San Diego – Zoo and Sea World

August 2016

Summer 20161.jpgWe are taking the husband’s parents around San Diego. Zoos are a common favourite with both grandparents and grandchildren, so we load the lot into two cars and go to one of the best loved zoos – San Diego Zoo.

After sulking through most of the bus ride, because we could not sit on the upper deck,Akash finally comes around. After lunch, we go on the gondola. It is Lara’s nap time and Raga heads home with her. Akash gets to skip is nap and spend the day at the zoo.

We started with the polar bears, checking out the exhibits on the way. The polar bear swam right up next to the glass, and plonked down in front of us, giving us a very accurate idea of its size. We get icecreams and then  walk over to the panda bears. We wanted to take the bus, but it is going in the wrong direction.   Down the hill from the restrooms, and almost halfway to the next ones, Akash suddenly says he needs to use the toilet – urgently. We hurry on the the next ones which are luckily near the pandas. The panda habitat is undergoing some renovation, so they have been shifted temporarily. The new enclosures do not afford as much privacy and we are able to see both mommy and baby napping.

Next we take the escalators to the orangutans and gorillas. On the way we walk through the aviary. The orangutans are gorillas are also napping close the the glass. The orangutans wake up. One shuffles lazily like a carpet rug being dragged, while the other decides to roll along the perimeter of the enclosure. Our last stop for the day is the reptile house. As we enter, we see a green mamba shedding its skin. It is the most disgusting, yet fascinating thing to see. We hurry around the exhibit so we can come back and see the progress. The husband opts to wait and nap.

Homeward bound- tired and sleepy. What a successful day this has been!

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Sunny San Diego

August 2016

Summer 2016.jpg

At Balboa Park, where we rode the train, saw ducklings, tried to get touch the fish, saw some art, admired some plants, dipped our feet in the fountain, went on the carousel and in all had fun

I’m spending my break between jobs at our holiday home in San Diego. People often ask me, if I’m not weary of the east coast winters and would I not like to move to California? My answer is, that’s where I go to holiday. Everyone needs a getaway spot. A place where you can bury yourself under the covers and pretend the rest of the world does not exist. My is sunny San Diego. Could it get better? Under the covers there, there exists a world inhabited by giants and jedi; lorikeets are our friends, eating from our hands and carrying messages. A world that’s constantly changing as the years go by, but magical nonetheless.

This visit was supposed to be a surprise for the kids and for amma.The surprise was broken, but the thrill and joy was intact.

Of Fathers, Daughters and Sons

Aug 1, 2015

akashs bday group pic

They say San Diego has the best zoo in the world. It truly is a magnificent zoo. After a lot of debate about not having his party in the park as always and wanting a reptile birthday, our little boy got to bring in his BIG FIVE at reptile house at San Diego Zoo. Appa and I visited together for Akash’s 1st and 3rd birthdays. We even had our own little adventure on our way to his first. Incidentally my first time at San Diego zoo was with Appa too. We ended up walking all around the massive grounds just looking for the bus stops. By the end, both of us were exhausted. I guess I should have seen the signs, but it was a lot of walking and we were still a little jet lagged.  Appa, we missed you terribly.

Akash's big 5 at the zoo

Junnu leads the pack through the reptile house;pointing out the snakes and at times reading the information plaques

Akash's big 5 at the zoo2

The babies don’t want to leave the play area. Slides are FUN!!

Akash's big 5 at the zoo1

Time to munch on the goodies in the goody bag

Akash's big 5 at the zoo3

Egging goats to fight at the petting zoo

Akash's big 5 at the zoo4

Snack Time! Tacos and Bro-made Sandwiches

Akash's big 5 at the zoo5

Singing for Cake

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2 little boys and LegoLand

6th Aug, 2015

“Akash, are sure you want to go on the big rollercoster?”

“Yes, but are you sure you want to go on it Chitti?”

DSC_1723We were at Legoland today – Tarun (Tannu, aka T), Akash, Meera, Mahesh (Bro), Chitra (S-I-L aka C) and me. The day was not going exactly as expected, but it was still great fun. For starters, Legoland is not a place to build super legos. It’s an amusement park like Disneyland.

DSC01322There is a witch of a store at the entry, and like the witch’s house from Hansel and Gretel was covered with all things nice to eat, the store windows were plastered with displays and posters of all kinds of things to build.  For Tannu, it was love at first site. He had his heart set on buying a Ninjago. He spent the whole day going disconsolately from ride to ride, waiting for the promised moment when the “fun” would end and we would go to the store. The lines were surprisingly long for a weekday.Afraid that we would spend all our time in lines, Bro dearest went and got us a fast track pass which promised to cut our wait time by half.

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hanging out at the park

Our first ride was the coastersaurus – a baby rollercoaster. The boys picked driving for their next ride. Dropping off C and the baby in play area, we proceeded to the driving arena.  Once they got their licenses, we put our heads together to pick the next ride – the kid power tower. This ride involves hauling yourself up a tower and the free sliding down the side.Since Akash was keen on doing the pedal ride, we stood in line for around 20 minutes and then agreed that everyone likes this ride so everybody wants to do it; we should go do some other ride that people don’t like as much.

The big brothers take their baby sister on a train ride

The big brothers take their baby sister on a train ride

We took our lunch at a pizza parlor all the way across the park. It was while scouting for lunch that Bro spotted the Lego Technic rollercoaster. He was thrilled and it all it took to get the little boys pumped was ” Who wants to go on the B-I-G rollercoaster?”  Thankfully, we could use our pass to reserve a spot on this one.I reason, how scary can a ride meant for 48″ minimum be, and get into the little car. Once strapped in, I give Akash my best advice for all rides – close your eyes and yell your lungs out! At the end of the ride, he steped out shaking his head “Bad!”, and then out jumped T shouting, “AWESOME!!!” Akash’s opinion of the ride suddenly changed to “BEST RIDE EVER!!” Talk about peer pressure!

DSC_1694Ice-creams and a few rides later we walk down to Skipper School. Bro decides the boys are tall enough to go by themselves. The boys are very excited by the prospect. Akash jumps into a boat and sets off. On his insistence, I follow in the next boat. Just as T steps forward, the guy who waves people by looks and says,” He can’t go by himself. He’s not tall enough.” “He went!”, the not tall enough T pointed indignantly to his cousin. The man is flabbergasted. All the same, Bro got into the boat with T. Akash struggled to man his boat. Since his foot didn’t reach the gas sitting, he valiantly stood on the peddle, amid shouts of  “Sit down! Sit!!”. He managed a little on his own, I butted and pushed a bit, and then a worker at the ride jumped in to help. When they reached the finish line the little man’s face was shining like a new penny.

Speaking of pennies, the Skipper School water was littered with coins. “People throw coins in thinking it’s good luck, but it’s not” intones Akash. “Why? Why is it not lucky?”, quizzes Tannu. Akash thinks for a moment and replies,” Because you’re losing money. It is not good luck to lose money. It’s bad luck to lose money.” I am stumped.

of stingrays and mantarays..

of stingrays and mantarays..

After Skipper School, T at long last got to go to the store, while Akash and I headed off to the Aquarium. Bro and Tannu caught up with us there. C and baby Meera had gone home much earlier. We spent the last bit of our day listening to the little boys chatter on about the characteristics of different fish as they spotted and identified them.

San Diego – Betting at the Horse Races

Remember how I said there is always something planned  for me in SD. This time it was the races. I have been wanting to go to the horse races for almost ever now. This experience was quite an eye opener. Firstly, the horses do not run multiple laps like I had imagined. Horses are not cars. They run 1 round of 1 mile or 3/4ths of a mile. At the club, there were as expected, ladies in their dresses and hats, and unexpectedly, there were children, some so young that they were in strollers.  Unlike casinos, there is no age limit to enter the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club was also our introduction to Uber – the fixed rate call taxi service. We called Uber to be dropped and picked up from the club. We had Groupons to enter, but when we got there, there was a promotional scheme going on, and now I think we have some kind of membership to the club. The membership card gets us free entry. It also gets us discounts on food and beer, but as we discovered not on all beers or all foods.

When I reached the counter to place a bet, the lady on the other side asked me, “To win?” A little confused about the question, I nodded yes.  When I was asked the same question while placing a bet for the next race, I asked the gentleman across, if it was possible to bet to lose. He laughed and explained that there were 3 types of bets that could be placed – win,  place – that is to come second and  show – to come third. I now understand that place means the horse you bet on must come either first or second and show means your horse must come 1st, 2nd or 3rd. I have found out that there is yet another type of bet that can be placed – exacta. This means you play two horses. They must come in first and second in exact order to collect.

Horse Racing

Each race  ends in less than a few minutes. The races are spaced about 20 mins apart. This gives you just about enough time to saunter up to the counter and collect your winnings, decide on your pick for the next race, place your bets, grab some food/drink and get back to the stalls. You need reservations for the tables in the balconies, but the stalls are open seating or standing. People had brought their beach chairs to sit in the stalls.

When we left a few hours later, we had made a net profit of $3 on our meager bets.

 

 

Strawberry Fields

Everytime I go to San Diego, they  have something fun planned for me. This time it was strawberry picking.

Don't miss Lara, the juiciest strawberry in the field

Let me take you down, cos I’m going to Strawberry Fields

Although it’s been just a few months, it feels like such a long time since we saw Amma look so alive. We wandered through the fields looking for the biggest and reddest strawberries. The best ones were often those hidden from plain sight, under the leaves, at the bottom.It took us not more than half an hour to fill up our little containers*. As soon as I would be convinced that my container was full, my eyes would fall on the perfect strawberry, just begging to be picked. Amma did her best to convince Akash to pick and eat strawberries from the field while he insisted on eating only those strawberries that he had already picked and were in his basket. Finally Amma switched to picking another strawberry for each one that he ate.

*Containers were available for purchase at the entry. A small one costs $10 while the big ones cost $20. You had to buy one for every person over the age of 5 entering the field.

Edited to add – Amma and Raga observed that almost every family had there had children and had come with grandma.

** Carry water to wash and eat the strawberries.