Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vacation Day 4

If you're wondering what happened to days 1-3, they were 1) drive to Las Vegas, 2) attend the Popovich Pet Theater, and 3) drive to San Diego.

We are not drive-without-stopping-get-there-as-fast-as-possible travelers.

Here is what San Diego looked like the first two days we were there. Sure, it's perhaps not the weather for which we hoped, but compared to the snow back home, we were still grateful.

This was the view from our hotel on Hotel Circle. That's our car.

Man, this is riveting stuff.

So, we were really glad to arrive the evening of November 19th, but let's just say that our hotel was not the quietest. It wasn't the worst, but it was old, and the ceiling/floor joists weren't supporting a lot of noise-dampening insulation -- possibly just some thin carpet and a sheet of 1/4-inch plywood.

Assigned to the second floor, that meant neighbors to three sides but also neighbors above. That was the clincher. The family above us must have arrived around 1AM. I can totally understand the need for their kids to run around and jump off of furniture after a long drive. But, Jeff and I being light sleepers, we were kind of up all night too. We hadn't slept well at Circus-Circus either because of Bri's diapering needs.

We finally called security (yep -- we were THOSE people), and the family above us settled down. All was well for at LEAST 3 hours before the family next to us (cute family, very excited about life, must have been 20 of them) woke up raring to go.

By then, we were pretty grumpy. We called the front desk and asked for a new room on the third floor. They were great and relocated us immediately. We spent most of the morning switching our stuff to the new room (did I mention we had just moved houses? half our vacation stuff was packed in plastic bags and cardboard boxes -- we looked like hobos) and finally headed out about the time we should have been coming back for naps.

Our first San Diego stop was the Museum of Man. That was possibly the hardest outing of the whole trip. I still liked the museum itself, and if I'm coming across as complaining, don't worry. Life got better as the days progressed.

I'd been buying San Diego deals from GroupOn all year, and one of the two-for-one tickets I picked up was for the Museum of Man at Balboa Park. Since it was a rainy day, a museum seemed the way to go. We weren't the only ones who thought this, so parking was a bit of a beast, but we found a spot and hurried in.

It was a beautiful hearkening back to my former life as an anthropologist: Mayan replicas with placards explaining hieroglyphics, ancient sports and ritual blood-letting, displays on evolution (oh Lucy! how I've MISSED you!), a special exhibit on the culture of games (for heaven's sake! we anthropologists really DO have special dispensation to study ANYTHING we like!), the Egyptian rooms (mummies and gods and what do you know? more hieroglyphics!), pottery (well, I'm supposed to love it, but I could do without the pottery), weapons (glorious weapons), etc.

So why, amidst this anthropological love-fest, do I have cause to complain?

Well, Bridgette was ... I really can't explain it. But it was hard. She refused to be set down, and I was tired and grouchy, so carrying her all day was taxing. She was tired and grouchy too, and her grouchiness presented with a constant, deliberate, and excessively loud whine. Add to this that she was more "off" her digestion than usual, and there was only one restroom on the bottom floor, so I was regularly -- no, something stronger than regularly -- PERPETUALLY hiking it up and down the stairs to change her diaper.

After 45 minutes, we started changing her wherever we were, no matter what anybody thought. In the corner, in a cave, on a bench, on a gorilla. That eased the burden a bit. Then a lady noticed Bridgette's long belly scar and asked about her. Oddly, that helped me a lot to have someone recognize that things might be difficult for us for a reason. Then Bridgette took a catnap on my shoulder. Cute little bug. That seemed to help her a lot.

Fortunately, all those things occurred right before I went to my favorite display. The special exhibit was called "Strange Bones" and was the main reason I wanted to visit the museum.

During my undergraduate degree, I took one physical anthropology class and loved it so much I would have changed tracks had my university had a physical / biological option. As it was, of the four potential anthropology tracks available in the world, my university supported two, cultural and archaeology.

After much deliberation, I chose cultural anthropology. Lately I've seriously considered going back to school yet again to complete a PhD, this time in physical anthropology, with the intent of becoming a forensic anthropologist. Although a lot of forensic anthropologists team up with criminologists to work on homicide / suicide / missing persons cases, I think I would keep my current emergency management bent and work on body recovery and identification after a large-scale event, DMORT-style. I know it sounds grim, but there's a psychological need for loved-ones to have something to bury, some piece of body to which they can say goodbye. Too often post-disaster, bodies are bagged without recognition or are even put in mass graves. If it was my family, I would want someone out there trying to figure out if that was my husband or my baby, so I could "have" them back and perform what I consider to be proper rites.

OK - so explanation mostly over, the last exhibit I saw was "Strange Bones." It was awesome!

Back in my undergraduate physical anthropology class, we were given whole skulls, craniums, or even boxes of skeletal shards, and we had to figure out sex, age, "race," and cause of death. I was really, really good at it.

In the museum's exhibit, I got to see examples of human bones that I'd never witnessed before. The bones revealed the ossified results of various diseases, fractures, malformations, and cultural modifications. There were side-by-side examples of bones from children of different ages as well as bones from similarly-sized animals. You could see the markings of tendons and ligaments.

It was truly fascinating and sometimes quite frightening. Ever hear of osteomyelitis? They had samples of bone marked by chronic osteomyelitis that made me shudder for whoever's life was affected.

But perhaps the coolest part of the experience was when Bridgette suddenly woke. She had been slung over my shoulder, her blanket wrapped around her head. Instead of stirring gradually, she shot up and yanked the blanket off. We were in the middle of glass cases full of skeletons, and I was a little concerned she would find them scary.

I shouldn't have been concerned. As my daughter, I'm not sure which of us liked the exhibit more. She immediately began pointing and saying, "Oo-OOO-ooh! Mom! Look!" It was fantastic explaining the bones to her. She seemed to appreciate them as much or more than all the anthropology students taking notes around us.

So that night we ate at a restaurant near our hotel called "Kelly's Steakhouse." You'll never guess why we went there...

I may take a lot of photos, but I'm not the only one. See?

At the steakhouse, Bridgette ate nothing but ketchup. No wait! It was A-1 sauce. So when we returned to the hotel, she loaded up on an entire bag of potato chips. Mmm...

Tomorrow... more rain! More museums! Until then, I hope you sleep at least as well as we did that night on the THIRD floor.

1 comment:

Lore said...

I'm enjoying this and looking forward to more. What a great experience for all of you!