Posts Tagged ‘San Diego’

Perry’s Cafe, San Diego, CA

1 December 2012

Perry's Cafe on Urbanspoon

I have driven by Perry’s many times.  I decided to have breakfast there this morning as I was leaving my hotel for the airport, and it was too early for other hotel breakfast.  I got there at 0610 and left last 0645.

I had the 2 eggs (over easy), 2 bacons, and French toast, with iced tea to drink.  It was all excellent, excerpt the bacon, which was just a touch overdone.

Service was prompt, my check was $9.64.  Quick and good, recommended.

Hiking Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, San Diego, CA

1 December 2012

Hike summary: 4.6 miles and 340 ft of altitude gain.

I got into San Diego early last Wednesday, and took care of business, then checked into the hotel. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is only a couple miles north of the hotel, and I decided to take a hike. I got there at 1500. I did a quick check of sunset for San Diego… 1640. Really?

The trailhead I used was through a dog park off Carmel Mountain Road and Ocean Air Drive. The trail goes from the southeast corner of the dog park through some thick brush. This leads to a service road that traces under some high power lines. There are several places where trails drop off into the canyon. Steeply.

At the bottom, it’s pretty much out in the open unless you go through one of the crossings from the north trail to the south side. There is not a lot of scenery. I took these photos.

One of the north-to-south crossings




This last one is a hot air balloon I saw to the north.

Here are the maps for the hike.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve Terrain

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve Altitude

There isn’t a lot of signage for the trail. Basically, walk along the north or south trail, cross over when you want.

That’s it!

Lorna’s Italian Kitchen, San Diego, CA

1 December 2012

Lorna's Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

I have noted Lorna’s a couple times driving around north San Diego, and this evening decided to give it a try. I got there around 1800 and left around 1920. It was almost empty when I got there, and full when I left. They put me at a two-top on the north wall. This is a bad table, be warned. They seem to do as much or more takeaway business, and numerous times I had the line waiting to pick up their to-gos bumping up against my table.

I got chicken fettuccine al fredo. It was, first of all, a HUGE amount of food. Probably enough for both Raegan and I to eat. There was crusty bread to start. They have balsamic vinegar and oil on the table, and they brought me some meat sauce to dip the bread in (good stuff, BTW).

The main dish was decent. There were probably three chicken breasts in that meal. The chicken was tender and tasty (but in huge chunks), and the noodles were perfect. The al fredo was OK at best. It was not terribly rich; I couldn’t taste the butter and cream that are supposed to be in there. I ate all of it (a feat, let me tell you!). If I get the opportunity to go back, I might try something else, although I could eat the CFAF again if put to it.

Service was good. My check was $20.47.

Bangkok West Thai Cafe, San Diego, CA

1 December 2012

Bangkok West Thai Cafe on Urbanspoon

Had lunch here today. Got the lunch special that started with tom kah soup (never had it before, interesting and good!), and continued with pad thai. This stuff had a spice scale from 1 to 10; I got it as a 3. Great stuff! The spice was just enough to leave a bit of itself after each bite. I think I could get it a 5 or 6 with no problem. The pad tahi was really, really, good. There was not as much in the way of peanut chips/chunks as the previous times I’ve had. I want to go back to this place, it was good.

Service was prompt. The iced tea is slightly fruity. My check was $12.34. Great lunch, recommended.

Giovanni’s Italian, San Diego, CA

30 November 2012

Giovanni's Italian on Urbanspoon

I had lunch here with a couple guys I am working with at a Very Large Defense Contractor nearby. We got there aroud 1145 and left at 1230. The place was not terribly crowded.

I got chicken fettuccine alfredo. It was OK. The chicken was grilled and piled on top. The fettuccine was OK, but the sauce had a faint odd taste, and was hardly rich. The amount was fine, and the two pieces of garlic toast were very good.

I would go back if someone else wanted to, but it wasn’t that good. My check was $18.53, kind of expensive for the quality of the meal.

BBQ Republic, San Diego, CA

29 November 2012

BBQ Republic on Urbanspoon

I’ve been to the shopping center BBQ Republic is in several times, and it also has a dog park in the SE corner that is a trailhead for a nearby hiking destination. After an almost-five-miler, I wanted dinner, and BBQ is always a good thing.

I got the two meat combo with a quarter chicken and sliced brisket. It was excellent! The brisket was tender and had great beef flavor. The chicken was well smoked, had great flavor, and was moist all the way through. Great stuff. The meal came with some OK mac and cheese, and a good piece of cornbread (no jalapenos!). They have *very* good iced tea was well (both sweet and straight). The staff was super nice.

I got there around 1650 and left about 45 minutes later. My check was $17.22. A bit expensive, but I think it’s the best BBQ I’ve had in the San Diego area.

Hiking (Towards) El Cajon Peak, San Diego, CA

1 April 2012

Hike summary: 6.2 miles round trip. HARD uphills, in both directions, with altitude gain of 775 feet net, 1700 total. For sure the hardest hike I’ve been on in San Diego. Or most anywhere else!

Last Wednesday, I took a shot at hiking El Cajon after work. I headed out for the trailhead about 1230 after lunch. Unfortunately, road work on Wildcat Canyon Road delayed me for 45 minutes. I didn’t get on the trail until after 1430.

The last time I tried El Cajon, the parking lot was closed at 1700. Wednesday, the parking lot was signed to be closed at 1900, so I set a time limit of 1630 to start my return. I’ve got to say, I was too optimistic on this hike. I got off to a good start, but I haven’t had a lot of hiking time in the past nine months, and so I wasn’t in good enough shape to keep a steady pace. The thing is, most mountain hiking is up up up, then back down down down. This one is up, down, up, down, up, down. It’s nearly has hard coming down as it was going up.

When you get to the trailhead, the parking area is a fenced and gated lot. Why? There is no water, so fill up before you get there. Once you get started hiking, there is a road that goes up continuously for a full half mile, to another smaller parking lot that you can’t park at, where the actual trailhead is. There is a toilet here, and a small picnic area, but again no water.

The trailhead is marked, on the east side of the toilet. There is a road on the south side, that I figured out later is a second trailhead. I switchbacked up a while before I ran across a sign that pointed to the parking lot, to the right. WTH? When I was coming back, I was a little ahead of schedule, so I took that right turn and walked up a bit more to a nice overlook that had a rough bench, where I took a break.

The trail is fairly wide.

There are a lot of cactus-type plants. This one was just starting to flower.

This is an example of the up and down nature of the trail. The first part of the hike ends up in the “saddle” that is visible in the upper right of the below photo. Then you hike down into the valley that is in the middle of the picture, and then come back up on the trail. You can see these clearly on the altitude plot.

The views up there are pretty impressive. There was some kind of helicopter exercise going on down in the valley while I was up there, three of them moving around over the valley floor.

As you get a little higher, the view gets better. In this picture, Mission Trails Regional Park and Cowles Peak is in the middle, and off in the distance you can see the downtown skyline in front of Point Loma.

One of the things the wannabe geologist in me noticed was that thee are several varieties of granite in the area. I saw at least four varieties.

On the way back, I stopped for a break at the overlook. It’s high enough that you can see the ocean from up there. Not much, but it’s there. This is the area of Torry Pines Preserve.

So I didn’t make it all the way to El Cajon peak. I was just not in good enough shape, and got too late a start. I made it just over halfway to the peak. I was planning on starting serious conditioning for my next Yosemite hike in June, but instead I will be starting Monday.

There is little shade on this hike. This was my first extended time in the sun since last fall, and I got a bit of a sunburn (it was gone the next morning). It’s really dry; I ran across no flowing water anywhere, although parts of the trail was just a bit muddy due to seepage.

Here are topo, terrain, and altitude plots for the hike.

Note on the above. I have been using Garmin Mapsource for my topo maps, and Excel for the altitude plots (pasting data from the Mapsource point listing). I got the latest free Garmin product, Basecamp. It downloaded from my GPS with no problem, and generated this altitude plot easily, but it was much harder to use to grab the tracks out of the GPS. I will play with it a bit more to see if I missed something.

This last is a terrain plot from Google Earth, as usual.

I am looking forward to giving El Cajon another try at some point in the near future. I need to get in a little better shape and start earlier.

I do not understand the logic in California of closing access to the backcountry at some point in time. I wrote an email to the San Diego Parks and Recreation asking why they close the parking area at 1900, but have no answer yet.

One thing that was pretty cool was the use of photovoltaics by most of the houses on the lower part of the trail. These houses had solar arrays outside, pretty big ones.

Abbeys BarBQ, San Diego, CA

31 March 2012

Abbey's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

I chose Abbey’s based on reviews from Urbanspoon, and the fact that it was close to my hotel. I got there last night at about 1815 and left about 30 min later.

I got a two meat dinner, with brisket and chicken. The chicken first. It was a smallish chicken breast, smoked, and with good flavor, but really dry on the inside (I wondered if it due to the small size of the chicken). Not much left, though. I did like the brisket. It was a bit on the fatty side, but very tasty. And there was quite a bit of it. The sides of pinto beans and potato salad were pretty good.

So the check was $21.85. Pretty darn expensive. The tea was Gold Peak, and it was bad. They have Coke, fortunately.

Side note: I wish Gold Peak would go out of business. It is not good.

So I might go back to Abbey’s. Decent brisket, but I would try the ribs next time, maybe.

TSA at SAN – Clueless

31 March 2012

I didn’t have the best experience going through security at the SAN commuter terminal today. A little background: SAN has a curfew for takeoffs that ends at 0630. My flight was scheduled to depart at 0620; there were five flights scheduled to depart from the commuter terminal right at 0630.

Each of the five flights were regional jets, about 50 passengers on average. That’s up to 250 people going through security in the 1.5 hours from when the terminal opens until the flights close about 30 minutes before departure.

Now, the TSA has two lanes there. One was open; there were over 100 people in line when I checked at at 0500. I note for the record that TSA had the normal number of people staffing that lane (six), and another eight standing around watching.

TSA was using their horrible backscatter “we MUST see them naked” machines. Now, it takes extra time for people take off all belts, pens, wallets, chapsticks. Then the machine takes 10 seconds or so to get loaded with the traveling public that has had the million-dollar monstrosities forced on us (using our own tax money, I might add). The stupid machine takes 10 seconds to irradiate you, and then at least another 10 seconds for the hidden TSA person to finish staring at the naked body. So that’s at least 30 seconds per person to (1) strip you of your clothes and your rights, and (2) get a single person through the checkpoint (and that doesn’t count if they have to do secondary screening because the damn machine doesn’t work – more on that later). So to get a couple hundred people through the checkpont using the backscatter machine would take more than 1.5 hours, which is impossible since they have roughly an hour to do it.

So somebody came to their senses (finally), and they opened up the standard magnetometer, and started cranking people through in less than half the time. At that point the line really started moving.

So I was next in line for the magnetometer, and some TSA guy who is working the backscatter literally interposes himself between me and the magnetometer and pulls me over for the backscatter. Now I had to take off my belt. And take my chapstick out. I managed not to take my wallet out. THAT got me secondary screened.

Side note to TSA: Your policies are stupid. The NO METAL policy is dumb – they treat a quarter in your pocket like a 9mm pistol. And their magic million-dollar machine is not bright enough to figure out that a Chapstick isn’t a threat (I found that out in Boston last week). Or a wallet. But really, TSA, how many square leather guns do you run across?

So now that the Invisible Commissar Of The Backscatter Machine has Detected An Unauthorized Wallet, you have to have it Inspected by yet another TSA guy. And that also means that they swab your hands, because TSA apparently Knows For Sure that if you have a wallet that isn’t taken out during the scan, then you, a loyal American with a security clearance since 1984, have probably handled explosives and You Might Be A Threat.

TSA is, as an agency, stupid. The security situation is NO different than it was pre-911. Except, of course, it is hideously more expensive due to having twice as many TSA people than they had before, and they have spent huge amounts of money on machines that detect that you have an Chapstick in your pocket. And let’s not forget the tens of millions expended on machines that puffed air at you, AFTER you went through the magnetometer, in an attempt to find out if you have had explosives on you recently.

I’ve read many releases from TSA “Administrator” John Pistole, and he has a deaf ear to the taxpaying traveling public. They need to rethnk, or actually think, through their policies, and abandon the strip-us-naked machines and stick with what works, the magnetometers.

Taste of Italy, San Diego (Carmel Mt Rd)

28 March 2012

Taste of Italy on Urbanspoon

I basically drove out of my hotel this evening to find someplace at random. I pulled into the small shopping center, and recognized that I had had dinner at Taste of Italy on another trip to this area probably five years ago. I think I liked it.

So I got here this evening at about 1745, and left about an hour later. My meal was chicken parmigiana with a side of fettuccine alfredo. It started with some very good focaccia bread; I asked for some oil and basalmic, which was very good. I got an excellent chicken soup instead of a salad.

The main course was not the best I have tasted, but it was also far from the worst. The breading on the chicken was tasty, and the chicken was tender, but the breading kept falling off the bird. The fettuccine noodles were good, but the alfredo was kind of lacking in flavor.

The iced tea was pretty good.

The place was mostly empty the entire time I was there. Service was OK, but right on the border of “lacking”. My check was $25.99. Decent meal, but a bit expensive. I would go back if someone suggested it.

Cool Things From the Air, SAN-DFW-OKC, 02 Sep 2011

1 October 2011

As I came back from my last trip to San Diego, I saw a couple interesting things from the air. There was a decent fog over the area, and some of the mountains were punching through.

About an hour and a half later, I saw this. I am still trying to find out what it is. Through dead reckoning using the timestamps on the photos, I think this is in the far southeastern part of New Mexico, perhaps part of Fort Bliss. I will keep after it on Google Maps.

Finally, as we came into OKC, I got this photo of Lake Hefner. It is way down.

That’s it!

Point Break Cafe, San Diego, CA

4 September 2011

Point Break Cafe on Urbanspoon

This place was recommended to me as a “locals” place. It’s down by the harbor area below Point Loma. A couple work friends and I ate here last Thursday evening after a long work day. It was almost empty at 1830 when we got there, and still pretty much empty an hour later when we left.

I got a set of onion rings for the table, and something else (I’ll remember what later). The appetizers were all really good, and were eaten long before dinner got there.

My dinner was a ribeye. It was cooked a little short of the medium I asked for, but I let it rest a bit and it got up to nearly medium. It was decent sized and had pretty good flavor, and was tender throughout. There were a couple charred places on the edge, but not too bad. It came with some fried mushrooms that were pretty good.

The iced tea was very good and kept filled. Service was casual but kept up. My check was $40.51, but the appetizers were $10 of that, so not a bad price for a decent steak. I’d go back again.

The Corvette Diner, San Diego, CA

1 September 2011

Corvette Diner on Urbanspoon

The Diner is in a retail area that used to be part of the USMC Recruiting and Training Depot in San Diego. I like diners, and thought this would be a typical diner, but it wasn’t. It is meant to be an Experience. There are video games for kids to play in an arcade, it’s loud, and the servers are brash.

We got there at lunch yesterday, and left after an hour or so. I got a sloppy joe and onion rings. The rings were really good; I had asked twice for some ranch dressing to dip them in, but never got it. The sloppy joe was OK, not spectacular. I started out with a vanilla shake, it was OK. My check was $17.36, and there was an “included gratuity” of $2.86 (17%!), I would imagine because there were six of us.

The food was not that good, and the service, while the server was nice and all, was not terribly prompt or throuogh. I don’t know that I would go back.

Miguel’s, Old Town, San Diego, CA

1 September 2011

Miguel's on Urbanspoon

I had heard good things from a friend about this restaurant, and a group of us decided to try it last Monday. We liked it enough that we came back again this evening. It was good both times.

Monday I started off with Miguel’s Nachos for the table, mixed chicken and beef. My main dish was mixed fajitas with no bell peppers. The nachos were OK. The fajitas were excellent. The meat was tender, the onions fully cooked. The meal did not stick to the bottom of the cooking pan, and so was not charred. I piled the refried beans and rice on it, added some salsa, and ate the whole thing. I ended up with chocolate empanadas for desset (small shells filled with chocolate). My check was $36.37.

Tonight I got shredded chicken enchiladas. They were also very good. Smaller than most meals, though. My check was $22.90.

Tea both times, good but not spectacular. Server was good, but I did run out of tea once Monday for a while. This was much better than Coyotes, for sure. Good stuff.

Hunter Steakhouse, San Diego, CA

29 April 2011

Hunter Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

This evening, I wanted steak, and the rest of the crew was amenable. I did some Google searching for “family steakhouse”, and Hunter Steakhouse had good reviews. We got there at 1845 and left at 2005.

I got an appetizer for the table; it was four skewers of chicken, four of shrimp, and four of teriyaki beef. All were pretty good (or maybe it was because we were all very hungry?). They came on a bed of rice, which was *very* good! The chicken had a semi-glaze of BBQ sauce on it, and some were nice and thick. The shrimp were medium sized, and the beef smallish. It was a nice start to the meal.

I got (talked into) a porterhouse. It came a perfect medium. The tenderloin was tender, fork tender. The strip was excellent. There was no charring. That was one good steak. It came with a ceasar salad, not very big but good. It also came with two sides; I got potatoes au gratin and onion rings. The rings were OK. The potatoes were excellent; they were more like the fried potatoes I remember my mom and dad cooking on family picnics at the lake. They had onion in them.

The tea was kind of funny tasting, but not so bad I sent it back.

This was the best meal I have had in San Diego this trip; I will be back to Hunter. My check was $47.27. That seems a little high, but the appetizer was $10 of the total, and the steak was $30. There were lots of other things on the menu that looked good also.

Anthony’s Fish Grotto, San Diego, CA

28 April 2011

Anthony's Fish Grotto on Urbanspoon

Anthony’s is a San Diego institution. I went there last night for dinner with three other work friends. It was my suggestion. I had eaten here with the family when I had them at SD back in 2003, and before that, somewhere back in the early 1990s.

I looked at the menu and was sort of appalled. I’m not a fish person; I like chicken and beef. There was only one chicken dish. There were five or so beef dished, but every single one was a teriyaki marinade of sirloin. They were all small, also, like six ounce.

I ended up getting fish and chips, starting with a cup of New England Chowder. I should have had the bowl; it was the best part of the meal. The fish was decent; it had little flavor, and was a chunky whitefish. The breading could have been a bit crispier to help it hold it’s shape. It came with chips (OK at best). The iced tea was pretty good.

We got there around 1830 and left around 1900. My check was $25.45. Service was good. The other guys all thought the seafood was pretty good.

Cafe Coyote, Old Town, San Diego, CA

28 April 2011

Cafe Coyote on Urbanspoon

Five of us went here for dinner this evening. It wasn’t bad at all.

We got there around 1845 and left around 2000. It was crowded, but we were seated within a couple minutes.

The iced tea was a concentrate, unfortunately. The Coke was not very good. The chips were good, and the salsa had a lot of tomato in it, along with onions. The taste was pretty good, and the heat was minimal. I ordered beef nachos for the table; they were OK.

I ordered the enchiladas, one with chicken and one with shredded beef (no ground beef). The beef enchilada was pretty good. The chicken was bland. I think they needed to cook the chicken in something with a bit more spice to it. The beans and rice included were OK; I think there should have been more of the beans.

A couple of the guys suggested I get the fried ice cream. It was OK.

Service was decent, especially given how crowded it was. My check was about $19.00. I’d go here again.

Hiking Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, CA

6 March 2011

Last week I had two opportunities to hike in San Diego. The first was Black Mountain, and the second was Sunset Cliffs. Sunset Cliffs was suggested by a friend from high school that I had not seen in about 30 years, and who lives in San Diego. We got there about 1620 last Thursday, and finished up about 1800. The total walk was 2.5 miles per the GPS (yes, I was nerd enough to carry it!).

I only took two photos, which I will post first and comment on later. I didn’t take too many pictures, as there was a lot of time spent talking; not a bad thing at all.

The Sunset Cliffs are on the west side of Point Loma, which is part of San Diego, CA. If I remember, we took Talbot up to CA 209, then Hill down to the beach. There are truly rugged cliffs right up against the ocean. There are numerous access points along the trail for people to go down to the beach, and we saw a lot of surfers.

The sinkhole was one of the first things we ran across. The state of California (I guess) fenced it off.

Sometimes the trail we followed would run down a ravine and abruptly end, usually 20-50 ft above the beach. You would have needed rope to get down, but there was usually no place you could tie the rope off to. The trail would also run out to numerous points that jutted out. Some looked like they were none to stable; be warned. There were a lot of places where you scramble up and down.

You can tell from the one photo above that the cliffs are abrupt and steep. It’s clear that the steep sides of Point Loma enhances runoff velocity, which accelerates erosion. There are fissures everywhere.

I was impressed by how rugged the terrain is. The rock is a mixture of igneous (not too much) and sedimentary; there is a lot of sandstone and shale.

You walk south until you run up against a fence that the Navy put up to separate their turf from the rest of the point. We walked closer to the beach until we got to the fence, then went up to a parking lot, and stayed more or less on road up high to get back.

Here are the topo, terrain, and altitude plots from the GPS.

This was a very pleasant way to spend a couple hours or so on the coast. The trail can be a bit slippery, and there can be some wind, but the scenery is beautiful. It was a bit chilly from the onshore wind, so a long-sleeve shirt or a sweatshirt might be needed.

As Nancy pointed out, there are few places in the San Diego area where you can feel that you are completely away from the bustle and noise of the city, but in reality, we were only five minutes from downtown. I plan on going back to spend time here, and walk some more on the beach below the cliffs. It was a beautiful walk, which is really the reason I do it, and the company was very nice also.

La Pinata Mexican Restaurant, San Diego, CA

4 March 2011

La Pinata Mexican on Urbanspoon

A couple work friends and I went to dinner tonight. I was quite hungry after a very nice walk along the ocean with a friend from high school. I thought that cruising through Old Town would find something for us, and that was right. We drove past La Pinata, and went right in.

We got there around 1800, and left around 1900. The place was not crowded at all. The iced tea was great! Our server brought a carafe since we were drinking so much. The salsa was really good! It was spicier than most, but not so spicy as to deactivate the taste buds.

I ordered two enchiladas – one with chicken and one with ground beef. They were not huge, but they were very tasty. They came with some pinto beans and rice. Nothing was left. I spread some of the salsa around the enchiladas to enhance the flavor.

Service was very good. This place is recommended.

Mona Lisa Italian Restaurant, San Diego, CA

3 March 2011

Mona Lisa Italian Foods: Restaurant & Deli on Urbanspoon

I had dinner here last night after work, with a couple co-workers. I picked it from Google Maps. Mona Lisa is in the Little Italy part of San Diego.

We got there about 1815 and were immediately seated.

The iced tea was excellent, and kept refilled. The meal started with a garden salad that had the following in it: Two kinds of lettuce. One (1) black olive. One (1) banana pepper. One (1) small piece of tomato. I got ranch dressing. It was excellent! I asked for some extra, and instead of a little paper cup, I got a small bowl. Great stuff, some of the best.

The meal comes with some toasted garlic bread, and it was great, both by itself and with a bit of ranch dressing on it.

I ordered chicken marsala. It came with a side of spaghetti and marinara. The marinara was excellent, the noodles al dente. The chicken marsala was just the right amount of food. It was tender. The marsala was subtle and full of flavor, great stuff. I was very impressed by it. I would enjoy that marsala often if I could.

We left around 2000, the place was about 1/3 full. My check was about $20. Service was perfect. Recommended.

Hiking Black Mountain, San Diego, CA

2 March 2011

Today, I had intended on heading out to El Cajon for a hard hike. Instead, my flight into San Diego was quite late, and then getting people into their hotels, and lunch, took up more time. So I headed to my secondary destination, Black Mountain, to give it a try. I went with two work friends who came out for the same meeting.

Summary: Up at 1630, down at 1825. Total trip, 4.1 miles. Out and back on the same trail. Altitude: 800 to 1550 ft.

We found a trailhead at a community park, on the south side of the mountain, and headed out. It was about 65F when we left, and 55F when we came down; a bit chilly. You have a great view of Black Mountain from there.

The first part of the trail is steep. The trail is wide. It’s quite rocky in most places.

The rest of the trail, except for one section, is flat or quite gradual.

There was a large variety of plant material up there. Not much in the way of trees, but a lot of bushes and low plants. I really liked this flower.

We got to the top as Sun was starting to get close to the horizon. The views were excellent. This is off to the east. Iron Mountain and Mount Woodson frame the picture right and left. Note the trail running off at the bottom.

This is Mission Trails Regional Park, including Cowles Peak.

This is looking southwest, towards the parking lot where the car is.

Finally, this is downtown San Diego, and Point Loma.

We saw a couple bunny rabbits, and a number of small and medium birds, including a hummingbird, and a couple raptors. We saw a couple owl pellets, and tracks from deer of several sizes.

The following is my downloaded GPS track data overlaid on a topo, then Google Earth, and finally an altitude plot.

This was a great short hike. The views were fantastic. Very enjoyable.

Palominos Mexican and Seafood Restaurant, San Diego, CA

26 October 2010

Palominos Mexican & Sea Food on Urbanspoon

A coworker and I chose this restaurant for lunch more or less at random as we drove by today. We got there around 1145, and left around 1220. The restaurant was about 75% full the entire time.

I ordered the #2, which was two enchiladas (cheese, chicken, or beef), and a drink. It also happens to be the Monday special. I ordered my enchiladas as one chicken and one beef, although they came as both beef.

The enchiladas were… OK at best. They came in corn tortillas, which were pretty tough, and dry. The beef didn’t have a lot of taste. The plate also had a bunch of chunked-up tomatoes and onions and lettuce, and then there were refried beans and rice on the plate. It was quite a lot of food, and made for a heck of a mess on the plate. There were free chips and a number of salsas on a serve yourself.

There was no tea, but they had serve yourself soda.

My check was $8.16. I don’t know that I would go back.

Hiking Iron Mountain, Poway, CA

25 October 2010

Iron Mountain is near Poway, CA, which is near San Diego, CA. These mountains are on the edge of the western edge of of serious mountains about 10 miles away, but are great for afternoon hikes. After I arrived in San Diego and got checked into the hotel, I was at the trailhead about 30 minutes later.

Summary: Roundtrip mileage 5.7 miles (2.98 up, 2.72 down), net altitude gain 1088 ft. Started at 1530, down at 1800.

The parking area is across the intersection of CA 67 and Poway Road. There is a decent sized parking lot, with restrooms. There is no water there, so be sure to fill up your water bottles before coming to the trail head.

You get a good view of Iron Mountain from the trailhead. As you look at the high point, there is a ridge running down to a secondary summit. That ridge is what you switchback up to get to the top.

There is a neat “tunnel” through the trees near the start of the hike.

The first part of the hike is on a scraped road.

There is a branch in the trail that loops a bit to the south, and then reconnects right at the foot of the mountain. Taking the south loop is the longer path by 0.25 miles (so it would add 0.5 miles if you went that way both up and down). I took the south branch on the way up, and the north branch coming back down. Both trails run through a band of low trees.

Past where the trails reconnect, the trail becomes quite rocky, and you get to do some stairstepping. As you come up the shoulder of Iron Mountain, you also start to get some views, including part of the trail you walked up.

One note about online resources: This sign was at the halfway point of the hike. I did a little research last night, and there was very little online about several of these hikes. The bottom line to me is that there are thousands of nice trails to walk, but it’s kind of hard to find them if you are arriving from out of town. I have some more targets for later!

The trail goes around the east side of Iron Mountain, has some switchbacks, and then ends up on the ridge below the secondary summit. From there, it gets very rocky and steep.

This is looking at the summit from the bottom of the ridge.

At the top! This is looking south, at San Vicente Lake.

This is looking southwest of the mountain. The mountains to the left are Mission Trail Regional Park (the tallest one is Cowles Peak), and moving right you see downtown, San Diego Bay, and Point Loma.

This is looking west north west at Mount Woodson. I hiked Woodson a couple years ago.

Finally, these are looking northeast at the next peak over, and the east towards El Capitan and El Cajon Peak (on my list for this area!).

This was a very enjoyable way to spend part of an afternoon. I was happy at how crowded the trail was. I saw probably 80 people on the way up and down. There were a number of people running the trail, and one guy trying to mountain bike it, but most were hiking. There was a small group of Cub and Webelos Scouts, so that was neat! A number of people had dogs. Total wildlife was one rabbit, and two small skink-sized lizards.

This is the hike path overlaid on Google Earth to give you an idea of the vegetation.

Here is the path overlaid on a topographic map for terrain.

And finally, here is the altitude plot. A pretty typical up and down out and back!

The temperature was in the low 70s when I started, and in the low 60s at the end. There was a decent breeze at the top that made it a bit cool. On the way back, there were three hot air balloons off to the northwest.

Great hike!

Sometimes It Pays To Walk Around

5 February 2010

I’ve been flying into SAN for years. I think my first travel there was in 1986. I’ve been there dozens of times. I have flown mostly into or out of Terminal 2. Once out of the Commuter Terminal, and a number of times in or out of Terminal 1. I have always found Terminals 1 and 2 to be a lot like the old OKC terminals – unrelieved brown-gray concrete. There isn’t a good choice for food in Terminal 2 or the Commuter Terminal, but Terminal 1 has decent choices.

Today I got out to SAN early for my flight out, and had a bit of time on my hands. I was in Terminal 2. I didn’t want to fire up the computer, so I decided to take a walk. I went around from the east side of the Terminal (where American is based), around the big loop to the west side.

WOW! Once you get to the first part of the west side, there is a food court! I had no idea it was there. The terminal has high ceilings, and wood and glass, and looks good. There are a number of sit-down restaurangs, and a couple of book/newspaper sellers. There is a really cool fountain towards the end of the terminal as well.

The gates have better chairs, there are plugs for power, and there are more chairs as well.

The whole thing is open and light and airy. I like it!

I am glad I took the walk around. That opened up a number of food choices that I had no idea where even there.

SAN is building a new terminal, I hope it is built like the west side of Terminal 2.

Bellagio Ristorante, San Diego, CA

4 February 2010

Bellagio Restaurante on Urbanspoon

A guy at a meeting I was at today recommended this restaurant; it is east of I-15 on Claremont Mesa Boulevard. A group of work friends and I got there this evening for dinner. We got there around 1730. There were people at two other tables.

I had one of my rare glasses of wine (white zinfandel). It was pretty good. I also had a glass of iced tea. It was pretty bad, I think it was a concentrate.

Service was uneven. The guy who was supposedly our server disappeared for long perods of time. One of the other servers took up the slack; she didn’t let the glasses get too empty.

The meal comes with heavily garlic-ed breadsticks. I ate a lot of them. Each table was also provided with a dish and bottles of Balsalmic Vinegar and EVOO to dip the bread in. Very nice.

I ordered Chicken Fettucine Alfredo. It was OK. The alfredo had a taste that I’ve had at some other restaurants, it’s an not wholly unpleasant herb, but it overrides the creamy goodness that Is Alfredo. The chicken was OK.

My check was $27.95. Kind of expensive for a mediocre meal. We left at 1848.

Rockin’ Baja Lobster, San Diego, CA

3 February 2010

Rockin Baja Lobster on Urbanspoon

I ate at this restaurant with my good and now retired-for-24-hours buddy Harold back in 2002 or so. A couple of us were at a meeting in San Diego, and someone pointed us to Baja Lobster one evening. It’s largely a seafood place, and I remember both Harold and I getting steak while the rest of the party got various forms of seafood.

There aren’t any steaks on the menu now. There is still a lot of fish.

I went here for dinner tonight with a couple work friends after our meetings were out. Jim and Jay got some buckets of various seafood. I got fajitas, mixed carne asada beef and chicken. I usually get my fajitas sans peppers, but with onions (this is an attempt to be sly on my part, the peppers being taken out usually results in more meat being added). I forgot to ask for the peppers to be removed, and had to fish them out manually. Once I did that, there really wasn’t a huge quantity of meat left behind. Now, I did not go back to the hotel hungry. The chicken was tender but didn’t have an abundance of taste. The beef was really good, just a hint of asada seasoning, and tender. The onions were cooked to transparency. I made two smallish fajitas, and then ate the rest right off the plate.

The iced tea was not that good, but relative to the swill that I had for lunch at El Pollo Loco, it was paradise itself. The service was pretty good.

They have a salsa bar in the place, you self serve yourself chips and the different salsas. There were some really good reds.

We got to the restuarant about 1845. It was not terribly full. We left around 2020, and it was getting pretty much full. They play 70s rock in the place, sometimes just a touch loud. The restaurant is not quite in a building, it is more like a roof held up with some semi-walls. They had outdoor heaters going in there this evening (now that I recall, we were there in the summer last time, and it was hot and sweaty in the place).

My check was $20.42.

Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, San Diego, CA

2 February 2010

Filippis Pizza Grotto on Urbanspoon

Oh, this was not a good experience. It’s a couple hours after the meal, and I have heartburn or something. Ack.

I ate at this restaurant about 10 years ago on another visit to San Diego. I saw it as I was driving to the hotel for this latest visit. After I ate there, I remembered why I haven’t eaten there in 10 years…

I got there around 1845 and was seated immediately. The place was about half full, and was when I left at 2005. I had a bit of a wait for the server to notice.

I ordered dinner and a Ceasar Salad. What was delivered was a salad with ceasar greens, with a lite Italian dressing. It wasn’t too bad, but it was not what I ordered. It came with a loaflet of white baked bread that wasn’t too bad.

The iced tea was terrible. It tasted like… algea. I wonder if the tea maker hadn’t been cleaned in a while. I could not tell if the tea was fresh brewed, or concentrate, or instant. Yuk. I actually asked to switch to Coke, but they are a Pepsi-only place, so I just stuck with water.

The main course was Chicken Marsala. It was a biggish bowl of linguini, with some chunks of chicken, some sliced mushrooms, and a LOT of chopped garlic in a marsala wine sauce. It smelled a little funny. It wasn’t very good. I ate most of it, but I am apparently paying for it know. I wanted to get this blog entry posted in case I die overnight…

The total for the meal was $21.64. I was at the location on Kearny Villa Road. Not recommended.

Studio Diner, San Diego, CA

10 December 2009

Studio Diner on Urbanspoon

This restaurant is across the street from a contractor facility that I have visited several times this year. I like diners, and after my post-work hike today, I decided to try it.

I was seated immediately when I arrived. My server brought me iced tea (which was kept full!) very quickly. The iced tea was good, a perfect strength.

I got a cup of chili, since it was kind of chilly outside. The stuff was amazingly good! It reminded me of the chili that my Dad used to make for us at home. The meat was ground fairly fine, there was a bit of red grease in the cup (which to me is not a bad thing), and there were NO beans in it! I could have eaten a huge bowl of it by itself for dinner. It was really good! They had oyster crackers to go with it, but no saltines. One thing I just remembered: they have two kinds of chili, the kind I got with ground beef, and another that is made with (IIRC) prime rib.

I ordered a Chicken Fried Steak. A new thing – my server asked if I wanted it with the veggies (as in dinner) or with eggs and hash browns! Right on! I chose the breakfast option.

One problem here, I had just started my chili when the dinner arrived. I think that the cooks moved a bit too fast. I know that the diner concept is eat fast and get out, but this was probably just a bit too fast; my food was getting cool by the time I finished the chili.

Nonetheless, the CFS was good if a bit bland, and the eggs and hashbrowns were great with a bit of the extra gravy my server brought me.

The place was about 50% full when I arrived just a bit after 1800, and about 75% full when I left right at 1900. My check was $19.02. The service was good, although the cooking was a bit rushed, I think.

I like this place. I want to go back and try some of the sandwiches for lunch.

My server mentioned that the crew from “Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives” was here at some point. That makes about 10 places that I’ve been to that Guy and his crew have visited also.

Mission Trails Regional Park, Again

10 December 2009

This has not been a good trip for hiking. First, on Monday, my flight was late, and there was snow at my target, Strawberry Peak, which closed the roads.

Then, at the meeting yesterday, it went a little long-winded, which got me to my target of Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park a little late, only to find that the whole park was closed.

So today, at the end of my meeting in San Diego, which also went long, I didn’t get to Mission Trails until about 1545. My plan was to head west of the Visitor Center, cross the San Diego River, and head up and over Fortuna Peak, returning via Oak Canyon Trail and the Father Junipero trails. Best laid plans…

The rains from the past couple days had filled the San Diego River. The low-water crossing was completely underwater:

San Diego River Over Trail

That measuring stick out in the middle shows that 3.5ft of water is running over the trail.

You can’t tell from the photo, but there was an actual waterfall to the left. I walked a bit up and down the river, but could not get across.

I ended up heading back on the Visitor Loop Trail, completing the half that I had not completed the first time I hiked this part of the trail a couple weeks ago.

This is the same shot of the San Diego River that I took a couple weeks ago, but there is a significant increase in the amount of water:

I ended up at the west end of the climbers loop, then headed down Father Junipero to the north end of the, and hiked a bit on the Oak Canyon Trail.

I deadheaded back on Father Jupinero. I got back under beautiful dark, clear skies around 1800. Total mileage was about 6 miles.

Cowles Mountain – Mission Trails Regional Park

21 November 2009

On Wednesday (18 Nov), the meeting I was at got out earlier than expected, and a work friend and I decided to hike Cowles Mountain (it’s pronounced “coals”). Cowles is a part of San Diego’s Mission Trails Regional Park. We got to the Park about 1515, and headed right up.

Cowle's Mountain Trailhead

Most of the hike is a series of switchbacks. It starts out quite steep. About half way up, you go around a sub-summit and walk a forty yards or so along a saddle. There were a ton of people on the trail, I’ll bet there were a couple hundred on the mountain while we were there. We took a couple breaks on the way up. Some of the breaks were for short rests, but a couple times we managed to miss the trail for a short bit, and we found ourselves in uncharted territory for a minute or so.

Most of the trail looks more like this:

In a fairly short time, we were at the top! The view up there is spectacular. Cowles is the tallest point in the city of San Diego. I took a panorama that I will post when I get it stitched together. This is the view off to the ENE, towards El Capitan:

This is the view to the south. That’s Lake Murray, where a couple of us took a hike last week:

While at the top we read the various signs pointing out the terrain around the area, and went over and checked out the antenna tower (hey, a couple comm guys, we have to check out comm towers or we lose our union card…). Eventually we headed down. There was a breeze blowing and the temperature was pleasantly cool.

We got to the bottom right at 1715. There were still people headed up the trail! So for a two-hour hike, we ended up doing a bit more than 3 miles round trip, and about 933 ft of altitude gain.

This was a fun hike, and a great way to spend a couple hours after work. I am really impressed by Mission Trails park. Congrats to San Diego for creating it.

Mission Trails Regional Park, San Diego

20 November 2009

After work today, I headed out to Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) to get some hiking in. I checked out the VERY nice Visitor Center, grabbed a trail map, took a long drink, planned my route, and headed out. Good planning, lasted about a half hour.

Mission Trails Regional Park entrance

I started out on the Visitor Center Loop. My plan was to take the Grinding Rocks Trail to Father Juniper, then the Climbers Loop, then to the NE end, Oak Canyon, and around South Fortuna back to the entrance.

The Grinding Rocks trail, is along the San Diego River, which really isn’t much more than a stream thanks to the old Mission Dam, but there is tree-shade along parts of it.

Along Grinding Rocks Trail

The trail was wide and smooth.

MTRP Trail

There are a couple places where the San Diego River is very pretty.

San Diego River

I got to the Father Juniper Trail right at the west trailhead for the Climbers Loop. There are some nice looking rocks to climb up there, I thought. Too bad I didn’t bring any gear…

The trail up there is narrow and steep. You get an advertised 400 ft elevation gain in less than half a mile. Problem is, when you get up to the base of the climbing rocks, the trail just fades away. The trail is very poorly marked. I tried following boot prints, but they kept leading up and up. I eventually had to boulder my way to the top, with no safety gear. I was never in any danger, but if you can’t get up a four-foot boulder, you have to work your way back down. I really wish the darn trail was marked better.

When I got to the top, I looked back down, said a few bad words, sat down and ate the rest of the Sun Chips I had saved from lunch, and drank one of my water bottles. The view down was spectacular. What was supposed to be a maximum elevation gain for the loop trail, about 400 feet, had turned into 800 feet, most of the extra altitude done via bouldering.

Way Down

I checked the map and made a reroute. I made for the top of Kwaay Peak, since I was standing on it’s shoulders now. There were a lot of small trails going back and forth up there. It was absolutely beautiful, with a nice breeze and the setting Sun. Cowles Mountain was off in the distance. I found the top of Kwaay, and started back down. The trail was better and wider, but it was steep, had few stairs, and was steep in lot of places, and slippery with dust. This is looking back up-trail at one point.

I saw a hawk or owl dropping at one point on the hike from the climbers area to the top of Kwaay, and I saw four of five more on the way down. They were not compact pellets (long), and there was very little bone in them, indicating that the stomach of the critter doing the eating had very strong acid in it.

Somebody's Lunch

When I got to the bottom, I checked out the Old Mission Dam. It had a bit of the San Diego River backed up behind it. Since the dam was built in the days before Caterpillar existed, there was a lot of labor involved.

I walked back to the Visitor Center and my car along the Father Juniper, with a very thin crescent Moon and a bright Jupiter above.

At the end of the hike, this was a fairly uncrowded place. There were a number of people on the Father Juniper, but I didn’t see a single person on the Visitor Center Loop or the Grinding Rocks Trail. On the Climbers (alleged) Loop, I saw three people, and over Kwaay, three people.

I got started around 1415, and ended up back at the car under clear, dark skies at 1650. Total mileage was about 3.8 miles, and total elevation gain was 880 feet (and of course, back down 880 feet). Coming on the heels of the Cowles Mountain hike yesterday, this was a great workout.

I am really impressed by MTRP. To have such a large outdoor area so close to a major city, and to see all the people using it, is a good thing. I have hiked a lot of the western part of the park in years past while visiting San Diego, but only hiked about 20% of the park. There is still a lot to go, and frankly the total mileage of hiking trails I have barely scratched. I’ve also walked the Point Loma trails, the San Diego State Parks trails in La Jolla, and Blacks Mountain. I made a run at El Capitan back in February, but it was too late in the day to get very far. So hooray for San Diego and the state of California for building all these trails, and to the citizens that use them.

Venice Ristorante and Wine Bar, San Diego, CA

20 November 2009

Venice Ristorante & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

This place was recommended by the staff at the hotel I am staying at, the Embassy Suites La Jolla. It was within a couple minutes walk of the hotel.

I went here with a work friend after we had hiked Cowles Mountain. I thought some carbs would be in order, and Jim wanted some seafood.

First of all, the iced tea was worthless and weak. At least at first, it got better over time. I guess they had just brewed it, and so we got to sample the tea life cycle. It finally started acquiring some taste about half way through.

The staff brought us very good crusty bread, and oil and balsamic vinegar to dip it in, yum.

Jim ordered a shrimp dish and thought it was OK.

I got Capelllini con Pomadoro e Pollo, which is interpreted as angel hair pasta and chicken chunks in an odd but OK-tasting orange-pink sauce. I wanted to know what the above term meant. I started with Italian, made no sense, then tried Spanish and French. Here are the translations:

  • Capelllini with Pomadoro and Pollo
  • Capelllini with Pomadoro and Pollo
  • Capelllini idiot Pomadoro E Sports shirt
  • So I copied “Capelllini” out to Google; no translation, but a reference to the stuff being angel hair pasta. Pomadoro isn’t a word that I could find, but there were references to it as a tomato-based sauce, which explains the coloration.

    So the place was OK. My check was $20.61.

    Some caveats: if you think you are going to get food here like at an Olive Garden, you will be disappointed. This is, I guess, an “art food” restaurant.

    Black Angus, San Diego, CA

    20 November 2009

    Black Angus Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

    After a long and tiring hike, I was on the way back to the hotel when I passed the Black Angus. I decided I wanted STEAK! I made an illegal right turn and pulled into the parking lot. This location was on Friar’s Road just east of I-15.

    I think that this restaurant used to be called Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus, as it looks like others of that chainlet. Maybe Agent Smith got a Mr. Anderson finally.

    I was seated and got some iced tea. Very good iced tea. I ordered the T-Bone, medium, with some sauteed mushrooms, and with Baked Potato soup and mac and cheese for the sides. I told the server I was in no hurry, as I wanted to read my USA Today, and work the puzzles.

    The soup was excellent. It comes “loaded” with sour cream and stuff, I asked for it to be taken off, and went with a bit of bacon and cheese. Really, really, really good. I was having my soup and working the puzzles when it went rapidly downhill.

    The steak showed up. It didn’t look right; there was no juice on the platter. I cut into it, it was 100% gray all the way through. The tenderloin was a brick. I lifted it up, and the bottom was burned uniformly black; I would have needed a Sawzall to cut it. That steak had been put on the hottest part of the fire, something heavy put on it, and it was left to die. I actually tasted a bite, and darn near spit it out. It was like rubber, except rubber tastes better.

    I got the servers attention, and quietly said that I would like to get a steak that was medium. She immediately agreed that it was bad and took it away. I told her again that I was NOT in a hurry.

    A couple minutes later, a manager brought a replacement. Too short, I thought. I checked the steak – it was now medium… rare. I asked the manager to please have the cook put it back on the fire for just a minute more, and NOT repeat NOT to brick it. He did, and came back about two minutes later, and the steak was now perfect. A bonus – it was also a Porterhouse, so I got upgraded from a 16-oz steak to a 24-oz. And it was really good, that perfect pink in the middle. The tenderloin was just over fork tender, and wonderful.

    My check was $30.97. The service was OK.

    One amusing thing, I got one of those survey requests on the check. I took it, and there wasn’t a question to ask if you LIKED the experience or if there were any problems. So the next time I go to a Black Angus, free dessert!

    The sides were mushrooms (comp’d now), very good. Also, mac and cheese. It was in a white cheese, with a white cheese crust on top. Not a lot of flavor, but not bad either.

    The bread served with the meal was really good, a dark grain that produced a bread with a lot of texture, that really took butter well!

    Bar-B-Que House, Take 2

    18 November 2009

    Barbeque House on Urbanspoon

    A couple of us at lunch here last week. I came back to San Diego again this week, and got in around 1700. I-5 was horribly backed up for the northbound lanes, so I decided to get an early dinner at BBQ House. I found it OK again.

    I got a combination plate, with a half of white meat chicken, and a couple spare ribs. It was all excellent! The chicken was some of the best BBQ chicken I have ever had. Truely smoked, and with a “medium” sauce that tasted like a medium ought to: just a little bit of sweat on the forehead.

    The ribs were pretty darn good also. I rate the spare ribs as a 9 out of 10. The order included about four rib ends also. They were not as good, as they were a lot of fat.

    The french fries and baked beans were all really good. I didn’t get any bread, and was offered a third side; I got cole slaw that was a pretty standard mayo-based salad. They had brewed iced tea that we pretty good.

    My check was $13.64, which I think was excellent value. Bar-B-Que House is the best BBQ that I have ever had in California.

    Gathering, San Diego, CA

    13 November 2009

    Gathering on Urbanspoon

    A group of work friends and I found this place quite by accident one evening. Our intention was to hit local BBQ place Phil’s, but one of our number wanted to go back to his hotel and change,about 10 miles away. While we were waiting in the parking lot, I did a Google Maps search on my Blackberry for “BBQ”, and there was another Phil’s, in the University section just behind the hotel we were sitting at. Looking at the crawling traffic on I-8 led me to find that other Phil’s instead of driving back the the Sports Arena area.

    So we drove there, and found a parking place right down the road. Problem was, the building that was supposed to be Phil’s was some other place. I called the phone number in the Google listing, and the recording said that Phil;s in that location would not be reopening. Grrr…

    But there was a decent-looking place called Gathering on the corner we were parked on. Not “The” Gathering, just Gathering. We decided it would do.

    We got in there are were seated by our absolute pistol of a server. She was funny and smart and witty, and cute too. Us guys are a fun-loving and dissing bunch, and she joined right in.

    I got one of the specials, beef stew in a bread bowl, but without the bread bowl (I would rather have all the juice to eat, rather than soaked up by the bread bowl). It was pretty good. The meat to veg ratio was good, and the gravy was also good. You also get some bread rolls served as an appetizer; the rolls had great texture and were tasty.

    I ordered warm brownie and ice cream for dessert, but they were out of the brownes, so I just had a scoop of ice cream.

    The tea was OK. My check was $19. High for beef stew, but when you figure in the dessert, not a bad amount. When we got there around 1700, the place was basically empty. When we left at 1830, there were maybe three tables occupied, and a couple couples at the bar. This is a good place to eat; although maybe just a bit expensive.

    BBQ House, San Diego, CA

    12 November 2009

    On my last trip to San Diego, a couple of us arrived late in the morning. Naturally, we wanted lunch. I tried to take the guys to a semi-famous local BBQ restaurant (Phil’s – more on that place in the entry for “Gathering”), but Phil’s is closed on Mondays.

    Brad pulled his Google Maps app for Palm, and lo and behold, BBQ House popped up. We found it easily enough; it was about a 10 min drive, and was about a block off the beach at 5025 Newport Ave. There was a parking place right across the street; a good sign.

    We walked in. I saw a menu on the wall that had sandwiches, but completely missed the platter menu on the right wall. The brisket, chicken, and ribs on the cutting board looked really, really good.

    Ron and Brad and I all got some variety of brisket sandwich (I should have got a two-meat platter!). The brisket was EXCELLENT. It was tender, fall-apart tender, without being hugely fatty or greasy. It was on a plain bun, I have no recollection of that. The brisket was spilling out of the sandwich. It was tasty. I had asked for medium sauce, but don’t think it was hot at all. The mild sauce that was out was good. The fries that came with the sandwich were pretty good also, but the star is the brisket.

    We got there around 1145, and the place was about half full – it only has about 10 tables. When we left around 1230, it was about the same.

    I’ve had BBQ at a number of places in California, including Phil’s, but this brisket blew the other places away. It was as good as the brisket at JT’s.

    I’m going back to BBQ House the very next time I am in SD if at all possible, and checking out the ribs and chicken.

    Lake Murray, Mission Trails Regional Park, San Diego, CA

    12 November 2009

    On my last trip out to San Diego, I dragged a couple co-workers along for a walk.

    I have been to Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) a number of times in the past, always in the western part of the park. It’s a huge park, a couple miles east of I-15 and north of I-8. The western part is dry and desert-like, and fairly hilly, and so is a good workout.

    On this trip, we made our way to the southern part of the park, to Lake Murray. This part of MTRP is tenuously attached to the rest of the park. We found out way to the parking lot south of the lake. There are a number of signs that declare that the park is closed at 1730 and cars will be left in with no release!!!! Editorial comment: closing a park at 1730 is stupid. Locking cars in the park at 1730 is even more stupid.

    The trail does not go all the way around the lake. It starts at the parking lot and heads counterclockwise to the NE. It’s a wide, paved trail:

    Lake Murray Trail

    The distance is marked in miles and kilometers. We started off at about 1500, and got back around 1715. We made it around to the 2.5mile point, so our round trip was 5 miles. We had also walked around the top of Point Loma for a while, and also walked around the park near the trailhead, so the total for the day was around 6 miles.

    The area around the lake is really pretty. The lake was really down, I think. It looked about 10 feet down.

    Lake Murray

    There were a lot of birds around. The lake was full of ducks and geese. There were some interesting birds perched on an electric line over the lake.

    There was an especially neat tree on the west side. The bark was really smooth, and was very light colored.

    Cool Tree At Lake Murray

    If you walk this lake, watch out for the 1730 closure. It’s an easy hike, very little slope.

    Point Loma, San Diego, CA

    10 November 2009

    Today we had some free time, and I took a couple work friends up to Point Loma. Point Loma rises more than 400 ft above San Diego Bay, and provides excellent protection for the harbor. The view of San Diego is stunning. During whale migration season, there are often whales on the Pacific Ocean side.

    A large two-masted schooner came into the Bay while we were up there:

    Schooner Entering San Diego Bay

    Schooner Entering San Diego Bay

    We also walked around the lighthouse that has been restored on top of the cliff there, and a building housing a large lighthouse lens. Very neat.