Archive for January, 2015

My son Jack has been living in San Diego.  Myself and the rest of our family, plus Sam’s girlfriend Layla, all went out there for Christmas.  On Christmas Day we walked out on the pier in Ocean Beach.

Layla and Sam

Layla and Sam

 

 

Tootie, Henry, and Jack

Tootie, Henry, and Jack

 

On December 26, I got away for a thirty something mile bike loop around the the southern sprawl of the San Diego area. I began by biking a few blocks from our downtown hotel to a small ferry that crosses San Diego Bay to Coronado.

I biked up to Hotel del Coronado, which opened in 1888. My mother says her great-grandfather Joseph Spoor, who was a recent immigrant from England, was one of the principal wood carvers on the interior woodwork of this hotel.

Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado

 

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South of the hotel, there are a few blocks of Towers in the Park. South of that, there is a nice bike path that parallels an empty oceanfront road down the barrier island, about fifteen miles south to Imperial Beach, where one can cross back to the mainland.

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Imperial Beach:  Tijuana, Mexico sits on the opposing hill, watching over a working class neighborhood.:

 

Tijuana in the distance

Tijuana in the distance

 

Once away from the beach, this is not the trendy side of San Diego. Posh La Jolla is many miles to the north. On this side of the bay there is a nice bike path, twisting through concrete canyons and industrial sites, before depositing me on the south side of the large U.S. Navy base.

Bike path in Chula Vista, south of downtown San Diego

Bike path in Chula Vista, south of downtown San Diego

 

 

Once past the Navy base, there are suprising areas of non-gentrified turn of the twentieth century buildings, circling the south side of downtown San Diego. I got back to the downtown hotel just before dark.

 

barrio south of docw

barrio south of downtown

 

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“A Gordonsville chicken has six legs”

That is the kind of annoying crazy statement one hears from one’s parents as a teenager.   It is now memorable, and has long stuck in my mind.  It actually inspired me to take a bike ride around the small town of Gordonsville, on two unseasonably warm and bright December days.

I used to come up to this area in high school for various athletic events,  and my Dad had repeatedly advised me of this urban legend about strange chicken.   Forty something years earlier, in the late nineteen twenties, he used to take the train from Norfolk to Orange, Virginia for boarding school at Woodberry.  (My brother Alex later went to this school also.)   Apparently, someone sold fried chicken out of the train windows when it stopped in Gordonsville, and most people wanted breast meat, but all they got were drumsticks.

This area has become more prominent in the past few years, and a lot of moneyed people have moved in.   I assume they want to experience the Country Squire lifestyle, even if you can no longer get station wagons with fake wood grain on the sides.

I started the bike ride in a crossroads called somewhat inconguently Unionville, Virginia. It was a Saturday, about noon, from where I had driven up from Chapel Hill.   That afternoon I biked the forty something miles to Charlottesville, spent the night, and then rode back the next day.

Orange and Gordonsville are thirteen miles apart, and seem like pleasant enough small towns, although neither seems particularly fascinating.

Gordonsville 2014

Gordonsville 2014

 

What was more interesting were the twenty miles of continuous “post and rail” wooden fences, both white and brown, that line the roads the final twenty miles from Gordonsville into Charlottesville.   Never, ever did I see the more recent plastic versions that they sell at Home Depot.   Somebody out here does a lot of fence painting.   The “manor” houses that anchor these “farms” are not always visible from the street.   We need higher taxes in this country.

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I had not realized that Orange and Gordonsville were so close to Charlottesville.   Dad had gone to boarding school only thirty something miles from where he went to college at UVA, where my sister Jane also went.  In UVA’s own language, Dad had told us about his tenure there when we went on family trips to Charlottesville.   He was proud that he had occupied (in UVA Speak),  “one of the Lawn rooms, which you could only get if you were an Applicant for a Degree. ”  (translation: coveted early 1800’s dorm rooms were reserved for seniors.)  He also waited until he was way over seventy years old to confide in me how crushed he was that while at UVA he was never asked to join a fraternity.

The Lawn, University of Virginia

The Lawn, University of Virginia

 

Everything in Charlottesville is about what the students (in UVA Speak) call Mr. Jefferson.   On the outskirts, they have even  started to honor others in his family as well.

 

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