� On Vacation Y'All | Main | The Cross in the Seal �

June 30, 2004

San Diego

San Diego is a pretty cool place to vacation. It worked for the Nuke.

We started out Sunday morning with a big breakfast at Coco's in Capistrano, halfway there. Then we proceded straight to our first stop, La Jolla for a little sea kayaking.

This is the first time I can remember F8 being out of her depth. My wife and I tend to extremes in our evaluations of our kids. She worries about them riding bikes down the sidewalk, I'm ready for them to kayak in the Pacific solo. We compromised of course and went double up with the girls, while the boy got his own kayak. 20 yards off shore we get upended in the shorebreak and F8 is under the boat. She comes up snotting and screaming and is terrified. It takes me a good 5 minutes to calm her down as we get past the breaking one-footers. The water is a pleasant 68 but there is no sun; she's shivering and blubbering. I'm still shocked. This is my fearless daughter and now she's crying to go back to shore. Ach! Finally she's OK.

The other three are coming up behind us but haven't gotten their strokes together yet. Meanwhile, we're drifting North, oblivious to the strength of the current just watching everyone else get through the break. They do fine but then they start paddling toward us. This is a bad thing because nobody thought to tell us about the northbound current. You see the logical way to kayak on the open ocean is to start your trip going against the current. That way, when you are tired and ready to come back onshore, the tide will do half the work. We got it backwards, and took 30 minutes to all rendezvous back at the starting white bouy. Finally, we headed towards the legendary caves of La Jolla.

Meanwhile I haveto figure out where the buckles are on my backrest. I can't get any leverage and I'm sore and tired already. I finally got my seat adjusted properly in time to get scared to death at the Spousal Unit, F9 and M10 heading towards the sea wall. I'm 700 yards northwest away and they seem right back into the break up close to some rocks. The prospect of having to do another rescue is making me sick. It turns out that they were perfectly safe anyway.

We reach the caves and flat water where we are greeted by a pack of sea lions. This was a pleasant surprise - something else the outfitters didn't tell us about. So finally F8 gets into the spirit of things. M10 is all prepared to run the current into the caves. This time, I'm the worry wort. Despite my admonishments nobody wants to stay seaward of me. Everyone flirts with the rocks instead.

We're 75 minutes out and I get everyone to turn back towards the shore. M10 races me and beats me, then poops out. My arms are killing me. F8 has given up all pretenses of rowing. We get halfway back and M10 is too whipped to continue. Hoo boy. Now I turn around and prepare to tow him back. Of course, as I reach out to grab his boat, I flip out into the drink. By the time I get my lard ass back into my craft, he's rested and rows merrily home.

As we all march back into town with our oars on our shoulders, everybody seems to have forgotten all the headaches. I'm thankful that my carkeys didn't fall out of my pockets. It's rather nice that the adventure turned out to be an adventure after all. Next stop, Hotel Circle.

We check into the Marriott after passing it twice. The suite is very nice, and the kids start behaving as if they've never seen a dishwasher before. I have to admit that it is something of a novelty to put the mountain of snacks we overpacked into a sparkling clean and empty refrigerator, but it's still the kind of thing that can be embarrassing when you're in front of other families. 'Wow we have a dishwasher and a refrigerator!'.

I plug in the laptop and check my Gmail and webhits. Nothing. OK I'm on vacation, I don't care. Really.

It turns out that all the restaurants we extensively checked out from Citysearch are closed on Sundays. The tourist season doesn't officially start until July. Wonderful. But we do find a joint called the Butcher Shop. You know me, I dig chophouses with red leather and Sinatra playing. This one is no disappointment. The kids are actually showing themselves to be fairly decent company. M10 orders from the adult menu and F9 has us cracking up with her Monty Python jokes. (I showed Holy Grail, last Friday night, and we have been saying 'Ni' ever since. Right about now, though, if I hear one more crack about my mother being a hamster, or the airspeed of an African swallow, I'm going to scream). Thus endeth day the first.

Monday was dedicated to me being reminded that I forgot to turn in invoices for my prior week's work, or so it seemed as my celll phone kept interrupting a perfectly good day at Sea World. I was so elated that one of my good customers actually paid on time and I was able to afford this extravaganza that I forgot about the other ones. Nevertheless, it was M9's turn to scream in fright. A roller coaster water ride was the object of terror this time.

Sea World is corny. I've never been before and I could see how people would be bored to death were it not for their two latest exhibits, 'Wild Arctic' and Shipwreck Rapids. Wild Arctic is really the star; a very impressive site - especially on this cloudy day. The giant walruses and polar bears are magnificent, but the Belugas were incredible. These huge white creatures were completely otherwordly. You could sit and stare at them for hours. They are massive, on the order of 17 feet long, but very graceful and twisty swimmers. You just try and figure out their skeletons as their muscles and fat bulge and bend in their underwater acrobatics.

Practically everything about Sea World involves getting you wet, but the water rides are really tame as compared to the dolphin and orca shows. You wouldn't think a fluke could move so much water. They didn't have any stats on it, but I'd guess Shamu displaced a good 75 gallons per swish. This is the maneuver in which he faces down and leaves his fluke above water then soaks a few rows with a quick flick. And that is nothing compared to the trick where he swims right along the perimeter of the tank and creates a huge wake. The jumping and bellyflopping doesn't get anybody wet, it's the other tricks that do it.

Anyway. We did the park in 9 hours. It was time to head back to the hotel. Chinese take-out and 'Elf' on pay-per-view. I was out by 10pm.

Yesterday was much more mellowed out. We did a bit of jacuzzi soaking, and blueberry muffin eating first. Then we packed up the car and headed over to Old Town. We ended up at the Serra museum at Presidio Hill and then headed over to the original Mission San Diego de Alcala. It was truly a sacred kind of affair. I was in a nicely vegetative and not overly contemplative state, as we navigated our own tour of this the first Mission in Alta California. The history was actually quite interesting and I could very well see how living in those days might work. Since all fourth graders need to do their mission projects, the spousal unit was insuring F9's A in advance. Not that we're much concerned, she has a knack for such things. At any rate, we checked out the digs, the chapel, the garden, the baptismal font, the wishing well, the bell tower and other artifacts. M10 found some lizards and that was the end of his attention span.

Afterwards we had an early supper with the certificates the kids earned at Mimi's Cafe and then took in that excellent film 'Two Brothers'. I recommend the film more than the Cafe, but you can't beat free.

Sometime after the film, the Unit took over driving. I don't remember much about how I got home. But it's good to be back. I heard something happened over in Iraq while I was gone...

Posted by mbowen at June 30, 2004 11:41 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


San Diego .... is the best place to chill...the downtown area is great

Posted by: Weight Loss at June 30, 2004 01:14 PM

I'm glad you had a good time. Next time you get down here give me an e-mail -- we'll do an S.D. Bear Flag lunch.

Posted by: Bryon at June 30, 2004 04:47 PM