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February 11, 2003

San Diego Vacation Part I

We left our house at 6:30 Sunday morning (February 9th). My dad and Don Staehley (correct spelling?) played chauffeur. Our first challenge of the day was getting the 6 of us and our 13 pieces of luggage into the Windstar. After stuffing everything into the van we had a nice drive to the airport. Due to elevated security, we arrived the obligitory two hours early. We had an e-ticket and were able to check in curbside which allowed us to be on the way to the gate in less than 5 minutes. Since we had an hour and a half to kill before getting on the plane I suggested we have breakfast at the Rose City Grill. This turned out to be a great idea. Both Harrison and Emma ate well; Emma even went potty on the grown-up toilet (which she proudly announced to all of our neighbors in the restaurant). At one point during the meal we heard a very loud bang that actually shook the building a little bit. Suddenly the restaurant grew very quiet. For a few moments everyone's fear was evident. My suspicion is that one of the baggage carts bumped into the building directly beneath the restaurant. After breakfast we passed through security (Jennifer and I both had to be searched) and moved on the the gate. To pass the time while we were waiting Harrison and Emma rode the moving sidewalk that was nearby.

We boarded the plane and settled in for a very smooth flight to Los Angeles. The kids entertained themselves with sticker books and DVDs played on Jennifer's iBook. We had two seats on either side of the aisle and the passengers by the windows were very happy to sit next to such well behaved children. When we arrived at LAX we had two and a half hours to kill before our flight to San Diego. Both Harrison and Emma said they were hungry so we found a pizza place and had some lunch. Because our flight to San Diego was a United Express flight we needed to take a short bus ride to another terminal. While we waited for the bus to arrive Harrison and Emma had races. Once we arrived at our terminal the kids amused themselves by running up and down the handicap ramp. Then after a short flight we arrived at Lindbergh Field and gathered together our luggage for the bus ride to SouthWest Car Rentals (I believe their name was previously Sleazy Rentals). We met Janet (Jennifer's mother) there for our trip to the resort. After a joyful hour and a half process we got our full size car and travelled to the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort.

When we arrived at the resort we unloaded the cars and got settled in the room and went to dinner at the Karl Strauss Brewery here at the resort. The food was great! The kids both ate well (three times in one day!).

After dinner we gave the kids baths and put them to bed. I sat on the balcony overlooking Carlsbad and the Pacific Ocean while Jennifer lounged in front of the fireplace. A good first day!!

Monday morning (as always) was kind of a drag. Janet wanted to go to the "Welcome Breakfast" to see what kind of entertainment and recreation the resort offered. The breakfast actually turned out to be an opportunity for the resort to try and sell you a time share. So after 10 minutes of this I took the kids for a walk. After the breakfast was over we evaluated our options and chose to go to the San Diego Zoo.

After a 30 minute drive on the crazy California I-5 (we travelled at an average speed of approx. 80 miles per hour) we arrived at the zoo. We took 10 minutes or so to assess the different entrance packages and settled on the 5 day - 3 park pass which allows us to go to the Wild Animal Park, Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo as many times as we want between Monday and Friday. We finally entered the zoo around 11:00 am.

The guided tour bus was our first activity. We all got on the top deck of the bus and were driven through the exhibits for about 45 minutes. Our guide Duncan pointed out the highlights and gave us advice on when to view the different animals. During this time we ate the lunch we had packed.

On the top deck of the tour bus

After the tour we began visiting the different exhibits. Our first stop was the reptile house. We saw many snakes and lizards; the highlight was the Komodo Dragon.

The children's zoo was our next stop; it contained Red Pandas and a petting zoo as well as two very cute monkeys named Harrison and Emma.

Before continuing on we decided a snack was in order.

After that we visited the Gorillas (which were hiding from us) and the large cats. We were able to get very close to several leopards and a black jaguar which were all very active. Once we reached the bottom of the hill we viewed the sleeping Panda.

By now we had walked many miles. Both Harrison and Emma seemed tired but had not really complained once. So we decided to walk down the hill through the tiger exhibit.

While we were unable to see any tigers we did end the day with a fantastic show from the hippos. They were biting each other and plunging in and out of the water in a rather fantastic manner.

By the end of our trip through the zoo both kids were very tired and so we chose to ride the express bus back up the hill. Emma fell asleep as we went up the hill and Harrison was ready to snuggle up with his daddy.

Emma slept the whole way back to the resort and Harrison also took a nap on the way home. On the way back the freeway was very busy. At one point the highway was very congested and Jennifer radioed that a motorcycle would be passing between lanes of traffic at a very high speed. Moments later a guy on a crotch rocket shot past us - right between the two lanes. A little later traffic was again moving 65 or 70 miles per hour and Jennifer radioed to say another motorcycle would be coming. This time, as traffic was moving at a much more steady rate, I drove the car very close to the other lane of traffic so he wouldn't be able to get through. I amused myself in this manner for about a minute and finally let him pass.

When we arrived back at the resort Janet, Jennifer, Harrison, and Emma went down to the hot tub while I prepared dinner. When they came back up Janet and the kids ate dinner while Jennifer and I prepared to go out. Janet had a ceasar salad from room service and it only cost $16.00 (that included tax as well as gratuity and an additional gratuity - since I didn't notice that they had already charged me for one). We had asked for a recommendation from the front desk and they suggested Vigilucci's Seafood and Steakhouse. Since that was the only recommendation they gave us we made a reservation and off we went. We had a wonderful meal and came back to two sleeping children.

Posted by jeremy at February 11, 2003 06:29 PM


It's almost as if I were there with you. Thanks for sharing with us. I guess it's cheaper this way.

Posted by: Aunt Judley at February 12, 2003 06:13 AM

the report and pictures are great. i hope the rain stops soon. the quilts are setup and we're reasy to workshop! Miss you, Carolyn

Posted by: Carolyn at February 12, 2003 10:20 PM

You'll be happy to know that we're supposed to start getting rain again up here. And we taped West Wing for you.

Hope you're having fun, staying relaxed, and keeping dry!

Posted by: J.D. at February 13, 2003 07:54 AM