La Jolla - Looking Back With 2020 Vision, Part I - CycleBlaze

December 21, 2019

La Jolla

Coffee and Art, the coffee shop just below us, opens a bit later on weekends.  While I’m waiting around I’m here in our unit long enough to watch the sunrise, which this morning is impressive.  I grab the camera, look at the windows and see that they’re quite spotty; the window washers apparently haven’t been by in awhile.  Looking around, I’m happy to see that one of the windows can be unlatched and opened - it’s hinged and swings out away from the building. 

I take a few shots, reach for the window to pull it back in and relatch it,  and discover too late that the window itself doesn’t have a handle.  You can’t pull on it to draw it snug against the building so you can close the latch.  We try several things, including jamming a knife behind its insulation strip to get some leverage, and can get close but can’t actually close it.

Interesting design idea.  There must be a special tool and technique.  We’ll have to let our host know of our foolishness, when we leave.

I thought it would be a cool idea to open the window for a clearer view. It was a cool one, but not a good one.
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With today’s outing, I think we must be completing the circuit of the truly good day rides starting from town.  San Diego Bay, Point Loma, Mission Bay and the nearby beaches.  There is some great riding in the hills and mountains to the east too, but first you have to get through about ten unbroken miles of dense urbanization.  

Partway through today’s ride we were stopped at a light with a younger, fitter, faster biker in a Sky racing outfit.  Taking advantage of a common language to break into casual conversation again we chatted a bit, told him we were new here, asked where we should ride.

Take the ferry to Coronado and loop the bay; a great ride.  Yup, done.  Bike out to the end of Point Loma, see the lighthouse.  Yep, great ride; we might go again.  Well, this ride then - left here at the light, follow the bike path alongside the freeway up to the heights toward Torrey, drop down to the coast, and circle back by Mission Bay.   Doing it, as we speak.

The light changed and he zipped off, soon out of sight.

We follow along at our own pace, and after a couple of miles start the gradual ascent to the summit of the coastal ridge.  It’s not much of a climb - 500 feet in five miles - but it’s a back loaded climb and most of the work comes at the end.  Suddenly we break through the trees, the ocean comes into view, and we begin a fast, steep descent.  At the bottom we pull off onto the campus of Scripps Institute to an overlook and stop for lunch.

It’s a scenic spot to sit and stare for awhile.  The long coastline is dramatic, the long pier evocative, the sea full of surfers challenging themselves against enormous swells and breakers.

Obviously on the way. After a few more miles of this we leave the freeway’s course and start a gradual climb to the summit of the small range separating us from the sea.
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There’s a definite best way to take this loop. It’s a gradual climb to the summit starting from the east, but a steep drop on the west.
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Scripps Pier, at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute. Not open to the public, but great just to stare at.
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Another look at Scripps Pier. There’s a nice viewing platform here above the base of the pier. A nice place to sit, eat your lunch, watch the breakers.
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Looking south from Scripps to the headland at La Jolla.
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In control.
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Out of control. This stretch of coast is apparently known as Wipeout Beach.
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Done with lunch, we move on down to La Jolla, a place I recall fondly from our first tour here.  I don’t remember why exactly though - I just remember that it’s a striking bit of coastline, and that we saw pelicans.  I’m excited about seeing it again, but I’ve forgotten exactly what’s in store for us.

Actually, La Jolla is quite large, covering the band of coastline between Torrey Pines to the north and Pacific Beach to the south.  When I think of La Jolla though, I’m really just thinking of a small piece of it: La Jolla Cove, a bit of craggy coastline on the north side of the small peninsula formed by Soledad Mountain.  I’m excited about seeing La Jolla Cove again.

Looking back across Wipeout Beach to Scripps Pier and the dramatic cliffs beyond it.
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I was right in remembering that La Jolla Cove is a special place.  An astonishing one, really.  Sea caves undercut the rocks beneath the roads, breakers crash against the cliffs.  And there are definitely pelicans to be seen.   The first view coming in from upcoast is stunning, of a craggy headland white with guano and blanketed with hundreds of pelicans and cormorants.  Amazing to see this so close at hand - people are even walking out onto the edge of this small headland, not far at all from the pelicans.

We stand there mesmerized for about ten minutes taking it all in, watching pelicans take off and land, watching them waddle awkwardly across the rocks, admiring their striking coloration, taking photographs.

At La Jolla Cove
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At La Jolla Cove
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An immature brown pelican, La Jolla Cove.
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Jen GrumbyI've never seen bird .. um .. splatter look so decorative.
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyIt’s surprising, isn’t it? It makes a fine backdrop for this youngster.
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7 months ago

Finally, it’s time to move on.  I can’t say we’ve really had our fill yet - I could really just sit and watch this for an hour, I think - but we still have half of the ride yet, and Rachael is getting sleepy.  After four days, jet lag finally tore into her and she had a terrible night.  We need to get her back to bed before she falls off her bike!

So we bike about two hundred yards, and the memory comes back of something else I’d forgotten about this place.  That first little headland and sea cave, as amazing as it is, isn’t even the best spot.  This is the best spot, with the rocks and birds directly beneath us, sharing the space with sunning seals.  They’re all so close that you can get an excellent look at the incredible color of these birds and their behavior.   Another spot that I could stand and stare for an hour, but the ten minutes we take here too is great enough.

And it’s really great to be here this time with a camera having a much more powerful zoom than I was carrying last time.

Dignified.
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Jen GrumbyAnd so colorful!!
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7 months ago
Signaling for a right turn.
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If you have an itch.
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Can there be a more entertaining bird to watch? Better than flamingos even. Better than storks.
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Jen GrumbyI had to zoom in to see what was going on here.

That bill is something else!
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI can’t believe it didn’t occur to me to take a video of this show. We’ll be past this point again, and I’ll correct the omission.
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7 months ago
Jen GrumbyLook forward to it!
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7 months ago
Even better than giant slugs. Not much activity here.
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That vestigial tail. So cute!
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Yawn!  A gentle elbow to the ribs reminds me that it really is time to move on.

It’s nearly two o’clock now, and we still have twenty miles to go.  We need to keep a steady pace the rest of the way if we don’t want to be getting in after dark.  And so we do, as best as we are able.  First though we have to bike down the long, straight, sandy, super-congested Mission Beach promenade.  

For over two miles we weave between a dense mix of walkers, skaters, bikers, scooters, boarders, power wheelers, dogs.  Some are paying attention, some not.  A boarder blasts through at high speed, weaving skillfully through the mix but endangering everyone.  A power-wheeler speeds by soon after, the operator looking oblivious with his headphones on and smoking a cigarette.  Five minutes later they come back at us, having apparently reached the end of their run.

The whole spectacle is worth more than a few photos, but there’s no time left - I spent it all on the pelicans.  Hopefully Rachael picked up some of the action on the GoPro.

Finally we round the southern tip of Mission Beach, double back on the bay side, and work our way back east toward the city.  The last seven miles are the same ones we rode on the way home from Point Loma, including the bird-filled stretch along the San Diego River.  We didn’t show you any photos of that then because there wasn’t time to stop.  This time, it’s the same story.  One of these days though.

We make it back to the room just after 3:30, just as I promised Rocky we would.  Five minutes later she’s out cold, the alarm set for our evening date with an Italian restaurant.

La Jolla Beach
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A nice but brief bike path skirts the edge of the Village of La Jolla.
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Looking north up Marine Street Beach. La Jolla Cove is just around the headland.
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These two are stand-ons for the thousands of beach goers we’ll pass along the long string of beaches here. We included them because of the bicycles.
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On Windandsea Beach
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Crystal Pier, at Pacific Beach. Built in the 1920’s, it originally included an amusement park and a ballroom at the end.
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Another look at Crystal Pier. The ballroom and amusement park are gone now, but you can sleep in the cabins at the near end of the pier.
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On Mission Bay Drive, crossing the mouth of Mission Bay.
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Looking out to sea down the mouth of Mission Bay.
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Video sound track: The Gypsy, by Urban Knights

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Ride stats today: 41 miles, 1,400’; for the tour: 138 miles, 5,100’

Today's ride: 41 miles (66 km)
Total: 148 miles (238 km)

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Ron SuchanekWeren't you just a little tempted to stick your elbow out just as the speedy power board guys went by?
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7 months ago