Seeking December sunshine
By mid-December I’m usually craving reliable sunshine. The sunny cold days that the Puget Sound region experiences in December are lovely, BUT one cannot count on seeing such days. For reliable sunshine, one must head south.
I did just that… headed to sunny San Diego for a quick getaway in mid-December. To avoid the crowds (and expensive lodging), I stayed about 25 miles north of San Diego in Carlsbad.
The San Diego area has a well-developed public transit system. Of course there’s the usual bus system, but also their famous red trolley line. Ironically, the RED trolley is painted red, but the three different lines are named by color (orange, blue, and green). The trolley is similar to the South Lake Union street car in Seattle. There is also the COASTER train, which is a commuter train like the Sound Transit Sounder train.
Of course I used the transit system! From Carlsbad I caught the COASTER train heading to San Diego (Santa Fe Station). A round trip ticket for age 60 and older is $4.50 What a deal. There are several stops along the way, and in many stretches the track is next to the Pacific Ocean to view hundreds of surfers. The trip takes just under one hour.
The Santa Fe Station COASTER track is right beside the Amtrak Station. As soon as I exited the COASTER, I walked around the fence to get to the waiting trolley’s orange line. This trip cost $1.25. I exited the trolley at the City College Stop.
I walked on the same side of the street to the bus stop for Route 7, which travels to Balboa Park. This trip costs $1.10. I got off the bus next to the pedestrian overpass and the rose and cactus gardens.
There is so much to see and do in Balboa Park. I took full advantage of my Tacoma Art Museum reciprocal membership which provides FREE admission to several of the nineteen Park museums. (Yes, there are 19 museums at the Park!) One of my favorite museum exhibits was a wonderful collection featuring the children’s book author (and philosopher!), Dr. Suess. The exhibit was very interactive, colorful, and fun. The “Gaugin to Warhol” exhibit at the Museum of Art was another favorite. There was a huge range of artists and their work, which the exhibit’s name implies. Very impressive. I really enjoyed browsing through the artist studios in the Spanish Village Arts Center. Artists are at work in many of the studios and have product to sell.
I enjoyed my day at the Park so much that I decided to go back for another day! The second day I visited more museums, including the Timken Museum of Art, Model Railroad Museum, and the Mingei International Museum. I also wandered through the serene Japanese Garden, which is next to the Spreckels Organ Pavillon. Ten well-cared for gardens are scattered throughout the Park.
When I took the Bus route 7 back to town, I decided to stay on the bus until the end of the route, at Broadway and 1st. I walked several blocks down Broadway, towards the Bay to get to the Broadway Pier. From there, I caught the passenger ferry to Coronado. The afternoon sun was warm, the sky blue… so a ferry ride (in December!) was much appreciated. The ferry ride reminded me of the West Seattle Water taxi; about the same length of time and with great views of the City skyline.
This trip was fun… and so much easier and less expensive because of public transit!