Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vacation Day 8 - Thanksgiving Day

We spent Thursday, November 25, 2010, giving thanks at the San Diego Zoo.

As wonderful as it is to have a reunion on Thanksgiving Day cozied up with family and scads of tasty dishes, my most memorable holidays have all been spent away from home. I'm sure this one will pass the test of time.

The zoo is located by Balboa Park - a place we had already visited several times - so we knew exactly how to get there. We arrived just as the park opened, and we immediately got in line to take the bus tour of the zoo.

The bus tour is awesome. They use double-decker buses (we chose the longer line to the upper, open deck), and after you board, you get to see 75% of the zoo in under an hour, complete with zoologist commentary. The only problem with the buses? You see 75% of the zoo in under an hour which left us wondering what to do for the rest of the day.

But since the San Diego zoo is a big, sprawling confusion of paths through enclosures that span over 100 acres housing 4000 animals of 800 species, we managed to fill the time: Zoo Exhibits.

We were there early, so the zoo animals were fairly active. Sure, I took photos of the animals, but they're identical to every other tourist photo you've seen of zoo animals... so this is the only one I'm including. We were not the only animals in the zoo who enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast.

What really cracks me up about this photo is the angle of the hyena's head.

I've learned that the four components of good health are 1) Diet, 2) Exercise, 3) Sleep, and 4) Flexibility. I'd say this guy (girl?) has #4 in the bag.


Bridgette did more walking at the zoo than any other day of vacation. We still carried her, but we carried her a lot less than usual.

The zoo had some reasonable topography -- including elevation changes of significance -- and for the first time, B tried her feet uphill and down. (There's enough elevation change that from the bottom of the zoo, they actually engineered steeply angled moving-sidewalks to carry you back up to the top. Cool!)

We were not the only ones to think she was cute. Maybe it was the holiday mood, but we got a lot of comments about her sunglasses, her adorableness, and her good behavior.




When her feet "failed" her, we rented a stroller to save the day. When she wasn't in it, we used it to carry all our stuff. (Please see first photo, top of blog.)

The stroller was an interesting low-step, open-front design. It was perfect for rolling a child right up to a glass wall or for having them hop in-and-out to see things.

But a design for napping? Not so much. The stroller provided nothing to lean on, to the back or to the sides, so zoo day was also No Nap Day. Not a wink. You'll see in the later photos that Bridgette's eyes are deep with exhaustion.


Somewhere, deep in the heart of the jungle, dwells a rare species of variegated pink monkey.


Okay, so the very famous San Diego Zoo lives up to the hype. From what I could tell as a lay-observer, it was a really great zoo. We enjoyed it.

The only complaint we had, which is more a word of warning for anyone else planning to visit, is that the maps around the zoo are not very accurate. I'm a pretty good map reader (see previous post), but there were a lot of branching paths in the zoo that were not demarcated on the map.

The major thoroughfares were spot on, but once you began meandering to either side of the main roads, the sidewalks were misleading, literally. When reaching one of the innumerable forks, you didn't know if the two paths would eventually meet up or not. (Seemed like they "or-notted" on us more than once.) Sometimes the splits didn't even remain on the same elevational level of the zoo -- one going up, one remaining down.

In fact, as we oft gazed befuddled, I found myself thinking of the zoo like a human experiment -- a kind of large-scale mouse-maze. I wondered if we were being observed by scientists in the shadows making statistical tic-marks and time-stamps.

"Checked map for 2 minutes 35 seconds. Chose the left fork."

We were not the only ones. Although initially frustrating, it became rather funny to me by the end. Everywhere you looked there were huddles of "wild" humans staring cock-headed at maps and arguing with each other before picking a path at random.

At one point, we even asked a curator how to get to a certain location. He tried very hard to figure it out for us. But he kept shaking his head and mumbling, "No, that won't work..." Eventually he told us we had to go through the aviary. Fine. We like birds.

But the path he sent us on (trust me, we systematically followed his directions) didn't take us to the aviary. It took us to yet another split in the path that was nowhere *near* the aviary.

As a result, we saw some things we never intended to see. We also missed some things we very much wanted to see.

But the best mistake we made that day was when Jeff took us to Red #11 instead of Green #11, an easy mistake, especially when you're color-blind: Official Zoo Map.

We had decided when we arrived at the zoo to eat our Thanksgiving meal at the Sabertooth Grill. Mmm... chicken sandwiches... fries... maybe some apple slices or salt & vinegar chips. But a little errant map reading took us to Albert's Restaurant instead where they were serving a *real* Thanksgiving dinner!

Albert's Restaurant was right next to the gorilla enclosure, but there were no gorillas to be found. This was as close to a gorilla as we got.


BTW: Here is a British news report about a gorilla video that has gone viral in the last few days:


So when we found out that Albert's Restaurant was serving a traditional (though expensive) Thanksgiving dinner, we were most excited. Conversely, when we found out you had to make a reservation far in advance, we were most disappointed.

But then we were told we could be put on a waiting list and hang around until they could seat us. Wa-hoo! Then the maitre d' suggested it might take an hour or more. An hour? With an exhausted 2 year old? Frustration!

We opted to list ourselves anyway, and Bridgette and I wandered off to bide our time doing something a small child would enjoy. Mostly that included playing with (but not buying) stuff at a gift shop.

After all that, we were happily seated within 10 minutes. I guess the long wait time was to eat outside "with the animals." I don't know which animals, but we were just as pleased to be seated faster. Truthfully, it was a pretty chilly day, and I think inside was the better option anyway.

They had several preset Thanksgiving meal choices, from prime rib to salmon, but we went with conventional turkey.

Here are Jeff and Bridgette playing menu-peek-a-boo before ordering.



And this was one of the most delicious salads, ever. Mmm...


While Jeff and I ate our salads, Bridgette had her very own appetizer:

Peanuts!


I forgot to take photos of our impeccable dinner plates (I know, I can hear you groan with disappointment), so let me describe them for you: flawless-looking turkey, stuffing, gravy, green beans, mashed potatoes, roll, and cranberry sauce (all in tiny amounts that did in fact fill us but made us feel gypped). We didn't order traditional pies, but got slices of chocolate cake and cheesecake instead.

The entire dinner was delicious, with the exception of the turkey which tasted gamy. We wondered if maybe the missing gorillas had anything to do with that.



Even Bridgette ate a delicious traditional Thanksgiving dinner of peanuts dipped in gravy!




The cheesecake was so good that we asked where they purchased it. Next big event, we're hoping they'll ship one to us: M and M Patisserie Cheesecake.

Bridgette liked the chocolate cake. Normally cake is off limits, but she got some Thanksgiving nibbles.




After we finished Thanksgiving dinner and cleared off, we went to watch the zoo's animal show at the amphitheater. It started late, so we had time to check out the nearby exhibits.

It was definitely educational as we were able to witness the wonder of creation. In this case, the creation of baby tortoises.

Bridgette thought the tortoises were hilarious, and she kept mimicking the noises they were making. And of course we thought *that* was hilarious. We took, and will keep to ourselves, some video of the experience.

So the zoo show featured condors, a wolf, and a sea lion... but fortunately not at the same time.

I took this photo after the show. The trainer was trying to teach the sea lion a new trick. It looked to me like he wanted a "good-faith" sardine before performing.


Both Sea World and the San Diego Zoo have a skylift. In the case of the zoo, it also serves a purpose. Not only does the "Skyfari" give you an aerial view, but it takes you from the Discovery Outpost to the Polar Rim without having to refer to the map a single time. It was like taking the Clue shortcut from the Conservatory to the Lounge.

Being late afternoon by the time we headed to the Polar Rim, we were all starting to shiver from the cold. Traveling above the zoo gave the benefit of sunshine but the detriment of wind.

Bet you can't find Bridgette.


We ended the day at the Elephant Encounters. See for yourself.



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Vacation Day 7


Vacation Day 7 began like any other. Wake up leisurely. Watch "hotel" cartoons unavailable at home. Wear shades, everywhere, in the dark.


I should mention that in addition to Bridgette's health being slightly on the fritz post-enteritis, traveling is not conducive to normal sleep schedules.

Sure. We all know that.

But from day to day, we were definitely starting out more or less rested dependent on the day/night before. We started Day 7 on the tired side. Bridgette's stool output on Day 7 was higher than Day 6 (might have been all the peanuts), and we had been up several times during the night changing her too. By extension, she was up several times as well.

After some in-room breakfast (peanuts and pop-tarts), we hit the road and headed to San Diego Bay to see the one thing on the "mommy-must" list, the USS Midway. I had been in San Diego for a conference in 2004 when the Midway docked, but it was a full week before she opened to the public, and I had flown out the day of her maiden "tour."

I've always wanted to get back to San Diego just to see her. If you're interested in naval vessels and want the particulars of her life, please refer to the fount of all wisdom: Wikipedia: USS Midway (CV-41).

If you want to see lots of photos of the ship, please see this site: www.midwaysailor.com.

This is a photo I took on the flight deck of "the island."


Now, I love my daughter. And I love a lot of the photos I've taken of her. But this next shot ranks right up there with the best photos of all time.

Seriously. Look at that face!

We had just received our headsets on the hangar deck, and she was nothing but concentration.

I don't know if she'll turn out to be a pro-wrestler, an engineer, a mommy, a painter -- none of the above or all of the above -- when she grows up.

But I'm pretty sure no one there would have guessed she had taken her first tentative "baby" steps only a few months before she was touring the Midway, as engrossed as any adult.


I'm including a link of all the self-guided tour stops, so I don't feel responsible for telling you about everything we saw: www.midway.org.

The ship was really fascinating, and I enjoyed her as much as I thought I would.


Here we are checking out some of the luxurious sailors' bunks, although for reasons unknown Jeff seemed to think he might not be comfortable living on a carrier.

There were thousands of bunks, all crammed together in the most predictable places, like, wherever there was a tiny bit of room. As I understand it, sailors had under-mattress space as well as one locker for belongings.


And we can only hope that the sailors didn't have birthing hips to fit in their berths. We came to the conclusion that Jeff was too tall, and I was too girl.


After the sailors "quarters," we went to the fo'c'sle (forecastle) where we saw the mighty anchor chains (2,000 feet of thick chain plus 20-ton anchors) and met a skilled knottist -- for which there might be an official name, but I don't know it.

The knottist was a veteran of the Midway and had made a truly impressive display of master knots (not pictured). The display was matted in gorgeous ropemanship, and he told me that it had taken him 12 hours to complete every 6 inches of matting.

He was selling bracelets of rope for $3, and although I'm not a fan of jewelry in general, I was strangely compelled to buy one. In fact, he had various colors and styles, but I knew immediately which one was mine, as though it had a soul and was calling me. I've worn it quite often since then.

Bridgette tried her hand at a basic knot. She never quite mastered it, but she learned the word "rope," so that's something.


The Midway was propelled by steam turbines (12 boilers), and despite the namesake (Battle of Midway), she wasn't actually launched until March 1945. And even though it's a bit confusing, she's also a Midway-"class" carrier (following the Essex-class of WWII), Midway-class being one of the longest lived carrier designs in history.

This was taken in one of the four engine rooms.

Yeah, cool!

We've really got to get one of these for the playroom...


No family vacation is complete without a little time in the brig.


OK, so I pause in the photos to tell you a couple of anecdotes.

1) Bridgette had a rough day below decks. Once in a corridor, on a path to wherever, there aren't exactly baby changing stations. Nor are there trash cans. There are no benches. There's barely enough room to walk, and those metal, clanging stairwells are a bit steeper and skinnier than the city-standard norm.

So, with a run of changes needed every 30 minutes or less, we found ourselves ducking into some truly unusual spaces for diaper changes: under stairwells, in between seats in a mission briefing room, on the hangar deck... deck, etc.

I felt pretty badly for Bridgette because she's old enough to feel uncomfortable being changed in front of strangers, but there wasn't much choice there on the ship.

2) I didn't take any photos of the medical bay (probably my favorite part of the ship - sick bay, operating tables, etc.), but I found the self-guided tour commentary amusing. Some former medics were relating their daily battles with split-open heads because of the low doorways and plethora of pipes and sundry metal objects on which to smack oneself.

I don't know why I thought it was funny. I probably shouldn't have.

3) Aircraft carriers are called "a city at sea." In the case of the Midway, consider these factoids:

Crew 4,500:
$1.2 million in monthly payroll
5 physicians/3 dentists
200 pilots
600 men in engineering alone

Daily food requirements:
13,500 meals served daily
10 tons of total food daily
20,000 lbs dry provisions
1,000 loaves of bread daily
3,000 lbs potatoes daily
5,000 lbs vegetables daily
4,500 lbs meat when served
500 pies when served
225 cooks

Ship:
1,001 feet long/258 feet wide
1,500 telephones
Compartments in excess of 2,000
200 miles of piping
3,000 miles of copper conductor
3.4 million gallon ship fuel capacity
260 gallons ship fuel used per mile
1.24 million gallons jet fuel capacity
240,000
gallons fresh water produced daily
18-foot tall propellers
18 decks
4 acre flight deck

History:
20th century's longest serving carrier
327 days deployed, aircraft carrier record
Largest ship in the world for a decade
First ship too large for the Panama Canal
First carrier to operate extensively in the sub-Arctic
Midway pilots shot down the first & last MiG of the Vietnam War
Led evacuation of Saigon; rescued 3,073 refugees in two days
Flagship in Operation Desert Storm
Rescued 1,800 Americans fleeing eruption of Mt. Pinatubo
Has seen over 5 million visitors since opening as a museum

That doesn't include any information about ship's laundry, mail, etc., but you can see that it requires a lot to survive in the ocean with that many folks on board.

Here is a photo inside the island leading to the communications rooms. Please note the profusion of cables. One more visual cue as to the size and capacity of this beast.

The corridors in the island are actually wide and the doorways tall by comparison to below decks. On the other hand, the stairwells are much steeper. I didn't have any trouble, but they absolutely, resolutely deny any tourists below a certain height to tour the upper island. Children/babies cannot be carried either because the stairwells are so steep that if you fell forward you could easily crush an infant, and if it was on your back, you would probably knock its head on the small openings between decks.


I took this photo because it reminds me so much of the disaster exercises in which I've taken part. In the most successful communications drills I've witnessed, the radio operators manually track transmitted information on a white board.

But let's just say that our exercises are rarely this comprehensive.


I was pretty tickled by the "bunny tubes." Need to send a paper message somewhere within the ship? No problem!


Here is an image from one of the command information centers, adjoining the communications rooms. I was really digging the call-signs. Click on the photo to make it bigger/readable.


Bridgette started melting down about half-way through the below decks stops, so Jeff, in his kindness, said he'd take Bridgette to the flight deck while I finished the self-guided tour. I went to the lower decks and saw the galley, chow line, bomb elevator, CPO mess, sick bay, and machine & metal shops.

I already mentioned that my favorite was sick bay, but I was really impressed by the precision machinery too. They had to be able to repair or produce any part needed, no matter how large or small, on a carrier with 74,000 tons displacement, so I'm sure the machinists had mad skillz.

I don't know how I managed to miss ship's laundry, but I wished I hadn't. I bet they used a lot of hot water and soap and wash drums.

One thing I liked about the self-guided tour is that the recording first explained the area and how it was used, but then veterans (or their wives) shared personal stories too. The stories were sometimes touching, often funny.

When I came up to meet my family, they weren't where I expected to find them. We had a good 30 minutes of searching (on my part) in which time I almost employed the emergency docent search & rescue alarm (they promised they could find anyone on the ship in under 5 minutes). But I figured I would keep looking on my own for a while, despite the gargantuan size of the ship and the many decks, planes, and nooks in which they could be hiding.

I eventually found them on the hangar deck. They had gotten hungry and had eaten at the Fantail Cafe. Mmm. It kind of reminded me that I hadn't eaten more than a pop-tart all day, but oh well, some things are really more important than food.

So then we separated again (cell phones equally distributed this time), so that I could tour the island. Bridgette spent almost the whole of my tour-time hanging out in the helicopter you can see on the far right in this photo. In fact, if you look carefully, you will see she and Jeff entering it near the tail.

The next three photos were all taken from the flight deck control room. In the second photo, you can see a couple of current nuclear-powered carriers docked across the bay (very large, yet very small). In the third photo, you can see the docent in charge of my island tour. He was a nice man and very knowledgeable.




I determined that if I were to serve in the Navy, I would want to be a navigator. The photo below shows where I would work. This room is outfitted with GPS, but in fact, carriers still navigate at all times by dead-reckoning. (That may change with the new class of uber-carriers planned for 2015.) The navigators also had back-ups available like the good old triangulating sextant.

One reason I'd want to be a navigator is because I like to navigate... numbers, maps, stars, planning, etc. But another reason is that it's one of a handful of positions above decks. The room, small as it was, even had portholes.

I think I'd go crazy without a little fresh air and sunlight in my life. (Jeff and I toured a retired Navy submarine in Portland. It sure was neat, but in the long-term it would have been too tight for Jeff and too dark for me.)


Well, ok. I guess I wouldn't mind being Captain Kelly either.

What's to admit?

The photo below was taken on the bridge. I'm sitting in the captain's chair, where 40 skippers and thousands of tourists have sat before. Also pictured are my new, wonderful rope-bracelet and some windows. The docent told us that for 10 years the bridge had no windows, just open gaps. So, in a gale the bridge crew would all hunker down behind the steel inner wall that protected (barely) the ship's wheel.

The captain's and admiral's quarters (also located in the island) were posh by comparison to everything else on board, so it felt like, "Wow! This is nice!" But then, when you compared the size of their quarters to the size of a master bedroom in an average house, you realized it was still pretty small.

All a matter of perspective.


They had 25 restored aircraft on display as well as flight simulators and isolated cockpits. There were docents all over the ship to answer questions and do presentations. They were great. I took this following a lecture about precision take-offs and landings.


Cockpit = Too Big


Cockpit = Too Small


Cockpit = Just Right


We stayed on board until late afternoon and arrived back in our little hotel room (that was still *much* bigger than a bunk and locker) around 5PM.

Bridgette was bushed.



We used so many diapers in the first 7 days of vacation that the entire Costco box of diapers we had packed (200 count) wasn't enough to cover our needs.

So I headed out into greater San Diego to buy supplies. I was gone a couple of hours (had to make a handful of stops), and by the time I came back, Bridgette was...

... still asleep.


After such a late nap, we had a very restless night.

Then it was on to Day 8!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vacation Day 6 - The Whole Shebang

I was well and truly rebuked by the Johnson family for not posting more blog entries. My apologies to all. If you want me to post more often, leave a nice comment below!

1st) Comments drive my writer's ego helping me to want to write more often. I am shallow like that.

2nd) Comments help me know that someone besides my own mother is reading this. The mother I love.

**********************************************************************************

I've opted to continue with vacation before moving on chronologically to Christmas, etc. I may end up posting Christmas around Easter and Easter around Halloween, but it will help me later in my life not to be confused.

On Day 6 in San Diego, we went to Sea World. I woke up knowing it would be a great day, and it was. The sun was out. Bridgette was almost back to normal health. We were happy. Sea World was great.

I have posted an "eegads" number of pictures below because I didn't want to break-up the day. It was in fact one long day for us, sun-up to sun-down. I did not include photos of... so many things. But as you'll see, there are still plenty.

To start, this video explains perfectly why parents don't have to pay to take a two-year-old to Sea World. If you get bored after 15 seconds, don't worry. The other 3 minutes and 15 seconds are EXACTLY the same. :)

The great pigeon chase occurred right inside the Sea World gate and was our first main attraction.

In fact, we were in the process of renting a stroller when we turned around and Bridgette was GONE.

Yeah, great.

Some random, kind stranger said, "Is your daughter wearing a pink shirt? She's WAY over there."

Bridgette was following a pigeon who had no sense of obligation to us or decorum in general and had led our daughter across the whole entryway, where I suppose it was planning to introduce her to Shamu.

(And NO feeling sorry for the pigeon here, folks.)

That is how the day began.



We managed, accidentally, to stumble upon this fantastic, one-showing-a-day pet performance full of acrobatic dogs, cats, pigs, birds and other animals, none of whom are pictured here. Sorry.

It was wonderful! Bridgette loved it until she got splashed. And in her defense, it was a chilly day. We were glad to have the "don't-EVER-splash-me-again" warning though because otherwise we might have made the mistake of sitting in a splash-zone at the main water shows.



Bridgette's expressions as she watched the dogs frolicking about in a humorous and highly-trained fashion.



After the splash, the tears, the hoodie, the warmth, the kisses, and the recovery -- all of which lasted less than three minutes -- we were enjoying the show again.


Ok - so when I did the Festival of Trees "B" Tree in 2009, Grandma Hoose got a Baby Beluga book and CD for the tree and a second set for our home. For some time, Baby Beluga was our go-to song to help Bridgette calm down. She loved it.

This, in fact, is a baby beluga -- the whale in the foreground. Baby Belugas are born gray and then turn white after 1 to 2 years, once they are no longer dependent on their mother for survival. The mother, like other adult belugas, is white.


This is Bridgette throwing a fit by the beluga tank. We came to expect one 30 minute tantrum daily, between 10 & 11AM. No power on earth could stop it: no preparation, no offering, no love, no punishment. Then she would suddenly recover, and it was as though nothing had happened.

In the meantime, we learned to take photos and stare back at the people staring at us.



These are walruses. They were quite curious and came to get as close a look at my camera as possible.


Too close. A little too close.



There is a reason the orca show is famous. It's really good. And in a theme park, it's nice to be able to sit a while and just enjoy a show. "Shamu" is the name of one particular orca, a female. So we got to see the orca show and Shamu as well. I believe there is one "Shamu" at each Sea World park.

In this first photo, I had my shutter speed set for the dark underwater shots I'd been taking of the walruses, so it's overexposed. But it's still so cute. Please note the peanuts. She ate nothing but peanuts the whole day. She finished that whole jar.

You know, looking at this photo, I will always remember changing Bridgette's (very peanutty) diaper on the ground in the bushes behind the sound box. It was the most private place I could find (not having many options in the middle of a show).

Below Jeff and Bridgette, I have a whole series of photos taken with my rapid shutter. I hope you enjoy them. Imagine the music, and BELIEVE! (And clap! And sparkle!)





Four shots of the poor fools in the soak zone. Yeah. It was too cold a day for that for sure. Glad we were up above the deluge.





Orcas are the top of the food chain in the ocean. They hunt in a pack, like wolves. Nothing hunts them. They are beautiful and terrifying and powerful. You could tell they had a special bond with their human pack-mates, much like those sometimes forged between humans and wolves.








Bridgette has some bath toys shaped like various sea creatures, and I have diligently tried to teach her their proper names for the past two years. All it took from Jeff was one comment, "Bridgette! See the fish?" And suddenly, no matter what either of us told her, orcas were forevermore just plain-old fish.

After the show, Bridgette was extra-lovey-dovey and adorable. And she kept saying, "Fish!"








While Bridgette was sleeping, I took the opportunity to go visit one of the orcas up-close, as close as the park would allow anyway. S/he came over and eyed me carefully. It was eerie-cool.


I didn't take any photos of the new show, Blue Horizons, but it was great. It's dolphin based, so I liked that, but actually, the best part were the synchronized high-diving humans in their plumaged costumes. Very impressive.

It's a new show, and there were some technical difficulties. For example, the dolphins didn't all want to perform. Also, the storyline was too cutesy for me -- definitely written for girls who dream of being princesses. It felt like a Disney knock-off, complete with an after-show photo-op with the "princess" main character. But it was still a fine display of dolphin and human prowess.

Having done a number of theater productions, I'm always impressed by a good set. Blue Horizons had a beautiful set. Kudos to the designers.


This is why I didn't take any pictures of the show. I was holding a sleeping babe all cuddly and warm.


This was Jeff's favorite stop, and Bridgette and I liked it too. The sea lions were hilarious. One of them, the King of the Rock, put on quite a show. He flipped a fish in and out of his mouth, twirling it like a master batonist at a pageant, until a bird swooped down and snapped it up, mid-flip.

You should have seen the King's face! It was awash with disappointment and disbelief. His prize, his show -- gone! All gone!


When we go down the toy aisle at the grocery store, among all the other toys, Bridgette seeks out the snakes and alligators. So it didn't come as much of a surprise that she really, really, really liked the shark tanks.

If I were to guess the first-place rank of each of our favorite exhibits at Sea World, I would say Jeff = Sea Lions, Me = Dolphin Encounters (not much guesswork there, see Happy Mama), and Bridgette = Shark Tanks.

After observing sharks above water, you could run down a long series of tunnels (which Bridgette did -- run, that is -- with fervor, zeal and zest) to this fantastic conveyor-belt under/through the main tank.

Cool.



I love this photo of Jeff. Not only is he super-cute, but seriously, he looks like he's 20.


I promise we did not teach her the necessity of pulling on the conveyor-belt handrail to keep it turning, but had she not picked up on it herself those people would STILL be stuck in the shark tank.






Following the sharks, we went to see piranhas and other fresh-water creatures. Bridgette was tired of me taking photos and chose a proper hex.

"Piranhas to me! Now... fly, my pretties!"

My camera escaped. Barely.


When we left, we were greeted by this beautiful moon in the parking lot. I don't know who put it there, but it was so thoughtful. Such a friendly place to hang it.

And this was our last glimpse of Sea World... the Christmas tree of lights that was visible from all over San Diego. Nice. :)