San Diego Trek
The Cardoza clan set out on our long awaited family get-away and headed west to see the San Diego sights and take in the second of the Pats consecutive west coast games. After a last minute packing job on Thursday morning, we headed out to the airport and true to form, grabbed a bite and a few drinks at TGIFridays. Our initial flight on a small plane to ATL was a bit cramped but was fine. We then boarded a big jet complete with personal satellite TV and many rounds of cabin service. It was quite enjoyable and Delta gets big ups from all of us.
Ernie being Ernie picked us up at the SD Airport and unlike last time, wasn’t in “the bus”, instead opting for truck actually from this era! Despite numerous trips up and down towards the beach in Del Ray we finally got it right and spotted the entrance to our hotel. (It would help if the driver actually wore his glasses so he could actually see where he was going!) As usual, Bama was awaiting our arrival and was camped outside having a stogie having checked in earlier. After grabbing a bite in the hotel lounge and hanging there for a little bit, I headed upstairs with the kids and while Al and Bama had their final smoke of the night.
I woke up at 2:00AM on Friday morning since my body clock was still on East Coast time and was set for my usual wake up call but I managed to toss and turn for a couple of hours before getting up and doing some yoga stretching and waiting for Al to get up and the gym to open at 6:00. We headed down and put in a good workout then hung with Bama a bit before getting ready and heading out to breakfast and to the San Diego Zoo. Big ups to the suggestion to try the Broken Yolk Cafe where we all had quite huge breakfasts with bottomless cups of coffee.
The Zoo was incredible and despite the fact that none of us are children, we all LOVED it! We took the skytram across to begin and worked our way out towards the exit and covered the entire park. Talk about a workout! I was very hilly and although the air was in 60′s it was hot in the sun after all of that walking. Kelsea took some great photos and we actually picked a good day to go as we were told that it’s wall to wall people on the weekends and we likely wouldn’t have gotten that close. By far, the Cardozas are partial to the primates as we all got a kick out of watching various family units interacting that day.
Fellow mini-trekker, Steve arrived while we were out and then we all headed out to Trophies with Ernie and Kelly for dinner and to watch the Red Sox beat Tampa Bay 2-0 in game one of the ALCS. It was a wise choice and once we finally got on the road (Ernie being Ernie!) we were all starving and were there right through the end of the game. We headed back to the hotel and I headed up to bed to read, Al hung out with the boys and the kids hit the pool and spa, but I don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow and never heard anyone come in to go to bed.
We woke up early again on Saturday and once again hit the gym and made plans to go with Bama and Steve to the Broken Yoke so they could check it out as well. We had a bit of a wait (and went round and round looking for parking) so we knew it was much more crowded since it was the weekend. They loved it as much as we did and we hurried back to the hotel to await Ernie and Kelly’s 11:00 arrival to pick us up to visit a winery. Since Ernie was on Ernie time, (12:20) I managed to read quite a few chapters in the sun.
We headed out to Rancho Bernardo and visited Bernardo Winery. It was a beautiful early fall day and we looked in the little shops, did our wine tasting then bought a couple of bottles of merlot and drank one outside while munching on grapes, cheese and crackers. It was a beautiful, relaxing day and was just perfect. On the way there I remarked and marvelled more than once about how accommodating San Diego is to cyclists with bike lanes on most roads and even a special area along side the freeway separated by a fence for bikers to use to allow them a safe commute. I wish we had such amenities here… although I do realize that our climate isn’t as mild and that our infrastructure has been around for many more years. (At least we do have the Blackstone River Bikeway and East Bay Bikepath so we are ahead of many places, but it must be nice to be in a place that values cycling so much!) While we were out, the kids spent 3 1/2 hours hiking Torrey Hills State Reserve and raved about its beauty.
We expected the arrival of the Paxtons in the early afternoon but they changed their plans in order to time it closer to the team’s arrival time so we just hung out and relaxed. I jumped online to check on public transportation and such, then gave up the laptop to the kids while I read my book and grabbed a light dinner downstairs with Al, Steve and Bama. Karyn and Lonie arrived late afternoon, followed shortly by the team. Tedy spotted Al, then me and said hello on his way to sit with family for a bit. We once again hung with our friends re-creating the infamous “Paxton Parlor” (a phrase coined during our jaunt to Jax for SB39) and broke out the second bottle of Merlot to share. Tedy actually popped over to chat a bit on his way downstairs and I got a hug and wished him well. I don’t think he’d seen my kids since they were little and was probably amazed at how much they’ve grown!
Of course, I usually chat with the Pats media folks whenever I see them and ran into Fred Kirsch, Bryan Lowe and photographer David Silverman this time around. Jarvis Green stopped over to say hello and Bama was thrilled to see him as well as his ‘bama boy, Wesley Britt. Quite a few players signed for the ebay sharks holed up in a roped off section of the lobby on their way cutting through to grab a bite. Mr. Kraft came by with Al Michaels and he called him over to hear me repeat my comments about my feelings about The Hall at Patriot Place. Kelly got some signatures on her mini-helmet which made her night.
When the guys retired for their meetings and curfews, we continued to hang out in the lobby, chatting, and trying to determine the game plan for the following day then headed up. On Sunday morning, we hit the gym for the final time then Al, Jake and I headed over to the nature preserve so we could get a hike in before leaving. It was beautiful and I know I would have regretted it if I came home without doing it. We then ate at the hotel breakfast buffet, got ready to go and decided on taking the Green Line from Old Town. It turned out to be a great decision as it went off without a hitch and we hooked up with Barry and Denice and the PatsTG group just as they were setting up.
The tailgate was perfect, with plenty of good food, laughs, Patriotic comradary and fans from far and near. Al directed the infamous crew from Lincoln to our spot and they made the rounds in the lot riling folks up left and right. The Paxton’s extended crew joined us and arrived at just about the same time as Ernie and Kelly. I’m sure that the fans loved seeing and trying on Lonie’s superbowl rings, the most photographed rings on the team I’m sure! I was great to see some west coast folks who we’ve hosted at the Razor’s Edge in the past as well! After exchanging numerous texts Kat and I finally hooked up and met in person after all these years! It would have been nice to spend more time together but hopefully our first meeting won’t be our last. After taking a group photo, we headed into the stadium and took our seats. Bama and Jake sat together, Ernie, Kelly, Al and I sat together and Steve went solo. The boys took the field and unfortunately, it went downhill from there. We suffered a horrible 30-10 loss but it’s only one game and we need to move on.
After the game, we waited for the crowds to thin out, grabbed one of the last trains out and only encountered one obnoxious (DRUNK) jerk enroute. Thankfully, Steve refrained from popping the idiot who picked the wrong Pats fan to harass! We made it back to the hotel, sat by the fire for a little bit, then said our goodbyes and thank yous to Ernie, Kelly, and early departing Bama then headed up to bed.
We checked out on Monday morning, headed to the airport with Steve, took a shuttle ride with the kookiest driver known to man and got off at the wrong terminal. After lugging our baggage to the right one, we checked at USAir and realized that we had to pay $15 for each checked bag… (GRRRR!) then got on our flight and found out that we had to pay $2 for soda (GRRRR!). What a contrast from the royalty treatment on Delta on the way down! Needless to say, USAir will not be getting my business in the future; not that I can’t afford to pay those charges but it’s just the point! The only plus about the flight happened to be my seatmate, who ironically, grew up here and recognized my RI accent right off the bat. We spent the entire flight chatting about people and places that we know which made the cross country trek fly by.
All in all, it was a GREAT mini vacation and it was nice to actually do something besides just go to a game. The Zoo, Nature Reserve, Winery, spending time with family and old friends, and meeting new ones made it one to remember.