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A week in San Diego in two parts

June 9, 2010


After spending a few pleasant days in Oceanside with friends, I rode the short distance to my hotel in San Diego. “Hotel” is a bit of a lofty term for what was essentially a “hostel” and what had to have been 20 years ago “flop house”. My residence for the week was the 500 West Broadway Hotel/Hostel.

One of my goals on this trip was to expand my definition of acceptable lodging. My Lonely Planet guidebook had a great review of the place and although I’m not accustomed to shared bathroom/shower type lodging I figured it was better than camping and the location is fantastic.

My biggest concern was finding parking for the motorcycle. The guidebook and Internet all indicated that parking could reach $25.00 a night. After I unloaded the bike I went back outside looking for a place for the bike. I got on and rode….. for about fifty feet. At the next intersection was meter less motorcycle parking! I LOVE THIS TOWN!

In the far left bottom corner of this picture you can see the motorcycle parking. Fantastic!

I parked the bike and went back to the hotel to change and start getting to know downtown San Diego.

I rode up in the ancient, creaking, covered in 10,000 coats of paint, with the most current layer being what I can only describe as mint green, elevator. I arrived on the 6th floor and was presented with loooooooooong hallways and zero decorations. Better than I was expecting. No signs of Charles Bukowski.


Down the hall I went, my Alpinestars boots creaking, dragging my gear, helmet and leather jacket. The room was tiny but not too bad. The one unsettling thing I immediately noticed was screaming from somewhere in the building. This bothered me until I realized it was from a basketball game in the lower part of the building. 500 West Broadway is also the Army/Navy YMCA. The location, the ease of parking and $29.00 a night make 500 West Broadway a fantastic deal (if you don’t mind slightly sketchy occupants, down the hall bathroom and showers, etc.).

So with the room sorted and my bike secure, I changed into a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops, and headed out to check the waterfront out. The hotel/hostel/YMCA is about 4 blocks from the water. From the hotel, I turned right and walked down West Broadway and crossed Pacific Highway and then walked along North Harbor Drive.

Cruise ship docking:

CVN 76 The USS Ronald Reagan Aircraft Carrier:

The first stop of the day. The Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum:

One of the more interesting facts about the Midway is the length of service for this Carrier. The Midway was commissioned in late 1945 and continued to serve the Navy until 1992! This carrier saw action in Operation Desert Storm. There are over 60 exhibits and over 25 restored aircraft on display.

On the flight deck:

Pilots ready room:

There is easily a full day of sightseeing on the Midway. Included with the price of admission is an audio guide. You can follow a pre-determined route or just wander. Each exhibit has a numbered code that you enter into your audio guide. Most of the stories have the actual crew members narrating and many provide even more behind the scenes information. There are many aircraft where you are allowed to get into the cockpit and have a seat. One of my favorite activities was an opportunity to fly a decommissioned flight simulator. You sit in an actual F-4 or A-6 cockpit and actually use the stick, throttle and rudder pedals to fly the aircraft. Adding to the fun is a headset with a live ground controller directing you toward targets. I had a blast, and staggered out covered in sweat. Absolutely worth the $$$ for a try.

With my tour of the Midway complete, I headed back to the water. Again, walking along North Harbor Drive, my next stop was the San Diego Maritime Museum. One of the more interesting tours is the Soviet submarine B-39, a diesel/electric boat. I also really enjoyed the Star of India.

Walking back towards the hotel, I could not help but notice the San Diego Santa Fe Depot (Union Station) train station. It’s gorgeous. The Santa Fe Depot was opened in 1915. The Depot is famous architecturally for its Mission Revival styling and a pair of very distinctive features. The first being it’s twin campaniles (bell towers) that are covered in colorful tile and have the distinctive Santa Fe blue cross emblem. The second really interesting feature is the interior walls covered with colorful ceramic tiles.


Starting to feel a bit thirsty I decided to walk over to the Gaslamp Quarter and seek refreshment. It’s funny to me now that this trip report is hugely different than almost all of my other reports. There is so much to do in San Diego that I did need the motorcycle at all. Except to move it for parking I did not ride it at all during my week in San Diego. It felt really weird after being in motion for over two months.

The Gas Lamp Quarter has at various times been called Rabbitville, Flea Town, New Town San Diego, Davis’ Folly, Stingaree, Chinatown and my favorite S.O.B (not what you are thinking, South of Broadway). It’s sixteen and a half blocks long and has a ton of what you would expect from a revitalized area bracketed by a convention center and modern sports Stadium (PETCO Park). What comes below is essentially a walking tour of the Gas Lamp, and its low on commentary, so enjoy the pictures.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaug! That is a sweet Camaro parked by the Hard Rock Café.

My favorite place for a drink in the Gas Lamp – The Tivoli Bar. The Tivoli has attractive bartenders, cold beer and an interesting history. Established in 1885, Tivoli has served some interesting customers with perhaps the most interesting being Wyatt Earp.

I don’t pretend to understand this one. Canadian Comfort food served in a San Diego dive bar….. Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, just weird.

Weirder and weirder. The menu picture is blurry. I assume it’s because I was laughing at the offerings at the time. If you want to see what that menu actually says – click on the picture as it’s linked to the online menu.

I stopped in a local Cigar Bar for an Opus X and spent about an hour chatting with the owner.

What goes better after a cigar than…….



Night began to fall on the Gas Lamp




I somehow managed to avoid this place.





I walked back to the hotel and got some sleep. It had been a fantastic day in San Diego.


Tomorrow: – PART TWO – Tijuana and Coronado

One Comment leave one →
  1. Frank Gorshin permalink
    June 9, 2010 8:26 pm

    San Diego is indeed a cool place to bounce around. Coincidentally, I too found the Gas Lamp Tavern to be a nice hang-out, a lot of fun, especially the unexpected presence of actor Jan Michael Vincent, who seated us promptly upon entering. He actually works there as an assistant manager/greeter. Did you see him? Didn’t recognize him at first, but I overheard someone confirming it was him. I think “work release program” or something came up in their conversation. Anyway, great place! Loved the Ballast Point Yellow Tail Pale Ale, and the tortilla was done right…

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