Monday, May 26, 2014

NAVY'S 28th ANNUAL BAY BRIDGE RUN/WALK

CORONADO BRIDGE

     The Coronado Bay Bridge expands over two miles above the San Diego Bay, connecting San Diego to Coronado, California. What makes it particularly beautiful is the fact that it is curved to allow for a more gradual decline from its two-hundred foot highest point. It was built tall enough to accommodate most US Navy ships, and yet not too steep for vehicles to ascend and descend. In 1970, it won the Most Beautiful Bridge Award from the American Institute of Steel Construction.

CORONADO CAR FERRY
SERVICE ENDED IN 1969
     When it opened in 1969, the car ferry service ended. Between 1886 and 1969 there were car ferries between San Diego and Coronado that were built to accommodate passengers, horses, buggies, and later automobiles. The original Ferry Boat Booth still sits in Centennial Park as a reminder of days gone by.
     Another unique feature of this magnificent bridge is that it was built exclusively for motor vehicle traffic, that means: no pedestrians, no walkways, and no bikepaths. I expect that this is what makes the Navy's Annual Bay Bridge Run/Walk so popular. This is the only time of the year that pedestrians are allowed on the bridge. It has become a San Diego tradition and this will be the 28th year for the celebration.
     It is a great social event. It is not, however, totally appreciated by serious runners or walkers. Participants are encouraged to bring their cameras, and believe me, they were stopping all over the place taking photos of the panoramic views, and whoever was with them, which included plenty of children and babies in strollers. 
     The walk/run is four miles long and begins at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel and ends at Tidelands Park in Coronado. My leisurely, one-hour and forty-minute walk, was not record-setting, but I did enjoy the scenery and photo ops like everyone else. The skies were cloudy and the air was cool, perfect for exercising, but not the best for picture taking.
     I found the beginning of the walk interesting. It followed along Harbor Drive and under the bridge through Chicano Park which offered a view of interesting murals painted on the bridge supports. This park contains the largest collection of Chicano art murals in the world. Live entertainment by a mariachi band added to the festivity.
CHICANO ART MURALS
UNDER BRIDGE
CHICANO ART MURALS

     Once we arrived at the bridge, there was a gentle uphill slope for the first mile and after that it was downhill. Traffic lanes on the north side were still open, and the passing cars frequently honk and wave at the participants.
     At the foot of the bridge, we enjoyed a pleasant walk along the golf course in Coronado and music from a Navy band.
     Finally, a celebration at Tidelands Park with a live band, cold water, bananas, protein bars and T-shirts for everyone. There were booths promoting various products, some with free samples, and free massages. The closing award presentations followed.
For those returning to San Diego, there were free ferry and bus rides.

     Thanks to the dedicated volunteers and hard work of many. This event helps support the San Diego military community by raising money for the Navy's Morale Welfare & Recreation Programs (MWR).
PARTY AT THE END
NAVY BAND
VIEW FROM TOP OF THE BRIDGE

START OF RUN/WALK

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

VINTAGE BANANA BOAT -- SAN DIEGO BAY

DOLE CALIFORNIA
     The DoleCalifornia ship, referred to as the “banana boat,” is not the prettiest or the largest—however, as it gently rolls into the San Diego Bay weekly, carrying up to 740 million  bananas, it's my favorite. It typically arrives on Sunday or early Monday, departs on Wednesday and is assisted by a tugboat. The times vary slightly, but it does come and go weekly.
     It docks, directly across the San Diego Bay from us, at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal. Immediately, there is activity around the vessel and soon the two five-story cranes start hoisting the 455 forty-foot containers from boat to awaiting truck beds. From here they are stored in the nearby warehouse or moved out right away. Hundreds of trucks arrive with empty containers which they exchange for loaded ones. The loads travel as far north as Canada and as far west as the Rockies.
     A few different ships rotate through (Dole California, Dole Costa Rica, Dole Ecuador, etc.), but they all look similar and have the Dole signage. Today's Dole California boat says Nassau which is where its registered. The IMO# stays the same during its lifetime which makes for easy identification. Using this number, I found out that this Dole California ship left Guayaquil, Ecuador, on April 24th and stopped in Puerto Caldera, Costa Rico (April 28), and Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala (April 30) along the way. Other interesting statistics: the year it was built (1989), home port (Nassau) and type (container). I like to use the marinetraffic.com  website that provides up-to-date information on all ships currently at sea.
     Dole has a 24½ year lease with the city to import and export fresh fruit at the 10th Avenue San Diego Marine Terminal. Dole FoodCompany, based in Westlake, California, is the largest importer of bananas in North America and the second largest importer of pineapples. Ecuador is the largest exporter of bananas to the United States. Bananas are the most popular fruit consumed in the world.
     Refrigerated trucks were developed originally in the 1940s and they continued to modernize until 1989 when these current ships were introduced causing quite a stir in the industry. Some called them the “un-banana boat” because the new technology transformed the shipping industry, eliminating waste and hundreds of jobs. Under this new automated system, plantation workers in Central America load boxes of bananas into containers set at a constant 57.5 degree F. They are not handled again until in the retailers warehouse.
     The huge ships carrying autos are more spectacular and colorful than the dull yellowish cream color banana boats. However, there is something special about watching these vessels arriving weekly with thousands of bananas and pineapples—no doubt carrying the banana I use in my daily smoothie.
                                                    Vintage Smoothie

                                                            1 tablespoon chia seeds (soak in milk for 10 minutes)
                                                            1 sliced banana 
                                                            1 cup frozen blueberries
                                                           ¼ cup protein powder-vanilla flavored
                                                            1 cup fat-free milk

                                                                     Blend together until smooth. Serves 2.


DOLE CALIFORNIA
EARLY ARRIVAL SAN DIEGO
        
DEPARTING ON A TUESDAY EVENING



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

VINTAGE JOURNEY TO PUERTO NEUVO & ROSARITO, MEXICO


ROSARITO BEACH HOTEL
     A visit across the border to Mexico, a short 30 minute drive for us, sounds compelling and interesting, however, we haven't been there for many years. With the current US Department of State travel warnings, due to drug related homicides and kidnappings, and two to five hour waits at the border, many Americans are no longer visiting Mexico.
We are on the mailing list for Day Trippers, a reputable local tour company, that offers a variety of excursions. We read about the Puerto Nuevo lobster village & lunch trip, and decided this would be a good opportunity to take a chance on a little excursion across the border. We figured we would be safe on a tour bus, but I don't think we gave much thought to the possibility of a long wait at the border.
There were several pickup points and we chose Chula Vista. It is a short drive for us and the street parking was easy. They picked us up promptly at 9:30 a.m. with an almost full bus of about 50 fellow passengers. The trip across the border was easy and took about 20 minutes. The new Mexican immigration facilities are impressive—shiny floors and all.
After entering Mexico, we drove along Playas Tijuana (Tijuana's beaches). From there we follow the scenic coastal highway south for 18 miles to Rosarito Beach. We noticed a number of high rises and residences along the way—some half-finished and abandoned due to the economy. We observed many smaller, unkept homes, as well. Graffiti and trash along the roadways was not uncommon.
BAR AT ROSARITO BEACH HOTEL
Our first stop was the famous historical Rosarito Beach Hotel. It is adorned with great Mexican tiles and a sign over the entry that reads,“Through this door pass the most beautiful women in the world.” This was certainly true when Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner and Rita Hayworth frequented the place in the 1950s. 
After a brief visit to the hotel, we perused the nearby street markets. If time had permitted (you are always on the clock with a tour group), I would have taken a leisurely walk on the old wooden pier in front of the hotel and enjoyed a beverage at the quaint lounge overlooking the sea. The small town is old and interesting but, like most of Mexico not very prosperous.
We continued driving south another 15 miles to Puerto Neuvo. Once a sleepy little fishing village, it is now home to over 30 restaurants, all serving the famous lobster, and many offering great ocean views.
We had lunch at Villa Ortegas overlooking the ocean and rocky coastline. The meal was prearranged by the tour company and included one lobster (boiled or fried), beans (mushy and soft), Spanish rice, rolls, flour tortillas, taco chips and dip. The flan for dessert was great. All in all the meal was plentiful, but the lobster, in my humble opinion, was not very tasty The meal was accompanied by a great margarita.
ENTERTAINMENT AT ORTEGAS
After lunch, we had about an hour to walk around the town which was pleasant and interesting. The markets are slightly higher quality than Rosarito. The roads are old and the restaurants and markets were full of hawkers to promote business which was slow on this Saturday afternoon. I bought a clunky turquoise necklace for $5.
The drive back to the border was a little over an hour. The guide had to cancel our scheduled stop at the Tijuana Bakery, which I was looking forward to, because someone in our group fell. We needed to get back across the border as soon as possible for her medical care. She refused emergency care in Puerto Neuvo.
We waited three and one-half hours to get through immigration on our return. This was enough to keep us from returning anytime soon.
We went away wishing that a trip to Mexico was safer and simpler, because this Baja drive would make a perfect weekend getaway.  What are your favorite places in Baja?
PUERTO NEUVO

VERY SMALL CHURCH
PUERTO NEUVO

FLOWERS FOR SALE

INSIDE SMALL CHURCH
PUERTO NEUVO

STREET FOOD 


ENTRANCE TO PUERTO NEUVO


STREET SCENE PUERTO NEUVO