|Letter from San Diego
||Friday | 14 April 2017
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
San Diego, California:
We packed-up and left our San Diego hotel,
The Grand Hyatt, this morning. It was just the perfect location for a
vacation with kids in San Diego. They were quite accommodating (pun intended)
and honored my request for adjoining rooms. Dave and I had a king bed and a sofa
with a coffee table. Our bathroom had a shower only. Lisa's room had two queen
beds, two chairs with a small table. Lisa's bathroom had a shower/tub combo.
Each room had an entry table, closet, safe, dresser, desk, TV, coffee maker, and
a small refrigerator - just an empty fridge; not one stuffed with expensive
sodas. Nice - and the rooms were spacious. We had views overlooking the harbor
and the Coronado Bridge through floor-to-ceiling windows. The room rate included
the breakfast buffet and we went each morning to fuel ourselves for the day. The
hotel has a fitness center and two pools (one is adults-only). There are many
restaurants, bars, Starbucks, FedEx and assorted shops. On the 40th floor is a
bar with a beautiful view of the bay. From the Grand Hyatt, a tourist can walk
to most of the attractions (Seaport Village is just outside) or hop-on the light
rail across the street. There are miles of walking, jogging and biking paths -
and the bay - outside the hotel door as well. Tickets to the zoo, safari park,
etc., can be purchased at the hotel concierge desk, so there is no need to wait
in the ticket line when you get to the zoo.
Fueled for another busy day - our "Spoonacorns" were ready to safari.
We checked-out of our rooms after breakfast and took both cars out to the
San Diego Zoo Safari Park,
about a 45 minute drive from San Diego. Our tickets were already purchased, so
we only had to walk in!
Our situation: Lisa brought the stroller. Lucy can ride inside (under shade,
if wanted), Leo can stand on a rear kickboard, and there is a ton of room
underneath to hold all the assorted stuff toddlers require and acquire. The
park has designated stroller-parking areas when strollers are not allowed
(like on a tram, in an aviary).
Here are photos, and captions as necessary (and if I can recall the
species!), of our day:
Lagoon Loop flamingos + tethered air balloon ride (no, we did not!)
Lucy loves owls, so we were lucky to hear a zookeeper talk about
Eurasian Owls today -
one of the largest owls in the world.
Plenty of shady spots to rest
The little "volcano mounds" hold flamingo eggs. Mom and Dad take turns
sitting on the nest mounds.
Sometimes our little situation switched-up a bit
We came upon the loading area for the trams that take visitors up into the
"plains of Africa" but found the lines so long. Over one hour to wait for the
30-minute tram ride; included in admission.
Then we noticed that for a mere $14 fee, we could cut to the front of the line -
and Lucy was free. So, we splurged and were on the next tram! We thought we were
so clever. It was an amazing ride, traveling up the hills behind the park, where
all the non-predator-type critters live - giraffes, all the deer-type guys, etc
- together, just roaming around as they please... or so it seems?
I was happy Lucy was free, because she fell asleep two minutes into the ride and
The safari park has a new giraffe, born two weeks ago. Adorable, of course.
In other parts of the African area we saw big cats, rhinos and a giant ass.
It was now 4p. Bubbe was exhausted. All I wanted was a hot
bath and a cold glass of pinot grigio. I would get neither. We had saved the
most-special treat for the last night of our trip - a
Roar & Snore sleep-over inside the San Diego Zoo Safari Park! I
had booked it months ago - reserving two
Premium tents for our group. The premium option comes complete with an
actual bed, two cots for the kids, a fan, a heater, etc. Campers share
two large bathhouses, no tents have private baths, and there are only six
shower stalls. (Insert sad face here.)
We went to our cars, gathered sleeping bags for the kids, our overnight bags,
and brought our belongings to a designated area of the parking lot. Roar and Snore staff checked
us in, tagged our luggage and by the time we had listened to a short intro
talk and met a few turtles, our bags were in our tents. Magic.
We had tents 39 and 40
Tent #40. The chests can be secured if you bring a small (luggage) pad lock.
Premium tents have one electrical outlet, two lamps, an electric fan and an
I can't say exactly how many campers were staying overnight
at the Roar and Snore, but I will estimate 80. We were divided into groups,
according to the areas of our tent accommodations, and each group had a
After settling-in to our tents, the first order of business was to gather
with our group and - guess what - we went directly back to the
African tram! We completely wasted our money this afternoon jumping the line
- we did not know a personal tour of the African plains was included in our
itinerary. (I think the itineraries change according to the weather, season/length of day. Check before you go.) Never mind. We were very lucky to see
the animals again - their activity was completely different as the evening
grew near and they had all moved around and were in different parts of the
Second activity on the agenda was dinner - grilled burgers
(veggie or beef), beef hot dogs, mac & cheese, baked beans, tossed salad).
They also had a full bar, but no pinot grigio. Dinner and breakfast are included in the room
rate; booze is extra.
After dinner, a fire was lit for S'mores and each
group headed-off for more activities. Our group first went to an animal
encounter hosted by the most delightful zookeeper. He had us in stitches and
completely captivated the kids (and adults) in our group with his energetic
personality, information about the animal and a few butt jokes for the many
young kids in our group.
The animal we met tonight was an odd one for sure - the Echidna,
a close relative of the platypus. The Echidna is basically unchanged for six
million years. It is technically a mammal, but lays eggs... then (oh Leo and
Lucy just loved this part)... puts the egg inside her belly button until it
hatches and is fed with red milk that secretes through something like a hair
follicle. Echidnas live in Australia and New Guinea and eat four-to-five
thousands ants a day.
Here are a few really bad blurry photos. It was dark. No flash and I just
brought my teeny camera.
Zookeeper with Echidna
This bad photo sums-up the encounter: Leo = huh? Lisa = the kids are loving
this and that guy is hilarious. Lucy = can I touch it?
I was not afraid and ran my hand down her back - from front to back. She had
spines or maybe (?) quills. They are sharp, but really, really, really feel
and look like rubber hairbrush bristles. Lisa and Lucy gave it a try as
well. Leo was having nothing to do with this strange red-milk producing
But wait! There is more. Next our guide took us to the Lion
exhibit. By now it was now completely dark. Our guide had a flashlight, but
we were instructed to not use our flashlights nor the flash on our cameras
because lions have very sensitive eyes. This was the most amazing thing that
happened during the week (for me): as we stood there, the male lion rose up
and walked to just a few feet in front of our group. He stared at us and
gave such a loud roar, we all nearly jumped out of our skins! He stood there
and roared for about a minute. We could feel the vibration from his powerful
roar. It was amazing and even our guide was impressed with the show, calling
it "highly unusual" for this male.
More activities awaited the kids back at the camp - an egg hunt through the
herb garden. If a child found five (illuminated) eggs, they received a gift
bag filled with stickers, pencils, junk and stuff). There was also a craft:
making a bird feeder by coating a empty toilet tissue roll with corn syrup
and dipping it in bird seed. The roll was then fitted with a string so it
could be tied to a tree branch when the kid gets home. The
previously roaring fire was now ready with hot coals and S'mores were the final treat for the day.
The clever staff used Peeps
instead of traditional marshmallows due to the upcoming holiday.
We crawled into our beds, exhausted and slept well... even though all during
the night we could hear lions roaring. It was magical!
And what about Leo's hyena? Guess what? They are off-exhibit at the Safari
Park as well. Someone is going to get a letter from a very unhappy Bubbe.
Leo, again, took it in stride. (We did buy him a stuffed hyena toy.) Not the
same as seeing your favorite critter. Back to the drawing board.
Think this was the end to our adventure? Nope. The Roar and Snore continues
into Saturday morning, so check back for that report.
Until my next update, I remain, your snoring correspondent.
Sign Up is NOT required! Anyone may comment. Sign
up only if you would like to add an avatar, or if you wish to be emailed when someone responds to your comment.
(Sign-up will take you to my safe and secure comment server, Pnyxe.)