Friday, March 1, 2013

Onward to San Diego

People often ask me, "Aren't you afraid to be traveling alone?"  To which I must say I am not.  Being rousted in the middle of the night by some conscientious security guard annoys, but does not scare me.  My doors are locked, my alarm is set and I always have the vehicle keys ready to start the engine.  I also do not park in areas for the night that appear risky or invite contact with undesirables.  And I have a cell phone and a few weapons--of sort.
But I am sincerely afraid of weather.  Ice, snow, wind, gullies of water crossing the road--all make me fearful.  So I left El Centro in the early morning, with a tiny bit of sun reflecting on those snow-covered mountain tops that I was about to cross, and a sense of trepidation that the storm was still hanging around.

The wind was brutal as I climbed onward up Interstate 8 toward the top.  Finally, I decided I did not want to continue being beaten up.  I called my son, Ron, who was waiting for me in San Diego, and asked if there was an alternative route. He suggested Hwy 94 that goes through Campo and hugs the Mexican border.  

The road is full of curves but the wind was noticeably less and there were only a few snow flurries to disturb an otherwise quiet and serene countryside.   And as I dropped into San Diego and the coast I remembered why I love California so much.

Behold the skyline of the city with the ocean in the background.  Need I say more?

Although winter was still hanging around,  the flowers were starting to make their appearance.  And everywhere I looked there were small ethnic restaurants--Vietnamese, Mexican, Indian, Japanese, Philippino, Korean, Mongolian, and just plain American--and most are Mom and Pop owned.  Sure there are chains but they are far outnumbered by the individual enterprises.

Sigh Me was happy to see Ron--and vice versa.


Ron only had to ask once for me to agree to join him and his friend, Greg, (far left) and a few acquaintances for a memorable night of dining in one of the best and most unusual restaurants I have been to on this trip.  It is Russian and Ukrainian restaurant and a real treasure hidden away in a strip-center between a Mexican take-out and a 7-11.  As we entered the restaurant there was an instant country cottage feel and the owners and wait-staff were all Russian--how authentic can it get?  I tasted many wonderful and very different dishes--lamb, cornish hen, stroganoff, beets (of course), and walnut cake that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  

Norm (far left), Cindy (far right) and the lovely lady in the center whose name I have shamefully forgotten all agreed it was a great meal.
And the portions were huge.  Note the take-home box at Ron's elbow.  It's his lunch the next day.
The chef, his wife and his young son all stopped at our table to greet us in Russian.   This is what a restaurant should be. 

Night two!  Dinner with Ron's friend Pat (it was Pat's driveway in Ft. Mills, South Carolina where I spent a long weekend a year ago when Ron flew to SC to work on the RV)

Chiquita's Mexican Restaurant is another family affair.  Gabe with his son, Raymond, and other family members, own and operate the restaurant that was started by Gabe's parents many years before. A tribute to its excellence lies in the fact that most of the patron's were, clearly, repeat guests of many years.

 The food was excellent,  service was exceptionally friendly,  the transvestite karaoke review celebrating some guy's birthday in the backroom was a hoot,  but the piece d'resistance was the Margarita Slurpee. Wow! Who would have guessed a Slurpee machine could do that?

Now, no more restaurants for a while.  I am going to the park and do some serious walking in this great California sun--my slacks are getting way too tight!


  1. Toni,
    I really enjoyed this post. I love San Diego, and those restaurants really made me feel hungry. I'm glad the weather didn't stop you getting there.
    Keep on, lady.

  2. I have so much fun following your travels.