Where I Fell in Love With Solo Travel: San Diego, CA
When I was 19 I booked my first solo trip. I traveled a lot when I was younger, but always on mission teams so I was never alone, this would be my first time going somewhere without bringing anyone with me. I was going to San Diego, California, though I can’t say it was truly solo, I was meeting a friend I made in the Navy over there. I would be going for four days, and I was totally excited.
I spent my first three days catching up with my friend, we went to six flags and spent a lot of time together, with the exception of half of my second day there. That day I went to an event going on alongside Comic Con at Nerd HQ because I got to meet Zachary Levi, AKA Chuck from my favorite TV show of all time, the NBC series Chuck, AKA my soulmate. To make what I could easily turn into a very long story short, I met Zachary Levi, got two pictures with him, and also forgot how to speak momentarily. Looking like a deer caught in the headlights, I managed to stutter a delayed, “Hi, I’m Jessica” to which he smiled that big smile of his and responded, “Hi, I’m Zach” as he shook my hand. I couldn’t deal. We took two beautiful pictures together and I will never forget until the day I die. I assume I will meet him again eventually, and I will be able to prove myself as a competent human being capable of intelligent conversation, but until then I will just reminisce about those wonderful moments he stood with his arm around me as we posed for a pictures together.
Anyways, back the point, San Diego, where I learned that I love to solo travel. Well, my final day there my friend had to work, so I had the day to myself until my plane left that evening. Prior to heading to San Diego I had done no research on where I was going other than figuring out that I would meet Chuck, because, well, honestly, what else did I need to know? I woke up that Monday morning and realized I had no one to hang out with and no idea of where to go, however I did know there was a Starbucks across the street so I got dressed and headed across the street for breakfast. I sipped my caramel macchiato on the patio outside enjoying the July, Southern California weather as I googled where I was. I scrolled through google results until I came to the decision to go to Ocean Beach, I called a taxi, and soon I was on the way to what I did not know would be one of my favorite days.
I had my taxi drop me off a little bit before I got to the beach because there were a bunch of cute stores all down the road that dead ended at the water, and I had an entire day to wander in and out of them. There were cute independently owned boutiques, tattoo shops, there was a second hand record store, a second hand book store, all those types of shops. I ended up buying some jewelry, a poncho, and a jacket because surprisingly enough a denim tank top and white shorts was not warm enough for a July evening in Southern California, at least for this Florida girl it wasn’t. People were in there shopping with their dogs and I was so jealous! I don’t know that I have ever missed my Shih Tzu Gigi more than that day ever! Once I made my way to the beach and went to the right I saw a sign indicating that there was a dog park and it was the most beautiful dog park I have ever seen. People laying out with their dogs next to them, or tossing balls and frisbees into the water as their pups jumped in happily after them! Dogs of all shapes and sizes enjoying the summer beach day with their families. Like I said, I had never missed Gigi more than I did in that moment.
I needed to remove myself from the scene, I felt like a parent a park without their child, I probably seemed very out of place there without my dog, so I headed back over to the regular part of the beach where I walked down the pier to what appeared to be a wooden shack at the end that had the word Café painted on the side of it. I wasn’t sure if I would eat here or not, I wasn’t even really sure what to expect from it, but I was sure that I had nothing better to do than follow anything that caught my eye. I walked down the long boardwalk over the water to the little café and gift shop and ended up ordering a lobster taco and a diet coke. They had stool seats along the railing of the boardwalk that was built just wide enough to use as a little table and I sat with my food and gazed over the Pacific Ocean. (Cue Dear Vienna by Owl City “Clearly I am a passerby but I'll find a place to stay - Dear pacific day, won't you take me away?”)
I took my time with my lunch because the beauty of the view in front of me demanded that I did. I sat there and looked over the ocean and realized that I was so content, I was so happy, I was all alone, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I didn’t find myself wishing I had someone to eat with, someone to shop with (well, except for my dog, Gigi), I didn’t wish I had someone to share the experience it with at all, I came to the realization that I was having the best day ever all by myself. I noticed off in the distance some big rocks and ledges people were climbing on and sitting on and wondered what it was. Being alone I had the freedom to do anything I wanted, and I didn’t have to wonder for much longer because all I had to do was walk to it and find out. It was a cool little area where the water crashed into and between the rocks, there were spots where the water splashed up and shot out of holes in the middle of them, and that is not anything you find where I’m from in Florida, everything was different, new and exciting. Even little things that are totally normal like splashing water. I learned to embrace the selfie with no shame because it wasn’t going to be documented unless I did it myself, and yes it was awkward at first, but then again, I live on the opposite side of the country, who cares if I look crazy taking selfies all over the place and being a lame tourist, I’d never see those people again anyways! #solotravelproblems I’m assuming that’s already a hashtag, I’m a little bit ashamed that I’m not absolutely positive to be honest, but if it’s not we need to make it a thing.
I spent the rest of the day wandering around, I went on a long walk weaving in and out of the surrounding streets, I had a cotton candy flavored ice cream cone that was so good I still remember it, and I sat on a concrete ledge and watched a West Coast sunset. It was a beautiful day like none other before, and I loved every second of it. Now when I spend days wandering around, or just doing something alone that makes me relaxed and happy I am reminded of the feeling I first felt at Ocean Beach San Diego, it is the feeling I do it for, and that’s what tells me it was my best day ever.
Where did you spend your favorite day ever? Leave a comment and let me know!