hacker emblem
jaegerfesting
Search | Tags | Photos | Flights | Gas Mileage | Log in

La Jolla

Started: 2019-03-17 11:44:29

Submitted: 2019-03-17 20:34:47

Visibility: World-readable

22nd February 2019: In which the intrepid narrator sees pinnipeds in La Jolla, enjoys a local culinary delicacy, and descends into a sea cave

After a day at Legoland, we took a break from the theme park and drove down the coast to La Jolla.

La Jolla Shores Beach
La Jolla Shores Beach

Our route into the beach at La Jolla Shores took us down winding residential roads packed with multi-million-dollar homes -- houses that were expensive even by my standards (owning property in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country).

We parked in a parking lot lined with a colonnade of palm trees and a striking modernist lifeguard stand, with an observation platform suspended above the beach on a thin reinforced concrete beam, reaching out into the sky at a jaunty angle. We stepped out onto the broad sandy beach at La Jolla Shores, a beach I last visited, six years ago, on an LTE team-building outing at Qualcomm -- the outing where I got the LTE hat I still wear today. Kiesa bought beach toys at a nearby shop, while Calvin wrote "SOS" in large letters in the sand (and then revised it to "808" when we suggested he modify the message).

The beach was chilly, at least by Southern California standards, but it was bright and sunny. Far to the north, across the ocean, I could see snow-covered mountains rising above the ocean. Offshore a military helicopter (probably a Seahawk) hovered over the water, low enough that the backwash from the main rotor pushed up a spray of water.

After a few hours on the beach (and the adjacent playground) we headed out in search of lunch and found Don Carlos Taco Shop, a tiny counter-service taco shop in La Jolla with a line out the door and great reviews on Yelp. I ordered a Scripps burrito, a vegetarian version of the California burrito with fries (and with soyrizo instead of carne asade). When our food was finally ready, we took it to-go and (after waiting for the car that parallel-parked in front of us and blocked us in (while we were getting into the car and getting ready to go) to move) drove to the park near La Jolla Cove, where we found a park bench overlooking Seal Rock to eat.

Seal Rock and Children's Pool from La Jolla
Seal Rock and Children's Pool from La Jolla

My burrito was excellent: the fries soaked up the moisture inside the burrito and turned into the texture of a soft potatoes o'brien (as in a breakfast burrito), providing a savory starchy heft to the body of the burrito, offsetting the spiciness of the soyrizo. (I can't help but wish more restaurants would take advantage of the variety of vegetarian proteins available, rather than just offering one choice of tofu as an option among all of the meats they serve.)

Pellicans at La Jolla
Pellicans at La Jolla

From Seal Rock we walked along the bluffs above the ocean, towards a large group of sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks above the water.

Tourists with sea lions at La Jolla
Tourists with sea lions at La Jolla

Signs warned us not to harass the pinnipeds (lest we run afoul of the Marine Mammal Protection Act) but tourists had jumped over the rock wall at the edge of the paved path onto the rocks and were taking pictures (and selfies) with the lazy sea lions.

Sea lions lounge on the rocks at La Jolla
Sea lions lounge on the rocks at La Jolla

From the sea lions, I wanted to head to the sea caves cut into the sandstone bluffs by the constant action of the waves, but Calvin and Julian were not impressed. Kiesa took them in a different direction while Alejandra and I headed towards the cave, stopping to look at the pelicans and cormorants and seagulls lounging on the rocks, and the people snorkeling and diving in La Jolla Cove, and the kayakers paddling above the kelp forest just under the water, and the occasional harbor seal sticking its head above water, looking more like a dog swimming in the water than a mammal specialized for the ocean.

One of the La Jolla caves
One of the La Jolla caves

We entered The Cave Shop, a kind-of-kitschy tourist-trap store but for one huge difference: it sat on top of a narrow tunnel, carved diagonally through the sandstone bluffs, reaching into one of the caves below the cliffs. I paid our admission fee (and we signed waivers) and we descended into the narrow hand-carved tunnel, with a sturdy hand rail for balance above the rickety wooden stairs leading into the rock below.

Stair descending into La Jolla Cave
Stair descending into La Jolla Cave

The tunnel descended deeply into the rock, making one turn half-way down to line up with the cave. We emerged onto a small platform in the cave, suspended above the rocks above the ocean lapping at the mouth of the cave.

Looking out on the ocean from La Jolla Cave
Looking out on the ocean from La Jolla Cave

The mouth of the cave framed the bay in front of La Jolla, scattered with kayakers on tours in the water. The roof of the cave hung low over my head, cut out of the solid rock by the waves below, apparently stable for now.

Boardwalk inside La Jolla Cave
Boardwalk inside La Jolla Cave

We climbed out of the cave and joined Kiesa and the kids at a snack at Starbucks, then some light shopping. (Both kids ended up with hats; Calvin got a hoodie and Julian got a tie-die shirt.) We headed to the La Jolla Tide Pools and walked around in the tidal zone looking for marine life exposed by the low tide.

Julian and Kiesa on the beach in La Jolla
Julian and Kiesa on the beach in La Jolla

We saw mostly barnacles, and a few fish and crabs left exposed by the receding water, plus an ugly foot-long sea slug in the water.

Sea slug at the La Jolla Tide Pools
Sea slug at the La Jolla Tide Pools

Calvin and Julian, at least, enjoyed climbing up and down on the exposed rock; and no one fell in the water, so that counts as an unqualified success.

Calvin, Kiesa, and Julian at the La Jolla Tide Pools
Calvin, Kiesa, and Julian at the La Jolla Tide Pools

As we were walking on the beach I heard a turboprop aircraft off the shore and looked up in time to see a Marine V-22 Osprey flying low over the ocean, clearly playing helicopter with its rotors tilted nearly vertical, but still moving quickly along the coast.

Marine V-22 Osprey flies off the coast of La Jolla
Marine V-22 Osprey flies off the coast of La Jolla

On our way back to the car, we stopped by the Children's Pool, a section of beach where a breakwater had been built to protect the beach for human children, but it ended up being colonized by marine mammals. We looked down on the beach and saw it completely full with dozens of harbor seals, plus one lone sea lion pup, who waddled all the way across the beach (looking awkward trying to use its stubby flippers, adapted for use in the water not in land, as legs) as if it were enacting the pinniped version of the picture book Are you my mommy?

Children's Pool, overrun by harbor seals
Children's Pool, overrun by harbor seals

We returned to the car and drove inland, away from La Jolla, though San Digeo rush hour traffic to Mysterious Galaxy, a small genre bookstore in a strip mall in north-eastern San Diego where all of the big-name sci-fi authors come to do events when they're in town. (The board behind the counter showed Ann Leckie's forthcoming event for her new book, The Raven Tower, but it was marked as cancelled when she cancelled her tour.) We picked up a bunch of books, including one signed by Charlie Jane Anders on her event (the previous night) in the store.

Mysterious Galaxy storefront
Mysterious Galaxy storefront

We drove further inland, on the fifteen towards Poway, and found my cousin Tammie's house. (I think the house was perched on a ridge, but by the time we got there it was dark and it was hard to tell where we were.) We ate supper, cooked by her husband Lance from a recipe, reproduced in a fifteen-year-old Hotmail printout (complete with a vintage classmates.com display ad) of a twenty-year-old e-mail from my mother (possibly because that was the safest thing to eat since my family is vegetarian). We ate and talked with them until we decided that we really needed to get Julian back to the hotel and into bed.

On our drive back to Carlsbad we drove past places I remembered from my time visiting Qualcomm in San Diego in an earlier era: past Little India Center, across the street from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (the first place I found with dosas in the United States, after coming back from visiting India in 2010); and past Sorrento Valley on the 805, past numerous buildings with their Qualcomm signs lit up in the night. We returned to our hotel in Carlsbad and made preparations to return to Legoland for one more day on Saturday.

I have a few more pictures from my day in La Jolla at Photos on 2019-02-22.

class? uh... what class? .... but dad, it's a _net startup!_
- Scott J. Galvin, 19 November 1999