January 30, 2010


January 17, I sputtered into San Diego from LAX on a United Express plane. That had propellors. A day ahead of the vicious storm that was about to thrash the west coast, the turbo-prop proved a delightful way to see the city as we looped into a landing at San Diego's tiny airport. My college roommate Tyson picked me up there, and we spent the afternoon in a gas-lamp district brewpub drinking pale ales and watching the Chargers fizzle to the Jets (this NFL playoff game was taking place a few miles away). We grabbed a hearty dinner of In-N-Out burgers along the twenty-minute stretch of superhighway between San Diego and Escondido.


The following morning a couple of Tyson's buddies, Brandon and Mike, converged at the house with a pile of guns, ammunition, and clay pigeons. We were bound for the county line, across a mountain range and into the desert. This trek proved somewhat daunting to the overloaded Hyundai station wagon, especially in the monsoon downpour we encountered on the return trip. Zig-zagging around chassis-hungry rocks in the desert was a different challenge. We safely reached the shooting area and went to work. Four hundred rounds of twelve-gauge shells were spaced out with fits of .22 fire from an assortment of arms. I had never fired a shotgun previously, and was pleased to have dusted the occasional clay pigeon. And the hundred mule-kicks to the right shoulder inflicted less of a tole than I initially thought. When the shells were spent we collected all the casings and set off into the teeth of the storm that was waiting in the mountains. Fun day.

That evening Tyson and I made our way to Stone Brewery, located in Escondido and heralded as one of the nation's best. I'd had Stone's entry-level IPA on a previous occasion, and thought it was indeed tops. Of course, it was no comparison to the delicious freshness of drafts poured a few yards from the brewing floor. Their "Arrogant Bastard Ale" boasts a rich amber color, strong citrusy hops, and is immensely drinkable irrespective of its high alcohol content (7.2%). The other beers, including the IPA pictured below, were equally fresh and tasty, and the restaurant fare was more on par with the beer than Dogfish Head's distasteful offerings.

ipa and oaked arrogant bastard

I spent the next day weathering the storm, reading The Omnivore's Dilemma in a hillside house that, judging by the shrieks of wind through the single-paned windows, was not accustomed to such meteorological abuse. The squall passed in waves, but did subside completely around the time that I was booking travel arrangements to follow it up the coast the next day. Some friends converged later that night at a local dive for the weekly ritual of "Two-Dollar-Tuesdays" (bargain drafts accompanied by relatively tolerable karaoke). Bulging carne asada burritos from a drive-thru taquería sealed the festivities, and capped a lovely time in Escondido. Thanks to everyone!

two dollar tuesdays
Tyson, Jen, Rachel, and me laughing in the face of indigestion.

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