Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Trip to California

Day 1
Despite the early departure time from Washington, D.C. we arrived in San Diego fairly awake and ready to get on with our vacation. First time was Milton's, a wonderful Kosher deli and restaurant located in Del Mar. Over the past few years it has become my unofficial welcoming pad, the first place I stop at to address the hunger pangs a six hour flight induces.

Between my previous visit in December and now, my parents got what I thought they never would: a dog! And not just any dog mind you but a huge hulking Leon Berger mix. We immediately went for a walk on the beach so as we could all get to know each other better. Walking such a dog was a bit of a challenge at first. He kept wanting to walk directly in front of me thus forcing me to hold the leash to my left side. It's safe to say that after about 20 minutes of this anybody would feel some fatigue in their shoulders as a result.

Evening came quickly and with it, an incredible meal at Gregorio's, a local Italian restaurant situated in the Neiman's complex of shops. Since I hadn't seen my buddy Jeff in so long, I invited him to join us. Being the amazing agent that he is, he kept us enthralled with stories of heroism in the escalating real estate wars that are gripping this country. Afterwards Jeff gave us a brief tour of Carlsbad in his exquisitely maintained Lexus LS400, pointing out the best places in town to invest in for real estate.

Day 2
I hadn't been to the Wild Animal Park in several years so I was glad to see what changes, if any, this visit to the park would hold. Surprisingly enough, there were some big changes. The electrified tram which was a hallmark of the park was no longer there and had been replaced with a gas-guzzling tractor which pulled passenger carts behind it. The new setup wasn't altogether bad but was just different than what I'd been used to in the previous 20 years of visiting.

That night we went to one of Carlsbad's newest 'chic' restaurants. Honestly, when I walked in I thought I'd been teleported from my sleepy home town to some new dig in Midtown. My Grandpa Gene treated us to a fantastic dinner and several bottles of Mark West Pinot Noir, an excellent accoutrement to any meal.

Day 3
Our third day saw us jumping in the car in the morning for a trip south to Balboa Park near downtown San Diego. Having just seen the Wild Animal Park the previous day, we were not interested in the Zoo but instead the Museum of Man. I hadn't been there in decades at the very least and was looking forward to seeing what was in store.

Built in an old Spanish colonial style, the museum resembles many of the missions scattered throughout California. On display inside were mummies of various cultures throughout history, human evolution over the past 7 million years and a collection of life-sized replicas of Mayan stonework. Reaching several stories high, this latter exhibit was by far the most impressive.

Being only early afternoon and with no particular place in mind to go, we decided to take a leisurely drive up the coast. Starting in Torrey Pines and heading north on the 101, this is by far one of my favorite drives to do in San Diego and is rivaled only by a jaunt through the windy roads of Rancho Santa Fe.

Upon returning to Carlsbad we picked up my friend Greg for some drinks at Coyote's, a popular local watering hole. Afterwards, not wanting to return home without something to show for it, we made a quick stop by Greg's house to pick pomegranates, avocados and any other fruit that looked ripe enough to eat.

Day 4
We started out the day at the Carlsbad Outlets for a bit of shopping. This was followed by a requisite trip to In-n-Out burger where I fully enjoyed a cheeseburger, chocolate shake and fries. I'm not sure what it is about how they make their burgers, but In-n-Out's burgers are truly some of the best in the world.

One of the primary reasons we went to San Diego was for my ten-year high school reunion. Hosted downtown at the Bristol Hotel, it was only a 30-minute drive from Carlsbad. We arrived soon after it started and within minutes, ran into an old friend of mine named Derek. From there it was a whirlwind of mini-reunions as I met up with people I hadn't seen, nor heard from, in ten years.

By the end of the evening, I had reconnected with at least twenty folks that I had fond memories of from high school. In some ways it was rather cliché in that the jocks seemed to have ended up with the bleach blond bimbos and hadn't done much else with their lives. In contrast, my fellow nerds were all fairly successful or well on their way to it.

All in all, the evening went very well and though I had hoped to see a few more souls it was a great time nonetheless. It leaves me looking forward to the next ten year reunion.

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