Wednesday, August 19, 2009
When I was a kid growing up in Southern California my parents used to take me to San Diego for short getaways. My mom liked the beach and in the 1970s San Diego was not the major bustling city that it is today. It was a relaxing place to spend a weekend in the wonderful temperatures and salty air of "America's Finest City" (A term coined by Teddy Roosevelt, i think, when he visited San Diego).
Our favorite place to stay was a motor lodge comprised of small bungalows on a little island in the middle of Mission Bay. Vacation Village was a kid's paradise. It had a beach that surrounded the motel, five swimming pools, a game room, jungle like foliage, and lots of birds and other wildlife. I will forever remember the times I spent there with my folks. WONDERFUL.
In college I attended San Diego State University and I worked as a front desk clerk at that same hotel. In the 1980s the property had been purchased by Princess Cruises and was upgraded from a motor lodge to a "resort", and renamed The San Diego Princess Hotel and Resort. The facilities got a face-lift, but the place itself was still a great family vacation destination... with a strong focus on family-friendly activities. I loved working at The Princess, and still keep in touch with one of my co-workers - who is now one of San Diego's top architects. The memories of that job are amongst some of the best times of my college days!
As I write this I am sitting in the lobby of the Paradise Point Resort and Spa. Same bat time, same bat station... but again a new owner has upgraded the hotel to a higher level (add the word "SPA" and it must be swank!). The place is the same... but very different. They moved the front desk to the building that used to be the coffee shop. Go figure?!?
My parents never would have paid the high prices that these same bungalows now rent for a night. There have been some additional renovations, but it is still obvious that the rooms were built in the 1960s (most high end hotels these days have more space in the guest rooms and bathrooms!). But my kids think place is GREAT. The pools, the sand, the boat rentals, the put-put golf.... the high-priced everything... all adds up to great memories for my daughters.
We do not always stay here when we come to San Diego, but roaming around the grounds of this hotel somehow touches me deep in my soul. I feel connected to myself when we come here. I smile because I know how much my mom loved watching me feed the ducks when I was little or thinking about how I made my dad climb the observation tower twice each day (yep, now I am the dad, and my knees feel all 81 steps each day... sometimes twice!).
There are nicer hotels in the area, and some that are more conveniently located.... but whoever said "you cannot go home again" was wrong. You can and you should find ways to reconnect with the best parts of your life and share them with others who are part of your current world. It can fill you with peace and joy to share your memories and experiences with the next generation.
I have no idea if my kids understand how much it means to me to take them to this hotel or the way my heart feels watching them feed the ducks and explore the beautiful grounds. I wish my mom had lived long enough to know these kids and to see them explore the world. But somehow I think she was with us all here in paradise.
Have A Great Day.