A Glimpse Into the Past at Coronado and Old Town

For the last few nights in San Diego, my journey becomes more exciting upon the arrival of my mom.  As I anxiously await her arrival and my final work day, my anticipation for a visit to Coronado heightens.  Various suggestions for this city have peaked my curiosity, and once Sunday approaches, I’m ready to go.  Sunscreen, water bottles, and Capriotti sandwiches in hand, we’re prepared–San Diego sun do your worst Previously we discuss taking a ride on the Coronado Ferry, but seeing the road for the Coronado Bridge, we decide to take our chances on the possibility of limited parking spaces on the other side.

Coronado Bridge
Boats at Coronado

Looking at San Diego from across the bridge brings me a sense of appreciation for the effort and architectural abilities it takes to make this structure.  As the bridge curves and bends, I can’t help but think of the time and care it takes to piece a bridge, frame by frame, concrete tower by concrete tower.  The bridge gently slopes downward, and you feel you’re entering into another world.  Everything seems perfectly groomed and there’s a sense of harmony in the air.  I’m reminded of a small town that has maintained its past, but has still managed to polish itself for the future.

Dr. Seuss Art

Our first stop in town brings me back to my past as we observe works of art by Theodor S. Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss).  I’m taken back to my childhood as I see Unorthodox Taxidermy he created of various sea creatures and characters from his children’s books.  I’ve always been afraid of and intimidated by my uncle’s displays of lions, gazelles, and various wild animals looming in the corners of his house, but the goofy, cartoon-like characters of Dr. Seuss make me wish I had a home of my own to display them in.  It’s always interesting to see the lesser known works and sketches of an artist, for you begin to venture into a whole new part of them.  During this visit, a display explains how Geisel painted his own version of “The Rape of the Sabine Women,” the story of a very brutal attack in Rome that has been depicted by many artists, including Pablo Picasso.  As I excitedly begin to search for Geisel’s depiction, I find that it’s not on display.  However, my disappointment is luckily diverted by a series of working sketches and my pursuits of discovering a new side to the man whom I lovingly knew as Dr. Seuss, is satisfied.  As I glance at beginning sketches that develop into final illustrations, I begin to uncover the scribbles, drips of color, and bold ink lines that became his playful characters.

Surrey in Coronado Island

Our next exploration leads us to the shores near the Coronado Ferry.  We decide to have our tourist moment and rent a two-bike surrey.  Pedaling along the pathway I can see the faint orange rocks of Petco Park and the curved ceilings of the Convention Center.  Boats fill and perfectly align themselves in the harbor as we coast along the sidewalk of Tidelands Park.  Once our tourist moment ends, I head to the shore and stick my bare toes in the sand.  a small girl with bright orange shorts walks deeper in the water and continues to get soaked; I grin at her, because I was that girl once.  Below the shallow water I see anenomes and as I bend down to touch one it feels like a giant tongue.  Thoroughly grossed out, I decide to stay away from the ocean for now and settle on a grassy patch with palm trees towering above.  A band by the ferry dock plays “Bali Hai” as I eat my sandwich of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

Hotel del Coronado
Wooden Ceiling and Flags in Hotel del Coronado
Dome Ceiling Brunch Room at Hotel del Coronado

After we finish lunch, we travel along Orange Avenue to Hotel del Coronado.  Peering out the window, I see the boutiques and local restaurants that line Orange Avenue; it’s like being in a romanticized old-fashioned Hollywood movie set.  The vintage movie ambiance is even further illustrated as Hotel del Coronado comes into view.  Built in 1888, “Hotel del” (as San Diegans call it) is a historical landmark with pristine white exterior walls and a rust red-colored roof.  Inside a large chandelier lights the wooden ceiling, bannisters, and walls decorated with antique furniture and clocks.  We’re too late for brunch, but peek inside to see the large dome ceiling and empty plates being cleared away.  Various small boutiques and shops of jewelry, tea sets, and other treasures fill the hotel; one has my new life lesson written on a wooden block: “Live the life you’ve always imagined.”  Outside, the courtyard has bushes of red flowers and Gardenias in full bloom.  A group of Japanese tourists cluster in a gazebo eagerly taking turns for a photographic opportunity.

Coronado Beach
Seagull at Coronado Beach

Exiting the hotel, we head for the beach, and it’s easy to see why Coronado was named as the 2012 Best Beach in America.  The sand seems to have flecks of gold that glitter in the sun.  The beach is packed with people hoping to ride a wave on a boogie board or enjoy the afternoon underneath a colorful umbrella.  A sunset wedding is prepped with white tables and chairs and a bride in a flowing and simple white dress that flutters in the wind.  To the left, families climb and crowd over the rocks, hoping to catch a glimpse of a sea creature hiding in the crevasses.  As waves roll onto the beach, I watch seagulls fly across the open sea.

Dancer Mural in Old Town
Iron Statues in Old Town

Ready for a new adventure, we drive over to San Diego in search of Old Town.  Although most people would consider Old Town to only be a tourist trap, the area has a charming ambiance about it.  The majority of stores have keychains, mugs, and t-shirts of San Diego and dresses with embroidery and striped wool ponchos.  There’s a General Store, a shoe store, and an old-fashioned Wells Fargo bank, reminding my credit card bill is due soon.
Gravestone in Old TownThe most unique and interesting part of Old Town is the El Campo Santo Cemetery.  Only a few gravesites remain, but the various headstones or influential public figures, heroes, and criminals brings a different meaning as I begin to realize these were once people who not only lived here, but at times struggled to survive.  White fences surround various gravestones protecting them from damage by harmful intruders.  One of the fenced-in areas has teddy bears and stuffed animals left behind for a child who barely lived one month.  As I read about men who left behind young wives, I have to wonder if I could have been strong enough to make it on my own during this time period; even in the present day, people don’t hesitate to question my choices for surviving and foraging through life.

Succulent in Old Town

Approaching the last gravestone I find the most influential one of the cemetery.  A Native American, Melchoir, recounts his life of possibly being baptized Catholic as a baby and his struggles as he sees his people and his land change; he tells his story of how in 97 years he saw his pueblo change into a city through various uprisings, executions, and arrivals of the Mexicans and Americans.  Although change is inevitable, his story shows me how important preservation of the past is.  Having a strong sense of the past builds a foundation on which we can stand to see possibilities for the future and use the present to get us there.  Visiting these historical places of San Diego develops a respect for those who influenced the city to be where it is now.  Only those who appreciate the past can see what is necessary for the future.

This post is a part of Monday Mellow Yellows, Photo Friday hosted by Pierced Wonderings and Travel Photo Thursday hosted by Budget Travelers Sandbox, Budget Travel Talk, Tanama Tales and Rachel’s Ruminations.

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  1. Suzy Godfrey

    Hubby and I were there many years ago…beautiful place!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I completely agree! Glad you enjoyed your time in Coronado. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  2. Jim ~ ReflectionsEnroute

    Coronado and the Old Town looks like a good place for a day trip out of San Diego. I’d love to have lunch in the Hotel Coronado.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I highly recommend it and wish I could have the chance to dine at Coronado as well. Hope you get the opportunity to visit these locations!

  3. budgettraveltalk

    The more I read about San Diego, the more I like it. I’ve always been attracted to it and it is on the very top of my USA want list!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      San Diego is amazing! If you go, let me know and I’ll send you suggestions of what to see. 🙂

  4. Ruth

    I am glad I read your post because I didn’t know Dr. Seuss’s work was on display in San Diego. I would like to see that exhibition. I have never been to the Coronado Hotel. That is a total shame for me but I hope I can stop by soon.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I highly recommend Coronado to anyone! I hope you get the chance to visit someday soon.

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