Splish Splash!

Trip Start Sep 16, 2012
Trip End Oct 11, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, October 5, 2012

We were very excited about coming to San Diego, as it was the location for our family reunion with Rachel and Robert, Stephen's sister and brother-in-law, who came to see us from Phoenix, Arizona. It was the first time that they have both met Blake and Phoebe, so the long weekend was much anticipated by all of us!

Arriving in San Diego from Anaheim yesterday afternoon, we were suitably impressed with our accommodation for the next five nights - an awesome holiday house 50m from Mission Bay, and 100m from Mission Beach in San Diego. It was a great surprise to find that Rachel and Robert had left work early and arrived in SD at much the same time as us. We headed out for dinner and a good chin-wag before resting up for today's planned activity - a trip to SeaWorld.

Glittery nails care of Auntie Rach, still (thankfully) the fairy glitter queen - check. And we were ready to go!

One of the main attractions at SeaWorld is Shamu, the famous orca, and his orca friends. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the orca show, as our timing wasn't right, and by the afternoon Phoebs and Blakey were too over it to hang around for the later show. We did, however, see them swimming about in their pools (the whales, not Phoebe and Blake). They're magnificent creatures. We were surprised, though, at the small size of the pools that house Shamu and his amigos. While seeing the orcas in such a setting definitely provides a great respect for their power and intelligence, the ethics of keeping these natural hunters for entertainment remain questionable for me. Of course, some are rescued from injury, or certain death in the wild, or are bred in captivity, and researchers can certainly learn much from these animals. I can't help but think, though, looking at their bent dorsal fins, that they'd be better off out there roaming the oceans, wild and free... but I guess the same can be said for any animal in captivity. It just seems sadder, I think, when the creatures are as awe-inspiring as the orcas.

I was excited that we managed to see some sea otters (finally!). If you've read my Monterrey entry, you'll know I've been keen to see the funny little things for a while. It was feeding time and they were shaking their lunch out of little balls with holes in them, submerging them, somersaulting, and tossing them about to extract their snacks.

We visited the dolphins, and not only could we view them from above, but we also snagged a great view at eye-level through the glass window in their tank. We took a ride on the Sky Tower, a revolving ride that slowly rotates, lifting its passengers 100m above SeaWorld for a fantastic view of SeaWorld and San Diego.

Arriving just in time for sea lion and seal feeding, Uncle Robert bought us some snacks to toss over for the hungry creatures. We all took a turn throwing the fish to the barking sea lions. Phoebe loved it. Blake was a bit more reticent, happy to leave it to the rest of us after realising they were real, smelly fish that we were holding.

The first show we caught was the sea lion show - Clyde and Seamore, with their cute little otter friend O.P. It was funny; a pretty slick production. It really is amazing what the trainers can get these animals to do. We saw another show, too, called Pets Rule, starring cats and dogs, pigs, ducks, emus and kangaroos, and some other animals that I can't remember.... Not exactly what you'd expect at SeaWorld, but it was an entertaining show. The things they got cats (many rescued from animal shelters) to do were phenomenal! Climbing ropes, walking tightropes, opening doors... pretty cool stuff.

SeaWorld has a good Arctic exhibit, and we saw some beautiful beluga whales, a regal polar bear, and a gargantuan walrus doing laps of his pool, gliding on his back and hitting the glass with a thud. To be honest, I was thinking of escape routes should the glass break and Mr Walrus and his icy water come flooding into the viewing area.

Making it out alive, we took a walk through the jellyfish garden, turtle tank and seahorse cavern. Having demanded chips for (what seemed like) the last couple of hours at the top of her voice, we got the hint that Phoebe was a bit tired and needed a little doze, so we headed back to the beach house for a relax. I'm hoping Rach and Robert's ears have recovered.

I don't think we actually got the kids to sleep in the arvo, but we distracted them with a walk just down the street to Mission Beach, where the kids frolicked in the waves (yeah, I know frolicked is a totally kitschy word but there's really no better one to describe what they did), threw kelp, and got progressively more nude. A great time was had by all!

As for the adults, more catching up was the focus of the evening, and the continuing re-Aussification of Rachel was in progress. Accent returned 14%.

Phoebe's favourite thing: the cats (at SeaWorld... go figure)

Blake's favourite thing: the dogs (at SeaWorld... ditto)

(Note: I did ask them their favourite things at SeaWorld, before the frolicking episode, so there is every chance that frolicking nude in the ocean may very well have been their actual favourite thing.)
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