Well it took 4 trips to California for me to find out why people would actually want to live there. My first trip to California was to San Fransisco on my honeymoon. It was an interesting place to visit we saw all the touristy stuff, Alcatraz and the Muir woods (redwood forest) were the definite standouts. But I actually hated the city itself. Every five feet someone was hitting us up for money, or peeing on a building, or stoned, or any number of other undesirable things. Traffic was insane and for the most part the people were crazy as well.
My second trip to California was to San Diego last summer. I went to the ESRI Users conference. The conference was OK, but I was staying at Coronado Island Marriott, and despite what you may think it wasn't all that great. It was a beautiful place, but it was overpriced and not all that much fun. I had to pay 18 bucks for a continental breakfast you get for free at Best Western, and since it was on the island I had to pay for a boat to take me across to the mainland everyday. I also got a really bad case of food poisoning on the trip which put a serious cloud over any enjoyment I may have had.
My third trip was to Redlands for some training last November. Redlands is about an hour or so west of LA, near San Bernadino. I flew into Ontario California which in between LA and Redlands full of hope that it would be a great trip.When I left everyone told me what great weather they had there. Unfortunately for me it decided to rain the entire time I was there and wasn't sitting in a classroom. At least I didn't have to breathe in all the smog. I have to admit though, I had a great burrito at a little hole in the wall burrito shack that may make it worthwhile to go back.
Well that brings me to my most recent trip to California. I went to the ESRI users Conference again this summer in San Diego, and it was a great trip! I made several changes from my usual routine this trip. I stayed in Chula Vista which is south of San Diego and outside the touristy zone. I also didn't rent a car I took the train and buses when I needed to go anywhere. Finally, I managed to avoid getting food poisoning this time as well (I would recommend skipping the food poisoning on all trips =0P).There were some standout locations and observations on this trip that I wanted to mention. Some of them are illustrated by the photos below.
1. The weather in San Diego is amazing. Every morning I would go outside to 75 degrees and a slight ocean breeze. Even in the heat of the day it didn't break 85 or so (see blue sky in all photos).
2. I don't know if it is local to San Diego or it is a California thing but I saw two restaurants that I thought were kind of funny the first was called "Sushi Loco"....so do they serve raw fish tacos or what? The second was right across the street. I don't remember the name but it was a combination Pancake house/ Chinese restaurant (can I get the sweet and sour on my waffles please).(no pics)
3. Palm trees everywhere. ( photos 3, 5, and 6)
4. It is hard to tell in the image (#5), but the closer you get to Mexico the pinker buildings get. This mall was a pale pink color with brighter shades in surrounding buildings.
5. Great public transit the trains and buses ran every 15 minutes and went everywhere. (pic 8)
6. Great restaurants (besides the weird ones) Pic 4 is of a place called "Dicks Last Stand" they had a great pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw piled on it. The greatest place I went on the trip was called "Hash House A Go Go" which I will detail below.
The Hash House was a place recommended to the University GIS Coordinator by someone, and he asked me and a couple of other guys from the University if we wanted to go. I was game since I am always up to trying new places. When we walked in I immediately noticed the plates on the table near the door. They were Enormous!!, and by that I mean bigger than your thanksgiving dinner turkey serving platter. When we were seated we started looking over the menus and I couldn't see anything that looked bad (the link above is the menu we saw). After debating back and forth we asked the waitress what she recommended and she said to try the fried chicken and waffles. Oddly enough I had been craving waffles earlier in the day so I went for it.
As we sat contemplating our meals she brought out a basket of the biggest biscuits I have ever seen (approximately 5 in across the top and about 5 inches tall) they dripped in honey and were arguably the best I have ever had. By the time I finished my biscuit I already liked the place, but when they brought out our entrees I about died. My plate was 2 feet long and about 8 inches wide it was stacked with 5 waffles and two huge pieces of fried chicken, all of it drizzled in a caramel maple syrup.My colleagues dinners looked equally as good. Well, I dug in without hesitation and found myself eating the best waffles I have ever tasted they were crunchy on the out side and the inside was almost like spongecake in consistency. While working on my third waffle I realized they it a slightly smokey taste that I hadn't noticed before. Intrigued I looked down at the waffle I had just split in half and was treated to a work of genius. They had baked a slice of bacon!! into the waffle..... I was almost in tears at the joy of my discovery; these people were brilliant! I finished my meal (barely) and we left to head back to our respective hotels. I wondered at that point if I would ever be hungry again. Well here I am almost a week later and I am hungry again, but I am sad that I won't be able to go get those waffles again until next year. This place single handedly makes California worth the trip. So if you ever go to San Diego make sure you try the place out, and if you know how to get bacon in a waffle let me know.
Oh and enjoy the photos (despite their apparent randomness)