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Pink Sun and Harris Hawk at the La Valencia

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Pink Sun and Harris Hawk at the La Valencia

La Valencia Hotel, La JollaThere's a way the sun hits the pink ocean-facing terraces at the La Valencia Hotel that makes afternoons hot even on cool days. We stopped by to dine last week and enjoyed the radiant warmth along with Tapas and cold beer on the outdoor patio.

It was mid-afternoon so we ordered light—a platter of hummus and roasted-red-pepper-spread complimented by warm pita bread slightly toasted on one side. The hummus was above-average but the roasted-pepper-spread really shined—superb and bursting with fresh roasted pepper flavor.

I ordered an IPA but due to a slight miss-communication, ended up with a Lightning Brewery Belgium style Wit Beer. No worries here, the Wit Beer was fresh and citrus-spicy with just a hint of hops that's usually more subdued in Wit Beers. It was finished quickly.

After eating we continued sipping beer and soaking up the afternoon sun. It was hard to contain our glee over the good fortune of spending the afternoon in La Jolla overlooking tall palms and endless ocean swells.

Harris Hawk at the La ValenciaOur trance was interrupted by a large raptor—a Harris Hawk to be precise, that landed on the patio railing. Wow: What was a hawk doing there? It seemed to be tame and had a strength of purpose. Well, after a few moments of debate on the subject, we asked our waiter what the deal was.

Turns out the hotel rents the hawk and it's handler 3 or 4 days a week to fly patrol over the patios and terraces to ward off marauding Seagulls. Apparently the Seagulls had become quite bold—snatching french fries off the platters of unsuspecting guests when they turned their backs or summoned a waiter for more coffee. Seagulls—being natural prey for the hawks, scatter in a wild fury whenever the hawk is on duty.

As we were leaving the hotel, we had the good fortune of bumping into the handler, Larry, and the Harris Hawk at the front entrance. Larry was gracious enough to explain his business there; pose for a few pictures; and explain the eco-friendly virtues of using hawks for pest control. Cool.

I visit La Jolla often and find there are few better ways to enjoy an afternoon than lunch or appetizers on the patio of the La Valencia Hotel. The food is outstanding, the service excellent, the prices reasonable and the view to die for. All in all a good way to feel like a mogul or celebrity for a couple hours.

The Enlightened Explorer

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Harris Hawk and her handler and the La Valencia Hotel, La Jolla

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