alright del boy

hotel del coronado

We spent a couple of days in Coronado, San Diego, at the amazing Hotel Del Coronado (commonly known just as the “Del”). We stayed pretty socially distanced – we got a fantastic room that opened right out to the ocean, with a firepit for toasting marshmallows (we made delicious s’mores). It was a once in a lifetime type of hotel room, not huge, but pretty spectacular. Coronado is pretty spectacular. The weather was beautiful (February and in the high 70s), the sunsets incredible. I didn’t draw much; we relaxed, had cocktails, looked at the sea. I did do a little sketching – I went out to the beach and looked back, and did a quick sketch which I added to later, of the Del itself. It’s a historic building (the movie Some Like It Hot was filmed here), and one that my wife has wanted to stay in all her life. This was her birthday trip and we all enjoyed it here. The Pacific Ocean was cold but we still splashed our feet in it. The sand itself glistened with a strange metallic golden sheen, I think there must be a lot of shiny minerals in this particular sand. It was also full of these strange little round objects I had never seen before, but that my son told me are ‘sand dollars’. Beautiful, delicate little things, so I drew a few of them. Apparently there are legends about these things, also called sea biscuits, that they are the currency of mermaids or from the lost city of Atlantis, I mean they might be I suppose.

sand dollars coronado beach

On the way to san Diego we did stop at one historic Mission, the Mission San Juan Capistrano. It’s pretty big with a lot to see; it’s pretty expensive too, and cost almost $40 for the three of us to go in. I had to get at least one sketch. Much of the older parts are just rubble, destroyed by an earthquake not that long after it was founded (they must have known even then not to rebuild those bits, so they could charge people a lot to have a look at them years later). Still, these historic places need a lot of upkeep and we want them to be open for us to see and learn from, so it’s worth it I suppose. I had been reading a Bill Bryson book on this trip, and he regularly infuriated me whenever he would turn up at a museum he had taken a while to get to, then baulked at a small entrance fee and refused to go in, before going off to a cafe to complain about their sandwich prices and moan at serving staff for not understanding punctuation, or something. Seriously, Bryson.

mission san juan capistrano, south of LA

encore legoland

Legoland Ninjago Land

Here are the last few sketches from the vacation in San Diego. The last couple of days were spent at Legoland, with two nights at the Legoland Hotel. It was a lot fun. It was our third time there, but this time they had recently built Ninjago Land, which, if you’ve followed any of my Lego sketches, was always going to be a big hit with us. The Ninjago ride itself was fun, a bit like one of those ones where you have to blast targets, except with this you use your hands rather than blasters. I sketched this on the second day when the tiredness was sinking in, the rest of the family went to the hotel for a rest and I sketched in the park. I added colour later on when I was exhausted, as you can totally tell.

Legoland Robosaur

Above, a big robotic dinosaur, about fifteen or twenty feet high, I don’t know, I’m bad at judging height. Hundred feet maybe. We spent a lot of time in the pool areas, the water park, and no matter the sunscreen my head still got red. I think it left me a bit frazzled. So on the last day there, we spent time at the hotel pool and I for once did not get in, rather I sketched from the sidelines. And then, we flew back home to Davis. I like vacations.

Legoland Hotel

coronado, old town and the zoo

San Diego Coronado Beach
More from San Diego. So one of the nicest places there is Coronado, an island city with an absolutely stunning beach. It might be the best beach in the United States. We had a lovely time playing on the beach in the sunshine, and I did a sketch of the historic Hotel del Coronado, “the Del” as my wife kept calling it (nothing to do with Southampton’s old ground, the Dell). It was built in 1888! Back then Jack the Ripper was doing his ripping, the Football League just started leaguing football, the lawn tennis association was founded on a lawn, and Katz’s deli opened in New York, not serving cats. Yes, it’s been around a long time. I sketched it with my feet in the actual Pacific Ocean. I would love to some day sketch the bar area, spend a bit of time doing that, but we had places to go. I did however see a bird flying around inside which flew directly into a window with a thud, cartoon like. I didn’t see it recovering, but I imagined it was on the floor all dazed with little tiny people running around its head. Poor little bird.
San Diego, Angela at Coronado Brewing

We visited the Coronado Brewing Company, who had lovely beer and food. I drank a Belgian Impaler (while Belgium lost to Italy on the TV nearby) and sketched my wife (above). I ate a lovely mac and cheese dish.

IMG_0810

A few days later we visited Old Town San Diego. I didn’t do much sketching, other than at lunch. We went to a very colourful cantina restaurant and were serenaded by a couple of Mexican guitarists while we ate. I drew the scene opposite. Mexico is really close by to San Diego, in fact it backs right up to it, conurbating into Tijuana across the border.
San Diego Old Town
Here are some other sketches I did. We of course went to the Zoo, and it really is a lovely zoo. My favourite animals were the pandas, and the elephants. My son loved the Komodo Dragon. I did a few quick sketches in pencil with a little bit of colour.
San Diego ZooSan Diego Zoo

I have a few more sketches from our trip, from Legoland, but on the whole I mostly relaxed, swam in the pool, had the odd cocktail and didn’t check my email all week. Wicked.

vacation time in san diego

SD quivira basin view

We needed a vacation, away from it all, so we went to San Diego for a week of pool, beach, Legoland, zoo, and cooler weather than we’ve been getting in bloody sweltering Davis. We’ve been to San Diego one time before, seven years ago, when I went for a conference in La Jolla and we stayed to visit my wife’s uncle. This time we saw different areas, and it was lovely. I’m not done scanning the sketches, but here are a couple of ones I did at our hotel. We stayed at the Hyatt Mission Bay resort which overlooked a lovely harbour from our balcony. I sketched from the balcony one early evening, the sound of a sea-lion perched on a buoy honking away in the distance.

SD Mission Bay Hyatt

Waking up early was the usual thing to do in the mornings, because the football was on the TV, but it was also nice to go for a stroll around the marina, and I sketched the view of the Hyatt complex, joined by my urban sketching son. A pretty nice place.

wouldn’t it be nice

balboa park, san diego museum of man

After all the modern US corporate architecture in La Jolla’s conference district it was actually a bit of a surprise to come face to face with magnificent decorated buildings from the mid 1600s no less right in the heart of San Diego. Well, it is pretty much where California began (and still begins). We didn’t spend very long at Balboa Park, but long enough to see what an increcible place it is – I could spend all day there, drawing, it’s a sketcher’s dream. I stopped outside the Museum of Man, with its ornate down and ridiculously Churrigueresque entrance and tower, aka the California Tower. To coin a phrase, phebleedingnominal. However, san diego balboa parkit turns out that this building isn’t as old as the other one I saw (which actually was from the 1600s according to its sign), but this building was finished in the early 20th century for some world fair. Still, well worth a sketch. Two in fact; I did the one above in copic 01, while the thumb on the right was done in brown micron.

It’s funny, you know. You think of Southern California and all those people who get facelifts and plastic surgery and so on to look younger; the buildings on the other hand want to look older. Maybe that’s what the Beach Boys were singing about.

I didn’t get much other drawing done in San Diego. We did drive through the cool-looking Gaslamp District and visited the Seaport Village, which was nice; some other time perhaps. San Diego looks well worth another visit. Next time, when our boy’s older, we’ll go to the zoo.

walk of shame

hyatt la jolla I went to a conference in Southern California, as people often do. It was in La Jolla, the wealthy northern part of the San Diego sprawl. I am told it has a wonderful coastline; I barely saw it. I did spend a lot of time in the big tall hotel and big wide road district though. I didn’t stay in the hotel where the conference took place, but in another equally large and corporate one, a short walking distance away (or so it seemed from Google Street View). What you don’t take into account are the massive wide roads, and how America really is not designed for pedestrians; La Jolla more than most. The roads have about five hundred lanes, and you have to wait several months for the red hand to become a white man, which it does for the briefest of moments before flashing back again, ‘hurry up, come on, there’s cars want to get moving here you inconvenient pedestrian’. That’s if there even is a crosswalk; on a couple of occasions there was nothing but a sign telling the weary walker to turn back several leagues and cross via the overhead walkway, which sounds nice until you discover there is no way onto the walkway from the street, no steps, just a grass verge and some sort of swanky polished mall or shiny bank office. Tactics were necessary in order to simply cross the road. This short walk was becoming a mensa puzzle. I finally arrived at the conference with tired feet, but a much sharper mind. And yet in the only moment I could grab to sketch, all I could draw was a bland hotel courtyard hidden by part of a palm tree.