Being unable to take a shower in the morning was kind of distressing, but since it was our last day I didn’t care that much. We washed up in the sink as much as possible, and went to have breakfast. We’d seen a really cute place a few blocks away while walking around the previous night, so we headed that direction.
The sun was out during breakfast, but it quickly became overcast, just like it had in LA. There was a storm moving in that evening, so we knew our timing was pretty excellent. (It was the storm that would result in a week of flooding over a lot of the coast.)
We walked through Little Italy again, heading toward a shop we’d also scoped out the night before. We wanted to pick up sandwiches and snacks for the flight.
Did I mention that Little Italy is great? We walked past a group gathered around a podium of speakers, which was apparently a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new pedestrian-only street in the neighborhood. We approved, because it’s a really cute little area with lots of great shops, restaurants, and housing.
(Plus this sign.)
Seeing Christmas decorations in warm-weather places is always confusing to us. We’re going to have to get used to that if we’re moving to the Caribbean, though.
We went into the excellent Mona Lisa Italian Foods to stock up. It was a very Italian store, and I wanted to take everything home with me. (Broders in Minneapolis is pretty good, but not that good.) We bought sandwiches and a couple more bottles of beer to take home with us, and Matt got the duty of carrying the really heavy bag back to the hotel and up to our room. We distributed the items between our carry-ons, at which point I wished I had brought a backpack like Matt, instead of the shoulder bag containing bombers, food, bottles of water and espress, my toiletries, dirty clothes, and the blanket I’d bought the day before.
We checked out of the hotel and headed in the direction of the Santa Fe Depot.
I love this building a lot.
Since we were early for the train, we decided to walk back down to the harbor to have a look in the daytime. Stormy weather was definitely rolling in.
We walked all the way down to the end of the cruise ship pier. It’s always interesting to see buildings like that empty. (There had been a ship there the previous evening, but it had sailed off already.)
I was happy to put my way-too-heavy bag down for a bit. Matt and Bally chilled on the pier while I took pictures.
Then it was time to go back to get our train. When we got back to the depot, our train was sitting there waiting. And it was a double-decker one this time!! I was so excited. We crossed the tracks and headed for it, but were stopped by a crabby conductor who pointed at the line of people standing over by the depot. Apparently that was the boarding process in San Diego. (There were maybe 6 people waiting at San Juan Capistrano, so we didn’t know.) We went to stand in line, and they announced boarding about 5 minutes later.
As we all rushed to the train, Matt pointed out the cafe car also had seating on the upper level. We boarded that one, and found the upstairs nearly empty.
This train was way newer than the one we’d ridden south on. We found seats with the best possible window configuration for a good ocean view, and we were off shortly thereafter. During the boring part of the ride, we went down to the cafe car and got a glass of beer, so that I could enjoy as many beverages as possible.
Though we had a much better view, the weather was nowhere near as nice. We did notice a ton of campsites along the way, and I made a note to do some research on that. (As much as we love San Francisco and LA, I think our next visit should just be to San Diego and environs. It’s such a great walking city, and the beach options are excellent.)
We arrived back in San Juan Capistrano about 1:30, and took our bags up to the car. We still had some time before we needed to head back to LA, so we went over to the mission. It’s one of my favorite places in California, and I was dying for Matt to see it.
This is the view from the parking ramp roof. I love that cute little town.
The sky could’ve done a better job of cooperating, but at least it wasn’t raining.
I probably have 20 different versions of this photo I’ve taken at various times. I’ll keep taking it, too:
Unfortunately we had to rush, but at least Matt got to see it. I resisted shopping at the newly renovated gift shop, and we went back to the car. We hopped back on the interstate and headed north to Costa Mesa, where we had two important stops to make before our flight. The first was Hi-Time Wine, where Matt had his eye on some rum we couldn’t get at home. We bought that and a couple more of those bubble-wrap bottle protectors, since we’d already used the ones I’d brought with me (for beer).
So now we had carry-on bags and a couple more bottles to add to our already-stuffed suitcases. Because we’re super-classy, we dragged our bags out into the parking lot at Hi Time and started re-packing. Conveniently, I had my blanket from San Diego to wrap things in. When both bags weighed in over 50 pounds, we had to resort things again. After some rearranging, we had exactly 100 pounds of luggage in two 50-pound bags (mine was something like 50.9, but I dared Delta to challenge me), and a couple of packed-full carry-on bags. Mine had tiki mugs in it, because we figured they were safer that way.
Our second Costa Mesa stop was a return visit to Taco Asylum, because I had regular fantasies about their paneer tacos. We had a quick lunch there, then got back on the road to head to LAX.
One of the fun parts of planning any return trip to LAX is that there could be no traffic (unlikely) or there could be the worst LA traffic in the world, with cars sitting 14-lanes wide at a dead stop. That option always seems more likely, but we got lucky this time. We made it to the car rental place with no hassle, and hopped on the shuttle bus to the terminal. We were extremely pleased with Delta’s recent upgrades to their formerly-crappy terminal (it looks a lot more like MSP now), though we’ll miss Malibu Al’s fake beach bar, where we’ve spend several hours of delays in the past.
We arrived back in MSP around midnight to brutally cold temperatures, and decided to take a taxi to Matt’s car rather than having to walk the two blocks in the cold. It was an excellent decision.