Seals and Sea Lions in San Diego

Friday, Feb 7

Being East-coasters, we went to bed very early last night and woke up very early this morning.  I figure that’s fine. We don’t really need to adjust to West Coast time, we’re only here for a few more days and then have a really early flight home on Tuesday.  It will be easier to get up for the flight if we never really adjust to the west coast. So, we were up by 5:30 this morning and having a light breakfast in our rented house.  About 8:30 we set out for 2nd breakfast (as the hobbits would say) at Breakfast Republic, a hip little breakfast joint just a 7 minute walk from our house. Rob had bacon and I had a scramble with bacon, cheese, and ham.  The bacon was a little bit sweet, adding really nice flavor to the cheese and eggs.  

After breakfast we wandered out to the end of Pacific Beach Pier.  There are a few little cabins that you can rent like a hotel room at the beginning of the pier.  It could be kinda fun to stay in one of them, you’d definitely hear the roar of the ocean all night, since it is directly below you.  There were about 50 surfers in the water to the north of the pier, so we stopped and watched them for a bit. I could watch surfers for hours!  As we walked back to our house, we stopped at Lucky’s Donut House for doughnuts that we took home to eat. Rob was still hungry after just having bacon for 2nd breakfast.  

Our next destination for the day was the ocean-side attractions in La Jolla (pronounced “la Hoya”) just north of San Diego.  It was just a 20 minute drive. We parked near the Children’s Pool. This time of year, the protected sandy cove is closed to people so the native seals and their pups can beach themselves for some needed r&r and warmth in the sunshine.  They, and the sea lions a little further up the beach, spend 7-8 hours a day on land. It was so cute to watch the lumbering seals wiggle their way along the sand, blubbery bodies wobbling in the effort. They were, for the most part, very quiet, seemingly happy to just bask in the sun.  See YouTube video here.

When we tired of watching the seals, we followed the sidewalk north along the beach.  We admired the pelicans and cormorants as we walked. Shortly we came across a raucous section of beach filled with sea lions.  They are much noisier and much stinkier than the seals. As we watched, the 2 largest sea lions were barking and swimming around in agitation.  They eventually ended up next to each other, trying to bully each other out of the way, while also bullying the smaller sea lions, who quickly gave way.  Check out the video here. Sea lions have bigger flippers and so move with a bit more grace when on land and rocks.

Wishing to get away from the stink, we moved on a bit more quickly from the sea lions, continuing north.  Our next stop was Sunny Jim’s sea cave. According to the sign in the store, “In 1902, Prof Gustav Schultz (presumably no relation to me or Rob) commissioned two Chinese workers to dig a tunnel into the sea cave through the cliffs of La Jolla with the idea of charging visitors a few cents to enter.”  The tunnel they dug is still the same one we descended today. I was expecting the cave to be a bit bigger. The most interesting part was probably the steps leading down. The quality control on stair height was rather lacking; some were a short 4-5 inch rise, while others were more like 8-10 inches.  You really had to continually watch the steps and you stepped. The cave was kind of small, and the tide was mostly out, so there wasn’t a lot of water in it. It is clearly a favorite haunt of kayaking groups, as 2 separate groups lingered at the mouth of the cave in the few minutes we were down there to take our obligatory photos.  

After the cave, we continued a little further north on the cliff walk then headed into town to walk past a few shops as we made our way slowly back toward the car.  There were a few art galleries that we stopped in just to look around. My favorite were the photographs of Nathan Myhrvold. He had a couple different ones of the contents of a sandwich all separated out into the individual layers.  I especially liked the pb&J with bananas (see photos), but there was also a hamburger with the works and a pizza split into its layers. We also ran across a bakery with Donald Trump in a diaper cookies. Pretty funny. When we got back to the car, we headed for home to take a little siesta.  

As we drove along Garnet Ave, we noticed a guy running full tilt across the road and down the sidewalk.  We watched as we approached and realized that he was chasing a guy on a bike. The guy on the bike kept looking back to make sure the runner was not catching up to him.  I think we were witness to a bike heist! The runner sure looked pissed!

After an hour of so of siesta and we were ready to head back out.  The day was beautifully sunny with not a cloud in the sky. Temps were in the mid-60s so warm, but with a cool breeze now and then.  We have rain coming, so wanted to make the most of this nice day. This time we took the boardwalk along the ocean to the south. The tide was way out, so we walked for a bit on the sand near the water’s edge.  It was fun to check out the varied architecture of the houses that butt right up to the boardwalk. Some are old, with peeling paint and retro styling; others are modern with curved lines or dramatic balconies and tons of tall windows to take in the view.  Our destination was the Beaver Tails kiosk inside Belmont Park amusement park. We had Beaver Tails in Canada a few times; they are fried dough smothered in some kind of sweet spread and topped with candy (there are a few different flavors). Today I had the Avalanche, spread with cheesecake spread (probably just sweetened cream cheese) and topped with Heath bar pieces.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself. When we arrived, the Beaver Tail kiosk was closed. The guy inside said he’d be ready in about 10 minutes, so we wandered around and looked in some souvenir shops. 10 minutes later, we came back to the kiosk, only to find it still empty, but with signs of life inside. So, Rob talked me into playing some arcade games. This arcade is all digital; you load up a “credit card” with money and then swipe it to play the games.  Any tickets you win from games like skeeball and the like are digitally added to your card balance – no more watching the machine spit out a few or a slew of tickets. : ( We went to the guy and asked him to put $13 on the card (there was a special – pay $13 and get $16). He had some trouble with his machine, but the transaction finally went through. When we slid the card for our first game, Rob noticed that the card said we had $46. Rob had paid cash, so we definitely only paid $13.  Oops! Well, that’s a lot of arcade games. We played and played. Our final tally was enough to get a cute stuffed pig and 4 pieces of candy. Only now, as I’m typing this up, do I realize that we probably should have notified the guy that something had gone awry instead of just playing through all the extra credits. With our haul of booty, we made our way back to the Beaver Tails kiosk, which was finally open for business. I ordered my Avalanche and we sat down at a table and chairs shaped like ice cream to eat it.  I must say, the ones in Canada were better; this one was a little too thin and crispy. The toppings were good, but I missed the softness of those to the north.

Our walk back home along the boardwalk was a chilly one. But, in true California style, we were passed by multiple people on roller skates, roller blades, and skateboards. Many carried some sort of music player, so they could blast their music while rolling along. We heard rap, pop, and some 80s hair bands. So very California!

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