4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Carmel Valley brims with clichés

On the surface, Carmel Valley is not the most charming town. It is a village of strivers: young professionals pushing to move up the ladder, students scrambling for accolades, parents and high schoolers pumping away at health clubs. In Carmel Valley there are no historical buildings, only long curving strips of Pardee tract housing. There are no colorful residences, thanks to homeowners' association dictates. Carmel Valley is almost — not quite — on the water. Consequently, this neighborhood is a station, a station where twentysomethings hope they can afford to stop and raise children and send those children to school, where fiftysomethings hope to leave for the harbors of Del Mar or La Jolla.

Carmel Valley

Despite all this, though, Carmel Valley succeeds at its modest intention: to be a suburb. Carmel Valley is about kids and schools and cul-de-sacs with basketball hoops. As a college student away from home for the first time, I know that it's possible to be nostalgic about this town.

I feel this most at Powerline Park, the playground above Torrey Pines High School. Like much of Carmel Valley, it's a figment of early '90s construction: two great rings of sand, plastic slides, a bulbous orange climbing structure. The tire swing is rusted, and the swings were removed years ago. The park brims with clichés: a father spotting a six-year-old on the monkey bars, a girl in a red dress tugging a butterfly kite, a gleaming line of minivans and station wagons on their way to or from orthodontists and vets and soccer practices.

At the back of the park, hidden behind a few concrete picnic tables, is a trailhead. When I was younger, my sister Emma and I would duck under the metal barrier that closes the path to vehicles and scramble down a rutted hill into the canyon, one of a few that crease the Carmel Valley landscape. Though our wild slopes were fringed with houses and power lines hissed overhead, we felt like adventurers. Emma and I pushed through the chaparral in search of small clearings, each one a potential clubhouse. We crept up on lizards that scampered into the underbrush. The day we saw a horseback rider below us at the bottom of the canyon, I felt we were part of the American West. My New York-bred parents missed the lush northeastern forests; I fell in love with yellow cacti flowers and the small, shiny leaves of Carmel Valley foliage.

I'm sure my classmates who grew up in Palo Alto, Andover, or Potomac could make arguments about the superiority of their suburbs — why their streets are the quaintest, why their town centers have the most community spirit. But that's okay. Pride of ownership is the point.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

The memories floating in Judith Moore's mind

The small town, solitary holidays, the dad reading Babar, summers in Washington state, the gay uncle, granny's farm
Next Article

San Diego's thrift stores teeter

Rescue Mission, Father Joe's Villages, Auntie Helen's, Goodwill, Amvets cast about for answers

On the surface, Carmel Valley is not the most charming town. It is a village of strivers: young professionals pushing to move up the ladder, students scrambling for accolades, parents and high schoolers pumping away at health clubs. In Carmel Valley there are no historical buildings, only long curving strips of Pardee tract housing. There are no colorful residences, thanks to homeowners' association dictates. Carmel Valley is almost — not quite — on the water. Consequently, this neighborhood is a station, a station where twentysomethings hope they can afford to stop and raise children and send those children to school, where fiftysomethings hope to leave for the harbors of Del Mar or La Jolla.

Carmel Valley

Despite all this, though, Carmel Valley succeeds at its modest intention: to be a suburb. Carmel Valley is about kids and schools and cul-de-sacs with basketball hoops. As a college student away from home for the first time, I know that it's possible to be nostalgic about this town.

I feel this most at Powerline Park, the playground above Torrey Pines High School. Like much of Carmel Valley, it's a figment of early '90s construction: two great rings of sand, plastic slides, a bulbous orange climbing structure. The tire swing is rusted, and the swings were removed years ago. The park brims with clichés: a father spotting a six-year-old on the monkey bars, a girl in a red dress tugging a butterfly kite, a gleaming line of minivans and station wagons on their way to or from orthodontists and vets and soccer practices.

At the back of the park, hidden behind a few concrete picnic tables, is a trailhead. When I was younger, my sister Emma and I would duck under the metal barrier that closes the path to vehicles and scramble down a rutted hill into the canyon, one of a few that crease the Carmel Valley landscape. Though our wild slopes were fringed with houses and power lines hissed overhead, we felt like adventurers. Emma and I pushed through the chaparral in search of small clearings, each one a potential clubhouse. We crept up on lizards that scampered into the underbrush. The day we saw a horseback rider below us at the bottom of the canyon, I felt we were part of the American West. My New York-bred parents missed the lush northeastern forests; I fell in love with yellow cacti flowers and the small, shiny leaves of Carmel Valley foliage.

I'm sure my classmates who grew up in Palo Alto, Andover, or Potomac could make arguments about the superiority of their suburbs — why their streets are the quaintest, why their town centers have the most community spirit. But that's okay. Pride of ownership is the point.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

El Barbecue is especially best and new on Saturdays

Will this finally be the restaurant that sticks at 25th and Market?
Next Article

Sweetfin’s trademarked poke box

A visit to the mall for plant-based poke dressed in pink cardboard
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close