Thursday, March 8, 2012

Valentine Ride Around Town 3: Sunset Cliffs onto Cabrillo!

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

Ocean Beach is truly the hippiest part of San Diego, and I do mean that both figuratively and literally! Much of the place seems stuck in the free-loving flowery 60's. Bungalow houses with surf boards stored on their balconies, street cafes patronized by laid back sun bronzed locals, cheeky paraphernalia shops, and a healthy population of resident homeless hippies singing protest tunes on their guitars at street corners. You can say that the place is sort of stuck in the Woodstock Era. Riding around town you smell sea salt when facing west and smoky weed when facing east... well, sort of.
They aren't shy here in Ocean Beach!
I love Crosby, Stills and Nash, James Taylor, Carole King, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, etc, but the city streets and scenes don't attract me the way simple nature does. I went walking around the river mouth a bit, said a few hellos to the beach evening primroses (one of my favorite flowers. They're so friendly!) and made a few unsuccessfully attempts at ambushing a rock gopher. Pulled out a granola and started to refuel when a couple of sea gulls shoved by and landed on a lamp post a few feet away plotting for ways of finishing the sweetened bar of health for me. Luckily a toddler on a bench nearby dropped his hot dog bun on the ground trying to prevent his mom from spoiling it with pickles (moms... they're always trying to sneak the green stuff into your food!). The gulls went battling after it instead and I got to finish my snack off in peace before heading off for a mandatory look over the landmark fishing pier and making my way toward Sunset Cliffs Blvd, the region's main coast-side thoroughfare.

The inland section of Sunset Cliffs Blvd isn't all that bicycle-friendly, I'm afraid. The road is narrow, and there are always cars parallel-parked on the streets. Once I turned the corner south and gain the Pacific Ocean on my right flank, however, the traffic eased off and the ride became much more easy-going. It was tempting to go off road onto that dirt trail that people walk on between the road and the cliffs, but that would be pretty hazardous with a clumsy mountain bike to take care of. You never know where the cliffs drop off... It gets pretty unstable close to the edge. You can actually see cemented posts sticking out of crumbled sections of the cliffs that used to be where the paved boardwalk and other things were.

The corroded shoreline is a geologist's nirvana, I imagine. Looking at the cliff face you can actually see where the seafloor used to be about 120,000 years ago from the line, about 20 feet above the sea level, where the orange-ish soft sandstone 'Bay Point Formation' layer (it glows magnificently just before sunset) meets the dark old shale of the 'Pt. Loma Formation' bed rock. If you are lucky you might even run into a fossil or two (though this being a part of a nature reserve, collection of fossil - or anything else, for that matter - is NOT allowed! Leave it for others to enjoy, too!).

Crumbly Sunset Cliffs
Toward the southern end of the road are two 'landmarks', so to speak; the arch and the hole. I'm afraid you'll have to dismount and walk onto the cliffs a bit to see them. The latter is easy to find now that the city had put chain-linked fence around it. It sort of ruined the view, though I can't argue with the rationale. With such spectacular view around you it would be easy for people to step right into the huge sink hole and become part of the scene rather than just its admirer. I mean, it would be quite bad enough to fall into an open manhole while walking downtown. If you fall down this particular hole on the cliffs you might just get washed off all the way to China on an extra-strong rip current... or something like that.

At the end of Sunset Cliffs Blvd I had some not very nice options to make; retrace to Hill St and ride up that murderous slope to Catalina Blvd that runs along the crest of the Pt. Loma Peninsula, or drag my mountain bike up this short but pretty steep hill along the dirt path to the Nazarene University in the distance. Being averse to retracing (and uphill riding, when it comes to that) I went for the latter and scrambled my way up the hiking trail.
Sunset Cliffs Park and its many trails
A nearly regrettable decision, as it turned out. The hill was way steeper than it looked from below, and the bike was a most uncooperative partner in crime ever! And when we finally got to the parking lot at the end of it, there was still this quad-busting wiggly hilly pre-crested part of Lomaland Drive to pedal up. A college dude walking down the hill to collect his car gave me a smirk and urged me to ride faster. I would run him over, but didn't want to have to pedal back up the ground I had already lost my breath laboring over. So here I'll let a smiley do it for me by proxy...Bicycle Smiley

The Cross and the Theosophy style building at Nazarene University and southbound on Catalina Blvd.
The Nazarene University is really a beautiful campus! It used to be the hotbed of the theosophy movement in the early 1900's. The Theosophical Society of America had its headquarters here before its leader, Madame Katherine Tingley, crashed out from a car accident and the society migrated north to base in Los Angeles instead. Alas, the unique Theosophist Hotel and the Temple of Peace were not preserved. Where the temple used to sit now stands the Church of the Nazarene... From Palestine to the Lomaland, people really like to build their churches/mosques/temples on top of the others'!

After spending a few minutes catching my breath by the ocean-overlooking cross, I cruised down the hill to pick up Catalina Blvd and headed south to the biggest attraction on my cycling hit list: Cabrillo National Monument. Most of the tip of Pt. Loma peninsula belongs to the navy. After passing SPAWAR and the barracks the road is flanked by the white-specked green lawns that make up Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery. It's been the final resting place of America's fallen soldiers since the battle of San Pasqual in our 1846 war to claim California from Mexico.

Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery
On a clear day here you could see almost forever in many dimensions. There is hardly a better spot in town to sit in the view and reflect... and when you get bored you can always walk around checking out the headstones and their markings. The Christian interns have got a cross on theirs, and the Jews the star of David. There are a few other markings for those who didn't belong to either, though. There was even one that had a flower carving on it... I wondered if that was a Pagan?

But I loitered and the afternoon wore on! Back on the road into Cabrillo National Monument. It costs $5 to go through in a car nowadays, and $3 for each cyclist and hiker. The ticket is good for multiple entrances for the next 7 days, though. A great deal for a whole lot of history and marvelous views!

I had already visited the Cabrillo Monument many times, so I went straight down the hill to the famous Cabrillo tide-pools instead (I used to come up here by bus, which made tide-pooling here very inconvenient. It's a long downhill walk to the shoreline and the hike back up to the top is hideous!). Winter is the best time to tide-pool around here since low-tide tends to occur in the early afternoon instead of at night like it does during the summer months. Want a sneak peak at the tide-pools? Check out the park's webcams!

Downtown San Diego from Shelter Island
I huffed and puffed my way back up to Cabrillo Monument at 4PM, an hour before the park closed. Huffed and puffed some more up the more manageable hill back north on Catalina Blvd. Luckily, once you've crested just a bit north of Ft. Rosecrans Cemetery it is all downhill from there... A really rewarding cruise down twisty Canon Rd down to Rosecrans Blvd, and a scenic little side trip onto Shelter (not-an-island) Island for a beautiful view of Downtown San Diego, then a leisurely ride along the Embarcadero bike/hike way into Downtown rid me of the remainder of those tummy-friendly chocolate bars (there are always tons of homeless lazing around the waterfront during the day). 

My sporty readers will forgive me for being such a wimp after 28 miles on the bike. I caught a bus the rest of the way home once I got back to Downtown proper... Gotta preserve some chubby pudginess to my physique else I'd have to adopt a sleeker moniker to live up to, you understand.

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


Anonymous said...

So can you put the bike on the bus?

Are all Smorgs pudgy?

Still following on Google Earth - recommended to those who are strangers to your area!
PS The words that Blogger wants me to enter are too hard so I have to be anonymous!

Smorg said...

Hey Eyes: Sorry the blogger comment is being such an unwelcoming host! I have a hard time deciphering the verification code myself sometimes, too. And sometimes it doesn't show up at all... Ughh.

Yup, fortunately for wimpy limped me all the MTS buses here have a bike rack mounted in front (with room for 2 bikes)... and where I live now is accessible by 3 different buses from Downtown, so I was very happy to not have to ride all the way up the hill back to my pad. :oD

Of course all smorgs are pudgy! We always smorg up all the food, lest the uneaten waste causes our moms to bring up the starving kids in Africa and all the loving labor they had spent in conjuring up the meals.

Smorgs are happy creatures especially when coasting our fat tires mountain bikes down the hills. We are not quite very happy going up them, however, and will occasionally bite and/or swear Voodoo curses at svelte road cyclists who sprint past us on the way to the top. We tend to get all the operatic languages mixed up in the voodooing thingy, so people who overhear it generally will mistaken it for a misguided attempt at opera singing. Etc, etc.

Glad to hear you are enjoying Google-earthing along! I had another good long ride yesterday. Went all the way around the San Diego Bay. It was beautiful, though the wind was pretty brutal. :oD

Thanks a bunch for stopping by and hope your weekend has started well!

Cat said...

Good on you Smorgy, great you are getting out and about so much. And hey a little extra weight is a good thing, ward of the osteoporosis... Thanks for the tour of SD too :)

Smorg said...

Hiya Cat!
It's been good indeed, matie. Thanks! :oD I knew I live in a beautiful place, but I guess I had forgotten how variedly beautiful it is. Different parts of town have their own flavors. One of these days I hope to get to Europe and bike around there, too!

Thanks a bunch for stopping by! :o)

Georg said...

Hi Smorgy,

Regard_ing the cemetary you showed and your comment about California:

Individually, many people don't have any memory for history but the nation as a whole has. And so I wonder what some Mexicans think about this "transfer" of huge territories from their country to the United States of America.


PJ said...

awww..some yummy things in your post ;) from books to views...wonderful! That 'cities & geology' caught my eye...and then some favorite hang out spot. It really is a gorgeous city..with wonderful natural places!!

Smorg said...

Hallo Georgy: Good question! We should pick Berenice's brain about this, I think. :o) Sometimes I wonder if they mostly consider California still their territory... which might be why they keep crossing the border northward even when 'illegal'. I don't know, maybe we should just open the border or something (and charge entry fee... that way the US government gets paid instead of the cayotes (I think that's what they call the mercenaries/smugglers)).

Hope spring has started well your way! Have a great weekend! :oD

Hi PJ: It truly is! :o) Can't find a better place to live that has it all (well, perhaps except for the rain forest and the cheaper rent or something). I'm loving going out riding my bikes in various parts of town. Gotta do a lot of that before summer gets here. :oD

Thanks for stopping by. Hope your weekend is going well!