Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Birch Aquarium

You find fish on a smaller scale at the Birch Aquarium. We've been to plenty of aquariums throughout the U.S. and the Birch was memorable for sure. We enjoyed meandering through the Hall of Fishes, an exhibit of Pacific marine life from over 60 habitats. We enjoyed the tanks with the Baja California fish, like Dorado and Yellowtail, most of which we recognized from our scuba dives and from the catches Robert brings home.

The coral exhibits are especially interesting when you think that something that looks so plant like--leafy and flowering--is actually an animal. A trip to an aquarium reminds you how life here is unbelievably genius.

My mother and her dear friend, Gary, joined us in San Diego for a few days of sight-seeing. Here's a photo of my mother, Allie and me outside the aquarium.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sea World

We visited Sea World where Robert caught this shot of Allie and I "kissing" the Orca as it swam past us in the tank.

I tried to get the same shot of him doing the same, but could never get the timing right.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Allison leaps of a cliff

We spent the first few days in San Diego getting our Airstream set up and then driving around the area sight-seeing. Robert happened across this site on a bluff where hang gliders were launching out over the Pacific. It was cold that day and we'd driven all over the county so Allison and I weren't too keen to sit outdoors. However, we indulged Robert's curiosity. Admittedly, it was an amazing sight to see this people being lifted by the wind to such great heights.

We had found the Torrey Pines Gliderport on a day that happened to be the best of the year so far for gliding conditions; it must have put all the pilots in a great mood. One approached Allison and began chatting with her. "Are you twelve?," he asked. "Nine, then? Okay good enough to go for a ride." Turns out he was the owner of the facility and he asked her to go up with him. To my amazement she said yes. It all happened so fast. I was signing waivers and she was getting prepped and before I knew it she was in the air. Up until the moment she lifted, I expected her to bail out in fear. And when she finally touched down I looked her face over for tears, but she was all smiles and ready to go at it again. Thank you to Robin Marien, whose confident insistence that Allie was in safe hands led Robert and I to give up our daughter to her greatest adventure ever. On top of that he gave it to her for free.

To view a video of her launch go here:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Escape to San Diego

Now my excuse is that I don't have my camera USB cable to download photos to my Mac. I'm slow to write because we are often without Internet connection. Presently, we are north of San Diego, mostly in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Allison has two weeks off from school so we decided to follow the Brown family up the Baja to San Diego, a road trip that was uneventfully safe. They left last week, but we're here for awhile longer visiting friends and family, shopping, sight-seeing, eating. Eating. I've sampled it all to my heart's content: In-n-Out burgers, corn dogs, VG's donuts, Red Mango frozen yogurt, pasta, pizza, cotton candy, anything that can not be found in Loreto-by-the-Sea, Baja California Sur.

Yessiree. And that is just the eats. We've towed Allison through Sea World, the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, hiking and para-gliding in Torrey Pines, (yes, she para-glided) nearly every museum in Balboa Park, two movies of her choice, and several trips to the shopping mall for all those "necessities" we've been without. At some point we will be fat as ticks and need to return to our aesthetic life in Loreto to deflate. We've spent way too much dinero; it is easy to do in the States. My first trip to the grocery store left me aghast at the price of a loaf of bread, the "good" bread--over $4.00 a loaf. I bought five assorted pastry items at a bakery in Coronado that set me back 14 bucks. And that was after $7.50 a single scoop ice cream cone earlier in the stroll.

We pulled Airstream Abby out of storage. (We'd left her in Phoenix, but our friend borrowed her and stored her nearby.) We've stayed at San Elijo State Park when a site was available and at Campland when San Elijo was full, which is nearly always. Campland in Mission Bay is the Wally World of campsites, a full service operation which adds to comfort, but the atmosphere is amusement park-like. One week was enough. Since we can't get continuous time at San Elijo we'll now be roughing it at a RV park next to the Del Mar racetrack--meaning there is no Internet, cable, or showers.

The San Elijo campground is in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a little hamlet called along the ocean north of Del Mar with iconic eateries and cute hang-outs. We had breakfast one morning at Pipes, the favorite of surfer dudes. I love to haunt the Seaside Market, a super-cute grocery with eye-popping produce. The campground is booked solid through October. Easy to understand why--a prime location oceanside. It's also surfer central. There is even a surf school on site. At the crossroads of Highway 101 and Chesterfield Drive sits a bronze sculpture of a surfer. He's supposed to represent the heart of Cardiff surf culture, but he's been met with a lot of playful ribbing by residents who've nicknamed him "The Kook," and dress him regularly in goofy attire.

We've been hanging with our good friend, David, who lives in Cardiff, and my cousin who is in Carlsbad. She had us all over for Easter Sunday, Italian-style. She's a W.A.S.P like me, but married an Italian, learned to cook mouth-watering lasagna and command, "Manga!" My mother drove up from Mesa, AZ with a good friend for several days. The days and their events have become blurred--we've packed in so much. I intend to pack in a lot more in the week left to us.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Families tied

I've been lazy about posting, it's true, but my excuse is: we are having too much fun. Our friends and fellow home owners, the Allens,' were in town for a week. They merged with us and the Browns' for one fun-filled, kid-centered day after another: boating, swimming, tennis, hikes, mule-rides, sleep-overs. We traveled as a pack from one activity to another becoming a moving mass of big and little bodies, requiring tables in restaurants to be pushed together, and complex permutations over how 12 people can fit into 2 cars so that 3 certain girls can always sit together and the only two boys are never separated.

Our mule ride near San Javier was especially fun. Actually, the kids rode the mules while we parents trailed behind on foot. It was just less than an hour ride up a gravel trail to a watering hole, no challenge at all. The most interesting aspect of the event, to me, was the little ranch where the ride originated. A open-air shack with an outhouse that requires each user to fill a bucket from the well to dump in the toilet so it could flush. Does that disqualify it from being an outhouse, I wonder? After all, it did have a ceramic toilet.

I guess you could say the owners lived very primitively and self sufficiently. They had a vegetable garden. The goats were all milk goats. The pigs were being fattened. A table in the "house" was strewn with leather and shoe cobbling tools. A windmill served two purposes, one being the landmark to find this remote homestead on the road to San Javier. Of course the car ride itself is half the adventure. Having done it twice I am less easy to scare. The rocky cliff drop-offs on the narrow mountain passes aren't as daunting the second or third time around. However the wreathed memorial spot where the Professor and his lady went sailing off Thelma-and-Louise style to their deaths still elicits a shudder.

There was a flurry of construction in the beginning stretch of the road to San Javier. The state of Baja California Sur intends to pave the entire 32-kilometer road to the Mission. We had to maneuver around the heavy machinery and workers and over some chunky rocks. We even picked up a hitch-hiker. Or rather, Doug Brown did. The man was obviously a worker hoping to catch a ride up a to a waiting crew. Doug hollered for him to go around back. We all waited, uneasy, as we expected him to open the hatch and hop in the car. Instead he stepped onto the bumper and braced himself against the roof rack. Off we went. A mile later he hopped off to join his waiting buddies under a tree.

I'd say the mule adventure was a success meaning no one was injured or bitten by a rattlesnake. A dip in the shallow pool at the end of the ride was another highlight followed by a stop at Del Barrachos for hamburgers and milkshakes and re-entry to the present times.