Sea World Day

Shamu!?!

On Saturday, we went to Sea World with the cousin and the mini-cousin. Glen has had a long-standing grudge against Sea World, specifically the Journey to Atlantis ride, since he was turned away at that ride at Sea World Orlando in 2003 for being too short (at age 4).

We went on JtA first thing. Twice. Brent is very vulnerable to vertigo, so I am, by default, the roller coaster riding parent. In a different marriage configuration, I would probably be the non-roller-coaster-riding-camera-holding parent. But in this life, I am the danger buddy. It gives me a chance to master my fear and whatever.

JtA was cheesy but fun. It implores you to “save Atlantis” by “opening your mind and truly communicating with the dolphins.” Each of three total times we “saved Atlantis” we high-fived each other. Tough work, but someone’s got to do it!

After Atlantis, we hit the penguins, mini-cousin’s favorite exhibit, and then the Shamu show. I was somewhat disappointed with Shamu because the whole show was whale tricks choreographed to music with zero commentary. They didn’t even tell us each whale’s name.

Traditionally, one of the most enjoyable parts of the show is learning about killer whales in general and about the different whale’s personalities and idiosyncracies. That was entirely absent. Instead we got mind-numbingly bad music with a “one world one ocean” them and lots of splashing. It looked like they had five whales altogether, but had no idea which was Shamu (the big one, I guess). It was entertaining, but I miss the old Shamu show. We speculated that Busch’s acquisition of the parks may have cheapened the Sea World experience.

We also saw the Clyde and Seymore show, which was better, but still not as good as I recall from Orlando in 2003, or from my childhood visiting the old Ohio Sea World. Also, the walrus was notably missing. I guess he was downsized. Clyde and Seamore always had a walrus before. Still, really cute, funny animals doing cute, funny stuff.

For Sea World, we were able to use the on-site kennels for the dogs, which was nicely convenient. The dogs were very happy to see us when we picked them up.

For the evening, we had to stop by Home Depot for some parts to fix more stuff that was broken (at some point I’ll have to run down the list), and then we ordered pizza and Brent and I stole away to nearby Escondido to meet friends for drinks. It was nice to step out of “family vacation” mode and do some adult socializing.

Sunday we packed up and headed for LA. LA is only a couple hours from San Diego, but it took us all day to get there and get camped. We were obstructed by traffic (OMG) and getting lost trying to find the state park campground I had identified. In looking for the park, we ended up on the scariest road we’ve ever been on with the trailer. It goes straight up into the mountains at 1800 feet elevation and winds along the spine of a ridge until you get to a parking lot where you can get a great view. Obviously, that was the wrong way. It was a big challenge to turn the rig around and get back down the hill safely. When we got to the bottom, the vehicle was filled with the smell of hot brakes. Eeek!

We gave up the search for the state park and camped at a private campground on the beach. The camp hostess checked us in, and for some reason we must have looked poor to her. At first she gave us a tent spot, and once we found the error and corrected it, she offered us an “Ocean view” spot for $80. Then, for no reason I could understand, she changed her mind and put us in a non-ocean view spot for $69. I could have paid the $80. Honest!

Whatever. The spot was tricky to back into. After watching a couple of false starts, a German man parked nearby offered to back it in. He hopped into our Suburban and put it right in with one try! We were so impressed. We both really need to practice our backing skills.

In talking to the Germans later, it turned out the one time they’d been to America before, they had visited Galesburg, Michigan, right near where the whole Shaffer family lives. In fact, Brent’s brother lives right there. Small world.

Today we will try to see the La Brea Tar Pits and maybe do a bit of a driving tour of Hollywood and surrounding areas. We don’t have time to really dive deep into LA, but it’s nice to be here.