Katelyn and I arrived in San Diego one week after we set out on our road trip journey. The Californian city was a fitting place to spend the “weekend” of our road trip schedule. We had no plans, no must-do sightseeing errands, and no mandatory check-out time (we had the great fortune to be able to stay in a beach house belonging to Katelyn’s extended family).
Katelyn has cherished San Diego for quite some time now, but this was my first visit- not only to San Diego, but to California. As a girl who grew up roughly a mile from the Atlantic, I had my suspicions about the Pacific Coast. I’d heard tell of surfers, In-N-Out Hamburgers, and that the adjective “relaxed” could be used to describe anything from wardrobe styles to hair styles to table service at a restaurant. I’d been told that I wouldn’t care for the leisurely west coast way of living. And though I do appreciate a healthy amount of urgency and organization in life, I acclimated to SoCal beach life very quickly, and ultimately did not want to leave!
Katelyn and I stayed in Mission Beach. We were neighbors with the San Diego Bay two houses down the lane, and the ocean, which was two blocks away at the other end of the street. The view from our rooftop was prime visual real estate, a vantage point of the entire surrounding area- from the hills, to downtown San Diego, to paddleboarders on the bay, and surfers waiting for waves to catch in the Pacific. Katelyn and I loved finding a different specialty coffee shop every morning, walking along the boardwalk, doing our best not to get sunburnt, and watching pelicans soar across the sky in a V. We joked with each other whenever we spotted a “HELP WANTED” sign that we could easily find jobs and move to San Diego. I am fully prepared to star in my own real-life version of Gidget or Beach Party.
We tore ourselves away from the beach a couple of times to do some sightseeing. In La Jolla, we watched seals and sea lions on the beach sunbathe and bark at one another, and we even spotted the heads of a few bobbing in the waves like velvety buoys. We also visited the gliderport, where parasailers and paragliders can take off from a cliff, throwing themselves into the mercies of the whipping winds of the Californian coast. We watched pilots of jellyfish-like air vessels float and sink and soar over our heads. They careened around the rocky edges of the cliffside, sometimes completely upside down. From our spot on the observation deck, Katelyn and I oohed, aahed, wowed, and whoad. The parasailers floated in the air, took off, and landed with what looked like the greatest of ease, though an informational sign informed us that becoming a certified parasailing pilot requires serious lessons and training.
When it was time to find a new vantage point from which to watch the parasailers, Katelyn and I scrambled across the dusty terrain of the cliff, which eventually brought us to the beginning of a hiking trail. The ruddy rock of the Californian coast was a beautiful perch from which to watch the parasailers as well as the waves break against the sand. Not fancying a strenuous climb back up the cliff face, I chose to linger about halfway down and enjoy the view instead of hiking all the way down to the shore, where the trail ended. Katelyn, however, traversed the full distance of the hike, and I watched her grow smaller and smaller in the distance until she was the size of my fingernail, a shadow on the earthy palette of the beach far below. I was in the process of taking a picture of tiny Katelyn for posterity when I received a text from her that read, “ERIKA.” The following conversation ensued:
Had I the resources and time, I would have devised an airlift or elaborate pulley system to extricate Katelyn from that undesirable situation. Unfortunately, I was powerless, and she had to remove herself from the beach by the brute force of her legs carrying her back up the mountain. When we were both on the same plane once more, we had a good laugh about the previous moments’ events. Katelyn’s aunt had warned us that such a beach existed, but we had no idea that we were anywhere close.
Before we arrived in San Diego, Katelyn’s aunt also alerted us to the seasonal phenomenon known as “June Gloom.” During the month of June, San Diego experiences long periods of overcast skies and cool temperatures. Luckily, June Gloom took a vacation during our visit and gave way to sunshine and warmth. When we first heard of June Gloom, we mistakenly heard it as June Bloom. But as it turned out, our entire experience in San Diego, including weather, was more blooming than gloomy.
I had personally been looking forward to our stay in San Diego since long before the trip began, so much so that I half expected Katelyn and I to give up on our road trip scheme when we reached the city, in favor of spending the rest of the month on the beach, acquiring admirable tans and discovering which taco shop in the area was the most authentic. But even though San Diego surpassed all of our expectations, we were both excited to continue on our journey when the time came. So, it was with heavy hearts and excitement for what would come next that we returned to our good friend the highway, and in the rearview mirrors of the car watched San Diego retreat behind the Laguna Mountains.