Category Archives: Travel

Southbound Fridays


               by staff Traffic Editor, Quincy Quiebra 

When I’m stuck in San Diego rush hour traffic, it reminds me to be thankful that I don’t live there.  I wish happy hours lasted as long as most major cities’ rush hours, as it seems like 7AM – 7PM assures you of extensive bumper sticker studies.

Had an appointment that could not be changed and was in Torrey Pines area Friday afternoon.  Exited a bit ahead of schedule at 3:30PM and headed downhill to I-5 southbound.  While beginning my turn onto freeway from Gennessee, noticed cars not moving in a long lineup.

Quickly maneuvered out of that ramp and did a quick northbound I-5 to Carmel Valley for a U turn and get on 805 southbound.  I don’t know if that was good or bad.  It took me 70 minutes to get to the 805/5 reunion lineup to the Tijuana border.

Friday afternoons are always a bad idea at the border.  The 805 v 5 merge, several on ramps, the big right turn down the alley and the minimum of 3 lanes merging to one after you cross at the gates make for high anxiety.

Because of the extra merging of traffic getting on 805 before border, choosing I-5 is usually a better option over 805.

Took me 25 minutes total from 805 and San Ysidro Blvd where the line starts to get through the TJ Chaparral border crossing.  But, the U bridge and Via Internacional road along the TJ Rio westbound are also backed up and crawling at 5PM Fridays.

That adds up to just over an hour and a half to travel 33 miles.

Good news is that they completed the construction project just east of TJ Playas.  But, that project will resume on the north lanes soon.

Add toll booth lineups and Ensenada’s mini rush hour backups in El Sauzal and I’m ready for a beverage or six!

So avoid rush hour Fridays crossing border southbound.  If your schedule forces you, sitting somewhere in San Diego for happy hour and head south after 7PM is a nice option.  Or get to the border before 3PM.

 

 

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Hurricane Bud Tuesday


cbs.com

MEXICO CITY — Hurricane Bud grew into a Category 4 storm with winds of 130 mph off Mexico’s Pacific coast on Tuesday. Forecasters said they expect cooler waters to rob most of its punch before a potential collision with resorts of the southern Baja California peninsula.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Bud was centered about 350 miles south-southeast of Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja peninsula and it was moving northwest at 7 mph.

The hurricane center said the storm was about 230 miles southwest of Cabo Corrientes, near Puerto Vallarta.

Hurricane Bud is seen in an infrared satellite image capture at 9:30 a.m. ET on June 12, 2018.

Hurricane Bud is seen in an infrared satellite image capture at 9:30 a.m. ET on June 12, 2018.

 NOAA

Forecasters said Bud is heading toward cooler waters and is likely to fall below hurricane force by Wednesday night, then approach the southern Baja as a tropical storm late Thursday.

The center said the hurricane’s core still could generate dangerous heavy surf and rip currents over the coming days.

Rainfall of 3 to 6 inches, with isolated patches of 10 inches, was possible over much of that region into Tuesday afternoon.

A graphic from the National Weather Service shows Hurricane Bud's projected path as of 5 a.m. ET on June 12, 2018. Times displayed are MT.

A graphic from the National Weather Service shows Hurricane Bud’s projected path as of 5 a.m. ET on June 12, 2018. Times displayed are MT.

 NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

Harry’s Cofee Shop La Jolla


                             

Was searching for a unique breakfast spot in San Diego this past Thursday.  Found an article recommending Harry’s Coffee Shop in La Jolla.

Unlike the glitz of pricey bistros on the ocean in LJ, Harry’s is an old school throwback.  Harry’s wife Catherine greeted and seated me.

Spent several minutes soaking up the scene before diving into the menu.  Being transported back into the 1960s, I recalled some childhood diner experiences with my family.  Harry’s walls are filled with Brooklyn Dodger, other baseball photos and old San Diego area photos. A big photo of Harry with my favorite baseball player Willie Mays is near the entrance.

The silverware is perfectly plain.  Classical music lightly dances in the background. Vinyl booths and Formica tables are on the set of this nostalgic diner.

Phyllis, my server, brought a shiny carafe of coffee and set it on my table after pouring my first cup.

Ordered the Eggs Florentine as incentive to boost a scheduled EKG at a medical appointment later. The oozing eggs, creamy Hollandaise, English muffy and crunchy hashed spuds made for a perfect texture and flavor combo.  Oh, add spinach to make you think this is a healthy dish.

I arrived at 11AM to a packed house this Thursday.  But, by noon, tables were emptying.  Outdoor seating is also available.  Adult beverages also are served.  Apparently, weekends have a 30 minute wait by 9AM.

We award Harry’s with five Louisville Sluggers out of five.  FYI, my EKG test was OK.

Harry’s Coffee Shop

7545 Girard Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037 Open Daily 6am – 3pm

MENU

 

Ensenada T Shirt Sales


                        by Traffic Editor Quincy Quiebra    

This was Costero Blvd downtown Ensenada at 5PM Thursday.  The Baja 500 race festivities have Costero Blvd traffic down to two lanes southbound and 1 lane northbound.

This shot shows a long lineup of booths selling T shirts and caps.  Is that it? The Score 500 race turns Ensenada into a big T shirt mall?

 

I decided on taking the direct route southbound Thursday through Centro Nada, despite the Score 500 hooplah and lane closures.  Guessing that the bypass through 9th/10th streets is an extra 10 minutes of travel vs normal route on Costero/Hwy1.

Yesterday afternoon’s traffic crunch may have added 3-4 minutes downtown.  That delay will increase Friday and during the weekend.

The 9th/10th Street gig appears to be similar in length to Hwy 1.  But, the traffic in that bypass is also thick with lots of stop lights.  Choosing the bypass asks if the Hwy 1 route delay is going to be more than 10 minutes.

And T shirt shops are not easily found on Calle Novena!

Ensenada to San Diego Road Report


                                      by Traffic Editor Quincy Quiebra 

Was out the door at 6-ish Wednesday morning for a trip north to San Diego.  That reminds me to get out the door a half hour earlier as Ensenada traffic starts hustling by 06:30.

Here is the lane merge at the Riviera northbound(Floresta is the cross street) to make way for Ensenada SCORE 500 race this weekend. Why didn’t I choose the 10th street bypass?  Guess was that traffic would be ok at 7AM in Centro ‘Nada.  It may have caused a 5 minute delay, no prob.

Zippered 1 lane north and 2 lanes south on Costero(instead of 3 lanes each way. Vehicle staging and awards stage and music stages are in right(normal northbound) lanes.

Rejoin lanes at normal state at Avenida Alvarado.

Above is the map with the approx 1/4 mile zippered lanes at the Riviera Hotel.

This map shows the 9th/10th street bypass.  I might use this coming southbound Thursday evening.

This is your northbound entry on Av Reforma(Hwy 1) to the 9th street(Calle Novena) bypass.

 

This is your southbound entry to the 9th/10th street bypass. The right lane is the most direct/fastest route through Ensenada.  But, this week, the SCORE 500 race will provide delays from Thursday through Sunday in Centro Nada.

Toll Road northbound from Nada to TJ was uneventful.  Moving north to Tijuana…

This construction as you leave TJ Playas and approach the border is a minor delay, add maybe 2 minutes at 8:30 AM commuter traffic.

They have zippered an extra eastbound lane at the TJ Playas construction site.  Works well.  This construction project is supposed to be completed in July.

Moving on to SENTRI traffic…

Tijuana SENTRI traffic was backed up all the way to the Padre Kino statue roundabout.

The universal sign for traffic panic in Tijuana is police yellow tape.  Ok, sometimes it means a dead body.  But, most of the time it means you are going to get creative on getting to the border.  This was a 2 TAPE morning.  There was a cop w/ yellow tape at the taxi entry junction(yellow ribbon at left) and a cop w/ yellow tape at the Padre Kino roundabout not letting me into the SENTRI approach lanes.  So, I went through the intersection(red lines), up the hill, U-turn, down the hill(orange dotted line) to enjoy this beautiful scene…

Begging for a lane entry in Tijuana is like begging for a VIP table from a maitre d at a busy restaurant on a Saturday night with nothing but a crisp Lincoln and a nice smile.  Best of luck.

Total time in SENTRI line was only 34 minutes.  For SENTRI pass holders we usually have a 10-15 minute line.  But, there still seemed to be a Memorial day hangover this Wednesday morning.

Best part of my trip Wednesday?  I was not shackled nor handcuffed nor sent to secondary inspection.  This was the first time since my April 20 handcuffing, shackling and detainment through the SENTRI lane.  Got my new SENTRI card and was barely acknowledged at the CBP booth at 9AM.

No, that’s not me.  I can’t quite rock red pedal pushers and Keds like this dude.  Maybe this is simply a Fashion Police arrest.

San Ysidro Ready Lanes 2018


by Traffic Editor Quincy Quiebra……………. 

The key to accessing the San Ysidro Ready Lanes(Requires Passport Card or SENTRI Card) is knowing where to cross the TJ Rio and how to back track from your choice of bridges to the Via Rapida Orienta(aka VRO).  VRO is the 5 lane, one way street that is immediately adjacent to the RIO.

Every time I produce a border routing map, I wonder how anyone could possibly get it right on their first try.  Your chances increase if you have a good navigator traveling with you.

Coming from TJ Playas/Toll Road along the TJ Rio, as the road bends from east to southeast, pick the left lane in photo 1.

If you prefer entering from Calle Segunda(second street), you will be at this spot, aka The TJ NO-K Corral.  It is NOT OK, because a false move into the wrong lane will put a hurt on your travel day. Choose the far left lane from NO-K Corral and you will merge with Step/Photo #1 above.

 

CAUTION!!!…In 1/2 mile from Photo 1, you will be at this optional right turn.  I have it in caution yellow here and on overview map on top, because taking a right turn here, U-turning at the Independence(aka Scissors) roundabout and crossing the bridge sometimes will provide traffic problems and police tape cut-offs.  I have experienced Ready Lane backups past the Nissan Dealership, so good luck nosing your car into the correct lane. The 2017 Google Earth image that I am using for this post has the lineup 600 yards past Nissan and, from the shadows, appears to be a mid afternoon shot.

PREFER STEP 3, adding 5 worthwhile minutes to your trip.

 

In 1 mile from Step 1, you will need the right lane and turn right here.  Notice concrete barrier between left lanes and right lanes on this one way blvd.  Get to the right side of barrier.

 

Showing Step 3 right turn here and your route to enter the Big Chief(Cuauhtemoc) roundabout and U turn onto the Cuauhtemoc bridge.  Stick on the outer edge(third lane from center) of the roundy and you will be fine.  Check out the funky sink hole on the bridge, left side of photo…just my PC doing tricks on Google Earth.

 

Coming out of the roundabout, choose the third lane from left onto bridge.  You will see plenty of taxis and cars using FAR right lane.  Do NOT pick far right lane.  Lane # 3 is your spot.

 

On the other side of the bridge, staying in right lane, you will turn right, and make another quick right.  This U turn will bring you along the CFE(electric company) property. The inset photo shows how you are going to circumnavigate CFE.

 

Here is the alley that runs along the CFE property. I will confess how I discovered this route.  Last year when I was needing the Ready Lane for approx 6 weeks, I noticed several California plated vehicles make this turn into the alley.  Checked out the map and tried it soon after.  Yipee, because the other backtrack to get the other side of this bridge and access the Via Rapida Oriente is not easy.

 

At the end of the CFE property, you turn right onto Via Rapida Oriente(VRO).  Notice a concrete divider in the middle of the VRO. After your right turn here in step #8, you will need to find one of the crossover openings to get to the left 3 lanes.

 

Get to the LEFT side of the concrete divider ASAP.  This is another reason NOT to choose optional step #2 bridge crossing…need room to get through the two or three openings in the divider. Choose the MIDDLE LANE once on the left side of the divider.

 

FELICIDADES/CONGRATS.  This was one of my early morning Ready Lane crossings last year to catch a flight to Reno in September.  Thanks to friends who gave me several huge assists on this trip including a vehicle rental and a garage for airport parking. This was approx 05:15 on a Friday morning.  Thirty five minute wait was not too bad.

Six SENTRI, ten Ready and six regular lanes were available this September morning.  They adjust these lanes as traffic changes.

Choosing the Ready Lanes vs. the Regular Lanes is a coin flip on which is faster.  Sundays and Monday morning(and Tuesday mornings after Monday U.S. holidays) are always slow in Reg and Ready.  Slow can be 2-3 hours, zzz!

This is not the only way to Ready Lanes, but, I’m recommending it to minimize TJ traffic variables.

If you don’t know how to get from the Toll Road to step1 of Ready Lanes, here is your bonus map showing the 270 degree turn(looks like an upside down #4) at the “San Diego/Zona Rio” exit…

Navigating Ensenada Southbound


                        by staff Traffic Editor Quincy Quiebra                

Getting south through Ensenada is not a big challenge if you know how to reconnect to Avenida Reforma on the south end of the city.  The above map with numbers corresponding to key intersection photos, below, will lead the way.

After paying your toll at the Ensenada Toll Booth, enjoy your aapproach to Ensenada with fish packing plants, some great taco shops, cervecerias and fun restaurants.

1. Five miles south of the toll booth, your first decision is at a Y.  Take the right route at this intersection to “Zona Turistica”.  A left here can be a handy bypass around downtown when racing(Baja 1000/500 , Bicycle races) events clog Centro Ensenada.  No, that 9th/10th street bypass/truck route is much slower than Zona Turistico route 340 days per year. Here is map and photos for the 9th/10th street bypass.

2. Two miles south of your Y decision in step 1 is a traffic light at the northern edge of downtown Ensenada. This intersection gets clogged during afternoon rush hour or on weekends.  Simply follow traffic bearing to your right.  This is Costero Blvd.   Bienvenidos a Ensenada!  We are working on spiffing up this drab entrance to the city and will report back to you on that project’s progress soon. 8)

3. Two miles from the previous step #2 will put you here, at the Municipal Beach, “Playa Hermosa”. See the sign for Hw1 and La Bufadora?  Yep, left turn here, with Ocean’s Bar(excellent landmark/weak restaurant) on your left.

4. As you are now headed inland/eastward, in 1/2 mile, at the second 4way stoplight, turn right.  My photo looks like a Pemex gas station here, but it is now(2018) an Arco station.  This is Avenida Reforma, aka Hwy 1, upon which you are turning right.  Congrats/Felicidades!  Oh, one more danger note is that a forever pothole monster lurks in the right lane, just before your right turn.

5. You will pass through shopping centers and the MacroPlaza(mall with Walmart, Telnor/Telcel, Home Depot, Costco…aka “Little America”), then dropping down the hill into the agricultural fields of the little town called Maneadero.  A total of 8 miles from step 4 above will put you at the La Bufadora exit in Maneadero.  Take a right here to enjoy the most overrated tourist trap in all of Mexico.  Or get your groceries and fill your cooler before your journey south here.

…that Telnor/Telcel store is the best English speaking resource to get cell phone chips and phone plans.  It is tucked in behind McDonald’s at the MacroPlaza.

For those continuing south, the sign pointing to Guerrero Negro gives you approx 350 miles to get to that town.  You have approx 100 miles to San Quintin, the next significant town south and popular night stop.  Cheer up Griswold family.  It’s only 900 more miles to Cabo San Lucas from Maneadero.

Spirit Airlines


by Staff Senior Travel Editor, Otto Overbooked 

When I plug in my flight searches on Google Flights, I have most often deleted Spirit Airlines from the search due to their a la carte pricing menu confusion.

But, my recent flight date and time needs just happened to fit Spirit’s schedule on a coast to coast trip.  So down the tarmac we danced with Spirit.

Spirit’s “bare bones” fees exclude! a checked bag, a normal 20″ carry on bag, peanuts, beverages, seat assignments and these add on fees change if you don’t plan ahead or make a mistake.  My favorite add on is printing a boarding pass, costing them less than 10 cents, will cost you $10 at the airport.

After reading several reviews and packing lightly, I only had one bag to check as my only add-on fee this flight.  What is confusing is that the fee can be several different prices.  A pre flight online checked bag fee, a “bad passenger needs to check it at airport” fee or a join our Spirit “club” for a discounted fee are on the menu.  Most loyalty clubs are more painful and email SPAMful than are worthwhile, so I paid the $30 fee.

I did not have time for golf on this Florida trip, so I did not need to pay the $100 fee each way for my golf clubs, ouchee! Other checked bag fees also add on to that $30 fee I paid, depending on how heavy your bag is up to add $100, wheee!

Downloaded the Spirit APP and set my alarm for 24 hours before my flight to checkin.  Did not want to pay the $20 seating fee(x 2 for the two flight legs) so I guessed that earliest checkins get the better seats.

I did not get my seat assignments until I hit the customer experience counter at Orlando Int’l terminal B. Found my window seat and aisle seats for my two flights. So my logic on early checkin was solid or possibly just a random stroke of luck.

BTW, what is with MCO(Orlando Int’l Airport) having digital signs at passenger drop that read out “United Airlines” half the time, then “Do not leave your vehicle unattended” half the time.  If you are driving by while the digital readout give you the “unattended” script, howtf do you know where your airline checkin counter is along that 1/4 mile strip of choices at passenger drop-off.

Special thanks to my 07:00 limo team for excellent service to the MCO airport.

Back to Spirit, I get into the line that says “Equipaje Documentado” and hope I’m in the right line.  At counter, produced my Spirit app boarding pass and ID.  Bonus non-fee is that Spirit includes a receipt for your checked bag and verbal instructions on the gate assignment.

Am I the only one that often does not remember the verbal gate assignment?  30 seconds after that, I’m always looking for a outgoing flight monitor to tell me what gate I need. I’m usually short on caffeine most travel mornings and my senses are a bit agitated about the whole airport/TSA adventure.

Orlando TSA is always packed.  Fortunately, I successfully got my SENTRI(aka trusted traveler) # to register with Spirit, giving me TSA PRE ✔ access.  “Belts ON, Shoes ON, Laptops IN, no metal, empty your pockets…!!!”.

Flight was on time with the big yellow Airbus 319 waiting at the jetway.  Boarding was confusing because the Carib Island gate clerk had poor enunciation and low volume with everyone asking which boarding group was up.  Prefer the airlines that display which group is boarding on a monitor.

Please don’t be the passenger that hovers for the next boarding group in the boarding line.  Are you in the line, or are you super shy about being close to the preceding passenger, or are you waiting, or are you confused like me?

Got to my 18F window seat.  I’m not a big guy, but, subjectively, Spirit seats do seem a bit tighter than my American, Southwest and United flights.  Seat backs have a strap containing safety documents. If you need to get some work done on your laptop, that little tray, that looks like a cigarette container, is approx 5″ x 12″ to test your balancing and keyboarding skills.

You will not get a magazine with the CEO praising himself, cosmetic surgery centers or the best steakhouses in America.  But, a barf bag is included at no extra fee.

Spirit seats do not lean back.  Longer flights might want you to walk the aisle to ease your discomfort.

Thankfully, there was no flight attendant skit or stand-up comedy attempt.  Some may like that cuteness factor.  I just want to be left alone in peace with minimal crew interaction or them barking something at me.

Instead of the seat kicking kid, I got the couple that enjoys playing a video with enough volume to share that enterainment with the nearest 20 passengers.  I turned around and gave them the hairy eyeball look between the seat opening.  I believe she convinced him that they might just be a bit irritating and the volume came down to a whisper, thanks.

Arrived at DFW on time and in a peaceful attitude.  This was easier than expected.

Heard a new city name while waiting at DFW for next flight.  “Passengers on the ‘Alanna’ flight…”?  That is Atlanta for you northern Yankees.

One glitch hit me on the Spirit app.  The boarding pass kept refreshing so that I had to enter first name, last name and Confirmation #.  Hate confirmation #s passionately.  Why not my email addy or phone #?  C’mon technology geeks.  But, the boarding pass tried loading and continued to fail.

My customer experience sweats broke out as I envisioned combat mode argument about Spirit taking a lousy $10 away from me for printing the stoopid boarding pass.  No prob, showed them the app fail and they gleefully printed my pass.  Will do a screen shot next time.

That $10 could have purchased a Boar’s Head sammich at DFW terminal E, that was disguised as 2 oversized slabs of bread with a thin line of mystery meat and lettuce somewhere between.  No thanks.

DFW-SAN Diego flight was also easy and on time.  Got a gray color Airbus this time. Bag arrived easily and I exited the San Diego terminal 20 minutes after flight wheels banged the concrete.  I am very fortunate to have a smallish airport to use in San Diego.

 

We award Spirit Airlines with 3 out of 5 air sickness receptacles for doing mostly what they promised at a good overall value.  Saved me $100 this travel day, did not harass me and got me to my destination about the same as any other carrier.

Pack light, be light, fly short flights and study bag fees diligently on Spirit.

Ocean Blue Lights


Has anyone witnessed this in Baja?

Uber Emergency Button


sintesistv

It will serve as a test program in this entity.

The Uber platform as of May 2 began to test an SOS button in the cities of Tijuana and Mexicali, which may be used if there is an emergency in a trip with the application.

The SOS button can be found inside the trip information, where it says ’emergency’.

By selecting the option, you will be able to call local authorities directly (911), so that the user can report the incident that threatens their safety or that of the driver quickly and easily.

In addition, Uber will receive an alert to initiate the internal incident support process.

In Baja California there have been assaults, armed robberies, as well as the murder of a woman who was a Uber member.

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