To the Ocean, to Read and Recharge

Posted By Mike Padgett

June 1, 2013

SAN DIEGO – Ocean, ocean, ocean, she chants softly with eyes closed and arms stretched in front of her like a conductor. She is resting her head back against the passenger’s seat.

We’re racing west on the interstate to find a slow path on the beach. I’m anticipating salt air with my morning coffee.

My Best Friend opens her eyes and lowers her arms to resume typing on her laptop. We’re halfway across the Arizona and California deserts. Twin dust devils spin in the distance to our left. Three hours ahead is San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.

It is late spring. The possibility of a gray May and a June gloom – a regional saying referring to cloudy or rainy days this time of year – is irrelevant.

Actually, the unpredictable spring weather and the collective daily activities at sunrise on the coast are exhilarating, not gray or gloomy. There is brisk morning air with drifting clouds or fog. We can share endorphins with joggers, cyclists, kayakers and sailing enthusiasts. It is a grand new day, every day.

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Sunrise over the Coronado Bridge in San Diego. Copyright © photo by Mike Padgett

With each new dawn, Nature offers her personal orchestra. Rays of sunlight reaching through clouds and landing on anchored sailboats turn the watercraft blinding white on dark water.

Pelicans fly single file overhead or glide inches above waves. Solitary motionless herons stand in shallow water, waiting for a meal to swim by.

We’ve made this Phoenix-San Diego road trip many times since our paths crossed years ago at the intersection of Future Journeys and Best of Friends. We are drawn to the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. The ocean breezes and the sights and sounds of the Pacific Ocean offer beauty and solitude.

The ocean reminds me of the quote, “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” Isak Dinesen, pseudonym of Danish writer Baroness Karen Blixen, author of  “Out of Africa,” and “Seven Gothic Tales,” wrote it.

On the beach, all we need are light jackets and each other. And a camera to capture the occasional spring flowers as bright as airport beacons.


Flowers seem more vibrant in marine environments. Copyright © photo by Mike Padgett

We enjoy California’s rich variety of cultures, climates, moderate politics and more tolerance of individual differences. During an earlier trip, after learning we live in Arizona, a San Francisco waiter said, jokingly, “You sure have your problems.” He referred to Arizona headlines that are trapped in negative viral mode.

When we visited San Diego a year ago for a conference, I took a seat at our 23rd floor window to watch the day begin. My coffee was too hot. Joggers wound their way on their routes between the downtown high-rises and along the marina.

I watched as a three-deck yacht, one of the largest in the marina, was maneuvered from its slip. On the yacht’s top deck was a small silver helicopter. I wonder about the boat’s ownership.

On our newest visit, 11 months later, the time is ours. No business meetings. No conferences. We set aside this time to read, to leave our car parked, and to walk along the bay. No standing in lines at museums and restaurants. No fighting traffic. No searching for parking spaces or gasoline stations. Coronado is our destination.

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Solitary fishermen often are the first to greet sunrise on San Diego Bay. Copyright © photo by Mike Padgett

On our morning walks along the bay, we encounter several other early risers. The earliest to greet the new day are fishermen. They are in their boats, positioned at favorite spots but out of the water traffic lanes, as we walk past. Next are joggers and bicyclists. A man on a skateboard – one foot pumping, the other on the skateboard – races to keep up with his dog on a leash. A few walkers, of all ages, walk alone. A few others walk hand in hand. We pass an exercise class for a dozen young mothers, each with a baby buggy, on the promenade.

During our pre-dinner walk our first night on this trip, we stop to watch a dozen small, dark amphibious craft,­ each carrying four or five passengers, cruise at high speed  – in single file – on San Diego Bay. Since it was after sundown, maybe it was night military training. Naval Amphibious Base Coronado is nearby.

We walk a short distance to Currents, the restaurant at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa. Dinner was seared salmon filets. Dessert was a shared slice of chocolate and peanut butter pie with caramel sauce.

The next morning, after a breakfast of lump crab hash topped with a fried egg, we spend the day reading, checking email and watching activity on and around the bay.

This part of Coronado has been one of our favorite getaways for many years. We remember when the hotel was the Coronado Island Le Meridien. In the late 1990s, the Marriott Corp. announced its plans to buy the property, according to news accounts.

From our villa patio, we can watch the daily slowmo parade of Navy and cargo ships on the bay. A man, on his stomach, paddles by on a surfboard. He passes two kayaks. Passing him is a giant cargo ship. We check the behemoth ship’s name on the Internet and learn that it is delivering new European automobiles to dealers on the West Coast. San Diego was its first stop after passing through the Panama Canal.

We watch a few sailboats cruise by slowly, their sails filled with gentle breezes. The sky is clear. A water taxi crosses the bay, carrying several passengers to downtown San Diego.

In the distance is the Coronado Bridge where, on weekday afternoons, the Coronado-to-San Diego rush hour traffic can slow to a crawl. A recent road rage incident on the bridge between a motorist and a motorcyclist is in the news.

Life goes on. In the hotel, we enjoy the waiter’s recommendation – sea bass on a bed of mashed potatoes and steamed veggies.

On previous trips, we enjoyed walking through Coronado’s residential neighborhoods, filled with small bungalows, larger contemporary homes and restored mansions.

We also enjoyed morning walks on the promenade in Coronado along the bay and under the Coronado Bridge. If you go, follow the path past the anchored sailboats, under the bridge and along the golf course.

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Sunset on the beach in Southern California. Copyright © photo by Mike Padgett

Walking along the beach or bay allows time for reflection. There are no I-shoulda-dones, and the only regret is, time passes too quickly.

The following morning, on another day set aside for more reading and walking, we begin with a breakfast of blueberry scones, bananas and caffeine. We’re planning to order gyros for lunch at a nearby restaurant. Dinner? We haven’t decided. Our week is going well.



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Jun 1st, 2013

2 Comments to 'To the Ocean, to Read and Recharge'

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  1. Carol Romley said,

    Thanks Mike!
    Coronado Island is one of my favorite places.

  2. Peg Hodges said,

    Sounds like a wonderful get-away. Having taken a food tasting tour of Coronado last summer with Margie, I can appreciate being able to walk from the ferry dock to the Del Coronado stopping to taste food at five or six places along the way. It’s a treat to be able to relax and enjoy the ocean from so many different places. As an armchair traveler this summer, I am enjoying less driving and more viewing of pictures and places as the others in my family do the traveling. There is more time to appreciate a less demanding schedule and take each day as it comes. I always enjoy your descriptions and the pictures add so much.

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