Friday, July 19, 2013


Day 13: And This is Why I Didn't Join the Navy!

Nothing will prepare you for the sheer enormity of the San Diego Zoo.  Nothing! Y’all, it is HUGE!! It covers over 100 acres right in the heart of San Diego, in the beautiful Balboa Park. We have been to many zoos as a family, but nothing compares to the San Diego Zoo.

First of all, it’s hilly and shaded and green.  And very easy to get lost in.  Or maybe that was just me. If we didn’t have a map, there’s no telling where we would have ended up.
We took the bus tour as soon as we arrived as many people had recommended it to us.  But with the limited time that we had, I wished we had just tacked the parts of the zoo we wanted to see.  That said, the bus tour is a great way to see 70% of the zoo in less than 30 minutes.  Plus the driver tells you all kinds of great stories about the animals, like how the 2 grizzly bears came from Yellowstone.  They apparently kept stealing campers picnic baskets…..

We saw some of the best animals up close and personal……
Penelope, a baby giraffe born in May 2013
Yun Zi – a four year old Panda.  It was lunch time and he was pretty active!
A whole pack (?) of koalas – though most were sleeping in the trees, they sure looked cute & cuddly.

We really loved how you felt like you were walking around a big park, not a typical zoo, where you have cage after cage.  Each animal’s environment reflected their needs and looked really unique.
That afternoon, we had a date with a ship – the USS Midway.  America’s longest-serving carrier, the USS Midway is an aircraft carrier that was active from 1945 – 1992.  The ship opened as a museum in 2004 and was really incredible.

We grabbed audio tours for the whole family and set off to explore the 3 decks.  It is all set up as if we were out at sea, with static displays throughout the ship.  Including the bunk area where the enlisted sailors slept.  It’s at this point where my husband (who proudly served in the Air Force) declares, “And this is why I didn’t join the Navy…”
The tour was awesome – I am so glad we went and saw the ship.  We didn’t give ourselves enough time to see the “Island” up top, but there really was so much to see.  We were there for 3 hours as it was.
There are lots of planes you can see up close and take pictures of on the Flight Deck.  And fun shots to take like this one:

And we had to go run over to the Unconditional Surrender Stature as well:
By then we were starving and had no clue where to go to eat.  We were there the same week as ComicCon, and the USS Midway was 2 blocks from the convention center, so our first priority was to get as far away from that as we could. When I was in California last May, I had gone to the excellent taco shop, Taco Surf, so I looked to find one near us.  Pacific Beach – let’s go.

When we got there, it was most definitely NOT the same place I had been to before.  Without going into how dirty of a place it was, let’s just say the majority of clientele would be barefoot surfers coming in with their boards, straight from the ocean.  Not that it’s a bad thing – but not quite the place you want to take your family.  Despite the look, hubby wanted to laugh at my expense so we nibbled a few tacos then quickly ran down the street to find this amazing make-your-own ice cream sandwich shop:

I’m telling you all this for a reason.  We were absolutely meant to go to this disgusting taco shop to have a special encounter in an ordinary beach gift shop.  As we were purchasing a few items, the storeowner noticed my son’s USS Midway hat.  He asked him if he enjoyed the tour and went on to tell us that his father was the CO of the USS Lexington for a few years in the 1970s.  We made pleasant conversation about it and he ten mentioned that his father was also a POW during the Vietnam War – for SIX years!! The gentleman’s father is Red McDaniel and he has written a memoir, Scars & Stripes.  It was an amazing conversation, one that my son was enthralled with.

It was an awesome evening to end a great day in San Diego, and going all the way over to Pacific Beach gave us a chance to say goodbye to the beach!

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