Tuesday, November 20, 2012

San Diego, California...Sightseeing...Part V

Santa Fe Station in downtown San Diego.
In between getting the boat ready for our departure south into Mexico, Richard and I have been trying to put aside some time to check out San Diego. Since our boat is in a marina across San Diego Bay from the city proper, any trip into town is an adventure that usually involves a bus, light rail and a hefty amount of walking.  I have made several of these trips out to suburban malls in search of a new backpack, animal identification guides and monkey cups.  

Monkey Cups!
What are monkey cups you ask?  Well, only the most incredible drinking vessel ever created!  When we were in Seattle getting Osprey ready to head south, we ventured into a Target one day to look for kitchen supplies and ran across these little clear plastic cups with swinging monkeys on them so we bought two of them thinking that they would make great juice cups.  Fast forward to our first port of call, Port Townsend, and the first get together between Osprey and Rhythm.  Aaron brought out a bottle of rum and the crew of Rhythm each came over with a nice glass to sip rum from as we toasted a successful trip up from Seattle.  I went into the galley to grab a couple of glasses for Richard and I and when I put the monkey cups on the table everyone laughed at the silliness of the cups.  Since that time, way back in early September, I have been on a quest to complete the set.  Well, I am pleased to announce that the monkey cup set is complete and we now have six of them on the boat.  They make excellent juice glasses but also serve as fun wine glasses or sipping glasses for stronger spirits.  And that, my friends, is the story of the monkey cups, which just goes to prove that it really is the little things in life that sometimes bring the most joy.

A rubber stamp makes anything official.
Okay, enough about the monkey cups.  But hey, what a great segue from monkey cups to monkeys and other critters at the San Diego Zoo.  Last Thursday, Kathy, Tim, Richard and I got on a bus heading for the zoo but first stopped at an office in town where we could purchase Mexican fishing licenses.  The way it works in Mexico, for any boat entering Mexican waters that has any fishing equipment on board, each crew member must have a fishing license, regardless of whether or not he or she intends to fish.  We filled out the paperwork, paid our fees and got our licenses.  I was especially excited when the fisheries guy pulled out an official rubber stamp and stamped our documents as I have read that in other countries, rubber stamps make everything "official".  We just don't have enough rubber stamping here in the USA.  In preparation for these rubber stamping adventures, Richard and I designed a rubber stamp for the boat; I can't wait to use it!

Architecture in Balboa Park.
So after procuring our fishing licenses, we started to walk towards Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo.  Balboa Park is a beautiful expanse of Spanish-styled buildings, manicured gardens and outdoor art, and also plays home to several museums (check out the exhibits on Instruments of Torture at the Museum of Man or Chocolate at the Museum of Natural History!), a theater, an artist colony, sweeping views of downtown San Diego and the San Diego Zoo.  We could have spent an entire day just going through the various museums in Balboa Park but we had critters on the brain and decided to just take in the sights as we made our way to the zoo entrance.  

Critters galore here!
The San Diego Zoo has been called one of the best zoos in America and you can see why once you start walking around. The animal pens tend to be designed to maximize viewing opportunities and going through the zoo in the morning is recommended as the critters tend to be most active during the morning (well, except for the nocturnal animals, that is). 

I want to put in a caveat here regarding my thoughts on zoos.  For the most part, I don't like the idea of zoos. I mean, what would be the chances of a polar bear getting lost on an ice floe and finding himself in San Diego?  The unnaturalness of zoos, the displaced animals from all continents, confined in artificial spaces, does not appeal to me in the least.  On the other hand, zoos have evolved over the years and appear to be taking on a more critical role in a world where wildlife habitats are being destroyed at an alarming rate and where poaching and other "legal" takings of endangered animals continue to this day despite international agreements meant to protect the more vulnerable of species.  That said, zoos could be the last places to see some of the more critically affected species, and efforts to assist in the reproduction of the species and hopefully, eventual re-introduction into the wild (with more enforceable regulations aimed at protecting the animals) oftentimes begins in zoos.  Enough of my soapboxing...here are some of my favorite animals seen at the San Diego Zoo.

Malayan Tiger

Giant Panda

Grevy's Zebras


North Chinese Leopard

Asian Elephant

Secretary Bird

California Condor

Mandarin Ducks

I guess you could say I'm on a Bingo roll!
I mentioned a few blog posts back that the crews of Osprey and Rhythm attended bingo at the Portuguese social club here located right up the street from the marina.  Well, last week, after a day at the zoo, we returned for more linguica sandwiches, Sagres beer and bingo fun.  This night, both Kathy and I were winners; Kathy won a consolation prize during one of the bingo rounds, and I won a Thanksgiving turkey during the holiday raffle. As next Thursday is Thanksgiving, there will be no bingo held but you can bet I will be back the following Thursday for another round of Portuguese bingo!

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