Trip Day 33
Friday 7th September, 2011
Leaving Anaheim/Disneyland was rather sad! We all enjoyed it so much - for me, way more than I expected. It is true that magic exists at Disneyland.
I had my first "run-in" of sorts with an American this morning around the laundry! This middle-age American couple where having a coffee and reading the paper poolside, when they saw me fussing over my "cold, wet" laundry I pulled out of the dryer. Of the two machines, it seems I'd chosen to use the one that had a busted heater. So I went back to my room to get more coins and 2mins later when I came back they had put their washing in the working dryer. I fussed around a bit and didn't know what to do, as I had got out of bed early at 6am to get the washing done and dried before we checked out and now all I had was wet washing that would stink by the time we drove to San Diego! I went back to our room and told David the story - he suggest I go back and ask them if they'd mind letting me use it first so we could leave. I did that, but they said NO! I'm not sure who was rude, me or them.... either way, I decided we couldn't take wet washing so we waited.
Thankfully, check out in American hotels is an hour later than in Australian hotels. 11am check out is the norm, instead of 10am, so that gave us time to have a long breakfast and wait for the dryer to be read and instead of leaving, we went off to the shopping mall and returned Leah's new Pokemon jacket to switch for a bigger size, then come back and get my washing out of the dryer.
So by 11am we left for San Diego via the biggest freeway I'd ever seen! Previously the biggest had been 6 lanes each way, but from Anaheim to SD it was 8 lanes both ways! Ugly, but gee they work well!
Only 1.5 hrs to San Diego, early check-in to our hotel, changed rooms 'cause it didn't have the advertised fridge, planned our trip to the zoo and safari park and had a bit of a rest. David had come down with terrible man cold - they very worst kind imaginable (!) so I suggested the kids caught up with their journals, I got myself oriented with where the heck we were (maps/guidebook) and planned the afternoon, and he slept. When he awoke I had things planned and we headed out for a look around.
First, we drove to Mission Beach
- I had to go here, it was where the first "triathlon" took place. I knew from looking at previous pics, that it wasn't going to be the best beach in the world, but it had a great atmosphere. Leah and David's eye's nearly popped out when we drove past "Belmont Park" - a mini-amusement park with a .... roller coaster. Even though they'd just had 3 days at Disneyland, David and Leah still wanted more rides, Chardae and I didn't and it was closed anyway. We had a walk around and found the happening scene was a FlowBarrel, an artificial wave machine at the Wave House (outdoor pub/cafe overlooking the fun of kids (and adults) surfing the wave. By around 4ish, the crowd starting coming in, with lots of youngsters who then made a sudden exit back to the Belmont Park amusement rides - it was open! Leah and David made a dash for the wooden rattler, and then we went for an enjoyable sunset stroll along what they called "the boardwalk", but it's a concrete footpath! What a sight!
We also drove a little further north to explore the Pacific Beach area, but the area is rathe feral and we didn't see anywhere suitable for dinner so headed back to downtown San Diego. We found a Thai in the Gaslamp Quarter and scored a free parking spot
right outside the restaurant. Free parking from 6pm - it was 5.59 and a car pulled out of the spot
just for us (how thoughtful). Quick scan of the menu revealed it would be a cheap dinner so we added some fancy cocktails to the bill - I had some huge big green fluffy pina colada type thing, Leah had a non-alcholic (of course) strawberry dacquari, and David had a Long Island Iced Tea that nearly knocked him out and Chardae had her usual ... milk.
After dinner we drove around the city and enjoyed the lights but had an early night back in our motel room.
Chardae on the Carousel
Belmont Park - Roller Coaster
Wave Rider at Misson Beach
"Boardwalk" along Misson Beach
Sedgeways for hire along Misson Beach boardwalk
They all come out to play at sunset
Some very nice homes on the beachfront
Paradise Beach Jetty
Trip Day 34
Saturday 8th September, 2011
Today we had a big day at the San Diego Zoo. It was free all month of October for kids, so that was a bonus, and I had picked up a voucher in the hotel foyer to get $4 off our adult entry tickets so I think we got in for about $60 all up.
The zoo is very steep and hilly but you can manage to get around by walking downhill to the Skyway station and take the scenic way back up to the top. David was really suffering with his cold and was certainly not looking like an Ironman today, so we also took the "bus tour" all over the park and listened to the commentary and got ourselves oriented first before walking around. Our liitle 10yr old Leah is the family zoologist and literally knows everything about every animal in the world, and she was so excited to see certain species that we don't see in Australian zoos. Neadless to say, I was instructed which animals I had to photograph...
Asian Elephant (both males & females grow tusks)
Aww cute Panda
Caracal (Desert Lynx)
Singing Dog (Papua New Guinea) not a dingo
Warty Toad (Amargosa?)
Blesbok (white faced antelope)
Leah at the petting farm
Snakes of every colour
It was a big day, and we were all pretty exhausted by the end, as you usually are after a full day at the zoo. I suggested however, that we go directly for dinner. We chose the waterfront and again had good luck with the parking. Without hesitation we opted for a basic fish and chip dinner at the wharf
at Anthony's Fishette. A bit unhealthy but we're so over spending so much time and effort fussing over trying to eat well and we've still put on so much weight, I don't care anymore! Just eat it and deal with the weight loss when we get home, it's final days now.... so we had fried squid, fried mussels, fried fish and chips with tartare sauce etc. Plus Corona beers, a lovely sunset and then a walk along the wharf
. There was a huge cruise liner, some buskers, some homeless people, some street peddlers, and tuk-tuks ($10 for a sunset ride for the family, with the guy peddling his bike). We prefered to walk but it was rather novel to see some of them struggle with 3 fat ladies for $10! We walked down to see the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier floating museum that is open to the pubic for touring however the signs said whislt you had to pay full price ($56 for our family) for admission, tomorrow they would have half of it closed due to a film crew onboard doing a documentary. Shame. We were able to walk the full length of it along the dock however and David pointed out the interesting parts and explained to us "girls" about the amazing lift and internal hanger.
A rare moment of sharing
Trip Day 35
Sunday 9th September, 2011
Today we headed off to the Coronado. This is almost an island - but is a narrow penninsula accessible by driving across a 2 mile long bridge over the bay onto the "island". We then spent the day on the beach. We stopped just near the famous Hotel de Coronado (wow) and the kids had a ball. It seemed a cool day, and anyone in the water had wetsuits on so the kids didn't have cossies, just splashed about in the shallows. This part of San Diego is drastically different to the rest of San Diego - it is light, more appealing visually, and the streets are quite pretty. The beach to the north is gorgeous but ends at the naval base so we parked ourselves a bit on the southern end. David was still feeling very unwell with his cold and tried not to let it affect the rest of us but he was clearly struggling just to be outdoors. We let him sit on a park bench! I went for a photo/walk. The kids got filthy dirty in the wet sand - it was black but interesting as the sand had strange flecks of gold through it. No idea what that was.
We then moved on in the car further south down the Silver Strand State Beach (past the line up of RVs) and found Imperial Beach (IB). We were almost in Mexico (and it was quite obvious by the local fraternity hanging around). This is very much a locals place but interesting all the same. We had a very cheap lunch (fresh and nicely done) then next door had homemade icecream (4 for the price of 1 at Disneyland!). Then we walked out on the jetty and watch the fishing. At the end of the jetty is a seafood restaurant with a photo board of all the local fishermen's catches - mostly sharks, bizarre sharks!
We headed back to our hotel in the late afternoon and decided to get a pizza delivered to our motel room (you have to tip the delivery boy too).
The magnificent Coronado Hotel
Kids just love the beach!
Imperial Beach.... nearly Mexico!
Pier at Imperial Beach
Trip Day 36
Monday 10th September, 2011
Today is the last day of our USA trip and we saved the San Diego Safari Park for last. This park is unlike anything we have in Australia
- it features an open-air safari area that you tour about in a shuttle bus to view African savannah animals on the roam. It wasn't EXACTLY as we had imagined. The entry was the same as for the zoo if you went for the basic entry. However, upon reflection, I see that they other entry options would have given more close-up encounters with the animals and more time in the safari area. There are still the usual fenced exhibits in a zoo-like facility with much the same animals we'd seen on Saturday. We really wanted to spend the time with the African savannah animals but the only option at the price we'd paid ($80) was a 20mins bus tour around the perimeter. It was fine, but probably not quite as good as we'd hoped, until....
... we heard about the Cheetah run. Daily at 3pm, they entice a cheetah to run after a stuffed toy (like a greyhound chasing the rabbit) on a retractable string out of a box for 100m sprint. They make a huge deal out of it and its fun! First they get a kid from the audience to run 30m. They calcuate his average 100m speed and let you know the result. Next they bring out the cheetah's best mate - a dog! We'd seen this at the zoo a few days earlier, it keeps the cheetah more calm and happy. The dog didn't put up a fast sprint, just a gentle amble. They log his time however. Next comes the Cheetah. We were perfectly positioned at the end and the kids were in prime position. The cheetah comes flying out of its box and literally flies through the air straight at you. Awesome. It skids to a halt, gulps down the raw meat it is offered then sits down and licks the trainers arm for 5mins. The vet takes a pulse and agrees it can run again. Yeah, what fun! We go through the process again and its such a treat to see such a beautiful creature in full sprint. Worth the entry alone.
Macaws in flight
Red River Hogs
Condor in flight
Beatiful orange birds
The Secretary Bird
The Warthog and Bat Eared Fox
The safari tram circuit
Views from the safari tram
Leah quietly sneaks up to the sleeping Lion and...
The awesome cheetah chasing its toy on a string
A magnificent cheetah
Long and lean - Cheetah
Leah chooses the Okapi
Chardae chooses the Cheetah
Exhausted at the end of yet another big excursion, we drive back to LA airport (LAX). Drive to the rental car dropoff which is not an office, just a drive-thur. The roadway attendant has a barcode scaner which he uses to get data off the sticker on our windscreen says "welcome Mr Martin", and helps us get out luggage out of the trunk, gives us a luggage trolley, gives us our receipt off a hand-held ticket machine (we had pre-paid) and directs us to our waiting bus 5 metres away. We board and in 2mins are on our way to LAX. We are relaxed, early and hungry. We change in the restrooms, check-in, eat our first USA McDonalds (actually quite yum), buy perfume and alcohol duty free and get on the big A380 airbus. 15 hour flight to Sydney
, 2 hours transit then 5 hours to Perth
arriving Wednesday 12th October around midday.
It's over now. Sad, but it's also good to be home. I've taken over 4500 photos and have no idea how to catalogue them. Oh well, at least I got the text in the blogs
done. I hope you enjoyed it? I am trying to extract my pics out of Picassa as I type but it's been 2 hours now and the system is hanging with a search request. I'll just keep adding as I go. Keep an eye on the last few blogs
for the rest of the pics. I'd also like to write a "reflection" blog as there are things I haven't said that need saying. Anyway, I could never live there, but they do some things well in America. I am surprised to say that. I hate their food and I dislike their price tags as you have to add tax and sometimes tips and tax is different in every state. Too hard. Anyway, more about that type of thing in my next blog. Hooroo!