Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 16: San Diego and Mission San Juan Capistrano

Following an evening of pleasant rest, we departed the hotel at 8:30 AM and headed for Mission San Juan Capistrano, about 1 hour north of San Diego off of I-5.  This was to be my 3rd visit to the mission, dubbed the "Jewel of the Missions" because of its beauty.  As with Balboa Park in San Diego, I feel this location is a required visit for anyone traveling to the area.  A history of the mission can be found here.  We were arriving just 3 days before the famed "return of the swallows" upon which the Cliff Swallow ends its 6,000 mile migratory journey to San Juan Capistrano from Goya, Argentina.  Indeed, a few swallows were already present, evidently not content to sit outside the mission walls for another few days.  As usual, the building and scenery were quite enjoyable, though a preferred time to visit would be between April and September as more flowers are in bloom.  

Afterwards, we drove back towards San Diego, stopping briefly at Torrey Pines State Reserve which is home to the United States' rarest pine, the Torrey Pine (its existence limited to a range of around 4,000 trees in the preserve and another closely related variety of 100 trees to be found off the coast of Santa Barbara on Santa Rosa Island).  Our visit was brief, though the scenery was enjoyable.  The park features a number of trails which meander atop cliffs overlooking the ocean and northern San Diego.  

Our next stop was downtown San Diego, where we walked along the harbor to view various ships and people (homed and homeless).  

Finally, the day was concluded with what must've been a 6-8 mile walk from the beachfront of our hotel (Pacific Beach) to Mission Beach and back.  On the way back, we noticed a number of homes for sale along the beachfront with asking prices anywhere from $1-$2.5 million and declined to make immediate offers on any.  Interested in earning our millions before spending it, we returned to the hotel for some momentary relaxation and sleep before tomorrow's trek into the abyss of traffic and smog that is Los Angeles.

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