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Not long to go now until my winter 2010-2011 travels come to an end – we fly home on Tuesday. So just two days left to show Angie my favourite highlights of previous stays here. And despite the prospects of a sleepless night, this included a night at the Motel-6-at-the-end-of-the-runway in San Diego, and as I write up these notes, the sound of the train passing some 10 meters from the hotel and warning the public at the near-by crossing of its presence, this feature should not be forgotten. This is my sixth stay at this location since February 2008 and I have always enjoyed a good night sleep here, but then I have a reputation as the ‘Martini Sleeper’ to keep up – any time, any place, anywhere. But as usual I run ahead of myself and should start with what we saw today. The Motel-6-at-the-end-of-the-runway just provided the main reason for driving south.

By the way, I promise to start filing the gaps in the Diaries once we get home later this week.

First port of call was the Torrey Pines State Reserve (S2357) where in 2008 Eunice had shown me that Ferocactus viridescens, Opuntia litoralis and three species of Dudleya could all survive wedged between San Diego’s urbanisation, with the next door golf course causing some confusion as I briefly thought to have found Epithelantha micromeris  way out of its range. Once again we used the back door entrance to the state park and strayed off track so that the first Dudleya that Angie has ever photographed was also one of the rarest and smallest: D. blochmaniae ssp brevifolia. This plant is highly sensitive to the rainfall in the area, with a population explosion after a wet season and shrinking back after dryer seasons. The recent rains meant that they were easy to find. The eroding coastline and D. lanceolata again proved interesting input for our cameras.

As we had parked our car under a ‘tow-away’ sign, we thought it best to move on to another favourite location, at the Torrey Pines Glider Club at La Jolla (S2358). Here we had no trouble finding D. pulverulenta and D. edulis (aka ‘Ladyfingers Dudleya’). We were a little wary as we made our way through the low scrub, as we had been warned in the past that the plants here shared their habitat with rattlesnakes. None were seen or heard. As we reached the area where heavy erosion had made the soil rather unstable, we found Ferocactus viridescens bursting with buds and with some flowers already open. This time these plants looked as they had taken steroids, again evidence of recent rains. A nice contrast with plants found on earlier visits.

S2359 was just a few hundred meters farther along and was not a plant stop, but for pictures taken of the hang glider activities and the vistas along the shore line- Angie had spotted that we were right above a nudist beach! Ironically, this is where most pictures of the day were taken – of the hang gliders of course.

As we made our way back to the car we took a few more plant pictures filed again under S2358, and this included one with a shriek of ‘Snake!’ from Angie. The poor reptile seemed more frightened than she was, so we took a few more pictures while it slowly moved away, revealing a straight pointed ‘tail’ rather than a rattle.

We had planned to visit the Cabrillo National Monument tomorrow, but as it was still early we felt that we could fit this magnificent view-point in today and perhaps catch a good sunset. We arrived at 4 o’clock  (S2360), to discover that the gates closed at 5, so no sunset pictures from here. Still, we found the time to take some great scenic shots, before booking into the famous Motel-6-at-the-end-of-the-runway.

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