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San Diego part 1

Posted Oct 16 2012 8:10pm
Nice view of the harbor from our balcony.
Some time ago, my husband was invited to be the opening speaker at a conference in San Diego. He turned the offer down because the talk would occur on our anniversary. The conference people offered to bring me to San Diego, too, and pay for our hotel stay for a few days, so we accepted. About two weeks before the trip, I wrenched my back lifting heavy boxes, and it was still hurting so I considered not going. My chiropractor said the travel would probably aggravate my back but that I should be able to go, so I did. We arrived around 10 p.m. Wednesday night, exhausted, and I won't go into too many details, but the large resort hotel was less than perfect. The desk staff was unfriendly, the room had an odor somewhere between mildew and pee, and the bed — let's just say I had about three hours of sleep. We tried to air out the room with both the balcony door and the a.c. (no, not at the same time), but nothing helped. In the morning we could see that the carpet was scary. The room felt damp and cold even though it wasn't cold out. We did have a nice view of the harbor from our balcony, though. We were very grateful to the people who invited us to come but with my back acting up, we knew we had to stay elsewhere.

The next evening after the conference we asked for a different room, but the one they showed us wasn't an improvement, and since the only time my back doesn't hurt is when I'm lying down, the bed wasn't going to work out. We found another hotel and moved downtown for the rest of our stay. By the time we checked in, the day had taken its toll, and we were both tired and grumpy. The nasty salad we'd tried to eat for lunch between conference sessions at the hotel had cast a food-gloom over the day as well. We ended up with take-out from an Indian restaurant my husband liked, and my aloo gobi tasted good, but was far too greasy for me, and I still shudder a little when I think about it. Taking a photo never crossed my mind — that's how wiped-out I was.

The next morning we breakfasted on fruit from the grocery store, and snacks brought from home, and headed to La Jolla. We went to the Museum of Modern Art, and as we were buying our tickets I spied what looked like a Deborah Butterfield sculpture in one of the gallery rooms — and in fact, it was. The two horses were made from cast aluminum and steel. It's magical how she can create forms that are skeletal in nature, but filled with the life and weight of a living horse. Butterfield taught for a few years in the art department at the UW Madison at the same time as a friend of mine's husband. He found one of her early wire horses in the trash room, and brought it home. We're talking about a life-size horse, that they kept in their not-so-big living room. It was a pretty spectacular trash pick! They've moved a lot since then but I hope they still have it; the horse was quite wonderful, and we could never understand why it had been discarded.

We saw lots of great paintings at the gallery including a Milton Avery that I wished I could take home.

There was a room on the second floor that had cutouts in the corners so you could take photos of the very beautiful view, so of course, I did.

When we had seen all the art at least twice — it was a small museum — we headed to the museum gardens.

With exotic foliage all around us, and the ocean below, we luxuriated in the gorgeous weather and strolled the gardens.

An exuberant sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle stood prominently at one end of the garden. Abby , this is the same artist whose sculptures you posted about in NY, isn't she?

After leaving the art museum we walked the path overlooking the ocean and beach. The weather was perfect and the scenery so beautiful, and I kept wondering why we didn't live here. Oh right — probably couldn't afford it. Oh well.

Eventually we got hungry and headed to the vegan-friendly Lean and Green Café (organic health food). Although not vegetarian, they had several offerings from which we could choose and a pleasant outdoor patio on which to eat. The only weird thing was there was a gym facing the patio, and all the people on treadmills could stare at us as we ate. Made me feel guilty for eating instead of running so I chose a seat with my back to the athletes.

We settled on a vegan delight (roasted eggplant, fresh basil, roasted red pepper, baby spinach, sunflower seeds, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a wrap) and a miso bowl (brown rice, broccoli, carrots, fresh jalapenos, sesame miso sauce). I'd have to say that this may have been our favorite meal of the trip — the food was fresh and well-prepared, and we didn't get upset stomachs.

While we were there we also picked up a package of granola for breakfasts — eating three meals out in a day is just too much. The bag was expensive, but it lasted the rest of the trip, and I even brought some home, so it worked out to be a bargain.

At first bite I thought it was too sweet, but it quickly grew on me and I decided I really liked it. A lot! Nice and crunchy and very filling. I ate it dry.

We didn't go to dinner until 8:30 p.m. partly because we were tired and couldn't get our act together, and partly because we were still full from lunch when dinnertime rolled around. We picked a place that was highly rated on several review sites. I really wanted to try to stick with vegan or vegetarian places and the Thai restaurant, Plumaria, met all our criteria. We started with fresh spring rolls, and they were OK — not quite up to the ones we're used to in Seattle, or the ones we make ourselves. Or even the ones we used to get from a certain food truck in Madison. But they weren't bad — just not exciting.

Both dishes are on the plate but you can hardly tell them apart.
We also ordered two dishes to share, and although they seemed very different on the menu — one was a tofu and veggie thing with ginger and the other was a wide-noodle dish — when they arrived they were exactly the same color. Brown. They tasted a lot alike, too. You can't judge a restaurant on one visit so I won't say I'll never go back. But we weren't overwhelmed by our dinner.

After a long day of walking and eating, we were really glad we'd changed our hotel and could sink into a comfortable bed to be rested for the next day.
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