Mountains to Turf (CA trip part 2)

In case you missed it, California trip part 1 is here.

Before arriving in California, there was a scheme to go to Disneyland.  After a lot of discussion between me, my youngest brother and my dad, I decided against it.  I’ll do Disneyland another time, in the winter, when the crowds are smaller.

I had to decide an alternative.  So I pulled out the iPad and pored over the topographic maps looking for natural features to visit, which are not plentiful in southern California.  They specialize in man-made malls and beaches.

I came across Mount Palomar.  I don’t recall ever going there when I was a kid, so this was something new.  I consulted the website and saw that the observatory was open on weekdays, but without guided tours.  So my brother Darryl and I drove up to check it out.


Observatory dome for Hale 200 inch telescope.

Observatory dome for Hale 200 inch telescope.


The weather was quite warm that day and it was a 20 degrees cooler at this elevation.  There are several telescopes on Mt. Palomar, but only the largest is open to the public during the day. We visited the visitor center and then walked over to the dome housing the Hale 200 inch telescope.  The dome is 12 stories high.  I neglected to take any photos inside, but there are some pictures and drawings here.  The total number of tourists visiting the telescope: 4.

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Train Trip Part 5: The San Diego Area

I met my friend Joel downtown for some sightseeing at the San Diego Maritime Museum.

We started in the old steam powered ferry, the Berkeley, which you can see in the background in the photo below. Then we toured the USS Dolphin, a submarine that holds the record for the deepest depth (which is classified).  And to compare, we crossed the dock to the Soviet B-39 Submarine.


Soviet B-39 submarine at the San Diego Maritime Museum.


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Train Trip Part 4: Coast Starlight

I was back on the train 8:00 in the morning for the second leg of my trip. It was the Coast Starlight down to Los Angeles.  I had a regular coach seat since this was not an overnight trip.  The leg room puts all aircraft to shame.  In fact, the foot rest was almost too far away.

My traveling companion in the seat next to me was a woman from northern Australia. On all of my train trips, I met people from other countries who were enjoying “slow travel”.  At dinner one night, a man from Ireland espoused the concept that the trip is all about the journey and not the destination.  I’ve always tried to have that philosophy, though sometimes it takes a back seat.

The Coast Starlight heads south, going through Oakland and San Jose. The trained was mooned by some men in their backyard.  In fact I saw a lot of backyards.  Our society buys and accumulates a lot of crap and it seems to accumulate in backyards.  I also saw a lot of homeless living in makeshift shelters.  I saw pristine walled communities with graffiti and homeless on the rail side of the wall.

Later the train heads into agricultural areas of grapes and fruit trees, then smaller plants that could have been strawberries.  A woman in the observation car joked that they should have signs next to the fields telling us what was growing there.


A ranch with some grapes and fruit trees.


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