Sunday, April 17, 2016

Crowdless and sewerless, an Imperial Beach masterpiece

We had been warned that during heavy rains the nearby Tijuana River can send raw sewage into the ocean near Imperial Beach and, even though we had no intentions of actually getting into the water, that can give one pause when planning a vacation.

Undaunted and willing to tempt the fates, we book 10 nights at the Imperial Beach Club, a condo development that abuts the beach to the west and a lovely city park to the south. A short walk or shorter drive away, we could go to the Tijuana Estuary and gaze across the swampy acreage to Tijuana proper, so close were we to the Mexican border.

We've stayed in San Diego-area surfer towns before -- we love Ocean Beach, on the other side of Coronado Island from Imperial Beach, but I convinced a wary but ever-trusting Kathleen to give Imperial Beach a shot. We hit the lottery, as several weeks before our trip El Nino did bring Tijuana Sewage into the ocean near IB and the beaches were closed for several days. Only weeks after we left, a sand bar in the river actually diverted the selfsame nasty water onto the very streets of IB, leaving dead and dying tiger sharks lying about. During our visit, however, no such catastrophes befell us.

In fact, we couldn't possibly have had a lovelier time, if for no other reason than our objectives were modest: Get some sun, walk on the sand, listen to the ocean, eat some good food, and turn the stress level as close to zero as possible. All missions were accomplished, and then some.

IB has a checkered past, but the citizens have cleaned the place up, though not so much as to spoil its funky nature. It was spring break, but the beach was scarcely used. Just one afternoon at Mission Beach walking among the partying college flesh was enough for us.

Our third-floor condo was spacious and clean, if dated (mid-80s, perhaps), which had a 180-degree view of beach and park. The routine went something like this: Get up whenever, take a cup of coffee to the veranda and watch the nice morning lunatic down in the park yell at his imaginary adversary for an hour or so, get another cup of coffee, sit in the sun long enough for white legs and face to begin turning pinkish, step down to the taco vender for a bit of lunch (or the pizza dude next door), return to the condo and then contemplate whether to attempt any actual physical activity for the afternoon. This occasionally led to a visit to the estuary for photos and walking Charlie, a walk to the pier for photos and exercise, a visit to the southernmost outlet mall in all of California, and one excursion to Coronado for fancier Mexican food. Otherwise, the activity usually involved a nap and beer, not necessarily in that order.

There is a very fancy Marriott property on the south side of the city park, and three times we dined there at sunset, resulting in photos like the one above, very nice food and a big tab. There are nearly no tchotchke shops in IB, only mostly small restaurants and quiet neighbors. Perhaps the proximity to Tijuana scares off the gringos, which is perfectly fine with me.

We'll go again and perhaps wander a bit more next time, since Coronado is 15 minutes away and downtown only 30. We always like to stop to eat at George's on the Cove, so that might make our next itinerary.

Previous excursions to places never before visited haven't ended so well (see elsewhere in this blog), so Kathleen was happy I hadn't bombed again. The price was right, the location was right, the weather was right, and the sewage held off until after we left. What more could one ask for?


  1. Looks and sounds like it was an amazing time! Looking forward to your future posts.

  2. Great to see and read your writing once again!