I know what you’re thinking… He didn’t actually decide to title a post about California “California Dreaming,” did he?
You bet I did. This is one writer who has no problem with self-aware use of cliches. And besides that, my trip to San Diego to visit my friend Dom featured at least one very surreal, dreamlike event.
I took the train down to SD from Los Angeles, where I’d arrived the night before from Philly and WBC. The train was on time, uncrowded and comfortable, and the ride along the coast (after we got through suburban LA) was just as pretty as I’d been told it would be.
Dom picked me up from the train station (despite the fact that I got off at the wrong one, a 30 minute drive from his house, right in downtown SD) and, after driving back to his ‘hood of Solana Beach, we headed out to a local public house for some refreshment. And this was where things started to get strange. After a few drinks and a Canada vs. USA pool game (Dom and I vs. two of his friends) we received a most odd and unexpected invitation:
Would we (and several others in the bar) like a ride on a school bus?
When confronted with this sort of odd scenario, there’s only one possible answer.
Dom posing with our Tuesday night transport: a former Sacramento Regional School District bus
We spent the rest of the evening cruising around the northern suburbs of San Diego on a Sacramento Regional School District bus that one of Dom’s neighbours had just bought on ebay and driven over 500 miles home from the place of purchase (he was planning on using it to drive his family out to a family reunion in Georgia.) They’d already made their provisioning stop by the time we boarded, but some of the other passengers were kind (?) enough to share some really hideously bad canned cocktails with us as we proceeded from one local bar to another. An impromptu Pub Crawl on a school bus would have been pretty low on my “how I expect to spend my first night in San Diego” list, but it was fun and it makes a good story, and aren’t those really the most important things?
Day two in SD brought another surprise: The realization that a fair argument could be made that San Diego is the craft beer capital of the world. According to ratebeer.com (a promienent website for beer afficianados) three of the top ten breweries in the world are located in San Diego county. We got to visit two of these, try the product of a third and tack on one more visit to a place where Dom knew the brewmaster. Highlights included: Stone brewery’s Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale, Alesmith Yulesmith double IPA and Pizza Port Brewpub’s Sticky (imperial) Stout. Between this and the beautiful SoCal coastline, the day was a gem for all five senses (okay, maybe not touch. But the beer covered taste and smell pretty well and the coastline did a good job of delighting the eyes and ears.)
The coastline north of San Diego as seen from the top of Mt. Soledad
The final day down south was perhaps the coolest (not to mention most typically Californian) of all, for one reason alone: I got to go surfing! Or try at least. Dom (himself a novice) patched up one of his roommate’s bpoards and we headed out into the Pacific.
Dom patching up one of his roomate’s longboards before we headed out into the water
While it’s true that I never got to a point where I could even THINK about standing up on the board it was a great time all around. Riding the waves (even in a non-vertical position) was still a real rush, and I gained a much better appreciation for the sport. For an inexperienced spectator, surfing looks simple and elegant. Out in the water it’s very different. The waves (even the smallish 3-5 ft ones we were out in) have astonishing power and can toss you around like a rag doll. The board, while light, is very buoyant and can be flipped around by the waves with even more speed and upredictability than you yourself. At one point I didn’t have a good enough hold on my board and let it get into an awkward position just as a wave was breaking. The board was flipped around and the fin caught me in the back earning me a nice bruise and a bit of firsthand knowledge of the power of the ocean. But for all that, it was still a super-fun time and I may well give it another try down in NZ. Good times…
Me and the board I (sort of) rode while surfing Solana Beach with Dom
So, before concluding I’ll just give big thanks to Dom, both for being a great host in San Diego, and for giving me a ride most of the way back up to LA, which you will learn more about in due course…
Tags: California, Llew Bardecki, North America, San Diego