A visit to San Diego: sun, surf and science

Our son and his classmates at UC San Diego’s COSMOS program

SAN DIEGO — This area has long been one of our favorite and most visited destinations.

We have good memories of Carlsbad and Del Mar beach, the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Padres baseball games, and the iconic Del Mar racetrack (“Where the surf meets the turf.”). And good food at restaurants such as Jeffrey Strauss’ Pamplemousse Grille and La Jolla’s famed Marine Room. Some of our favorite haunts, such Bully’s North in Del Mar for Bloody Mary’s, have closed.

When I worked at The Chronicle in the ’80s, I often flew to San Diego for interviews with the management at Pacific Southwest Airlines (with its motto, “Catch our smile”). I wrote about PSA’s low “midnight” fares on the S.F. to L.A. shuttle, as well as its acquisition by USAir, which wiped the smile off the fuselage.

In the ’70s, a longtime resident who was a friend used to joke that San Diego’s nickname was “lobotomy land,” with a Beach Boys mindset, the “fun in the sun” scene, and even being home to Jack in the Box.

But that has changed: Awash in money, UC San Diego enjoys a “golden age” in research. “The $1.2 billion (in dollars raised for scientific research) keeps UC San Diego on the list of the nation’s top 10 research universities, and shows that the campus is continuing to inch ahead of older, better-known rivals, such as Harvard,” as the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Scripps is a world-class medical institution. San Diego is home to Qualcomm and some cool tech companies.

Science Summer School

This week we made a quick trip to San Diego to pick up our son from a four-week science program at UC San Diego — an “excellent adventure” for him. Transportation is a bargain for parents, thanks to air fare wars between Southwest, Alaska and others: Airfares are now $29 one way for fall, though our rates were a bit higher.

The California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science [COSMOS]  is a popular and long-running program for high school juniors. Our son joined the cluster “Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine” at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.

We had lots of work to do this week but we brought it along and managed to squeeze in a visit to the racetrack one afternoon.

We won about $20 (we weren’t big spenders this week), and wound up sitting at a table next to Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux. It brought back good memories. A favorite was seeing Candy Ride, with rider Julie Krone, set a track record in 2003 to win the Pacific Classic States.

The closing ceremonies at COSMOS included a detailed presentation by the students of their work. For our son and his group it was “Determining if Implanted Chondrocyte Help Induce Cartilage Regeneration Using Cell Trackers.” These kids and their professors are serious people.

The students also enjoyed roasting marshmallows at a beach campfire, visiting the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park. All told, our son had a wonderful time before he heads back to Ghidotti High for his senior year. A professor asked him to help with some research, and he’s excited about that.

We’re glad to be back together again, though, and we’ll reminisce about our summer of 2019. California has so much to offer. I’m glad to be a native.

Here are some retro memories of San Diego: Bing Crosby singing “Where the Surf meets the Turf” at Del Mar; Pacific Southwest Airline commercials, and Jack in the Box when burgers were just 18 cents.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

One thought on “A visit to San Diego: sun, surf and science”

  1. We had a fantastic experience with UCSD. My son graduated this past June in Cognitive Science and Mathematics with emphasis in cognition. He co-authored a paper his 3rd year and presented at a conference.

    UCSD really takes good care of their students. He had three counselors. As parents, we found the UCSD staff to be very helpful. I couldn’t give a higher recommendation.

    My son is in Madison Wis. He starts a job tomorrow.

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