December 20 – January 7
Christmas day passed in a blur, Taylor’s incredibly good cinnamon rolls and strong coffee fueling a frenzy of gift opening that concluded with a wild and hilarious white elephant exchange that seems to get better each year. It had rained overnight and into the morning, but by the afternoon the sun came out and we were treated to one of those postcard Southern California days that are often used to entice folks to move to the Golden State.
Feeling in need of a little fresh air, Jessica, Kris, Joanna and I went out for a short walk and after rambling up to Fletcher Cove Beach Park to take in the view, we turned onto Lomas Santa Fe Drive to see what might be open as Kris was feeling a bit peckish. The Pillbox Tavern, our usual stop, was closed but right next door the Saddle Bar was open and beckoned.
Fletcher Cove Beach Park
A long-time pursuit of ours has been to find a bar we could call home; for now, it’s the Flying Saucer in Charlotte. But, if we lived in Solana Beach, I have a sneaking suspicion it would be this place. There was a good-sized crowd there when we walked in and after getting a round of drinks, we noticed a table at the side wall laden with food; meats and cheese, 2-3 dips, chips and an assortment of other goodies. We asked about it and were told to dig in as it had all been brought in by the regulars.
We returned to the condo for a great dinner featuring all of the seafood we’d purchased the day before and passed another pleasant evening together engaged in the low-key activities that speak of folks who’ve known each other a goodly amount of time. The next morning Joanna and I took Jessica and Kris down to the airport in San Diego for their flight home (they drove their car down and we’d drive it back) and on our return, we stopped off at the Forum in Carlsbad to exchange some gifts and then decided to grab a bite to eat.
Long time followers of the blog will not be surprised abouto our destination; that’s right, Juanitas Taco Shop in Encinitas. We simply can’t miss an opportunity to eat one of their carnitas burritos with its moist, juicy pork and just right mixture of onions, cilantro, and guacamole. As it turned out, since they were closed the day before for the holiday, carnitas weren’t ready yet. So, Joanna settled for a breakfast burrito and I a tostada, both quite good and we took a couple of burritos back to the condo for Taylor and Simon.
By early afternoon Taylor was ready to take off for home and the rest of us drove to east San Diego county for some sightseeing and beer sampling at Alpine Brewing in Alpine. Our first stop was the Gillespie Field Annex of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.
As we pulled off the I-8 on to the San Vicente Freeway Joanna and I realized we were heading to Gillespie Field, which was less than a mile from the trailer park that my parents lived in from the early 1990’s to 2006.
This is an area we were quite familiar with, having visited multiple times a year while the folks were alive and taking many bike rides from their coach. We parked outside of the Annex and spent roughly an hour touring its small but nicely assembled collection of exhibits and intact airplanes.
From there it was a relatively short drive out of El Cajon and up the hill to Alpine and the brewery’s tasting room. As we drove along I-8, memories flooded back of the many bike rides and excursions we’d taken when visiting the area.
We entered the tasting room, which was fairly crowded and after ordering our first round found seats outside on the terraced patio, a warm December sun making for a very pleasant environment.
As it had been a few hours since our last meal, and one can never eat too much Mexican food when in Southern California, Marty and I walked next door to Tapatio’s, to order a heaping amount of food to take back to the table. I’d get a crispy taco and Chili Relleno, both tasty with the rest of the food disappearing at a rate that signaled acceptance of a worthy product.
Sated, we made our way back to Solana Beach in time to beat the rush hour traffic that would stream out of San Diego later and made yet one more stop at another favorite, the Confessional outlet of Lost Abbey Brewing, where one is invited to “Repent by the Sea”. This is fairly easy to do here given their full range of brews and styles and I went straight for a favorite, the Lost and Found, a Belgian Dubbel modeled after the great Trappist and Monastic beers that inspired the founding of the brewery.
Our tasting done for the day, we returned to the condo for another quiet evening as Joanna and I prepared to depart the next day to drive up to San Clemente for a couple of nights with Jan and Evan. Our week had flown by full of a wedding celebration, a cherished holiday with those we love and lots of beer and Mexican food. With another ten days or so ago we’d have to work hard to top it.
The Saddle Bar: http://www.thesaddlebar.com/
Gillespie Field Annex: http://sandiegoairandspace.org/museum/gillespie-field-annex
Alpine Beer Company: http://alpinebeerco.com/tasting-room/
Lost Abbey: http://lostabbey.com/