Wednesday, January 26 - We arrived at Thousand Trails Pio Pico Preserve a 9 days ago and we are finally figuring things out. We are in a valley surrounded by mountains so there is no Verizon cell phone or broad band service at the campsite. You can climb up the mountain to make phone calls but have not tried to use the computer up there. We bought the local internet service and that was spotty at best until we figured out that if we set the computer on the printer so it is closer to the window the service is better but not great. The best connection is outside on the picnic table with a direct view of the antenna attached to the top of the Youth Center. This is where I will sit to try to update the Trip Journal today. San Diego is about 30 miles to our west and Tijuana is about 30 miles to our southwest. There are border patrol vehicles everywhere on the roads and they make it through our park on a regular basis. As the crow flies, Mexico is about 10 miles over the mountains with no roads in the immediate area in that direction.
We drove over the San Diego/Coronado Bay Bridge to visit Hotel Dell Coronado which was built in the mid 1800's. This amazing Victorian hotel on Coronado Beach took us into a past era. You could picture women in their long dresses and parasols walking around the gardens, conversing with friends or just sitting and reading while the men were hunting, fishing and doing other "manly" things. Marilyn Monroe was at the Dell for the filming of "Some Like It Hot" in the 1950's and President Reagan hosted a mini summit at the Dell in 1982. Many other celebrities have visited the Dell in the past 150 years.
The town of Jamul is about 10 miles from the campground. There is a post office some shops and Steele Canyon Produce, but no grocery store. We picked up 15 pounds of oranges for $1 and the sweetest locally grown strawberries that we have ever tasted. We pass Otay Lakes on our way to Chula Vista. There are solar paneled platforms in the lake that we have not figured out yet. We will have to ask someone before we leave the area.
One of our favorite spots is around La Jolla Cove. It is a unique area because the coastline has mountains with deep drop offs into the ocean, a large area with sandy beaches with more gradual approaches into the ocean and rocky cliffs perfect for the seal lions to sun themselves. The female sea lions gave birth in June so their pups are 7 months old already. At the Children's Pool, the Harbor Seals take refuge and bask in the sun. The females are ready to give birth any day now so some of the mom's try to get comfortable on the sandy beach. The Grey Whales are migrating south to warmer waters to have their young and for others to mate. We were lucky enough to see the spout, back and tail from the shore. The whales have full bellies from their summer feasting so they move at a slow, methodical pace southward. If they have already mated, I understand that some of them could already be heading back north. The coastline along La Jolla Cove was beautiful and different areas were designated for different water sports such as body surfing, diving, surfboards, and boogie boards.
A trip to this area would not have been complete without a visit to the Port of San Diego with the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, the Star of India Sailing Ship, the Ronald Reagan Nuclear Aricraft Carrier and various cruise ships. Did you know that it takes a teaspoon of uranium to recharge the USS Ronald Reagan? I forgot how many years that is good for. We took the Adventure Hornblower 3 decker cruise ship out for a 3 1/2 hour tour to see the whales and dolphins. We saw a huge pod of dolphins but only one whale that was acting very atypical. The Captain thought maybe it was a female in labor but all we really saw were small spouts and no tail. Because it was a little disappointing we got a ticket for another cruise. It is just fun to be out in the Pacific Ocean.
Thursday, January 27 - Since we only saw one very atypical whale on Tuesday, we were given vouchers to go again aboard the Adventure Hornblower out of the Port of San Diego. What a perfect day with temps near 80, blue skies and a little wind. We spotted 9 whales and were able to see more typical behavior. Usually there are 2-3 spouts before the whale goes deep and you get to see the tail. I don't care how many times you see them, it is just as exciting each time.