I’m sitting with Nikki at Zia Pizza, a boutique pizzeria in Normal Heights, scarfing down my third slice and checking out the weather forecasts for the next few days. What can I say, we live in a multitask world. Nikki and I met a few years back while both separately hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m still friends online with many of the people I met on those hikes, but she’s the only one I’ve seen more than once. The weather reports are not encouraging. Rain. And lots of it. Hmm…
Jacumba Hot Springs, a desert wasteland to even the most enthusiastic of hikers, is the reason behind Nikki’s visit. She wants to see the famed Trestle bridges in Goat Canyon and has convinced me to tag along; this is our planning session. It’s billed as a dangerous hike: no water. extreme treachery (I love this word!), and even highly conflicting reports about the overall distance. I’ve read three reviews and I can state -with very little confidence- the Goat Canyon hike is between 6 and 15.5 miles roundtrip. That’s one hell of range wouldn’t you say? Not especially encouraging on a hike with no water.
This the problem with dime-a-dozen hiking reviews. If you’re going to write a hiking blog, learn what the term “round-trip,” means. Times like this are when the oft-maligned characteristic of ‘credibility,’ suddenly becomes a required necessity in your choice of hiking blogger. Having written a hiking blog that completely ignores most aspects of hiking itself, I know this better than most. Scott Turner, the man behind the new Afoot and Afield in San Diego has become San Diego’s most notable trail master over the years, and his review ends up becoming gospel for Nikki and I, even if it is the only one advocating a legal route that avoids the train tracks.
Zia Pizza calls itself a “gourmet” pizzeria, but thankfully you wouldn’t know it by the price. Nikki’s side of the large pizza we’re sharing has some sort of cured sausage that tastes amazing. I hadn’t been paying much attention when she ordered, so I can’t say for certain what it is. My half, covered in pepperoni and pineapple, is excellent sans the wheat crust. It could have done without that little touch but hey, you don’t know without trying, right.
Nikki drove down from Solana Beach for this planning session and I began by excitedly showing her my new neighborhood, Normal Heights. She’s never come down to this part of San Diego so we spent some time perusing Adams Avenue before landing at Zias Pizza. Coffee at Lestat’s – check. Adams Ave Bookstore -time trap!-check.
Normal Heights, I’ve come to realize, is the pearl of San Diego, and although the stretch of Adams between the 15 and 805 freeways is probably under a mile long, it would take days to see everything that Normal Heights has to offer. That is exactly the reason I’m starting this blog, specifically dedicated to the neighborhood, its businesses, and my thoughts on the community.
I’ve lived in a few different regions of San Diego now: Carlsbad, Rancho Peñasquitos, Poway, Solana Beach, even downtown. But this little area nestled in the city has quickly become my favorite community. And this despite that I can’t easily walk to a trailhead from it.
These rain forecasts are putting a damper on things. Speaking of weather – is anyone else aware that we’ve had buckets more rain this year than last, despite last year being an El Niño year. Crazy. That being said, the rain has brought with it a lush green that is noticeable even in the city. Strolling around the neighborhood with little Tata (my roommate and I’s sweet rescue dog) It’s impossible to be unimpressed with the verdant bloom I’m seeing here in Normal Heights. It makes up for the weeks of straight flooded side walks that plagued my little Tater Tots’ dog walking routes.
As you can see she’s none the worse for wear however.