Coronado: Just Across the Bridge

When you live in Southern California, blessed with year-round sunshine, blue skies and breezy weather, you don’t have to go far to feel like you’re on vacation. Take last weekend. On Memorial Day, the family and I–with Oliver and Henry in tow–made a day trip to Coronado, an island that’s just minutes away, reachable by crossing the Coronado Bridge or taking a ferry.

It’s a treasure to be certain, home of the beautiful and majestic Hotel del Coronado or, as we locals call it, The Del. It is a hotel rich with history. The Del has served as the backdrop for several movies, including one of my favorites, Some Like it Hot, with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

L. Frank Baum (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) did much of his writing here, and many a U.S. president has checked in for a stay in one of its many well-appointed rooms.

Coronado is a spectacular place, indeed. Go there and you are immediately overtaken by its pristine and natural beauty, bright colors, and its openness and a grandeur that harken back to days of yore. And, of course, we couldn’t spend the day there without taking a few photographs. A feast for the eyes!

Wish you were here?

The Hotel del Coronado.

The Hotel del Coronado.

Strolling along the walkway by The Del.

Strolling along the walkway by The Del.

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The average cost of a home here is out of range for most of us.

Lucky is the person who can afford to live here.

Or here.

Or here.

I just love Jacaranda trees, particularly when they're in full bloom!

I just love Jacaranda trees, particularly when they’re in full bloom! (By the way, see if you can spot Henry!)

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Fields of gold

Of course, since it was Memorial Day, we came across a good many flags, including this vintage one.

Of course, since it was Memorial Day, we came across a good many flags, including this vintage one.

Even the dogs put on their best patriotic colors!

Even the dogs put on their best patriotic colors!

Sock monkeys, too!

Along the main drag, known as Orange Avenue, there are many boutique shops and restaurants that cater to outdoor dining. Plus, you'll find an abundance of beautiful flowers.

Along the main drag, known as Orange Avenue, there are many boutique shops and restaurants that cater to outdoor dining. Plus, you’ll find an abundance of beautiful flowers pretty much everywhere.

That's my daughter posing in front of the San Diego skyline, as seen from Coronado.

That’s my daughter posing in front of the San Diego skyline, as seen from Coronado.

So, next time you’re visiting San Diego, be sure to add Coronado to your must-see list. But, in the meantime, what’s your favorite vacation spot near your home?

Finally, this is as good a time as any to welcome the more than 300 new followers my blog has gained since I started the Lightning in a Jar series (which, by the way, returns later this week). And, a special thank you to all my followers. You are the best part of blogging!

He Crossed the Line

Yesterday, someone asked me if I was having a good weekend. I said yes, but that wasn’t entirely true.

I was sad. So sad, and I’m sure you know why. In fact, like many of you I spent most of Friday in various stages of sorrow and tears. How could this be? Who can explain what happened?

Sandy Hook Elementary: People gather at a makeshift memorial near the school following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 15, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. Read more: http://nation.time.com/2012/12/15/sandy-hook-shooting-the-names-of-the-dead/#ixzz2FNf8Bfc6 Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

And, how can life go on in the face of such tragedy?

In the early hours of Friday morning, I had written a post about commercials. This was before the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.  Many of you were kind enough to comment, and the comments trickled in throughout the weekend.

But, I found it very hard to respond to your comments, as suddenly a post about ads and soup seemed trivial and inconsequential. I couldn’t even bring myself to visit my blog. I just didn’t have it in me.

Another asked if I was ready for the holidays and I thought to myself, are you kidding? In light of this tragedy, how can I begin to answer that question?

And, then I thought of my own children, and how lucky I am that they’re okay. That I’ve been able to see them grow up. In a few days, my daughter will be home from school and I will be off from work so that I can spend time with her.  I’m lucky, too, because my son lives nearby and visits nearly every week.

I’ve had the chance to see them grow up and have them in my life.  But, there are parents in Newtown, Connecticut who were robbed of this.

There’s a six-year-old boy who lives across from me. He has a bright smile and I know he’s a good kid, for I’ve known him and his parents since he was an infant. Recently, he rang my doorbell and asked me for a job walking Henry. I was impressed with his desire to take responsibility and earn an income. So, now he walks my dog every once in a while, for which I pay him a few dollars. He came by this weekend, and I was reminded that he’s the same age as the children from Newtown.

On Saturday, I had plans to spend the day with my son and his girlfriend. We had planned this outing weeks ago, and a small part of me wanted to cancel in light of this tragedy. Yet I needed, to be with my children at this time and spending the day with them at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park proved to be just the thing.

Afterwards, we went out to dinner at a mall, crowded with holiday shoppers and of course, the parking lot was full. But there was something else: the parking lot was teeming with police, floodlights and police-lookout towers. It startled me at first, but I assumed they were there to protect from the many car thefts that occur in shopping mall parking lots this time of year. Then, on Sunday I learned that a man had fired 50 shots into the air, while in a shopping center parking lot at another mall in Southern California, and I wondered whether that incident was the cause for beefed up security at the mall we were visiting.  I can’t say for certain.

In my sorrow, I stayed away from this blog for two days, so I apologize for not replying to your comments sooner. But in the end, I know that life goes on, and life is beautiful and precious.

Why can’t we all value human life? Why did the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary have to happen? And, why oh why did the shooter cross the line and kill so many, including 20 beautiful children?

I’ve written an open letter to the shooter. You can find it on the Huffington Post site.  Please read it and then offer your comments there. Thank you, thank you. I don’t know what I’d do without you, my readers.

Here’s the beginning:

Dear Adam Lanza,

What happened? Where did we fail you?

I’m assuming something went horribly wrong in your life, leading you to this horrific day in December, smack in the middle of our holiday season.

Did it happen at home, with the breakup of your parents’ marriage? Was it in school or during soccer practice? Were you pushed to take music lessons at a young age?  Or did someone forget to wish you a Merry Christmas?

Perhaps it was something deeper, beyond our sphere of understanding, that troubled you?

Whatever it was, I’m trying to comprehend, and asking myself how it led you to take it out on the youngest among us. Our future, our children…

You can read the rest at the Huffington Post.

Same Locale, Sunny Day

Another morning and this time, it’s sunny! Very unusual when you live by the coast, which makes this day feel all the more like a treasure. If you ask me, nature’s colors seem all the more vivid, and more alive thanks to the bright and welcoming sunshine!  (To all of you enduring extremely hot temperatures, I don’t mean to brag about our temperate, breezy weather. Tee-hee!)

How gorgeous and inviting the Pacific Ocean looks on this sunny and cheery morning.

These two seem to be engrossed in conversation. What are they talking about?

This dad seems to be helping his daughter make an ant hill. It’s been said that San Diego was built on an ant hill.

Walking around the neighborhood, I love encountering interesting front doors, like this one. I can’t help but  wonder, what’s on the other side?

Here’s another door that caught my eye. It’s the bougainvillaea that did it. Dare I go in?

A big part of this neighborhood is the local, and very popular, Del Mar Race track. Horse racing begins in mid-July, and goes through early September. This restaurant’s door is an elegant nod to the sport of horse racing.

The dense and unusual-looking foliage caught my eye. Seems like a perfect home for a Hobbit.

La Entrada: And one more door. This one needs to “remind” you, albeit in Spanish, what it’s for.

When Morning Comes

Bella, of One Sister’s Rant, earlier this month did a photographic post about her neighborhood. Which inspired me, so, on a recent weekend morning, I took my camera out on a walk through my neck of the woods. I figured one of the best places to go would be by the coast, just a couple of miles away.

Of course, June around these parts is known for its “June Gloom,” on account that nearly every morning you awaken to gray skies. Though, by noon, the sun is out in all its glory, and the gloom is never bad enough to keep people indoors. This day was no exception.

Hope you enjoy!

This time of year, the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom. Its purple flowers are breathtaking.

What I love about the trees in this seaside park, is how the unrelenting wind off the ocean, has caused them to bend dramatically toward the east, barely keeping their heads up, yet finding the will to do what it takes to survive.

These gnarly, twisted trees, long ago bowed to the wind, and now make for climbing fun.

The view from the park.

These three seem to be deciding whether or not to hit the surf.

Seems like I’m not the only one seeking a photo opportunity.

A nice spot to enjoy the view and watch the surfers.

This shaggy dog shows no interest in the ocean.

This train, heading south along the California coast, offers great ocean vistas.

Even in the gloomy morning, the view is exceptional. It’s no wonder people want to live here.

I just love how so many bring their dogs to the beach. A couple of miles north of here is Dog Beach, a place where anyone can bring their dog to frolic and splash freely in the water–leash free!

This seaside community has a bit of a Tudor feel to it.

And one more. We love the sea in these parts!

So, tell me, what makes your neighborhood special?

I Want My Warm Weather Back!

To all of you living in Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Washington D.C. and the like:

Here in Southern California, we haven't seen temperatures above 60 degrees ever since our warm weather was kidnapped and moved to Chicago, New York and the like. (photo: Lee Wag)

I know where your cold weather went. It’s here in San Diego, and it’s waiting for you to claim it.

Yep, I saw what you did. Don’t think I can’t see you, wearing your tees, flip-flops and shorts on Lake Michigan, thinking you’re so cool enjoying your unusually mild weather. Sure, there you are, playing Frisbee, which is so out of the norm where you live. But trust me, it’s par for the course here. All YEAR ROUND. At least, it was until you absconded with it!

So give it up, hand it over and stop your tomfoolery. Stat.

For, I know what you’re up to. You are holding our warm, balmy weather hostage and we’re not falling for it.

Furthermore, the ransom you are requesting is moot. Non-negotiable, as we, who live in Southern California, already pay a heft price for the privilege of our warm, comfortable climate. The rent alone is highway robbery. And our motto is: Not a penny more!

So, give us our weather back now. After all, we don’t do well with these blustery, icy-cold record low temps we’re having. We’re absolutely freezing here! We don’t own the wardrobe for this kind of weather—and we don’t know how to drive in it. Do you know how many accidents we had this weekend, all because of the freezing rain and hail? Well, I don’t know either, but I’m pretty sure it was at least, a gazillion.

What’s more, there’s been a shortage of hot cocoa mix in the grocery stores and a run on umbrellas and scarves since your cold weather arrived. And, last I checked, they’re no longer making fur-lined bikinis, for those daring enough to still go in the ocean.

So, whatever you did to get rid of your lousy weather, undo it now. Hop on a plane and come pick it up, or give us your mailing address and we’ll get it shipped back. Heck, I’ll even cover the costs of overnight shipping.

And in return, all we ask, all we want, is our WARM WEATHER BACK! And that includes the sun!

Now, if you still insist on keeping our weather, then don’t come back and whine when you start experiencing wild fires, mudslides and earthquakes. After all, these little bundles of nature go hand in hand. Quid pro quo.

So, I’m closing my eyes and counting to 100. And, when I open them, my good weather better be back and your icy temps gone, once and for all. No questions asked. Let bygones be bygones and old acquaintance be forgot, and, well, you get my drift. Deal?