The Balboa Stroll

People always tell me that Southern California is just too expensive. Well let me tell you how I spent $20 on a fantastic day. It started out a Sunday morning and I had nowhere to go until 3:30 in the afternoon when I was catching my flight back to Dallas, Texas. Still being on central time I was wide awake at 4:30 in the morning. I checked my e-mail messages, jumped in the shower, got dressed and tossed my laptop into a backpack.  I decided to take a revisit of a driving tour my wife and I had done during the summer, this time on foot.
The New Balboa Pier
The Balboa Pier is a great place to hang out

At 6 AM I walked into the Del Taco on Bristol Street in Costa Mesa for the two dollar “fiesta breakfast deal”. Toss in a large Diet Coke and I was still under five dollars. After breakfast I walked over to the bus stop and jumped on the number 57 which goes all the way to the Balboa Pier. Two dollars spent and 20 minutes later I was standing on the beach on the Balboa Peninsula. Since it was still pretty early in the morning, the peninsula and the beach were very quiet.  A couple of early joggers were about the only people joining me at that hour.

I decided to grab a seat at the Balboa Pier Park and do a little writing with the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop. I say writing but I have to confess I’m getting quite lazy, I was really dictating to my computer using a Bluetooth headset and Dragon Naturally Speaking software. Even with the sounds of the crashing waves, the dictation was pretty good. I really can’t tell you how long I sat there talking to my computer, but I realize it must have looked a little stupid when the first person came by with her dog very quietly. Then again these days people standing around talking to themselves is getting to be pretty normal.

Since it was still early morning, and this was in February, I got a little chilly just sitting there. Eventually I needed to get my blood moving so I got up and started walking. Indirectly I walked towards the Balboa Island ferry, enjoying the scenery painted by people living the coastal life. Even at that hour of the morning, the ferry is already running continuously.  It wasn’t more than three minutes before I was on. One more dollar spent.

This was my first visit to Balboa Island by myself as far as I can remember. I ended

Balboa Rex the T-Rex photo
One of the surprises on the Perimeter Walk of the Balboa Island

up walking the entire perimeter and discovered all kinds of great houses and scenery. Every home had some unique character making the stroll all the more interesting. A couple of homes had really nice landscaping out front, others unique and wondrous art. One house actually had an 8 foot tall Tyrannosaurus rex standing at the corner watching over their boat.

After completing my perimeter walk around the island, I stopped at Pain Du Monde for a hot tea. Two more dollars spent, and I was ready to cross the bridge back to the mainland. I walked up the hill to the Pacific Coast Highway and took a right turn towards the Newport Fashion Island Mall. By this time I was hungry for lunch. I stopped at Starbucks, grab an iced green tea and a yogurt parfait.  The Starbucks side of the center was still shaded so I went back and found a table by the Koi Pond.

Since there was free WiFi at the Koi Pond I decided to open my laptop once again and check e-mail as I enjoyed my light lunch. After I was finished eating I moved my chair out from under the umbrella and into the sun to do a little people watching. Even though the mall is having some major outdoor renovations completed, it was still very peaceful on a Sunday afternoon.

As I realized it was time for me to pack up and get ready to head out for the airport I walked north of the shopping mall and jumped on the number 71 bus back to the Ayres Hotel. As I sat down on the flight from John Wayne, heading back to Dallas, I realized that I had a day of sightseeing most people could never imagine.  The best part is I did it for under 20 bucks. If you are ever in the Newport area there is no better way to go off-season sightseeing and relax then to just take a stroll along the peninsula and around the island with a ferry ride in the middle.  I have done it driving, and walking is way better.

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