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Borderlands and sand, sand, sand

Posted by PlayGroundology on May 19, 2008

Shopping for someFriday morning we flipped down to the borderlands in the rental car. The I-5 South gets you there in about 35 minutes. It’s pretty much urbanized all the way down the coast. The signage approaching Mexico is very clear, “this is your last chance to get off the highway and remain in the US” type of messaging. There were no compelling reasons for us to go to Tijuana so we stuck to the US side of the border and looked for bargains in the outlet stores.

There are over 100 outlet stores – Levi’s, Nike, The Gap, Adidas, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Nautica – in viewing distance of the border. The corrugated iron fencing, barbed wire, high wattage lighting and border patrol vehicles abutt the back parking lot of the Las Americas shopping experience. This is fortress and free-spending America all rolled into one. Bargains in the consumer compound and aerial surveillance just outside making sure no illegals get a chance to come and taste the land of milk and honey.

One of the sales associates at Levi’s said that most of the shoppers came from Mexico, Canada and Europe. Very few Americans shop at the outlet locations. The morning headlines on the day we visited reported on the US consumer mood being at a 28-year low. Certainly nothing to jump up and shout about unless the shouting might help turn things around.

Our loot bag from Las Americas included jeans, bathing suits, running shoes and baby clothes we purchased as gifts. The prices were in the bargain zone in keeping with our entire 2-week holiday in SanD.

We booted back up the I-5 for our last full day in the city. With temperatures hitting 30 C we decided on OB before and Mission Beach after supper.

Noah-David got in some quality sand castle building at OB and some toe, ankle, knee, hip wetting wave action where sea meets shore. Lots of giggles, smiles and wide-eyed wonder at the cresting, curling water works, the surfers, the pelicans and planes overhead and the beach with lots of merry, sun worshippers.

We scooted down Sunset Cliffs Boulevard after a quick bite and headed for the Mission Beach boardwalk. It was a 10 minute hop by car. Prior to hitting the seaside promenade, Noah rode another carousel stallion at Belmont Park two hands firmly planted on the pole for his rising and falling equine adventure.

According to the store owners around the Park, things don’t really get humming until after the Memorial Day weekend. Prior to that it’s pretty hit and miss just like the weather before the end of May. Once the sun heats up and is out consistently, the beach becomes a magnet pulling in the local and foreign exotica alike.

The boardwalk was busy with people out getting the last few rays of the day all ages, sizes, shapes and colours a real ratatouille bunch. There was still some wave riders catching a curl and the pelicans were diving for fish to fuel their regal flight.

The beach wasn’t as crowded as OB earlier in the day but there was a little burst of action that coincided with the setting sun, people going to water’s edge to click sunset photos as the red ball lost its bounce and slipped into the Pacific depths. Mélanie and Noah-David tickled their toes in the darking shallows leaving breath long footprints in the packed hard sand. Moments like these are the indelible image track of simple pleasures playing on memory’s reel, looping with no fixed time interval, surfacing as a pleasant surprise, a welcome friend, a warm smile.

As the car was turning into a pumpkin on Saturday morning we squeezed in one more little trip. We just had time for a quick flip to Coronado Island. This meant nighttime driving on the I-5. Cars move quite fast on the SanD freeways and I didn’t know my way around. Mélanie played co-pilot and I sure needed one as I managed to get lost almost immediately on leaving the Mission Beach area. We got back on track and with my trusty co-pilot’s cajoling we made it across the skyhigh Coronado Bridge and back. The passenger ferry landing provided a great vantage point to see downtown SanD. The area looked nice. If we return, we’ll be sure to explore it.



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