Sunday, July 01, 2012

San Diego June 2012 - Days 1 and 2

In early June I traveled to San Diego, CA to visit my daughter Lisa for her 30th birthday. I took Amtrak, as I have many times. During part of the trip I worked on a motorcycle themed quilt for Lisa's birthday, sewing on buttons and snaps as embellishments. While I was getting lunch in the cafe car I realized that no one had sat with me yet. Usually I have conversations with seatmates along the way, and meeting interesting people is something I look forward to during my travels. Oh, well. When I got back to my seat I had gained a seatmate...someone I suspected was a newly-released prisoner, based on his conversation and the station where he boarded (Corcoran). This was later confirmed by him. He was talkative and loud and wanted to know about me, where I lived, my family, etc. I was polite but cautious and didn't give personal information. I wished him luck as we parted at Bakersfield for the buses.

On the bus a young woman named Debra (easy to remember since my name is Debbie) sat with me. She was on her way to visit her sister and Marine boyfriend in San Diego. We had a nice conversation on the way to Los Angeles. Off the bus in Los Angeles, we stuck together for the rest of the trip to San Diego. On the train again, we sat in a four-seater that is meant for groups of 3 or more people. Across the aisle was a woman sitting by herself. We invited her to sit with us, otherwise we might all have been forced to sit elsewhere and Debra and I probably wouldn't have found two seats together. The woman, about my age, also was going to San Diego, to visit her daughter and young granddaughter. The three of us had a nice conversation along the way.

We arrived in San Diego about an hour ahead of schedule. I texted my daughter Lisa, who said she'd come right away. Just after that my phone died, and I hoped I wouldn't miss a text or phone call from Lisa.  I went outside to wait. A couple of men were out there waiting, as well. As it turned out, one of the men was from a town nearby my home. He offered to let me use his cellphone, which was nice but not needed at the moment. I mentioned that I needed to catch bus 992 to the airport to rent a car, and didn't know where to catch it. The other man pointed out the corner where the bus would stop.

Before long Lisa came riding up on her motorcycle, parked down the block and walked back to where I was. I thanked the men who had been helpful, then Lisa and I walked toward the city bus. Lisa said she needed a coffee so we headed into Starbucks, where I used my gift cards to buy our drinks. We got on the bus with our coffees for the short ride to the airport. Lisa spotted Avis along the way, and we thought about getting out, but I wasn't sure how far we'd have to walk so we stayed on the bus. We got out at Terminal 1, then looked for a shuttle to Avis. We had to do a lot of walking, and by the time we got to Avis, walking across the street earlier would have saved some time.

I had paid for a rental through Hotwire. I haven't used a credit card in four years, but brought along my "ultimate emergency" Visa just in case. Although the car was paid for, they needed a deposit. There wasn't enough money in my checking to cover the deposit, and when I took the Visa out of the envelope I found it had expired. Half an hour of trying to come up with solutions all ended in failure. As it turned out, Lisa rented a car for one day, and I forfeited one day of my rental. As she was paying for the car, I looked at her and she looked at me. In that moment, something changed. For the first time ever, she bailed me out. She said, "I'm all growed up now."

Hodad's Burgers in Ocean Beach

Finally with a car, we headed on to have fun. First stop, Hodad's Burgers in Ocean Beach. Hodad's  is one of Lisa's favorite places to eat, and happened to be featured in Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I like to eat at restaurants that I've seen on TV, so this was a win-win. The restaurant was noisy but the food was good. I had the Guido Burger, inspired by Guy Fieri.

After dinner we headed back to the train station. Lisa's bike was still there, without a parking ticket. Yippee! Using the GPS on my phone I drove the car while she followed behind. We were stopped by a long train going through town. After a few minutes Lisa got off her bike, came up to my window and told me I was bad luck. I laughed. Car after car looked the same. I told her I thought the train was going in circles. Once the train passed we made our way to the motel and checked in. Lisa stayed with me.

In the morning we had the motel breakfast, which wasn't very good but we didn't have to pay extra for it. We spent some time trying to deposit money into my checking account via a different credit union than my own, without any success. Then I called the Visa company, who listened to my sad story but couldn't really help, either. While on the phone with Visa, I came up with the idea for Lisa to extend her rental, and I'd just forfeit my entire rental. Luckily she had enough money to rent for a few more days, which I would reimburse. I was glad that we could finally start having fun again.

This was Saturday, Lisa's actual 30th birthday and the day of her party. We had a few hours before the party, so we drove to Valley View Casino near Escondido to see a 35 foot aquarium that was featured on an episode of Animal Planet's show Tanked.

Fountain at Valley View Casino

35 foot aquarium in Valley View Casino

Casino-themed decorations in the aquarium

With daughter Lisa (right)

Lisa and I played the penny machines and each won a little bit of money. I had hoped to have a coffee in the restaurant on the other side of the aquarium but it wasn't open. We had ice cream at the snack bar instead, then headed back for the birthday party. The plan was to pick up my San Diego friend Patty L., then go to the restaurant. We were running behind, so I dropped off Lisa at the mall, picked up Patty, then headed back to the mall. It took us a bit to figure out where to park and to find the restaurant, and I was glad that Patty was with me because she was familiar with the mall. We found Ruby's Diner where about 20 of Lisa's friends had already gathered. It warmed my heart that so many people had come to honor Lisa.

At Lisa's birthday party

The bulldogs on motorcycles pillowcase that I made

The not-quite-finished mixed media quilt, also motorcycle themed

Lots of Lisa's friends came to honor her

The birthday gal! Our waitress did a fantastic job taking care of all of us.

Ruby's Diner at Mission Valley Mall

After lunch most of us went to see a movie at the nearby theater. Almost everyone watched Snow White, but my friend Patty and I went to The Avengers. I think everyone had fun, and I got to know a few of Lisa's friends.

After the party we stopped at the motel to pick up my sweater. Since Patty was with us, she took a picture of Lisa and me on the motorcycle.

Vroom! Vroom! Take me for a ride, Lisa!
Several friends wanted to see me on the back of Lisa's motorcycle. We didn't go anywhere, but people get a kick out of seeing this photo.

With my San Diego friend Patty L.
We met through an online group years ago, and have stayed in touch.

Lisa and I drove Patty back to her home, then we drove to Imperial Beach to visit Lisa's friends Tawna and Jimbo. Jimbo was not feeling well and already in bed but we visited with Tawna for quite a while. Afterwards we drove back to the motel where Lisa stayed with me again.


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