Saturday, September 27, 2008

Beaching my mind

My mind is beginning to accept that I live near the beach. Heretofore, my brain had a hardwired "beach == vacation" association. Slowly this is breaking down. I've always loved the beach -- sand castles, beach chairs, strolling the shore, you name it. Now I fall asleep listening to the waves roll in.

Will I be able to *not* live near the beach ever again?

Encinitas is definitely surfer-friendly. Instead of the usual pedestrian crossing signs, you'll likely see one of these:

Surfer crosswalk

Saturday, September 20, 2008


When I asked my brother for move advice a month or two ago, he said "Sell your TV to Dad and get rid of everything else." I regarded him with utter horror. Get rid of my stuff?!? I ignored him -- obviously he was trying to trick me, gaining a leg up on a lifelong sibling rivalry. I opted to have my stuff moved to California; I'd merely have to endure 3 or 4 weeks of Spartan Encinitas living before my things arrived.

After the first week or two, I began to see my brother's point of view. I had an air mattress and a laptop, and I began to wonder just why the hell I needed anything from my East Coast life. I entertained thoughts of the moving truck, making its way across the country, being involved in some great accident, my stuff ablaze amidst melting bubble wrap. Not exactly a fantasy, but certainly the scenario did not evoke the sense of loss it once would have.

This week, my stuff arrived, my apartment has been transformed into a mini-warehouse.

My beloved couch, a stylish, comfortable piece with me for 8 years, I now consider a casualty of the move, at its girth prohibited the necessary maneuvering around critical corners to my apartment. This, as reported by the large Russian mover who I regard as an expert on the matter. Instead of finding a place in my new living room, it now lives in an Encinitas self-storage unit. I'm reminded of the guilt I felt as a child, leaving our dog at the kennel.

Tyler Durden, from Fight Club, proffered "The things you own end up owning you." That's true, and I'd like to add that your stuff can also start charging you $84 a month in storage fees for the pleasure.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Beach Commute

Rather than traversing Encinitas streets to get to the office, I opted today to do a "Beach Commute", walking the shore to the office. It isn't particularly convenient to do so, nor does it save me any time. Nevertheless, for novelty alone, I wanted to do it. Also, poor inner life reader Tom had requested more photos, and this would be an opportunity to supply some.

These are the stairs that lead down from D Street to the beach. Starbucks has not yet put a store here, so I had to do without my usual morning coffee.

The on ramp.

Fortunately, not only are flip-flops acceptable at my office, they are encouraged.

Treads are wearing thin

The beach was pretty empty around 8:00 when I began my commute. Surfers seem to be a perpetual part of the landscape here -- sure enough, many were around. I can't imagine ever having a hobby/lifestyle that dictated such early mornings.

HOV lanes open

Rubbernecking required

I naively assumed the tide was simply out during the mornings and in during the evenings. I knew there'd be a chance I'd have to get my feet wet, though. My main worry was my laptop, which I was carrying in my backpack. Wisely I had put two plastic shopping bags around it, making it impervious to water.

water main breakage affecting all lanes

I thought I'd just have water around my ankles. My mistake -- I arrived to the office with drenched shorts (but laptop intact).

Fear not, cigarettes remained dry

I'm not sure that I'll repeat this route soon, but it was fun nevertheless.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Getting to know Encinitas

Nearly all my beach experiences in my life have been with resort-orientated shores, mainly on the East Coast. When I thought about the beach before, images of high rise hotels, boardwalks, and piers danced in my head.

Encinitas lies in stark contrast to these notions. While there are hotels in the area, they seem small, and I don't think I've seen one that sits beach front. The shore here seems casually but profoundly regarded -- woven into the town's cloth without overpowering it. I'd have a hard time comparing Encinitas to any of the beaches on the East Coast -- Cape May and Rehoboth come close, but even these seem more touristy than my present surroundings. All the glitz and garish trappings that typifies East Coast beach towns seem absent here.

That this vision of Encinitas was not corrupted by monetary interest is no doubt due to the laudable stewardship of the city's planners and leaders. Perhaps too, the landscape has shaped Encinitas's growth -- cliffs separate the town and the shore. Only a couple Encintas streets end with stairways that provide beach access -- the rest end with great cliff-top vistas of the ocean, but no way to get down.

The main road through the town, "Highway 101", is surrounded on both sides by charming restaurants and shops. More chic second-hand clothing stores than I've seen in one town provides, if nothing else, hip window dressing. "E Street Cafe", the coffee shop from which I'm presently writing, I can say with certainty is the best coffee shop I've ever patronized. Roomy, free wireless internet, and great art on their walls are aspects that draw me in (and, oh yeah, good coffee). Not a single nationally-owned fast-food restaurant lies beside the town's stretch of 101, decidedly inconvenient for someone without a car and groceries. In town there are more churches than I'd have anticipated, many for unfamiliar denominations like "Church of Spiritual Unity" (healing starts at 11am).

Of course, there are things I'd like to have in the area that aren't. The single movie theater here is more of an art-house theater, and doesn't even show "current" art house movies. Catching whichever blockbuster is the current rage means driving 20 minutes to the next town. And for a beach town, there's a surprising lack of dedicated ice-cream shops. There's a restaurant that has a good selection of ice-cream, I'm told, but something tells me if I ordered a large chocolate malt milkshake I'd be disappointed.

I feel like I'm missing a large part of Encinitas without a vehicle -- and I don't just mean seeing places that lie outside of walking distance (though that's certainly a large part of it). Until my car arrives (due 9/10 ), I'm unable to get a feel for the traffic's ebbs and flows, shortcuts, and other aspects culture one must be driving to appreciate.

I'm very much looking forward to getting to know the town better.