November 9, 2015 – Cloudy, 70 degrees
Miles Today: 59
Miles to Date: 9,615
States to Date: 25
I really love bopping around cities on my bike, and metropolitan San Diego is a place of great variety to explore. I started early and cruised along the harbor, past downtown and the bike path along the port and Navy yard. At 8:00 a.m. the Star Spangled Banner plays on loudspeakers throughout the entire base and everyone, I mean everyone, stops what they’re doing and salutes in the direction of the nearest flag.
South of the base, the bike path continues through a light industrial maritime area. The road is lined with mini-vans, old trailers, and recycled motor homes. I saw many fewer street people in San Diego than in any other West Coast cities, but there’s an entire community of people struggling to hang on by living along these roads.
The Mexican border is almost twenty miles from San Diego by my circuitous bike route, but worth the trip. There’s a big outlet mall tight to the border fence in San Ysidro. I pedaled up the ramp to the pedestrian bridge. From the top I surveyed one of the most complex urban spaces anywhere: vehicle lanes, stop points, trolley terminus, pedestrian aisles, fast food joints and open retail stalls; a gigantic Mexican flag and human chaos. The Tijuana border crossing is lively place, though I could hardly interest anyone in my question. Legal or not, people here are close-lipped.
I rode back up through Chula Vista and National City and returned to San Diego to explore Balboa Park, a preserve since 1835 and site of two expositions, in 1915 and 1935. The Spanish Baroque pavilions have been repurposed into a variety of museums and a lovely botanical garden.
In the afternoon I cycled through the working class neighborhoods of East San Diego to my host’s in Spring Valley. Everyone was in hats and sweaters, unaccustomed to the heavy clouds and intermittent sprinkles.
A highlight of my day was this wall at the entrance of the public library in National City. A quote by Jorge Luis Borges in multiple languages: “I always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”