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.

If you liked this blog post, why nosubscribe to my blog via feed reader or e-mail?

San Diego Vacation

Many of us have a specific food that, when brought to mind, elicits less than fond memories for us.  For me that is an eclair, that fried doughy dessert with a cream filling (yuck).  When I was a kid, I became ill when eating one.  Honestly, I think I was already working on getting a ‘bug’ before I ate it and to this day I associate the flu with eclairs.  By now you must be wondering what my ramblings have to do with San Diego vacations.  Bear with me and I will try to connect the dots.

Terry’s sister and niece had never been to San Diego and with spring break looming, a four-day visit to San Diego seemed to be in order.  Given that it was to be a short trip and they were looking at a 3-hour time difference,  jet lag was bound to be an issue but no one factored in (or at least me) the daylight savings time change the day before their arrival.  The weather in SD, which had been darn near perfect, turned cooler than their home state of Indiana.  To add insult to injury, sister Denise contracted a virus shortly after her arrival, which landed her in the clinic and on the sofa for the following day.   Even with all this, they seemed to be good sports and were able to enjoy a day at the San Diego Safari Park, giving it a two-thumbs up rating.

We had such a good time kayaking in the La Jolla cove that Terry and niece Sara decided to give it a go.  The weather was sunny but breezy, which made paddling a little rougher than what we had experienced earlier.  They were hopeful for dolphin sightings and with a feeding frenzy occurring just offshore (good sign of dolphins nearby we were told) they took off.

Alas, no dolphins, just a bunch of barking sea lions to entertain them.  They were both smiling when they returned, although they looked a little blue around the lips!  I must admit to wondering how warm they were, as I sat on the beach reading.  Everyone else in kayaks had donned wetsuits, everyone that is except Terry and Sara.

The water was too choppy for photos and for paddleboarding as well (which was also on the to-do list) but we did grab a few great pics of sea lions from the walkway above and got to catch a glimpse of passing dolphins!

California sea lions at La Jolla Cove
Slip-sliding away!
California Sea Lions at La Jolla Cove
It's been a tough day!

Sara was determined to have a bonfire and s’mores before she left San Diego so Terry stoked the fire that night.  Believe it or not, I had never had one before (s’more that is) and had to be guided through the process.  Tasty but unfortunately not to be an ongoing part of my diet.  Thankfully Denise had recovered enough to join in the fun.

Sara and Denise roasting marshmallows

So much to see in San Diego and only one day left so we decided to do a little sightseeing to give them a flavor of the area.   Lunch brought us back to Blue Water Seafood Market and Grill for fish tacos and they were just as tasty our second visit.

We all welcomed a stroll along the coastline, providing us a pleasing contrast of colors and shapes.

A playful little grey squirrel caught my attention so I gave him his own photo shoot.  He seemed to be enjoying it, posing for the camera.  Although these little guys are cute, they have become quite destructive along the coast, adding to bluff erosion.

California burrowing grey squirrel
You have no idea what these hands can do!

A quick stroll through Balboa Park and the grounds of Coronado Island rounded out the last day.

Balboa Park
Vibrant Watercolors in Spanish Village at Balboa Park
Hotel Del Coronado
Hotel Del Coronado

So, to finally connect the dots, given jet lag, time changes, cool weather and illness, I hope San Diego does not become an “eclair” for Denise and Sara.  I hope they decide to come back at a later date to enjoy all it has to offer.

If you liked this blog post, why nosubscribe to my blog via feed reader or e-mail?