I am fortunate that I get to travel for work. I like to travel. My travels have taken me around the world and back again. Most of the time though I find myself running between gates in crowded airports, or stranded for hours in the confines of terminals without anywhere to go and only the minimal of necessities. With this in mind, you can imagine my surprise during a recent work trip to discover that because I had to take the cheapest flight to my work location, I would have an eight hour layover in San Diego.
I’ve been to San Diego quite a few times over the years. When I working in Washington DC I would visit my colleagues there almost quarterly. I became quite familiar with Point Loma and Ocean Beach, occasionally venturing out to Coronado and downtown. Unlike previous layovers in random corners of the world, I knew my way around outside the San Diego airport and I had friends still in the area. It was time to cash in on this layover and make the most of it. I packed my running shoes, socks, shorts, and a t-shirt along with the necessary personal hygiene items for cleaning up afterwards. Landing a little before 9 am, I called up a buddy to meet for coffee and catch up about some of our old projects. By 1030 we were done, and he was off on his flight to the east coast. By 11, I checked in to a local gym I knew, changed, and stood poised to get a quick trail run in, making the most of this respite. It was on!
Trails can come in all shapes and sizes, surfaces and lengths. The city of San Diego hosts miles and miles of paved trails just in and around downtown, not to mention many more in the parks neighboring it. For my run, I chose to follow a familiar paved trail running along Harbor Drive at first, then circling around back into the area known as Liberty Station. The Harbor Drive trail can take you all the way downtown or down around Harbor Island providing one with spectacular views of the bay, North Island, and the heights of Point Loma. Having run the out and back portion of this path a number of times, I opted instead to circle around and check out a wide dirt trail which parallels a creek off of the bay along the edges of the area known as Liberty Station. For those not intimately familiar with San Diego, it is without a doubt a Navy town. The Liberty Station neighborhood epitomizes this fact, having once served as a Naval Training Center, complete with a mock up Naval ship which served as on land training platform for new recruits. Where once there were barracks, now the neighborhood boasts shops, restaurants, markets, and even breweries, sprawled out amongst former parade fields and training centers. If you’re looking to step away from the hussle and bussle of downtown San Diego, then Liberty Station shouldn’t be missed, not to mention it makes for a great quick run.
Keeping track of the clock, I only ran a few miles before heading back to shower and change. I had gotten my work done: I’d met with my buddy to discuss some work opportunities and I’d logged a few more miles on some familiar trails. Now it was time for lunch and a reward. Linking up with another friend, I chose an old familiar locale for lunch: Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern situated right off the bay and a stone’s throw away from Liberty Station. When I use to come to San Diego for work, Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern (or JFAT as we called it) became one of our prime drink & dinner venues. It usually was close to our hotel, had a great menus, and we all always seemed to arrive at happy hour just in time to celebrate their beer selection. And while I wasn’t going to make it to happy hour this time, a couple of beers and burgers would be perfect to celebrate this extended break. Meeting up with my buddy and a former neighbor, the perfect weather combined with great conversation set the conditions for a great lunch. The only thing missing was my beer. For this occasion I decided on JFAT’s own Blonde ale—I mean who doesn’t like a blonde in California? Seriously? For me Blonde Ales can often represent what I call “the perfect porch drinking beer” – not too heavy or hoppy, but crisp and refreshing yet flavorful enough that you can lounge around with many of them on a warm day on your porch and people watch your way through the afternoon. The perfect sunny warm weather combined with good friends and the accomplishment of a great trail run along with some interesting people watching, made JFAT’s Blonde Ale the perfect layover beer. So good in fact that I decided on having two.
A couple of hours later and I was back at the airport; my layover complete. San Diego had been kind to me once again and I was grateful. Now it was time to complete my journey and venture north to Portland. It had been too long since my last visit to this wonderful city and I felt it in my heart that I will need to venture back soon. Besides having countless paths to explore and roads to pedal, I haven’t even made a dent in the dozens of bars and breweries that fill this city. I may have to find some work here soon, or at the very least find many more long layovers in the future.