Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine Ride Around The Town: 1 - Through Mission Hills to the San Diego River

Part 1: Through Mission Hills to the River
Part 2: Ocean Beach via OB Bike Path
Part 3: Sunset Cliffs to Cabrillo

I don't have a sweet tooth. My entire set of teeth is glucophilic! The candies aisle at the grocery store is the bane of my sugary existence. It should then come as no surprise that I woke up on Valentine morning practically surrounded by the varieties of chocolate bars acquired from my many raids to the local stores and sweet shops over the past month.

Don't blame me. My guardian angel is the tooth fairy!
What to do with such a guilt-betraying horde of mellifluous theobromic nibblers? I looked out the window at the delightfully rainless Southern Californian sky above and the dustily idle mountain bike below - the very machine that I had spent the dollars that should have facilitated my encore encounter with Lise Lindstrom's delicious Salome upon - and the answer came to me in a whiff of hyperactive imagination: Off on that bike goeth thou, ye Smorg, and return not until the last of those blasphemously tasty chocolate bars has been passed along to others more in need of their richly psyche-soothing extra sweet calories than fat-bottom-you do!

And so began my ambitious Valentine's Day epic sugar-freeing bike ride. Being a slow slugger that I am, I opted for the path of least resistance and headed northwest (down the hill, of course) toward the beautiful uptown community of Mission Hills, at the bottom of which lies the closest access point from my humble abode to the beautifully flat Ocean Beach Bike Path.

Pioneer Park gravestones
Having taken off at the hour where the more industrious residents of San Diego had all completed their morning rush to work, the traffic was accommodatingly light. I rolled through Mission Hills so smoothly that I decided to take a short detour from the route to pay a visit to Pioneer Park and its row of old gravestones. A lot of names interned there turn up at various Old Town museums. I don't know why, but the priests were all lumped up in one corner... Perhaps to confine posthumous ecclesiastical discussions there and allow the rest of the interns true peace?

Mission Hills is a really great neighborhood to stroll or ride around in. The stately old-moneyed craftsman mansions, bungalows, and various revival houses framed by green shrubs and manicured lawns. A car passes through every few minutes instead of in a constant torrent. I headed west on Ft. Stockton Rd, veering onto the laid back San Diego version of Sunset Blvd just as two red-shouldered hawks low-dove over the road into a yard nearby. One popped back out empty taloned, but the other escaped into a tall fir carrying someone's lunch in its beak. Naturally I don't have a photo of it... These hawks are so fast and quiet they're always apparating out of thin air just when I couldn't spare a hand to fish out the slow-acting camera! 

View as you turn the last curve on Sunset Blvd in Mission Hills
Mission Hills has many rustic side-streets worth exploring on bike, but the day had grown a bit older and the ocean beckoned, so I stayed on Sunset Blvd, making for the straightest path to my destination. Entering the last curve there is an awesome view to be had if you are on foot or bike (you lazy buggers going 'round in cars will just have to go park a bit away and walk back to the curve to catch this, I'm afraid. The road is narrow and marked fire-lane red all the way).

And then, of course, there is Juan Street... A decade or so ago I would have had enough of the dare-devil left in me to fly down this steep stretch of paved slope like an aerodynamic roadkill waiting to happen. Alas, I have survived enough close-calls to know that even a hardiest cat do run out of lives after so many encounter with what old Maverick famously characterized as 'the need for speed.' 

Looking down Juan St toward the San Diego River.
Besides, there's a stop sign before the bottom of the hill right where Heritage Park and the Mormon Battalion are... These are relatively busy tourists attractions, so any unsightly spill would likely be photo-documented by one or a few of the camera-toting folks and end up on Youtube where indiscretions go to spend the rest of eternity being replayed for the amusement of others long after crash wounds have faded into scars. I screeched to a complete halt right on the intersection line and hobbled in to the MoBatt to entrusted a few Valentine goodies to Sister Nächstenliebe to pass along among her fellow resident missionaries before escaping from another 'would you like to have another discussion' to my adamantly religion-free bicycle.

Juan Street forms the northern boundary of Old Town State Park, and just a couple of blocks' worth to the west lies Old Town Transit Center and its many bus terminals and trolley station... quite a temptation for soft-bodied Smorg to cut the trip short and hop a bus home in time for lunch! But you'd be proud of me; I prodded on and turned right (east) onto Taylor St to be rewarded with a largely empty road that made the transition onto Morena Blvd less nerve-racking as it could have been (cyclists have a way of ending up in the evening news when we try to make a left turn at a major intersection while surrounded by California drivers!). On the right side of the road just past the I-8 overpass was the entrance to Ocean Beach Bike Path. I've made it to the river!

Unfortunately it is now dinner time and I'm too exasperated by the computer's malfunctioning keyboard to continue typing. Will have to pick this up later! smiley


yvette said...

With Smorgy it starts ever so smooth and sweety and ends in a marathon ! You are so energetic... next time you turn into Morena Boulevard take a pict for me... !!!(I'll explain soon)
Shame on your computer... hope you had a very rewarding dinner!Is it too late for a 'religion free bicycle'... good title for a book...

Smorg said...

Consider it (photographing Morena Blvd) done, chere amie! :o) Thanks a bunch for putting up with my longwindedness. The weather is being so beautiful it feels almost a crime to stay inside! :oD I had another nice ride this afternoon exploring Mission Hills... an infernally hilly place! Took too many photos and even a few videos. I'm spoiled rotten! :oD

Hope you and D are well and having a good February also!

Anonymous said...

Good to see you enjoying some R&R!
By pure coincidence this query arrived at my blog today --
mozart smorgy's all you can eat

I kid you not !!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is me again! Your"mystery words" that we have to type in are getting harder!

Anonymous said...

"mozart smorgy's all you can eat" <-- hehehehoho
i haven't the time yet to weave through your (written) path here Smorgy, but MUST comment how i _adore_ that little ball with flying hair on the bike!!!!! (thadieu)

yvette said...

Thanks Smorgy! I'll write about this name... funny really! Nice to see that all the WSYC is attending here... me, Honorary member included!!! Yes, end of Feb is much better... I'll have so many things to do before the end.. and my trip to Berlin!Must write befor I go!Nice reading you! (ALL as well! )