San Diego drawing to a close


Wow, I’ve been in SoCal for almost two months now. The time has flown. I’m very sad to think about leaving soon.

I’ve got two more full days here in San Diego, and then a little more than a week in LA… and then I’ll be boarding that Amtrak for Portland on the 9th!

I plan to write at least a couple more blog posts from down here. This time, I’ll just do a catch-up of my life from the past couple of weeks. There hasn’t been anything as dramatic as in my last post, but it’s been a pleasant time.

Probably my top accomplishment has been filing my taxes, which I finished yesterday. It seems like they get more complicated each year, especially now that I’m mostly a gig worker juggling multiple Schedule Cs. And it’s hard to no longer have W-2s, and withholdings: even with my extremely meager earnings this year, I still owe more than $400.

Oh well… I’m living life on my own terms, and mostly loving it!

After I left off from my magical stay in Hillcrest last time, I moved onto my next cat sit, less than three miles away in South Park. But I did not escape my moving-day rain curse, despite a completely sunny forecast. When I got on my bike to make the move, within a few short blocks, some clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped.

Within a few more blocks, it was a downpour! (I repeat: the day’s forecast was for bright sunshine, with no clouds or rain.) I took shelter under the eaves of a Mexican restaurant, then ventured out again when it lightened up, then ducked into a parking garage when it started pelting again.

Eventually I made it to the home of my next adorable charges, who had awaited me patiently.

That was a short sit—just three days—and thankfully, it was sunny the day I moved out. Unfortunately, though, I was not able to find a place to stay with a cat sit nor a local host, so I ended up shelling out a couple hundred for a hotel for two nights. (I did use my new AARP hotel discount!) The “vacation” from responsibilities was nice, although the hotel was within about half a mile—if that—of the runway at the San Diego International Airport, so there were loud planes flying directly overhead most of the time.

I used the “downtime” opportunity of that middle free day to go out to Ocean Beach, which is a neighborhood I always enjoy, but hadn’t been able to find a sit this time. It’s rather out of the way from the parts of town I usually prefer to stay, near Balboa Park, so without a car it takes some time to get there. I strategically chose the hotel’s location to be about equidistant from both neighborhoods, and I biked over to OB that day. I got to visit my beloved vegan fast-food restaurant Plant Power, and also the Ocean Beach People’s Food Co-op, San Diego’s only cooperative grocery. (And right outside, a Little Free Library, complete with one of my favorite childhood Richard Scarry books!)

Once again, the forecast had called for sun, so I hadn’t brought a raincoat. Before you know it, though, the clouds started rolling in, and my friend Michele in Escondido texted me that they were having a downpour, complete with thunderstorm(!) up there, about 30 miles north.

I decided to head back to the hotel. The bike ride back was lovely, except for two things: 1) I was racing the rain (and nearly made it, though it started to drizzle by the time I got back to the hotel) and 2) a piece of my rear fender fell off while I was riding!

I was able to recover some of the part from the bike lane in the street, but I later realized there were a couple more parts I will need to get it repaired. The bike is still functional without this part, but it is now clunky and awkward to fold and carry it.

Sadly, there is only one certified Brompton shop in San Diego, and it’s on the island of Coronado, which is not convenient to get to. When I called the shop, they said they would need to keep the bike overnight to make the repair, which just would not have been feasible for me. I called an LA Brompton-certified shop near Union Station, and the mechanic I spoke with said they have those parts in stock, and can do the repair while I wait. So I’ll hold off until I get up there.

Biking along the harbor on the way back was probably the highlight of the day. The bike path offers a view of the downtown skyline, and with the clouds it was especially striking.

That evening in the hotel, I had my magical meeting with Ellen’s friend Hope, whom I had mentioned in my last post. Hope is indeed a magical young woman, currently in Illinois but soon traveling to Germany for a Workaway experience. I’m excited for her!

After the two nights in the hotel, I loaded my rig onto an express bus from the nearby Santa Fe train station up to Escondido, where Michele very generously rescued me from homelessness in her house for the next four nights.

On my way to her place, I stopped by Grape Day Park, which I always enjoy for its vintage railcar.

We went on a few excursions with her coonhound Dawa, and one day Michele took me to a hidden gem: Queen Califia’s Magical Circle! It is indeed a magical place—especially fun for kids, who could get lost in the mirror-mosaic-walled maze—designed by a French woman artist, the late Niki de Saint Phalle.

The next day, we went for a walk with a dog-walking client of Michele’s, Hunter, during which we saw some beautiful green hills (the rain undoubtedly helped!) and some beautiful snails. I’ve been surprised to see a lot of snails in this area.

The following day, I got to meet up with Trina and Phil, just about a mile up the road from Michele. These were the two whose cat, Lily, was the one to bring me down to SoCal in the first place, for a sit in February.

After that, my friend Tamara, who lives just north in Temecula, drove down to meet me and took me on a nice hike at nearby Dixon Lake. It was cool to catch up in person; we hadn’t seen each other since she moved away from Portland a few years ago.

Finally, about a week ago, I boarded another bus (in the rain, again!) to get back to San Diego—Pacific Beach, this time—to care for my new cuties, Moppet and Mittens. (I love the Beatrix Potter reference!) Mittens has been quite shy, but Moppet has made up for it with her snuggles.

And to top it off, the back yard contains an amazing orange tree that is now in season. It has been dropping about an orange a day for me, which I have thoroughly relished at breakfast time. (There are also a few strawberries just now ripening!)

I’ll definitely be sad to leave this city. I’m so glad I’ve been able to spend almost two months here this time, and I’m looking forward to my next stay here!

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