Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mission Bay (San Diego) to Imperial Beach (Mexican/USA border) December 16

December 16.....31 miles in 2:33.....Pam and I have spent a week now in Mission Bay RV Park, soaking in the Mission Bay/Pacific Beach/San Diego area. We have spent a day at the San Diego Zoo, I have ridden the extensive bike trails around the bay a couple of times, we have visited Ocean Beach, which is just a few miles away, and we did nothing for a couple of days while I shook a bug that I think I picked up at the zoo. The weather has been fantastic, almost 80 degrees today, but usually right around 70. Right now we are in the warmest area in the USA. The clouds are few and far between, and the sunsets have been pink and orange and absolutely amazing. We did a lot of walking in the evenings. Yesterday we even attended the Pacific Beach Christmas Parade.
Mission Bay, Mission Beach, and Pacific Beach are an area where I could spend the rest of the winter. The area is very fitness oriented, which I love. There was a triathlon yesterday in Mission Bay Park, a half a mile from us. There was a series of one mile races before the Christmas Parade yesterday, that included a competitive race, a Santa Run and a couple of other categories which we didn't see. The bike trails are filled with roller bladers, runners, bikers, and on the streets and sidewalks, you always have to watch for skateboarders. A few miles away, is Ocean Beach, where Pam and I visited on Saturday. This beach and adjoining streets are filled with hippies, homeless, peace signs, classic cars, and bar, after tavern, after saloon, after pub, after bar. The smell of marijuana often mixed with the salt air, but the rocks that you could walk out onto to watch the sunset, and the T shaped pier that you could walk out onto made it worth spending the day, to people watch, and take pictures of the scenery.
Today, I decided to take advantage of 75 degree weather to ride my final 31 miles to the Mexican border. This was the official end line of the Adventure Cycling map that I have been using to negotiate my way through the traffic jungle that is California. I guess this marks the end of this stage of my bicycle journey. My mileage count stands at 11,270.25. I don't want to say that the tour is over, but right now I have no plans. I don't know, I may end up riding back to the east coast in the spring, I may not. I have gone from east to west, and thrown in the Mexico to Canada and back to Mexico zig zag. I believe Pam told me that we have been in 27 states.
I do know that we will RV our way back through Los Angeles to Santa Clarita, where Buddy will join us for the holidays, and we have committed to the Escapees RV Club tour to decorate Rose Bowl Parade floats, tour some of the other festivities, and attend the parade in 'VIP' seating.  The cheapest ticket on e bay right now to attend the football game is $688.00, so we won't be attending. After the new year, we will probably winter in Arizona, but we don't have any plans for that yet either, even though we should. From there, who knows, but we want to be in Rodanthe for the summer, I believe.

The actual ride took me along a road through the outskirts of Ocean Beach, not right along the shore, and soon the skyline of downtown San Diego came into view, and it was on a bike trail that took me along San Diego Harbor. I saw no shipping and cargo areas, but instead, cruise liners, naval vessels of all sizes, including the USS Midway, and pleasure craft by the thousands. I went right along the San Diego International Airport, which is a really busy place, with planes coming and going right over populated areas about every minute, it seemed. As I rode along the harbor, I came to a pedestrian ferry that I took across the bay, therefore avoiding downtown San Diego. It was about a twenty minute ride to the island of Coronado, a beautiful, palm tree and golf course filled residential town, with naval bases and tourist destinations along the shoreline. The Travel Channel has named it the 'best beach in America, but of course it's was really slow there, this time of year. I rode around the island for a while, checking it out, before I got back on the bike trail that took me onto a narrow barrier strip called the Silver Strand. At that point I rode into a cool headwind for about seven miles on a narrow strip of sand with naval facilities all around, and a few residential plans. On the south end of the Silver Strand, very near Mexico, was the town of Imperial Beach. At this point, I was very near Interstate 5, where Pam pulled up in about five minutes, and we loaded the bike up, and Jeeped to a parking lot about  200 yards from the place where we could walk into Mexico. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for me to ride into that area, because of the congestion, both vehicular and pedestrian. The weather was nice, there were only nine days left till Christmas for shopping, and for all I know, it's that busy all the time. 
We walked  along a walkway and through a gate, into Mexico, without showing identification or being questioned, searched, or even spoken to. It is not hard to get into Mexico, no matter who you are or what your carrying. The trick is getting out. There were a few armed guards with military rifles, dressed in camo. We walked into a shopping district, that is unlike anything we've ever seen. The little shops were mixed right in with street vendors, piles of rubble, and graffiti filled walls of empty buildings. We immediately stood out like sore thumbs, because we were Americans. I was surprised that no Caucasian Americans were in sight besides us, and each and every shop or vendor that we walked past, sent a representative up to us to try to coax us into their shop. They were not overly aggressive or obnoxious, but they came in waves, one after the other after another. I was polite to each, but we felt very targeted. We walked through very narrow alleys filled with small shops, all selling pretty much the same thing. Pam bought a nice blanket and a few Christmas ornaments. There were food vendors, and some outdoor caf├ęs, but we chose not to try them, at least for a while. I finally gave in a bought a hot dog off a street vendor, and we stopped at a place that had other Americans, and had two margaritas. After all, we were in Tijuana! The waiter brought us two margaritas each, because it was 'happy hour', plus two shots of tequila. The margaritas tasted like they were 'virgin' margaritas, so we had one shot of tequila to mix into two margaritas. No chance of us getting loaded here! I struck up a conversation with our waiter, who I think was the owner, and he told me that Americans stopped coming into Mexico after 9-11. 
The most striking thing we saw, besides the poverty apparent everywhere, was a walk across a bridge as we headed towards the downtown area. There was a concrete canal, just like the one that carried the Los Angeles River through LA, but the difference was that there was a small amount of running water, but the canal was filled with people, who obviously called that canal home. There were hundreds of them, there were fires burning, and there were people standing below the bridge, calling up to the 'Americans' to toss them a coin. I thought the homeless and vagrant population was bad in the USA on the west coast. I was stunned, I now know with even more conviction that I have zero desire to go back to Mexico. It was something that we needed to do once though. Pam NEVER felt comfortable, from the time we walked through the gate. I will say, however, that we had no problems at all, and everyone was very polite, including the vendors, beggars, and merchants. We were definitely out of our element though. 
As we went to leave, right around dark, we came to a line, about a quarter mile long to get back into the US. The roads were also backed up, ten lanes wide, for as far as we could see. As we got into the line, I saw another sign that said 'ready line.' I wanted to know who could go into the 'ready line', so I asked two cops. Only one could speak broken English, and he told me that we could go into the 'ready line' with our new passport cards that we just got when we were in Texas. So, we did not have to stand in that quarter mile long line, but walked right up to the gate, scanned our cards, said hello to the guards, and we were on our way. It's tougher getting in and out of Canada! I just want to know why all those people were in line if they didn't have passports like us? We really enjoyed our three hours in Mexico, but that ought to do it for us. It was more fun than wading through the Rio Grande, like I did in Texas, but both experiences were great, in there own way.

San Diego across the bay

USS Midway


San Diego across the bay


Coronado Ferry landing

The ferry

Heading to Coronado Island


Bike trail on Coronado Island

Walking into Mexico

Pam is in Mexico and Mike is in the USA!

A lot of stands had this meat.  It was strips of marinated beef (maybe) that was layered on the spit, cooked and then meat was shaved off.  Needless to say, we didn't eat it!

Wandering "minstrel" playing for money

Walking across the river in Mexico - look at all of the homeless people living down there!  They would call up to us and ask us to throw money!

This is where these people live!

This is the river - it was disgusting!

Officially in Mexico

Walking through the market

Houses were brightly painted

Some kind of sculpture/art thing that welcomed us to Tijuana!


There were some strange things for sale.....

On main street in Tijuana

Mural on a building

Every other shop (just about) was a pharmacia - sold drugs - at a cheap price

On our way back to the USA - everything is dirty and has graffiti


Another work of art!

This is the restaurant where we stopped for Margaritas - no we didn't go for the all you can drink for $15!

Mike took this picture in the men's bathroom!  There wasn't a urinal, just a little trough!

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