Sea World

The 3 of us have been friends for a very (very) long time... since early elementary school days. (Wowsers... suddenly I feel really old...) Which means we've known each other for over 26 years now. But who's counting? It was Michelle's birthday, so the 3 of us got together to celebrate with a trip to Sea World! Michelle hadn't been there for a few years, and Jen and I hadn't been there for over TEN years... so we were all super-excited for this adventure. And of course, I was the unofficial photographer for the day...bringing my Canon EOS 50D, 17-70 (2.8-4.0) zoom lens, and my trusty 50 mm (1.4) fixed lens... (LOVE this one for low-light situations). Here's the rundown on the day:

I remember this place being a lot BIGGER. (Or maybe it was just that I was a lot smaller the last time I saw it...) In any case, it was a fantastic day to be at Sea World. Not too hot, not too cold, and no real crowds in sight. We saw almost everything in the 6+ hours we were there, and were able to take our time to just play.

highlights of the day: feeding the sea lions, taking our time exploring, watching the baby beluga whale, playing "polar bear" in the caves and posing in other spots along the way, and watching the Shamu show.

not-so-great moments: trying to FIND our way around (seriously... where do they HIDE the restrooms? And what is UP with that random housecat display?), random kids jumping into our pictures, Michelle getting pooped on by a bird (and me touching it, thinking it was just a leaf in her hair), and the new Blue Horizon "dolphin" show (though we got a great ab workout from laughing so much during this show...)

But it was all good. We were together, and we had a BLAST! Here are some favorite images captured from the day:

(left to right): Michelle (the birthday girl), me and Jen.

on the left: Michelle wanted to see if she could get her eyes as large as the penguin's.

Aaarrrgh! shark attack!!!

Feeding the sea lions was SOOO much fun. You could purchase little fish to dangle over the enclosure and drop into their mouths. The problem was that they KNEW this. So they would line up right underneath you, open their mouths, and AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH as loud as they could. (See below to see exactly what I mean, as well as a shot of Michelle's re-creation.) And some sea lions even took to waving to the crowd. (Look how cute we are... now FEED us!) The seagulls were ready to swoop in and take the fish right out of your fingers, too. So it made for a very amusing time.

Okay... I feel like I must explain these next pictures. And apologize ahead of time to those who have seen this show and who like this show. Because... honestly, I found it laughable. I'm sorry. Maybe it's because I've been a Disney girl my whole life, and also have been a performer myself... but this show was, well, laughable. It wasn't intended to be so. But when we went to the Dolphon Stadium, expecting a dolphin show (you know, with tricks and flips and... um, DOLPHINS), we were surprised. From the first reedy note that was sung, we knew this was not what we had been expecting. There was "interesting" music and a storyline... kinda. And a door that appeared up top with a "princess" in a wetsuit. (Let's call her "Dolphin Trainer Barbie.") And then a smokescreen... and the appearance of "Dolphin Trainer Ken." They liked to hold hands a lot, and wander around the stage. And toe-point. There was a LOT of toe-pointing. (See the look of confusion on Jen's face? Yup... that look was plastered on all our faces the entire time.)

And then a macaw swooped down to land on Dolphin Trainer Barbie's arm. She walked across the magical bridge (toes pointing along the way) and let it go... where the macaw flew backstage... and flew back out, transformed into a ginormous (humanoid) bird.

It was all very, um, interesting. You'd have to see it to believe it. These few pictures make it look a lot better than it was. The concept was along the lines of cirque du soleil, but with less acrobatics and more toe-pointing and gesturing. During most of the "show," the dolphins actually stayed right next to the stage, doing nothing but bob up and down waiting for their cue to go splash the audience.

Wait for it, waaaaaait for it... and waaaaaait some more, but there! There we go! The dolphins ARE involved in the "dolphin show" and look... they're doing something cool.

The Shamu show redeemed Sea World's show experiences for us...

We left when the park closed at 6, and headed to nearby Old Town San Diego. Many thanks to yelp, we discovered the joy of this teeny-tiny restaurant called The New Orleans Creole Cafe. yum-my. Seriously. Sorry no pictures of this place... I'll have to go back another time to document it properly. But the place was awesome. The dining area held 6 small tables, and the waiter had to enter/exit through the front door and go around to enter the kitchen which was next door. The place was full of history, and our waiter was happy to share some of it with us... in the 1800s the dining area used to be a livery and the kitchen was a gun shop. These were some of the first buildings in San Diego, and some pieces (like the rafters) are still original. Besides the history lesson, the food was also fantastic. (And the sweet tea was divine!)

With our tummies full and our hearts content, we waved farewell to San Diego and headed back to Orange County.