Cliffs at La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores is a righteous beach: good swimming, okay surfing (I’m told), and excellent Southern California sights. As mid-twentieth-century architecture has grown on me, I’ve even come to appreciate the homes and UC buildings overlooking the beach—but what must it have been like to visit here 100 years ago?

Cliffs at La Jolla Shores

Marine Layer San Diego

Like many East Coasters, I hadn’t heard of the marine layer until my first visit to the West Coast. The odd, damped mornings in coastal cities seem so at odds with the view of California in popular culture. Even sunny San Diego is matte and dull under a blanket of morning clouds.

Marine Layer San Diego

Coronado to Cabrillo

A study in the contradictions of California and the importance of federal lands: In the foreground is Coronado, home of resorts and Navy SEALs. This is the developed, modern California. The cliffs in the background are Cabrillo National Monument, where the first Europeans reached the West Coast in 1542. I imagine that the peninsula would be equally carpeted with homes if not for the presence of the monument. I appreciate the contrast.

Coronado to Cabrillo//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

San Diego Morning

Time zones are a source of confusion and consternation (seriously, they’re insane to deal with). Jet lag can be surprisingly disruptive. There are some temporal challenges to transcontinental (not to mention intercontinental) travel.

But sometimes the time zones align and travel makes waking at dawn trivial. To get a view of the San Diego skyline with the perfect mix of lighting and color, and with minimal sleep deprivation, was a treat.

San Diego Morning

Yachtset

Toaster glow sunlight was the result of through marine-layer haze coating San Diego every evening. I couldn’t help but notice the three abnormally large ships in this image: In the distance, two Navy aircraft carriers are the essence of industrial, practical form. Moored in the foreground is a truly massive sailing yacht that is 100% style. Look at how it dwarfs even the ostentatious motorboats beside it. Quite the contrast.

Yachtset

San Diego Surreal Trio

Though they’re not necessarily explicitly surreal, I found these three images buried on the memory card from my most recent trip to San Diego. I thought that they might make a sort of “disparate triptych.”

To begin: The field beneath my hotel room had the odd stubbiness of coastal California grass, and seeing a formally dressed person isolated in that setting was strange.

San Diego Surreal I

I don’t remember taking this image—my finger must have been on the shutter as I swung from one composition to another at night. I like the striations.

San Diego Surreal II

And this last shot, of my seatmate during the transcontinental flight home, is the least surreal. Lots of pleasing pinks and light refracted from optical surfaces.

San Diego Surreal III

OMNI, Again

Traveling back to California for the first time since I left in 2013, I realized I had forgotten the little but important differences: the streets are crowded with cars instead of trucks and the air is saturated with a different set of volatile organic compounds.

From another perspective and at another time, this photograph captures the same Omni hotel and Petco Park from one of my earliest Decaseconds posts, almost four years ago. How odd to be back again.

OMNI, Again

CALIENTE!

San Diego’s Civic Center, as I’ve shown previously, is a pretty surreal place. There’s certainly a feeling that you’re supposed to be in the nexus of the city’s of law and justice, but literally just around the corner, the buildings are plastered with signs for race tracks and the curbs and lined with homeless folks. I liked the way this image showed the broad sidewalks mostly abandoned, with only traces of waking life here and there.

Caliente! (Night)

La Jolla BBQ

La Jolla Shores is one of my favorite beaches in the country (as I’ve posted before) in large part due to the incredible variety it presents. The northern end of the beach abuts Scripps and all manner of salt-encrusted concrete constructions; the southern end is home to the La Jolla Shores Hotel, and often has beach weddings. On the beach itself, swimmers stay on the southern end, while surfers dominate the northern half. Behind all of this is a little park, lined by palms, and if you go there in the evening, the smell of families barbequing is absolutely intoxicating.

La Jolla BBQ

Civic San Diego

I’ve already posted a few shots from inside the Westgate Hotel, but very few of the view outside. The civic center area of downtown San Diego has a strange claustrophobia to it that I’ve not felt in cities like Chicago or New York, despite their narrower streets. As the morning light first started to battle past the towers, I was feeling this constriction most poignantly.

Civic San Diego

Palm Rider

This shot is a single-RAW HDR, derived from a shot I took almost randomly when I was last in San Diego. I loved the muscles of the horse contrasted with the regular pattern on the palm behind it. Still, I’m a little disappointed by how much clutter is in the shot. It’s surprisingly difficult to get “clean” shots in an area like Show Park.

Palm Rider

Room Service

My time at San Diego’s Westgate hotel really was delightful. As I described previously, the environs are beautifully refined by the standards of West Coast lodging. Every wall was clad in these wonderfully-texted wallpapers, and every door used (instead of a keycard) the most fascinating electronic keys. It all felt Byzantine and sophisticated and antique.

Room Service

San Diego: the New Miami

I spent last week trapped in the San Diego convention center for the national meeting of the American Chemical Society. I say, “trapped,” not because the meeting wasn’t interesting (it was), but rather because convention centers give me precisely the feeling of being in an airport without every having the chance to actually leave. The same cheapy-modern design, the same overpriced food, and the same sense of being surrounded by other people who are just as unfamiliar with their environment as you are. It’s all a bit alienating.

Still, the “Historic” Gaslamp District (Come see the 2002 Borders building, a relic of a bygone era!) can be reasonably photogenic at sunset. The area around the convention center, much like Miami, is overfilled with palm trees that always feel a bit odd in comparison with the native plants. In spite of all that, the sun reflecting silhouettes off the polished glass facade of a building makes for a gorgeous skyline.

San Diego: the New Miami

The Sitting Room

I’ve had good luck and bad with travel sites (e.g. Hotwire) that offer a price for a room based upon its location and general swankiness, but that hide the actual hotel until after you’ve booked. This time, however, I hit the photographic jackpot: the Westgate, built in 1970 and designed to recreate the Rococo stylings of of Versailes.

From the ornate carvings on the chairs to the silky, nearly-luminescent wallpaper, every detail screams “opulence;” spending just a few moments here brings to mind immediate thoughts of subjugating the populace.

The Sitting Room