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!

19 Responses to “Weekend Road Trip: Phoenix to San Diego, California for James’ Birthday”

  1. Cool trip. I’ll have to add San Diego to the list of must visit places. I’ve been to LA a few times, and the beaches there are great (of course). That Baked Bear ice cream sandwich looks epic. I assume it tasted as good as it looked?

    • Oh, definitely! The sandwich was amazing. And I prefer San Diego to LA — the traffic seems to be lighter. Let me know the next time you plan a trip to the Calif coast and I’ll meet you out there!

  2. Kevin T Says:

    Fun fact: Coronado wanted to keep the tolls on the bridge after the bonds were paid off. However, it needed seismic reinforcement, and if the tolls were retained, the state wouldn’t pay for the work.

    Also, Coronado has been connected via the Silver Strand naturally for many years. The bridge replaced the old ferry to Coronado.

    • Yes! In looking at Google Maps… I was like, how was Coronado ever considered an “island” if Highway 75 always connected it to the mainland via that southerly route? Anyway, that’s really interesting about the toll and I’m not at all surprised that Coronado wanted to keep charging $1/car. It’s interesting that the toll booths are still there, 14 years after being decommissioned.

  3. Happy Birthday to James! Looks like a blast. For some reason, SoCal is rarely on my radar as getaway places, but this makes me rethink that. 🙂

  4. Charlie Says:

    I’m curious to know if the maintenance minder in the ILX has indicated an oil change is needed since your return from Alaska?

    • Hi there, yes I actually already had it changed. Here’s the service history:

      May 16: 163,367 – Oil change at Acura of Tempe
      June 16: 172,648 – Oil change at Acura of Tempe

      So 9,281 miles in a month!

  5. Michael Says:

    I was wondering with all the road trips you go on, how often do you wash your car??
    i enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work!

    • Hey thanks for reading! I’m glad you enjoy it. The ILX is in desperate need of a thorough detail. I don’t think I’ve waxed it in over a year. And I just remembered that on the way to San Diego a 7-Up was spilled on my passenger side all-weather mat so that needs to get cleaned up. Maybe this weekend…

  6. How was the gay pride festival?

    • Didn’t go to that. It probably would have been fun but ticket prices were $25 at the gate. I heard Ke$ha was there performing. Most of our Saturday ended up being spent at the beach and I was totally fine with that!

  7. What kind of oil are you using Tyson? Conventional, synthetic, or synthetic blend? Also, what viscosity are you using?

  8. The scenic highways was my favorite part of the trip. Coronado was fun though – I think it might be worth going back there sometime in the future. Thanks for the fun weekend!

    • I know! Southern Calif has some of the best roadways. Someday you should get a close look at Hwy 163. The shoulder would make a nice place to hitchhike.

  9. I want that Baked Bear Ice Cream Sando, amongst other things… YUM!

    • It was so tasty! If only I hadn’t just finished eating an entire BBQ chicken flatbread from Backyard. I wasn’t even hungry enough to finish everything.

      • David Harrop Says:

        Great reading your blog,Tyson and the cars in your garage just kill me, they’re awesome. You rarely see cars like that on British roads. After owning many cars from 1950’s Americana to something called a Bond Bug (bet you haven’t seen one of those in America!) I currently drive a 1991 Peugeot 206 2litre Turbo diesel, it flies! Can’t understand why you never see these cars in the press? It is so high geared I’ve taken it to 120mph, but there’s still room to go, yet 65mpg around town! In Britain 205’s especially in GTi form are coveted, so can’t understand the press silence on the 206? Keep up the good work, especially the Desert Valley vids!

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