Monday, January 24, 2011

I've been MIA for THREE WEEKS?!

Don't worry world, I'm still here!

In response to my last post, the work world came crashing down on me last week, and I am now forced to deal with the terrible, procrastination, sloth, and disorganization that has been ruling my work life. As much as it kind of sucked to be asked point blank why I was "so far behind" it did give me a sense of great satisfaction to reply "because I do the work of two salaried employees." This did not take away from the fact that our project is behind and there are people expecting results. It did prompt me to make an elaborate spreadsheet with all my overdue projects on it, complete with tasks listed by the person to whom the project is owed/subject and in order of importance. I felt organized for a few minutes! Then I just felt overwhelmed. Mostly because these projects are for a group that did not give us a due date for two years, then decided that January 31, 2011 would be the magical due date for "all the things." Yeah, OK.

Other reasons I might be more behind than average:
That's San Diego for those of you unable to recognize the city skyline in my crapass night photography. 

If I had to describe San Diego in a word, I'd probably choose "ideal." It's the perfect city. It's got nightlife, culture, great food, a TON of stuff to do, it's driveable (so unlike my home city of Boston) and the climate is amazing. The weather reminded me of the mountains of Costa Rica, a bit - it's chilly in the morning, but as the day progresses, it becomes sunny and beautiful. I guess this isn't actually normal for San Diego, as temps hovered around the mid to low 60's and the natives were disgruntled, but it was perfect for me! This was, once again, one of those trips where Jamaal was tied down by business obligations and I was free to wander and do all things touristy. I had a FAB time. Here's a large sampling:

 Day One

 We managed to go on a whale watch together. Here's a view of the city as we leave the dock.
 Here's a Grey Whale tail. We saw several whales - lucky, but then again, 'tis the season of migration and we had a good chance of seeing at least one of these slow-swimming whales as they make their way down from the Bering Sea to Baja.
 We saw a pod of hundreds of dolphins. If I had to estimate, I'd say maybe there were 300 in the pod...they swam right for our boat (we literally floated in place) and as they drew close, the captain started moving so the dolphins to could bow ride. It was one of the most awe-inspiring things I've ever experienced. This youtube video is almost identical to what we experienced.
 This is the new Point Loma lighthouse. I actually drove out here a few days after this was taken.
 Because rest and relaxation are for the week, I bounced off the whale watching boat and hopped on to another boat, the carrier USS Midway. I've been on an aircraft carrier once before, and it was a great experience. This was very different - I was on an active carrier - while that was exciting and educational, the Midway features TONS of information about each and every part of the ship, along with "scenes" set up in most of the rooms. 

Like this, for example. This is the ship's operating room. The mannequins are so life-like that it was unnerving sometimes to come around the corner and see one standing there. I usually jumped because I am gullible like that. A free audio tour came with the price of admission, and this was great. Vets actually narrate parts of the tour, and it's amazing to hear from people who actually stood where you're standing on the ship.

Midway has a ton of aircraft on deck. If you have a plane buff in your family, they will die from all the awesomeness. My dad would've frothed at the mouth at the deck. This is the SH-3 Seaking which fetched the Apollo astronauts. Badass.

 The bridge! It was the perfect day to visit the Midway because it was a weekday and a little chilly. The place felt deserted and there were no lines. I got to see the bridge no problem - I actually had to wait for enough people to join the group before our guide took us up!
View from the bridge. The airplane in the shot was being restored.

 I figured I had earned Pinkberry, which I have now learned, is glorious. This is the new blood orange flavor. It was so frickin' good I took Jam there for dessert after dinner. When the employees there asked if I wanted to try the new blood orange flavor I said "I already have." The guy goes "that's impossible, it came out today!" I said "yeah, I know, I was here four hours ago." I think they were slightly horrified. I didn't care :)
 Sunset from our room! That's the Hyatt in the distance.

Day Two

Decided to exercise the car a little by driving up to La Jolla. The animals there are the coolest. Here are some brown pelicans.

 Someone told me to skip La Jolla unless I wanted to "look at women with tons of plastic surgery." Ouch! I went anyways, and am glad I did. I didn't notice women with plastic surgery, but I did see a lot of seals. 

 Cliffs - so pretty

 Happy seal!

 I ended the day in Balboa Park. It was crowded and not very pretty because of the time of year! The gardens were not in bloom and everything was kind would definitely give this place another try on a return trip. Oh also, I didn't hit up any of the museums while I was there because I was dead tired. Next time, next time.

Day Three, in which I shell out $40 to go to the San Diego ZOO!!!

I'm often iffy about zoos. I usually get all excited to go and then end up depressed as hell, thinking of all the little animals in their very small spaces. In the case of the San Diego Zoo though, I wanted to keep in mind a bunch of things, two being that it is a multiply-accredited zoo focused on education and conservation. It also has an endangered species breeding program. I took a deep breath, hawked up my $40, and went in. And oh my, was it great. Here, a Calamian Deer and I take a look at each other.

 I visited the zoo as soon as it opened, which was a nice time - we went back the next day in the afternoon, also and excellent time to visit. A lot of the animals were either still snoozing or doing morning things, like eating or preening. This is a Lesser Spot-Nose Guenon doin' his morning maintenance.

Because people are jerks, many complained about how the tapir was sleeping. Oh come on, how adorable is this snoozing Malayan Tapir?? FRICKIN CUTE.  I snapped a pic and then tiptoed away.

Paradise Tanager! This is the most awesome bird of all time. The end. 

Okapi, last living relative of the giraffe.

 Condor - they were eating bunny rabbits when I got there. The kids had one of two reactions: *horror* "Is that a rabbit??!!!" *fascination* "It's eating a RABBIT!"

 Meerkat Manor. Awrrr.

Giraffidae, as we used to say in Kenya. 

 After five hours at the zoo, I decided to hit up Point Loma/Cabrillo National Monument so I could get off my feet for a little while.

 View of the city. Just gorgeous

 The cliffs at Point Loma. I had to wait like, 465 minutes to get a shot without people in it

That's the car I got in a Hertz upgrade. WORTH IT. 

We stayed in the Gaslamp Quarter. Also worth it, so fun. And we were basically diagonally across the street from Pinkberry. 
Day Four

 Decided to see what the hype was about and drove over to Coronado Island. I actually screamed as I crossed the Coronado Bridge, I found it terrifying. It's high enough to accommodate large ships...and high enough to scare the cccrrraappp out of me. Also, the sides are only 34 inches high. I would like a steel fortress surrounding me when I cross a bridge like that. eeeeeek. Luckily, once in Coronado, I was quite relaxed and fancy free. Above is the famous Coronado Hotel. It's gorgeous.

 The beach is frickin' nice. The sand is raked and free of crap like, oh I dunno, trash, glass, hypodermics - free of the stuff you used to find on Nantasket. ha. 

 There's Point Loma!

 I hadn't touched the Pacific since 2007. Long overdue. I stuck my feet in. It was cold as balls, like, Maine Atlantic cold. Of course that's the Maine Atlantic in the summer, whereas this was dead winter....

 Return to the zoo! I went with my honey this time. Another $40. Yup. Probably why I felt so broke after coming home. 

 Koala! I had skipped this the day before because the poor things were MOBBED. The glory of going on a Monday afternoon is that the zoo was emptying out when we arrived around 12:45-1PM. The stroller quotient was reduced by about 75%. Don't get me wrong, I love a place that is accessible to all, but when being a pedestrian becomes a hazard because there are so many strollers shoved into one place and occasionally ramming into me? Yeah, I get crankified. Anywho, Koala!!!!

 Secretary Bird

Jamaal and the lion. We couldn't get any closer because the other rabid tourist were in the way, stepping on the zoo's landscaping to get a closeup of the lion. Whatever, tourists. 

 Speke's Gazelle. Not the kind I ate in Africa. 

 Wolf's Guenon. Baby played with his toy while the adults preened each other.

 Baby tried to help but was reprimanded several times!

 Flamingos. Loved the light, wish I had zoomed in a bit more....

 Day Five

 I took this pic before heading to the airport. It's kind of awful. I fiddled with it a lot on Picasa (moment for how I need Photoshop?!) The problem is this: I am pale, Jam is dark (just typed that the opposite. oy). The camera does not adjust very well for our biracialness, so I usually look washed out as hell, and Jam looks fairly well-balanced. It sucks. I messed around and got this. Not too bad, but the picture looks a little grainy. Eh well. This is our one pic together from the trip!

Day five (technically six) marked our regretful departure from SD. Goodbye city of warmth and sunshine! We took off for our stopover at O'Hare and arrived to this:

And with that, I leave you.
More tomorrow. I've gotta make dinner and watch Inception

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