For reasons that elude me, I've thought for a good few years that San Diego would be my kind of place. So it is even more disappointing that I roll into town feeling in a slight state of limbo. And I am beginning to reconcile myself to the fact that cities are much lonelier to be on your own in than the countryside.
Don't get me wrong; I am more than comfortable travelling alone and rarely feel genuinely lonely. Seeing friendly faces along the way helps, of course. But whilst I can gleefully whittle away the hours in front of the campfire, or hike in blissful solitude, I'm getting a little tired of traipsing around downtowns on my own and sleeping in third rate hotels.
The America's Best Value Inn I'm staying at seems very reasonably priced - it's close to the Gaslamp Quarter and Balboa Park. Five minutes after check in, I'm pretty sure that's because it is directly under the flight path for the nearby airport. The transport infrastructure really pinches San Diego - the shadows of the incoming planes are almost permanent, and the freeways snake around town so you never really feel like you've escaped them.
I wander round the Gaslamp Quarter on my first night looking for somewhere appetising to dine. My choices are endless, but nowhere really appeals. I finally opt for Urban Bar and Grill, a decision I soon regret. I'm enjoying a great shrimp cocktail appetizer when a gormless waiter brings my entree. Farcical exchanges ensue. The next night I decide it's high time I graced Hooters with my patronage: Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.
In the morning I hired a bike and set off around town. I like it. But I can't help but feel myself being drawn forward, to the next part of my trip. This is something I've tried to avoid all year - never plan or think too far ahead, because it robs you of the only thing you truly have - the present. But I can't help it. I even bought a guide book for Japan the other day.
Just to prove that my mind really isn't on the job, I get home and upload my photos, only to discover that I haven't actually taken any. Well, there are a few, but absolutely nothing to convey any sense of the place, or my experience of it.
Whilst I think this is a nice picture, it's a pretty poor indictment of a city that I actually rather like. I guess I'll just have to come back another day.