Friday, 4 October 2013

The last leg

From Santa Monica to San Diego is only 130 miles. I could drive that in three hours but as with the whole of this trip I want to continue to hug the coast where I can and not rush.

So I take my time, stop and buy lunch in San Clemente, and eat it sitting on the beach at San Onofre, watching the surfers.

The pier at San Clemente

Surfers and others at San Onofre

I stayed one night en route to San Diego in Encinitas, yet another nice little California beach town of 60,000 people.   By chance, it is the third thursday of the month and that’s when the town come alive with Encinitas Classic Car Nights.

This 1959 Morris Minor Traveller was for sale at 25,000$ - that's £15,600

On Friday 20th I arrived in San Diego, checked into my motel in the Point Loma district, and then took a long bike ride right along the waterfront into the city.  It has been one of several regular pleasures over the five weeks, to park the car, get out the bike, and spend an afternoon exploring a new town or city.

San Diego Bay is a natural harbour and deepwater port located in California, near the US-Mexico border. The bay is 12 miles long and 1 to 3 miles wide.  Considered to be one of the best natural harbors on the west coast, it was colonized by Spain from 1769. Later it served as base headquarters of major ships of the US Navy. Today it remains as a home port of major assets, including several aircraft carriers, of the United States Pacific Fleet.  San Diego's port also has facilities for commercial shipping and cruise ship traffic. 

An ideal place from which to get a sense of the size and shape of the bay is Cabrillo Point.

Cabrillo National Monument is located at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, at the western edge of San Diego bay.  It commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542, the first time that a European expedition had set foot on what later became the west coast of the United States.  MAP 
The area encompassed by the national monument includes various former military installations, such as artillery batteries, built to protect the harbor of San Diego from enemy warships. A former army building hosts an exhibit that tells the story of military history at Point Loma.
From the monument there are great sweeping views of San Diego's harbor and skyline, as well as the Naval Air Station North Island which sits in San Diego Bay.  On clear days, a wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Tijuana, and Mexico's Coronado Islands are also visible.

The Comet Ace is a vehicle carrier, registered in Panama, leaves San Diego. Seeing how high she sits in the water I assume it has just been unloaded.

A transporter lands on the military airfield

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is located just one mile north of the Cabrillo Monument, sitting along the crest of the peninsula.  To the east it overlooks the bay and the city, to the west the Pacific Ocean.

The cemetery covers 77 acres, located on both sides of Catalina Blvd, with the gravestones flowing down to the bay on the east and the ocean on the west.  I have visited several of the war grave sites in northern France and Belgium, each of them a moving and yet depressing place. None, however, come close to this for sheer size.  It is a daunting sight, 101,079 simple white grave stones, stretching on and on.  

101,079 dead.  Very moving

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