Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sunny Jim's Cave-La Jolla

I read up on Sunny Jim’s Cave before we left for our trip.  Many of the comments stated that it was an overrated tourist trap that was not worth the $5.00 per person entrance fee. Since it still seemed like a must- do in La Jolla, we took a walk to the cave store to judge for ourselves.

We handed over our ten bucks, and began the 145 stair decent. 

The climb down and back up again is not as bad as it sounds.  It is completely doable as long as you are free from any medical conditions that would make the stairs treacherous.

I disagree with all of the negative comments.  We loved the cave. It was a very cool, unique experience, at least for us New Jersey beach goers who aren’t accustomed to sea caves. I’m sure that the stairs, the lighting, and the deck at the bottom, require quite a bit of upkeep, upkeep that surely costs money, thus the entrance fee.

Our strategy was to get our $10.00 worth.  We lingered, admiring the amazing view, and taking a ton of pictures.

We enjoyed watching groups of kayakers paddle by.

  We remained while cycles of others came down, Clark Griswolded the view, snapped a picture or two (or for a few we snapped their pictures for them), and then climbed right back up the stairs. This was not a place to Clark Griswold, it required time to appreciate.  I’m not sure how long we lingered, but I still had a hard time ripping myself away when it finally seemed like it was time to move on.

I’m usually all about feeding my belly, but I also love to feed my eyes, and the cave was a delightful ocular snack

If I was in La Jolla, I would visit Sunny Jim’s Cave again.  I recommend it, but for goodness sake if you go, be sure to take some time to savor the view.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

La Jolla-How Sundays Should Be

Sunday is a popular day in La Jolla.  

Since we were lucky enough to score a prime parking spot near the Open Aire Market, we left the car where it was, and took the shop and restaurant dotted few blocks walk to the beach.  As we descended the palm tree lined road, a vast expanse of blue rising before us, a man who was walking by exclaimed to his companion,

"This is how Sundays should be." 

There are many things that make La Jolla worthy of a day trip


La Jolla is home to a large seal population.  They lounge on the beaches,

and on a rock aptly named, Seal Rock.

Anyone who knows me well will know that this was a trip highlight.  We spent a lot of time seal watching.

They were super cute, as long as you kept a respectful distance. 

Me keeping a respectful distance

There were signs on all of the beaches reminding people that seals are wild animals and will bite you if you attempt to touch them. We watched one twenty-something looking girl try and try again to give a napping beach seal a hug.  As soon as she got too close, the seal would snap/lunge at her. She would scream and run away, only to try again.  A group of teens from a swim club were prepping for a practice.  One of the boys yelled down to the girl,

"Hey, you better stop, it's going to bite you!"  Another boy patted the first boy on the shoulder and said,

"Let her learn on her own."  

I have to admit there was a point where I started rooting for the seal, but eventually she did give up.  Totally dejected, the girl stomped away. She appeared personally offended. She just couldn't fathom why the seal did not want a hug.  


Okay, so maybe people don't go to La Jolla specifically for the gelato, but they should.  

Bobboi Gelato uses organic, natural ingredients, many of them locally sourced.  The people working the counter were very cool and friendly, and were happy to chat about all of their flavors.  

Choosing a flavor proved difficult. They all sounded good.  Since we are suckers for a good salted caramel, we both got a scoop of the salted caramel. Shannon got a second scoop of pistachio, while I got banana rum as my second scoop.

It was great, creamy gelato. It was fresh and didn't taste like it was sitting around in a cooler all week. Sometimes a specific flavor can get a bit lost, or watered down by the milky part of the ice cream/gelato, but here, the flavors really stood out. I could pick out the rum from the banana, and the salt from the caramel.  We sat at an outdoor table, trying to slow down and savor. The view wasn't too shabby either.


If I ever came back to this section of California, I wouldn't mind staying/spending the week in La Jolla.  It is absolutely beautiful.  We loved seeing all of the palm tree dotted beach areas with their clear, blue water.

Artist painting the view
There's a nice trail that meanders along the cliffs. It offers plenty of opportunities to ooh and aah, and to take way too many pictures. 

There are benches dotted here and there along the trail so you can take a moment to soak in the spectacular scenery. 

Did I mention that it was beautiful? It was the kind of nature that almost feels unreal.  


While we were taking in the view at one of the beaches, we overheard a woman chatting about another place to get fantastic views, Mount Soledad.  

It was a short ride from the beach area of La Jolla, and well worth a stop.  The mountain is home to a Veterans Memorial.

The top of the mountain presented gorgeous, sweeping views. We were fortunate that it was a blue sky, puffy cloud kind of day.

I loved La Jolla so much, if I was filthy-rich-tons-of-money, you might find me house hunting there.  

If you like the outdoors, beaches, nature trails, seals, and/or yummy gelato, La Jolla, California is a must do, especially on a Sunday. I wholeheartedly agree with the passing gentleman, La Jolla is how Sundays should be. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tasty,Tasty Carbs-La Jolla Open Aire Market

We got up bright and early on our second full day in California, and made our way to the La Jolla Open Aire Market.

I am extremely loyal to my at home Collingswood Farmer's Market, but California's La Jolla Market made me long for the invention of teleportation.  I would love to have the ability to teleport off to La Jolla on Sunday mornings.  

There are all manner of stalls selling everything from soap, to clothing, to produce, to flowers.

The sad part is that since we were leaving the next morning for Disneyland, we couldn't buy anything that would wilt or spoil during our time away from the resort.

The one thing that the La Jolla market had, aside from an abundance of local avocados, that my local market does not have, is a nifty market food court. 

The selection of food stalls made making a decision difficult.  Again, another reason why it would be great to visit this market more than once.

Since we are empanada lovers, we felt it important to give Tango's a try.

The Doughnut Bar's doughnuts called to us.  They were just too tempting with their large size and pretty colors to pass up.

It was almost impossible to choose one.

For drinks, Shannon favored a fresh squeezed juice, while I got a mojito iced coffee. I know it sounds weird, but don't knock it till you try it. This is something I hope eventually catches on at one of my local coffee hangouts.  Muddled brown sugar and mint are combined with cold brewed coffee and cream. It was amazing. It was the most refreshing cup of coffee I have ever had.  I loved it so much. Please coffee shops in the Philadelphia area, someone make these.

With our breakfast assembled, we sat down at one of the conveniently located picnic tables.

We each ate half of each empanada. Out of the three flavors of empanadas (chicken-bean, cheese, and jalapeno- spinach and cheese) the chicken was my favorite.  It was nice and spicy, in a good way.  Honestly though, they were all good. The empanada dough is really what makes an excellent empanada. Tango's dough was thin, light, with the perfect amount of crispy. 

We decided on the blood orange doughnut.They were so big, we got one to share.  The doughnut was moist and airy.  The blood orange icing was a tiny bit tart and not overly sweet.  It's probably a good thing that The Doughnut Bar is on the other side of the country because I'd probably be a frequent customer.

A couple sat down at the other end of our table.  From what I could gather from their conversation, they were on a first date.  They got food from the organic, vegan food stall.  Their conversation went something like

"So do you run?"
"Oh yeah, I run everyday, when I'm not biking, of course. Though sometimes I bike and run on the same day."
"Oh you bike? Have you ever gone biking at such-and- such?"
"Of course that's a great spot, and it's not too far from this-and-that. That's a great place to go hiking."
"This food is great. I'm currently on a diet that's specially designed to work with my specific body temperature."

I'm cool with vegan food and exercise. I'm all for being healthy, but I have to admit that their super healthy food and exercise chat made me feel like a bit of an east coast schlub as I shoved tasty, tasty carbs into my mouth.

The La Jolla Open Aire Market is great.  It's not very big, but there is enough neat stuff and delicious food to make it a worth Sunday morning stop.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Boba Fet, Baseball, and Burgers-We visit Petco Park

We departed Balboa Park and set out for our next park adventure, Petco Park.  As we were unfamiliar with downtown San Diego, we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to find Petco Park, and decent parking, before things got super crowded.

It turned out to be incredibly easy, so we found ourselves with a couple of hours to kill. One of the best things about Petco Park's location, is its proximity to all the happening stuff in downtown San Diego.

We got the obligatory tourist picture of the Gas Lamp District sign. I waved longingly at the convention center, whispering that maybe I would visit it someday for Comic Con.

While we were driving to the baseball field, an interesting building caught my eye.  We ventured in the direction of the building, and as though angels were shining lights from the heavens, I discovered that it was a library.  

A dazzling, modern library. It was so impressive on the outside, I just had to take a peek on the inside.

We just so happened to stumble upon the library's Star Wars Day.  Things appeared to be wrapping up by the time we got there, but it looked like it was a pretty fun time.

After riding the funky, artsy elevator, we enjoyed the view from the library's balcony.

The upper floor also had a shiny new rare books building.  Since I'm not one to pass up a chance to ogle old literature, we spent some time roaming around.

They had some interesting stuff on display, including a collection of teeny-tiny books. It's not quite as cool as Philadelphia's rare books department where you ascend the secret elevator and emerge into a scene that could be from Warehouse 13, but if you are a bibliophile, be sure to stop by the rare books department in San Diego.

When the time seemed right, we meandered back to Petco Park.

We love visiting other ballparks whenever we get the chance.  I wore Padres colors to the game because 1) I like to be respectful, and 2) I like how it makes me feel like some sort of undercover baseball agent.  It's like having a big secret.

La, la, la, just two regular Padres fans here, not Phillies fans at all, nope, not us....

It was free long- sleeved hoodie t-shirt night, and it got chilly so we were happy to have them.

Petco Park is an airy, lovely park.  It's got a part hipster, part hippie, with a slight air of sophistication vibe.

 I especially enjoyed all of the living greenery,

Instead of standing room seats, you could get seats on the grassy hill

and how they renovated/blended some of the old existing buildings into the ball park.

Inside the Western Metal Supply Co. building 
Before our trip, I read a lot of hype about an ice cream place in San Diego called The Baked Bear.  The Baked Bear is known for their cookie ice cream sandwiches. I felt it my duty as an ice cream enthusiast to try one.

I got the Peanut Butter Fudge ice cream between fresh baked Snicker-doodles.

The cookies were soft, chewy, and yummy, but I must admit that the actual ice cream was just okay.  It was a bit bland.

I'm always fascinated with the culture of other ball parks. What songs do they play? What do they chant? The Simba Cam, where people were encouraged to hoist babies in the air like Rafiki made us smile.

The Padres played The Nationals, and not very well.  Baseball wise it was a terrible showing for the San Diego team, but it was still fun.

While we were sitting in our seats, a gust of wind blew a dollar into my lap. Everyone around us had a good laugh, and agreed that the dollar bill now belonged to me.

I took my dollar, and a few others to Hodad's.

Hodad's is considered one of the best burger places in San Diego.  There are two locations in the city that have extensive menus, but the ball park location keeps things simple. You can get a hamburger, or a cheeseburger, and fries.  The line was long, and the wait after ordering may have been even longer, but we didn't mind.  It was fun people watching and soaking in a new environment.

We ordered a cheeseburger and fries.

I understand why Hodad's gets acclaim.  It was a delicious burger. Definitely on the list of best trip burgers.

Freshly made and cooked to order, the meat had that crumbly texture that good burgers often have.  I'm not one for a lot of burger fixins', especially tomatoes, but somehow on this burger it all worked well together.  The fries were tasty too, but dense wedge fries tend to fill you up fast, so we weren't able to finish all of them. I thought Hodad's was well worth the wait.  If I'm ever in San Diego again, I'd love to visit one of the sit down locations.

We had such a great time at the baseball game at Petco Park.  Our only small complaint about the park as compared to others we've been to is that the view of the field is often obstructed.  We tend to like to stretch our legs and wander around when we are at games. At Citizen's Bank Park you could be anywhere in the park and have a view of the field, but at Petco Park walls often blocked the field in the concourse areas. Not a big deal though.

Between Balboa Park, the library, and Petco Park, it was an excellent first full day in San Diego, and one we will never forget.