Back when it was still cold and rainy in Portland, my husband and I planned a trip to San Diego. Naturally, a week before we leave, the weather breaks and we get sun and 70s every day. I’ll never understand this climate.

We got to San Diego and it was in the 60s, while Portland was in the 90s (huh?) We stayed in an Airbnb in Ocean Beach, which hasn’t changed since the 1970s, although all the old Beetles I remember being there a decade ago are gone now. We found some great cafes for acai bowls (they seem to be a thing in SoCal), did some kayaking in La Jolla (sea lions!), and visited Point Loma. We got out of our car at the latter because the line to get in was so long, only to find that there were no sidewalks anywhere because people do not walk in California. We walked all the way down to the tide pools on the shoulder of the road, but the tide was high and we couldn’t see anything. Then we walked all the way back up the road to the lighthouse, but there were too many tourists cramming themselves inside to see much. Not sure what the lesson there is. Don’t walk in California?

The following day we visited the attraction formerly known as the Wild Animal Park, which has rebranded itself and now extorts money from you at every opportunity. At least the money is going to a good cause, I hope. From there we drove to Ironside Fish & Oyster downtown, where we had uni for the first time (mmm), oysters of course, and I ate one of the best fish sandwiches of my life. The fish was something totally obscure that I forget the name of.

The next day we hit the road to Joshua Tree National Park by way of a detour past the Salton Sea. As an aficionado of abandoned things, I’ve been wanting to visit the sea for a long time. We stopped by the shore at Bombay Beach, formerly a resort town and now mostly graffitied husks of 50s-era beachside buildings and RVs. Frighteningly, people also still live in the town. The Salton Sea is beautiful, but not the place to take a dip.

Joshua Tree was broiling because it is in the desert, and I didn’t consider when booking the trip that summer in the desert might be hot. We managed to go on a couple of hikes, and lucked out on our second (and last) day in the park when the temperature dropped into the 70s under overcast skies. We were able to hike 6 miles that day, which included a view of an old gold mine (there’s GOLD in them thar hills!) and, of course, the Joshua Trees, which are truly astounding. I’ll definitely be back to Joshua Tree when the weather is a little bit more conducive to hiking—I still have to see the cactus garden and the Keys Ranch (damn I love hearing about homesteaders).

Now I’m back in Portland, where the sun is shining, for a grand total of five days, then I’m off to Santa Fe for job training.

In other news, one of my toenails fell off while I was training for the marathon I’m running in July, so I guess I can say I’m a real athlete now, albeit one very repulsed by what running can do to the body.

A massive Joshua Tree.
View from the Lost Horse Mine trail.
The old gold mine.
The most incredible desert sunlight waking me up at 5:45.
Joshua Tree in the sun and heat.
The old homesteader’s cabin (Airbnb) we stayed in near the park.
Ruins by the Salton Sea.
Burned-out Bombay Beach buildings.
Fish killed by the sea’s salinity.
Bombay Beach and our rental Mustang.
Exotic cactus flowers blooming at Wild Animal Park (first thing we do is go to the flowers, not the animals!)
Point Loma
Ocean Beach, the one day of perfect weather we had there and it was the evening we arrived.
Every time I leave California and return to In N Out-deprived Oregon, I cry inside.