Tourist First

Travel notes and advice from around the world. Above, the daily flight from Managua at the San Carlos, Nicaragua, airstrip.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

San Diego: Cabrillo National Monument

Layers of sedimentary rock have been exposed by erosion on the Pacific side of  Cabrillo.

        San Diego Bay is defined by Coronado, which is commonly referred to as an island but which is actually a peninsula that starts out narrow and curves out from Imperial Beach south of downtown and runs north parallel to the mainland and becomes more than a mile wide, and by Point Loma, another peninsula that starts north of downtown and curves to the south as if to embrace the northernwestern end of Coronado.
         Point Loma contains posh residential enclaves, many with breathtaking views of the bay and downtown, as well as Fort Rosecrans Military Reservation. You drive through the residential and military areas to reach Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma.  It's time to choose sides: Pacific or bay.

It is illegal to collect seashells or even rocks at Cabrillo. Hermit
crabs, some with bright blue legs, can be found using other creatures'
shells in the tidal pools. 
      The Pacific side is made up of rocky, exposed cliffs with thundering waves below. This is not a swimming beach, though when the tide is low enough, protected tidal pools emerge where visitors are encourages to wade and examine the sea life that has been temporarily stranded.   So far we have not been there on a day when that is possible. Above the tidal pools, though, are seaside trails, up and down the rocky bluffs, sometimes with the assist of stairways and ropes.
       The bay side also has trails, though with more lush vegetation, as well as the visitors' center and a monument to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who in the early 1540s led the first Europeans exploring what is now California. Using three boats built in El Salvador, he explored San Diego Bay and as far north as what is now Los Angeles. He was one of the last adventurers as the Age of Exploration morphed into the Colonial Era. He died in California, supposedly of an infection after breaking a bone. His crew continued north, possibly as far as the Rogue River in Oregon, before returning to Central America.
       Little else is known about Cabrillo, whose name has been given to this small but intriguing patch of San Diego.
The view eastward from the Cabrillo visitors' center.
 In the foreground is San Diego bay, then Coronado's Navy airfield,
then more of the bay and the downtown skyline.

This was also taken from the visitors' center, but with a long lens. In the foreground is
the Navy airfield on Coronado. Beyond it is San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline.
Do you see the aircraft carrier cruising north? Those giant ships are so common
here that we've stopped commenting on them. 

Rocky promontories offer dramatic views of the waves.
Ravines lead from the Pacific  highlands to wave-splashed rocks.
A police boat speeds across the bay below the visitors' center.

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