Tuesday, July 30, 2013



      July 18, 2013 was one of two Senior Days at the Del Mar Racetrack which means free admission, free programs and free seats. This was too good of a deal for my husband to pass up. In addition, a free shuttle from the Solana Beach Amtrak Station to the racetrack gate is available throughout the season. We found street parking close to the station and rode on the double decker British bus over to the track and walked right into a not-so-crowded racetrack facility with plenty of free seating.

      This was our first visit to the Del Mar Racetrack, so we spent most of time exploring the facilities, even though our ticket didn't allow access to some of the club areas that required a special entry fee. It was fun to look around and to view the old black and white photos of Hollywood celebrities that line the walls.

Here are some interesting facts about the Del Mar Racetrack:
---Bing Crosby was one of the original owners and personally greeted the fans on     opening day in 1937.
---Races have been held every summer since opening, except during WW II.
---It opened in an era when horse racing ranked second in popularity to Major League Baseball.
---Located on the Pacific Ocean, the track is known for the slogan: "Where the Turf Meets the Surf."
---By 1940, Del Mar was the summer playground for many Hollywood stars.
---The Del Mar racing season runs from July through early September.      
---They have a famous "One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest" on opening day each year.
---Starting in 2014, the racing season may be extended due to the closing of the Hollywood Park Racetrack.

     We left a little early to avoid the crowds and I had to listen to my husband brag

about how he picked the winner in three out of four of the races he bet on. He actually

walked away $10 ahead because he just bets $2 at a time and he had to subtract my

      We left in time to catch a Happy Hour and dinner at one of our favorite Solana Beach establishments, Chief's Burger & Brew, 124 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, it is across the street from the Amtrak terminal. We enjoyed the Thursday night special--spaghetti and meatballs for $9.99.
      Previously we rented a condo in Solana Beach, so we are familiar with the area and have always loved it. It was on our list of possible places to settle in when we came out last fall, but we never made it past the first apartment we looked at in Coronado—overlooking the San Diego Bay. In the past we have been in Minnesota during the race season (July-September).
     After dinner, we to walked down to Fletcher Cove to view the ocean and had the added benefit of a concert at the cove—they are held on Thursday nights during the summer.
                            "Where the Surf Meets the Turf down at Old Del Mar
                                               take a plane, take a car.
                There is a smile on every face and a winner in each race
                                 where the turf meets the surf at Del Mar"                             
Recorded by Bing Crosby on July 5, 1941. You may listen to it here.


Monday, July 22, 2013


The inspiration for this post is a booklet titled, Coronado'sArchitectural Gems, prepared by the Coronado Historical Association and Coronado Visitor Center. Most of the “gems” were built shortly after 1887. The most famous is the Hotel Del Coronado—completed in 1888.

I have found the best way to explore is by bike, so off I go for another excursion. This circling Coronado bike ride starts on the trail in front of the Ferry Landing and heads east in the direction of the curved, 200-foot-high Coronado Bridge. The trail follows the Bay providing views of the skyline, naval station, and intermittent boats sailing by—ranging from kayaks to US Navy ships. The ride is made even more pleasant by the sound of the waves hitting the rocks below. It also passes Tidelands Park that is very popular for weekend picnics; and a quick stop to do some pushups on the vita course.

The trail continues under the bridge and along the Municipal Golf Course and then to the wide street of Glorietta Boulevard. Glorietta is a great place to enjoy viewing some lovely old homes. I particularly like the Charles W. Amos home, 600 Glorietta Boulevard. It was built in 1921 at a cost of $6,000, the owner was a direct descendant of Sir Francis Drake. Also interesting, is the Thompson-Waggaman Residence, 848 Glorieta Boulevard, an example of Italian Renaissance Revival architecture.This style was popular in the early 1900s. The decorative windows and arches on the first floor; and the more simple second floor, are typical of this style.


Continuing on past the Coronado Yacht Club, there is a modest promenade facing the harbor which is home to a large metal sculptured sailboat by Jon Koehler—titled “Freedom.” The unique 2009 design allows for the three sails to move with the wind.

Further down the harbor is the scenic boathouse which is now home to 1887 on the Bay Restaurant. This is a Queen Ann Revival, designed in the same style as the nearby Hotel Del Coronado. Elements typical of this style include a wrap-around front porch, gables, overhanging eaves, towers, and a second story balcony. Built before the Hotel Del Coronado, it served as a dormitory for the hotel's construction workers.

From here, I like to continue on the sidewalk in front of the City Hall and Recreation Center before crossing highway 75 at the stoplight. Straight across the street is the Pacific Ocean which is a great place for a bench break; looking south you can see Imperial Beach and Mexico.  

After a break, I walk my bike on the sidewalk (biking is not allowed here) following the Ocean and enjoying a great view of the famous Hotel Del Coronado. The sidewalk ends at Ocean Boulevard.
   Biking along Ocean Boulevard provides views of the most impressive old mansions on the island. Built in the early 1900s, many have historic designations. Among them is the famous Claus Spreckels Mansion,1043 Ocean Boulevard, which was built by John D. Spreckels as a beach home in 1907; and later given to his son, Claus, as a wedding gift.  It is another example of the Italian Renaissance Revival style.

The Fitch-Baker Home, 519 Ocean Boulevard, was built in 1915 for Howard Baker—a retired capitalist from Minnesota. It was later purchased by Walter Fitch III, a mining engineer.

I turn right on the last road before Ocean Boulevard leads into the North Island Naval Base (not open to the public). Here I suggest looking at a map because the roads curve and it's easy to get confused. I usually follow Coronado Avenue around until it ends and then cut over to Alameda Boulevard back to First Street.

Turning onto First Street there are some lovely old homes. A number of them are “the Jessop houses.” One of my favorites is the Dutch Colonial Jessop-Israel House at 624 First Street, built in 1907. J.Jessop & Sons was the most successful jewelry business on the West coast for almost a century. Joseph Jessop and his six sons built over 35 homes in Coronado.

I continue my ride down First Street with a stop at Boney's BaysideMarket, 155 Orange Avenue, for coffee and a blueberry scone (the best anywhere). I also pick up some reasonably priced fresh fruits a vegetables. A short ride down Orange Avenue through Centennial Park and I am once again on the paved bike trail and will continue my ride back to the Ferry Landing.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


One of my favorite things about living on Coronado is the convenience of boarding the morning commuter ferry for a ride across the bay to downtown San Diego. It is free and includes a return pass.

Today I'm bringing my bike along with plans for a 45 minute ride to Point Loma. What I like about this bike route is that it follows the San Diego Bay, with a lovely view of the downtown skyline, Coronado, North Island, and moored boats. It also passes the airport for a look at the landing planes. I can almost hear the flight attendants announcing to the arriving passengers,“Welcome to America's Finest City.” I continue to agree with them, it really is.

     My first stop is Fashion Nails, 1333 Rosecrans Street, for a much needed pedicure and manicure. I love this place because they do a great job, they are fast, friendly, and only charge $21.95. When I first came to Point Loma, 12 years ago, the price was $15.95.

     After taking at least 15 minutes to get the nails dry, I'm heading out for a pleasant bike ride around Shelter Island. This is really not an island despite the name. It is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. It is 1.2 miles long and only a few hundred feet wide; mainly parkland, with a few marinas and hotels. Many people like to fish on the pier, or sit on the benches to enjoy the view of the bay and the hills of Point Loma. There is public art on the island, my favorite is the large bronze sculpture of  tuna fisherman by Franco Vianello.


On the way back, I took a short detour around Harbor Island to enjoy one of the best views of the downtown skyline. This man-made island is two miles long and only a few hundred feet wide, and also connected to the mainland by a strip of land. It is mainly know for the Sheraton Hotel and marinas, but it is also home to The Island Prime Restaurant, which has a great happy hour in the connecting C Level. The skyline view from this establishment is great and well worth a visit. Convenient to the airport, it is a great stop when picking-up and dropping-off visitors.
I sat on the bench for awhile to take in the sights on this perfect San Diego day, and then finished my ride back to the pier to meet a friend for lunch. We dined at Anthony's Fish Grotto, 1360 North Harbor Drive. We were able to get a table with a window view of the bay. They have a value priced lunch menu with a choice of items for around $10.00. I enjoyed the fresh fish with cole slaw, and my friend, Jan, recommends the clam chowder. This is an old vintage establishment that was founded in 1946—worthy of a visit for its seafood and surroundings.
Since I had extra time to wait for the next ferry, I walked my bike on the sidewalk which leads to Seaport Village passing the Navy Pier and USSMidway Museum. The Midway is a floating aircraft carrier with 29 aircraft onboard.  There is a lot of activity along the way—it is prime tourist season in San Diego. Lots of people—however, the perfect weather more than compensates for the crowds.