By Judi Curry
For the past few months members of my support group have talked about taking a ride on the ‘Coaster’ to North County. Only one of the members had been on the Coaster; the others of us had it on our ‘bucket’ list.
The first time we were to go it rained; the second time we were to go someone was sick; the third time it was raining again. This time we decided we would go regardless if it rained, or regardless if someone became ill. It was a “go” no matter what. And, wouldn’t you know, the weather forecast WAS for rain, but we decided unless a hurricane was in the offing we would still go. And then one of the people that was going to go with us became ill, but she encouraged us to go anyway, and we did. We are so glad that we did.
We met at the Old Town Trolley Station at 9:30am on Friday. Parking was horrendous.
Ro and Irene found the last parking spot in the lot; the last space on a dead-end lane. I missed a spot but when I came back to it it was already taken. However, I still am handicapped due to my broken back and there were several handicapped places available. We met at the top of the stairs going over to the loading area and it was as if we could hear the music playing as they walked down the steps from the south and I walked down the steps from the North. The only thing that changed the fairy-tale feeling was the stench and litter along the way.
We followed the signs – well marked, by the way – to the ticket vending machine. Between the 3 of us, we managed to follow the directions fairly well, and we all paid our $2.75 fee – senior citizen price of a one way ticket from Old Town to Carlsbad Village – received back “gold” dollar coins in change for our $5 dollar bill – and sat back to wait the 20 minutes for the Coaster to arrive. I think we all felt like little girls, on an adventure. It was a great feeling.
When we boarded, we knew that we wanted to sit on the Westside – the Ocean side. And we knew we wanted to sit on very top floor, so we climbed up the two short flight of stairs and found 4 seats that were facing each other. Ro said she didn’t mind sitting backwards so we all sat in our own little nook and enjoyed the beautiful scenery as we traveled North. The PA system was mal-functioning, and Irene had trouble understanding the names of the stops, but Ro and I knew where we were going so could anticipate each stop before it was poorly announced.
The trip took 49 minutes. It was smooth, relaxing, and over much too soon. It should be noted that even though we paid the $2.75 for our tickets, no one ever came by and collected them. In fact, when we saw an employee come down the steps towards us Irene reached into her pocket to get out her ticket and he said, “she’s getting ready to show me her ticket” and he proceeded down the aisle without as much as a glance at it.
We had decided to go to the Carlsbad Village over Oceanside and the Flower Fields because we knew there were many little shops of interest in the Village, and we would not be tempted to purchase things because we would have to carry them around all day. The suggestion really came from my friend Jim, who suggested Carlsbad over Oceanside. It was a nice decision.
We stopped off at the Grand Deli for a snack – bagels, cream cheese, coffee cake and coffee – and made our plans from there. Almost next door to the deli was ‘O’Ireland’ – an Irish shop. With a name like ‘O’Curry’ – there was no question that we would stop in and look around and the proprietor – Tony – (not really an Irish name!) was a typical ‘Irishman’ with a twinkle in his eye and a gift of gab. We enjoyed talking to him and looking around the shop for there was a lot of authentic Irishware available. But, true to our statement, we did not purchase anything that we would have to carry around for the day. (That doesn’t mean we won’t be back soon!)
We continued walking down the streets of Carlsbad, going in and out of the variety of shops and talking to the owners of so many of them. I am used to the antique shops in Ocean Beach, but they are nothing compared to what we saw in Carlsbad. Higher quality; more variety; and one store that kept telling us – in writing – not to touch anything because we were being watched by camera’s – much more expensive. We were really enjoying ourselves.
Ro had done the Marathon in Carlsbad the week before and remembered that there was a ‘Chocolate Bar’ on State Street. And as we looked at the street sign we ‘discovered’ that we just happened to be on State Street. We went in to ‘browse around’ and one of the things that I noticed was that there was no chocolate smell. In a way, for us, that was good, because we did not salivate at entering and were not tempted to purchase any chocolate. Well, that is not entirely true.
Just the same morning while at Physical Therapy the discussion of ‘Tootsie Pops’ came up. Don’t ask me why. I don’t remember. But my Physical Therapist – Eddy – said he had never had a ‘Tootsie Pop’. A Tootsie Roll yes – but never a Tootsie Pop. And wouldn’t you know it – right there in the middle of the store was a selection of Tootsie Pops. I couldn’t resist and I bought one – 25 cents – and will give it to him soon. (It managed to fit into my fanny pack, so I was not burdened by the weight for the rest of the trip.)
We continued our meandering in the Village until time to catch the return Coaster to Solana Beach. While waiting at the depot, we talked to some interesting people. A newcomer to San Diego wanted to know if it was ok to leave their car in the parking lot overnight while they visited the Gas Lamp Area for the weekend; an older woman that had a dog that she was going to take on the Coaster with her. I asked if it was permissible to take him, and she said she was told that as long as he did not sit on a seat it was fine.
We purchased our return tickets not to Solana Beach, but to Old Town. We said that if we were told that was not permissible we would purchase a third ticket, but, true to form, no one asked us for our ticket on the Carlsbad to Solana Beach route. We expected, when we deboarded, that we would also look around Solana Beach, have a bite to eat, and then reboard on the next Coaster to Old Town. However, in retrospect, we should have gotten off in Encinitas instead of Solana Beach, because there was nothing close to the train station and we found that we walked quite a bit looking for someplace to have lunch. (We could see many different places in Encinitas that would have been fun.)
We asked several people walking on the street in Solana Beach to recommend a place to eat, and two people suggested that we go to ‘Claire’s’ for lunch. However, when we arrived there, after walking 1/2 mile or so, they were closing. We walked back toward the train station and ate at another place that will be reviewed shortly.
After having our lunch, we walked back to the train station, and passed a tiny Italian restaurant, ‘Caffe’ La Bocca’ just around the corner from where we ate lunch. They featured handmade Gelato Ice Cream and the smells emanating from this tiny place were so tantalizing we had to stop in.
Now mind you, we had just left the place where we had lunch, and I think if we were not so full, the smells would have tempted us to try an entrée. A woman that just ordered their special of the day – vegetarian pizza – that looked fantastic. She said it was wonderful tasting, and I sat with my back to her so that I would not have to see her eating it. Ro and Irene tried the salted caramel Gelato, and I had a scoop of the chocolate hazelnut Gelato. The Gelatos were wonderful, and we will add Caffe La Bocca to our itinerary when we return.
We went back to the train station and people watched while waiting for the Coaster. I think there must have been something in our Gelato because we were giddy; made up stories about the people waiting for the Coaster; wondered what the Office Building across the street named ‘web bush’ must make and by the time we were finished, we were hysterical. I should add that Ro is a redhead so we had lots of ideas about the building.
There were a lot of people getting on the Coaster because the Padres were playing and almost everyone getting on – or already on – was going to the game. The return trip was noisy; the sun was shining on the windows and we could not see the ocean as well as when we went up to Carlsbad, but it was fun. Eavesdropping on others conversations was also fun – and our giddiness prevailed throughout the return trip.
Irene had never taken pictures with her cell phone, so decided she would take a few; then didn’t know what to do with them. Thankfully – or maybe not – Ro knew how to send them to our cells, and when we arrived home some of the most god-awful pictures were waiting for us. We have decided not to let Irene take any more pictures! And, once again, no one asked to see our tickets. Monica, my student, told me this morning that seldom is she asked for her ticket when she takes the trolley – which she takes daily.
I can see how time-consuming it would be to have someone collecting tickets, but since the Coaster was almost completely full because of the Padre game, I wonder just how much money is being lost by using the ‘honor’ system. Certainly we saw many people get on the Coaster without purchasing a ticket, but they could have had a monthly pass – as Monica has – or bought a ticket earlier. It is interesting to note, however, that our tickets were only good for 2 hours from the time we purchased them to the time they expired.
There is no question that we will take another Coaster ride soon. The Carlsbad Street Fair is May 1st. That would be an easy trip and be a lot of fun.
True, it would limit our purchases, but we wouldn’t fight the traffic, parking, and would still be able to take advantage of everything the Fair had to offer. Yes! It was a great day and we are all looking forward to doing it again. One other tidbit that you don’t need to know but if you have read this far you’ll be told anyway: By 8:30pm I was in bed; 2 Motrin consumed to stop the aches and pains the muscles that hadn’t been used for awhile were feeling, and slept right through the night.
If for no other reason but to have a good night sleep, I am looking forward to another trip on the Coaster.