California Girls (and a Boy)

A couple of movie stars visiting Coronado (with blankie).

In my last post I lamented falling apart after a trip to San Diego via Carlsbad Caverns with my husband and granddaughter. After intensive chiropractic care, I’m happy to report some improvement. Wish I could say the same for the crack in the windshield of the new car, but it will be repaired in due time. Now I want to share the highlights and those “moments of bliss” my husband talked about.

Carlsbad Cavern:

  • After seeing the bat flight out of the cave the night before, we walked deep into the earth. I doubt if Chloe had any understanding of the cave. The mile walk down into it was harder than it sounds. I had never been there and it’s quite different from other caves I’ve seen: Luray in Virginia, Sonora, Natural Bridge and Longhorn in Texas. For one thing, it’s self-guided rather than following a guide in a tour group, which had advantages and disadvantages. My husband saw a wonderful photo exhibit in the visitor center which I missed because of my attack of whatever it was.

Gary entering the maw.

The San Diego Zoo:

  • A magnificent gray gorilla, inches away through Plexiglas, stares at us for a while, then deliberately turns her back to us.

  • A panda eating lunch, slouching in a hammock and chomping on bamboo (it appears that rather than “shoots and leaves” they eat only stems).

Lunchtime for panda.


  • A trampoline show with a princess and a couple of frog wannabe-princes. Chloe had her picture taken with the princess. There were other shows: a macaw talk, a beach band with a hula hoop contest, and a steampunk robot band called “Steam Powered Giraffe.”

  • A green tree python that looked exactly like “Verdi” in one of Chloe’s favorite books, which is about a snake that doesn’t want to give up fun kid stuff and become an adult.

    Chloe with a green tree python like “Verdi.”

  • Riding the aerial tram across the park and the People Mover when we were tired. It’s a very hilly zoo! (I had been there before but it’s been more than 40 years.)



  • Admiring flamingos and giraffes, elephants, monkeys, hippos, lions and bears, but missing the tigers because we ran out of steam.

I just had to buy her a panda (the small one). We would have needed another car otherwise.












Sea World:

  • Riding the Sky Tower to see the park, bay and ocean.
  • Touching starfish. As long as they remained under water it was ok; little boys were waving them around in the air.

  • Getting soaked on the Shipwreck Rapids ride (but, having learned the hard way at Cedar Point four years ago, our phones, cameras, wallets etc. were in ziplock bags inside a plastic tote bag).
  • Enjoying the dolphin and Shamu shows (which were Cirque du Soleil-quality show biz). The seal and pet shows were also delightful even with less pizzazz.

  • Exploring the Arctic (via a simulated helicopter ride) and the gorgeous, ghostly beluga whales from above and below.

  • Climbing a rope course and bouncing on a giant version of a bouncy house (Chloe, not us).
  • Riding on Sesame Street rides. She loved Elmo’s Flying Fish because she could control the stick and make it fly, and the spinning cups ride that Gary made spin madly. We never made it to the aerial tram and didn’t stay for the fireworks, still four hours off.

Elmo’s Flying Fish

  • The highlight was getting wet on Chloe’s first coaster ride, “Journey to Atlantis.” Afterwards she asked me how it could be both fun and scary. I tried to explain that there’s good scary, like a ride, and bad scary, like a house on fire. We usually don’t buy the forced photos of these events, but while I took Chloe to the bathroom I told Gary to use his judgment if he thought it was worth it, and it was.

Beautiful Beaches:

  • Mission Bay our first afternoon, where Chloe immediately made friends.

Belmont Park, an old-style amusement park, where Chloe was too short for the roller coaster, so she and Gary rode the bumper cars, which she was leery of but ended up liking.

  • Mission Beach, where she saw dolphins just offshore.
  • La Jolla, where we had lunch in a beautiful cove-view restaurant, recommended by a friend, about which I said, “I didn’t dress for La Jolla!” Exploring the cove and sea caves, which are not worth the $11 it cost for the three of us to walk down the 144 steps at the Sunny Jim Cave Store. But they were nice about holding onto Chloe’s blankie while we went down.

Chloe in La Jolla sea cave

  • My favorite, Coronado, where I lived in my early 20s. The Pacific was numbingly cold, but the surf was just right and the cold didn’t faze Chloe. One of the funniest moments was when the wind took a beach ball we had found and she ran and ran to catch it. I was quite willing to let it go, but she got it, gasping and proud. We popped into the Hotel del Coronado and walked around the beautiful little town, having lunch and ice cream. I got a kick out of going by the old apartment, just a block from the beach.





Garage apartment (behind house) for which we paid $80 a month, 1967-69.

Old Town San Diego

  • On our last evening we visited Old Town and had a great outdoor Mexican dinner and margaritas on a beautiful San Diego evening. The weather was perfect the whole trip—high 70s during the day, cool enough for sleeves at night—a break from Austin’s 100s. Most evenings we swam in the hotel pool and had a nice hot-tub soak.

We intended to visit Balboa Park, especially the Model Railroad Museum, but ran out of time, so maybe we’ll go back some time.

With her golden hair, blue eyes, honey tan and love of all things beach, Chloe turned into a real California girl. Me, I’m terrified of earthquakes.

Chloe and Gary have a last dance in Old Town.

The tree is watching.


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