Kona Kai Marina

Sailing and Eating in San Diego

“We should get some racquets,” Darren said to me trying to brace himself against the pull of our chocolate lab, Daisy, on our way to the Wissahickon Park to go on a hike. The year was 2000. We were newlyweds, living in our first house in Philadelphia, PA. In the warmer months we passed our neighborhood tennis courts a couple of times per week.  The crazy thing is that we said this for 9 years!  Not once did we swing a racquet on those courts.  I began to feel like if we actually got racquets that it would ruin our longstanding funny.  

We have been talking about learning to sail for years.  I guess it’s a thing we do.  On our honeymoon, we went sailing in the British Virgin Islands, but someone else did all the work and we sat and drank beer and ate delicious food.  I do admit that sailing is just slightly more expensive and involved than tennis and being that we ended up moving back to Colorado nowhere near an ocean, it is not as easy or prolific as it would be if we ended up on a coast.

Darren beat me to it.  He finally pulled the rip cord and took a week long trip to San Diego with a friend to become bareboat captain certified.  It has only been about 16 years since we started saying to each other, “We should learn how to sail.” As a conclusion to the tennis reference, I finally learned how to play 13 years later and now play weekly!  We are late bloomers.

For the virgin voyage for Darren as a new captain, we flew out to San Diego with another couple, rented a boat and took our first solo voyage around San Diego bay. Not knowing how it was going to turn out, we left the children at home, updated the wills and caught Southwest Airlines to San Diego.  

Torrey Pines State Park Hike

The first day, my friend and I let the husbands check in with San Diego Sailing Academy and go on a short sail while we went up to hike in Torrey Pines State Park. Von’s market in Del Mar had plenty of provisions including Bloody Mary’s in a can (cause we like it in the can), french bread, fruit and cheese.  We had a car picnic by the sea.  Sufficiently full, we hiked up a road as you enter the park and circled back on the beach. As usual, the Pacific made me feel super grateful to be in its presence. It always makes me want to sing, “…from the mountains, to the prairies to the oceans white with foam…”  ’cause I am from the mountains…get it?

San Diego skyline


We sailed. We walked. We ate.  We took advantage of our childless time together to speak inappropriately and drink just enough to laugh too much but not ruin the mornings.

Captain Darren in San Diego Kona Kai Marina

Plan.  Pack.  Go.
Where to eat
The first night we walked in and exhausted haze to Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar. Somehow I ended up with a Lobster Roll.  The server convinced me that people flew to San Diego to eat their Lobster Roll.  I had originally ordered the Opah, but so Darren and our friends and I thought that was silly, so I ended up with this Losbster Roll that had the most giant roll that I had seen in a long time.  I simply picked at it because I did not want to feel yucky after dinner and because I ate Calamari and Fries to start so by the time my giant roll arrived, I was ready to savor my Moscow Mule for desert.  The atmosphere I would describe as loud and urban and kind of happening.  Our booth flanked this interesting wall.

Baracudda Wall at Ironside

While Ironside was a bit urban, Queenstown Public House could be described as homey and not like your best friend from the hood, but more like a book by the fire. I sort of fell in love with the atmosphere.  We sat on the porch under a pergola – esk covering at a table flanked by park benches, which are softened by pillows (most likely from HomeGoods). The walls of the porch are made from corrugated plastic topped off with old doors. Behind each table are floor lamps that it looks like decorator most likely picked up on a shopping trip to HomeGoods, while making a quick stop at Target on the way home where he or she acquired several strings of Edison bulbs for overhead lighting.  Just in case you cannot read my inflection, I think this is brilliant!  The food, which I guess is 50% of the experience or maybe 25% when you factor in the booze, is Kiwi inspired. The menu is lamb heavy. Unfortunately, I shy away from lamb because it always reminds me of the veal locked up in boxes and then I lose my appetite, but I heard it was amazing.  I went with the Mahi Mahi Sandwhich, which, like my previous night’s meal, was overpowered by its roll. I need to stop ordering things with rolls. Of course, we did not skip the fries which are delivered in little buckets. Super yummy.  Darren got a Chicken Pot Pie, which actually came with an entire chicken plopped right in the middle.  It was as good as pot pie gets, but a bit much for a traveler not able to take left overs.  Bring your pooch, it’s completely dog friendly.  





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