San Diego with a Friend

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mr chips
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2010/10/10 15:13:49 (permalink)

San Diego with a Friend

Long time readers of these boards may remember I used to be a volunteer chaperone for a travel agency that planned trips for intellectually disabled adults. And that I travelled with a client to various spots around the Pacific Northwest. This client, Ray, had been hoping to go to San Diego for almost 5 years. Last month, Trudy, he and I finally made that trip because he had to spend down his money to stay eligible for medical benefits. Our trip was a combination of tourist sites and roadfood.
    Day 1 one was a long one. Our flight left Portland at 6:40 a.m and we had to be at the airport very early. It was Ray's first flight and we were a little nervous as Ray is autistic. He has travelled on the train before and it turned out our worries were groundless. He loved the flight attendants who brought him food and gave him wings and we were able to talk him thru take-off and landing.
       Our arrival in San Diego brought the first surprise. Ray was captivated by the palm trees at the airport. He kept pointing at them, smiling. He touched one and just kept looking. it's been so long that i've forgotten how exotic my first views of palm trees were and it was good to be reminded how awesome things we take for granted can be when someone sees them for the first time.
         Our first stop was La Jolla where we ate the best meal of the trip at the roadfood reviewed The Cottage. There are 10 recommended dishes on the review and the 500 Things book strongly recommends the granola. While waiting for a table, we were able to munch on complimentary coffeecake and Ray and I walked around the neighborhood. Tall palms and bright blooming flowers were a delight though we were a little too far from the ocean to reach it. 
       We were seated outdoors and ate a wondrous breakfast. I had the granola which was tasty and filling and which had fresh strawberries, raspberries and bananas as accompanyment. Ray and Trudy had huge waffles which featured strawberries, raspberries and bananas maserated in orange juice and brandy. The coffee was first rate, the weather perfect. and the vibe pure California. The folks at the entrance told me that Michael Stern was writing a book on their recipes and i must say I'm not surprised. Lunches and dinners have also been praised on this website and in the Sterns' books and I hope to return to The Cottage some day to sample more of the food.
      We next drove thru the main business avenues  of La Jolla, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach and Pt. Loma  to Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma. This is one of my favorite spots as you can see sailboats in the harbor, a military runway where i have seen jets take off and huge naval ships in drydock. Unfortunately neither of my sons and none of my intellectually disabled clients have liked it and i still have not made it to the top of the lighthouse there. I was surprised that Ray did not like it much but it fit in with the track record.
     From Point Loma we went to Newport Ave in Ocean Beach. There are 4 present or former roadfood reviewed places in a one block area. Tall palm trees line the street and it ends at the ocean. The wondrous hamburger place Hodad's is located there and as usual there was a huge line of folks to get in. We got Acai Berry smoothies at the roadfood reviewed OB Juice Bar and Sub shop where i was most impressed by the huge supply of wheatgrass. Also got fish(mahi mahi)tacos at the 500 Things reviewed South Beach Bar and Grill which has a wonderful location just off the beach. The tacos were wonderful and cheap but the music was loud and the bar raucous. Ray was uncomfortable so we got the tacos to go and ate them at a picnic table gazing at the ocean. Ray was fascinated by the many people with wetsuits and surfboards who walked past us. He was also a little puzzled by the odor of incense that wafted on to the street from one of the head shops we walked past.
    Our hotel was worthy of roadfood. The Kings Inn is located on hotel circle and is the very vision of a 60's California motel. The grounds are lined with tall palm trees, the swimming pool surrounded by palms and the hotel restauant is a waffle shop that makes quite excellent waffles(our rate included a free breakfast so we ended up eating breakfast there each morning.). Trudy and Ray rested and I went out in search of a little more roadfood.
     I made it to the roadfood reviewed Kono's Surf club in Pacific Beach 10 minutes before closing time. There was no line and I got a most excellent cheeseburger. For the second time of the day, i ate at a picnic table overlooking the ocean. The Oregon coast is almost always chilly so this opportunity to eat by the ocean and not freeze my tail off was one I truly enjoyed.
     Nearby Crystal Pier had miniature cabins that served as hotel rooms along the pier and i enjoyed the views of the surfers and of the people fishing along the pier. 
      Trudy, Ray and I ate dinner at the San Diego Chichen Pie Shop, a delightfully retro roadfood reviewed place. The decor is a lot of ceramic chickens, the food unfancy mid 20th century classics such as tuna fish, chicken pot pie and spaghetti. it 's the sort of place your grandmother took you to and i saw a number of young couples out with their grandmothers. it's a great treat and it was a fitting end to our first day.
 
 
 
 
 




post edited by mr chips - 2010/10/10 22:01:38
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    wheregreggeats.com
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/10 15:36:43 (permalink)
    As always, a great contribution Sir Chips.
    #2
    rumaki
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/10 15:51:29 (permalink)
    I am so glad you visited, and enjoyed, the San Diego Chicken Pie Shop.  I was there several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed both the chicken pot pie pie and the dessert pie (I had cherry, I believe). I seem to recall that it also came with a homemade biscuit or roll, and a couple of sides, but they don't stand out in my memory.  
     
    I've read some online reviews recently that suggested it had gone downhill, so it's good to know it is still a great choice.
     
    I also bought a delightful teeshirt there -- navy blue, with the name of the restaurant and cartoon chickens silk-screened on it,  in white.
     
     
    #3
    agnesrob
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/10 17:15:52 (permalink)
    Wonderful report Mr Chips! Thanks for sharing this!
    #4
    mar52
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/10 20:16:37 (permalink)
    Wonderful report!  Who said you need pictures?
     
     
    #5
    billyboy
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/10 20:43:52 (permalink)
    Mr. Chips, thank you so much for this very wonderful report.  You've got a big heart, sir!  I love your descriptions of the food, the sights and especially your take on how the trip was viewed through Ray's eyes.  Very touching.  
    #6
    mar52
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/10 20:59:47 (permalink)
    Mr. Chips is very special.
    #7
    wanderingjew
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/10 21:10:37 (permalink)
    Mr Chips
    Another great report!

    I miss San Diego and the Granola at The Cottage!
    #8
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/11 13:01:24 (permalink)
    I'm with billyboy--I especially love how you have to take his perspective into account.  Very interesting.  So happy the three of you had a great weekend.
    #9
    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/11 16:52:34 (permalink)
    Great trip...and of my favorite stops...I love The Cottage, Hodad's and the SD Chicken Pie Shop.  My last meal there was so worht the $10!  And lots of pie choices for dessert!
     
    Ray sounds like a neat guy...what other places have you traveled with him to?
    #10
    mr chips
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/11 21:36:11 (permalink)
    ChiTownDiner

    Great trip...and of my favorite stops...I love The Cottage, Hodad's and the SD Chicken Pie Shop.  My last meal there was so worht the $10!  And lots of pie choices for dessert!

    Ray sounds like a neat guy...what other places have you traveled with him to?

        Ray and I and Trudy have made a few trips to Seattle, trips to the Oregon coast to Newport, Lincoln City, Astoria, and Seaside,  a trip to Bonneville Hot Springs resort near North Bonneville, Washington, and autism camps  near Florence, Oregon(on the coast) and near Mt. Hood. We also go out in portland to our science museum, the art museum, and any shop that sells decent pie. Ray choses not to speak but communicates well non-verbally. We have done community outings for 14 years.
    #11
    buffetbuster
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/12 08:26:50 (permalink)
    Isn't San Diego an amazing city?  So glad that Ray got to see it and in such great company, too.  This report is timely, since I have a trip to San Diego planned for next month.  In fact, we already have Thanksgiving dinner reservations at Hob Nob Hill.  And our first stop in town will definitely be Point Loma.
    #12
    EdSails
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/13 19:54:04 (permalink)
    Great report, Mr. Chips. You've got me craving chicken pot pies!
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    mr chips
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/17 13:10:01 (permalink)
    Day 2 of our trips's main focus was the world famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park. We made a brief stop at Crystal Pier before going to the zoo. Ray again loved watching the fishermen and the surfers and our hike over the water. We thought about stopping at Kono's Surf Club but the line was around the block so we simply enjoyed our view of the beach and then took off for the zoo.
      The San Diego Zoo is large and  can be a bit overwhelming once you get inside. There is a marvelous collection of flamingos on view just inside the entry and ray was excited with these birds he'd never seen before. We elected to take the guided tour of the zoo to at least get the highlights and also be able to catch the bus that goes around so the extreme hills and valleys would be less of a problem.
         Sometimes I'm not fond of guided tours but we were fortunate in that our guide gave the type of information that I find fascinating. Dr Suess was a regular visitor to the San Diego zoo and used the plant and animal collections there as models for characters in his books. The Lorax was modeled on the aloe vera trees at the zoo's plant garden and the sneeches were modeled on a couple of the odder looking creatures on hoof and horn mesa. In addition when "The Lion King" was in preproduction, Disney animators made frequents visits to San Diego to sketch the then relatively unknown meercats to get proper movement. We were also lucky enough to see the polar bears up and active and discovered that zoo feeds them a low fat diet so they do not bulk up and do not hibernate in the winter. It was strange to see a polar bear with a carrot in his mouth.
         The zoo has changed a bit since I was last there. Hoof and Horn mesa has been reduced some, there is a much larger exhibit on elephants but some old standbys remain. I love the koalas and ray seemed to like them as well, the galapagos tortoises have been interesting, and I think the aviaries are wonderful. We saw a kookabura from Australia and heard its cry familiar from a gazillion movies and I of course had sing the kookabura song from the old nursery rhyme. It was a sunny day with a lot of glare but we did see a lot of animals.
          We lunched at D.Z. Akins , a huge roadfood reviewed Jewish deli located near san Diego State. We lunched on rugellah,egg cream, cheese blintzes, sandwiches, and borscht. Ray acutely disliked his chicken salad sandwich but loved the sweet stuff. Overall a positive with extremely nice waitresses and great deli food. our only mistake was that Ray really seemed to dislike rye bread.
        Ray and I drove to nearby Encinitas on the suburban northern San Diego coast. We stopped at the roadfood reviewed and 500 things mentioned Juanita's Taco Shop. The  fish taco was a thing of simplistic beauty, crisp fish in a corn tortilla with cabbage and self-applied sauce. They have recently added a porch with eight seats and it was busy the entire time we were there. It is a standard Mexican place but the fish tacos were special and it is enticingly close to the ocean.
        We drove along the old highway 101 and it was surprisingly different from the drive on nearby I-5. Lot of seafood restaurants, lots of ocean views and lots of people on the beach on a day when temperatures soared into the 90's. Surf equipment shops, state beaches with lots of visitors, and lots of folks in beachware made this a wonderful drive. 
          We stopped at Solanna Beach at the 500 Things reviewed " Fidel's Mexican Restaurant" for a grilled Mahi-Mahi taco with homemade mayo and great salsa. I would never have found this place without roadfood as it it is located about a mile from the main highway and it is mostly a neighborhood place and does not look that special. it eseemed to fit in with our trip's emerging theme of fish tacos and exploration of San Diego's beach areas.
          For dinner ray and i returned to Ocean Beach and got a barbecue sandwich at the "Bar-B-Que shack" , a place routinely voted San Diego's best barbecue and reviewed in some of the past roadfood books. We took our sandwiches to the beachfront, watched the surfers and looked at a spectacular sunset whose colors seemed to come out of an artist's pallet of reds, pinks and oranges. A great end to a wondrous day.
    post edited by mr chips - 2010/11/02 04:55:12
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    EdSails
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/18 23:35:13 (permalink)
    mr chips

     
        Sometimes I'm not fond of guided tours but we were fortunate in that our guide gave the type of information that I find fascinating. Dr Suess was a regular visitor to the San diego zoo and used the plant and animal collections there as model for characters in his books. The Lorax was modeled on the aloe vera trees at the zoo's plant garden and the sneeches were modeled on a couple of the odder looking creatures on hoof and horn mesa.

     
    Dr. Seuss was a fixture in San Diego. The year my brother graduated the University of California San Diego, I was able to enjoy the commencement address----given by Dr. Seuss. The school's main library is now the Theodore Geisel Library-----a fitting tribute to the man who gave so much of us pleasure with his books.
    #15
    vinfan
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/19 22:26:03 (permalink)
    I can't believe you were in Point Loma and didn't go to Shelter Island to Pt. Loma Seafood for their famous fish sandwich: a big piece or two of crisp-on-the-outside moist rockfish on sourdough with tartar sauce. Simplicity itself, but absolute perfection. Sit outside and watch the fishing boats come in and enjoy. It's been our first food stop whenever we go to San Diego for over 30 years!
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    mar52
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/20 00:06:42 (permalink)
    Rugella and borsht?  What an interesting combination.
     
    I love your descriptions.  No way you'd ever know what Ray didn't like without tasting.
     
    Next deli trip....  Halvah and Herring!
    #17
    mr chips
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/22 01:22:12 (permalink)
    Day 3 of our trip made the national news. It was over 100 degrees on the beaches of San Diego and over 115 degrees in the inland desert area. Unfortunately for us our plans took us to the San Diego Wild Animal Park so we dealt directly with the heat for the first couple hours. Our day started with a trip to the Roadfood reviewed Ramona Cafe, 11 miles from the Wild Animal park. The road was straight up hill past vineyards, tree farms,horse stables and other facets of rural life. It was as if nearby San Diego did not exist. The Ramona Cafe features huge breakfasts but we choose a gargantuan cinnamon roll, plate sized and large enough for all three of us to have a sizable portion. The restaurant is located in Ramona's downtown and it featured smart and savvy waitresses who filled our coffee cups and answered our questions about the food patiently. It was also located next to a nightclub where Vanilla Ice was going to perform in a couple weeks. A pleasant experience and if we go to The Wild Animal Park again our full breakfast will be in Ramona.
          It was already over 100  when we got to the park. We  hiked immediately to the tram which has replaced the light rail tour of the park. We drove past significant sized herds of African and Asian hoofed animals including some which have served as the sources for reintroducing animals near extinction to the wild. My favorite was the Somali Wild(uh) Donkey and various goats and others that have been reintroduced to the Atlas mountains of North Africa. You are able to get amazingly close and the tram makes it possible for the tour to stop more frequently for better photos. I have always enjoyed this tour and I think Ray enjoyed it as well. Other enjoyable animals included the Red River Hogs and the gorillas. The dominant male gorilla is quite photogenic and I enjoyed seeing him. It was beastly hot and we left after a couple hours, gratefully driving to our afternoon food destination, the Julian Pie Shop in Santa Ysabel. We had a marvelous drive(in air conditioned comfort) from the Wild Animal park to the Pie Shop. There was a camel dairy(sic), an egg factory farm, almond and apple orchards, dairies, horse stables and a lot of other interesting things to see. But Ray is a pie lover and we were in the area for pie. And fantastic pie it was. Ray indulged in a berry- apple combo that was a heavenly combo of sweetness and tart apples in a flaky tender crust. The tart apple with cinnamon ice cream was a great mix of flavors and i ate some pie crust cookies, cookies made from pie crust sprinkled with cinnamon. They melt in your mouth and are one of the items featured in the Sterns' 500 things book. Highly recommended. We journeyed back to San Diego(70 miles) and stopped at the San Diego de Alcala mission. The church featured  nice artwork( there is a statue of God the father which dates back to the early days of the mission and is one of the few representations of the old testament God in the missions of California). There was a nice garden with a fountain and it was a cool respite on a hot day. Dinner was at In N Out for Ray and Trudy but I drove over to Pacific Beach for a stop at Ichiban PB, a noodle shop. Stamina Noodles were the dish of choice, served piping hot in a metal bowl with a shrimp dumpling, a scallop. fish cakes, chicken, and buckwheat noodles.  It was as healthy a dish as I have ever eaten and it was tasty as well. The place is reviewed in the Sterns' 500 things book and in some of the past Roadfood books.
          We turned in early and prepped for our return flight the next day.
    post edited by mr chips - 2010/10/22 09:06:34
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    mayor al
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/22 06:37:54 (permalink)
    Jim,
      Your descriptions are great! My folks lived in Escondido for ten years, and we often visited and headed out to Julian for lunch ! The rural N.E. San Diego County is a very different world from the 'Border/Beach Culture' found nearer the coast.
    Please continue to give us the opportunity to see more of these places thru your writing!
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/22 08:25:31 (permalink)
    What an outstanding trip report, mr chips!  Thanks so much for posting it.  It is wonderful that Ray got to see all of these places and it wouldn't have happened if not for you and mrs. chips.  And the fact you got to do some serious Roadfooding in is a bonus!  I have never been to Julian Pie Company, so that was of special interest to me.
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    mr chips
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/22 08:57:22 (permalink)
    BB, the Julian pie Company is your kind of place. I would love to have explored the Camel dairy but the weather was just too hot. I feel fortunate to have been able to go to the Mission and the Wild Animal Park with the weather so unspeakably hot. 
    #21
    BillyB
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/22 09:09:16 (permalink)
    Ray is a lucky man, great report..............Have fun............BB
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    joerogo
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/22 09:28:57 (permalink)
    mr chips, You sir are a Roadfooding machine.  Move over  ChiTownDiner and buffetbuster
     
    I congratulate you on a great trip report and your dedication to helping others
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    mr chips
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/22 21:30:20 (permalink)
    Day 4 was a bit of an anti-climax. Ray had packed his suitcase and he was ready to go home. Our flight was at 12:30 so we had a few hours to kill. Our breakfast at the hotel waffle shop was uneventful(though the waitstaff sliced a couple bananas and gave them to ray gratis for his waffles). We drove to Mission Bay Park and hiked along the shore. We marveled one last time at the palm trees,then drove to the airport and flew home. Ray was happy on the plane and beamed when his group home staff talked to him about the trip. It was a wonderful time for all of us and I was glad for the chance to share one of my favorite cities with Ray.
    post edited by mr chips - 2010/10/22 22:18:48
    #24
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/23 13:42:21 (permalink)
    Mr. Chips,
    Thanks for a great report and for being a blessing to someone else.  I can only echo Billyboy's comment about your big heart.
     
    #25
    wanderingjew
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/10/23 16:18:28 (permalink)
    Mr Chips
     
    I'll excuse your bad taste in baseball in exchange for your trip report- you hit all of my favorite places in San Diego and you showed Ray a good time.
     
    It's ironic- but when I went to Juanita's and Fidel's a year and a half ago- it was actually over  a full month before The Stern's book
    "Five Hundred Things to Eat Before its Too Late" came out.
    #26
    mr chips
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    Re:San Diego with a Friend 2010/11/02 04:58:46 (permalink)
    One of my few regrets was that on our last night I was a little too hot and tired to hit Petco to see the padres. it was still over 95 at game time. Did not realize you were a Yankee fan dale.
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