Caroline was up early and I was ready for today’s adventure, but we had to wait until 7am when Don Panchos opens for breakfast. She was going to get a whole burrito to herself before she saw someone else’s order. We got one to split and one for Caleb. We got on base and waited ten minutes for him to show up with a seabag on his back and an appetite in his stomach. We got the great idea to visit five southern beaches in San Diego – Imperial, Coronado, Ocean, Pacific, and Mission.
Our first is Coronado where we walk with shoes on in the sand to the surf. Caroline is quick to take off her Sou Sou split-toe shoes but not to leave them lying around like she would her Birkenstocks knock-offs. She rolls up her pants and heads in. I will touch the water and agree that it’s still cold. We walk to a lifeguard station to sit on the concrete wall in the sun and eat our breakfast – only after Caroline chases off a spider the size of her tiny fingertip while Caleb stands back giving the arachnid plenty of space.
On our way back to the sidewalk I notice a man with a face covered in white cream. Upon further inspection I realize he is eating a giant donut, along with the rest of his family, and I want to know where the sugary confection came from – Donut Bar downtown. We thank them and make our way to the Hotel Del where a sand version has been built on the beach – so of course we all do our best Godzilla impersonations, and then sit on a bench to empty the sand from our shoes.
A couple of the shops are open and we walk the history hall but I’m more interested in what’s growing in the garden and the ground squirrel eating seeds from tall grass. Downtown the line is ten-people long so we drop off Caroline to wait while we look for parking. We make it around the corner before I feel bad for leaving her alone. I jump out and Caleb takes the wheel. He was able to find a shaded spot along a wall while we stared at the menu and the trays as they moved in and out of the window.
We decided on a blood orange, CRO BAR, strawberry split, mud pie, chocolate peanut butter cup, maple bourbon, and a vegan chai box full of donuts. And to drink we got a coffee, Mexican chai, and a cold brew coffee in a bottle. Then we drive north for the southern beach tour. We start in La Jolla and are fine with just admiring the view of the waves and surfers.
Next we park in Pacific Beach and walk the boardwalk all the way to Mission Beach where there are plenty of cyclists and sunbathers. There is a boy playing the guitar for his girlfriend and a young girl covering her little brother in sand. We admire the weather, architecture, wandering locals, and the four guys and one girl taking surfing lessons. It takes us at least an hour to walk each way. On the return trip we will walk in the sand.
Two o’clock is upon us, the burritos are digested, and we find ourselves at Sunset Cliffs with a box full of donuts. We find parking a few blocks away and are able to secure a spot on the rocky edge to chomp our way through each flavor – our favorites being the blood orange and maple bourbon. Being the adventurous type we take our box and walk a ways to the parking lot with a rope access to the rocks and water below. It would’ve continued to be relaxing and enjoyable if we hadn’t been joined by college kids and military guys.
Back on top, we walk by a mother with a photographer getting pictures of her five sons in jeans and white shirts. We start to get thirsty, so while Caleb runs to get the car we go inside the nearby gas station for drinks – but not before I take a panoramic photo of the mural on the wooden fence. The countertop is covered in foreign coins and bills from Hong Kong, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Costa Rica, etc.
The next stop is the house so we can pick up the dogs and walk to the beach. We make it halfway from the jetty to the pier before we are stopped by a lifeguard that tells us the dogs can be on any part of the beach but this one. Caleb tries to engage her in conversation but I’m ready to go. He will wait with the dogs while Caroline and I go to the end of the pier and back.
There are beach balls, bicycles, and fishing poles seen along our walk. Caroline is most impressed with the view from behind the restaurant. We stop for a while halfway back to watch the surfers, some without boards, trying to untangle something from the support beam and dodging waves by going over and under them. We walk the dogs back to the house and then drive back to the beach to have a drink at Barrels.
Caroline orders a beer, Caleb a tea, and I’m being indecisive. Caroline gets drunk after half a beer – perhaps that’s just what we thought she ordered – and starts putting things up her nose. I was able to capture a picture of the earplugs stuffed in her nostrils before ordering a regular mimosa and an almond one for us to share. We finished our drinks and delivered Caroline to the airport at 7:30 for her flight back home.
Caroline is adventurous, spontaneous, and motivational. We enjoyed her conversation, insight, and laughter. We were once kids ourselves and can hang out with other people’s kids, but haven’t felt enough of that maternal clock to start popping out babies. I’m grateful that I haven’t had kids yet so that I could continue my educational journey and learn more about myself without having to live vicariously through my children. We will drive to our house and pray at the shrine known as Caroline’s Chamber of Caring, Creativity, Conversation, Curiosity, Carding, Caving, and Character!