Cabrillo National Monument – San Diego, CA


It’s that time again! Time for my (almost ) yearly pilgrimage to visit my college friends, H- and B-, wherever they may be.  This time it happens to be San Diego!  For those of you who’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’ll recognize H- and B- from some of the trips I’ve taken to see them like when they were working at Zion National Park, and then again when they were living in Rhode Island.  This time, the Navy has taken them, and their new baby, to San Diego.  I had never been to the West Coast before, so I was super excited to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time in addition to visiting my friends and playing with the baby.

I arrived in San Diego on Saturday afternoon.  H- and B- were waiting for me at the airport and, after a quick and delicious lunch/dinner cheesesteak (which may be best I’ve ever had), they whisked me away to Cabrillo National Monument (no rest for the jet-lagged 😉 ).

Best cheesesteak ever! Take my word for it :)
Best cheesesteak ever! Take my word for it 🙂

For those of you (like myself before this trip) who have never heard of Cabrillo National Monument, it exists to commemorate the first time a European expedition landed on the West Coast of the United States.  That expedition was headed by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer/conquistador, and landed in San Diego on September 28, 1542.

The San Francisco Bay as seen from Cabrillo NM
The San Diego Bay as seen from Cabrillo NM
San Diego Bay
San Diego Bay

Upon arriving, we headed over to the visitor’s center where I soaked in views of the San Diego Bay for the first time.  The weather was beautiful and it was amazing to see so much of the city at once.  We then walked over to the monument itself, which is a 14ft statue of Cabrillo looking inland, I suppose to represent the actual landing.

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After taking pictures with the monument, we then climbed the hill to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.  Constructed in 1855, the lighthouse is the highest point in the park and was functional until 1891.  Today the lighthouse stands as a museum, which was pretty fascinating to see.  I especially enjoyed the exhibit on the different kinds of lenses used in lighthouses.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse as seen from the Cabrillo NM statue

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We were at Cabrillo NM at the wrong time of day/tide to visit the tide pools (depressions where water is trapped during low tide), but we did drive down the tide pool access road so I could see the Pacific Ocean for the first time.  I’m not often at a loss for words, but in that moment when H- was asking me what I thought, all I could say was “It’s so big!”  The more I think about it, there is something about the Pacific, even more so than the Atlantic, which embodies vastness when you’re standing on the shore gazing out at the horizon.  The waves alone are so much bigger than what I’ve personally see on the East Coast, and seeing them crash along the rocky shoreline evoked images of surfer movies.  There are many things about trips over the years that I have forgotten or will forget, but seeing the Pacific for the first time will never be one of them.  I can guarantee it.

The Pacific
The Pacific
The Pacific

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