A Whale’s Vagina – 2013

Erin and I had quite the journey on Tuesday, January 8, once we arrived at the airport in San Diego (which according to Ron Burgandy, is German for a whale’s vagina).  It began with making a decision on how to get to our hotel.  Anyone in their sane mind takes a cab to the hotel if there is no shuttle available.  Of course, I opted for the more adventurous bus ride. Stone Brewery in Escondido was our only destination of the evening.  However, the challenge was to get there without renting a car or taking a cab, because both of these options were too expensive for our budget.  

After dumping our stuff off at the Hilton in the Historic Gaslamp Quarter, we caught the green route trolley to the Fashion Valley stop.  Here, we waited several minutes for the 20 bus to Del Lago, except that it didn’t go  all the way to Del Lago.  Well short of Del Lago, the bus driver told us to get off and follow the other people to another stop if we wanted to continue.  Another several minutes, and another bus 20 (this one I guess to take us the rest of the way) picked us up.  What seemed like forever passed before we arrived in Del Lago.  
It was painful watching the time tick by, knowing that every second that passed was another second that couldn’t be spent at Stone, and would have to be matched on the return journey home.  Luckily, in Del Lago, there was a quick transfer to the 350 bus, that took us to the main station in Escondido.  This was the last bus that was on our list of instructions, but once we hopped on and asked the bus driver, he informed us that we would have to transfer to the 353 in Escondido station.  That took another 10 minutes.  Bus 353 finally put us on the door step of Stone’s World Bistro & Gardens.  However, we only had 2 hours before the last 353 would be going the other direction.  
Erin and her Ruination
With the money saved through the use of San Diego and the surrounding area’s transportation system, we splurged on dinner.  We ordered the Grilled Peach Arugula Salad, the Garlic, Chedder, and Stone Ruination IPA soup, and some Fried Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Cheese from this amazing menu just for the appetizers.  I had a Stone Smoked Porter while Erin drank a shorty of Stone IPA.  For our entrees, Erin had the Artisanal Sausage Platter and I had the Wild Mushrooms over Penne dish.  I enjoyed that over an Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale from Stone.  For dessert, we ordered the Smoked Oregon Blue Cheese & Jalapeno Tart.  With dessert, Erin indulged herself with her favorite Ruination IPA.  It was a good thing she did, because the long adventure home was long and cold with nothing but a bed to look forward to.  
On Wednesday, after the morning session at the Joint Mathematical Meetings (yes, I did actually go to the conference everyday), we had lunch at Monkey Paw.  A graduate school friend and colleague, Nathan Carter, joined us for lunch.  We walked about a mile to get to Monkey Paw, and arrived 20 minutes before they opened.  That was enough time to snap these few shots outside.  Indoors, we found there were only two Monkey Paw brews on tap (along with several guest beers).  We tried both of them, the Bekantan Farmhouse Ale and the Sweet Georgia Brown.  I enjoyed them both with some wings and a salad.  
After a very mundane afternoon session at the JMM, we decided to travel to Ocean Beach and eat at Pizza Port.  This is a fantastic brewery which has four locations (fifth coming soon) and a bottle shop.  It is very unique in that each new location begins a new brewery brewing different beers, but keeps the same great tasting menu.  We ordered a sampler of 8 of the Ocean Beach beer selection and two small pizzas that we shared: the Garlic Veggie Pizza and the Pizza Vallarta.  We finished the evening off at The Beer Co. back in downtown San Diego.  Here you can see our sampler of 8 with Pleepleus.  
Pleepleus and his Pizza Port Beer Sampler

Erin had to bid me farewell on Thursday morning to return to work in Kirksville.  I hooked up with my graduate school colleague and friend Greg Lyng for lunch and beer at The Hopping Pig.  Erin had got a quick taste of this the afternoon before (while I was at a conference), so I wanted to check it out.  This was one of my favorite places, and is one that I would frequent a lot if I lived in San Diego.  It was small and cozy, with a small plate menu and about 24 great beers on tap.  During our 2 hour lunch, I had some Organic Greens and three drafts, one of which was a 90 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head.

Thursday afternoon I got in touch with my childhood friend Pepper, who I hadn’t seen since I was 15.  He works in La Jolla and lives in Encinitas.  Since he knew I liked Pizza Port, he suggested the Solana Beach location and I was all about a second round.  I took a Coaster from San Diego which got me to Pizza Port at 5:10pm ahead of Pep.  I ordered a Seaside Stout, which was a gold medal winner at the GABF in 2011.  Pep arrived when I was halfway through my Swami’s IPA.  He ordered a beer and we sat and talked for about an hour before we decided to get a pizza.  I think we settled for a medium Pizza Monterey.  He only had 3 slices and made me eat the 5th.  Sometime before 8pm we decided to call it a night.  I caught the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner back to San Diego for $12 and got some sleep.

Me and Pepper after 20 years

As soon as I got in, I got off the train and walked straight to The Yard House to meet colleagues Scott and Tom (also there for the JMM).  This place had 130 beers on tap.  I had a sampler of 3 shorties before we walked back to our hotels to call it a night.

Friday was my busiest day at the JMM, and I got the most out of the conference.  By 5:45 I was ready to have some fun, and was glad that Scott wanted to join me on an adventure to the north part of San Diego.  He met me outside my hotel around 6:30 and I talked him into hopping on the 2 bus to go to Toronado.  This place was similar in a way to The Hopping Pig with an offering of small plates, an amazing beer selection, and a small and cozy atmosphere.  If it were close to where I lived, it would definitely be a place I would frequent.  The 2 bus then took us back toward downtown with a quick stop at Hamiltons Tavern.  This was too small and too popular of a place for Scott and I at that moment in our lives.  It was very crowded and made us feel old.  We had a beer anyway.  At an earlier and less crowded hour, this place would have been a blast.  Scott and I capped the night off with a few beers back at The Yard House for our second night in a row.

Before my flight on Saturday I had breakfast at The Mission, which is one of the best 25 breakfast spots in the country according to USA Today.  I definitely thought it was a great end to my trip.  The coffee and breakfast selection was amazing.  I only wished Erin and I had found it while she was here!

The JMM will be back San Diego, probably in 5 years.  So will I.  See you then.

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