Saturday, December 21, 2013





For a number of years, during the month of December, I have observed a much too crowded, outdoor skating rink overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Anyone who is a skater knows the disadvantages of a crowded rink: choppy ice and the chance of falling over someone. Add to that a hefty $23 fee with a $5 discount, if you have your own skates. I was satisfied just looking.

      So here I am, on this sunny day with a 70 degree temperature, heading over to the famous Skating Rink by the Sea at the Hotel Del Coronado. It's time to see what it's like to skate with a view of the ocean. It's still early in the season and it's the 1:30 to 3:30 pm session on a Friday—just maybe, it won't be too crowded and the ice will be good.

      First of all, I found my old skates, after searching the apartment for a good hour—they still fit because feet don't grow. Rental skates generally don't provide enough support and never seem to fit right. It's good to have your own, and I am attached to my 25-year-old skates. I rarely use them, but I was not about to part with them when we moved to California.

      I needed to find out, once and for all, what it is really like to ice skate outside, on a warm California day, with a cool breeze, and a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. Add to this the Christmas music from a high quality sound system. It was good. There were about 24 skaters on the rink at the most, so it was not crowded. The ice was very smooth and great for skating. Just remember not to fall because there is a sheet of water on top of the ice and you will get soaked.

      Skating By the Sea at the Hotel Del Coronado is in its ninth year. This is recent, considering the hotel is currently celebrating its 125th Anniversary. The man-made rink is open for skating from November 27 to January 5. The rink also provides a view of the hotel. It is especially enjoyable at Christmas when the hotel is adorned with thousands of white lights.

      One of my favorite things about the hotel, is the exquisitely decorated Christmas tree standing in the center of the old lobby. This year the 50 foot tall tree has classic Victorian ornaments, tartan plaid, and vintage Santas. The theme changes annually.

      Coming from Minnesota I grew up skating, as most of us did. In the 1950s we walked to the local rink, which for us was Folwell Park in North Minneapolis. We used the the warming house to put our skates on, and then off we went to enjoy the large outdoor rink and socialize. If we got cold, we went inside to warm up. Skating and sliding on the hills kept us well entertained throughout the cold winter season.

By the way, if you are from the Midwest and decide to try Skating By The Sea, I guarantee that you will be one of the better skaters on the rink. Californians are much better surfers than skaters.



*Hotel Del Coronado photo gallery

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