I left Vancouver on Thursday, July 17, itchy and sunburned from my time on the beach. After a night of no sleep in the hostel in Seattle, I boarded the train to San Diego -- 38 hours in all! I got some rest on the train, but clearly, was not in my best frame of mind. I have one memory of getting off the train to buy Oreos in Portland, with no sales tax, and getting change from $4.00 for the $3.98 box -- which I then devoured.
It had been a long trip. I look back on it fondly, but I was cranky and tired, and the night I spent in the bungalow when we finally arrived in San Diego -- in the wee hours of the morning on July 21 -- didn't raise my spirits any. I spent the night in a motel, and enjoyed a local mall, getting some rest.
Under the circumstances, San Diego did not get a fair shake from me. I have been back a couple of times since, and had a much better time, but I was running out of gas from a long summer on the road. Nonetheless, there were some highlights of this trip.
Of course, the first thing to mention is my trip to Qualcomm Stadium -- the Padres beat the Mets that day, assisting my Braves in their hunt for another division title:
I roller-bladed on the beach. I went to the famous Zoo -- my greatest memory of this was the Sun Bears, who were compared to Winnie-the-Pooh.
My mother had suggested taking a trolley into Tijuana. The hostel at which I was staying had a safer ride. It was an interesting experience! First, there were the 2 for 1 margaritas, which seemed like they were delivered to my table like water is in the states. Then there was the haggling for goods -- I watched others do this, as I thought the prices were more than inexpensive.
One of my friends from the hostel -- with whom I went to a boat show and air show -- noted aloud how he had wondered what idiots would buy ceramic Pooh Bears. Naturally...:
I also enjoyed the San Diego Sports Hall of Fame, and playing chess with military men in the local coffee shops.
I enjoyed the shops and sights at Seaport Village, where I would sit and enjoy a drink. One time, three ladies ordered a scrumptious chocolate meal. Observing me staring at it intently, they shared with me.
Here I am with the Coronado Bridge in the background:
My time in San Diego hardly did justice to the city. I enjoyed more upscale venues on subsequent trips. But the city was a romantic place to wistfully say goodbye to the West Coast after one of the most unique summers I have ever had.
In the months following my return to school in Florida, I liked to think of myself as "wiser" because of my travels. Hardly, at least not in the deep sense I meant it. But in another sense -- that of learning that there are other things outside my little world -- a career had begun.
My Father once told me that people who live on the coasts don't appreciate vast areas of our country -- it's two coasts with a lot of stuff "in between." Although I didn't any of the "in between" in 1997, this trip was the first time I had lived for any length of time outside of the East Coast. There was a lot to see on the West Coast. I hardly saw it all -- not by a long-shot. A world had been opened to me. I would explore this world in more detail, with my next big trip coming throughout the year of 1999.