Oceanside, CA – A new place to visit. 

It seems a likely city for dwelling upon after traveling through; or, perhaps it’s just a small city in which to visit, because it seems to be a very popular thing to do nowadays.
Oceanside, CA has become quite the eclectic and amusing little beach city that was once just a place to avoid, unless you were a young US Marine on a night of liberty, or perhaps a wanderer that is looking from something free to keep you going, . . . or hopefully keep moving on. Not that the city has changed significantly from the past, but it seems likely it will continue to grow in the direction of the hopeful visitor desiring to get a quick escape.

Oceanside is now worthy of a visit for almost anyone nowadays. I recommend making a stop and getting out of the car to walk around. That’s just what we did. The city’s location to the Pacific Ocean, the beach, and now the destination. Oceanside possesses one of the few worthy piers along the Southern California coast; and now fresh resorts, upscale diners, eateries, tap-houses and breweries. Seems like Oceanside is a likely place for not only those young Marines, but their families as well. Don’t get me wrong; Oceanside is still a thing clinging to its rich history of the past, but I don’t think it’s because of the city’s planning commission, but rather the buildings that are still owned and occupied by the same businesses that have focused for so long in providing support (politically correct) or preying on the dollars of those young Marines. You see, Oceanside is in close proximity to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in which those Marines are temporarily stationed while in their ground force training mode, or those stationed here with the operating forces that make up the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (1 MEF) or the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW).

Having recently walked the streets through the beach area of Oceanside along CA Hwy 1 (AKA Pacific Coast Highway as I have known it for so many years) there are so many people walking out on a Friday night that it is almost as scary as it was of the years past. Now, there are a lot of folks just meandering around, and others just hanging out to watch the people walking around . . . there are just a lot of people. Yes there are still Marines, there are still vagrants and there are still hookers; but there are well to do folks walking those streets visiting places like Barrel Republic https://www.facebook.com/Barrel-Republic-Oceanside-123753537955680/timeline/ barrelwhich is a spin-off of their Pacific Beach location but with food service that looked decent. We didn’t try the food, but may perhaps return to do so. There is also Masters Kitchen and Cocktails that served up some inspiring grub in a beautifully restored building. Masters has a pretty neat story to go along with their menu here: http://www.mastersoceanside.com/our-story/. There’s always some old standbys like 333 Pacific (awesome cocktails and food) https://cohnrestaurants.com/333pacific333masters2 and just off of PCH is The Flying Pig (long been a favorite of ours) http://flyingpigpubkitchen.com/.flying pig1

These are just few names of the establishments that have popped up over the last few years that have helped Oceanside turn the corner and made this city a place to visit, especially if you haven’t been here for a long time. There is so much to do and see here now, enough to keep you coming back; because each visit you will discover something new, or you may talk to someone that has a great recommendation, or perhaps you may just not get to them all.

And don’t forget the great area along the sand beneath that awesome pier. And you have to walk the pier just to read some of the engraved names and dates of the donors that have helped pay for the maintenance and restoration of the pier over the years. It’s a nice afternoon, or after-dinner walk.

Check out what Oceanside has to offer. You might just appreciate what you have been missing.

Dicks

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Living in VC and not taking the “teleworking” advantage lunch in 1.35 minutes!

Having arose from the ashes and settling atop the fire, I have found what I believe to be one of the advantages of living here in Valley Center (VC). However, I seem to have a distinct advantage over many, if not all of those other employees that think they got it going on. I am now teleworking. Or tele-commuting or whatever your so called boss thinks you’re doing when, “working at home”.

Living in VC presents many families or individuals the opportunity to work from home, or from “the” home. There are some of the best citizens here in VC that all seem to do something, even if it means staying at home. Yes, just to clear the fog, you Moms and Dads out there are doing something too. I regress . . . Anyway the point is, all of us moved to this area out here because it’s country. It’s about something that you have that your neighbor doesn’t necessarily share. It might be the mower. It might be the view. It might even be the quiet. Some of us have horses while some of us might have a nursery. Some of us might not have much of anything to show for what we work for, but we have our country.

Having grown up in this part of the country for many years (Temecula since 1976) I was raised a spoiled surfer since birth. I first lived along the Palos Verde peninsula beach and inland areas of San Pedro, Hermosa, Redondo, Lomita, etc. So having moved to Temecula, I became pretty used to having property around me since I began to drive. Yup, everything was dirt roads and my Baja Bug. Even the wife and I (married in Temecula) have been traveling throughout much of the North San Diego County since we started driving, then dating. When my wife and I had left Temecula, they had just got their first stop light. On the corner of Rancho California Rd. and Front St. There are many more stories about Temecula. Perhaps someday.

What my friend and companion (wife) of so many years and I have come to realize is living in VC is great (actually way more expletive). Since we live much closer to the freeway than most, it’s great. I know it can’t be as great for some of us if living somewhere in the VC area that takes 20 minutes on a good day with that Bear Valley tail wind just to get to the freeway. That’s what has led many, or given many, of us an opportunity to pursue alternative methods for obtaining income. Noooo, this isn’t some upper-desert cheap housing crack-factory kind of town. This is the kind of town that puts on some boots and does some diggin’. The kind of folks here that desire better things and work hard for it. These are the kind of neighbors that will still come and pull you out with the truck or tractor when you need it.

Folks here in VC might be in construction or they might be financial advisors. They may be somewhere in between. Something they do allows them to work at or from their home. Like me, I can now tele-work. Or it might be called teleworking. Or it might be called working from home. Whatever it is . . . it’s great. Having recently decided that this writing condition I have will not diminish again for the time being. I have found to be writing more and more just as there may perhaps be an author amongst us here in VC. Again the point I’m trying to make is I have just discovered this special thing about teleworking I have been given. This special aspect (that’s a big word) that gives me that advantage over most tele-commuting or teleworking along side of me here in VC.

When teleworking I have found that I can get more work done and remain focused on my tasks until I have a distraction, of course. Here at home the distractions only come about every so often. The dogs want to go out. The dogs want to come in. Oh crap, . . . the trash man. Occasionally, and only if your boss trusts you and doesn’t rely on your every moment, you can actually get a lot more done without the stupid people coming into your office (cube). But you are somehow still at work; perhaps connected by the email that can also distract from tasks. It’s then that I had realized the heaven in what I have here now.

Finally, after getting a break from my day of teleworking routine that began with checking email at 3am and included the physical training (PT) of walking up my hill three times without stopping around 8:30 today before it got hot. Then driving to Temecula and back for explaining my most recent changes to one of the environmental courses I am putting together, brought me home right at noon today.

I was hungry, but the dogs wanted to go out (it’s that whole Pavlov’s Dog thing). Ha, ha; these are the days of our teleworking lives. What got me thinking about how different I am, was just before I had decided to make myself some kind of lunch. I began to think of what I would have available to me in the refrigerator since I’m not accustomed to purchasing my lunch. Yes, I am a leftover guy. I’m the one that everyone croons over as the microwaved steam emits from my tuppers  while scurrying back to my desk  for fear of an eminent attack. The croons would be coming from the lunch-roomites that either consume their daily fast food or their microwavable frozen dinners. Very few would ever bring leftovers as apposed to me; I would almost always have leftovers. Duh, the shit I cook is friggin great most of the time. The stuff my wife makes is great (she’s learned a thing or two from you know who). So why would I not heat it up a bit and enjoy what I had the other night? Makes sense to me. We have even stopped, for the most part, eating dinners at home now since we only have one more child remaining on board. He is now driving and has pretty much found his solace and focus to attend the college of his desires, so he’s off gallivanting with other seniors of the VCHS Varsity Football team. They too are hustling for position at their university of choice.

telework1So I had mentioned that I have this advantage. The advantage of knowing how to cook. And the advantage that my leftovers for the day are again a combination of a couple of good meals we had reserved from the weekend. My wife had made a parmesan polenta the other day for another meal, and I had native oak-grilled a couple of tri-tip for a party and reserved a bit for our family. I also had grilled some zucchini that needed to be acted upon when making the tri-tips. Now here’s why it is so special. I would normally take everything jammed into a plastic microwaveable container and basically stick it all in the office break room microwave oven. Normally I would set it, and forget it for about 3 or 4 minutes. After it was heated for the full time allotted (there’s other people waiting for the microwave) I would drag whatever conglomeration resulted back to my desk and huddle over it, consuming it before it had a chance to cool. Ok, sounds like everyone else’s normal lunchtime routine, unless you’re one of those break room avengers that use the lunch hour for social anarchy.

Today, my lunch took all but 1 minute and 35 seconds to prepare. I heated the polenta in the tupper (lid cocked) for 1 minute. Gave it a stir since it had enough liquid from the previous preparation, and plated it while the beef, I had sliced very thin across the grain, was heating until I stopped it at 35 seconds. I gave that trip tip a quick tossing in its juices then plated that atop the polenta. I topped it with bottled BBQ sauce and cold sliced zucchini. This was heaven. As if I had just paid $13 for this at some gastro pub. But it was better. Everything was super hot and very flavorful. Everything was free . . . and it was mine. I think the plate took about 90 seconds to consume. It was that good.telework2

Now I ask you, “what’s in your lunchbox?”

Dicks

The Good – Lawton/Fort Sill Oklahoma. 

Let us begin by saying,  if you’re not trying, you’re dying. Meaning, there are many many food establishments in the Lawton/Fort Sill area. Fortunately this place in San Diego (SAN) terminal got us off to a great start with some “just right” bloody Mary’s.

theugly1tsa7Unfortunately, there are so many bad places to eat in Lawton/Fort Sill, and only a couple good; and since there really is no other critdick out there in them parts, we had to rely on Yelp to help direct us to the best places to eat. And, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I really hate Yelp.

After leaving San Diego, I couldn’t imagine, just now getting off an aircraft flying at 40,000 feet, expecting anything less than a good cocktail, or a sandwich . . . or something. The wife and I had an anticipated 1 hour, turned to a 3.5-hour layover. As we were jockeyed around between the gates we happened upon the DFW USO Post and briefly stopped in to see what this USO thing was really all about as we observed several older folks at the entrance. We inquired within.thegood10

I guess we happened upon one of the top-rated USO posts at an airport. We were pleasantly greeted and given a coupon for a hot sandwich, drink and bag of chips. Cool, lets see what they have. The wife got a pizza-bread thing and I got THE LAST CHICKEN SANDWICH. Score! The volunteer servers told us exactly how many seconds for the micro-wave, and BAM! A hot  sandwich . . . for freeeee! We also found the USO to be a place we could drop our bags off, or watch TV on a recliner, play a video game or even sit in a message recliner. Remember this USO is perhaps strategically placed in front of the now infamous Gate B15. I think this is the gate in and out of Lawton/Fort Sill. And then there’s always plenty of bottled water and quick-grab airline samples of crackers, nuts and whatnot at the USO. Those were mostly stuffed into our flight bags, for the next leg into Lawton/Fort Sill where we found similar services of a local military services assistance station.

We were lucky to get to get the last rent-a-car and quickly found our way to our hotel. Our stay at the Best Western Plus in Lawton/Fort Sill had a staff that really made our stay enjoyable. First order of business was to find the bar . . . and we were pleased that the cocktail server that evening was very friendly, inviting and mentioned “the special”. I think it was two-for-one domestic beer. Hell, I’ll take that . . . and give me one for the wife. I think we were outta there for right about fifteen bucks, including a fair tip; we ARE going to get two more beers, for freeeeee! I’m beginning to like this trip . . .

So let’s get first order of business underway . . . oh yeah, we did. Then onto the next thing is to find our son . . . he is about to be a U.S. Army Soldier. Right on . . . I hope he finds his place and . . .

We head for Fort Sill. Finding your way around a military installation has always been a bit challenging because the civil engineering (e.g. roads and building seeming placed without concern for other roads and buildings) on a military installation is always interesting. But Fort Sill has some very old history, and very historically old buildings. I was fascinated as I drove throughout the installation in search of 1) Our Son who is graduating and 2) the Exchange for some water, for now . . . and beer for later (to find out it’s all 3.2 abv). Ok, grab something tolerable and a bottle of wine for the wife . . . ha, ha, ha, and another bottle opener (see previous stories about air travel and cock screws). And 3) Find Geronimo’s grave, having now seen the sign.

Well our first meal was less than “the Good” list today. But our second attempt at Yelp reviews brought us to Firo. Firo is a similar; albeit exactly like the craze in California, of making personal pizzas quickly (i.e. 8 minutes) in a super hot oven. The crusts are firm, reasonably thin and crunchy. But the topping are selected by the now “touch point” involving the customer just like Subway sandwiches. You pick everything from the sauce, meats and vegetables. And they don’t skimp. You want more, just ask for more. thegood8Firo was relatively new but a new name on the block of these types of pizza. They’re just doing it in Lawton/Fort Sill. Firo was so new they even hand wrote large numbers (i.e. #42) with a felt tip marker on a sheet of paper for the customer to stick in their table number holder once back at their own selected seat. The counter cashier had explained they were so new, they were waiting for their plastic table numbers to arrive; and the pen thing was just a temporary solution. I told them to keep doing it on paper because that’s another thing that makes Firo different. Someone’s going to have to tell me if they continue . . .unless, I get back the Lawton/Fort Sill before hand; but I don’t think that will happen.thegood9

Check out Firo on your visit. They also had this gelato counter that was unique for this style of “California” pizza. Our pizzas were really good. We didn’t think about the gelato until after we had left. I’m sure it is as good as the pizza. Next time!!!

Another of our quests was to find my Son some Mexican food. First of all, let me begin this part of the story by explaining that my Son is from Southern California. Has always had a weak link for Mexican food done the California taco shop way. Hell, they’re sometimes three taco shops in the same block in Southern California. Now, to find something acceptable in Oklahoma? As a reminder, California has an extremely large Mexican population, especially in areas surrounding the  farmlands north of Los Angeles. Not here in Oklahoma. The farms here have been in families for years . . . and there are few Mexicans. And there’s only one real Mexican food taco shop here in Lawton/Fort Sill. And we knew to be leery because we have had Mid-West Mexican food before; and I’m not talking Tex-Mex either.

thegood7

We found Yelp to have been dead-on accurate about Guadalajara Taqueria. A 4.5 star rating on Yelp with a lot of reviews . . . in Lawton/Fort Sill? That’s pretty good. We immediately knew we had hit the mother-load when the greeter/server/busser and emotional Irma quickly identified us as not from around Lawton/Fort Sill. Irma asked where we were from. We said California. I too noticed her accent was not from Oklahoma either, so I asked where she was from. She said Oxnard. Holy Shit . . . we really hit the mother-load. Oxnard, CA has a huge farmland community, with a heavy Mexican population, and taco shops on every corner. Taco shops even pop up in the middle of the night in Oxnard. Then began our very good Mexican taco shop meal at the sit-down trailer where they first opened. But, they just bought a new building and were then to hope to quickly move. So look for Guadalajara Taqueria at the new building. thegood3

thegood5Guadalajara Taqueria also had a unique idea . . . at least we’ve never seen it. The salsa was served along with a refill carafe at your table. Now I’d have to research whether the refill carafe conforms to sanitary safety regulations, and if they can legitimately  be refilled or whatever . . . but I liked having more, all ready to go. They also had Valentino’s on the table. Just before placing our order I also noticed the beer in the refrigerator . . . yup, authentic California Mexican cuisine, or as close as I’m going to get. thegood4

Now let’s see if they can live up to the food. Irma recommended Guadalajara Taqueria’s signature dish of basically mixed Fajitas, with a twist. While the beef, chicken and 12-14 count shrimp were all plentiful and quite flavorful, there was a foreign object (FOD for you NAVAIR folk) on my plate. There was a summer sausage/hot dog thing on the plate. I thought, was that the signature? It wasn’t big. I was . . . odd. I tasted it and that was all . . . otherwise a very plentiful plate.

The accoutrements that accompanied the dish included flavorful rice and homemade beans; although the lettuce plate (a lot of lettuce) was topped with a very small dollop of guacamole (which is somewhat normal), but an extremely small (tea-spoon size) portion of the pico de gallo. The flavors were all there, just kinda killed me with the lack of pico. Oh well, the carne asada burrito my son ordered was large and good. We had French fries added to the burrito, and Irma kinda questioned that one . . . maybe I’m on her side . . . I say, “Irma, in San Diego, we call that a California Burrito”. “Oh, Ok then”, she replies. My wife had the very large tostada salad and again said the chicken was terrific. We enjoyed our “as authentic as it gets here”, one very nice direction-offering patron had told us as we departed. I’m glad my son will have somewhere to target once he gets liberty from the military training on base.

thegood2My son also had a hunkerin’ for a great breakfast. Now feeling as though I have researched enough on Yelp, I had to find the best breakfast. We found Sunrise and Shine. A very plentiful and delicious fatty breakfast to get our day started. The hash was fresh and the potatoes awesome. My wife’s omelet did not let her down. Everything we had for breakfast held Sunrise and Shine at the top of the Yelpers paradigm.

Add to Guadalajara Taqueria, the pizza from Firo and my son and his Soldier “battle buddy” will have at least two places in town for some down-home (California style) fast food and a good breakfast. Now, if we can get my son to start saving some money . . . instead of asking us for $10.

 

There is a lot of good in Lawton/Fort Sill. You just have to look for it.

 

Dicks

 

 

 

 

 

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