Friday, February 24, 2012

Valentine Ride Around Town: 2 - Follow The River To Ocean Beach

Part 1: Through Mission Hills to the River
Part 2: Ocean Beach via OB Bike Path
Part 3: Sunset Cliffs to Cabrillo
I ride slowly and write even slower! Apologies for the delay! I meant to finish this up before last weekend, but I've been out riding around town a lot because we are having outrageously sunny and mild weather. I'm expecting another batch of time-consuming work to come in in a week and the new computer I ordered from Dell still hasn't arrived (a ridiculously maddening buying experience, even though you didn't ask me!). This current laptop I'm writing on has four dead keys in its keyboard that failed to come back to life even after resetting... and three of the dead keys are often used ones, so I'm finding having to keep an on-screen keyboard open to type those letters with in combination with the normal keyboard a pretty annoying typing experience.
Looking north up Morena Blvd from Taylor St in Old Town
But, without further delay, a bit over a week ago on Valentine's Day I had the bright idea to spend the day chocolate-freeing bicycling around town. My plan was to ride all the way to the end of Sunset Cliffs Park on the Pacific Ocean side of Pt. Loma peninsula, then climb up to Pt. Loma Nazarene University to take a photo of two of the gorgeous campus there before coasting downhill back to downtown by way of the Embarcadero promenade/bike path and catching a bus home.

This video was shot on a subsequent late-afternoon ride to the beach. My camera ran out of memory half way through my trip so I had to delete much of the OB Bike Path videos to make room.

I made it through the surprisingly traffic-free Morena Blvd/Taylor Street intersection to the entrance to the Ocean Beach Bike Path, just after the I-8 overpass. After the 40 minutes mostly spent trying to not get hit by a car on the various San Diego city streets, turning into the beautifully car-free and relatively city-insulated pedestrian/cycling trail is always a welcomed escape for yours truly. The path runs straight west toward the ocean, flanked by the San Diego River channel to the north and I-8 (for much of the way) to the south. Civilization is never more than a few meters away, but who cares about that with the squirrels zigzagging through the river's rocky bank and the various exotic water birds fishing and preening and doing other birdy things just a few yards to your right?

Between Morena Blvd and W Mission Bay Drive the river is mostly dry and there are pockets of homeless folks hanging out near the road overpasses. I even spotted a tent in the islet in the middle of the river channel! Hopefully its owner keeps apprised of the weather report. Like other rivers in the Southern California semi-desert, the San Diego is mostly dry most of the time, though is prone to flash-flooding when it rains up in the mountains to the east. 

spoor in the sand, a visit with some California sunflowers, and the river.
The OB Bike Path is popular with the local cyclists, though you can go many minutes without passing anyone on this trail. It gets busier west of Sunset Cliffs Blvd, though. Immediately west of that is Robbs Field Park, with its skate park, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and other recreational facilities. The pavement also becomes quite bumpy from here on into Ocean Beach itself. Near the river mouth there are many hiking trails into the river bed, with white sand dunes, friendly little beach evening primroses, gopher mounds and lots of dogs and their owners. The beach to the right (north) of the OBBP is Dog Beach, the only 24 hrs dog beach in the county (watch where you walk... not everyone cleans up after own pooches!), to the left (south) is Ocean Beach proper with the famous concrete fishing pier.

There is a big parking lot where the OBBP meets Ocean Beach, with access to Voltair St, the local main thoroughfare. I only lingered around for a while before taking Brighton Ave southeast to Abbott St and headed south toward Sunset Cliffs Rd. Ocean Beach has a sort of hippie culture thingy going on, and there are many happy homeless people around especially along the boardwalk and pier area. 

They are quite different from the downtown homeless in that many are living this nomadic life-style by choice... I trailed behind one homeless gal for a bit who was walking around picking up all the street litter. She turned around, said hello, shrugged her shoulders and said that she's gotta keep her house clean. What could I do but to present her with a bar of Toblerone as a Valentine's Day gift? We walked into a couple more of her cleaning crew and they, too, genially helped ridding me of two other Hershey bars that were loading down my backpack. My trip was going really well!


Anonymous said...

Smorg - the Chocolate Santa!
I have earmarked both journeys to follow on Google Earth ... sunshine by proxy!

Georg said...

Here in the village, there are no homeless people for obvious reasons.
I was told that the village administration is obliged to cater for two or three of that kind, giving them free lodgins, in case of.

When I asked if our village gives free housing to somebody I could not get an answer. Secret of state?

Unfortunately, I don't dare to talk to homeless when I see one in the nearby city. I'll try next time after having bought a ham and cheese sandwich.


Smorg said...

Ciao Eyes: Why get fat alone when you can pudge others up with you, ay? ;o) O well, the OB homeless burn all their calories off anyhow. They're always up and about. :oD

Hallo Georgy: It can be a bit awkward trying to talk to homeless folks indeed. I think most of them welcome it, though, and just want to be treated like another guy. I've met some interesting ones here in town. :oD

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods!