San Diego Zoo with You
I might have been a bit naive when booking tickets for our family vacation to California last spring! We KNEW we were headed to Disneyland California parks no question, and we tossed around the idea of the San Diego Zoo as well. I had remembered visiting it as a kid, and hadn't been back to it, so all these years later we decided to do both with our girls and maximize our time in California since we were driving and husband didn't have to be back to work immediately.
I will say, we were all pretty pooped after two, VERY FULL days at Disneyland, so to head to San Diego Zoo after was stretching all of our energy levels and excitement banks a tad thin, almost to balding levels, but we did it! AND we had a GREAT time... I am glad we made it! While I had planned out every detail for the first part of our vacation in Anaheim and Disneyland, as I do, booking hotels and such, I failed to book a hotel for San Diego. In all fairness, I didn't FORGET as you might think, but I actually was leaving it open to decide after Disneyland- as crazy as that is! And it was! Husband kept sort of asking about San Diego Zoo as if to say, "Do we still have to do the zoo?" Not in so many words, but Disneyland would have been MORE than ENOUGH and a very fun and action packed vacation all by itself, I agree, but we DID purchase those tickets back in the spring, and they aren't cheap!
The weekend after Disneyland happened to be Comic Con in San Diego! ALL of the trips in and around San Diego were at outrageous rates of $550 and above! Bad hotels, motels, anything that had a bed to rent was over charging, because they could, that weekend! We were literally in the car the morning of checking out in Anaheim, Googling hotels and accommodations. BAD IDEA! Don't do that! Haha! It all ended up working out beautifully however. Husband is blessed to have TWO aunts who live in Newport Beach. THANKFULLY, they were BOTh in town, and neither had guests, in fact both were flying solo that weekend! Lucky for us, we were able to stay for three days right in Newport, blocks from the beach, with family! We had a great time splashing in the pool and having breakfast with her and she made us one of my favorite Arabic dishes for dinner one evening. It was really a great visit that we were so fortunate to have, and I feel like I was able to chat and get to know both of those aunts a little bit better and on a more personal level than the "hi" and "bye" we usually only have time for at big, family dinners and events. It was NICE! THANKFUL!
SO we did visit Balboa beach on the day we left Anaheim. I want to add the not so great parts in too, because not all vacations are fun and care-free. On the beach day, it started off all well and good, and spontaneous as can be. We had lunch at Chipotel and found street parking near a side street entrance to Balboa beach area. We changed into our suits in the bathroom at Chipotle and we literally used the towels from our swimming bag and took our little mini cooler with some drinks and snacks and strolled on over. We unfortunately didn't have an umbrella, but we didn't really end up needing it because as expected we were only good for about an hour. I had wanted to capture the girls' expressions and reaction to the ocean on film, but this is hard to do, and nerve wracking to say the least when you have TWO toddlers who have never been around powerful ocean waves and don't know their might. It was especially concerning for us when they had NO FEAR! Husband did not really like the fact that I had the camera out, let's be honest. I said I wanted to take a few shots and videos and then I would put the camera away. He had a death grip on their little wrists and seemed very nervous holding them up as each wave crashed into them, nearly knocking them to their knees. I saw the danger and was a bit nervous too. I expressed how I would love to be IN some of the family videos and photos, especially at the beach which is so rare and special considering we are from Colorado. Well, as soon as I haded the big camera over to him and I took the girls, I could see he was losing his temper and his anxiety got the best of him which carried over into taking it out on me, with a lovely spat on the sand. Remy decided she wanted to flp down on her tummy as the water had descended well it came rushing back up and she barely made it up so it didn't swallow her face whole and choke her. Again, I saw the water and the waves and I defintiely had BOTh girls tight and yanked her up in time, but that didn't seem to stop my husband from balling me out about it on the beach and making me seem like a fool. I was embarrassed, upset, angry, still sort of bothered by the whole fiasco, and I let it completely rain on my beach day. I could not shake it. I was hurt, offended, embarrassed and just frankly fed up with taking all the family vacation videos and photos of him and the girls and not being in a single one it seemd, or if I was I felt like walking on egg shells in asking him to capture me with the girls. So what do you do if your husband HATES documenting and you LOVE it? I know there is a balance, but sorry, a California vacation, Disney, the BEACH, these are all big, BIGS! There's that whole thing going around the interenet about getting in the picture with your kids, well, what happens if you are a momma, and you KNOW that you will want to look back one day and see yourself with them, and THEY will want photos of you with them (I know I wish I had MORE of me with my parents as a kid...) and what if your husband just doesn't get it?! Anyway, I sat on a towel and was resentful of him and watched on as he played in the sand. I was JEALOUS of him being able to have the beach day I had wanted to have with the girls. I just could not shake the funk and the shade I got from him. That was probably our only real big fight on the trip, but it was a doozy and I regret not being able to just bounce back and get in the waves. It was very late in the afternoon, and I do think that I was just utterly EXHAUSTED after two days of HIGH HIGHS at Disneyland. Like those waves, I honestly think I just completely crashed and retreated. SAD that it was on vacation time, DEPRESSING that it was with my kiddos and I couldn't run off somewhere to have my fit alone, a lesson to you mommas not to bounce back and recover, but maybe a warning NOT to plan and DO too much if you are planning a dream Disneyland vacation. You need time and space to come down off that Disney drug. It's real.
Wow, that went somewhere I did not expect it to, but I guess I needed to get it out. So here we are on the day after the beach disaster day, and we decided to head down to San Diego Zoo from Newport. That morning we decided to have a GOOD breakfast, actually it was more than good it was FANTASTIC! It was a little spot right there in Newport, but it gave us a LATE start on the commute. It took us like 2.5/3 hours to get there! It was insane! Don't even get me started on the commute home.... that was even longer! It took an ENTIRE day! Again, not a brilliant idea on our part to do the zoo, but we had those tickets! My advice, buy them when you are at the gate and there rather than purchasing in advance, unless you KNOW that the San Diego Zoo is a definite MUST on your vacation. If you do plan to do the zoo, I would highly suggest staying NEAR San Diego! We had wanted to do that originally and our plans, or lack there of, forced us to change our home base. It would have been MORE enjoyable to have a 20 minute commute back to our hotel afterwards and have a nice meal or maybe even do more beach at sunset stuff or a boardwalk. I LOATHE the traffic in California and do not see ourselves moving there anytime soon.
But the ZOO! The ZOO!!!! Guys, it is GORGEOUS! I absolutely hate our zoo here. It is HOT, crowded, never any parking, and the animals NEVER seem to be out. I go on RARE occasions and have decided I'll go in like October and November or March...I heard the weather girl on the news the other night say that it was going to be 93 degrees out the next day and that it was, "a perfect day for the zoo," and I was like, are you f-ing nuts?! Who wants to go to the zoo in 90-degree heat?! Anyway, the day we visited the San Diego zoo, we lucked out with an overcast day, BUT here is the deal, they also have plenty of TREES and yes, SHADE! You literally feel like you are walking in a rain forest! The landscaping and hills and gorgeous paths and statues are worth visiting and strolling. It was a very pretty place to go. I am very thankful and appreciative that we had the opportunity to visit the San Diego zoo with the girls. They liked it very much as well!
We had ALL wanted to do the double decker bus tour, but we ended up walking the entire zoo ourselves! By the time we circled back to the entrance, where you get on the buses, we were SO TIRED and very much ready to leave. Even though the girls would love the ride, we have to draw the line somewhere because it was already nearing dinnertime, and let's be real, that commute back was looming in our minds. We knew that if we boarded that bus, it could get ugly fast with two toddlers. They have stroller parking before you board, and you can probably get off on any stop, but can you imagine walking back with two tantruming overly tired and hungry toddlers back to your stroller. We DID eat a pasta meal in the zoo. We had found some dining hall in the tree tops over by the pandas. It was quiet and high up which was neat, and the food wasn't that bad!
If you wanted to do the bus tour, I recommend doing that RIGHT AWAY when you get in. We just started walking and getting into the thick of it, literally and you can really only get those buses up near the front. The zoo is massive. You won't be able to see EVERYTHING you want to see, it's just not possible. So, choose a few favorite animals, map it out, and even then hard to do as the zoo is divided up into larger sections of animals. We wanted to see the pandas, but for some reason there was a large line to see them and we just couldn't do a line. The girls had wanted to see penguins as well, but that was a the end of our visit and somehow we got on a wrong path and again, it would have taken us a LONG time to reach them to go back. While the zoo is spectacular in its landscaping and appearances, I felt like we see more animals at the Denver Zoo because they are spaced in closer proximities and you are able to choose a couple different loops where you can see several exhibits in a row whereas the San Diego Zoo is so large you really have to cover a lot of ground to see several species. I was happy we got to see the elephants, and some monkeys! It is most definitely worth a visit, just prepare your walking shoes and bring your stroller!
After the whole beach flop, bad momma-tude, husband offered to be cameraman a bit for us at the zoo, and I could see he was trying to participate in the documentary process of the family vacation. I always do sincerely love his commentary and his sweet moments he does capture of us. I was happy he offered to take the camera from me without me having to ask. I know this all sounds so silly and trivial, and it really probably is, but its when little tiny things that are important to one person in the relationship DO seems STUPID, let's be blunt, that it can fester and roll and blow up into a huge thing between the both of you. As many times as we have had the camera come up as being an issue sometimes, I still just really find passion and fulfillment in capturing my girls' childhood. I still struggle with finding a balance between snap- shotting the day and letting this DSLR become another family member. How do you bloggers/photographers/documentarians find balance? Asking for a friend... ;) I have always loved photography! And I love writing just as much! After all these years in blogging, I STILL will stay up late for it, challenge myself to take better photos, edit a video better, and there is still so much more self-teaching and practice to do. I guess, I could try to relate it to his love for soccer. In a fight I have told him to "hang up the cleats," I imagine that hurts him like it does me when he says, "put the camera away." Sigh... Just wanted to share.
And now...for a few photos of our afternoon at San Diego Zoo! And a video at the end! Thank you husband for so lovingly grabbing the lens and freeing me from the cinematographer role all the times that you do. You're eye and your direction, as do your real opinions, advice and our differences, really bring together a full, more vivid and dimensional picture, and it's not just this video I am talking about. Through our adversities and growth in our relationship we are discovering what is meaningful, important, MANDATORY for ourselves and what we want in each other, and that's not what I see through a fuzzy view finder, but what I see ,and know, and live. That to me is balance. Camera be damned.
Wearing: I am wearing a thrifted, vintage dress and Adidas sneakers found at TJ Maxx last spring. The girls are wearing dresses by Tao & Friends (here) and (here) and sandals from Old Navy., but I no longer see them. This white pair is adorable though! Husband found his red shorts and adorable avocado print shirt (how cute he picked it out himself?!) are from Ross.