December 2020 – January 2021
Not long after our run out to the Donut Hole and Tio’s Tacos, Kim and Marty invited us to join them at their condo in Solana Beach and without hesitating we said yes. And so, on Thursday the 14th we made the drive down, again a breeze with little or no traffic on the freeway and arrived mid-afternoon. For dinner that night we’d brought with us the last of a large batch of split pea soup we’d made with a Honey Baked ham bone left over from Christmas. And as we’d hoped, it was gone by the time we left for home a few days later.
The next day the four of us took off for one of our usual rides out of Solana Beach, up the coast to Oceanside and back. A relatively easy flat journey of 33 miles, we stopped in at The Confessional in Cardiff by the Sea at the end of the ride, just a few miles out from the condo. Faithful readers of this blog will by now be quite familiar with this outlet for Lost Abbey beers, which specializes in Belgian variations that delight the palate.
Another compelling reason to stop in for a brew is that it is located next door to East Coast Pizza, which produces a really good version of a New York style pie, by the slice or whole. With beers in hand, we sat outside at a long picnic table and consumed a slice or two apiece, just the right thing to do on a warm winter’s day in Southern California.
The following day I needed to participate in a morning Zoom call, so Joanna and Kim took a long walk to a donut shop and then Marty and I spend a goodly part of the afternoon viewing NFL playoff football, so much so that we didn’t mind missing Sunday morning’s games, enabling Joanna and I to take off on a 32-mile ride to El Cajon, using the mobile home park my parents lived in during their final years as our destination point.
In the late 1990’s when my Dad was still alive Evan and I rode a route similar to the one we were on, but this time I’d used Google maps for routing (you can export the route out of Google and upload it to your bike computer) and we would end up on different streets entirely. There is a long stretch on Miramar Road that runs along the Marine Corp Air Station Miramar (MCAS), which brought back memories of the time Evan and I rode near here when the station was operated by the Navy. We would later surmise that the air station was hosting an air show which featured F-14 jets stationed there flying overhead and performing maneuvers. For Evan and I this meant blissful ignorance as the jets create no sound as they approach you, and then a mind bogglingly loud blast as they pass that came close to knocking us off our bikes in a dazed state.
The one major difference in the route this time was that it guided us to a bike path that paralleled Hwy 52 (San Clemente Canyon Freeway) instead of the one we used to take on Mission Gorge Blvd., to get us up and over Apex Mountain. Not the most scenic of routes, the path runs right alongside the freeway, separated from the right most lane of westbound traffic by a stout concrete barrier. Not the longest climb and not particularly difficult, the warm day and traffic noise the only drawback, we hit the summit and coasted down to Mission Gorge Blvd and from there followed a familiar path to the mobile home park, where we met up with Kim and Marty who had arrived a few minutes before.
We loaded the bikes and took off east for about ten miles on I-8 to Alpine and our pitstop for the afternoon, the Alpine Beer Company Outpost. Having been acquired by Green Flash Brewing in 2018, a company whose fortunes had been rocky of late, Alpine’s retail operations had changed since our last visit in December 2018 with Kim, Marty, and Simon (https://3jmann.com/2019/03/09/the-holidays-2019-part-three/) when we visited the original taproom, now apparently closed.
The new Outpost is quite larger and sits in the corner of the Alpine Creek Shopping Center with plenty of parking, a large indoor dining area and spacious patio, which was open for our visit. During periods of restricted dining, one must order food in order to drink in a pub and so along with a round of beers, Joanna and I ordered a Margherita Pizza (with cherry tomatoes and loads of fresh basil) while Kim and Marty opted for the Smoked Mushroom with sausage added. Both were quite good.
And that would wrap up our time in Solana Beach, spending the rest of the day watching a the last football game of the day and then enjoying a final breakfast that Monday at Swami’s Café, taking over the space from the Beach Grass Café, where we’d enjoyed a number of fine meals in the past. Seating outside was limited to just a few tables and a large party of locals aced us out of the one we had our eye on, but not long after approached as we waited for our food to let us know a table had opened up near them, a nice gesture.
We had a variety of items, for me a veggie omelet and while it was all good, the disjointed nature of service delivery and eating from plastic to go boxes diminishes the experience to a degree. This isn’t a complaint as we truly appreciate the effort these places go to serve us and stay in business; it just makes us all long for the day when we can return to something like our normal lives.
The Confessional: http://lostabbey.com/locations/the-confessional/
East Coast Pizza: https://eastcoastpizzaonline.com/
Alpine Beer: https://alpinebeerco.com/
Swami’s Café: https://www.swamiscafe.com/solana-beach