It's a well-known fact, at least to anyone who's seen the epic film Anchorman
, starring Will Ferrell, that San Diego is the greatest city in the history of mankind, and we have the Germans to thank for its discovery.
I know the German part isn't true, but if the weather is the indicator, this is one of the finest places we've enjoyed thus far. Perfect weather, in fact, for a trip to the lovely San Diego Zoo
, which received plenty of screen time in the same movie, Anchorman. I will admit, maybe we were taking a few too many cues from the film.
Now, I grew up as an occasional visitor to the Philadelphia Zoo, which is certainly no slouch as zoos go. But this fabled San Diego Zoo was very impressive, and strikingly large. The exhibits went on and on, to the point that the facility needed a tram for optimal transportation from one side of the area to the other. AMong the first exhibits we encountered was this vast enclosure with a dense flamingo population.
Seeing the pandas was my most important endeavor for our visit, in case one of them was giving birth and Ron Burgundy was in attendance. To do this we had to navigate our way around this massive animal complex, through collections like the Lost Forest, the Polar Rim and the Elephant Odyssey. To get a good view of the park, we decided to hop into one of the cable cars, which were free to use with our admission. It gave us a ride all right, but the view was pretty unimpressive, mostly obscured by trees as we scuttled from one side of the property to the other.
Pretty much as soon as we were off the cable car, we realized that this place was not the easiest in the world to navigate. Granted, our endless use of the GPS in the car has not exactly sharpened our abilities as mapreaders, but we were walking in circles for a good while.
This was not necessarily a bad thing. We definitely enjoyed our share of wandering and exploring, running into giraffes, elephants and all kinds of weird animals that I'd never be able to identify without help from the signs.
Again, this was a beautiful day in San Diego, as is apparently the norm. There were plenty of kids and families scampering around and standing in the way of things. I found a moderately sized line of people near an aquarium tank and walked over to see what the commotion was about. The resident hippo was napping with his head against the glass, which made for some good close-up material. Hoards of people walked through and he didn't bat an eye.
I had my camera in attack mode all day - the results of which are featured below.
Of course, as luck would have it, when we finally found our way to the panda exhibit, the line outside looked a little something like this. After numerous line-waiting experiences in the past, at places like the Sears Tower and the Coors Brewing Company, we knew better than to waste our time idling. We bid our goodbyes and we were off.
Before we skipped town, however, I was insistent upon a visit to the fabled Stone Brewing Company
in Escondido, just outside of the city. This place is the proud producer of one of the most delicious beers I've ever had the pleasure of tasting - the Stone Ruination IPA. You'd be hard pressed to find a more balanced, tastefully flowery IPA in all the land, and drinking it from the tap at the source was definitely on my bucket list. One step closer to death.
One of the most unique parts of this place, which was a restaurant, bar and brewery, was the outside section. There was seating for drinkers and diners, but also a circular walk around a large natural area outside. Plenty of flowers dotted the land, and in a secluded corner, a wedding was in progress. We should all be so lucky.
From there, we drove to Newport Beach, just outside of L.A., where Joey's uncle John and his aunt Tina have located themselves and their adorable daughter and dog. They were incredibly accommodating; we waltzed in with some bottles of beer from Stone, and John fired back with numerous rounds of tequila shots. He meant business.
...At least, for a little while. But while Tina was sweet enough to go out and pick up an incredible sushi dinner for the bunch of us, John was down for the count by the time she was back. It was really very funny. We felt bad for coming into their home and totally dominating John's alleged drinking prowess, but when duty calls, duty calls. We had no choice.
This was our home for the night - thanks again to John and Tina for their hospitality. Look for more on our venture into the City of Angels, coming up soon.