Sunday, February 7, 2016

Flying South(ern California) for the Winter

It seems that January has become the traditional month for us to go on a vacation. We started in 2014 with our honeymoon to Kauai & Oahu, and then we visited San Francisco in 2015, and this year we visited San Diego. Each year as we plan when and where to go, January seems to always stand out as one of the quietest months in both of our professions--less real estate for me to pour over (by the way... I need to update you all on my new gig in another post!) and less BBQ events for John.

We have a long list of places we want to go, however we've been trying to stick to shorter trips (around 4-5 days), so that limits us to the US. We're further narrowed by the type of weather in January, because places we'd love to go like DC or Portland or Seattle aren't going to be nearly as fun in the winter as they would be otherwise. So, this year we found ourselves back in California, and it was marvelous!

Just like our trip to San Francisco, we decided to segway. Say what you will about it looking silly, we just know there's no better way to cover ground and see the sights! And, sights aside, it's fun! We saw huge areas of the city this way, and it's great because you're out and about with a guide who's teaching you the lay of the land. We lucked out on this trip and managed to be the only people on our tours, so we got to go wherever we wanted rather than sticking strictly to the regular plan. We segwayed all through Balboa Park, Mission Bay and Mission Beach, and all over La Jolla.  

Seals at La Jolla 
La Jolla

Sea Lions at La Jolla

Botanical Garden in Balboa Park
During our tour of Mission Beach we came across a group of about 200 people doing a group yoga class outside overlooking the ocean. Our guide told us that the instructor lived right across the street from this spot, and that the city was getting after him for not having a license for the yoga class. What they were more upset about than anything was his pet pig who co-instructed with him. They made him give up the pig, but the yoga class lives on...

Mission Beach
While waiting for one of our guides, we stumbled upon a race in Mission Bay. It started out with kayakers, then came the stand-up paddle boarders, and next was a group of people lying down on the boards and paddling with their arms. Is there a name for that? Who knows. All I do know is that the water was super cold--58 degrees to be exact--and I can't imagine being in it! We were freezing just watching them because the wind was fierce! All in all there were probably 300 of them that went by. They just kept coming and coming.

We also had some yummy food. We had dinner one night at a restaurant called Puesto, and we got to sit next to the kitchen. I watched this gal make a ton of corn tortillas.

Almost all of the tacos had "crispy cheese" which was basically cheese cooked on the griddle. You can see it in the left and center tacos.

One of our favorite places, while not foodie at all, was Hash House A Go Go. Oh my

This place started in San Diego and now exists in some other cities as well. We had no idea it was going to be so huge (this picture doesn't do it justice) so we definitely should have split something. Oh well! I had bacon, onion, avocado, and cheese all melted and mixed together over crispy potatoes, and John got fried chicken benedict. Yowza!

After eating enough food for 6 people, we headed to the zoo. The one thing John really wanted to do was to go on the "Morning with Pandas" tour, so we paid extra to do that and it was so worth it!!

We learned a tremendous amount--all things we never would have known if we had just gone and toured it on our own. For example, each animal has its own "bedroom" that it can go into each night. This is basically a private space that guests can't see, so the zoo as over twice as big as what meets the eye. In the morning, the keepers open the door from their bedroom back to their enclosure, and the animals get to decide if they want to come out for the day into their enclosure. If they don't, they just hang out in their bedroom--no one forces them to come out.

We also got to see some of the pandas that weren't visible to the rest of the public. One of them, their male panda, is named Gao Gao. Did you know that all pandas, all over the world, are owned by China? We were interested to learn that! Even the ones that are born in other countries belong to China. 

Gao Gao was born in the wild and was disrupting some farmers, so he got sent here as kind of a "reject" panda because we needed a male and he is very little and unimpressive looking. No one had very high expectations of him, and he's actually turned out to be quite the stud! The tour guide at the zoo said they all know that "Gao Gao knows how how to do the wow wow." Bahaha.

Chowin down on some bamboo
Did you know that pandas eat bamboo that's so hard it would break a wood chipper? Their jaws are so strong and muscular that their ears wiggle a whole bunch when they chew.

We also got to see tons of other exhibits at the zoo, including a... golden retriever. Yes, that's right. I was confused when we went by an exhibit with a dog in it. As it turns out, pairing cheetahs with a dog helps them stay calm and feel confident. Nuts, huh? Here's proof in case you think I'm crazy.

We also got to feed the giraffes which was fun since I haven't done it since I was a kid! I was one of the lucky ones who actually got to give them a snack before they lost interest. 

Hellooooo there!

One evening we went horseback riding down to the beach. It was super interesting because the path we took was very near the border to Tijuana. I had no idea that the border wall actually extends out into the ocean and then just... stops! I wish I had gotten a picture because it was a weird sight to see.

John's horse was Pokey, mine was Millie. Pokey was preoccupied with rubbing himself (and John) against bushes, while Millie insisted on tripping every 10th step or so :)

It was a great trip! As always, we were happy to come home and sleep in our bed and see our little dog. Nothing like a Sweet Olive to make you miss your routine! I wouldn't trade her doggy kisses for anything. 

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