Dr. Bill (free associating): Arms of me. Army. Marines. That’s it! Camp Pendleton!
GT: You got it, brother. Notice the wave of warm invitations extended to our military personnel, to freely spend their money in nearby establishments.
An enormous red, white, and blue sign reads “Freedom.” Another states “We proudly honor our military.” The Camp Pendleton Marine presence is shouted about, with flags waving, used car lots offering “approved military loans,” military dry-cleaning and pawnshops trying to lure those short-haired military folks to “Come on down. Trade your Gold for Silver.”
Dr. Bill: Which is being honored most, the military or the dollar?
GT: Each in its own way.
GT: Well, I feel an even more powerful force pervading the atmosphere of coastal towns from Malibu to San Diego.
Dr. Bill: Fear of the great white shark!
GT: Pshaw. The vibrations come from Hawaii, Baja, and Southern California. Look at the stores.
Dr. Bill: Ah-ha. I get it. Southern California Beach subculture?
GT: Right! Hawaii gave us surfing culture and an acceptance of bare skin. Baja taught us to ply ourselves into a relaxed state with margaritas, marijuana, a mañana attitude, and maybe a morning Corona. SoCal has contributed woodies, fast food, board shorts, and bikinis. The eats gobbled by the beach tribe reflect these cultures: sushi and teriyaki via Hawaii, burritos and tacos direct from Baja, and good old American hamburgers, with fries and a Coke or a milkshake. You can identify the tribe by their casual dress, $60-plus board shorts, $100 bikinis, flip flops, and tank tops. Name-brand sunglasses are a must, as is a tattoo or two.
We surf past the 101 Cafe. Opened in 1928, it’s a comfortable place that serves crispy hash browns, chili, and overall tasty breakfasts. GT wants to stop and critique an antique bicycle for two that’s out front.
GT: Antique! That piece of junkyard pipe isn’t even a replica of a bicycle for two.
I notice the Beach Break Café has enlarged into the Beach Break Plaza. Nice place, but too pricey, too crowded, and too trendy for me.
We approach our first bike shop, “Allen’s Bike Shop.” Inside is a nice gentleman.
Dr. Bill (to nice gentleman): GT complains of a squeaky wheel and chain. Can you help me?
Nice Gentleman: Sure, I’ll oil your squeaky wheel. Your chain, too.
GT: Ohh. That feels so good.
At Vista Way, in front of Pacific Coast Cycle, stands a real antique bicycle. To avoid a jealous rage, I leave GT outside while I converse with the Maybe Owner.
Dr. Bill: How about letting me ride that relic to La Jolla a few times? It’ll be a good advertisement for you.
Maybe Owner: No deal. It’s solely for display. Anyhow, you wouldn’t want to.
Dr. Bill: I would, I would.
Maybe Owner: Forget it. No is no.
Dr. Bill: Can I rent it for eight hours for one million dollars?
Maybe Owner: Sure. Show me the dough.
Dr. Bill: So, we’re just quibbling about price. How about ten dollars?
Maybe Owner: Get out of here.
I come out of the bike shop to face an accusation.
GT: I thought we were monogamous.
Onward. We pass Angelo’s, which serves the biggest, cheapest breakfast around: 3 eggs, 2 pancakes, 2 strips of bacon, and 2 sausages for $5.29. I did once encounter a cockroach on the floor, but the price beats Vigilucci’s in Encinitas!
Wheeee, we sea-gull-swoop down into Buena Vista Lagoon, the state ecological reserve that separates Oceanside from Carlsbad. On our left is a nature center built, owned, operated, and staffed by volunteers from the local Audubon Society. If you ever want to see a bunch of indigenous stuffed birds, mammals, and rodents (they’re dead, of course), this is the place to go. I used to find these critters somewhat interesting, but Debra found them disgusting. “Were these poor stuffed animals killed just for our entertainment?” Not even the docents had an answer. But we both loved the walkways around the lagoon.
GT: I don’t like it when you think about her.
Dr. Bill: Then don’t listen in on my thoughts.
GT: Why not? You listen to mine.
Carlsbad: 12:30 p.m.
Puffing up the second hill of our adventure, we move from the military/beach style of Oceanside into the touristy, resortlike retirement community of Carlsbad. Carlsbad is one of the country’s highest-income cities (average family income over 100,000 clams), with a highly educated populace, an award-winning school district, and the world’s first skateboard park, built in 1976 on the grounds of the Carlsbad Raceway. GT will give us a glimpse of the town’s history.
GT: Known history of Carlsbad begins with a settlement of Native Americans, Luiseño tribe, who had a village, Palamai. Does this sound similar to Palomar Airport Road? Yep. The former location of the village was alongside Agua Hedionda Lagoon, which in Spanish means “Smelly Water Lagoon.” The lagoon is in South Carlsbad, close to the I-5 and Cannon Road exit.
Dr. Bill: The Luiseño tribe is still around. I read in the North County Times (June 13, 2011) that the San Luis Rey band of Luiseño Indians hosted the 15th annual Intertribal Pow Wow at San Luis Rey Mission. Robert John Knapp, the Pow Wow’s spiritual advisor, stated: “Today we honor the people here and speak to the Earth from this happy place. We must love our Mother Earth, and we must express that love and actively practice it. Talk to her, sing to her, tell her how much you love her.”
GT: I love you, Momma Earth.
Dr. Bill: I love you, Momma Earth.
We cross the bridge over the railway tracks. On our right is the well-manicured Army and Naval Academy, which has an enrollment of about 300 students on a beautiful, 16-acre, oceanfront campus. The walls proclaim “Leadership, Excellence, Honor, Responsibility, Loyalty and Compassion.” Those words were an important part of the academy’s reputation, but a boil burst on the academy in 2003. A few students were involved in a hazing incident with an unwilling cadet. The cadet was forced to drink alcohol, beaten up, and sodomized with a broomstick. The suit charged the academy with not properly protecting the students. The suit was reported as settled in August 2009. The cadets that I have encountered have seemed like other high school students, though I’m sure a broomstick will never be just a broomstick to them.