January 23-25, 2015
With just a short drive to Encinitas on tap for the day, we dawdled a bit at Joanna’s Mom’s house, taking her out to breakfast to Maxwell’s Café on Washington east of Lincoln. Here’s a review for it that I wrote for Trip Advisor:
I’ve been going to Maxwell’s Cafe since the 1980’s and have always enjoyed the food. Not the cheapest or the most expensive, the quality is always top notch and with good portion sizes. The famous garbage omelet is my go to here, either the one with ham or the one with avocado. When I was in grad school at Loyola Marymount I’d head over there on exam days around noon (my exams were at night) and put one of those omelets with home fries and toast into my tank. Later on a coke and an energy bar would be all I needed to get through the three-hour exam, the omelet providing the needed reserves. Daily specials are unique and tasty, particularly different variations of pancakes or waffles. Of all of the places I return to when in Los Angeles, Maxwell’s get a visit each time.
We returned to the house and after a delay related to a couple of return trips to Santa Monica Ford to resolve a repair issue with Joanna’s Mom’s car, we hit the road for Encinitas. We’d been looking forward to this three-night retreat back down at the vacation apartment, a break from what had been five weeks staying as guests with folks we know and love. Although always a pleasure to visit people, we’d come to realize that future trips would need to incorporate a balance of staying with friends and family and staying by ourselves.
We would be gifted with yet more gorgeous weather during our stay, a reminder that although living in the Southland has it problems; wintertime temperatures are not one of them. For dinner our destination was the Lotus Café, just a few blocks from the apartment, and an opportunity to eat lightly, a break from days of bad diet choices. Joanna had the tamale (corn, green chiles, pinto beans, ground peanut and garlic wrapped in corn masa with ranchero sauce and sour cream with rice, black beans, and a salad garnish) and I a bowl of the vegetarian chili with a side of corn bread & honey butter. Both dishes were nicely prepared, tasty and just what we needed; the bonus being that in a pricey area like Encinitas, the tab came to just $14.58, a budget friendly way to end the day.
Saturday would be a free day for us until the evening when we’d meet my Cousin Lindy and her husband Greg for dinner. We took off in the morning with the bikes for Mission Bay, a little over twenty miles away, to repeat a ride that Evan and I had done many times in the past, that is park on the eastern side of the bay, ride parallel to the I-5 freeway up to the base of the UC San Diego Campus, then climb up the hill into the school, riding through it until we reached North Torrey Pines Rd.
From there we’d pick up the route we’d done quite a few times riding with our old bike club, Marina del Rey Cycle Club (MDRCC), in route from the Santa Ana Amtrak station, exactly 100 miles from there to the Amtrak station in downtown San Diego. This is the best part of the ride; you’ve done the big miles and now only have about fifteen miles to go. You descend off North Torrey Pines road down La Jolla Shores Dr., a big sweeping down hill that takes you into the outskirts of La Jolla. From there you pedal through that quaint, but very expensive beach side town, work your way to Mission Boulevard and the community of Pacific Beach.
The Century ride would continue on to the train station, but we made a left onto Garnet Avenue, stopping for a moment at Chip’s Liquor for a big bottle of a fine craft beer with which to re-hydrate once we finished the ride. This was the mother lode for Evan and I, agonizing over our beer choice, the parking lot and our cars a short ten minutes away. Joanna and I finished up and saluted Evan back in the car, thinking of a day in the future when we might be able to do this ride with him one more time.
Later that evening Lindy and Greg joined us at the apartment and after some wine and a bit of catching up, we drove a few miles up Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) to the northern edge of Encinitas for a thoroughly enjoyable evening at Le Papagayo. I’d reserved a table indoors, but the evening was so nice and warm, almost summer like, that we opted to sit outdoors on the patio. Our ride had been tiring earlier and for once I didn’t bother to record what we had to eat. Suffice it to say we ordered a combination of appetizers and entrees to split at the table, and the evening passed in that warm glow one achieves when they get to spend it with family you love, good food and wine.
Sunday brought us another fine day of weather and we saddled up again, this time riding north on PCH for ten miles or so to the city of Carlsbad until we hit its border with Oceanside, turning around there for the tailwind aided ride back to the apartment. I’d been anticipating a return visit to Juanita’s Taco Shop and without much difficulty persuaded Joanna to stop there and split one of those incredible Carnitas Burritos with me. As good as remembered from our last visit, it filled us up for the afternoon ahead.
On tap was to meet up with Rick, Joanna’s long time friend from high school days. He now lives in Huntington Beach and graciously volunteered to drive down to visit for the afternoon. We sat around for an hour or so catching up on all of the time that had passed since we’d last seen each other, possibly ten years or more. Rick appreciates a good beer and agreed to our suggestion to walk down to PCH and check out the Encinitas Ale House.
Joanna and had thought about eating there two nights earlier, but it was crowded and as it turned out, the Lotus Café experience had worked out so well. This time around, mid Sunday afternoon, the Ale House was busy in a nice way, and after sitting down and examining the beer list we were glad we came. Among their many offerings was the long sought after but rarely encountered Pliny the Elder. I found it interesting that the two places I’ve found this fine brew outside of its home city of Santa Rosa was here in San Diego County.
Joanna and I split an order of the daily special crab cakes, which were so spicy hot that we could barely get through them, as good as they were and an order of the fish and shrimp and chips. All of this was reasonably priced, again a surprise given the touristy beachy nature of the place. Finishing up our food and beers we walked with Rick back up to the apartment just as the sun was setting. We paused for a few glorious moments, the warm breeze lifting our hair from our faces, the soft glow of the sinking sun lighting up the end of our day and providing the perfect finishing touch to a great last weekend on the west coast. We’d seen many people, eaten way too much food, and drank more than is reasonable to justify under any logical standards. But we’d happily survived and would just as happily do it all over again. Who knows, with the two of us that is likely to happen. Again and again.
Lotus Café: http://www.lotuscafeandjuicebar.com/
Chip’s Liquor: http://www.yelp.com/biz/chips-liquor-san-diego
Le Papaqayo: http://lepapagayoleucadia.com/
Encinitas Ale House: http://www.encinitasalehouse.com/