San Diego, 2012.

Several months ago Greg came home and regaled us with the news that he was attending a conference in San Diego in June. Laurel would be at JBA, but Ethan and I could tag along, and did we want to do that?



So that’s just what we did.

We left on Saturday and flew through Houston to San Diego (yeah, I know, the efficiency of air travel is just overwhelming, yes). Interestingly, both legs of our flight involved passengers in need of medical assistance. You know, you always see it on the movies, a flight attendant manning the intercom, calmly asking, “Is there a doctor or nurse on board?”

And it happened. Twice. The first time for a poor young lady who had apparently forgotten her medication and passed out after vomiting, and the second time for an older gentleman who also passed out, needing oxygen.

Both times, nurses saved the day. Thank you, nurses. I hope if I ever need that sort of help one of you is on board that aircraft.

Outside of that, it was more or less uneventful, though I did get felt up by the TSA because I wore a long, flowing skirt and could have hidden all manner of incendiary devices beneath it. So that was fun.

Just about the very first thing we saw after renting the car was this right here:

Laurel St

So that was cool. Maybe out there people would actually be able to spell and pronounce Laurel’s name. Who knew how difficult that would be for the general populace? I sure didn’t realize it when I named her.

Then, while we were at it, we drove up the road a bit to Pacific Beach to eat fish tacos at Taco Surf. We were HUNGRY after flying all day, and now we were dealing with the time change, yada yada yada, and hey, we’ll look for about any excuse to eat.

taco surf decortaco surf

Shortly thereafter, we headed to Coronado Island, where we spent our first night. The hotels there are approximately half the price of the one downtown where the conference was to be held, and we were there a day early anyway. I should point out, however, that a 7500 sq. ft. lot in Coronado costs a whopping $2 mil. It was gorgeous, but no place is THAT gorgeous:

Beautiful landscaping outside Coronado Brewing CoCBCOn Coronado IslandSan Diego from Coronado IslandThe water was not as cold as I thought it would be

We had dinner at the local brewery and retired to our room for the evening. The next morning we rose early. I did, anyway. I wanted to get in a short run down to the beach at the Hotel del Coronado, and folks, that is just what I did. We intended to go whale watching, and we were very excited, which I’m sure fueled my energy – I had not gone running in some time thanks to my stupid knee, and was trying to ease back in. Back to the whales – the blue whales are migrating now and we had tried to get reservations on a boat out of San Diego without luck. Undeterred, we found a boat in Newport Beach about 1.5 hours north, up near Los Angeles. Away we went up the Pacific Coast Highway in pursuit of breakfast and whales.

Breakfast was successful. After struggling along at 35 m.p.h. we found this charming little spot right on the coast, with a gorgeous view.

view fron ki's

Chock full of breakfast, we started back up the PCH until we ran into Camp Pendleton and had to hop back on the interstate. It’s a good thing we did that, though, because traffic as we neared LA became progressively worse until I started to panic about making the boat on time. Oh, then we got there and the parking lot in which we were supposed to park? Also chock full, just like our bellies. But thank you, Google Maps, for saving the day once again, and allowing me to find valet parking. $20? Sure why the hell not, as long as we’re spending money, right? Sheesh.

We made the boat in plenty of time. Ethan started making friends and we all enjoyed the unbelievable boats in the harbor there.

another friendhe makes friends everwhere we gocrazy wedding boatheading out to look for whalesmichellegreg

That’s about all the wildlife we saw, with the exception of these sea lions.

sea lions - the only animals we saw that day

Not a whale in sight. Not even a dolphin, despite the counts online of hundreds, nay, THOUSANDS of dolphins in the few days before.


So…we got vouchers for free whale watching in the future. Thanks, man. I appreciate the gesture, but what are the chances, really, that we’ll get back out there? I guess maybe we’ll just have to try really, really hard, yes?

We drove back to San Diego, and stopped at Pizza Port because Greg wanted some Pliny the Elder. They had it right there on their chalkboard, but did they have it? NO. LIARS. Bent out of shape, Greg grumbled through his pizza (which was actually very good) and we went on down the line to the fancy-schmancy Hilton.

If you ask Ethan, I think he’ll probably tell you the best thing about the Hilton is the Dole container ship that is docked right outside the door. He sat in the window and must have watched this operation for hours:

dole container ship

I dreaded the next two days. I’m not a big amusement park type, and I had decided to take Ethan to Legoland and SeaWorld. Back to back. Yeah, I know, right?

Legoland was, um, okay I guess. Really, it’s for the younger set. Ethan’s been on some pretty good-sized roller coasters so he was on the verge of boredom, but he wanted to drive the cars for weeks and was thrilled to have a shot at that, anyway. He also got a kick out of everything that was made of Legos, including the little dudes outside the bathroom and gift shop, the coyote, and the Volvo XC90.


legoland signcrazy car thingyethan loved this guy outside the toiletshe looked forward to this for weeksall legoshe wanted his photo with this guyVolvo XC90 made entirely of Legos

Legoland did have one roller coaster Ethan thought would be fun, and it was okay, but he was fairly unimpressed:

technic roller coaster

We returned to the hotel that night tired and worn, and drove to another restaurant listed as having Pliny the Elder.

Guess what? NO PLINY.


That was a disappointing evening, I’m afraid.

But the next day was a new one, and Ethan and I navigated public transit in an effort to make it to SeaWorld. And guess what, we did it. I don’t usually have any troubles with it, but I spend hours researching the transit times, paths, etc., any time we’re headed to an unfamiliar city.

I’m afraid I didn’t take many photos of SeaWorld, likely owing to the fact that I enjoyed it much more than Legoland. Ethan and I rode the  Manta roller coaster twice, along with just about every other ride we don’t already have back here at home (turns out, every amusement park has a log flume / tidal wave ride and a Thunder River / Lost River ride).

SeaWorldJourney to Atlantis towers

There were several shows I thought would be interesting to watch but I could only talk Ethan into one of them – the one involving Shamu. Now, the Shamu stadium has a lot of seats in it, and most of those seats are in what is called the “Splash Zone,” where you are in danger of getting wet. That was JUST what Ethan wanted. I hate being splashed with water but considering this was a one-time thing and we would maybe never get the opportunity to do it again, I acquiesced. Boy, was that a mistake.

shamu or someone

Ethan sat on the end of the row of seats, with me next to him. All went well in the show until the very end, when the trainer asked if we were ready to get splashed. Ethan was all, “YEAH! YEAH! BRING IT! YAYAYAYAYAYAYYYYY!!!”

Then the killer whale started splashing.

And Ethan got hit.

And Ethan started running.

Up the steps he raced, with me launching from my seat behind him, salt water stinging my eyes and soaking my clothes and hair. He turned around and he was…


I gathered him up and we left Shamu stadium pronto. We got out of there, did some more walking around long enough to dry ourselves as much as possible. We rode the Manta again, lifting Ethan’s spirits, and then we skedaddled. We spent our last night in San Diego eating more fish, walking along the riverfront, and overpaying some guy who biked us in a pedicab back to our hotel.


The next day we flew home, very tired but very happy, with plenty of experience under our belts.

Here’s to you, San Diego. Thanks for the memories.