Wednesday, October 17, 2012

DAY 56- Shopping, Getting Lost, & Monday Night Football...

The night before I went to do a bit of shopping and grab a bit of dinner at the District which is a shopping area in Santa Ana.  It is within a few blocks of the La Quinta hotel where I was staying.  I take a turn in with a left turn signal and get about half a block and stop.  It’s backed up traffic for the entire area.  I eventually get to a stop sign area where they have a woman directing traffic through the area. 

Then, I realized I am in the wrong lane to get to where I was going.  So I go back around and end up in basically the same place only one lane over.  But I’m just amazed with how busy it is and it’s a Sunday afternoon.  I have my windows rolled down because it’s beautiful southern California weather.  I say out loud,”OMG! How do they ever get any shopping done here?”  Next to me, an Oriental guy and his girlfriend in a black sports car just looked at me in a bit of disgust but didn’t say anything.  I guess I must have said the wrong thing?
Photo- The District shopping complex in Santa Ana.

I finally managed to park out in the boondocks of the Target parking lot and head in.  The store is literally packed.  I’m in a bit of cultural shock here; because if I was in Utah I would have any store that was open almost to myself.  I quickly found what I needed and headed to the shortest line in the place which is still 6 deep.  There’s 4 gals in their early 20’s who look like they are purchasing the entire stock of cotton balls that they have in the place.  A run on cotton balls?!??  That’s a new one.

Next I literally drive through heavy traffic again to get out of the Target parking lot and across the street to a brew pub where I decided to have dinner.  Almost 5 minutes later I’m parked out in the boonies of another parking lot and really questioning my own sanity for even venturing out; so much for the green energy efficient world.  The heffe beer was good and I had some spicy buffalo wings; all on special during the Happy Hour which I felt like this was the only thing that was going right for the night.  Back to the hotel, I went after all of that.

I got in my room and the front desk is calling to check to see if everything with my room was alright.  I mentioned that one of my key cards wasn’t working and the other one I had to play with a bit but past that everything was fine.  The next thing I knew the front desk gal was at my door with two new key cards and making sure they worked for me.  Now THIS is service!  In fact, the next morning I go for breakfast and the lady attendant offers to make me a waffle as I go through the door.  I was wondering if I had a “Need Waffles” sign on my forehead.  But I will say this, if you ever need to stay in Santa Ana, I would recommend the La Quinta.

The goal of this day was to find the Crystal Cove State Park which my friend Diane had recommended to me.  I got the directions off of Google again.  Yes, I know I have not had the best of luck with Google.  Well, this proved to be another failure of Google combined with me; not a good combo.  I skipped to the third line in the directions which was south on Interstate 405.  I asked the helpful gal at the desk how to get to I-405 South.  Next thing I know I’m zooming along south on I-405 looking for an exit number and street name.  Then, I’m looking at the exit numbers and discovering that they were getting smaller and I must have missed it in my skip forward area of the directions.  I turned around at the next exit; taking a right hand turn from the left lane in front of three other cars and no one honked!  DAMN!  These people are too nice or maybe they were glad not to be on the same road as me?

I head back north looking for the exit and the exit numbers jump a couple of numbers; completely skipping the exit number I need.  Oh, this is SO not good!  Okay, I know the general direction of which way I need to go and I see a Harbor Blvd exit sign.  I took it and hoped that it eventually ended up in a harbor by the ocean.  Yes, it’s sad to say but some days that is the extent of my line of reasoning.  I ended up driving west through Costa Mesa and ended up finding Hwy 55 which I found went in the direction I needed and took me to Hwy 1.  My screwed up logical way of thinking paid off. Yahoo!
Photo- The boardwalk path that leads towards the beach at Crystal Cove State Park.

I arrived at my destination and paid a state park fee to get in.  Later, I found out I could have foregone the state fee and gotten a parking validation to a lot more south and across Hwy 1.  Live and learn seems to be the way I go.  I parked the car, put sunscreen on, put misc. stuff in my mini backpack with a towel and off to the beach I went.  It was a gorgeous beach and Diane you were right; it is a relaxing haven along the coast.  I got down the path to the beach and decided to sit down and just relax for a bit.  I spread out my towel and watched a family of three boys with their parents along the beach.  I ate a sports bar and what was left of a diet soda.  I had a pesky seagull eyeing me and my food.  He kept edging towards me.  I put all of the food away and then the gull went off somewhere else.
Photo- Part of a family walking along the beach at Crystal Cove State Park.
Photo- The pesky seagull that was eyeing my sports bar.

After a while, I headed down the beach where I could see cottages and more people.  It was probably about a mile or so and I carried my sandals and walked along the edge of the ocean waves.  It was beautiful weather; blues skies with wispy clouds and right about upper 70’s.  What a way to spend the day, I thought as I walked along.  As I got closer to the cottages, I saw that quite a few of them were actually abandoned old cottages which were owned by the state park service.  There was a fence cording them off from the beach and warning signs were posted. 
Photo- A seagull army looking out to sea?

As I continued along, I saw a stand and a restaurant.  The restaurant was called The Beachcomber; how appropriate.  I walked up to the restaurant and found out that there was an hours waiting time for a table inside or longer if I wanted one outside. Whoa!  I asked if there was somewhere nearby that I could get something cold to drink.  Sure, just go inside and you can sit at the counter.  One, with no waiting! Yes!
Photo- The Beachcomber Restaurant where I had lunch at the counter. No waiting!

I ordered a diet soda and an appetizer of a pita pizza with bacon, sweet sun dried tomatoes, and onions with a bit of brown sugar on it.  Yum!  I watched the people all around in the restaurant and the kitchen staff too; who were right in front of me.  I turned around sometimes to look out the door to where the beach was too.  It was a busy fun place to be.  I watched two guys at a table near me playing rock, paper, and scissors for the last artichoke appetizer they ordered.  It’s so fun people watching.

After that, I headed down the beach the way I came.  I again passed a gal with a metal detector that I had said hi to on the way down.  I asked if she had found anything.  She just shook her head and said,” Just a few coins that’s about it.”  I wished her a good day.  The tide was down quite a bit from where it was on my walk down the beach.  I could see more of the rocks on the shoreline where before they were just bumps of a rock out of the water; now I could see almost all of the rock.  I walked along and heard a vehicle.  A coast guard pickup truck was driving along the beach.  He waved at me as he passed.

I headed back up the path to my car and left the park.  I turned south onto Hwy 1 and within a short bit I was slowly driving through Laguna.  I saw quite a few art galleries but I just wasn’t in the mood to stop.  I’m sure I already was a bit sunburnt even though I put sunscreen on.  I also wanted to get to my hotel in Chula Vista before it was too late in the day.  I wasn’t sure what to expect for traffic in San Diego. 
Photo- Monday Night Football rush hour traffic on the interstate
and motorcycles zooming between cars.

BOY, I was in for a surprise!  I ended up getting stuck in the middle of rush hour traffic for Monday Night Football.  I never thought to check the Monday Night Football schedule before heading into San Diego.  Note to self- check sports schedules the next time you go to a large city that has sports teams.  San Diego was playing the Bronco’s and it was a popular game to see I guess.  It was solid bumper to bumper traffic for almost 12 miles.  The only vehicles that were really moving were the motorcycles that were driving between cars.  That is the way to travel if you are in southern California on a nice day.  But I still found it unnerving watching them go along at quite fast speeds between the cars.  It was probably a good thing that I wasn’t wearing Bronco orange driving through this lot.  Then, I would have never been able to get over for my exit. 
Photo- An oasis from a stress filled day at the El Primero Boutique Hotel.

I eventually got to Chula Vista and got checked into my room and before sunset too.  Tonight I’m staying at El Primero Boutique Hotel which is located in the Third Ave downtown area of Chula Vista.  I located the hotel on the website and looked small private and inviting.  The room certainly looked inviting tonight.

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