Saturday, November 22, 2008

(1) Pacific Pause

After working many years in huge national parks it suddenly
seemed like I was working on a "postage stamp," so to speak.
Located on the very southern tip of the Point Loma peninsula,
the Cabrillo National Monument was incredibly small in
comparison. Basically it was a historical park, looking out
onto the San Diego Bay to the east and the Pacific Ocean
westward. And towards the south, one could see Mexico.

Years back, when San Diego was a very small upstart city,
the citizens decided they needed a special place to commemorate
the discovery of this area by early Spanish explorers. Hence the
name and emphasis on Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who sailed
from Mexico up along the West Coast of North America. His
first stop was a great bay on September 28, 1542, which he
named "San Miguel." Later this bay was renamed the San Diego

Today this great bay is the lifeblood of San Diego and its
ancillary adjacent cities. As for the greater San Diego region,
I could only say that it is close to spectacular when it comes to
its beauty, energy, and locale. I was more than happy to move
here. The climate was reasonable; and Its location offered
not only the ocean and bay(s), but also the nearby mountains
and the Anza-Borrego Desert. This area served as a paradise
for those inclined towards the outdoors.

Traversing up a sharply inclined peninsular hill, one had to
drive through a U.S. Navy facility as well a military cemetery
to reach the Cabrillo National Monument. Also, on another
part of Point Loma there was a major nuclear submarine facility.
And across the San Diego Bay there was the North Island Navy
Base at Coronado, home of large aircraft carriers and flight
facilities. Navy Seals trained here as well. And there was
also a major naval surface fleet situated along the southeastern
end of the bay.

Beyond this there were cruise ships, merchantile ships, and
pleasure craft sailing in and out of the San Diego Bay. So,
one does not have to wait long while visiting the Cabrillo
National Monment to view all these various vessels. No dull
moments when it comes to all this maritime activity.

There's also a *different* kind of maritime activity to be seen
from the Cabrillo National Monument, during the period
between December and March observers can spot large gray
whales heading down to the Baja Lagoons (in Mexico) to
have their babies or returning in the Spring to their home
territory in Alaskan waters.

During this period, I did take a whale-watching cruise off
Point Loma. The sea was absolutely full of not only whales
close-up, but also what seemed like dancing sea-lions and
dolphin gymnasts! I was rendered incredulous by the sight
of all this seemingly joyous activity. Nonetheless, as experts
will tell you, smart folk need be aware that the ocean is yet
another wilderness where danger can always lurk.

Not forgetting its ocean connection, one of the tourist attractions
at the Cabrillo park is an old lighthouse now treated as a museum.
The U.S. Navy now has a modern lighthouse situated below this
area on Point Loma.

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