert on Sunday afternoon, where reality soon set in and it was time to do laundry and get ready for the work week. But the memories will live on we’re glad we got to enjoy the birthday festivities in such an awesome place as San Diego. Thanks for joining for the trip!
Shell station in Gila Bend, Arizona
Sunset and windmills on westbound I-8 Friday night
Pacific Beach on Saturday with Rob and James
This is a “Baked Bear” ice cream sandwich. Cookie on one end, brownie on the other end, and cookie dough ice cream in the middle. TDF (to die for). Especially since the cookie & brownie were warmed up.
Kyle borrowed the ILX and we drove behind for a block or two in James’ Lexus RX450h.
Entering El Cajon Boulevard
Crossing the San Diego – Coronado Bridge
Arriving at the Hotel del Coronado
Group photo overlooking at the beach at the hotel: Rob, Kyle, James, Tyson, Chandler, Jack, Michael, Chris
ILX after fueling up in Tavern Rd in Alpine
Have a great week!