*WARNING* Long Post Ahead!
You would think that spending Christmas on the sunny shores of California might leave you rested and in a peaceful state of mind. *errr* Wrong. Turns out, taking 50 kids by bus and coordinating every moment of the stay is a little stressful. Well, it was for Joe at least. I had sympathy stress for him and have been helping the recovery process with lots of food and sleep since our return. Which is why I’m just now getting to this post…food, sleep and binge-watching The Shield.
I’ll write about the game itself in another post, but for now I’ll give you the high- and low-lights of the trip.
*HIGH: Getting to thaw out in warm temperatures for a few days
*LOW: Spending 17 hours on a bus (one way!) with kids who only wanted to watch animated movies
*HIGH: Getting to spend Christmas with Joe, my Mom and Mike at a beautiful hotel on Mission Beach
*LOW: Leaving Bella in Utah
*HIGH: Wearing shorts the day after Christmas
*LOW: Wearing snow pants when we returned to Utah
*HIGH: Winning the Poinsettia Bowl
*HIGH: Did I mention it was warm in San Diego??
Now for more specifics…we left early on Christmas Eve on a massive bus bound for San Diego’s Mission Beach. As boring a time-suck as the bus ride was, I’m glad I got to tag along for free and not pay for a plane ticket. Worked out pretty well. I don’t remember much of the bus ride down, except that it felt like forever and when I finally crashed for the night I felt like I was still rocking on the bus. Kinda like being on a boat for a long time. Sea legs? I guess I had Bus Butt.
I woke up early on Christmas morning to catch my friends and family on Skype and Facetime. I got to see little Abby showing off the table and chairs Santa brought her, along with some awesome open-mouth virtual kisses. Love this family!
Then I got a fashion show from Lily: a Thunder jersey to wear to the game with her Daddy, a “beautiful” coat from Santa and matching Christmas jammies with little bro, Linc. They are the CUTEST!
My last Skype session was with my Dad, Janet, Rach and the soon-to-be-married Bryan and Robbi, where I finally got to see the bling. Don’t mind my crazy brother. Robbi, are you sure you’re up for a lifetime of this?!
After Skyping, I was finally successful at waking up Joe (no easy feat) and we said hello to these guys!
We were beyond excited and grateful that my Mom and Mike came to California to spend Christmas with us and help cheer on the Aggies. I ended up having a lot of free time while the band was rehearsing, so it worked out perfectly for some quality time by the ocean and with San Diego’s finest animals. We fit right in.
On Christmas morning, the band split up between Sea World and the Zoo. And since Joe and I are officially boycotting all things Sea World, to the Zoo it was! Luckily, my Dad and Janet had gifted me a new “purse camera” for Christmas, so I didn’t end up hauling my big camera on the trip. It was a lifesaver and I loved having a small, reliable camera again. *Thank you guys!* And it takes pretty awesome photos, to boot.
The Zoo was all decked out for their Jungle Bells – it’s a gorgeous place anyway, but they really went all out decorating it for the holidays.
What’s funny is on the way to California, Joe asked me if seeing palm trees made me think of “home,” as in Miami. I didn’t realize how much they did until we were surrounded by them at the Zoo. I guess I miss my coastal living just a little bit, although snow-covered mountains are just as wonderful in their own frigid way.
My mom and Mike met us there and our friend Sam, who works with the marching band’s battery (percussion) line, joined us for a romp around the park. Here’s Sam as we were about to take off on our Skyfari Ride.
Which, as you can see, is pretty high up there, but it gives you amazing views of the park. I was just a little freaked out being up there. A little. Maybe just enough to not take a lot of photos.
The Skyfari takes you all the way to the back of the park, which was perfect since that’s where the Arctic animals lived and they were numero uno on Joe’s priority list. Especially these guys:
I think it was at this point that Sam was rethinking joining us for the day. Beware: I make people take stupid photos. Joe knows this, and that’s why he’s not smiling. …poor Sam.
I couldn’t get over how sprawling the Zoo was. I had visited as a little girl, but I didn’t remember anything. Just look at how beautiful the walkways are and how convenient those moving sidewalks are when your lower back is screaming for mercy. Yeah…sitting on a bus for 17 hours one day and hauling ass all over San Diego the next isn’t the wisest thing I’ve ever done.
Enough yapping. Here are some of my favorite animals of the day:
This is a horrible photo of a tiger, but he was literally pacing against the glass and a swarm of people were watching. It was actually a little freaky, like he was agitated and wanted to kill one of us…or all of us. I’m mostly posting so you can appreciate the size of those paws. Good Lord. They are the size of my head.
The flamingos ended up being one of my favorite exhibits. They were so pretty and we could get so close to them. Check out the baby!
They look like a painting!
It also was a good stopping point for bathrooms, so I took a lot of pics and managed to get in one. A rare sighting, this Marci.
After the flamingos, I loved the koalas and elephants. I don’t think I’d ever seen an elephant with such enormous tusks!
And check out this baby giraffe! What was awesome is that they also had a four-day-old giraffe who wasn’t making an appearance that day, but he was even smaller than this guy. Such incredible animals! You can see him and his Mama behind my Mom and Mike.
The rest of our Christmas day was spent either rehearsing and eating with the band (Joe) or relaxing and eating an incredible Italian dinner downtown (me). With sunny weather and so much romping around, it didn’t really feel like Christmas Day, but it was a wonderful one nonetheless.
The next day was GAME DAY and Joe had an early start with another rehearsal at the stadium, meetings with ESPN and a lunch meeting with the Bowl representative he’d been working alongside for weeks. With a few hours free, my Mom, Mike and I headed a few miles north to La Jolla. (Pronounced La HOY-yuh, for those that wish to not embarrass themselves like I tend to do.)
This place was ah-mazing. It reminded me so much of Miami Beach. But with Sea Lions!
We spent some time walking the coast before grabbing another awesome Italian meal. And before you knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel to meet Joe and the band and head out to the game.