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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Going for green travel in San Diego

Our mission -- beyond celebrating our 22nd wedding anniversary -- was to spend a weekend in San Diego in as eco-friendly a manner as we could, given two realities. One: Southern California's transportation system was designed by car salesmen. Two: We're really cheap.

Both realities landed the trip in the "nice try" category, and I'm sure there's a polar bear somewhere grousing about us. The experience also revealed a frustrating reality about trying to plan an eco-friendly weekend getaway: It's expensive, the kind of disincentive that suggests "eco-friendly travel" may still be more marketing gimmick than a trend that will do the world some good.

My wife, Margaret, and I live in Irvine, on Amtrak's Surfliner route, which we chose on a recent Friday instead of driving the 85 miles to downtown San Diego. With a AAA discount, the two round-trip tickets cost $75.60. Our car gets about 22 miles per gallon, which would've meant a gas tab of about $30 at the time we took the 190-mile round trip. (It would be even cheaper now.) Advantage: driving.

But then, if we had driven, we would have missed some of the prettiest stretches of beach and ocean on the West Coast, between Dana Point and Oceanside, where the train track crowns a bluff above surfer-specked breakers. Advantage: train. read more...

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