The chronicles of our Southern California trip continue with Day 5 (Monday, 2/23), our second day in San Diego. In the morning we boarded a tour boat for a 3.5 hr whale watching tour, hoping to see the Grey Whale on their annual migration from Baja California to the Bearing Sea. It was a beautiful sunny day to spend on the water, but unfortunately this trip probably contributed the most to our sun burn on this trip. We rode out to the “prime” whale watching area near the Coronado Islands, along the way seeing a couple groups of dolphins, which were actually more entertaining than the actual whale we would see.
After about 2 hours of searching for whales, the crew of the boat finally spotted a spout (exhaust from the whale coming up for air) and they maneuvered the boat towards the whale in order to get a closer look. We waited in suspense for the whale to re-surface, trying to capture a good shot each time he/she emerged. Unfortunately, there wasn’t really much to see, but at least we can say we saw one. Success!
After our whale watching tour we explored more of San Diego’s attractions, which included Point Loma (a scenic peninsula of land in San Diego Bay) and Old Town San Diego, which featured some Spanish architecture and lots of touristy type shops with a Mexican feel.
Day 6 began with an early (6 am) wake up call and a 2 hour drive up to Long Beach to catch a 10 am ferry to Catalina Island where we would spend the next couple days. Once on the island our first adventure was to take an partially submersible boat to view some underwater wildlife, which featured some exotic (to us) fish living in/around massive kelp forests.
The rest of the afternoon featured lunch at a seafood restaurant on the bay, visiting the shops of Avalon and an evening hike up the hills above Avalon for a good view of the city and the ocean. On this hike we were warned by signs to watch out for wild boars on the trail but luckily we didn’t see any!
At the end of the day we checked in to the Hotel St. Lauren to crash for the night. As you can see, it is a very interesting (and pink!) hotel.
Our 7th day we awoke for day two on Catalina Island and had a delicious breakfast at a 50’s type diner in Avalon. While enjoying our breakfast we heard “Rag Mop”, which was one of Maggie’s favorite songs to play on her grandfathers old fashioned juke box as a kid. After our late morning breakfast we had a few hours left in Avalon so we tried to do some more hiking and geocaching before boarding the boat back to the main land. We tried one route, but were denied by a road closed because of falling rocks. This turned out to be okay though, as our alternate hiking route took us to an quiet overlook with an amazing view of the ocean and Avalon.
We literally just sat there and relaxed for at least an hour, then it was back on the boat to Long Beach and the rest of our trip.
For day 8 we decided to end the trip with a bang and visit DisneyLand for the day. I was a little skeptical of how much fun we could have at a theme park for kids, but we proceeded to thoroughly enjoy ourselves by taking in all the rides and attractions, including Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean and my favorite Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Another highlight was re-creating a special moment from Maggie’s childhood, by posing with the Sword in the Stone, which she had done on her first trip to DisneyLand with her family when she was a kindergartner.
After experiencing all of DisneyLand we met my friend from college Dru and his girlfriend at ESPN Zone at Downtown Disney for some dinner. Dru lives in Southern California and was very helpful in planning our trip and it was fun to catch up on what we’ve both been up to since college.
Sadly this brings us to Day 9 and our final day in sunny Southern California. I can say that almost every day we had at least partly sunny skies and no rain what so ever, so I think we were pretty lucky. The temps ranged from about 65-75 so that wasn’t too bad either, compared to sub-freezing Minnesota! On day 9 (Friday) we enjoyed a final few hours of California before heading to LAX and back to the “reality” that is winter in Minnesota, where we were greated with a fresh 6 inches of snow and 8 whole degrees on the thermometer.
We had a blast in California and look forward to going again some day!
Check out the updated photo album for additional pictures from the 2nd half of our trip.