Exploring La Jolla California (Part 3)

I woke up on Sunday morning knowing that we had just about a half day before we needed to hit the highway, leave the ocean breezes and drive through the scorching desert back home to Phoenix.  It really wasn’t as depressing as it sounds.  We knew that our La Jolla visit was going to be short and we also knew that we will be leaving for Scotland and Ireland in a few short weeks.  (Stay tuned for more on that.)

2011 La Jolla Open Aire Market_FlowersAfter enjoying our free breakfast at the hotel I spent a little time surfing the web to try to get some ideas on things to do in our last hours there.  I thought about heading downtown to check out some shops and galleries, since we didn’t do any of that on Saturday, but wasn’t sure when everything opened.  Then I stumbled onto a reference for the La Jolla Open Aire Market.  Since it was in the middle of summer, I was thinking it might be a great place to pick up some delicious So Cal produce to take home with us.  Turns out it was all that and so much more!

The Market is held every Sunday at the playground and all proceeds benefit the La Jolla Elementary School, just a block or so from downtown.  What a brilliant way to bring in additional funds for our budget conscious schools!  I would imagine it’s a fair amount of work to coordinate, but even if you only did it once a month or a few times a year I would imagine that you could bring in a decent amount of money for your favorite educational institution.

Because of it’s location at the corner of Girard Avenue and Genter Street you run into a similar parking problem here as you do trying to get to the beach.    So Terry was nice enough to drop me off at the entrance and drive around until he found a parking space.

2011 La Jolla Open Aire Market Produce

Admission is free, which is always nice.  Once we walked inside we were immediately flooded with vibrant sights, irresistible smells and perfectly lovely sounds.  We enjoyed a talented guitar player and vocalist right at the entrance (sadly, I didn’t get his name).  Some of the vendors that caught my eye offered fresh flowers, produce, children’s clothes,  fine art photography, jewelry, home-made soaps and more.  There was also a woman selling gorgeous orchids for very reasonable prices and I was so tempted to buy one.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure how it would fare in our trek across the desert (or if it would make it through the border check going back into Arizona).   Here’s an extensive list of their vendors as of the latest update.

We did stop and buy some peaches, green and wax beans and a loaf of rosemary bread.  Mmmmm…

As we wandered around the booths I couldn’t help but notice the amazing scents that wafted through the crowds.  At the far corner of the market there was a concentration of food vendors that were obviously competing for our appetites. This was one time that I was disappointed to have had a free (boring) breakfast an hour or so before, because I really wished that I could justify buying one of the delicacies that was tempting my taste buds. Using all the will-power I could muster, I walked past the Turkish Grill and squeezed by the long line for the Creperie.  I was able to talk Terry into getting a huge cup filled with fresh sliced mangos and melon.  Let’s call it dessert after breakfast.  It was delicious!  I’ll tell you, if I lived nearby I would do brunch every Sunday there until I had tried out all the food vendors.  They smelled and looked THAT good!

2011 La Jolla Open Aire Market - Little Girl's Dresses

Then on the way out we spotted a booth called “Gingersnaps” with these adorable little girl’s summer dresses.  I was SO tempted to buy one or two, except the fact that I don’t have any grandchildren yet, and didn’t have an immediate plan to attend a baby shower, so I wasn’t sure who I could give them to.  I did think about my little friends, Emolyn and Elsie, but just didn’t have it in the budget to pick up something for them that day…and Terry would have thought I was crazy…maybe next time.

Here’s a small gallery of a few more enticing vendors from the Market.  It was a such an unexpected adventure, chock full of treasures of all shapes and sizes.  Oh, don’t I wish it was Christmas shopping season already!  What am I saying!  It’s Christmas shopping season all year long, but it’s also vacation season, so we had to save our pennies for the big trip in August.

Hey, I’ve decided to add one more post about La Jolla, so stop by later this week to see what other treasures we found there.

What’s your favorite open air market and what do you love to buy there?

Exploring La Jolla, California (Part 2)

If you missed part 1 of this post about the Harbor Seals, you can find it here.

LaJolla Bride

After doing a little bit of wading in the water, we walked along the sidewalk that hugs the coastline and passed two different wedding parties enjoying a gorgeous setting to tie the knot.  This bride was on her way from her photo shoot to her reception.  I saw our daughter, Amy gazing longingly at the wedding festivities.  I know she would love to shoot a wedding here (so give her a call if you need a photographer for here or anywhere)!

We ended up resting under these wonderful curvy, gnarled trees.  I have no idea what they’re called, but they were so unique.

Next we headed toward LaJolla Cove (just a few steps away).  We passed this lovely plein air painting on the way to the beach.  I’d love to try painting again someday, but I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try it with so many onlookers.  You couldn’t find a more perfect setting though.

This is La Jolla Cove which is actually designated as an Underwater Park Ecological Reserve where fishing is prohibited and all the marine life is protected.  You’ll enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming and kayaking here!

I’m told that there are times during the year where you can see both Seals and Sea Lions at Casa Beach, but that didn’t seem to be the case this week. Today we get to meet the California Sea Lions that are at La Jolla Cove.  It’s within easy walking distance of the seals.

I think it’s so awesome that these gorgeous creatures are in such close proximity to each other and so accessible for the public to view.  What a great way to teach your little ones about the magnificence of God’s creation and to guide them in how to explore, appreciate, honor and respect their natural world. This is the ultimate example of nature at your doorstep, even in busy southern California.  As you can see, these kayakers have an amazing view of the sea lions and a much different vantage point than those of us on land.La Jolla Kayaks and Sea Lions

LaJolla CA Sea Lions By the way, do you know the difference between the seal and sea lions that we see in La Jolla?  Sea Lions have small external ear flaps.  Another big difference between true seals and sea lions is that sea lions have larger front flippers which they use effectively on land. Sea lions can also rotate their hind flippers toward the ground so they’re able to walk on all four appendages, unlike seals that basically “scooch” on their bellies. They make use of their fore flippers when propelling themselves through water too.  Sea Lions are generally the creatures that you’ll see performing in shows, since they’re highly intelligent and relatively easy to train.  If you’d like to get into even more detail about the differences, visit “How Stuff Works” here.

And last, but not least this temperate climate does wonders for flowers!  Here’s just a taste of the colors you may see here.

Here’s a link to a detailed map of the LaJolla area.  At this posting it was last updated in 2010, so it’s hard to tell how accurate the business listings are, but for general navigation, it should be helpful.

So what’s your favorite part of La Jolla so far?

Next post will be about the Open Aire Market there.  Stay tuned – you’re gonna wish there was a scratch and sniff blog option.

Here are a few of my favorite pics of our family from the weekend.  Don’t you just love Amy’s earrings!

Terry in La Jolla

Andrew La Jolla

Eating in La Jolla, California

Because we know it’s all about the food, I thought I’d share about a couple of places that we ate when we were in La Jolla.

The Spot – La Jolla

Saturday night was an unofficial birthday dinner for me (and for Andrew too) since both of our birthdays were in the week before we were there.  We tried to make a reservation for a place overlooking the coast, but the earliest they had was 8pm, and we had eaten early in the day, so we tried to find someplace available earlier.  We ended up at The Spot.

It wasn’t overlooking the coast, but we were able to snag a table right next to a couple of windows that opened out onto the sidewalk with the fresh ocean breeze wafting through.  This is the booth where we sat.  Can’t you just feel the breeze?

It also helped because the restaurant is a little dark, so the outside access helped it feel more open.

Here’s what we ate:

Andrew’s Garbage Burger: 1/2 lb beef patty with lettuce, tomato, pickle fries, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and onion rings

Garbage Burger

My steak and shrimp scampi.  The scampi was a little over-cooked but still had good flavor.   The steak was tender and delicious!

Steak and Scampi

Terry’s Shrimp with Penne Pasta looked very tasty: imported penne pasta tossed with grilled chicken in our pesto cream sauce

Pasta with Shrimp

I don’t have a photo, but at the table next to us the guys had a Deep Pan Pizza that looked amazing!  We were staring enough as it was, so I didn’t want to totally intrude by taking a picture.

This is the view looking outside from the table.

Overall it was a wonderful meal in a great location with some of my favorite dinner companions.

For those who’ve seen this post already, I apologize for the duplication.  I realized that I didn’t include the “window” shots and I wanted to add them.

I think I’m going to share about the next place in a separate post because there’s more than just the meal to talk about.

Next Post: Seals, Sea Lions and more in LaJolla

Then: LaJolla’s Open Aire Market!

So Cal Resorts

Our whirlwind trip to So Cal…

Monday through Weds this week, I needed to go to Southern California to visit some potential venues for our next Getaway at Bo’s Cafe for work. It’s my job to research and gather info so our team can decide on the best location at the best price for our exclusive fund-raising and marriage retreats for 25-30 influential couples from around the U.S. and Canada. Our guests are folks that generally have the means to stay wherever in the world they want (literally) so we need a place that’s luxurious, yet somewhat reasonable in price. Impossible, you say? Well, we’ll see…

I didn’t want to go by myself, so Amy graciously came along to take pictures of the places while I walked and talked with the sales reps. It was a huge help for me to not have to keep track of taking photos so I could concentrate on questions and just observing the place. Don’t I look like I’m concentrating on something important here?

To save money we drove to So Cal instead of flying…about 5 hours or so each way. Amy slept in the back seat for part of the way over and used her backpack as a pillow (above). She also decided that part of her photo assignment was to see how many pics she could take of herself in the mirrors that we passed during the tours. I didn’t count them, but I’m sure there’s at least a dozen or more.

All 7 of the resorts we visited (basically in 2 days) had either 4 or 5-diamond AAA ratings, except one that was 3 diamond. The one that was 5 diamond, was clearly superior to the others, so I hope we’re able to work a good deal to be able to go there. The other properties were all very nice, and places that Terry and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay, (if the room rate wasn’t too high). But since we’re expecting guests with somewhat higher standards, we’ll try to go with the highest quality that we can afford. As a non-profit, it’s a delicate balance between spending money for higher quality and not appearing that we’re being frivolous…it’s my job to try to find that balance.

These are the resorts we visited, in order of my current preference, based on factors like, overall beauty and cleanliness onsite, location, proximity to fun activities, amenities, guest rooms, meeting rooms, food, etc.:

Four Seasons Aviara – Carlsbad
Loew’s Coronado Bay Resort
Hilton San Diego
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines
Paradise Point Resort & Spa
Rancho Bernardo Inn

I could go into detail about each one, but I’ll let you look at their websites if you’re interested. If you want more info on any of them, I’ll be happy to answer any questions or give my personal comments.

For now, I’ll share just a couple of tidbits that were fun about the visits. The outside photos here are of the Four Seasons Aviara which was head and shoulders above the rest. A beautiful resort inside and out.

Click on the photo of the table full of water and treats to see that the Hilton San Diego set it up just to welcome Amy and me. WOW!!! At this same table, we were also introduced to the General Manager of the resort, the award winning Head Chef, Hermann Schaefer, the Hotel Manager and some other man that I don’t remember his title. Talk about intimidating, but certainly made us feel important & special!

These shoes were worn by our sales rep at the Paradise Point resort. She was a sweet young lady and did some creative things for us as well.

By the end of each day we were pretty tired from all the driving and walking so we just relaxed in the room. On Weds night we were trying to get home to see the Suns play the Mavs for a critical basketball game. We listened to the first half on the radio coming home and I got to see the 2nd half and the TWO overtimes on TV at home.

I had a fun time and was so glad that Amy came with me. It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun by myself.