November 10, 2021- Another signature morning meal, at Harbor Breakfast, this one involving fried oysters, of all things, got the day off to a marvelous start. Armando’s gracious hosting and Maria’s delightful antics and banter were supplemented by conversations with a visitor named Chris, who hails from the Boston area and who works in Saugus, as well as other communities in the area, and with Billy, a Little Italy local who has known the staff for quite some time. Chris and I knew some of the same people, most of whom have passed on. Billy is quite enamoured with Prescott, and has driven his vintage truck there several times. Needless to say, Harbor has joined my pantheon of breakfast establishments-alongside Zeke’s, Bedford Diner, Maple Leaf Cafe and Hammersmith Inn (all of which have stellar lunches, as well). Thus will it be a staple of future San Diego visits.
I headed out of San Diego, a bit after 10 a.m., fortuitously being nudged by traffic onto Rte. 67, which led, in turn, to Rte. 79 and Julian, Penny’s last place of residence before our wedding. I always enjoy a stop in this former mining town, which has since learned to prosper from apple farming and a healthy tourist economy. My main purpose there, this time, was to connect with a group of friends on a Zoom call. Ala, there were no electrical outlets, so using my laptop was not an option-and Zoom is awkward, when used on a mobile phone. The slice of apple pie and coffee were at least a consolation.
The route from Julian to Indio is fairly straightforward, and cuts out about 2/3 of southern California’s I-10. It also offers the cheapest gas in the region at Pit Stop, in the “don’t blink” settlement of Mountain Center. I was therefore not surprised at having to navigate a scrum of drivers, worthy of any strip mall parking lot, in order to get out of the place.
The rest of the way was uneventful, though I pulled into the gas station in Congress, AZ, at the tail end of an incident involving a little girl who had been missing for about ten minutes-and was found to have been just exploring the lot, before getting scared and running back to her grandfather. Congress is one of those small communities where everyone looks out for one another- and they will keep an eye out for visitors’ well-being, too.
These three days were a fine return to southern California. Even with my being far more relaxed these days at Home Base, it is a tonic to be near the ocean, every so often.