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Glimpses of San Diego to Remember

November 24, 1986|SHELLY MATTHYS | Shelly Matthys is a free-lance writer who now lives in Washington state. and

SAN DIEGO — Fog closed in over the San Diego River channel and flat gray water was engulfed in fluffy gray clouds and cool mists. My last glimpse of America's Finest City will be forever imprinted on my mind with a shroud of typical June beach weather.

A crystal clear morning takeoff complete with a sparkling Mission Bay and a crisp-looking La Jolla would have been a more sentimental farewell for a native San Diegan departing for a wetter life in the Pacific Northwest.

Nature knew what she was doing, though, because try as I might, I just couldn't muster a tear as we rose over the sludgy channel. If the weather had cooperated, I'm sure I could have gotten in a few good sniffs when I gave Sail Bay a final look and thought about how one of the best drives on the county coast is along Riviera in the early morning or late evening.

So instead of bidding my hometown an aerial farewell as I had planned, I had to be content with a mental review. And being a true Californian, I thought in terms of drives and car routes and flipped through my catalogue of favorite trips.

I put my head back and thought about cruising down Mission Boulevard on a summer weekend and taking in all the California craziness and beach bizarre you could want.

I drifted down the coast to a run over the Coronado Bridge and thought about how scary it is tearing across it at 60 miles an hour with all five lanes of traffic open and nothing but that skimpy little wall between the car and a very long dive to the beautiful bay below. Driving the Silver Strand is a serene stroll in comparison.

My husband's favorite stretch of freeway and one he loves to take out-of-towners to is Interstate 5 under the Lindbergh Field flight path. When the jets pass, he slows down so it looks as if their landing gear will skim the roof of the car. The exclamations and startled looks that relatives give as the commercial airliners pass over are always good for a laugh. They "can't believe how low those things come in."

Another favorite route on the "this is San Diego" tour is California 163 through Balboa Park, particularly under the park bridge.

For me, another nice spot along 163 has always been passing Sharp Hospital. The stork out front has been there as long as I can remember, and because I was born in the Sharp maternity wing.

I've always wanted to stop one morning and take some pictures under the I-805 interchange. The combination of ramp angles intermixed with the shadows from the early sun have always struck me as making the colossal structure seem majestic and graceful.

Presidio Park is another oasis along a rather unsightly and boring route, especially at night with the spotlights on the mission.

Let's face it, San Diego is a city made for a good ride.

But now that I'm getting settled in Seattle I'm beginning to make a few mental notes on nice routes. The West Seattle shoreline is nice, as is the bridge around the city. . . .

I should have a good list in about a year.

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