California Dreamin’

Well not California specifically, just the ocean, possibly any ocean.  This was the dream of our 12-year old granddaughter.  Throw in Sea World and the San Diego Zoo and you’ve got the perfect beach vacation.

There were many firsts for Alyssa on this trip – first time flying (more nerve-wracking for dad and us than her), first time to California, first time to the beach. Visions of strumming her ukulele while looking out over the ocean danced in her head.  She had even taught herself a song that she was certain the surfers would know.

Alyssa is passionate about animals so grandpa thought she would enjoy sea kayaking, with a chance to catch a glimpse of dolphins (her true love).  This sounded good to her until we got to La Jolla Cove and boogie boards and wetsuits won out over the thought of paddling a kayak.  She would take her chance with the dolphins later in the week at Sea World.  Didn’t take her long to figure out which registered higher on the “fun” meter without a great deal of effort.

Looks like beach trips in her future based on that smile.

Sea World was next on the agenda and offered a day-long adventure for the three of us.  First up was the One Ocean show, starring Shamu.  A trip to Sea World is not complete without seeing this one.  Grandpa and I won out on the seating arrangement, opting to stay clear of the splash zone.  The image of me walking around for the rest of the day having been doused with gallons of seawater didn’t seem too appealing.  Good decision as everyone in the splash zone looked like they needed to be wrung out after the show.

We all agreed the Blue Horizons show ranked tops for the day, with acrobats, dolphins, and tropical birds appearing on cue.  Trouble is, with a couple of folks in our group forgetting to charge camera batteries, I have no pictures to show for it.  I’m not naming names, but you know who you are!  And yes, we did get brave and sit in the splash zone but those dolphins just couldn’t put on the show that the orcas did so we walked out dry.

Later that night was our favorite show, Alyssa playing the ukulele (self-taught) and singing for us.  She also plays the guitar and is longing to learn the violin. Can you tell we are just a teeny bit proud?  Much of what she has learned has been through you-tube videos or just listening to songs.

flamingosNext up was the San Diego Zoo, one of the largest in the world.  Housing more than 4000 animals,  it is almost impossible to cover the entire park in one day. Having not visited in 20+ years, it was like seeing it for the first time.

The stars of the zoo were the giant pandas, namely Gao Gao (Big Big).  San Diego is one of the few zoos in the world housing these gentle-looking giant teddies. Notice his smaller left ear, which was believed to be injured in a fight before his captivity.

Gao Gao, a bamboo-eating machine.

Seems we all enjoyed our day, given the number of animal photos we accumulated.  I think Alyssa took one of everything she saw, she was so enamored by their beauty.  Even with all we had seen, seems we just scratched the surface, covering only about 2/3 of the park.  There are many ways to take it all in, on foot, by bus, or by aerial tram.  Most of our time was spent on foot but Alyssa decided to give the aerial tram a shot, having already heard the story of how her father was not too keen on them.  And guess what dad, no fear of heights for this one!

Although Sea World and the zoo were big hits, the beach definitely came out on top.  Alyssa would have spent the entire week there we think, swimming with or without a wetsuit, in 58º water.  It was a great week for us all.

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