Misadventure at Torrey Pines

March 30, 2010

SO THERE I WAS…

…laying next to a beautiful woman I had known for all of 24 hours under a tree on the South Course of Torrey Pines.  We had set our sleeping bags up under one of the courses stately trees.  The Eighth green was to our left, the Seventh fairway to our right, the tee-box of the Eighteenth hole was behind us with a beautiful vista of the Pacific Ocean directly in front.  A full moon was casting moon shadows across sea of green grass, and a northerly breeze was keeping the air cool and light.

As I reflected on how perfectly romantic it was to sleep out under the stars on the manicured grass of one of the world’s greatest golf courses, I couldn’t believe how easy this all was.  Why wasn’t every other drifter and bum in America also sleeping out on Torrey Pines?  Now it will forever be a metaphysical quandary to me that if I had not asked that question, perhaps I would never have learned why vagrants don’t sleep on golf courses, but I did ask the question, and therefore I learned, and will forever know, why sleeping on golf courses is a bad idea.

At first we thought maybe there was night security, and that trespassing would not only get us a meeting with La Jolla’s Finest, but would also tarnish the fine name of Ride for World Health.  In fact we had taken precautions to be in an area where security was not likely to find us, but in the back of my head I knew that the answer was far simpler and more vexing.

For Torrey Pines to have such a beautiful lawn of grass it requires a large amount of water.  They cannot unleash this fury of modern engineering during the daytime, because that would drown out the customers.  So these huge fire hoses work on timers in the middle of the night when the course should be (supposedly) empty of people.

The first zone to hit us came from our left.  I heard the sound of high-powered water, bolted up right and said, “We need to move.  We need to go now!”  I got a solid shot to my sleeping bag, but we got off largely unscathed.  Somehow I convinced my friend that we’d be safe on the far side of the tree.  We ended up laying on a side slope, which somehow managed to still be comfortable.  Things seemed safe for the time being, but I had an ominous feeling in my gut that this wasn’t going to end well.

Sure enough, the zones changed and now our sprinklers were attacking us again.  We once again attempted to out flank our enemy by keeping the tree between the sprinkler and us.  This position would prove to be our Waterloo.  The sprinkler managed to defy any protection provided to us by our tree.  It first attacked from the left.  My friend was able to roll toward me, escaping the brunt of the blow.  Next, and with surprising speed, the sprinkler had shifted its focus to the opposite side of the tree and was attacking me with its full force, knocking me with a striking blow to the head.  I attempted to escape this onslaught by evasion, however the sprinkler corrected its attack and delivered a fatal blow of water to my back.

We were drenched; soundly defeated by the brutality of the Torrey Pines sprinkler system, and my friend was clearly not in the mood for any more of my golf course adventures.  It was time to make a hasty retreat back to the relative comforts and safety of our Ride for World Health San Diego Head Quarters, an area clinic and fitness center run by the Scripps Institute.

The rest of the night was spend on the outdoor running track at the Scripps Institute fitness center, a decidedly less spectacular spot, but at this point sleep is all that we cared about.  At five a.m. the track lights were turned, and at six I awoke to watch some guy walk past me while listening to his iPod.  I gave him a friendly sort of look, and attempted to make eye contact, but he was clearly trying to pretend not to notice us, while shifting three lanes to avoid walking over us.  I said to my friend, “not only is it awkward to be woken up by a guy walking on a track, but why does he have to be a rude guy walking on a track?”

Moral was pretty low.  It was six in the morning and we were locked out of our building for another hour, we were tired and my friend was kinda pissed about losing out on a whole night of sleep.  We ended up sitting on a picnic table at the fitness club, I was trying to make the best of a bad situation; she was simmering.  A woman came by and told us that the barista at the Hyatt has the ability to work miracles with coffee.  In the end, the eternal truth remains: Starbucks heals all wounds.

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