I want to start off by clearing up an error I made in my recounting of Day 2 of the San Diego trip. I did not go to Denny's on Friday morning. I actually went to a favorite breakfast joint of MizSplotchy's brother, The Pancake House. I had chocolate pancakes with chocolate chips. It was a little too chocolatey for my tastes, but I had been jonesing for some chocolate for a couple days (okay, I had some chocolate at Ghirardelli's the day before, but it wasn't enough). I actually had a Grand Slam Slugger breakfast on Day 3, Saturday morning. There, error corrected. I feel better.
So, after breakfast, the first business of the day was to visit the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park. If it was just MizSplotchy and myself on the trip, I would have voted against going there, as we live in Brookfield, home to a quite large and noteworthy zoo that we visit regularly. A giraffe is a giraffe, right?
Still, the Wild Animal Park is a little different beast (har-di-har) than your typical zoo. It's got some wide expanses where animals can roam. According to the cheerful guide I was half-listening to on a tram tour we were riding in, the park was initially used to breed animals for the San Diego Zoo. There's still plenty of babymakin' going on there. I think the guide said that 2.5 animal babies are born at this facility on a weekly basis. If the zoo is a rockin', don't bother knockin'.
A bigass balloon you could pay 20 bucks to go up in and get a bird's eye view of the park
The bigass balloon airborne, carrying people who forked over 20 bucks
The recent wildfires actually came very close to the Wild Animal Park. I was told that the fires were actually visible from within the park. The fires also came very close to MizSplotchy's brother's house. It was primarily a well-watered golf course that prevented the fires from getting too close to them, though they did receive a strange snowfall of ashes.
They had to evacuate for a little bit when it was uncertain how far the fires would go. My sister-in-law said the day they were evacuating there was a very eerie orange cast to everything. There were virtually no people left in the neighborhood, but she could see animals scurrying around. They currently have a couple giant rats roaming around their backyard bushes as a result of a nearby mountain catching fire and pushing the animals down into Chula Vista.
The Wild Animal Park was actually about a half hour drive outside of San Diego. I had expressed a desire to MizSplotchy's brother to see some effects of the fire. He had guessed that we would be passing some signs on the way there, and was not mistaken.
Some charred cacti - you can see some green ones near the top spared by the fire
When we first got to San Diego, MizSplotchy and I were looking at possible things to do there. I was looking at the attractions contained in Balboa Park, a very large area near downtown San Diego that contained a lot of museums. As I came across the San Diego Model Railroad Museum I became a man obsessed. I absolutely had to visit this museum. Everyone was sort of surprised by my obsession, even MizSplotchy. She knew I liked when everyday objects were made big, but was apparently not aware that I also love seeing things shrunk.
I don't have the patience or eye for detail that would be required of someone putting together a model railroad, but I love seeing real tiny people and cars, and trains moving about. I freaking love it.
So, as soon as we finished a quick lunch at a cafe in the park, I bolted, literally bolted, to this museum.
A rural scene
One of the many people making the tiny trains run on time
Who doesn't love a miniature hobo?
We could have probably spent a couple days just stationed in Balboa Park. It was a lovely place.
I missed the puppet shows.
I spotted a piece of artwork by Niki de Saint Phalle, an alligator sculpture that looked very similar to one I recently saw. The piece was outside the Mingei Art Museum. I went inside the museum and asked a woman who worked there if the piece had been recently installed. The woman smiled and said it was a permanent piece there, and had been there for quite some time. As I nodded my head and started to walk in, she said, "There is an admission to this museum, and we are closing." Ow. Not just a rejection, but one with a double jab and an uppercut.
Niki Gator, but not the one I saw in Chicago.
Many of the museums were closing up shop. I saw some skywritten letters: M♥C. I tried to convince MizSplotchy I had paid for it but they got her initial wrong, but she wasn't buying it. A short time later I looked up at the sky, and noticed the letters had dissipated, but the heart remained.
A rare pic of yours truly
Later that night we pretty much just hung out at MizSplotchy's brother's house. I made the mistake of drinking a few beers, which completely knocked any energy I had left out of me. After some time spent on the couch, staring ahead like a zombie, I drove a few of our party back to the hotel and crashed (on the hotel bed, not in the car), while MizSplotchy stayed up a little later with her brother and reminisced.
The next morning, DENNY'S! This time it was just MizSplotchy and myself. It was nice to have a little quiet moment to ourselves. We had a good time.
We met up with her cousin and the boyfriend, dropped off the rental car, got to the airport and boarded the plane. The flight back mostly consisted us of watching episodes of Season 2 of Spaced on MizSplotchy's laptop. We got a few looks as we were cackling out loud at some points.
This is one of the funnier scenes we saw:
So, overall a good trip. I hope you have enjoyed reading about it. In any case, I'll be able to remember what the hell I did a year from now.