Last week my wife and I took a short trip out to Southern California for a few days. In part, to celebrate my 30th birthday, and in part, because we had free Starwood resort nights to use thanks to my time in Arkansas at the Aloft Rogers.
Although we'd been to Southern California twice in the past 6-8 weeks for two weddings, we ended up scheduling a third trip for the free resort nights. That might seem odd, but here was our thought process.
Step 1: We have free resort nights, what are the nicest hotels we can go to?
Step 2: Now, which of all those locations have the cheapest air fare?
Step 3: Thanks to Virgin America, flights from Chicago to LAX are much cheaper than Phoenix, Colorado, basically everywhere.
Step 4: Confirm free resort nights at the St. Regis Monarch Beach California.
So we were going going, back back, to Cali Cali. No qualms from me, I was happy to stay at a nice resort with what would hopefully be some nice weather.
I'd say we definitely got pretty good weather, and managed to squeeze in a ton of stuff into a short trip.
First things first, we hit a local hole in the wall for lunch
OK, so you may have heard of In-N-Out burger, but my wife had never been there. And even though I was still looking to cross other fast food outlets off my hit list (I'll get you someday Jack in the Box!), we found a spot not too far from our hotel.
A major highlight of our trip was heading down to San Diego, which we had never been to and was only ~1.5 hours from our hotel. We didn't have a ton of time there, and there were no baseball games (as I was hoping the stadium would implode on Tony Larussa, Pujols and the rest of those St. Louis tea partiers)
So we went to the zoo instead, and it was far and away the best zoo I've ever been to. Maybe it was the fact that I haven't been to a real zoo since my poor mom used to take all four of us kids to the Philadelphia zoo and probably question some of her life choices. But the San Diego Zoo was a ton of fun.
We got to see tons of animals, some of which I didn't know existed and most of which I've never even eaten.
There were lots of good exhibits, although I do think they dedicated a lot of space to birds. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like birds at a zoo are kind of a waste. Rationale:
- They're small
- They don't do much
- They need large completely fenced in cages because they'll almost definitely try to fly away
I think when zoo builders are planning out their exhibits, they must be like:
Zoo Builder 1: "OK, this will be great, we'll have the gorilla enclosure here, and then 300 feet down will be the giraffes"
Zoo Builder 2: "What do we put in between?"
Zoo Builder 1: "F*ck, who cares? Throw another bird cage in there"
No one gets excited for birds (exceptions made for penguins, flamingos, and perhaps emus, obviously).
Anyway, despite the overload of small children, the zoo was full of wonder and mystery. Exhibit A, this sign:
I kind of wanted to see that happen, but I didn't bring a poncho.
Of course, that's not to say we didn't see some serious raw stuff.
We saw a rhino try to get his mate to get down in the biblical sense. At least I'm hoping it was a mate, but maybe it was just a casual friend from work or another rhino he met on craigslist. Regardless, this one rhino wanted to get into it like a Seaside Heights guido after a couple red bull and vodkas. It was pretty hilarious, especially watching him get shot down by the girl rhino who was more interested in sleeping (see, they're just like us!)
After that, other animals found it pretty hard to top the rhino. The poor zebra across the way, he was depressed, I'm assuming from having to look at that monster all day and feel inadequate.
But the rhino, with his massive wang, was no match for the show stopper of the day. The last animal we checked out, and as it turned out, the one with the most hilarious show. I'm talking about the gorilla cage. We wandered past as the zoo was closing, and saw the biggest one, the alpha male I'm assuming. He was just hanging around, likely killing time until the zoo closed and he could head back in and catch up on his DVR'd episodes of 2 Broke Girls.
But I think he saw us and wanted to give us something to remember. Either that or he has recently been to a Jamba Juice
What a fun trip we had.