Preparation

May 10, Tuesday: Trip to San Diego

Bill woke me up early this morning mumbling something about “It’s 3 am”—but I ignored him, since we didn’t plan to get up till 4 ! He told me later he was hoping I WOULD wake up so we could leave early, but getting no response, he went back to sleep till the alarm went off! Was he excited? I can’t imagine why?? After praying for safety and a good trip, we climbed into our rental car and were off.
Our 4 am start enabled us to beat the San Francisco Bay Area commute traffic (whew!) and we had a beautiful gleaming sunrise in the Sacramento Valley, silhouetting the jagged peaks of the Sierras to the east. “We’ll be hiking there in just a few more weeks” was the thought that kept running through my mind. Early morning light and cloud shadows made even the barren hills west of Interstate 5 look like a painter’s palette, and under every overpass in the San Joaquin Valley, we could see the “swallow ballet” as they swooped and pirouetted to their nests.
By 10:30 am, we had reached Santa Clarita, where we stopped to mail several resupply boxes. (One of our daughters attended The Master’s College in nearby Newhall.) Coming up “The Grapevine” section of I-5, we’d noticed the higher peaks were dusted with snow. Oh boy!! In Santa Clarita, the distant mountains were grayblue, and crowned with massive piles of gray and white clouds. As we drove on through Los Angeles, we could see the iridescent lavender of jacaranda trees in full bloom in every neighborhood. Just for fun, we took the Hollywood Freeway for a passing view of all those famous streets like Vine, Sunset, etc.

Lunch was at a rest area in USMC Camp Pendleton, where we were serenaded by the sounds of helicopters practicing their landing technique on a concrete pad near the cliffs above a very blue, windswept Pacific. There was a starling begging for our lunch, who appeared to be a “helicopter wannabe”—he actually did hover next to our table at “sandwich level” and got in a peck off Bill’s sandwich when it was still in his hand!

Arriving in San Diego, we had little trouble finding Trail Angel Bob Reiss’ house. As he’d said in his note, he was still at work, but we had a warm welcome from Sandy, the golden retriever. Bill went off to return the rental car, while I rested by the pool and got a free slobbery facewash every time Sandy wanted more attention! There was a steady parade of airliners, military helicopters, etc. going by overhead—fun to watch. Eventually Bob Reiss came home, then two more hikers (Josh and Anna from Madison, Wisconsin), then finally Bill. He and Josh and Anna had some tales to tell of their San Diego bus experiences! Yikes! Apparently there are some REALLY BAD parts of San Diego, and the bus goes right through them.

We went to a great local hamburger place called Rallys (“Better than In N’ Out” said Bob Reiss!) and had fun getting acquainted! Josh and Anna are a young couple who went backpacking for their honeymoon. Anna just got her master’s degree in library science! We all went with Josh and Anna as they shopped for a few lastminute items (like 2 liter bottles of water), then went home and watched Weathercarrot’s beautiful DVD of the PCT. Bedtime was early!