The only zoo we know is the St. Louis Zoo. We love it because it's pretty awesome and FREE. You can see most things in about 3 hours. So when the San Diego Zoo charged us $30-40 per person to get in, you can imagine our shock. In our minds, we planned to be there a typical "zoo day" and then head to Old Town San Diego to walk around. But that was not to be. We stayed until the zoo closed at 5pm, so we were there 7-8 hours!
We rode the tour bus and the skyline lift and saw pandas, baby giraffes, and koala bears. We were awestruck (at least Troy and I) by the lushness of the zoo and the topography. At the Scripps Aviary, the path just kept going down, down, down with layer upon layer of paths, plants, and animals. The kids were troopers, but we did breakdown and rent a double stroller.
Silas and Troy rode the sky lift 3 times, but I was happy to stay on the ground. I don't know what happened to me, but after having children, I seem to have developed a fear of heights. So, Morgan and I got a soda and ate an apple on a bench while taking silly pictures of ourselves.
We crossed our first mountain pass with the Airstream. Leaving Anza Borrego for San Diego was a windy, steep drop-off kind of road via Julian. Since I have a new aversion to heights, being closest to the drop off-y edge was stressful. I don't think it helped that I was in the beginning stages of my bout with the stomach flu. By the time we reached flat land, I was grumpy and Silas was car sick. Much to our delight, he puked his little insides out later that evening.
However, before we reached the civilized interstate we had to bust into our emergency 5 gallon diesel can that Troy keeps in the truck. On the mountain pass, we found diesel right where we thought it would be, but the gas station was WAY too small to get our truck and trailer in and back out again. That 5 gallons took us 45 miles to another almost-as-tiny-gas station. But it worked out and we were able to fill up.
Making it to San Diego Sweetwater County Campground was thrilling for us. We had dreamed of coming to San Diego, but we also had made it to the end of the trip West. We could go no farther. Now we could mentally know that we could stop pressing forward.
We watched the sun go down over the ocean the first day in town. I was sick with the stomach flu the second day in town. On the third afternoon we were able to spend some time at the beach. Besides nearly freezing to death, it was a fantastic time. Silas practiced his football throwing skills and Morgan chased seagulls.
I could just post a beautiful picture of the sunset and talk about the breath-taking vastness of this desert destination. Or reflect on how it was formed, or give you the best campground in the area to stay at while visiting this location. But I'm not. Instead, I want to paint a word picture of our experience here. In our little family's life, this was nothing less than an Adventure with a capital A.
"Hey, let's go see the sunset at Fonts Point at 4:30," said our friend Rich Luhr. Great! We like sunsets and it is only 4 miles away. Count us in. At 4:30, we load the kids in the car and drive out of our flat desert boondocking site. We drive about 1 mile down the road and turn off onto a path through the desert. Not a road, just a well-traveled sandy path. Very sandy. Very bumpy. We are in the very same truck with stiff suspension that nearly bounced my children out during both pregnancies on paved roads. On this desert path, our bodies were tossed in every direction and jiggled in every joint. Keep in mind that Troy is still recovering from a 24 hour stomach virus he had yesterday. He is still sore from puking and a bit of nausea still remains. This trip to Fonts Point to see the sunset, was not turning out to be the peaceful trip we had imagined. The four miles seemed like forty miles, but we finally arrived with our friends waiting for us at the path to the top of the overlook.
The kids were excited and the bumpy "road" was like shaking up a can of Pepsi. They exploded out of the truck with giggles, jumping, running, and silliness. They ran ahead of us up the path. The seemingly innocent, sandy path. Imagine walking up a large sand dune where you would normally expect to see an ocean pop out on the other side. However, we were in the desert. I was not prepared for what I saw at the top. Disclaimer...I admit that Rich told me that there was a big drop off at the end, but with everything being the same color of brown sand, my depth perception was off and I didn't realize that we were suddenly at the end of the path. Fortunately, I was holding Morgan's hand because her legs were getting tired from the climb, but Silas was ahead of us by about 20 feet. He stopped suddenly and I took a picture of him before realizing that he was standing 2 feet from the edge of a terrifying drop off. I'm talking about a serious, throw-a-rock-and-never-hear-it-land kind of drop off. There was no sign, no railing, no change in the colors that might indicate a drop off so significant. My heart stopped. I can't really remember what I said, but I remember grabbing Silas and pulling him back from the edge while my own legs trembled. I was in utter shock that somehow we had allowed our son to run ahead toward a certain death if he had slipped, tripped, or just not stopped soon enough.
The view was stunning. But I couldn't enjoy it. Where are the kids? Oh yeah, I'm squeezing the circulation out of their little hands. I almost asked the people next to us to borrow their dog leash so I could tie it to my children. We stayed up there for several minutes while everyone took pictures. I posed for a few, but I could not let go of the children. There was no way I could take a picture because that would mean I had to release one of the children's hands.
After an uneventful hike back down, we jumped back in the truck. In the commotion of the whole drop off ordeal, I hadn't noticed that Troy was basically green. The bumpy 4 mile drive had done him in, and now we had to do it again. Big bumps, big pot holes, and washboard flat sections. By the time we got back to home to the Gray Whale, we had deemed it a full fledged Adventure. It had all the components - suspense, near death experience, beauty, emotion. Our whole family, adults included, was in bed asleep by 7:30 that night. We Missourians have much to learn and experience. This one hour of our lives did what we hoped this whole trip would do for us. It woke us up. Taught us new things. Allowed us to experience nature and our own emotions in a deep and profound way.
My name is Stevyn. I am a wife, mother, and exercise physiologist with one foot in the world of travel and one foot in the world of fitness. Learn more about me here.
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