Sunday, June 14, 2009

A nocturnal stroll through downtown San Diego

Ever since I made the fateful decision to work night shift at a local nursing home to fund my college education many years ago, my biological clock has never been the same.

So, here is a musical slide-show of what I see when I go out and walk around downtown San Diego this time of year. I'm afraid I use an amateur camera... and kept the flash off (which was quite a pain since I'm not that good at keeping my hands still these days). The photos look brighter than it really is... and the clouds (which is actually what the locals here call 'marine layer') don't look that devilish to the naked eye.

Downtown is pretty heavily patrolled by the local police... And on a week night like this, it is pretty quiet by the time midnight comes around. I took off from home in East Village area and stopped at Albertson's store to pick up some snack before heading west (toward the bay) through the northern part of the Gaslamp Quarter and the Core-Columbia District (along Broadway).

You really don't run into as many homeless folks while walking around town at night... Though I still did manage to run into this wacky dude who seems to find a new camera cellphone in the trash bin every week (I've been running into him walking around town for years now). Broadway west of 4th Avenue is really quite nice at night, though I tend to stay to the south of it (made a brief excursion for the sake of getting a shot of the Civic Theater, home of the San Diego Opera, though).

One thing about walking around the Columbia District (where the tall buildings are) and the Embarcadero (waterfront) at night, though, is that they actually let freight trains thru... And those thing are REALLY long! I had the appropriately bad timing to arrive at Santa Fe Depot as one was passing to the south.... for 15 minutes. I finally got to cross to the Embarcadero side of the track at 11:15PM and was quite surprised to catch 2 planes landing at Lindberg Field (San Diego International Airport) since I thought they have a no-flight between 10PM-6AM policy.

The downtown bank of the San Diego bay doesn't boast any beach, but a long concrete hiking/cycling path called the Embarcadero Promenade. It is lined with artsy modern sculptures... well.. I don't know if I should call them that since they are made of various sorts of materials and some are really pretty flimsy. Most are pretty amusing, though, like that giant octopus you see by Anthony's Fish Grotto in this video. Some are more... serious (?) like that bronze Pele not far from the Maritime Museum (where all those historic tall ships are). During the day it is a busy bay with all sorts of ships (row boats, canoes, fishing boats, water taxi, bay cruisers, sail yacht, cruise ships, navy cutters, etc) roaming about... not to mention the speed boats that patrol North Island Naval Air Station on the opposite bank. During the night, though, it is beautifully still and quiet (I'm sure the Navy speed boats are still doing their patrolling, but they stick pretty close to their shore that you can't really hear them from the downtown side).

Anyhow... if there is anything in this city that can remind me of the sense I get staring out into the grassy plain of eastern Missouri at night it is sitting along the Embarcadero Promenade and gazing over the dark water of the San Diego Bay. After a while you can even see the water birds flying about noiselessly and you wonder why time ever matters at all.


Geisslein said...

I love it to take a walk with my dog by night sometimes...when everything sleeps and it seems that my dog and I are alone in the world...If San Diego wouldn´t be so far away I would like to sit a while with you at the promenade.Hope you will have a great day today! Sunny greetings, geisslein

berenice said...

hi mister Smorg

walking downtown and the Embarcadero at night, what a wonderful sight! when my mom visits me, we drive to the Embarcadero and walk at night, we love it there, sure you do find homeless people there, but they've always been good to us, saying their good nights and so on

we have one of the loveliest little bays in the world, and I love to walk there at night too, it's much more introspective than during the day time

i read your article over the nursing homes and that job you had, very interesting and i am very glad to know people like you are taking care of the old folks, and you are SO right! we need to take care of them 'cause in a blink of the eyes those folks will be us... so? when is your next visit schedule for a nursing home? so i can join you!

hugs and glad you are having good nocturnal walks!

Georg said...

Bonjour Smorgy old night owl,

Well made little movie, once again.
Those photos are good enough, they convey atmosphere. When there is not much light, I have the habit to stop breathing while clicking. It helps a little. Your pictures are good because you didn't flash!!

I am quite interested to learn that you can boast of a Soviet attack submarine and of HMS Surprise.

How did these ships came to your shores??

Good music, too. You did not say who composed this.


PS: are you interested in astronomy?

Smorg said...

Hallo Geisslein:
And I'd be very grateful for your company at the waterfront, too. :o) Thanks very much for good wishes. It's always a pleasure to hear from you. Hope the weekend is going well in your neck of the woods! :o)

Hiya bella Bere:
That San Diego Bay sure is positively hypnotic at night, isn't it? :o) Sometimes I recent the marine layer that seems to always hang there at night obscuring the night sky, but at the same time... it does sort of cloak you into a sense of privacy. Great for introspection indeed.

I'm thinking of having another raid at Kearny Mesa Convalescent Hospital in late July. Would be lovely to have a partner in crime indeed. ;o) (I'm at )

Thanks a bunch for stopping by. Hugs and hope the weekend isn't too wet up in your neighborhood (it sort of sprinkled for much of the day down here)!

Hallo Georgy!
Yup, I've learn to rather not like flash when taking photographs these days. I also hold my breath, but sometimes it still takes a few shots before I really get a good and clear photo (I love it how you can take a lot of shots with the digital camera and erase the ones that aren't good. A lot better than back in the old film-camera days!).

Oh, the B-39 and the HMS Surprise are at our Maritime Museum, actually (along with the Star of India). I think the museum will be replacing that sub with the USS Dolphin, a retired American sub, next month, though.

I think these maritime museums buy up old ships to restore and display at their dock, and sometimes trade them. The HMS Surprise was actually HMS Rose, a replica of an 18th century Royal Navy frigate that was a training vessels somewhere on the east coast before the SD Maritime Museum bought it in 2004 (they changed its name after it participated in the movie).

I'm quite interested in astronomy (and other branches of physics), actually. But downtown San Diego tends to be enveloped in low cloud banks at night (what the locals here call the 'marine layer'). :o( And when we do have clear nights, the city glare is so strong that you really don't get to see many stars at all.

The music in the clip is by Sergei Rachmaninov. :o) Really one of my all time favorite piano concertos (the most favorite being Grieg's piano concerto in A minor... which probably tells you that I'm a melancholic fellow). ;o) I'm glad you like it!

Thanks very much for stopping by. Hope the flying is good this weekend!

Smorgy :o)

WANDERER said...

Looking forward to spending more time on your lovely site when I'm back home.

Smorg said...

Thanks, W. :o) Hope you're having fun wandering. I love reading of your various trips!!