50 Weeks San Diego: Week 1 - Our Friend from Manchester
Alex: “We met a guy from Manchester (England) who’s traveling the states and plans to visit San Diego. Is it okay if he stays with you two this weekend? Dad can take him out for a drink.”
It’s really a long story, but the short version is: Alex, who has been living in England for the past three years, is back home in San Diego for the summer, she brought her friend Rosie with her, who, for the past month, together have been road tripping throughout the western U.S., while hosteling met a fellow English lad from Manchester, who’s traveling too, and brought him along during their drive along the California coast. It’s wonderful that there are young adults who have that adventurous travel gene.
It may seem odd that we’re okay with hosting a young stranger, but welcoming visitors has always been part of our life. As a young girl, I lived in Anaheim Hills and our home was the go to destination for friends and relatives that wanted to visit Disneyland. Plus, we each had our own adventures traveling in our youth and understand how comforting it is to be around locals.
So it came to be that we met Jason, a nice young guy in his mid-20s, who decided to take some time to travel after finishing a stint in the British Army’s Royal Engineers, including service in Afghanistan. He was towards the end of his holiday in the States, getting low on funds, and helping him save on lodging was the hospitable thing to do.
Where to bring Jason? He only had a couple days in San Diego, so yes, Richard honored his promise to Alex and took him out for a drink, or two or three…at Conway’s, an Irish pub. While there, Jason was introduced to a number of veterans, who each felt the need to buy our British veteran a drink. San Diego is such a friendly city, especially to our military brothers and sisters. With such a rousing welcome to Jason, we decided that we would tailor a military-inspired agenda for Jason’s short visit.
Now, we did take him around to a few favorite spots, such as Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe (while Richard was visiting clients), and to eat fish tacos from Galaxy Tacos in La Jolla. When in San Diego, you must try fish tacos.
A San Diego military inspired agenda must include a visit to the U.S.S. Midway Museum, docked downtown in the San Diego Harbor. A favorite spot for those of all ages, and a regular field trip experience for local school children, the floating city at sea is a worthwhile experience for everyone. Besides the numerous exhibits and walking tour, there are flight simulators, climb-aboard opportunities, and an Ejection Seat Theater. Jason loved looking at the guns and comparing them to what he had used during his service. Since Richard loves everything military-related, they had much in common. Jason also commented that the officers accommodations were much more spacious than those of the U.K. By the way, showing another nice hospitable act, the U.S.S. Midway Museum gave Jason a discount since he was retired military. Jason appreciated that kindness.
While downtown, a side trip to Seaport Village was in order. It’s always nice to walk around, and watch the street performers while lingering over a burger and fries, feeling the sunshine warm your face.
Richard also took Jason to the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial. Besides the glorious views of Mission Bay on one side and La Jolla Shores on the other, the memorial really is a wonderful tribute to our military veterans. Mt. Soledad is considered a unique veterans memorial, because it’s the only one that honors veterans, living or deceased, from the revolutionary war to the current war on terror. Another wonderful touch at the memorial is that each veteran’s plaque includes an image of the veteran and their short story. You really can spend hours up there, as there is over 3,500 plaques, with room for 2,400 more. The 27-foot cross at the memorial has been around since 1954, and is thought of as a beacon of freedom.
We ended the quick trip by taking Jason to our neighborhood’s Sunday concert at the park, listening to a … Beatles tribute band! Our new friend travels across the pond to listen to a band performing songs by the greatest British band ever. What a coincidence. Jason experienced a true local gathering, with families young and old, groups of neighbors, and even some teens here and there. Many brought their four-legged family members. The local softball team was selling hot dogs to raise money for a championship tournament, blankets were spread all around for picnickers, and others organized elaborate potlucks. Jason seemed like he was enjoying the moment, sitting back listening to the tunes of a hometown band, munching on picnic basket chicken, and relaxing. He mentioned that they don’t have such events in Manchester. It felt good to show Jason some true Americana.
That was it. We told Jason he needs to return for a longer trip, and as usual we were promoting the benefits of living in San Diego. One other lasting impression Jason had - he was surprised and delighted that so many places respected and flew the American flag. Yes, San Diego is a military town. We love that San Diego was the setting for the movie “Top Gun” (which inspired Jason to join the military), that we have Camp Pendleton, Miramar, and North Island, and regardless of political party, we respect our armed services.
We are San Diego. Come visit our home.
Jemma and Richard
For additional info:
Coming up: Watch the Top Gun movie on the deck of the U.S.S. Midway, October 13, starting at 6:00pm. Go to: www.midway.org/topgun-2017 for more info. Tickets available starting September.