Thursday, May 7, 2009

An Englishman in San Diego - Ocean, Mountains, Desert...and Dessert

Our fourth day at San Diego was spent exploring many different terrains. An early start took us out to Point Loma, the home of the Cabrillo National Monument, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery and various naval installations. We were there to explore the renowned tidepools. Hitting this place at around low tide (in our case, a little after 10am) revealed a rocky landscape, full of little pools, containing an abundance of small sea-life, such as crabs (including hermit crabs), limpets, barnacles, mussels and abalones. If you ever come here, bring waterproof shoes with a good grip. It is slippery!

California has many State parks. Two adjoining ones, Cuyamaca Rancho and Anza Borrego, were next on our itinerary. Cuyamaca Rancho is very mountainous. When we went, we did not see much evidence of wildlife, but mountain lions (pumas) have attacked hikers and bicyclists on trails in the area.

Right next door to Cuyamaco Rancho is Anza Borrego National Park, and even without the signs, it is easy to spot where it begins. The terrain becomes more sparse with flat plains among the mountains and various cacti dotted around. It is a desert, but at this time of year, and after plenty of rain, the area looks more green and lush.

I was talking on-line a while back to a work-colleague of mine, who used to live in San Diego, and asked her about places I might visit with my family. After I told her that we were considering visiting Cuyamaca Rancho and Anza Borrego on one of our days here, she recommended that we stop for lunch at Julian, a small town in the area. She said that we must try the apple pie there. On our way, we stopped at a small antique market just outside of Julian, and after we had looked around for a while, the proprietor struck up a bit of a conversation with us. We mentioned to her that a friend recommended that we try apple pie in Julian, and we asked her where she would recommend trying it. She recommended The Julian Pie Company.

Julian is a small town, with lots of little shops along the main street, many of them catering to tourists. You can take a horse-drawn carriage drive up and down the street. In addition, of course, there is pie! The place has a nickname of "Pie Town." Although we did not try pie anywhere else, The Julian Pie Company must be at least one of the best places to sample this quintessential American food. Unlike many other places designed to accommodate tourists, this place offers great food at great value. We had a sandwich, potato chips, drink and a honking big slice of delicious pie for just under $8 each and sat out on the front deck watching the world go by. This family-owned and run business even grows their own apples!

Before setting out on our vacation, my Wife had discovered that an old friend had moved with her family to San Diego. Up until early evening, we had planned to visit them for dinner after our day out. Unfortunately, we felt the effects of the swine flu panic again. There was a confirmed case at the school one of their daughters attended and it was immediately closed. The school advised that contact with others should be limited until after the incubation period had passed, so we had to call off our dinner plans and eat alone.


Cindy said...

Aaahhh yes, apple pie! Yum yum. Should I ask if you are putting on any weight during this trip? Ha, ha!

You mentioned the swine flu again. Wow! Sad, that you had to forgo the visit, but smart.

Talk to you on twitter soon!

Graham said...

@Cindy - great food (not cheap!) and some great beers. Good job I also did a lot of walking!