This year, we spent the entire winter in San Diego. For the last two weeks of November and the first two weeks of March, we camped at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, a beautiful and spacious county park in the suburbs.

The good? Very large, private, full hook up sites, with nice views of the surrounding area. (Click on any photo for full sized view)

During our visit in November, the surrounding landscape was sadly brown and dead after months of ultra dry conditions:

A dry and brown landscape at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park But when we returned in March, the tall grasses, bushes, and trees were quickly turning green:

Green grasses taking over the once brown landscape

While I won’t go so far as to break out the term ‘verdant,’ it was, unquestionably, a big improvement.

The local park down the street was nicely green too, and had a fun and welcoming dog park where we could get Thor some exercise and socialization.

The bad? During both of our stays at Sweetwater we dealt with ant invasions. It’s a known problem at the park, but we didn’t have any issues when we visited back in 2018. This time, however, we were not so lucky. And man, once they find a way in, it’s like an endless conga line of ants. Fortunately, on both occasions, we were able to quickly identify their entry point and spray the area with bug spray, but not before emptying all our kitchen cabinets and tossing a bunch of food.

Additionally, during our second visit, we had a good sized rainstorm and woke up the next day to a positively biblical number of snails all over the grounds.

Snails on ground under motorhome

Snails on cement

That is super weird, right?

In addition to being all over the campsites, they were also all over the campground roads – which meant many got smooshed by passing cars and RVs.

Super weird AND super gross.

Anyway, other than that, it was all good. Our good friend from law school, Renzo, lives in San Diego, so he came over for “Outdoors-Giving”:

and Thor immediately identified his new bestie:

Renzo doesn’t like turkey, so he brought a ham. Thor appreciates each dish’s unique qualities and, therefore, had a good day.

We also went over to Renzo’s house for a Covid appropriate “Garage-Christmas”:

Covid Christmas in San Diego = Dinner in the garage surrounded by surfboards.

Sandwiched in between our two visits to Sweetwater Summit, we spent three full months at Mission Bay RV Resort. We’ve stayed at Mission Bay twice before and have a very pronounced love/hate relationship with it. On the one hand, it’s in a great location, right on the water, next to a large park, and it offers easy access to everything San Diego has to offer. On the other hand, it’s a ‘pack-em-in’ parking lot where you’re surrounded by RVs on all sides, and if you have a bad neighbor like we did during our 2018 visit, you’ll be in for a rough ride.

For the sake of comparison, here was our patio at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park:

View from motorhome at Sweetwater Summit Regional Park

and here was our patio at Mission Bay:

View from patio at Mission Bay RV Resort

I know. It’s tough to decide which is more appealing, but take your time and give it some thought. You never know when the idea of staring at RVs while trying not to trip over your neighbor’s sewer hose might really grow on ya!

We lucked out in that, for much of our visit, the park was only about 70% full. When California shut down in December because of Covid, the government limited overnight camping to monthly stays or housing for essential workers. So, Mission Bay canceled a ton of their short-term reservations, which resulted in a very empty park. This was Christmas Eve – unthinkable a year prior:

Empty campsites at Mission Bay RV Resort

Empty campsites at Mission Bay RV Resort

Things picked back up again toward the end of our visit, but for most of our stay, we only had a neighbor on one side or the other, making things a bit more tolerable.

Mission Bay RV Resort

De Anza Cove

In addition to the tight quarters, Mission Bay RV is located in an area called De Anza Cove which has been undergoing extensive re-development plans for many, many years. In fact, as I understand it, plans to redesign the neighborhood were first proposed during the Ming Dynasty. Fortunately, things have really picked up since then and experts now anticipate project completion some time around humanity’s full colonization of Mars.

Seriously, I love San Diego but the city seems to excel at turning simple ideas into endless cycles of planning, hearings, lawsuits, red tape, and more planning.

The short version is there’s a large area of what should be prime real estate that is currently covered in old, abandoned, dilapidated trailer homes. Here’s a map:

Satellite view of De Anza Cove in San Diego

The paved parking lot in the center of this picture is Mission Bay RV Resort. The land north of the paved parking lot and the entire peninsula south/east of the paved parking lot is full of abandoned trailer homes.

Here’s what that peninsula looks like from the north side of the cove at sunset:

Sunset view of De Anza Cove

Like I said, “Prime real estate.”

And here’s what all the abandoned houses on that prime real estate look like:

Abandoned trailer home in De Anza Cove

Abandoned trailer homes in De Anza Cove

The homes go all the way back to the 1950’s and, at one time, the neighborhoods were probably pretty nice. However, over many years, the residents were forced out because the city wanted the property back – the land was never supposed to have been used for a trailer park and the city wanted to re-develop it. But that led to all kinds of legal wrangling and costly court battles. Those court battles dragged on for decades and finally ended when the last residents were forced out in 2016.

By then, the area was in complete disrepair, and it’s only gotten worse since.

Today, there are over 100 homes that are actively decaying. Collapsed roofs, separating walls, broken windows, loose bricks, torn down fences, and lots of damage from squatters. Oh, and the homes are believed to be full of asbestos and possibly other toxic chemicals.

In the meantime, the city has been trying to decide what to do with the entirety of De Anza Cove. Some people want to make the land accessible for public recreation while others want to turn all or part of it back into marshland – especially in light of expected challenges due to climate change. This has brought out different interest groups and led to years of planning commissions, consultants, studies, and meetings, all of which culminated in a 2019 proposal that would have resolved at least some of the issues, but that proposal has also been mired in difficulties. The end result is little visible progress has been made on removing these rapidly deteriorating homes.

Pathway surrounding fenced off abandoned trailer homes
The homes have now been completely fenced off which is good.

So, what does all this have to do with our stay at Mission Bay RV Resort?

Well, as part of this long convoluted process, the fate of Mission Bay RV Park is basically up in the air. The private company that used to manage the campground for the city walked away when their contract ended (the campground has always been owned by the city, but was managed by an outside company). Rather than signing a new contract with a new management company, especially in light of all the uncertainty, the city agreed to let another local RV park called Campland, manage it. This has resulted in some noticeable changes.

For one thing, their check in process (at least for monthly stays) has turned into a convoluted, confusing, red tape filled ordeal involving lots of paperwork, multiple visits to the front office, and an overly complicated billing process. In what I expect is an attempt to avoid potential legal issues (read: landlord/tenant protections), the city has turned the process of registering and staying in a monthly campsite into something only slightly less onerous than adopting a child.

In addition to all the paperwork and hoop-jumping, guests are also subjected to a 20 minute exposition on why the park’s wifi is terrible. The nightly rates to stay at this “resort” are very high, so people get upset when the wifi doesn’t work. Therefore, the folks at the front desk try to head off complaints with a very lengthy explanation blaming the pandemic because, as everyone knows, you can’t fix the internet during a pandemic. Really, if they were being honest, their 20 minute explanation could be distilled down to a 10 second: “this place is probably gonna get torn down and we’re not spending any more money on it.”

In the meantime, under the old management, the park had a private security company manning the front gate and driving around the park at all hours. They were (legitimately) concerned about unsavory characters hanging around the abandoned trailer homes and creating issues within the high priced RV park. And these guys took themselves and their marching orders very seriously. In fact, the first times we visited, we found it all to be a bit much. They were all over people about everything. However, now, with the new Campland management, security has gone in the polar opposite direction.

These guys could have rolled up to the gate…

ISIS militants in pick up trucks

and the Campland security guards would have waved them through with the same disinterested nod they give everyone.

That disinterest carried over into the park itself where we saw plenty of unkempt sites and inconsiderate behavior that would have been corrected under the old regime.

It really made us miss the “I take my job far too seriously” folks.

Anyway, it probably seems like I hate Mission Bay RV Park, and I do. But I don’t. Because if you ignore the dilapidated houses of horror to your left and, instead, look to your right, you just might see the most stunning sunset of your life:

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And just down the way from the RV park, there’s an enormous off leash dog area called Fiesta Island that brought Thor endless joy:

Thor taking a rest at Fiesta Island
Fiesta Island offers tons of room to run, and in this case, rest….
Thor swimming at Fiesta Island
…as well as an entire swimmable ocean!!

and just a couple miles in the other direction are some of the most scenic beaches and boardwalks in the country

and the world’s most delicious poke bowls:

And that’s the whole thing about San Diego: It can be a giant pain. It’s expensive, it’s overpopulated, things can take forever. But if you’re willing to put up with a bit of that, the neighborhoods are fun, the hikes are interesting, the coastline is spectacular, and the food and beer rarely disappoint.

Entertaining Ourselves During the Shutdown

We got to Mission Bay on December 1, and on December 6, the governor pretty much shut down the whole state.

Prior to the 6th, counties had been operating with certain Covid restrictions based on their individual case positivity rates, but when the numbers started going out of control, the government tossed that whole system and, instead, started focusing on ICU capacity. Additionally, the government broke the state into regions, grouping together neighboring counties under the theory that they would share hospital space (ie: if Los Angeles’s hospitals were overrun, they would naturally reach out to San Diego County to help them handle patient load. Therefore, it made sense to track ICU capacity for certain localities together.)

In practical terms, once the shutdown started, restaurants were restricted to take out and delivery only, personal care services (salons, etc.) were shuttered, and there were capacity restrictions on regular retail. However, unlike the spring shutdown, the government left parks, trails, beaches, and playgrounds open, and encouraged people to get outside and get exercise.

For us, this meant we basically kept to ourselves and spent our time walking and jogging around the park next door, taking the dog to Fiesta Island, and neighborhood hopping – one of our favorite things to do anyway. We revisited some places we’d been before and explored new neighborhoods. Fortunately, the weather was “San Diego perfect” throughout our visit, so we always had good reason to head outdoors.

Little Italy

This is a happening little neighborhood right near the airport. And when I say “right near,” I mean, “right near”:

Plane flying over street sign in Little Italy This neighborhood had lots of young people, plenty of nightlife, several breweries, and a welcome assortment of places to get cannolis. Win win win. Before the shutdown, the neighborhood’s business district encouraged restaurants to build large seating areas on the sidewalks and streets, so once the shutdown was over, the neighborhood came alive again.

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We visited Little Italy several times during our stay and really enjoyed the overall vibe. We even wondered whether it might be an option for us to settle down there one day:

Real estate rental listings in San Diego

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!

Oh, and to answer your question, yes. Of course. Obviously.

Cannoli

Waterfront

Bobbing sailboats, gleaming skyline, the U.S.S. Midway, a larger than life rendition of the famous kissing sailor photograph (which, to my former prosecutor mind, is nothing more than evidence of an assault), and sunset views along the waterfront.

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What’s not to love?

Coronado Island

This “island” (in reality, a peninsula) is home to the legendary Hotel Del Coronado. The hotel was famously used in the Marilyn Monroe movie Some Like it Hot. Today, it is a resort which caters to the very wealthy, because some like it pricey.

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The surrounding neighborhoods are beautiful too. There are many different styles of architecture, and all of them are jaw dropping:

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Additionally, wherever you are on the island, you can see and hear all manner of military aircraft overhead as they take off and land at the nearby naval air station. It basically provides a free daily air show.

La Jolla

Speaking of free shows, we returned to this beautiful coastal area to take in the views and check up on the local seal population. Fortunately, they seemed pretty content with their lives of beach bumming. Slackers.

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North Park

This spunky, funky, neighborhood feels like one of those places that will eventually get super popular and price out all the cool, independent local businesses and residents. For now, it’s one of the more “reasonably priced” neighborhoods in San Diego. Even better, it offers a central downtown area full of neat shops and is within reasonable walking distance of Balboa Park. It’s got a lot going for it and it’s where we’d probably consider if we were to actually try to live in San Diego. (Click for full versions and captions.)

Hikes

We completed several hikes while in the area, but the most memorable was Potato Chip Rock (the most memorably terrible was Cowles Mountain – not because it’s a bad hike, but because we made the boneheaded decision to visit on a Saturday when everyone else was there. Big mistake). There are two ways to get to Potato Chip Rock. Both are lengthy climbs, but the Woodson Trail on the backside is a bit easier. The trek is full of big boulders:

Kevin and Thor standing in front of large boulders on the Mt. Woodson Trail

“find the hiker” photo opportunities:

View of boulders and mountains in the distance on the Mt. Woodson Trail

great views…

Views of the mountains from the Mt. Woodson Trail

snow for the dog…

and ends with this one-of-a-kind Instagram-ready payoff:

(The drop from the rock to the ground is like 40 feet, so not definitely deadly, but not definitely not deadly and falling from it would definitely definitely ruin your day.)

San Diego Wrap Up

All things considered, San Diego ended up being a pretty good place to spend the winter. While our timing was less than ideal (the shutdown went from December 6 to January 25), we were happy to be in a place where the sun was shining and we could get outside and stay active. We found local San Diegans to be very responsible, if not exactly 100% on board with the governor’s decisions:

During the shutdown:

After the shutdown:

(This bar obviously has a large snarky banner budget.)

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to spend time with several folks we wanted to see, nor do many of the things that we would have liked to do, but no one has gotten to do what they wanted this past year, so no whining from us. We’ll just add them to our always-lengthy list of reasons to return to ‘America’s finest city.’

Next up: Death Valley National Park

___________________________________________________________________

Where we stayed (these are reviews from 2018 with a couple updates):

Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, Bonita, California

Mission Bay RV Resort, San Diego, California

48 COMMENTS

  1. Ahhh, San Diego. Nothing better than Coronado, Hotel Del and Children’s Pool in La Jolla!! Some of our favorite places ev-ah!!! 1. Please try to figure out how we can get the real estate market work for the 4 of us. 2. Are those cannolis as good as Mike’s????

    • Trust me, if I could find a way to convince the good folks of San Diego to reduce their real estate prices, I would. Sadly, my strategy thus far – whining, “come on, pleeeaaaasssee????” – doesn’t seem to be working. And no, while that cannoli was very good, it was not as good as Mike’s.

  2. We have been in several parks/places with severe ant problems and then spent weeks trying to get Waldo un-infested. But, we have NEVER had a snail invasion!
    It sounds like overall, you had a pretty good winter. Thor sure looks like he enjoys the area too. I think it would be a little too “city” for us, but I wouldn’t mind visiting once.
    Safe travels this year!

    • Oddly enough, once we cut off the source for the ants, sprayed that bug spray, and wiped down all the cabinets and contents, they all disappeared. That has definitely NOT been the case with other invasions we’ve had, where we’ve spent months trying to get rid of the damned things (lady bugs, stink bugs, etc). I guess ants ‘get the message’ better than other bugs.

      I think you guys would like this area we’re in now, along the central coast, more than San Diego. It’s got all the beautiful coastal features with much less traffic and insanity.

      Hope you guys are doing well and traveling safely too!

  3. Why is it that private RV parks so often fail to have the “right” level of supervision and rule enforcement? It’s either too lax or too heavy-handed. And why do we never have this problem in public parks? I think we are just not cut out for private RV parks unless absolutely necessary …. which of course they are for multi-month stays. While the pandemic shut downs obviously impacted the activities you could do in San Diego, the less crowded RV park must have been a nice compensating factor. Plus being able to have outdoor gatherings with friends is an outstanding feature! I absolutely love the surfboard backdrop for Christmas. I think your friend should hold all future holiday gatherings in that spot, pandemic or not. 🙂

    • You’re totally right about the private parks with rule enforcement. We’ve seen both extremes. Overall, I think we’d rather stay at a heavy handed place because the rules rarely affect anything we do and the rules usually do improve the overall feel of these places, but sometimes, they can just be silly. And you’re right, it rarely happens at the state parks – probably because a) people can’t set up for months on end and act like they live there; and b) they’re usually patrolled by rangers who don’t screw around. Sadly, in this case, as you pointed out, our only option if we wanted to sit somewhere long term, was to find a private park, and with all the challenges of the past year, being set up in a city where we had good friends nearby made the whole winter a lot more comfortable. Finally, I completely agree on your assessment of Renzo’s garage. Surfboards are really under-utilized in home décor schemes and should be front and center at most future gatherings. 🙂

  4. Loved your review of the ups and downs of San Diego life. I had to laugh at your ant invasions. We used to live in Rancho Bernardo, then Carlsbad. Bugs just didn’t exist (except for some giant spiders here and there). BUT, we had two invasions yearly. No matter what we did to prevent it. And they would always start up in the morning when I opened my cupboard to start making coffee. AHHHH! They were everywhere! Don’t miss that so much. Lol! That being said, the San Diego area was my favorite plasce to live. I loved the coast and beach walks (almost daily), the weather was perfect, so many restaurants to choose from and the sunsets! I’m glad you had a “safe” place to live this winter. Enjoy your travels!

    • That’s interesting. I wonder if there’s a seasonal element to all of this? Though, I’m pretty sure our 2018 visit was in March and we had no problems then. I have no idea. What I do know is we love San Diego, and one of the coolest things about it, is the lack of bugs. Coming from the east coast where you have to run inside and hide every evening at sunset, and where you will hate your life if you fail to close your screen door for 2 minutes, and where, right now, they’re about to be inundated with cicadas, we so appreciate San Diego’s bug free existence. Of course, that might all change if I came across anything that qualifies as a “giant spider.” I have a so-intense-it’s-comical fear of spiders. Ah well… there’s always something. Safe travels to you too!

  5. Once we’re fully vaccinated, we’re headed to San Diego for a week so this post is perfectly timed for us! Please tell me your favorite poke places so we can confirm your assessment. 😉

    Ants are the worst! I can’t believe Thor didn’t chase them out. 😂

    • Hands down, our favorite place is Poke Chop. We’ve only been to the one in Pacific Beach, but it is fantastic and was actually within walking distance (a long walk, but do-able) from Mission Bay RV). https://www.pokechopsd.com/ We’ve tried a couple others, but that’s our favorite.

      As for Thor, he does not seem interested in ants, but he does like to try to attack bees, which is super helpful (insert eyeroll here). 🙂

      Anyway, have a great time in SD!

  6. Love the pictures. Very objective review. Thor is very lucky. We are out of Cali. Full timers Florida or bust.
    Cheers

  7. Love love your summary of one of our fav towns. Yes “town” SD even though super large and busy seems more like a medium size town. We’ve lived there a couple of times….Navy folks, Navy town. You hit it right with Coronado & North Park…totally our favorites. We plan to revisit in 2022…fingers crossed. Thanks again for the great blog.

    • I totally get what you’re saying. There are lots of areas of San Diego that feel more like a town than a big city – especially the real coastal neighborhoods. I think there’s always going to be conflict between people who want to keep things as they’ve been and those who want to expand upward, outward, and re-develop. Rapid growth brings so much opportunity, but can also wreck the feel of a city. It’s a challenge, for sure. No matter what happens, though, the blue skies and sunshine will remain, which is one of its greatest attributes. Hope you guys make it back in 2022!

  8. First off, I really hope you rented that 2 br/2 bath place (only $6850 per month!) because if you cheaped out and went for the 0 br/1 bath place it’s going to be really crowded when we come to visit you, haha!! San Diego is beautiful and it looks like you guys had a fun four months there, pandemic or no pandemic. I know it would have been way more fun to have more things open and to not have pandemic stress, but you certainly made the most of your time and you have great photos to prove it (including many that capture this weird moment in history so well).

    North Park is such a cool, quirky neighborhood with SO many fabulous restaurants. Southern California really is pretty perfect in a lot of ways. I’d live there, if it wasn’t for the traffic and the price of real estate. And too many people. And drought. But other than that, it seriously is perfect! Hence, all of the other problems. Sigh.

    • I know, right? Can you imagine paying almost $2,000 per month to have less privacy than we have now? I mean, even our current tiny home has a separate bedroom. The idea of spending $2K for one room that includes your bedroom, kitchen, and living room is insane. Every time I look at real estate prices there, I am just blown away – and that’s coming from someone who’s used to high priced real estate. San Diego just takes it to a whole different level. But the blue skies, and the sunshine, and the coastline, and the parks, and the restaurants… Ugh.

      North Park really is a great neighborhood. It reminded us a lot of our old home town of Arlington back in the 90’s, before it got overly popular and lost a lot of its character. Of course, a lot improved too, but the overall effect was to make a somewhat funky and vibrant place into a more vanilla, corporate town. I really hope that doesn’t happen in NP.

    • Right??? It is, admittedly, a tough situation for everyone. I don’t envy the governor for having to figure out what to do, nor do I dismiss the frustrations of business owners who have been crushed by this thing. I just have to give them credit for their humor.

  9. I totally get the love/hate relationship with the RV park. Too bad they can’t figure out how to clean up that prime parcel of real estate. Years ago we had friends that owned a second home in La Jolla and we’d visit regularly. San Diego is definitely a beautiful and fun place to visit and sounds like you enjoyed your winter in spite of the pandemic (which put a damper on a lot of things).

    • We definitely count ourselves as lucky being there during this time rather than other places. Just being able to get outside and stay active made such a difference. There is no truly perfect place. Every spot has its drawbacks. But San Diego has a lot going for it and we feel we made the most out of this weird, weird winter.

  10. Great balanced review! I no longer consider San Diego “Americas Finest City”, it’s way overcrowded and having a condo-frenzy building boom. UGH! But like the Mission Bay RV Resort it’s all about location.
    How did you get a picture of Kevin on The Potato Chip without the waiting thongs in the photo? It’s really become a popular stop. of the three approaches I agree that coming up from CA67 is by far the shortest and easiest.
    Bet Renzo has a board for any water condition!
    Sorry the shutdown kept us from getting together, perhaps next time.

    • I was very curious to hear your thoughts on San Diego since you’ve been there a while. It’s always interesting to get an insider’s perspective on these issues. It would have made a nice topic for happy hour. Alas…. next time! As for Potato Chip Rock, the key is to go on a Monday afternoon in the middle of January. There were about 10 people up there while we were there. It was perfect! I’ve heard weekend lines can number close to 100, which is nuts. And yes, that route from 67 was much better than the alternative – though, still quite a climb.

  11. Love, love, love San Diego. The weather, the water, the laid back feel, the food. Too bad it’s so expensive to live there. Love all the pictures.

    • I know, right? It’s got SO much going for it… It’s just too bad everyone else has now figured that out which is driving up the prices. Maybe things will stabilize a bit post-pandemic, but I’m not counting on it. Endless blue skies and sunshine rarely lose their appeal.

  12. We, too, get the love/hate relationship with Mission Bay RV “resort” and San Diego. So much to love, plenty to dislike. When we first stayed at Mission Bay RV those homes were still inhabited and prety nice. Walking along the Bay past them was quite pleasant. I fear for the future of that resort however. We put up with a lot for the fantastic location. I wonder if we’ll still want to visit if we have to stay outside the city and fight the traffic each time we want to access all the wonderful places we love. Sigh.

    Looks like you had a pretty decent winter, regardless of what was going on around you! Thor, especially seemed to love his visit. So different than his last one…..

    • That’s interesting that there were still people in those houses when you visited. By the time we got there, they were all abandoned, but not fenced off. It is incredible how much damage was done in those few years.

      If Campland has its way, they’ll be moving their operations over to the area now covered in trailer homes and, I would assume, continuing to run Mission Bay, but there are a lot of voices on the side of turning the whole place into a park or marshland. I am hoping they can meet in the middle and do a little of everything. It would be a shame to lose the RV park entirely, but they definitely need to be making better use of the land than the current situation.

      And yes, Thor is a whole different dog now. Now that his stomach is settled, and he’s gotten used to living the RV life, he can worry about the really important things – like scaring the hell out of UPS drivers with his maniacal barking. Why does Thor hate UPS drivers? No one is sure. It remains one of the great mysteries of life…. 🙂

  13. You killed the ants? I have attended science fairs where the nice young people wee selling the concept that those multkpeds were healthy and delightful in chocolate coating for a main course. We spent months in La Jolla when we were kids. “The Cove” was the big attraction, as well as the hobby shops where we found model planes and boats to work on. Since then I have been back to San Diego a few times and thought it nice but no cigar. That may be heresy, but I come by it honestly…my ancestors were rebels against the Czars and the Austr-Hungarian Empire. I confess that I did love the warmth, beaches and sunsets.

    • Ugh…. the whole idea of eating bugs. Blech. Actually, I’ve eaten escargot before, but after our close encounters with them and the grody slicks they leave behind as they move, I think my escargot days are over. Yuck.

      As much as we love San Diego, it’s definitely not for everyone. The crowds and the prices are certainly a big drawback. Interestingly enough, we’re finding many of San Diego’s benefits with a few less drawbacks here on the Central Coast. I think it might be more to some folks’ liking than the big city. Maybe I’ll even convince you to come check it out at some point!

    • Renzo told us to go check out Carlsbad at some point, but we never made it up there. We visited the pier at Oceanside last time and really enjoyed it. Such beautiful beaches! But yes, anywhere in Southern California is subject to significant crowding and traffic which makes these places a challenge to live in. There’s a reason places in walkable locations are so incredibly expensive.

  14. The ants and snails may have been making some sort of allegorical statement about the human invasion of the area. The snails did remind me of driving at night during frog season and having no choice but to run them down in droves as they jumped through the headlight’s beams. Anywise, I support Thor’s decision not to decide between ham and turkey. Garage Christmas needs to become an annual celebration. If the powers that be keep kicking the can down the road, an earthquake or tsunami will take care of Anza Cove and settle the whole matter.

    • Ugh… talk about the stuff of nightmares. So many squooshed frogs. Yuck! But yeah, sometimes there are no other options. Hell, Kevin hosed off our site to push the snails off into the grass so they wouldn’t get smooshed, and then they came right back. They’re none too bright, apparently.

      And you’re right, my whole complaint with De Anza Cove is their slow process. Just make a decision already. Because as soon as you make a decision, you’re gonna get sued and this crap is gonna drag on forever. So just decide something and start the process already, because climate change is already here and you’re doing no one any favors by dragging things out.

  15. What a mess that area is! You are right, it is beautiful but get the government involved and it will quickly deteriorate in red tape and the snail like pace of government. In fact, I think those snails were spies sent over from the city. You should have ran over a few more!

    • Yeah, it’s a mess. The government is slow, there are too many extremist interest groups, and far too many lawyers. And instead of the courts moving these cases along, they drag on for years and years and years. A lot of the underlying problems were baked in decades ago – there were never supposed to be trailer parks on this land to begin with – and that creates huge problems when innocent people rely on a mistake and build their lives around it. But some of this stuff is just ridiculous. Even if they can’t figure out what to do with the land long term, everyone should be able to agree the abandoned homes need to go. So get that done ASAP because they are dangerous and harming the overall feel of the neighborhood, and then deal with the rest. But… per the usual, no one cares what I think. 🙂

  16. Great review of our hometown. Potato Chip Rock! Never saw it or even heard of it! Wow!!!
    Hey, don’t knock the snails, they are totally edible and many San Diegans delight in those lil’ boogers: https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2001/may/03/are-snails-my-garden-edible/

    Some of the lesser expensive but very nice neighborhoods of Rolando, South Park, Talmadge, Bonita, La Mesa, Imperial Beach and Leucadia … will have more affordable housing options. We love Bonita and the Eucalyptus Hills area – quiet, shady old neighborhoods. Also Dictionary Hill has some nice areas. Driving ten-to-fifteen minutes into downtown is more desirable for many people because the parking and noise of the airport.

    The noise gets to us. The racket of the air traffic and freeways and constant construction gets to me. The happiest day of the year is when we drive into San Diego and the second happiest is the day is the one we drive out. Only NYC and LA can match the San Diego decibels.

    Thanks for the beautiful post, Laura!

    – Carmen @ LIB

    • Hey Carmen!

      Thanks for the ideas of other neighborhoods to check out. We’ve spent lots of time in Bonita obviously because of Sweetwater, but the others are familiar in name only. We really need to check them out. We don’t mind a 10 or 15 minute drive anywhere, as long as the actual neighborhood we’re in is somewhat walkable. We really enjoy being in a place where we can walk to a store, a pharmacy, and a restaurant or two. That’s the goal anyway.

      I hear you on the noise. It doesn’t tend to bother us because we’re used to it, but I can see where it drives folks crazy. Of course, Thor tends to howl at passing sirens and there are a lot more sirens in a place like San Diego than out in the boonies… so that can be a bit, what’s the word? ‘much’??? LOL. Freaken dogs….

  17. We LOVE San Diego. Whenever you find that area with affordable real estate, let us know. Maybe we can chip in and buy some of De Anza Cove together? 🙂

    We did a three-month house sit on Point Loma once (meaning free rent), speaking of being close to the airport and being disturbed by deafening sounds every so many minutes, which was great otherwise and allowed us to explore the town in earnest by foot and bike. Our house was in walking distance of Trader Joe’s and some of the nicer areas.

    Did the hotel on Coronado have an outdoor ice rink this year? Probably not, due to Covid. San Diego has so much to offer. Really, if we would be rich (and have the desire to live somewhere), we wouldn’t hesitate to choose this city. For the weather, the outdoor activities, the beautiful bay and buildings, and the parks. Luckily, we have friends to visit there. 🙂

    • Wow – what a perfect place to house sit! I would do that in a heartbeat. Somehow, I expect opportunities come up rarely. You guys lucked out!

      We did not see the outdoor ice rink at the Hotel Del Coronado. We visited twice and the first time, almost nothing was open at all because of the shutdown. Several of the areas were open on our second visit, but, as you can see from the pictures, it was pretty lightly attended. I’m pretty sure they would have been prohibited from running the ice rink because of the Covid restrictions, but even if they could, it probably wouldn’t have been worth the cost. It would be cool to go back some year when it’s open – ice skating in the sunshine on the beach sounds pretty awesome…

  18. We’re so sad that we had to cancel our January visit but with the virus it was best. We were looking forward to being along the bay and watching those sunsets every night. Thanks for sharing all the places we love to visit. Coronado is one of the few places we need a car. We love being able to bike to a different place every day. Sure makes getting around so quick and easy. What a shame that Mission Bay RV isn’t being as well care for as it was prior. I felt safer during our last visit with security watching over the abandon trailers. With so many homeless around that would be a perfect spot for them. Not sure we’ll return until things imporve.

    • The one good thing they’ve done with regard to the trailers is they’ve fenced the whole area off and put up an opaque liner, so you can’t see in. I didn’t see any evidence of people hanging around inside the fenced off areas, which is good, but I would think they would just prioritize getting them removed entirely as soon as possible. Even if they don’t know exactly what the long term plans are, they should remove the old houses because they do invite problems and they are so dangerous.

      I am hopeful they will decide to maintain RV camping in De Anza. It really is a perfect spot for RVers to set up and explore from. It would be a shame if it all disappeared. Of course, at the rate they’re getting things done, it won’t matter to any of us. 🙂

  19. Sweetwater Summit Regional Park sounds awesome and it has been on our list of places to go for some time so it was great to hear about your experience. Hopefully we aren’t invaded by ants!

    Mission Bay has also been on our list and we have tried a few times to get reservations with no luck. After reading your experiences I think we will give it a pass … but wow the sunsets are pretty 🙂

    • Oops – I somehow missed this comment. Sorry for my late reply.

      I would definitely recommend the county park system in and around San Diego. There are several of them that are supposed to be fantastic. We’ve been to Sweetwater, obviously, but we’ve heard great things about Santee Lakes and Guajome, as well. Of course, it means you’ll have to drive a bit more to get into San Diego, but really, we’ve never found the traffic to be as bad as other people find it. It’s busy certainly, and the roads can be confusing, but if you go at off hours, you’ll be fine. And coming back to a peaceful and quiet campground is well worth it.

    • Thanks so much for checking in! I’m now following you as well… this is how these crazy travel ideas get started. LOL.

  20. I think critters love to follow you. Be it flies, mice, ants etc 🙂 we were lucky the ants did not find us when we were there for two weeks.
    Love San Diego but can’t stand traffic, noise, crowd although at some point I did say lets live here until I saw the home prices!
    That Poke bowl looks scrumptious! Oh by the way there is a Rudy’s BBQ about an hour drive from Wickenburg and my brisket craving had been satisfied.
    Have you also checked out Santee Lakes? Were they full or close during your visit? That could be your back up in case Mission Bay RV will be out of business.

    • Ya know, we still haven’t been to Santee Lakes. I know a lot of people really enjoy it. I stuck with Sweetwater because we needed somewhere to go during the pandemic and we knew it was a good option. But in the future, I will definitely consider it. Everything we’ve heard about the county park system there has been great, and yeah, I am not super optimistic that Mission Bay will be a viable option in the future. Who knows, though? They do make a lot of money off it.

      I had no idea Rudy’s had made its way to Arizona. It’s a favorite of ours when we’re in Texas! They give you so much food, it’s absurd, but soooo delicious!!

  21. Hey, thanks for the ants tip about Sweetwater, I’m planning to be there next Spring for a trailer gathering and ants are never, ever my favorite visitors, especially when they make their way into my living space! Glad you were safe this winter, even if the RV park sounds not very enticing considering the other charms of San Diego. My parents used to live up the 15 in Menifee, then Hemet, so I flew in and out of SD a lot. The pelicans in the morning at La Jolla Cove are one of my favorite things to do there. It was fun to see my native state through your eyes (and yeah, COVID-19, ugh. Hoping y’all get vaccinated and are on your way to better places now that things are looking up.)

    • Hey! We keep a bottle of Ortho Home Defense on hand and as soon as we sprayed around the bottom of the RV, it solved the problem. I don’t love using that kind of stuff, but trust me, it can come in handy. La Jolla Cove is so much fun. So much wildlife and beautiful views in every directions. There were quite a few pelicans near Mission Bay too, and I’d often watch them “get lunch.” Impressive stuff. Kevin is up for vaccine #2 tomorrow and I am about two weeks behind him, so yeah, we’re making progress and looking forward to getting back to some version of ‘normal’ (whatever the hell that even means anymore). Hope you are too!

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