Lola’s La Jolla

This is Lola.

Lola is a good friend.

When we were first camping near her part-time home of San Diego, the only spot we could find was in Laguna Mountains, where she drove up to camp in a tent beside the trailer in the cold to visit us.

Lola loves La Jolla.

Now that we’re back near San Diego and have found campgrounds much closer to her house, Lola’s been called away to Madrid. So, although she would love to show us her beloved town of La Jolla, she could only text me about her favorite places to see. I could practically hear the wistfulness in her texts, her love of the ecology here, her cursing the irony of our bad timing. That’s why I think of yesterday’s trip as having been to Lola’s La Jolla.

Cave Store

We spent an utterly delightful day with our other local(ish) friends, Shana and Marcus, who suggested we visit the famous Cave Store with them, so that was our launching point for the day.

I’m guessing people call this place the Cave Store because that’s where tickets are sold to the cave, but really it’s a long staircase (that begins in the store) that’s been dug down through the rock to a cave at the bottom of a cliff. There you stand and watch the tide come in and out and admire the resident sea lion sleeping beside the viewing deck.

Stepping down a man-made tunnel in the dark to arrive at the back of a sea cave is a pretty unusual experience, so, thumbs up for the Cave Store.

Coast Walk Trail

La Jolla’s famous Coast Walk Trail has an endpoint by the store, and Lola recommended it, so off we went. We spent a lot of it standing on the trail, staring out at the water, and the cliffs, and the animals, and the kayakers, and saying things like, ”This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve even seen.” Seriously.

The trail is flanked on the land side by gorgeous homes and their gardens, plus perfectly placed benches (notice the quiet man reading at the top of the trail below). On the ocean side are more of La Jolla’s famous flora and fauna, and the dramatic cliffs with sweeping views of green and blue ocean, kelp, and beaches.

What you’re seeing is a small section of La Jolla’s 6,000 acres of underwater park and ecological reserve (it encompasses four different habitats). I’m sure if Lola had been walking with us, I’d be able to easily tell you more: she’s an environmentalist, professionally and at heart.

It’s worth repeating: we spent a lot of time doing this.

It so happens that right here Marcus and Tracy had stepped a little closer to the cliff’s edge than Shana or I approved of, so we’d backed away, but I had to grab this shot of them looking like two very different guys sharing the same feels. (Could Tracy look more like he’s from Iowa here?)

Coastal Critters

Yes, I’d never seen seals or sea lions before! Here’s a quick video of sea lions rough-housing (I’m guessing they’re not seals because of all the vocalization).

And here’s a giant sea lion we watched bully his way up through a bunch of pelicans and seals to get to his favorite sunning spot. He shouted and lumbered and made a huge hullabaloo, and then he collapsed in the sun and didn’t move again.

So much Banjo! She makes a huge deal out of us harnessing her up in the trailer and then leaps out, only to plop in the sun like a lump. We now know Banjo’s alter animal ego.

This first bird photo below is unimpressive because I should have taken it as video: pelicans were swooping away from the shore as someone down there played with a dog, then swooped back to the shore, and generally put on a synchronized flying show for us.

We also saw common cormorants and Brandt’s cormorants, shaking their necks and chins to ward us away from their nests.

Coastal Flowers

After this walk, Marcus only half joked that he’s ready to go back to school to get a botany degree.

Another Lola suggestion: the abalone shell wall at Brockton Villa Restaurant. Abalone are snails (I didn’t know that), but due to disease and to people eating them and using the shells for decoration, their numbers are declining quickly. I’m thinking this old wall shows a rare collection.

I know there’s so much to La Jolla in particular and San Diego in general that we missed (I get several suggestions per day from kind friends), but Pacific Beach and La Jolla’s Coast Walk Trail were the ”field trips” we could fit in on this two-week trip.

Our life is a lot like being on vacation, but in many ways it’s not.

  • We’re not staying in hotels conveniently located near favorite destinations.
  • We’re not zipping around in a rental car that we can park anywhere.
  • We’re not free of daily-life responsibilities.
  • We’re not on a specially reserved vacation budget.

So we see what we can manage to see, and I thank you all for your suggestions and write them down.

I do that because a benefit to living somewhat like we’re on vacation all the time is that we can come back. Which we must certainly will do—and I hope Lola will be our guide. Heck, she might have reached her retirement goal of being a full-time nomad by then, and we can camp and explore the area with her, with both new and shared perspectives.

4 thoughts to “Lola’s La Jolla”

  1. So beautiful! I love reading this 💜 over the last couple of years I have become a lover of pelicans! They are amazing beautiful prehistoric creatures! The views and plants are absolutely gorgeous!

    1. I think lots of people who live near pelicans think of them as a nuisance, but they are strange and wonderful, aren’t they? Welcome to the blog. 🙂