Today's post is a little different than the usual because it's not about somewhere new or about an experience that I had recently. It's actually about a place I lived for 17 years. Oceanside California. I thought that it'd be interesting for all the folks that I've met recently and/or that have never been here to see where I'm from. (Yes, I was born and raised in Philadelphia but I answer Oceanside when asked where I'm from since I spent my 20s and 30s here.)
I had lots of fun running around taking the photos for this post because I approached it like every other story I've written, as an outsider seeing something for the first time. In other words, I was a tourist in my own town.
Oceanside is located about 35 miles (56km) north of downtown San Diego and is the northern-most coastal city in San Diego County. There are about 180,000 residents in what is the third-largest city in the county. The city itself was founded on July 3, 1888 but really started developing when the Spanish missionaries began building the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia in 1798. Here's the front of the mission:
On the northwest end of town, there is a small-boat harbor that is partially shared with the Camp Pendleton Marine base. The harbor has a bunch of restaurants and shops and you can rent kayaks, boats, and jet skis. They also have a couple different companies that do fishing trips. The highlight of the harbor is its New-England-style shops and lighthouse:
South of the harbor, and near the center of downtown, Oceanside has the longest wooden pier in the western US. It's over 1/3 of a mile long and has a restaurant at the end. It's widely used by fisherman as you don't need a license when fishing from a pier. This shot was taken from the street in front of the pier:
...and this one was taken from where the concrete and asphalt base meets the wooden part of the pier:
Along side the pier is an amphitheater that's called "the band shell" by locals. There are many different events held here each year ranging from Easter-Sunday services to sports events to big-name concerts. (You might recognize it from the movie Bring It On - okay, maybe you didn't see that one - but you should). What's really funny for me was that the first skateboarding video that I ever saw was a taping of a skate contest that was held here in the early 80s. Growing up in Philadelphia, it amazed me that skateboarding was big enough to have a contest in a location like this. What's even more amazing is that I got to live within five or six blocks of it for so many years.
Oceanside has what I consider to be the best climate of anywhere I've ever been in the world. Daily average highs range from 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18C) during the winter to 74 degrees (23C) during the summer. Oh yeah, it's a desert too...very low humidity!!! When I tell people this they can't believe that such a place exists. It's true. The weather is perfect year round. Obviously, the beach is popular with such good weather. Here's a shot of the beach south of the pier taken from the pier:
...and another one towards the pier taken from Tyson Street Park along The Strand (this one's got to be the "classic" southern California beach photo):
Just up from the pier is one example of the famous sites you find all over southern California. This house, located about four blocks from where I lived, was used as Kelly McGillis' character's house in the movie Top Gun. If you get the chance to see the movie again, just after they have that ab-show scene where Cruise is playing volleyball, he rides his motorcycle up a hill near the beach to arrive at McGillis' house. The house is now boarded up and is scheduled to be used as a coffee house in a new resort hotel being built on this site:
Moving up about four blocks from the beach, we come to Coast Highway, also known as "The 101" and/or Pacific Coast Highway. In Oceanside, it doesn't run along the beach like it does in some other areas of California. This shot was taken facing north at the intersection of Coast Highway and Wisconsin Avenue (you gotta' love the palm trees):
The Irving Gill inspired Oceanside City Hall and library are located on Coast Highway about three blocks from the pier
If you know me you know that I love, love, love, love, love going out to breakfast. A couple of my favorite breakfast spots in the whole world are along this stretch of highway. Here's the Longboarder Cafe across the street from city hall:
A little farther south on Coast Highway is the 101 Cafe. Built in 1928, it serves up a mean burger and great shakes. If you ever get the chance to stop in, make sure to say hi to the owner John. He is an O'side local and probably knows more about the downtown area than pretty much anyone else.
Just to make sure I've covered all the good food spots, this is the Hill Street Cafe. It gets its name from Hill Street, which is what this stretch of Coast Highway used to be called. What started out as a coffee house has become so much more...really good gourmet food at reasonable prices. The place is currently owned and operated by a husband and wife that also own the sushi place next store. Their deal is that they want to serve super healthy, organic-when-possible food at good prices. They kick butt and take names in doing so.
Finally, this is a shot down one of the residential streets just east of Coast Highway where I used to live. It's like something out of a story book. Nice, old-fashioned, reasonable-sized, simple houses that were built in the early 1900s. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to live in the neighborhood for so long.
It's great to be back in the "O" once again. I've gotten to travel to some amazing places in my life. I know I'm biased, but there's definitely no place like home. Woooooooooo!!! Oceanside!!!