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2012-366 Day 96 – San Diego Vacation III (The Activities)

So, after burning through a thousand or so words on the food yesterday, maybe I should spend a few on what we actually did on vacation. Whether it was as interesting as the food, well I’ll let you make that determination.

Thursday: We began our trip a little after noon (and a DMV appointment) and headed down to our first stop, Disneyland. Traffic wasn’t too bad and we made decent time into Disney’s parking structure line, which was the emptiest I’d ever seen it. We pulled directly up to the booth, flashed my pass, and were headed up to park on the roof in no time. We decided to walk to the park rather than waiting for the trams. (Where did all the people come from?) We headed directly for California Adventure, as the entire reason we were there was a Cars Land passholder exclusive preview event.

The entry plaza to California Adventure is still under construction, so we had to go entirely to the West end of the park before we could cut back to our destination on the far East end. There, inside one of the buildings behind one of the stages (very specific, I know), we found the place to get our wristbands and admittance into a hangar-like structure. It was actually pretty sparse inside, with about 2/3s of the space reserved for new merchandise you could purchase and the other 1/3 dedicated to some pictures, statues, and a stand giving out samples of some of the new food and drink. Jess and I took a minute to check out the pictures, grabbed a sample of the sour apple slushie (good) and popcorn (slightly seasoned, nothing to write home about), and then plunged into the merchandise. After going back and forth whether we wanted to get some of the opening day posters to adorn our new accent wall, we decided to just get the pin set and a Mater shirt for Jess’ cousin in Modesto (who is a Cars nut).

Having made our purchases and been stripped our our access-granting wristbands on the way out (not that we couldn’t have gotten another one by going back to the entrance), Jess wanted to check out the Blue Sky Cellar. I’d never been there before, and it turns out it’s a pretty cool place that houses more previews of everything that’s coming in the parks. The vast majority was focused on Cars Land, but there were also previews of the new entry to California Adventure and the new sleds they’re putting into the Matterhorn. It’s called the Blue Sky Cellar because the motto for the Imagineers is that when you start a project, you have nothing but blue sky to work with and anything is possible. Having aced the trivia game on the computers near the exit due to having watched a documentary on Disney last week, we headed out to acquire some Corn Dogs and take the tram back to our car.

We got down to San Diego and the rental house around 6:30, and I called the guy for the keys and he got there in about 15 minutes. We got settled in and then headed out to find our dinner and Target for supplies for the weekend. Having successfully acquired dinner and supplies, we got back to the house and crashed for the night.

Friday: We had our destination for the day picked out ahead of time, so we headed on over to the San Diego Wild Animal Park (about half an hour away from the house). The parking lot was a little more crowded than expected, but a bit of a hike and a tram ride later we were at the front gate. We picked up our tickets for the Butterfly exhibit and were told there were a lot of kids groups there (as the next available time was 3:30 and it was late morning when we got there). We had been once before and had a small list of things we wanted to see, but mostly we were just going to wander for a bit. I always liked the condor area since it is the highest point of the park and you can see across most of it, so we headed up that way initially. Coming back into the central part of the park, we circled the lagoon trying to decide what to have for lunch. After eating our corn dog, we completed a leisurely circuit of the entire park while making sure we were back in time for our butterfly visit.

We visited the butterfly exhibit with a group last year and were informed that, since it was the last weekend of the exhibit, we were seeing the last gasps of the decayed population (sad, I know). This time we were there for the first or second weekend, so we were assured a larger, more active population, and Jess was determined to get one to land on her. We certainly were not disappointed by the amount or activity of the butterflies in the enclosure, they were everywhere and landing on lots of people. One lady towards the end had several butterflies that would not leave her alone. Sadly, they just didn’t seem to like Jess or I, although one did land on her shoulder briefly just before we departed. We headed out from the exhibit intending to burn a little time until the Cheetah run at 5, but were encouraged by the people wrangling a honey badger to go over and stake spots out early.

When we got over to the run, most of the railing spots had already been taken. Jess pounced on an opening between an Asian couple and a grandfather and grandson, and I circled the place to see if I could find a better vantage point. There were no better locations, so Jess and I settled in to wait the 45 minutes or so until showtime. The run, as we would be told in the introductory speech by the handler, was exactly long enough to allow the Cheetah to get to top speed and have enough time to stop, and is unique among zoos. We got to observe a couple tests of the lure, the “elusive floppy purple octopus” and then the running of the Cheetah’s companion dog (the name or breed I don’t remember, but he was BIG) to encourage the Cheetah to participate. With all the preliminaries out of the way, it was time for the main event. I will say, the cheetah at full speed is majestic, and the sound their paws make hitting the ground and accelerating is surprising. I was paying more attention to the run than my phone, so the video I was trying to take never actually recorded, but Jess got some pictures on the camera in rapid shot, one of which she is quite proud of. I’ll edit it into this post later when I have access to the camera.

Having spent a full day at the Park, we headed out to find dinner and then meandered our way back to the house.

Saturday: The list for the day was not quite as definitive as Fridays, but a bit more busy. We started by scheduling lunch with Steve and Hanka and visited with them for a little bit. After that we headed to the San Diego Zoo for our traditional first quarter of the year visit. Having spent most of the day before at the Wild Animal Park, we only had two goals for our quick visit, the aviary where I should have proposed (a story for another time) and the otter and monkey exhibit which has brought us some of the most entertaining times at the Zoo. It’s always amusing to see the otters play pranks on the monkeys, and this time we got to watch an otter repeatedly throw a rock around the waterfall. Our primary goals accomplished, we headed back to the car and started towards Coronado and then Hodad’s.

A quick aside, who designed the parking lot at the San Diego Zoo? We parked in between the F and G rows of the parking lot, and each had a sign decorated with an animal. The F sign had a flamingo decorating it, while the G sign had a giraffe on it. Made sense, until we started looking at the other signs, and saw the E sign with a Koala on it, and the C sign with a Meerkat atop. In fact, none of the other signs had an animal that matched its letter! This bothered me, a lot (hence why I’m mentioning it here), but we’ll move on.

After driving through Coronado (the ending point for the Ragnar Relay last year and this year), we headed to the border (just because), turned around a couple miles short, then headed back to Hodad’s. After Hodad’s we went downtown and walked around a bit, watching the end of the Kansas-Ohio State Final Four game outside a bar with large open windows and a rather rowdy fan base. After downtown, we went looking for gas and somehow ended up in Old Town San Diego, and, after walking around a bit around closing, made a note to come back with a group in the future. Finally finding the gas station and deciding not to wait for a late 50/50 burger (another Steve mention), we headed home to clean a bit and then get to bed.

Sunday: After an initial miscommunication led us to leave a little later than we wanted (the owner was waiting for us to call him, I though he was going to show up at a specific time), we headed back to the Wild Animal Park to try to feed the giraffes (which Jess really wanted to do, but we didn’t see the sign for it until after it ended on Friday). Unfortunately we got all the way out there before finding out that the line to get into the parking lot extended a quarter of a mile back up the access road and we determined we’d just have to come back another time as I had to get back before a 5 pm soccer game and we still had to get back up to L.A. Despite quite a bit of traffic, we made it back with over an hour to spare, thoroughly vacationed out, having had an excellent time.

Weight: 232.2 Loss: 7.8 lbs – Running Yearly Mileage: 86.7 miles (+5 miles)
Fitocracy Level: 17 (33441 points, 1409 to next level) – ID: disciplev1
Soccer – Last Game: L, 6-9 (Record: 1-4) Next Game: 4/15 – 5:50 pm

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