Waterfront Walk and Free Parking Spaces

Kongo checks out HMS Surprise on the San Diego waterfront. The exact replica of the 18th-century British frigate Rose, the frigate was constructed to be the set for the movie Master and Commander. It is now part of the San Diego Maritime Museum.



One hundred years ago the waterfront here was filled with tall ships, steamers, fishing vessels, and work boats. No longer. That’s all moved north to ports with better transportation hubs like Long Beach and Oakland. Today the San Diego waterfront is home to retired navy ships parked at the maritime museum, boats that take visitors whale watching or for cocktail cruises around the bay, sailboats, cruise ships, bicycle rickshaws, and tourists with cameras slung about their necks. It was the latter group that Kongo joined yesterday afternoon to take advantage of a beautiful day before flying east on Sunday for a likely rendezvous with Hurricane Sandy.

Being a local, Kongo knows all the secrets about snagging free parking in this highly metered part of town and quickly swung into a great spot on the quay. As he was locking up and getting his gear ready, a pleasant homeless man who had made a snug little cubby next to a bench called out, “Hey. man, how ya doing? Nice day, huh?”

Kongo knew at once that this wasn’t going to be a free parking place after all. “It is a nice day,” Kongo agreed, warily.

“Whatcha doing? Gonna take some pictures?”


“I had a camera but lost it. You going to shoot all these boats and things.”


“That’s cool, man. I’ll watch your car for you.” Now Kongo had a partner in his afternoon expedition. There are certain unwritten rules to these types of partnerships and Kongo knew the rules. Once he adopted a street person on M Street in Southeast DC who negotiated a weekly stipend to keep an eye on him as he came and went from his work building. That arrangement worked well for a long time until the adoptee began asking Kongo for advances on his allowance.

Now Kongo is normally a generous monkey, so the new arrangement wasn’t all that onerous. Besides, it was (kind of) comforting to know that his car was going to be watched. Or at least he hoped it was comforting. With a brave smile Kongo said, “Right. See you later,” and set off along the quay to see what could be seen.







San Diego Airport has one of the steepest glide slopes in the United States. Pilots must be specially certified to land here and the glide slope threads a notch in the downtown San Diego skyline. Several posh restaurants in high rises actually offer views where you can look DOWN on the airplanes as they make their approach to Lindberg Field.

In the picture below, the San Diego Amtrack station is dwarfed by the surrounding skyscrapers.



So, after a few hours Kongo returns to his parking place to find his new best friend diligently watching his car. Actually he was staring at it with some intensity but he perked up when the monkey approached.

“So, is the monkey like a pet or something?”

“Sort of. He likes to look at things.”

“Me too, man. I’m like a monkey too.”


“I watched your car.”

“I can see that. You did a good job watching.”

“I’m good at it.”

“Great, and thanks,” Kongo said as he slipped his new best friend a twenty. “Why don’t you go get something to eat.”

“Wow. Thanks, man. I can go to China Camp!”

Kongo waved goodbye and hoped his new friend actually did go to China Camp and get a meal. So much for free parking.

Travel safe. Have fun.

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