Wednesday, August 21, 2013

San Diego; Or There And Back Again

From the moment I stepped into my car on August 3th and backed it out of the garage to the moment I drove my car back into the same garage on August 10th, I was surround by noise. It was an eight day long cacophony of sound. Highway noises; the hum of tires and the roar of big rigs thundering by. Street noises; traffic, the squeal of buses brakes, the wail of fire engine sirens, the beep of produce trucks backing up in the morning, the thumping bass blasting out of the open door of the nightclub across the street from my niece's new apartment at night, the loud, drunken voices of patrons at said nightclub. It wasn't until I woke-up my first morning at home after the trip that I realized I had not had a good night's sleep since the night before I left for San Diego.

I went to San Diego because my niece was moving there and she and her mother, my sister, needed my help. We loaded my car and my niece's car with all her worldly possessions, including her two dogs, and head out. She had already found an apartment in the Gaslamp Quarter but, not knowing anything about the area, it wasn't until we arrived that I discovered it is smack in the middle of downtown San Diego and is a known tourist spot with numerous shops, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Her apartment is in an old commercial building erected in 1907 not far from the Convention Center. Most mornings, as I stood looking out of my niece's living room window sipping my tea, I watched business attired people on the street hurrying toward the Convention Center with their first cup of coffee of the day clutched tightly in one hand.

It's a great area and a great apartment and I understand why my niece wanted to live there; being young all the energy and noise is invigorating for her. Me, I'm old enough to need a little peace and quiet at the end of the day, something that was not available in her apartment as the windows are large single-pane sheets of glass which do nothing to keep the street sounds out. The area's saving grace is the fact that the place doesn't really start jumping until after five o'clock and on the weekends. Mornings are relatively quiet and peaceful and that made walking her dogs during those hours quite pleasant. It became my favorite time of day.

Not all our time was spent shopping for the things my niece needed for her apartment, we also walked the dogs over the Convention Center to the harbor, met relatives for lunch and dinner, and took a short trip to the San Diego Zoo with a cousin. My family had lived in San Diego when I was a child and one of my memories is riding the Galapagos tortoise that they kept in the children's section of the zoo. Back in the late seventies-early eighties they stopped allowing children to ride on the back of the tortoises because they had discovered that tortoises have nerve endings in their shells. The zoo now has a Galapagos tortoise compound that houses the 17 tortoises they now own. All the tortoises have numbers painted on their shells so zookeepers can tell them apart. On this trip I found out that "Speedy" the tortoise I used to ride as a child is still at the zoo and is now 150 years old.  I may have actually seen him in the tortoise compound but I'm not sure.  Some of the tortoise were lying in such a way that I could not see their numbers.   So, if you are ever at the zoo and happen to visit the tortoises say "hi" to number 5 for me.

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