We have been living in Southern California for a little over six months now, but only recently have we decided to see a little bit more of it than the stretch of I-405 between Long Beach and LAX, which, while it does contain both an IKEA and the landing place for the Goodyear blimp, lacks somewhat in cultural experiences.

J’s current schedule, while totally hideous, does have her working only 4 days a week, usually leaving us Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to do all that weekend stuff, and let me tell you, the extra 24 hours are pretty fucking dreamy.  I know not everyone can do it (I certainly couldn’t when I was working), but the 4 x 10 schedule is a pretty nice way to put in your 40 hours.  This change of pace means we can usually spend an entire day of our weekend totally dicking around, ignoring the laundry and the dishes and the litterbox.

Over the month of January, we’ve taken trips to Venice Beach and Santa Monica (Venice to people-watch, and OH, was it superlative there, and Santa Monica to check out furniture stores you can usually only see in catalogs, and I get that this sounds somewhere between mildly interesting and completely fucking boring to some of you, but we are BIG HUGE NERDS, and we thought it was a great way to spend a sunny day).  Last weekend we decided to head south instead, and packed our overnight bags for a trip to San Diego.

Aside the first: why is packing for an overnight trip so fucking hard (for me, really- J just tosses a clean pair of underwear and a toothbrush in a plastic bag and she’s ready)?  I’m an asshole princess enough that I bring my own shampoo and conditioner, and I don’t have those in travel sizes, so there’s that, plus the hair products.  If I want to wear my hair down, there’s the blow-dryer that must come along, because everyone knows the one at the hotel does not have a diffuser attachment.  I haven’t even packed the SHOES yet, and the bag is already too large to fit in a hypothetical overhead bin (for the record, we did not FLY to San Diego, we drove).  The point is, I have come to terms with the fact that I am a high-maintenance packer, and I’ll pay the checked bag fee already (again, we drove).

Aside the second: I know San Diego is only an hour and a half away, and we could have made it down and back in a single day, but shit, y’all.  Who wants to do all that driving when you have a cousin that works in the hotel industry who can get you a room at the fancy downtown Hyatt for a fraction of the retail price?  That’s what I thought.

The last time I was in San Diego was for a scientific conference, and I spent the entire week walking the impressively large length of the convention center between sessions that were always located as far apart as possible, and then collapsing onto my hotel bed after three martinis.  So, basically I could have been in Dubuque, for all of San Diego proper that I saw.

This time, our major plan was to see the San Diego Zoo, and maybe have a nice meal in there somewhere.  Since we planned to leave Long Beach around 10am, we of course left around 11:30, which allowed us to stop in charming San Juan Capistrano for lunch.  We ate at L’Hirondelle, which we found because it is located on the Google maps application of the iPhone, and not because I know jack shit about San Juan Capistrano.


The Picnic Plate


While we originally thought we could make it San Diego and see the Zoo all in the same day, we were super fucking wrong- we got into town around two, and promptly crashed out in our plush hotel room.  Check out the view:

Twenty-Seventh Floor


Since no one was feeling too fly that evening, we stayed close to the hotel for dinner and fell asleep embarrassingly early, but DAMN.  I’ve seen blog posts about how heavenly hotel beds are when you can leave the kids at home, and I think I have an inkling- there were no cats anywhere near that bed- not on me, not near me, and certainly not power-shedding hairballs directly into my nasal cavities.

The next morning we got up fairly early, and made it to the Zoo by 10am- same as every other family in the whole of the San Diego metro area (those that weren’t watching the Bears assassinate the Seahawks on TV).  The Zoo opens at 9am, so if you are one of those people who NEEDS the whole place to yourself, show up then.  As it was, it wasn’t terribly crowded, and we didn’t have to wait in line to see much of anything, save the pandas (who were either not on exhibit as the cages were being cleaned, or asleep behind a tree- next time, I’d give that exhibit a pass).  I think it being the “dead of winter” (even though it was 75 degrees) also helped keep the crowds low.

The one-day pass costs a whopping $40 per adult, and I was seriously tempted to turn the fuck around at the gate, but it ended up being totally worth it.  The Zoo is enormous- we were there for 5 hours and still missed a large chunk of the animals.  We also caught a trained sea-lion show that was cheesy and maybe not exactly the most animal-friendly part of the experience, but also very entertaining, and then there was my favorite exhibit of all- the gorillas.

There appears to be a single male and several female gorillas in this exhibit, and one very young little one- I have no idea what age, but he acted exactly the way a human toddler might.  Spinning in circles, carrying around his lovey (a piece of bark), and trying to get the females to play with him by biting their ankles.  It charmed everyone watching, the kids, the parents, and those of us in between.  And he knew it- coming close to the glass and slapping it with his palms, then turning away and peeking over his shoulder.  I have absolutely no pictures, as I managed to leave the camera at home after being reminded three times to grab it, so you’ll have to take my word for it.  It was the most amazing and adorable thing I’ve seen in a long time.  Hopefully my own offspring will be as delightful (but maybe a little less hairy?).