Days six through 11 brought a happy blend of bucket-list activity. I’m not ploughing through things as quickly as I thought, but the whole “project” has helped me keep in mind that this is supposed to be a fun activity, not yet another Type-A “should.”
Yesterday we loaded up our fat tires and headed for the hills. Forty-five minutes east of San Diego, just past the town of Alpine, lies the Mount Laguna Recreation Area. As the Cleveland National Forest website puts it, the area is “almost like visiting another part of the county as the terrain transitions from a desert environment to a mountain top conifer forest.”
As someone who’s spent a significant time in such “mountain top conifer forests,” the smell of pine was a welcome change from my usual coastal Sundays. The area is full of connected, beginner-friendly loops, making it a non-planner’s dream. As long as you’re reasonably fit, all you have to do is park near mile 19 of Sunrise Highway and take off down the marked trailhead. Chances are you’ll end up back where you started. Eventually. (Planners can visit Mountain Bike Bill’s Laguna Page for more detailed trail information.) Next time we’ll try our wheels at the Noble canyon loop, but for those of you who are interested, here’s a link to our (haphazard) route.
On the way back we spun by North Park’s Tiger!Tiger! Tavern. (I’m not sure where they got their name, but I hope it was either inspired by William Blake’s famous poem or my childhood favorite ice cream flavor.) Hungry, hot, and tired from our three-hour rocky excursion, I ordered the grilled peach sandwich on a brioche bun with bacon, arugula, and brie. It was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.
After a quick nap we were back on the road to meet friends at the new Stone Brewery in Liberty Station. After our beers, on the promise of really good burgers we stopped in at the trendy Roseville Cozinha just around the corner. Their cocktail list ($6 on happy hour!) is impressive, even for us DIY snobs, and the burgers were even better than promised.
On Saturday I also just so happened to get in a good 80 miles/5 hours with some new strong riding partners. I’m glad the endurance has hung on, even as my speed and motivation lag behind my copious cocktail consumption and brioche eating.