San Diego: barely scratched the surface

above: the Louis Bank of Commerce building, constructed in 1888.

After Phoenix, we stopped for a few days in Yuma before heading into California. Yuma was just a stop over since it was too far (for us) to drive from Phoenix to San Diego in one day. I can see why Yuma is such a gathering place for snowbirds since the temperatures were wonderful, but the area is pretty industrial and not very attractive. If you want to stay in Yuma for the winter season, definitely choose a nice resort that has a lot of amenities (or out in the desert away from the city). We enjoyed the hot tub and pool at our resort but other than Los Algodones, Mexico, there isn’t too much else to see as tourists in Yuma, from what we’ve heard.

Our campsite at Santee Lakes

Our campsite at Santee Lakes, just outside San Diego.

After Yuma, we finally bid a sad farewell to Arizona (our home for almost two months) and headed off to California. San Diego is our first of many stops in CA as we plan to head up the coast. We stayed 30 minutes north of the city at the Santee Lakes Recreational Preserve, a nice county park. I think poor Opie’s brain was close to implosion after a week of seeing so many ducks and not being able to chase them more than the length of his leash!

Opie exploring at the Fiesta Island dog park.

Opie exploring at the Fiesta Island dog park.

Unfortunately (for us, but fortunately for the city of San Diego), it rained constantly for about three days while we were there but we were still able to see some fun stuff during the sunny days. San Diego is known for its dog friendly beaches, so we had to experience at least one of them. We took a day and went to Fiesta Island by Mission Bay. The entire island is off leash for pets, but they also have a fenced-in dog park encompassing acres of land and a huge beach area. Needless to say, Opie was very very pleased with that. The water was calm and easy to swim, and when he got tired of chasing the ball into the water, we’d move to the grassy areas to play. Even Max enjoyed wading into the water although it did take him at least a dozen attempts of licking the water to realize that the salt water would not improve in taste. Max, he’s our sweetest dog, just not the sharpest. We were surprised that even during the week, there were a fair number of dogs/owners roaming around on the island. With tired, wet, sandy dogs in the car, we declared Fiesta Island to be a successful outing.

One of the Sumatran Tigers keeping an eye on us...

One of the Sumatran Tigers keeping an eye on us…

On the recommendation of some friends, we went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park which is different from the San Diego Zoo. The Safari Park is well outside the city and sits on 1,800 acres of land, giving it a much nicer feel than an urban zoo with animals in small enclosures. It houses a lot of endangered species and also works on conservation and education. The climate in the area is pretty arid so many African and desert animals are on display here. They have a large African tram tour that takes you through the open savannah where you can see gazelles, giraffe, rhinos, stags, etc. The park has one of five remaining white rhinoceros left in the world (they are considered extinct in the wild).

Zoos often make us sad, with animals pacing in small enclosures. Not here!

Zoos often make us sad, with animals pacing isolated in small enclosures. Not here!

We also saw some magnificent tigers, a herd of elephants with a 1.5 year old baby, sleepy lions, and some pretty ugly condors. It is a huge park full of various animals and exhibits. One of the coolest parts are the volunteers here. Most are located near animal enclosures and enthusiastically engage in conversation regarding the animals and their habits. We had a wonderful 20-minute discussion with the woman by the elephants and she told us some fabulous stories which made the whole experience captivating.

The Zoo has been successfully breeding African Elephants and sending some to other zoos.

The Zoo has been successfully breeding African Elephants and sending some to other zoos.

We did make it into San Diego proper too. We did a self-tour of the historic Gas Lamp Quarter and ambled through admiring the architecture. We were amazed at the variety and number of restaurants in this area. If we stayed in San Diego longer, we would have to try them out but since we had a limited time, we decided to head to Hodad’s (multiple friends recommended it) for their burgers and shakes. The burgers were good (huge portions) but their chocolate malt completely made our day! Lots of malt with a scoop of chocolate ice cream on top. I think that would have been a meal enough without the burgers!



Last on our list to visit was the USS Midway Museum, the longest serving aircraft carrier from 1945 to 1992. When I first saw the Midway from the ground, it took my breath away due to the size. Once we started walking around inside the carrier, I realized that even though it’s huge, with so many on board it would get awfully crowded awfully fast. As part of the admission price, you get an audio tour which helps explain the various rooms and equipment, plus you get a first-hand account from sailors and engineers who were part of the ship. The aircraft carrier is so immense with so much information that we were only able to adequately cover half of the ship in the 3 hours we were there. It is a fascinating museum full of information, I wish we had had a full day to see all of it.

The flight deck of the impressive U.S.S. Midway.

The flight deck of the impressive U.S.S. Midway.

We even made new friends in San Diego: a couple who are interested in the same RV as the one we have wanted to visit, get a glimpse of the inside, and chat about being on the road. They want to use an RV more for book tours and seminars (she’s an author) but they seemed really excited at the possibility of driving around the country instead of hotel hopping. I hope they do end up getting an RV, maybe we’ll see them on the road in the future. Making new friends is tough for us, so we always look forward to the opportunities to meet new people and hopefully run into them again.

There are so many more things to see and do here, we’ll have to add it to our list to visit again in the future!


  1. Jonathan Scharf   •  

    Hi Kat, My daughter lives a few blocks from the zoo and she loves visiting fairly often. I’m curious what RV are you and Mike eager to see? We have a ’14 36LA also, we have been following you for quite some time and thought you guys were still pretty much into your love affair with the Allegro.

    Is it the size? Are you interested in more room? Diesel, more power?

    • Kat   •     Author

      Hi Jonathan! Hm, I think my blog post must have been confusing. We’re definitely still very very happy with our 36LA and have no urge to upgrade at all. We just met up with another couple who had been following our blog and wanted to see our 36LA because they were interested in buying the same model. They wanted to chance to see the 36LA in person and talk to us about our experiences.

      We figure we might want to upgrade somewhere down the line but currently we still love our Rover. How about you two? Still loving the floorplan and your new faucets? Have you done the 5-star tune yet?

  2. John R   •  

    USS Midway is very impressive, for sure. Did you recall that the Oasis/Allure of the Seas cruise ships are another 200 ft longer? Wow!

    • Kat   •     Author

      It’s hard to imagine the cruise ships being bigger! This sucker was huge! But then again I guess on the cruise ships, it flows a bit nicer and doesn’t have so many corridors and small areas.

  3. Jay & Dee   •  

    Hi guys! It was awesome visiting with you and touring your RV. We definitely appreciated the sharing of your experiences of travels to date and love the blog updates. Hopefully we’ve convinced you to buy lots of California wine! Maybe our paths will cross again out on the road. Enjoy the rest of the west.

    • Kat   •     Author

      It was really nice to meet you two! We did enjoy that CA wine, we’ll have to keep an eye out for it now. Hope you do decide on an RV, if so, keep us updated on where you are and we really hope we run into you again.

  4. Kerensa   •  

    We lived in San Diego in for a bit, so I’m always interested to see what people visit while there. You’re right that was just scratching the surface, but still a good job, I think! You’ll have to stop agin sometime for more. Have fun and perhaps we’ll see you in the road!

    • Kat   •     Author

      We did enjoy the parts of San Diego we visited. The weather was fabulous and we barely made it into the city so we’ll have something to do next time we’re in the area. Let us know if we end up near you and we’d love to get together and exchange stories!

  5. Jonathan   •  

    Hi Kat,

    Sorry I took so long to respond, I just read Mikes update tonight Northward to Los Angeles! Three down three to go!

    Loving our coach just like you and Mike. I did install the 5 star but I have only made one trip so far but there is no question about it the new shift pattern helps the ride so much. Faucets are great thanks to you guys! I tiled the kitchen backsplash and did the same in the half bath (that one’s mine). I had some warranty work done by CT Motor Coach and I am pumped about picking it up this weekend.

    Once I get home, I have a nice stone mural picked out and different tile for Meg’s bath (The full bath). Just like you guys I add a surge protector and installed a monitor panel inside. And the list keeps on growing.

    Oh by the way in case I didn’t mention it we used DogVacay. GREAT SERVICE for the pet owner. We interviewed to boarders and liked them both so we booked for 12 day trip in May. Disney Fl. but no coach. We have loads of other shorter trips planned coming up but with the coach and with Zoe! Thanks for writing about them.

    Continue enjoying and drive slowly up north it’s still chilly in those hills! Say hello to Mike for me, I see him on the Tiffin forum all the time.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Wow, sounds like you’ve been super-busy with upgrades to your coach! Love the tile idea, it looks like a fair number of people have been doing that for some nice accents. I’m so glad you like DogVacay, we thought it worked out great for us in Atlanta, and we’d use it again if we needed to drop the dogs off for a few days somewhere. Hope you’re posting pictures of your upgrades to the Tiffin forum, we love seeing what people do to their coaches!

  6. Vicki   •  

    Thanks for including and commenting about the parks/campgrounds where you stay. I plan to check out older posts for some ideas for the area from Texas, east to Florida. We are hoping to head out to Colorado in the fall to visit family. The return trip will take us south and then east to Florida for the winter.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Vicki, also if you look on our sidebar, there should be a link to all our campground reviews we submitted to RVParkReviews. There’s usually more detail in our campground reviews then in our blog. Course our reviews are based on how dog-friendly the place is so our review may be a bit skewed from our perspective. CO sounds like fun! We’ll have to skip it this year but we’re looking forward to seeing it next year. Hopefully we might be able to meet up in FL in the winter!

  7. Pingback: Life Rebooted – 2015 Year In Review

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