Wednesday, December 12, 2007

San Diego: A Pig of Beauty

What do you think the chances are I can let these pictures pretty much speak for themselves?

[SUMMARY: Buckle up, it's going to be a chatty ride.]

First, the debarking passenger funnel at the San Diego airport. I was just fishing my blogdork camera out of my purse to take a picture of the stuff hanging from the ceiling when I heard to TSA employees talking about the decorations. Apparently, there's one woman who decorates the entire airport and she does something different every year.

[SUMMARY: That's dedication.]

I landed about 10:30 and headed for the motel. Of course, I couldn't check in, but my cabbie waited while I stored my luggage and I headed straight for the zoo.

My birds of paradise don't look like this.§

I wasn’t overly-impressed with the San Diego Zoo. Mostly, I found it big, hilly and not easy to navigate. But it was a good hike.

I think this is a case where it was a big zoo when there maybe weren't a lot of big zoos and it earned a reputation as a destination spot because it was bigger and more diverse than any other zoo in the country.

Now, it's kinda behind the times. The habitats haven't been updated to follow the trend in zoos of elaborate "authentic" habitats and interactive, museumesque activities.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit I'll never fully forgive the San Diego Zoo for not having a platypus. I want to see a live platypus in person before I die and I really figured San Diego was my best chance. This may be a large part of my disenchantment.

[SUMMARY: A little research could've saved a modicum of disappointment.]

I did get to see the koalas.

I have a theory that Quill (Cat for Scale) is part koala. It would explain the sleeping 18-20 hours a day and, well... just look:

There were lots of pretty flowers.#

I am mentally stuck on this as hibiscus, though I'm pretty sure the orange flowers below are actually hibiscus.

In any case, did you know this flower...

...comes from this?

And, apparently, goes to this?

[SUMMARY: They ran out of platypi, so I settled on the next best thing.]

I can't remember if Denver has pandas in its zoo, but if it does, they're certainly not as lauded as the breeding pandas of San Diego.††

We have hippos in Denver, but I really liked hippo underwater shots.

Ducks are like people.

Some are curious and want to be your friend...

...and some just ignore you and go back to sleep.

[SUMMARY: Philosophical ducks.‡‡]

The promised hibiscus. I think. I'm sure there was a time in my life when I knew what hibiscus looked like and I knew what those fuzzy pink flowers were.

[SUMMARY: Old and feeble.]

Of course, I had to find a lickable pig of my very own. I think these are fine pig specimens.

The zoo agrees.

After the zoo, I headed out to experience the joys of Balboa Park, where much of what you need culturally in San Diego is available for your one-stop shopping convenience.

In addition to flowers, I take a lot of architecture pictures. You will now be subjected to some of those.

The botanical gardens has mostly orchids and bromeliads. And these thing. I don't know what they are, but they look magical and fairy-like.

[SUMMARY: Whimsy is not dead.]

The Old Globe Theatre was staging "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" and the courtyard was a Seussian wonderland.

I visited the Timken Museum of Art, which has primarily Christian art.

Here are saints and Holy Mother of God...

...and a calendar and a madonna and child Russian icon.

I took all these pictures, and it wasn't until I saw this...

...that I got caught and reprimanded.

"No pictures. No pictures at all in museum. Is big sign when you come in," said the man with the walrus moustache and the Russian accent.§§

And I was taking a picture of the thing on the stool because I didn't know what it was. An -ometer/-ograph of some sort, and being enmeshed in some stereotype of California, I thought maybe a seismograph.

"How interesting," I said to myself. "The museums need to know so they can move certain paintings off the walls?"

But my friend with the moustache, apparently feeling he'd been harsher than necessary in the face of my relentless agreeability and good cheer, said, "Is hydrometer. It measures moisture in air."

On the way out, I checked. I never did see a sign that said no photos.

I continued on to visit the Art Museum, the Museum of Man, the Friendship Garden, various other gardens... I walked a lot.

[SUMMARY: Vacations are rarely really about relaxing.]

I returned to the motel and checked into my room.¶¶

Everything in the bathroom was ruffled.

In fact, the kleenex sticking out of the kleenex box was also ruffled, but I had already destroyed it in the name of future blogdorkness.

See, I had peed, as I so desperately had to. When I reached for the toilet paper, I realised I should preserve the motel origami for photographic posterity, so I grabbed a kleenex instead. Just as I ripped the festive kleenex from its happy home, I realised it should probably be photographed too.

But it was too late.

Just imagine it.

But the festive folding wasn't my favourite thing in the hotel room

Oh, no. Get a load of this:##

Sunday before the wedding, I had lunch with Lyda††† and her Gorgeous and Available Engineer Brother.‡‡‡

I felt dopey as hell because I thought she lived nearby, rather than simply in the same state. I didn't realise she had to haul over county lines and drive two hours to get to me. I'm so glad I had yarn as an offering to help assuage the guilt.

Anyway... we had lunch at Andrew's on the harbour, where there are giant ants...

Lyda, an ant and GAEB.

...and turtles apparently climb trees.§§§

And there were cranes.

[SUMMARY: There are *always* cranes.¶¶¶]

My darlin' girl Jax and Dave got married at this temple.###

With red roses all 'round.

The bride was particularly artsy here.

This is the first wedding I've cried at in years. The hand ceremony (pictured here), where they each held each other's hands and said, "This is the hand of my beloved, the hand that will support me and guide me, the hand that will cradle our children and hold mine when we are old..." (totally paraphrasing), had me scrounging kleenex from my uncle.

The reception was on the top floor of an inn at Balboa Park. The view of the harbour was lovely.

Harry's wife, Isabel, gathered rose petals sprinkled on the table and made me this rose.

And there were Christmas lights.

See? I told you I'd show you the Christmas lights.

FRIDAY: Knitting! (Still a knitblog!)

FOOTNOTE (crossed): Last year was snowflakes from the ceiling.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): By the way? San Diego Yellow Cab? Best. Cab company. Ever.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): Granted, half of my birds of paradise are fake and the other half are a plant that's not big enough to bloom yet, but technically, my birds of paradise don't look like this.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): Like the multitude of Tropical Rainforest exhibits at so many zoos, which I believe started at the Omaha Zoo.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): I came home with 600 pictures betwixt San Diego and Houston. Conservatively, I'd estimate 350 of those were flowers (including the orchid I took in the Four Seasons suite, which you'll see tomorrow,* teasetease*). You're lucky I'm not making you look at 27 different colours of hibiscus and the 60 pictures I took of a bee on a pom-pon flower. See? I *do* exercise some restraint once in awhile.

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): Denver breeds polar bears. Nobody is better at polar bear progeny than Denver. There's a chance the San Diego polar bears CAME from Denver. But I'm pretty San Diego has the niche market cornered on panda breeding in captivity.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): Which I know y'all agree would make a great name for a band.

§§FOOTNOTE (whirled peas!): So, yes, all the photos you see there are HIGHLY ILLEGAL and I'll probably get PICKED UP BY THE FEDS for posting them. But I wanted to bring you the truth as I saw it. That's just the sort of blogresponsibility I aspire to.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (one foot in front of the other): I will spare you the story of how I managed, like I do so often it's uncanny, to be roomed amid a giant kegger taking place with about 30 people in three rooms.

##FOOTNOTE (like sand in a rathole, these are the pounds of our lives): I can't tell you how sorry I am I never got to eat any illegal pizza in San Diego. If only I'd had one more day...

†††FOOTNOTE (holy crosses, Batman!): Who is every bit as charming and lovely as you may have guessed from reading her.

‡‡‡FOOTNOTE (I think I can, I think I can...): Should that be copyrighted?

§§§FOOTNOTE (whirlpools of footnotes): Imagine my giggles when I was looking at Stacey's blog the other day and found another in this very series of sculpture. Talk about blogstalking!

¶¶¶FOOTNOTE (trio!): And if you note the very faint outline of a Christmas tree in lights on top of the building to the left of the crane in the first picture (did you get all that?), I do have a picture from my motel balcony of it lit up. You're welcome.

###FOOTNOTE (triple pound! Good grief, it's hard to be uniquely clever after awhile): Not Jewish, just a temple.

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