Monday 21st – Wednesday 23rd November
Cal Guy Snr was detailed to escort us up to Double Peak Park, a city park about a thousand feet above San Marcos from which, on a good day, wide views can be seen. It was a good day. After the severe rain on Sunday night cold sector weather left the skies clear and with good visibility. The skyscrapers of San Diego (about 35 miles south) could be made out, and beyond them the borderlands of Mexico. To the west the land stretches across the valley of San Marcos and out to the coastal towns of Carlsbad and Oceanside and on Monday afternoon the sun sparkled on the endless Pacific Ocean. But the most spectacular views are to the north and to the east, layer after layer of sharp hills and behind them taller mountains. Since last year a viewing telescope has been installed and Cal Guy Snr was keen to point out certain features. Home, of course, is hidden by a ridge though the university campus on the other side of it is clearly visible. He sought out his sister’s school to the north west of the city and then his, to the north east. We wandered then down to the play area. A woman and her dog emerged at the top of a steep path. “Is this the Secret Trail?” we asked. No, but it was “a great workout to come up from behind the fire station!” Cal Guy Snr sniffed a chance to explore. “Let’s do one of the trails!” Slowly the situation was weighed up: to walk without map, compass, hiking poles and water bottles would be folly. The only possible emergency aid with us was a stray binky* in Boatwif’s pocket (good for a toddler emergency maybe!) The idea was postponed, to be discussed at home. Perhaps it was no longer rattlesnake season (the warning notice didn’t give dates) but the mountain lion is back, spotted a couple of weeks ago in the brush up behind the university… So trail adventure delayed until another time.
On Tuesday morning a checkout of the chuck gliders was declared. These, for the uninitiated, are model aircraft made from polystyrene or balsa wood which can be launched by chucking like a dart or by winding a propeller with elastic. A fair number has been assembled over the years so down to the park at the bottom of the road a convoy trundled: in the lead was Cal Guy Snr sitting on his skateboard, followed by Cal Guy Jnr in the small red push car, Cal Gal taking up the rear on the pink bicycle. We arrived, we chucked, we assessed: best distance achieved – Cal Gal; most unstable aircraft with erratic performance – the one under Cal Guy Snr’s control; most innovative use of model – achieved by Cal Guy Jnr for repeatedly launching polystyrene model backwards down the slide.
Later in the day Boatwif and the Captain (time off for good behaviour?) stole out, first to the Carlsbad Outlet Mall and then continued on up Highway 101 to Oceanside, in need of some boats to look at. Glitzy power boats lay in the harbour but out on the sea were two, no three, sailboats. Three micro lights buzzed above our heads, surfers searched for a good wave and canoeists ploughed out past the pier. A low promontory of rocks and boulders protects the river mouth so we clambered along it, as far as it stretched, glad to be in splashing distance of the water. Back on the beach the cause of the deep tyre marks on the sand became apparent: a tractor was towing the lifeguard towers along the beach to a central point, ready for winter maintenance. The beaches are officially closed, no lifeguards are on duty but that doesn’t deter the committed surfers – or the bucket and spade brigade. Today (Wednesday) we were there again, among them, this time on the other side of the pier, with three children and a 15 piece sand toy set. All San Marcos visitors will have trodden the diagonal boards of the Oceanside Pier (taking care to observe all the rules, of course.) A large gull wheeled down, landed and gobbled a substantial fish in front of us while three pelicans, perched on the rails, preened themselves. On the promenade folk cycled past on unusual leisure bikes, the most extraordinary being a sort of low slung armchair, with a dog perched on the back! It may be winter, it may be the day before Thanksgiving – but it was pleasantly hot!
Earlier in the week the forecast for Thursday was rain, “but that doesn’t matter ‘cos most people are indoors doing Thanksgiving.” Not so all day at Oceanside, as, so a notice advertises, between 7am and 9am the coast road will be closed for “Thanksgiving Turkey Trot”, a series of races of varying distances, pilgrim and turkey costumes optional… Thanksgiving: a great explanation of it is given by Jaq Biggs (US citizen now living afloat nb Valerie in the UK) who explains how the festival originated and adds some recipes too. See “What Americans Do With Pumpkins, and Other Thanksgiving Treats” at http://boatwife.blogspot.com/ . 43 million Americans apparently have been on the move today, criss-crossing this vast country to reach their families for Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey here is in the fridge, the veg has been bought, fruit pies too. Down at the Outlet stores yesterday an assistant in Tommy Hilfiger told us how she’d see her parents for a few hours on Thursday, go home for a couple of hours to have a nap, then report to the store at 10pm to prepare for the 5am Black Friday opening… Huge discounts will prevail – and for those desperate for an outdoor adventure they can sleep outdoors all night to secure a good place in Friday’s queues. Guess what? That’s one adventure no-one in this household is planning to do!
* Binky (informal term): US – pacifier; UK – dummy