Sights, sounds and tastes in San Diego County

Thursday: bodies and brains were in a jumble – it isn’t easy to adjust to an eight hour time difference. From previous visits to California the Captain and Boatwif have devised their own (if only temporary) antidote to jet lag, lunch at the Pannikin.  A 25 minute drive south west from San Marcos cuts through the hills to the coast. There on the Pacific Highway 1 stands a wooden railway halt, now an indoor /outdoor café. It is totally unglitzy, unglamorous, contains no plastic, has old wooden floors, odd engineering equipment strung from the rafters  – and it provides just the right sort of food. No dithering over a menu, the order is always the same, two Greek eggs and two large mugs of coffee. Food, cooked to order, arrives swiftly; the scrambled eggs are flavoured by minutely diced tomatoes and peppers with toasted bagels and fresh orange slices – remarkably curative. The notice board is still entitled “Stuff”, the occasional sparrow darts into the building, artwork is still displayed on the back wall and even the customers seem unchanged. There was a female student with open laptop and pages of notes; there were two cap-wearing women, taking post-exercise refreshment; there were two Californian stick women who have mastered the art of eating very little, very slowly while talking very earnestly about career development… How to eat, but not eat, a muffin!

There was time to return via the coastal route. Just a couple of miles further on the highway runs beside the Pacific Ocean at Carlsbad State Beach. Offshore by about a hundred yards was a … a what? A boat? A tanker? No, a sand dredger. The tides here never seem to expose much sand and the sandstone bluffs behind the beaches are soft and subject to erosion by wind and water. Emerging at the water’s edge was a huge pipe, fluming out sand and water which was being pumped up offshore by the dredger. Along the beach rumbled earth moving equipment ready to spread out the newly acquired sand. Two camera crews were filming the action and a sleekly dressed spokesperson was giving interviews. Oh how both the Cal Guys would have enjoyed the scene…!

Friday was Thanksgiving Performance Day for Cal Gal. The youngest children performed a song Ten Little Indians; the 2nd and 3rd Grade class narrated a story about turkeys, pilgrims and Indians while the oldest children performed a comically jazzy number promoting vegan festivities…Pupils, staff and audience then enjoyed a festive meal (non vegan) and the turkey was excellent! Why can one live for months in the UK without a thought of apple pie but here it proves absolutely irresistible?

Saturday saw another culinary delight. “We must take you to this new place for lunch,” urged Cal Son and Cal Mom. Over the hills we bowled, towards Encinitas, drawing in to a mall decorated by prominent holiday banners and gift ribbons hanging from the lamp-posts. This restaurant prides itself on its totally organic ingredients. For menu think of a multiple choice test paper:

SECTION 1: choose from beef, chicken, turkey or vegetable for your burger and whether it is to be served in a roll or with salad.

SECTION 2: choose from 8 cheese types.

SECTION 3: from a list of about 20 toppings choose any four.

SECTION 4: from about 8 dressings choose any one.

SECTION 5: if a roll is chosen select which type of bread.

There was a SECTION 6 – perhaps that was the bit which requested customer’s email address…

Advice was readily available from the waiting staff, ticks applied to the chosen boxes – and the result was a really tasty and moist burger… As for the environment the décor was in cool shades of grey plus brown, there was diner seating indoors and out as well as at a long bar, behind which large screens relayed college football games.

    Later, at the favourite Escondido book store, no reader could miss the displays of Thanksgiving books.


Sunday: Just twelve months ago Cal Guy Jnr fell in love with trainsSince then Cal Guy Jnr has discovered Thomas the Tank Engine – and saw him a couple of weekends ago up in Riverside County. His bedroom door is a gallery for train pictures. Now Cal Guy Jnr wanted to ride on a bigger train… The Coaster is a double decker train that runs the fifty odd miles down the coast between Oceanside and San Diego. Great white lights and that distinctive air horn sound heralded the train’s arrival. Such thrill for Cal Guy Jnr: a massive train, another on the next track, great views from the upper deck, passenger announcements and that air horn again and again and again.

        What on earth was Pennypickle’s Workshop?  Cal Gal was charged to explain it since she had been before. Up the Interstate 15 to Temecula (a 45 minute drive) to what is a children’s science museum.  Supposedly “The Professor” has stashed his house with his inventions, and the result is an amazing array of displays covering time travel, electricity, earthquakes, music, and so on. While excited children investigated the displays and completed quiz sheets the Captain drooled over ancient valves and transistors…

        Monday: it’s just starting. Perhaps today may justify the “Boatwif” label. There are plans to head downtown with Cal Guy Snr to do some serious aircraft and ship spotting from Point Loma, a grand viewpoint which overlooks San Diego’s vast harbour and naval air base. “Look out for the submarines,” advised Cal Son -or might they all be out of sight underneath the water…

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