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Point Loma author takes readers on ‘One Lap Around San Diego Bay’

This small cove of Shelter Island was renamed America's Cup Harbor after the 1995 America's Cup, which was held in San Diego.
Previously called Commercial Basin, this small cove of Shelter Island was renamed America’s Cup Harbor after the 1995 America’s Cup, which was held in San Diego.
(Don Lake)

Don Lake’s travel guide/history book features 100 local landmarks and attractions.

In a time of travel restrictions during COVID-19, San Diegans looking for an adventure may find one in their own backyard with the help of a Point Loma author.

Don Lake’s book “One Lap Around San Diego Bay” highlights 100 San Diego locations along the water, ranging from famous attractions to lesser-known landmarks. The 239-page book invites readers to hop in their cars and take a 90-minute trip along the bayside to experience the city’s rich history and diversity.

Bessemer Path, a trail along the bay between Talbot Street and Anchorage Lane in Point Loma.
Bessemer Path, a trail along the bay between Talbot Street and Anchorage Lane in Point Loma.
(Don Lake)

“You drive from one spot on the bay all the way around the bay, staying on the streets and as close to the bay as you can get,” Lake said.

Each of the 100 locations is accompanied by a photograph, as well as a story about its past and present. More than two dozen of the bayside spots are in Point Loma, from the 52 Boats Memorial at Liberty Station to the Whale Overlook at Cabrillo National Monument. Additional locations in the neighborhood include Jennings House Cafe, America’s Cup Harbor, Shoreline Park, Tunaman’s Memorial, Yokohama Friendship Bell, Portuguese Historical Center and Ballast Point Lighthouse.

The Jennings House, built by Frank Jennings in the 1880s, is the oldest house in Point Loma.
The Jennings House, built by Frank Jennings in the 1880s, is the oldest house in Point Loma. The structure has been transformed into a cafe.
(Don Lake)

“One Lap Around San Diego Bay” — part travel guide and part history book — is intended for residents and visitors.

“San Diego is such a wonderful and diverse experience that it’s almost mandatory to come down and experience it,” Lake said. “The diversity around the bay is just incredible, from the technology of the Navy … to the National Wildlife [Refuge] to honoring all the heroes we have in the cemeteries.”

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery overlooks San Diego Bay.
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, where the remains of 112,000 people are buried, overlooks San Diego Bay.
(Don Lake)

Though a lot of research went into the book, Lake was already familiar with many of the landmarks and attractions. The Chicago native, who has lived in California the past six decades, has been exploring San Diego since moving to the area with his wife, Pat, 14 years ago. While living in La Mesa, they fell in love with the community and climate of Point Loma and moved to the neighborhood six years later.

The move to San Diego County was prompted by Lake’s retirement from a career in engineering.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UC Santa Barbara — he was in the first graduating class of engineering students at the university — he moved to Silicon Valley and worked in microelectronics. He later went to graduate school and earned a master’s of business administration at Cal State Fullerton.

Throughout his career, Lake worked at a lot of start-up companies creating new products. To provide justification for the technology, he began writing articles, reports and papers for seminars. He published more than 90 technical articles and became a contributing editor for Advanced Imaging Magazine.

Point Loma author Don Lake
“San Diego is such a wonderful and diverse experience that it’s almost mandatory to come down and experience it,” says Point Loma author Don Lake.
(Courtesy)

His technical writing eventually translated into creative work, thanks in part to airplanes.

"[I] spent a lot of time on airplanes talking to people who might be interested in some brand-new technology,” he said. “When you’re sitting in an airplane, you can only drink so many bottles of scotch or watch so many movies on a little screen. So I said, ‘I’m going to become useful and start writing for [myself].’ And that turned into my first book.”

That first book was a “senior fiction” mystery novel, “The Curse of the Palo Alto.” Since then, Lake has written 24 books in various genres, from a cookbook to young-adult novels.

Don Lake's book "One Lap Around San Diego Bay" features 100 San Diego locations along the water.
(Courtesy)

“Not all of them are worth reading, mind you,” he said, laughing. “Only the last five or six have been deemed good enough to be given to the public.”

Among his nonfiction works are three travel books. Before “One Lap Around San Diego Bay,” Lake published two other books in the genre, “One Lap Around California” and “On the All American Road.” He loves mixing writing with his personal adventures, whether he’s visiting a new place or exploring his own city.

The Whale Overlook at Cabrillo National Monument is the last stop in the 239-page journey in "One Lap Around San Diego Bay."
The Whale Overlook at Cabrillo National Monument is the last stop in the 239-page journey in Don Lake’s “One Lap Around San Diego Bay.”
(Don Lake)

Writing travel books also aligns with another of his hobbies: photography. The majority of the pictures in “One Lap Around San Diego Bay,” aside from historical and aerial photos, were taken by Lake himself.

The book was published before the COVID-19 pandemic but seems quite fitting for the times. Taking a socially distanced road trip around San Diego offers locals an opportunity to have an adventure in quarantine, as well as learn a little history along the way.

“Most of the people who have lived here a long time who have read it [told] me, ‘Gee, I’ve lived here all this time and didn’t know that was there,’” Lake said.

To learn more about Lake and his books, including a link to buy “One Lap Around San Diego Bay,” visit dlakewriter.com.


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