Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday in the park


The fog rolled back out to sea as quickly as it had rolled in, leaving behind a sky as clear and blue as the finish on a clean Jaguar.

(I just wanted to work the car in somehow; I miss it.)

Well, the sky really was that blue. Bluer, even.

We spent the morning negotiating our plans for the week: where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go there, who was going to cook when. Who'd've known it could take four reasonable people with no hidden agendas so long to decide? It's just because there are so many things we want to do. Most of them overlap, and those are the things we'll end up doing.

At a certain point I decided that I'd said all I needed to say, so I went and showered and then drove down the street to the grocery store, and did our shopping while the others hashed out the details. On returning to the apartment, I did a little online research and found that getting to Black's Beach was not worth the effort. Black's is a beach that, according to what I'd read, has three attributes that interested me greatly: (1) it is a "semi-official" nude beach; (2) it has spectacular cliffs that drop dramatically down to the narrow strand, providing some of the most majestic scenery in southern California; and (3) there is a gliderport at the top of the cliffs, and from the beach you can watch people hang-gliding off the cliffs.

I'll leave it to you to determine which two of those three really interest me.

Having ruled out Black's, I also called about the free performances of "Hamlet" that are put on every year out in Coronado. We have decided to make Sunday our Peninsular Day, doing all the stuff we want to do out on the so-called Island. We now have reservations for the performance that day, which unfortunately is a matinee. It would have been much more convenient if it came toward the end of the day, in an evening performance.

After lunch -- yes, it took that long to work out the schedule for the week -- we headed over to Balboa Park to buy our seven-day passes. There are so many things we want to see and do in that park that, even though we won't be going there every day, it works out cheaper to get that. Having our tickets burning in our hot little hands, we immediately went on a trawl through the Model Railroad Museum, which closes early and, we figured, wouldn't take all that much time.

Could've easily spent another hour in there. The layouts in various guages are incredible; some take up two large rooms. They're all works-in-progress, being put together in fantastic detail -- as in the picture at right, of a bum by a campfire under a trestle -- by members of the local model railroading clubs, which have about 300 members. They strive to accurately represent actual rail lines in southern California at various points in history. 

It was too late by the time we finished for another museum, so after a few minutes relaxing in the plaza outside, we headed for coffee at the Urban Grind, a coffee shop on Park Boulevard that the owner of Timo's, my hangout back home, recommended. It turns out that his friends, Richard and Charlotte, no longer own the place, but it was still very good. (Another café, which used to be next door and was also owned by a friend of Tim's, is no longer there.)

It was too late to get to Cabrillo National Monument before it closed, so we decided to spend the evening exploring the Gaslamp District. After finding a parking place in a garage at the farther end of the area, we walked all the way up to Broadway, browsing the shop windows and stopping only in the Beverley Hills Motor Car Company showroom, where they had a car exactly like mine for sale (the only difference being that it was a 2003 model, while mine's a 2002, and its interior had been renovated, and its wheels weren't chromed), along with a Rolls, a 1954 Jaguar XK-120, and a couple of dozen other nice cars, mostly classics; a couple of reproductions and a poorly-restored '57 Chevy kept the collection from being truly extraordinary.

The area is full of interesting and cheap restaurants: Indian, Afghan, Thai, Irish, Italian, American, Persian, Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Spanish. We passed by all of those, and settled instead into a sidewalk table at a more upscale Italian place called (I think) Panevino, where I was gratified to find that the waiters were actually Italian, not transplants from Brooklyn. I passed our waiter on the way to wash my hands, and in a glance he took in the text of my T-shirt (il mio amico imaginario ha bisogno di una bevanda) and was joking about it when I got back to the table. Paesan! The food was outstanding -- Jeff and I had shrimp stuffed with shrimp, Sherry had eggplant ravioli, and Nancy had ... I don't remember what. We each had a glass of good Italian wine that was significantly cheaper than the same American varieties. Afterwards we strolled the streets a while longer, then headed home. A good day.