For our second day in San Diego, Kyle suggested we explore the Mission Beach boardwalk. Mission Beach itself is a community built on a sandbar between the Pacific Ocean and Mission Bay. The boardwalk runs the length of the sandbar, about three and a half miles. Kyle lent us his truck to get to Mission Beach and a pair of bikes to take on the boardwalk. It was like staying at a luxury hotel where all the activities are free.

It took only fifteen minutes to drive to Mission Beach, but it took twice that to find a parking spot big enough for Kyle’s giant truck. Kirk, who normally drives a Jetta, decided against attempting to parallel park the monster. I agreed. We found some generous length of curb on a corner and eased right in. We lifted the bikes out of the back, navigated down a few back streets and spilled out onto the boardwalk. The sun gleamed off the ocean. Lazily, we began peddling. Up and down the path we rode, admiring the beach residences and checking out the tourists. Early afternoon we left the crowds on the boardwalk and turned inland to explore the bay. We cycled out onto a peninsula fringed with boat slips. Settling on a small arc of quiet sand, we ate our packed lunch watching moored sailboats bob in the blue shimmer.

Later on, we headed back to the house for some dinner and a change of clothes. Dan, a friend of ours from the waterski team and his roommate, Dimitri, said we should meet them out for drinks. The bar turned out to be one of those hole-in-the-wall looking places that seems to open up into the Silverdome when you get inside. All of us – friends, and friends of friends – drank merrily the night’s special, three dollar bottles of Rolling Rock. Kirk, the misfit, joyously drank his Captain & cokes. Our conversation was an animated one, owing to the fact that somehow, nearly a third of our number worked for the US Navy on a nuclear reactor. (Too many smart people with engineering degrees in one bar.) Naturally this led to ridiculous questions like, “Aren’t you worried you’re going to blow to smithereens at any second?” and hypothetical silliness, “Your children could be born glowing green with eleven toes.”

The hour turned from late to early, and we said goodnight to Dan, Dimitri and the rest. Kyle, Dana, Kirk and I went on to find our fourth meal. And thankfully, it wasn’t Taco Bell. Not a single fast-food joint was open. We walked for what seemed miles (probably a few blocks) and found a small Mexican place specializing in take-out. I know, hardly seems a far cry from Taco Bell, but oh, it was. I had a couple battered fish tacos, even better than the day’s before, and to the chagrin of everyone else, I could not stop raving about them. My perception of their greatness might have suffered a bit of merry inflation, but never you mind.

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Our third day was all about the outdoors. Sure, we were at the beach the day before, but the beach is easy. The outdoors demand some effort, some stamina. Physicality. What did we do? Hike a mountain. Cowles Mountain.

It was more of a hill than a mountain, and more of a walk than a hike, but I was huffing. I should grant myself some credit. At nearly 1600 feet, Cowles is the tallest peak in the city of San Diego.

After the hike, we stopped home for a bit of lunch and then it was off again on another adventure. It was low tide, perfect timing to explore the Point Loma tide pools.

We jumped rocks, poked at anemones and searched for the elusive starfish. The sun was setting, casting a rich golden hue on the landscape. So what do you want to do tonight guys? Kyle asked. I said, Eat chocolate cake.

Too wiped out to go out, Kyle, Kirk and I stayed in. Before we holed up however, we decided we needed to procure some provisions. In doing so, I had to make good on my one desire for the evening. At the grocery store we picked up brownie mix (not cake, but close) and some El Jimador to make margaritas. Odd pairing, I know. At home, I mixed the batter, Kyle mixed the margaritas and Kirk popped Superbad in the DVD player. We settled in for a cozy Friday night. ☼