Blind Date: Looking for love on the back of a horse

Ian and Jessica are back at San Diego Beach Rides after riding horses at Imperial Beach as part of their PacificSanDiego blind date. (Rick Nocon/ For The San Diego Union-Tribune)
(Rick Nocon / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Blind daters Jessica and Ian met for the first time about an hour ago in an Epic Limo bound for the Tijuana River Valley Nature Preserve, where they’ll mount up for a romantic ride along America’s Finest coastline. As the couple gets acquainted during the drive south, let’s review their pre-date interviews.

PACIFIC: Where are you from, and where do you live now?

JESSICA: I’m from San Diego and have lived here my whole life.

IAN: I’m originally from San Jose, and now I live downtown.

What do you do for a living?

JESSICA: I work at a nightclub doing VIP bottle service.

IAN: I run a software company called BuildFire. Our platform allows anyone to build their own iPhone and Android app with no coding required. Basically, it’s WordPress for mobile apps. We currently power thousands of apps.

What do you do for fun?

JESSICA: I love hanging out with my friends, going to music festivals and going out to eat.

IAN: Motocross, snowboarding, surfing, wakeboarding, golfing, camping, flying planes. I love action sports, adventures and being outdoors.

What are you best at?

JESSICA: Having fun.

IAN: Being good at a lot of things. I wouldn’t say I’m an insane expert at one thing in particular other than being good at a lot of things. It’s true in my work life and when it comes to doing things for fun.

What do you suck at?

JESSICA: Being on time.

IAN: Nothing that’s important to me. I find other people to do things I’m not very good at. It’s important to rely on other people’s strengths.

What are you looking for in a date, physically or otherwise?

JESSICA: I would like him to be attractive, make me laugh and drink with me.

IAN: I’m a sucker for girls with cute faces, but I also like when they are athletic and fit.

Describe your special brand of sex appeal in five words or less.

JESSICA: I am a great kisser.

IAN: Smart, witty, adventurous, memorable.

What do you like least about yourself?

JESSICA: Sometimes I can be too much fun.

IAN: I really like myself and wouldn’t change who I am. I don’t focus much on what I don’t like.

What’s your biggest fear?

JESSICA: Expired food.

IAN: Not having the opportunity to experience life to the fullest. Anything that could deter that is my biggest fear. Life is an amazing gift, and I wouldn’t want anything that could get in my way of my life goals: traveling the world, being successful in business, et cetera.

What traits might your date exhibit that would be deal-breakers?

JESSICA: I would really consider getting up and leaving if he’s too boring or rude to me.

IAN: If they’re not a kind person, not motivated, extremely reserved and quiet, not having much to talk about.

Fill in the blanks: I want my blind date to be “blank” and “blank.”

JESSICA: Fun and chill, like me.

IAN: I want my date to be someone I can enjoy life with. It could be having a great conversation or doing fun things together. But, at the end of the day, it’s all about how you enjoy your time with someone. Oh, and obviously easy on the eyes.

Will the night end with a kiss, something more or something less?

JESSICA: We shall see.

IAN: At least a kiss. It will be too nice of an experience to not live the moment to its fullest.

When the limo drops them off at Pony Land San Diego, the daters check in and prepare to mount a pair of steeds for a ride along the county’s only horse-friendly beach. Aided by the friendly staff, they quickly get the hang of horsing around.

After hoofing it along a scenic trail through the nature preserve, the daters arrive at the Tijuana River. They seem to be getting along well, but between the horses and the tour guide, one-on-one time is at a premium.

Hot to Trot

The wild ride continues

As the sun fades, Jessica and Ian make their way back to the stables, where they dismount

before cuddling with critters at Pony Land’s petting zoo.

Leaving the horses behind, the two then jump back into their chariot for the ride to SEA180° Coastal Tavern, Cohn Restaurant Group’s waterfront restaurant in Imperial Beach.

Located on the ocean side of Pier South Resort, SEA180° beckons beach lovers with a menu by executive chef Ken Irvine and an unforgettable location by the sand. With a seat in view of the waves and a sea of stars twinkling above them, Jessica and Ian appear to be vibing as they look over the menu. As cocktails come and go, and entrees replace appetizers, they inch closer to each other.

After dinner, the couple decides to move things inside for dessert and one more drink. Things appear to be heating up by the time they’re split for mid-date debriefings.

PACIFIC: How’s it going so far?

JESSICA: It’s actually going really good, much better than I expected.

IAN: It’s going great. I’m pretty surprised, actually. You don’t know what to expect, and it’s going great.

What were your first impressions of your date?

JESSICA: I thought he was really cute, and he seemed very respectful. A little shy, but in a good way.

IAN: I thought she was really pretty when I first saw her. She has incredible eyes. I was just like, “OK, where is this going to go?” I was impressed right away.

Is this the type of person you’d normally date?

JESSICA: Yes and no. Yes, because we actually have a lot of things in common, and I am attracted to him. But normally I date like other industry people, so this is very refreshing.

IAN: I’m not very strict about who I am going to date. It’s more about what type of connection you have with someone. I think I have that with Jess. At dinner, we had a really good conversation. Mainly, we have similar backgrounds. Like, from one conversation, it just went boom, boom, boom, boom. I was like, “Whoa, I didn’t know we would have all this stuff in common.”

What do you think of how your date is dressed?

JESSICA: I really like the way he dresses. Very casual, yet stylish.

IAN: Her dinner outfit looks incredible. I like the way she was dressed for horseback riding. Typically, the girls I’ve been with wouldn’t normally wear that, but I like it. She has a different style. Her whole outfit worked perfectly.

How was horseback riding?

JESSICA: It was really fun. The employees were super friendly, and the horseback-riding path was super awesome. It was very romantic to be riding on the beach. I walked away with an awesome experience.

IAN: The people who worked there were incredible. I’ve never ridden a horse for much longer than five or 10 minutes, so it was cool to actually get that experience - definitely one of those things to check off the bucket list.

What do you think of SEA180?

JESSICA: It’s really pretty. The view is amazing, the presentation of the food is amazing, and the view is awesome. And it was super awesome that they offered me blankets. They give you blankets on the patio on chilly nights since you are right on the beach.

IAN: The food is incredible, and the view is nice. Being outdoors, under the heaters and the blankets, was a nice touch. I wasn’t expecting that.

What’s the most attractive thing your date has done so far?

JESSICA: He always kept checking in on me while we were horseback riding, making sure we were close to each other.

IAN: I think she has a really nice smile and laugh. I really enjoy when people have a positive attitude, and she smiles a lot and has really pretty eyes. It all goes together.

Rate your date on a scale from one to 10 for looks.

JESSICA: He’s really cute. If I don’t say “10,” is that insulting? OK, I’d say eight.

IAN: I’d give her a solid nine.

And for personality?

JESSICA: Only knowing him for a couple of hours, I’d say eight.

IAN: I’d give her an eight or nine.

Do you want to kiss your date right now?

JESSICA: I’d be down.

IAN: Yeah, I would.

Does your date want to kiss you?

JESSICA: I hope so?

IAN: Probably.

How and when will the date end?

JESSICA: We are actually going to go to Oxford Social Club for a friend’s birthday gathering.

IAN: I think we are going to go to Oxford with her friends.

Unbridled Passion

The daters let go of the reins

After the mid-date break, the magazine crew finally leaves the couple alone to enjoy the rest of their evening away from the camera. A couple of days later, we call to see what we missed.

PACIFIC: How was the rest of your evening at SEA180°?

JESSICA: It was awesome. They had a really great selection of land and sea options, and the presentation of all the food was amazing.

IAN: SEA180° was awesome. It was pretty chilly out, but the staff took great care of us the whole night and even got us blankets - excellent service.

What did you have to eat and drink?

JESSICA: I ordered the sangria to drink, the filet mignon for my entree and crème brûlée and coconut tres leches cake for dessert. Everything was delicious.

IAN: Salmon and scotch. Both were on-point.

What was the best part of the date?

JESSICA: I really enjoyed the horseback riding, even though it was chaperoned. But the best part had to be dinner, where we were finally able to be alone and found out we had a lot of stuff in common.

IAN: The best part was the overall experience. Meeting someone completely new and going out on an epic date is something I’ll remember forever.

What’s the funniest thing that happened during the date?

JESSICA: We both found out we have a folder saved in our phones for ideas when we’re high. Mine is called “High Ideas,” and his is “High Times.”

IAN: At the very end of the night, she asked how I answered the mid-date question on whether or not I wanted to kiss my date. We immediately kissed after that. I thought it was pretty smooth.

Was there a kiss or romantic exchange?

JESSICA: There was a goodnight kiss.

IAN: Definitely. It wouldn’t have been a legit date without a kiss.

Will there be a second date?

JESSICA: There’s actually already been a second date.

IAN: The second date (already) happened. That one went really well, too.

What’s one thing your date really should know before going on another date?

JESSICA: I’m weirder than you think.

IAN: Keep doing what you’re doing.

Anything else you’d like to add?

JESSICA: I can’t wait to tell our grandkids about how we met.

IAN: Overall, this date was a big win. I like winning.

AFTERMATCH: Well, there you have it - straight from the horse’s mouth. Jessica and Ian are off to races. Plus, they both like to toke up, and then save their big ideas on their phones. Next time they get on their “high” horses, perhaps they can co-found an app that delivers bottle service via horseback. Imagine the TV commercials: “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t giddyup!”

Thank you to (and promotional consideration provided by): Epic Limo, 858.270.LIMO (5466),; Pony Land San Diego, 619.947.3152,; SEA180° Coastal Tavern, 619.631.4949,