Thursday, October 18, 2012

DAY 57- Biking to Coronado & a Lemon Tart…

ast night while searching for a restaurant to eat at, I found a bike shop along Third Ave in downtown Chula Vista that was still open.  I asked the guy behind the counter where to bike in the area.  He mentioned a paved bike path that went out all the way out to Coronado.  Cool, I thought! I had wanted to go out there but I was concerned about driving and finding parking for my car.  I could bike out there and check the whole place out.  The bike shop guy said it was a ways.  How far I asked and he replied that it was about 10 miles.  Oh, really cool I thought; a 20 mile ride would be a nice easy distance. 

Then, I walked across the street to a simple Italian restaurant, ate dinner and walked back to El Primero for the night.  I was rather amazed by the vitality of downtown Chula Vista and also that I felt safe walking back to my hotel.  A majority of the business seemed to be Latino but it was a well lite and well kept up area; not like some of my experiences have been of downtowns.

The next morning I’m having breakfast a wonderful breakfast with other guests at the hotel, which I always love about small hotels or bed and breakfasts, you can meet the most interesting people.  Two of these guests were from LA and another was from Detroit; they were all back for a funeral.  We talked a bit about the economy but then they asked what I did; as conversations always seem to get there.  I kind of struggle with what to say; do I say I’m on a life adventure or that I’m unemployed at current or that I’m thinking of taking 2 years to see the lower 48?  Or that I’m purposely homeless? Hmmm…  

The reactions to the two years answer have varied.  Some think it’s wonderful; and others look at me like I have 5 heads and I’m breathing fire.  I answered that I was between jobs and taking some time to vacation.  The LA people seemed to have gotten that but the Detroit man still looked at me wary.  “By yourself?” he asked.  Yes, I answered and in the back of my head I thought there’s a lot in life that you can do by yourself.  I was brought up to be very independent.

So the independent me was off on my bike with part of bicycle map heading out towards a general direction of a place where I wanted to go.  Yep, this is about my par for the course of this trip.  I find my way 2 miles later at the Chula Vista Marina and Yacht Club going around trying to locate where this bike path is.  The details on the map are a bit scarce in some areas and there’s a bit of proportion details at issue.  They wouldn’t do that stuff with a road map but for some reason they LOVE to do that with bike maps.  I guess they feel it’s not as important on a bike when actually it is the opposite because a bicyclist generally doesn’t go as far as a car and therefore needs more detail.  Go figure!
Photo- The Silver Strand an area I biked by on my way to Coronado.

I find the path and start heading out in the direction of Coronado.  I get another 2 miles down the way and there are two paths to choose from.  There’s no one to ask and I start to venture down one a bit but I’m not sure if it’s heading in the right direction.  I turned around and asked another cyclist that was going along.  They directed me down the other path and said to keep in mind which direction Coronado was, pointing in the air and that it was about 10 miles out.  I’m at 5 miles and I still have another 10 miles to go.  Okay, I thought it was going to be a 30 mile day at least; no biggie. 

I got on the right path and off I went.  I was traveling in the wind and saw quite a few cyclists that were coming back from the direction I was heading with the wind at their back.  It was a common route for cyclists; that’s always a good thing.  I was biking along a flat route with a 6 ft. high metal chain link fence on both sides.  It was a raise land area between two water canals.  That went on for about 2 miles and then it opened up and the path again had 2 choices.  I kept to the right.  The path went along a neighborhood and then into some warehouse businesses.  Then, it curved and went around large areas of water.  The path was right next to the freeway. 
Photo- The bike path running right next to the freeway on the way to Coronado.

The wind picked up and I was getting a bit of a work out.  I stopped and took a couple of pictures with the camera to get a bit of a break here and there.  I go by some housing on the right with palm trees and landscaped but no hotel yet.  I pull in through a fence area for a bit of a rest and ask a gal with a bike about how much further.  Oh, about 6 more miles up the path and you’ll see the hotel.  Ok, that will put me at 17 miles to Coronado.  I was getting a bit discouraged because every time I asked the distance; it was getting further.  I REALLY needed to stop asking! 
Photo- The bridge that runs from San Diego to Coronado.

I continued on and I knew I was getting closer because I could see the bridge that goes over to Coronado.  The next thing I was passing was some military housing and then security gates for base areas.  Then, I saw the Hotel de Coronado off in the distance.  I also passed the boat house.  The path continued along and stopped.  I was told by the gal to follow the road along the golf course and that the path would start again.

While I was biking along here that I saw 4 cyclists stopped in front of a house on the opposite side of the street.  I went over to check it out.  This house was really into Halloween with what looked like a tea party of characters out on their front yard.  I took a picture and struck up a conversation with the group.  They were retired couples from Surprise, Arizona.  Surprise?  Yep, there’s an actual town in Arizona called Surprise and it was northwest of Phoenix.  They lived in a fabulous active retire community there and were on vacation here.  One of the couples had come here a lot before and really knew Coronado and the other couple used to live in San Diego before they got tired of having the city traffic dictate their schedule; not that I blame them, having experienced the Monday Night Football traffic jam.
Photos- My new ride compadres showing me Coronado.

They offered to show me around Coronado if I didn’t mind going at a slower speed.  That was great I said and off we went.  They took me along paths and sidewalks around Coronado that I would not have found by myself.  They stopped a couple of times to point out different places and we even took a short break at a cute little park.  We went through neighborhoods that they told me used to be where the officers of the base lived but didn’t anymore because it was too expensive.  Then, we went by the gated areas of the base and along where there were some large houses.  They pointed out one where President Clinton had stayed in during his presidency. 
Photo- Me with the San Diego skyline behind me.

Then, we were going along the back of the Hotel Del Coronado.  They stopped and told me that I should go in there but that they had all been in there enough.  But if I was interested they could show me where to go for lunch which was around and across from the hotel.  They had a picnic lunch with them that they had already planned.  But this restaurant was the best restaurant out here but only if you liked Mexican; according to the husband and he looked at the wife who rolled her eyes and admitted to hating Mexican.  Yes, I like Mexican and he eyes lit up while he told me about their seafood enchilada. 
Photo- The back of the Hotel Del Coronado.

We all jumped back on our bikes and went around and about kitty corner from the hotel into a cute little shopping complex.  The place is called Miguel’s and yes, their seafood enchilada was very good.  I had lunch after they left me and I explored the shopping area while my bike was locked up to the outside of the fence of the restaurant.  There were art shops, clothing, and souvenirs for sale.  It was a cute little area but things were expensive.  In fact, the only thing that seemed reasonable in the area was the restaurant.  I walked with my bike over to the Hotel Del Coronado and found a bike parking area over there. 
Photo- My bike parked outside for lunch.

I then explored the hotel area.  It was like a very high end shopping mall in the downstairs area of the hotel.  The grounds were extensive and I sat on a bench overlooking the beach area.  I even took a quick walk through the Hotel lobby, which was rather cool.  But it was rather a warm day and it was zapping all of my energy to do anything else.  So, I decided to cycle back to El Primero. 

For the first 2 miles, I have the wind to my back and I’m pedaling along easily at 17mph.  Then, the wind’s direction turned and I’m pushing to do 14mph.  About another mile down the road, I hear cyclist in the other direction yelling my name.  It’s the two couples coming back from their picnic lunch.  The hubby who loves Mexican stops and asks me how I liked lunch; I describe my lunch to him and you could see his eyes imagining my lunch and how it tasted.  He said I would have loved to join you and I would’ve footed the bill but… No worries, I said maybe the next time.  I wished him a good day and he wished me a wonderful adventure.  Off we went in our own directions.

When I finally got back to El Primero hotel, I really felt like I had done the 35 miles and then some.  The wind had not let up much on the way back at all.  I put my bike away in my car and rang the doorbell at the hotel.  There was no answer.  I rang again and still no answer.  I’m tired and sweaty standing there next to the street.  I ended up calling the hotel to let me in.  That’s the only thing, I didn’t care about at the hotel is that any time you went out you had to be let back in by the couple that ran the hotel.  It made me feel a bit like being at home with parents that always were checking in on me.  But at the same time, it was nice because they were always very welcoming and it is a wonderful place to stay.

I got some ice and proceeded to drink ice water until I cooled off a little.  I showered and then took a bit of a nap.  Later, I walked along Third Ave and checked out the area but also was looking for some where to eat.  I had Mexican for dinner and I didn’t want that twice in a day.  I ended up trying a bit more of upscale Italian restaurant that was two blocks down and across the street.  It was a nicer atmosphere than the Italian restaurant that I went to the night before. 

I got seated and right away this gal is at my table simply saying we have specials.  There was a bit of a pause.  Okay, I said what are the specials and she proceeded to tell me excitedly like a kid.  She was talking so fast that I had to have her repeat them.  I ordered one of the specials and then she asked if I wanted a salad or an appetizer.  I ordered one of the salads too.  She came and brought me my diet coke and I was left alone to look around the restaurant.  The very interesting thing was that they had purse stands at the tables for the ladies.  I, however, with my sling material backpack didn’t get asked if I wanted a purse stand.  Evidently, my little pack was not worthy of a stand.  But there were some fancy purses I will say that.  My bag would’ve probably appalled some of the other ladies in the place; maybe that’s why they didn’t offer.  The salad arrived; a dome of endive about 5 inches high with a dollop of cheese on top and encircled with cut strawberries.  The server put the salad down and immediately the dollop of cream cheese falls to the side of the plate.  Ooops, that happens sometimes she says.  I crack up and think OMG! I could’ve just ordered the salad as a meal.  I slowly work on the salad and am almost half tempted to ask to cancel my dinner order when the owner comes by to ask if everything is alright.  Yes, this is delicious I say but it’s a lot of salad.  He says just take your time.  Okay. 

I’m about ¾ of the way through the salad and I put it off to the side.  About 1 minute later here comes my entrée with the same wonderful presentation a pork chop with a berry reduction, mash potatoes, and vegetables.  I just concentrated on the pork chop and did a bit of the mashed potatoes but I’m really starting to get full at this point.  I finish and here she comes with childlike eyes holding the dessert tray in front of her.  How could I say no?  I ordered coffee and a lemon tart.  I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate and all the rest had chocolate in them. 

She comes back and tells me that the owner has eaten the last piece of lemon tart.  She brings back the tray for me to choose something else; while the owner walks behind her through the dining room.  I scolded him about eating the last piece of lemon tart.  He says he’s sorry but that it was good in his Italian accent.  Thanks, I say.  He suggests that I try to Ba-ba rum; which is a rum cake with a strawberry sauce.  Okay, I’ll have that.  When I leave the restaurant the owner is outside sitting on a bench outside the front of the restaurant.  I tell him I’m still mad at him for eating my lemon tart just joking around.  He says come back and I’ll give you a piece for free the next time you come in.  I thank him but tell him it might be a while before I’m back again.  We talk for a bit and then I walk back to El Primero and ring the doorbell.  It’s time to call it a night.

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