End-of-the-year is the time I get the urge to clean out. Purge. Lighten the load.
However, December probably is not the best time for this because we already are knee-deep in Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, tinsel and gift bags.
All of this reminds me that my idea of hell is being locked into a tchotchke store for all eternity.
Yes, I dislike clutter, and being a travel writer doesn’t mesh well with this phobia because my work necessitates collecting brochures, business cards and other materials for later reference from the places I visit. After a while, this stuff starts to pile up (and out).
I have a sister who loves to travel and also collects postcards, napkins, coasters, pamphlets and other souvenirs as she goes, but she creates gorgeous, detailed, museum-worthy scrapbooks.
Me? I just keep stashing stuff in files and piles. Even though it gets overwhelming at times, it’s still difficult to discard this collection because, of course, I might need it sometime.
Last week, I decided to tackle the mess. As I sorted through the stack, I was reminded that we in San Diego County don’t have to go far to find a variety of things to see and do.
I have a beautiful flier of the county’s coastal state parks, beaches and preserves, including some lesser-knowns: Silver Strand Natural Preserve, the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve and Border Field State Park, all in South County.
Another full-color brochure contains the historic boats and ships of the San Diego Maritime Museum. For about $10 you can board 11 historic vessels, including a B-39 Soviet attack submarine. Its mission was to shadow U.S. Navy ships during the Cold War, including the USS Midway, now, ironically, docked only a block away. I have a pamphlet from the Midway, too, which I visit every couple of years because there always are new exhibits.
All of my brochures from Balboa Park are probably outdated because the park is continually evolving and will continue to do so in the next few years. But all of the museums are still there and as great as ever. (Free admission to a rotating group of museums every Tuesday.)
I’m not exactly sure where I acquired a pamphlet on the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but I probably won’t be needing it. Non-Mormons are forbidden to enter.
My brochure from the San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park in Escondido reminds me that I haven’t been there for a long time. It’s the site of the bloodiest battle in California during the U.S.-Mexican War, a story that includes familiar names: Stephen Kearny, Pio Pico and Zachary Taylor. The park also is the site of annual battle reenactments and the San Diego Archeological Center.
In my collection of paper, I found pages torn from Sunset magazine that feature walking tours of San Diego neighborhoods like City Heights, East Village and Little Italy, which reminded me that not too long ago, many of these areas didn’t have a name or big signs designating their boundaries.
Certainly my 10-year-old map of Horton Plaza is outdated. I was there last week and an amazing transformation of public space just north of the mall.
My guides for Seaport Village will be outdated one of these days because word on the street is that drastic changes are in the works. The quaint buildings, restaurants and boutiques will give way to taller mixed-use buildings. That village vibe will disappear, just like the Urban Trees did. These wild and crazy sculptures — 30 at a time and rotated once a year — used to line the Embarcadero.
I may not toss every brochure into the circular file. I should issue pardons to the one featuring our county’s historic adobes (note to self: must see Rancho Guajome); the things to see and do in Ramona (only seven years out of date); San Diego’s Asian Pacific Historic District (who knew?); and the history, architecture and shopping in Rancho Santa Fe’s village (a girl can dream, can’t she?).
And have you taken the walking tour of Carlsbad’s painted fire hydrants?
There’s a brochure for that. Yes, I’ll definitely save that one.
E’Louise Ondash is a freelance writer living in North County. Tell her about your travels at firstname.lastname@example.org