Category Archives: San Diego County

Old Wabash Freeway Ramp

In the 1950’s, a section of what is now the 15 in San Diego was built. Known then as the Wabash Freeway, it ran from Harbor Blvd to 40th St in the City Heights area. Today, it is known as the 15 freeway and has been upgraded significantly. Access to the old freeway was a bit different than today. Nile Street in North Park used to have a direct connection with the freeway. Today, Nile Street ends in a park. A section of the old ramp still exists, however, as an access to the park.

Base of the Nile Street Ramp.
Base of the Nile Street Ramp.
1950's railing still intact.
1950’s railing still intact.
Raised median and railing on the Nile Street Ramp.
Raised median and railing on the Nile Street Ramp.

Fixing problems in San Diego – And how you can help

In the City of San Diego, there are many roadways with problems. Some are badly cracked, crumbling, filled with potholes, and worse. The City has been working toward repaving a lot of roads over the past couple years, which has helped greatly. However, more is needed. In the case of smaller problems, you can contact the City online and report issues. I’ve done this for many locations and have had good results. The latest was to help correct a striping problem on Park Blvd. Bike lanes were added on Park Blvd between Morley Field Drive and Cypress Ave. To do so, the median of the roadway had to be reduced. This left older, albeit somewhat faded, striping left behind. This striping tended to confuse motorists who would then either drive in the bike lane or really close to it, when they had a lot more lane left. Having had some problems here myself with this issue, I contacted the City and they fixed it. I strongly encourage anyone to make these requests and help make our city a better place to live.

Before the striping was fixed. You can still see the old setup.
Before the striping was fixed. You can still see the old setup.
Southbound from Cypress Ave. Note how the old striping is far to the right from the new stripe.
Southbound from Cypress Ave. Note how the old striping is far to the right from the new stripe.
Northbound toward Cypress Ave. The old striping was painted over in black.
Northbound toward Cypress Ave. The old striping was painted over in black.

Old signs in Downtown San Diego

Some buildings were demolished a few years ago on Kettner Blvd between Ash St and A St revealing some really cool old signs. I’m not sure how old they are but I’m guessing 1940’s.

Closeup of the Hires Root Beer sign.
Closeup of the Hires Root Beer sign.
Southern end of the sign.
Southern end of the sign.
Dr Pepper and Hires sign at an old bottling plant
Dr Pepper and Hires sign at an old bottling plant

Tracks remain on Park Blvd

Walking today, I saw that the former San Diego Electric Railway tracks in the median of Park Blvd seem to be staying put. Construction is underway for a “busway” which is tearing out most of the old track and poles. However, at Howard Ave, the tracks are being left in place and reburied beneath the new median. Why this is the case here and not anywhere else is something of a mystery. Hopefully it marks a trend to keep some of the old infrastructure in place instead of destroying it.

Section of rail removed at Howard Ave.
Section of rail removed at Howard Ave.
South of Howard Ave to near Polk Ave, the old rails remain.
South of Howard Ave to near Polk Ave, the old rails remain.

La Jolla Shores Beach Trip – May 2, 2013

I took a trip out to the beach today (May 2). It has been a while since I’ve gone and I wanted to test out my new zipperless wetsuit. I decided on the beach between La Jolla Shores and Black’s Beach. The scenery is great and the beach is far less crowded. So, I put on my wetsuit, grabbed my bag, and headed out on the motorcycle to La Jolla. Parking is so much easier there when you don’t have to worry about a car. It seems every time I go out there I am left wondering why I don’t go more often.

Scripps Pier
Scripps Pier
Small Sea Arch with muscles
Small Sea Arch with muscles
Tide Pools
Tide Pools
One of the Starfish I found.
One of the Starfish I found.
A Sea Slug? This little creature was quite colorful too.
A Sea Slug? This little creature was quite colorful too.
Another Starfish, this one out of water.
Another Starfish, this one out of water.

The tide was out when I got there, allowing for a very exposed and wide beach. The waves were pretty decent in spots, with the surfers getting plenty of use out of them. Just north of Scripps Pier, there is a rocky area with some tide pools. I stopped by and checked them out on my way. Today was about exploring and having fun, so why not? I found a small sea arch with quite a few muscles clinging to it. I also found a few starfish and some sort of sea slug. Once past the rocks, it was time to find a spot to go swimming. I’ve been wanting to get in the water with my new wetsuit. I’ve heard that zipperless suits are warmer in the water. This style of wetsuit is quite popular with the surfers around here as well. I found a spot to leave my gear, and I headed out to the water. Initially cold, it ended up being quite comfortable in my suit. I didn’t get the cold rush of water into the suit through the rear zipper, this one not having a rear zipper. It felt great to be out in the water. The ocean is cold here, but fairly clear. I think next time I’ll bring my fins and play around some more in the water.

My swim spot. A very wide, yet nearly empty beach in San Diego... this is the life!
My swim spot. A very wide, yet nearly empty beach in San Diego… this is the life!
Heading north along the cliffs.
Heading north along the cliffs.

After my swim, I wanted to explore the beach some more. I headed a bit further north until I reached a canyon that had running water coming from it. I stopped to check out the stream and ended up seeing some surfers with their boards coming out of the canyon. Upon closer investigation, I saw they were using a rope to climb the steep entrance from the beach into the canyon. I decided to explore this canyon a bit. Heading into it was pretty easy, though muddy in places. I was glad to be wearing my wetsuit booties. Much easier to walk in than bare feet. The trail was fairly well worn, though very narrow in places. About 100 yards into the canyon, there was a sizable waterfall. I wondered how I would get past it until I saw a surfer with a long board make it through rather easily. It turns out there was a very well worn series of “steps” in a narrow passage through the sandstone. Once I made my way up these, I got a better view of the upper reaches of the canyon. I decided to head back down, not wanting to end my beach time just yet. Heading down was a little easier than going up.

Surfer on his way down the trail.
Surfer on his way down the trail.
Inside the canyon, deep and narrow.
Inside the canyon, deep and narrow.
A seemingly impenetrable sandstone wall.
A seemingly impenetrable sandstone wall.
"Surfers Steps". Somehow they manage this carrying their boards.
“Surfers Steps”. Somehow they manage this carrying their boards.
Almost back to the beach.
Almost back to the beach.

At the bottom of the canyon, I headed back toward the motorcycle. I stopped for another swim at the same spot I did heading up. I just needed another soak in the ocean. After my swim, I headed over to the rocks where I saw the tide pools earlier. The tide was already coming up, so the outer reaches were flooded. As I got closer to the pier, the beach was a lot busier. It seems like the rocky area is a barrier to some. It sure didn’t stop me today. Overall, it was an enjoyable swim, a fun hike, and I definitely will return sooner. As I live in San Diego, I should at least take advantage of the beautiful beaches we have here in “America’s Finest City”. On my way home I stopped for a burger at the In-n-Out in Mission Valley, where the guy at the counter was rather inquisitive as to why I was wearing a wetsuit. He definitely enjoyed seeing me in my wetsuit. After getting home and doing a bit more research, the canyon I walked up ends at the parking area for the Torrey Pines Glider Port.

Ride to Campo

On Sunday, February 24, 2012, I went out for a ride to Campo on my motorcycle. I wanted to take some photos of the old sections of Hwy 94 and the weather was great for a ride. Starting out, it was a quick freeway ride to Campo Junction, where the two lane portion of Hwy 94 starts. That is where the fun begins. It was also where the first stop was, at the 1929 Sweetwater River bridge.

1929 Sweetwater River Bridge

After I left the bridge, my next stop was at a section of old concrete I had discovered on a previous ride. With a camera in hand, it was time to get photos and explore some more. I didn’t find any date stamps, but I did find lots of old striping. Still pretty cool.

1920’s concrete near Jamul

After Jamul, there was an old creek crossing with concrete I had found recently. It appears to be an Arizona type crossing instead of a culvert. The new crossing is now a culvert. I’m not sure its age, but I’m going to guess it is from the 1930’s. Also in the area is a neat bridge crossing Dulzura Creek at Otay Lakes Road. It was built in 1947 and has a nice sleek look.

Original low-water crossing on Hwy 94
1947 Dulzura Creek Bridge

In Dulzura, I stopped at a 1930 bridge which had bridge abutments near it from an even older span. I couldn’t quite tell what sort of a  bridge the original one was, but was most likely wooden.

1930 Dulzura Creek Bridge at Dulzura

Further up the road at Cottonwood Creek, there are a few items of interest. The “new” Cottonwood Creek bridge from 1954 bypassed both the original bridge and large section of the alignment. Barrett Smith Road follows the old alignment up the steep grade out of Barrett Junction.

Cottonwood Creek crossing on Hwy 94 at Barrett Junction

At Dogpatch, Hwy 94 crosses the San Diego and Arizona Railroad for the first time under a 1915 bridge. Just after that bridge, there is another 1947 bridge. Adjacent to the 1947 span, there are abutments to an earlier bridge.

1947 bridge at Dogpatch
1915 Doigpatch UP where the San Diego and Arizona Railroad crosses

My last stop was Campo. I needed to fuel up and get photos of the bridge at Campo Creek. It is the last bridge with wooden railing on Hwy 94. After I stopped here, I headed back to town on Hwy 94. I enjoyed the ride and the scenery. It was the first time in a long time that I had stopped so many times on 94. The last few trips have been just riding or driving.

1930’s bridge at Campo, since replaced

Short motorcycle ride out east

I went for a motorcycle ride today (2/7/2013) out in the eastern end of San Diego County. I bought a new leather suit and wanted to try it out on a ride. On my way out of town, I spotted a Historic Route 94 sign on current Hwy 94 near Campo Junction. I seem to remember some legislation a while back that designated Hwy 94 as a historic route. I guess this was the result of that effort. Further down the road I spotted an old alignment with concrete, one of the three sections still visible from Campo Junction to Jamul. I’ll try and get photos next time. My suit was too tight to fit a camera and I didn’t take any with my phone.

Historic Route 94 signage on Current Hwy 94
Historic Route 94 signage on Current Hwy 94

Mesa Grande – WPA Bridge

I know it has been a while since I’ve posted anything. Many things have happened. I’ve done a lot of traveling, some by train, some by car, some by bicycle, and now a new addition. Travel by motorcycle. I never saw myself on a motorcycle. I could easily talk myself out of one. I don’t own a car anymore, not since August 2011. I’ve been riding a motorcycle since November 2012 and I’ve put many miles on it so far. My motorcycle is a 2005 Kawasaki Ninja 500R. Now, before you all think I’m some crazy sportbiker… mine is a bit different. It has a more upright riding position and hooks for a cargo net. It does go fast… its name is “Leonardo”. The bike is a lot of fun and is great to travel with.

Skipping a lot of travel… though I will try to post more photos from my trips as I can… I recently was on Mesa Grande Road near Lake Henshaw in northern San Diego County on my motorcycle. It was there I found this neat WPA bridge with brass letters still in place. Adjacent to it was the original bridge, or what was left of it. I figure it was from the 1910’s or earlier by its construction.

Original bridge. It looks like it was just wooden beams laid across.
Original bridge. It looks like it was just wooden beams laid across.
Real nice WPA brass lettering still intact. A rare sight indeed.
Real nice WPA brass lettering still intact. A rare sight indeed.
Stonework along the side of the WPA bridge/culvert.
Stonework along the side of the WPA bridge/culvert.
My motorcycle... a 2005 Kawasaki Ninja 500R.
My motorcycle… a 2005 Kawasaki Ninja 500R.

Long Rides Getting Longer…

It seems I have to redefine what a short ride is for me lately. I’ve been gradually increasing my distance record over the past three years. Sometimes I increase my record by only a few miles, sometimes by a whole lot more.

On May 7, 2011, I took the train to Los Angeles Union Station, and rode home. Downtown Los Angeles and my home in San Diego seem so far apart. They are about 110 miles apart, along the 5. The route I took, which I felt was the easiest and safest route, was 154 miles in length. San Diego may be southeast of Los Angeles but I started my ride heading west. Seems odd to go the opposite way to my destination, but it was the best way. I’ve found a really nice and fast route west from Downtown LA to Mid-City (Vineyard Junction, or for those non-Pacific Electric knowing folk – San Vicente Blvd and Venice Blvd). Past that, the options open up. On that ride, I followed Venice Blvd to Overland Ave, then to the Ballona Creek Trail. It proved to be a good way to bypass a large swath of city in a fast and efficient way. Once at the coast, I took the South Bay Trail down to Redondo Beach. That trail can be quite fun to ride, with all the distractions of the hot surfer boys in their wetsuits to watch!

After Redondo Beach, I followed Palos Verdes Drive North, then around the harbor, and into Long Beach. From Long Beach, I followed the coast the rest of the way down. The ride got more interesting and more tiring through Laguna Beach, with all those rolling hills. Things did look up though, as I found $80 alongside the roadway not long after taking a break just south of Laguna Beach. Sometimes, it does pay to bicycle! It did add a bit of brightness to my day, as the last few miles had been less than fun. Just too much traffic, and too narrow a roadway. Beyond that, there were a few more rolling hills, and San Clemente. At least that town could be avoided, quite nicely too. The signed bike route has sharrows and bike lanes. It can be tougher to follow at the north end, but overall, a good route. Just past San Clemente was San Diego County. So, goodbye Orange County, hello San Diego County!

I kept a good pace most of the route south, stopping in Oceanside for some food. It got dark around Torrey Pines, but most of the ride was over by then. I finally got home right about 8:30pm, tired, a bit sore, but quite happy. It was a long ride, but my next would be even further. I had a 200 mile ride in the works for the end of May.

Pine Creek Ride – March 6, 2011

It was time for another Mt Laguna ride. I always enjoy them. The first real singletrack trails I took on my cyclocross bike were there. Today, I wouldn’t get the chance to take the trails… too much snow! Alas, more roads for me, but those are still fun. After getting to the parking area behind Majors Café in Pine Valley, I headed out on my ride. The weather was warmer than I expected, but not too bad. The winds were still light, which was also good. I started out taking Old Highway 80, then over to Pine Creek Road – my road to fun. I had originally found this road through a San Diego birding website, when I was researching other roadways in the area. I had no idea what would be in store for me that first time, but I have enjoyed it ever since.

First closure gate on Pine Creek Road.
First closure gate on Pine Creek Road.

The Cleveland National Forest website stated the roadway would be closed. A closed road means no cars to contend with, not that there were ever many anyway. I got to the first gate, which I hadn’t seen closed before. Cool! Now I had the place mostly to myself. I did become a little concerned though… if the first gate was closed, did that mean the creek crossing would be flooded? Well, I found out quick, it was not! So, onward and upward! After the second gate, there is a short climb, and then a drop into a small canyon, lined with trees. Normally, this is a nice thing. Today, it was a little more problematic. The recent snow storm had caused some of the trees to fall, or at least large branches of them. I had to go around two trees; one was quite large and blocked most of the roadway. Still, I made it around and continued on.

Descending into the tree lined canyon... before the steep grade.
Descending into the tree lined canyon… before the steep grade.
View back down, a very nice day for a ride.
View back down, a very nice day for a ride.
Large oak tree branch blocking the road, I went around to the left.
Large oak tree branch blocking the road, I went around to the left.

After this pleasant little canyon, the roadway takes an upward bend. It is really the only way to describe it. The roadway goes from an average grade of maybe 4-6% to 15-20% in a very short time. This is the steepest grade around here… at least by paved roadway. The worst section is near the top, where the gradient keeps at about 17% for about ¼ mile. There is so far only one stretch of roadway in San Diego County that gets my heart and breathing going as fast… and that is the section. As I was climbing this stretch, I passed three others that were walking their mountain bikes up. One had said, “Are you just showing off?” to which I replied “No, it is just easier than walking for me.” I prefer to ride up instead of stopping along the way, when I can. Starting again on such a steep slope can be rather difficult sometimes. Once past the steep part, a small saddle is reached, where there is road junction, a tree, and some shade to rest under. I stopped there to rest a bit. I was breathing hard and had more climbing to go. After drinking a bit of water, talking with the other riders that caught up, and walking around a little, I was ready to move on.

Up and Up! The road goes up to the right, then left following the ridge.
Up and Up! The road goes up to the right, then left following the ridge.

Getting past this third gate, I’d see the first roadside snow. Mind you, it was small patches, but still. It would be telling of what was to come. As I climbed higher, the winds did increase some, which I had rather expected, the temperature dropped some, and more snow was at the roadside. After the first “summit”, the road rolls a bit more. The first big drop was clear of snow… the second was not. Snow was mostly blocking the road, but it was still manageable. It wouldn’t be until after the first Noble Canyon Trail crossing, getting up into the pines, that the snow would be covering most of the ground beyond the roadway. At the upper Noble Canyon Trail crossings, I came upon the first snow entirely blocking the roadway. It wasn’t too deep, and there were tracks to the left side… so, I tried to ride through. I went through with one foot unclipped, so that I could catch myself if I started to fall. Well, good thing I did. The snow was a bit icy on top, and just about all ice at the bottom. Rather crunchy and tough to ride through. But then… this is cyclocross… gotta carry the bike at some point! The drift here was shallow by comparison to the next, about a half mile away. That drift, was about two feet deep at the most, and was much slower to cross. I began to wonder if it would get worse, but I knew the road did not get much higher and was more exposed now. Only large puddles of water were blocking the road up to the final gate, at Sunrise Highway.

Getting into the pines and the snow.
Getting into the pines and the snow.
Snow cover is getting thicker.
Snow cover is getting thicker.
The road is under this snow... I know it is!
The road is under this snow… I know it is!
I followed the tracks to the left in the dirt. Not too bad, but icy.
I followed the tracks to the left in the dirt. Not too bad, but icy.

I didn’t linger long at the gate, just enough to cross and get riding. Traffic was light and so were the winds! When I got near the upper Noble and Big Laguna trailhead, I saw it was full of cars, some of which had empty bike racks! Well… Being the explorer I am sometimes, I decided to check out the trail. At first, it was a bit muddy, and then snow covered, but still mostly passable. Well, most of the bike tracks that I saw led onto the Noble Canyon Trail, just a couple of them led to the Big Laguna connector. I proceeded further, got just past the first gate, and stopped.  There were no more bike tracks and the trail was now completely covered in snow. Well, I tried. I know my limits. It was back to Sunrise Highway for me.

Nope. Not going down this trail today.
Nope. Not going down this trail today.

After I had returned to Sunrise Highway, I decided I’d still try another alternate route. I’ve done a similar loop in the past, with this much snow, so I knew what to expect. About a mile up the road, I turned off at the Laguna Campground. This is also the lower end of Los Huecos Road, which ends next to the Visitor’s Center. The campground was mostly closed, as it usually is in winter, but it also made for a pleasant ride. I followed the route through the campground to a gate where the road was not plowed, at all. I had no intention of riding this part, I didn’t the last time. So, the bike ride was now a hike, with a bike. Fun! I do enjoy going to the snow, and this time was never really that cold. The hike lasted about ¼ mile, not bad. Well, after this snowbound portion, it was back to road, at first paved, then dirt. Riding over the dirt was felt a bit slower at times but overall wasn’t bad. I passed many people out playing in the snow. This little canyon is one of the better areas for snow play in the Mt Laguna area.

The road is about a foot under the bike.
The road is about a foot under the bike.
Gotta get a shot of the bike in the snow!
Gotta get a shot of the bike in the snow!

I reached the top of the road, and was ready to get some snacks. I stopped at the Mt Laguna Store, a general store located near the top of the mountain. They have a wide selection of stuff. I usually top off my drinks here, and get something else to snack on. So, I got a can of Pepsi, some beef jerky, and sat out on the porch and relaxed for a while. Once I felt refreshed and was done eating, I was ready to head down the mountain. With all the snow, all my alternate routes down would be snowbound, so it would just be a quick ride down Sunrise Highway for me. The ride down was fairly uneventful until I got down to just below the 5000’ level. The high winds, which were predicted, were tossing me around at times, making travel a bit hazardous. I did manage to keep a decent pace at least. The winds weren’t so much a headwind as a crosswind. Once I got back to the car, I noticed there were still lots of other cars still in the parking area, a few with bike racks. Perhaps they made the longer loop, and rode to Julian or something. Another day, I’ll do that, when I can take more dirt trail to do it!