Friday, July 30, 2010

San Diego – October 20th – 25th, 2009

It was another beautiful day in San Diego when we flew in from dreary, rainy Atlanta! I read once that the weather-people in San Diego always have the highest percentage of accurate forecasts because it is just “one *&%$# beautiful day after another”! While we were there, the locals complained about how hot it was – 80’s in the day and 60’s at night with low humidity! Yeah, that’s hot all right! Just ask any of us from Texas, Arizona OR the South East! We did get a foggy morning or two, but that burned off by mid morning. It was really paradise-style weather!

The hotel where we stayed was The Hacienda in the beautiful Old Town district of San Diego. The hotel was charming with beautiful courtyards and incredibly maintained gardens and flowers. They also provided a free shuttle from the Airport, which was most appreciated! After we arrived and found our room, we joined the Reception planned by our gracious Reunion Hosts, Mike Hansen and Linda Kazarian. It was fun to reunite with those attending the reunion event and to enjoy the Mexican Cocktail Buffet. We were on a roof-top patio overlooking San Diego Bay and Point Loma, while being serenaded and treated to a vibrant sunset and the tiniest sliver of a new moon.

We got an early start on Monday and met our bus around 8:45. We took a tour of the “Island” of Coronado (actually a peninsula!), saw the house where the Wizard of Oz was written, and the unique architecture and tiny lots in Coronado. We were given free time at the beautiful, historic Coronado Hotel, where we accidentally received an insider’s tour of the ballroom from a lovely gentleman who had been working there for 25 years and, as he said, was still as charmed and excited about the Coronado (and particularly the Ballroom) as he had been 25 years ago. Just the week before we got there, Tony Curtis had been there with his daughter, Jaime Lee Curtis, to join in a huge celebration of the 50th Anniversary of “Some Like it Hot”. Apparently, it drew quite a crowd!

Many of us then perused the gift shops and strolled the beautiful beach. Leaving there, the bus gave us more of a tour of Coronado and the unique homes, driving back over the dramatic Coronado Bridge to San Diego. The bridge was not built in a straight line; it curves its way across the bay so that it became longer than 2 miles long, which made it eligible for Federal Funds. Guess things never change! Ronald Reagan was governor when it was built, and he and Nancy made the first “official” trip over the bridge. We continued on a driving tour of Balboa Park, The Gaslamp district and Little Italy on the way to Seaport Village.

We were given time at Seaport Village, a delightful collection of cute shops and restaurants on the bay. Lynn and Ben found a beautiful Murano Glass Sculpture (on driftwood) to give Mike and Linda in thanks for organizing this splendid event. It was presented to them at the Farewell Dinner on Thursday night and we all hope it will become an integral part of the new back garden they are currently building at their house!

Lunch was at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse Restaurant, overlooking the San Diego Bay. While we were enjoying the incredible weather and postcard perfect views from the restaurant, we got the news that Atlanta was flooding, and it was not too far from our house! It turned out that our house was fine, but there was a bit of worry at that time! After lunch, we drove through the former Naval Training Center, which has been converted quite beautifully for civilian use. It is considered a model of what can be done when bases are closed.

The day was completed with a Spanish Theme Dinner in a private dining room at the hotel. Many people wore Mexican attire and almost everyone won a door prize, even if it was only one of the table decorations! I, personally, brought home one of the piñatas and presented it to Amelia, our granddaughter who is now 3 ½ ! As usual, the Hospitality Room set up by Linda and Mike was open before and after the dinner!

On Tuesday, our bus delivered us to tour an active duty Frigate, the USS Vandergrift. We were divided into groups of about 6 or 8 and assigned one of the personnel to give us the tour. We were guided by a young Ensign (my, my, they are getting younger all the time!) who gave a very informative and entertaining guided tour, including the mess for both officer and enlisted, the sleeping quarters, the command deck and communications room, among many other things. We all climbed those ladders between levels of the ship and most of us had sore arms the next day! I think many of the people in our group left feeling that they (or their spouses!) had all made a really good decision to go into the Air Force! Following the tour of the Frigate, we drove around many sites on the bay, including the Midway (a stationary, inactive ship that is available for group tours) and the statue of “The Kiss”, from the photo in Time Square taken at the end of World War II.

We then headed up to the north end of the Bay to an area called Shelter Island to have lunch at the Bali Hai. They had prepared a beautiful outdoor area for us to have lunch overlooking the gorgeous north end of the San Diego Harbor. The views were absolutely spectacular. It is there that we took the group photo. When we returned to the hotel after lunch, we had free time to explore on our own. There were so many options: Little Italy, Old Town, and more. Dinner was on our own, so Tom and I (with others!) headed to “Jack & Giulio’s”, an Italian restaurant in Old Town. Others took the trolley to Little Italy and got to practice their Italian! Of course, most everyone met back at the fantastic Hospitality Room set up by the Hansens to report on their individual adventures!

If it is Wednesday, it must be the San Diego Zoo – and it WAS! We had passes that included the bus tour as well as the tram. Some folks who did not want to do too much walking took the bus tour at least 2 times. Since they had different guides each time, they said it made for a great time. We went on the train and the tram and checked out the polar bears as well. For lunch, we chose Alfred’s Restaurant (one of the restaurants at the zoo), where we could sit and have lunch in the AC. Guess we have been converted to the West Coast mentality and now think that 85 degrees is HOT! Even with the heat, the zoo lived up to our expectations! It was a lovely day! We had free time in Old Town again that afternoon and dinner on our own. We strolled through Old Town and picked up exciting souvenirs like Mexican Jumping Beans and things like that. For dinner, the group again spread out all over town for many types of fare from Mexicana to Italian! Again, most gathered back at the Hospitality Room to compare notes!

Thursday dawned as another gorgeous day and we headed to La Jolla via the incredible Mt. Soledad, overlooking all of La Jolla and the surrounding area. It was like being on top of the world on a clear day, and we did feel like we could see forever! After spending a short time absorbing the views, we went to the San Diego Aquarium. The setting for the Aquarium is beyond comparison, peering out over the vast Pacific Ocean. Since it is attached to the Scripp’s Institute, it really is more of a teaching facility than a showy aquarium, but was a beautiful addition to our visit to San Diego … AND, Tom got a great T shirt on sale for $9!!

Next stop: La Jolla! Tom and I chose to go to George’s at the Cove for lunch to enjoy their outdoor views. Who cares what food they served?! After strolling around La Jolla, we all headed back to the hotel to get ready for the Farewell Dinner, which was superb! We cruised on a dinner ship around San Diego Bay in a lovely private dining room. A thick fog rolled in about half way through the dinner and added an element of mystery to the evening! Dinner was delicious and the company was delightful! It was a terrific finale to a spectacular event.

Thanks, again to Linda and Mike!

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