Sunday, February 24, 2008


It's been way too long since I posted a real post and good Sydney content. That is about to be made up to you. Be warned that this post is very long. There are A LOT of pictures and some videos.

Enjoy. (This took a long time to write and it's now bedtime. I'll proofread it later. For now you get it "as is".)

Day 1 - Saturday, February 2

Yay! Two whole weeks off from work and together as a family. We were still home in Idaho, but the prospect of all the time off was enough to make everyone happy.

Over the last two weeks we had about two feet of snow dumped on us. This was the fourth highest amount of snow in a winter since the early-20s for this area. (According to a newspaper article I read at some point.) I think by the time January ended we actually set the record for January snow fall, but I won't swear to that.

This picture was actually taken the week before our vacation, but it gives you a good idea of the snow we had.

Sydney's Snowman

That's taken at the front corner of our driveway where the sidewalk meets it. Sydney (and the snowman) are standing on about a foot and half of snow above the sidewalk. (There are a couple other pictures of Sydney and the snowman - and one with Mommy - in the photo album. You know where to look.)

We had an appointment on Saturday so we braved the roads and went. It was very important.

You might remember me writing this past spring about the haircut that Anne gave Sydney. That was technically Sydney's first, but it was really only a trim. On this day Sydney got her first real haircut.

Sydney's First Haircut

The picture was taken with my phone since I forgot to grab the regular camera on the way out the door. And so was this video.

As you can see, Sydney was very happy to have her hair cut. She enjoyed it, didn't have a fit or any problems throughout the process. And she looked really cute with the final product.

Sydney's Haircut

Day 2 - Sunday, February 3

Super Bowl Sunday. We spent the morning packing (and much of the day before doing laundry).

While we had mentioned the trip to San Diego to Sydney we spent time talking to her about actual details of the trip, flying on a plane and some of the processes we would be going through at the airport.

Sydney was very excited, especially about flying on a plane. When she woke up from her nap the first words out of her mouth were something to the effect of, "Let's go fly on the plane".

We went over to our friend Kathy's houses for a small Super Bowl party. I was disappointed that the Patriots couldn't win. I really wanted them to go undefeated. Oh, well.

Day 3 - Monday, February 4

We woke up and finished packing. A transportation van from my work took us to the airport. Our flight wwas delayed an hour.

The flight time was originally perfect because we would be flying (it's about a 2:30 flight) during Sydney's nap time. She could reasonable sleep most of the flight. The delay doesn't bother us (much), though, because Sydney is too excited to be tired enough to sleep in the airport.

The flight is just over half full so we have plenty of space. Anne and Sydney are together and I end up moving to the seats in front of them to have more room to stretch. The flight is quick and painless and Sydney does sleep much of it.

Getting to the hotel is also relatively painless, as is getting the rental car. (The child seat with the rental car wasn't so painless, but it was serviceable. We dealt with it throughout the trip. Not that we had a choice.)

We stayed in Old Town. Our first order of business once we checked in and settled a little was to find a Target store. We went and got a few things we needed including diapers and bottled water. And since we didn't travel with a stroller we bought a cheap $11.00 fold-up stroller, too.

The stroller was really a little short for us to push comfortably, but we needed it. When we weren't at a major attraction (where we rented a better park stroller) it really was very good to have.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Other than having a very uncomfortable bed it was nice. Sydney slept on a roll-away and liked having her own, big bed.

We were on the second floor and had a small balcony that overlooked the courtyard. There was a fountain below our balcony and just about every time we left the room Sydney wanted to go see "the water".

And since I've now gone almost two days of this vacation account without a picture or video I'll show you the fountain.

I'm not sure what day that was taken on, but it wasn't the day we arrived. Regardless, Sydney always loved playing outside, looking at the fountain and running around. Usually with one of us chasing her.

As you can also probably see, the weather was beautiful. It was "warm" and gorgeous every day we were there. It started out with highs in the mid-60s. By the end of our trip it was pushing 80.

Day 4 - Tuesday, February 5

The first two days of our vacation were pretty open. We didn't have one of the major attractions planned so we could go and see whatever we wanted. This day we started off driving around and finding Balboa Park. It sits right next to the San Diego Zoo and is very large. There are lots of different museums at the park.

We found a spot to park (wasn't easy) and managed to cross the busy street to the park. On our way up a grassy hill I remembered the stroller and had to go back to get it. I met Anne and Sydney at the large fountain behind the Natural History Museum.

Sydney and Mommy at the Fountain

We decided to go to the Natural History Museum. Unfortunately, we were not impressed. It was crowded, which is really fine. I'd expect it to be. But it was small and really had little in the way of displays. Add on the fact that half of two of the floors were closed for renovation and it was even smaller.

Sydney and Baby Mastodon

But Sydney liked the baby mastodon sculpture.

We walked around and saw some more of the park. We made our way over to the apparently popular Lily Pond. Sydney liked the fish swimming around.

Sydney and the Fish

According to the guide book I picked up at the hotel:

Camera buffs never tire of taking photographs of the Lily Pond (9), which is one of the most photographed sites in the park.It was built in 1915.

Can you see the problem here? If not, take another look at the fish picture above. Notice anything? If not, try this picture.

The Lily-less Lily Pond

Yes, I could certainly spend all day here taking snapshots of the lily pond.

Apparently February, despite year-round nice weather in San Diego, isn't the ideal time to see lilies at the Lily Pond. (The number notation in the description above, by the way, is just a map notation. Nothing important, but I felt that I should quote the entire passage.)

The building you see up at the head of the Lily Pond is a botanical garden. We strolled around in there. There wasn't much to shock and amaze, though they did have a few Venus fly trap plants growing in there (well out of reach, darn it). The picture isn't the greatest, so it isn't shared here. You do get this very nice picture of this very beautiful flower. It caught my eye so I switched over to macro and took a close up of it.

Beautiful Flower

I'm sure someone can tell me what kind it is because I forgot what the sign said.

We strolled around Old Town that evening and had dinner at Fred's Mexican Cafe. Sounds authentic, doesn't it?

It was good food and we picked the right evening to visit. The fifth of every month is Cinco de Fred. They have food and drink specials. Especially on margaritas. We were on vacation and walking so Anne and I each had two.

Right at the entrance to the restaurant is a bright red parrot in a large cage. He was making a lot of noise as we waited for our food (we were out on the patio about fifteen feet from him). Anne took Sydney over to see him. She was impressed with the parrot saying hello and spent quite a bit of the rest of the evening copying the parrot's squawk.

Can you guess what the parrot's name is?

Day 5 - Wednesday, February 6

Our second full day and still not a day-long event to take up our time. We spent some time driving around and getting our bearings. Then we drove up to Mission Beach (at a suggestion from a friend at work). Sydney enjoyed it, though we stayed out of the water. (While the weather was warm by our standards it was still a tad chilly for a water excursion.)

Sydney Playing in the Sand

And, as we've seen before, Sydney always enjoys throwing rocks into water.

We left the beach and drove around mostly aimlessly. We drove around and through (via bridges) Mission Bay. We found a sandwich shop and bought lunch. We then went to a playground right off Mission Bay (and close to SeaWorld) that we had seen from the highway. We had a picnic lunch and then let Sydney run around and play.

Sydney Slides

As usual, Sydney enjoyed the slides the most.

The park wasn't very crowded (it was quite big), but there were quite a few people there, we thought, for a mid-week day. One lady had her little girl at one of the slides we spent a bit of time at. We were chatting for a while.

After mentioning that we were on vacation she stopped and looked at us. Apparently realization dawned on her now that we were wearing shorts and tee-shirts. Everyone else at the park most likely lived in San Diego since they were bundled up in jeans and sweatshirts and/or coats on this high-60s day.

More than once on our vacation we heard San Diegoans (?) wondering when this "cold weather" was going to be over with. We laughed every time we heard it.

Sydney and Mommy at Mission Bay

A picture of Sydney and Mommy at a look out over Mission Bay. And Sydney on a whale.

Sydney on a Whale

Day 6 - Thursday, February 7


Most of you know my fondness of anything LEGO, so most of you are probably asking why we waited two days to go to LEGOLAND.

It's all because of my amazing self-control and my complete unselfishness of wanting to do what my wife and daughter want to do before my own wants and needs.

And LEGOLAND is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays this time of year.

It was great fun. Anne wasn't greatly impressed (especially with the admission price, which is a bit high). But I enjoyed every minute I spent there. Naturally.

Almost as soon as we walked in the park we were attacked by Darth Vader. Oh, no!

Sydney Fights Darth Vader

He just kept coming and coming so I stepped in when Sydney got tired.

Daddy Fights Darth Vader

Miniland is the part of the park where they have all the small, scale models made from LEGO. As you might be able to guess, I took way too many pictures in LEGOLAND. In fact, I took more pictures there than anywhere else we went during the trip. But don't worry, you won't have to see them all. But you're about to see a lot of them.

Sydney and the Farm

This farm was rather neat. On the little columns in front of it (where Sydney and Anne are standing) were buttons for each of the animals in it. When you pushed a button the type of animal it was for would move. The farm would play "Old MacDonald" and the verse would be for that animal. (With a quack, quack here and a quack, quack there...)

There were several displays and opportunities for things like that throughout the park. And if there is one thing that Sydney learned on this trip it was that she liked pushing buttons. By the end of the trip the opportunity to take the elevator and push the buttons almost rivaled the opportunity to go see the water (fountain) in the courtyard.

US Capital Building

That's the U.S. Capital Building. Or at least LEGO model of it. There's a marching band going back and forth in front of it. Once again, there are buttons to push to make the various instruments play.

They had New York City (skyline) there in Miniland. And in case anyone is wondering about the building that will be where the World Trade Center used to be, it's called the Freedom Tower. And it's already built in Miniland.

Freedom Tower

If anyone is wondering how tall Sydney is now I can tell you that she is over 40 inches. But she's less than 42. There were a few rides she could ride.

Sydney and Daddy on a Ride

This ride just goes around in a large circle. You can turn the steering wheel to angle your craft out (as seen) and make it feel like you're going faster. Sydney really liked it.

Outside the ride, for the people watching, they have more buttons to push. These buttons make water cannons shoot water into the are to help get the riders wet. This was a common theme in all the parks we went to, though in most you had to pay $.50 to spray the water/shoot the large water gun. I'm not sure if you had to at LEGOLAND. Guessing by the frequency of the geysers even when the ride wasn't going I'm going to guess you didn't. At least on that ride.

LEGO Workshop

This is a LEGO workshop you could walk up to view through the window. This is one of the areas where they build test models for the park. If it gets approved it goes in the park. You can see some of the models there, though there were a lot more in the areas you can't see in this photo. The main thing to notice here, though, are all the blue, red and yellow bins on the shelves. Yes, they all contain LEGO block upon LEGO block.


Queen Sydney

Sydney, Queen of LEGOLAND!


Smerk! (For those of you not getting the reference, don't worry. Smerk is a dragon I know over on the Museum of Hoaxes forum. The appropriate people will appreciate the picture.)

One of the stores in the park is set up just for the movie/studio tie ins with LEGO. All the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman, Spongebob and something I'm probably forgetting are sold there. It's nice to have them all in one spot, though not as nice as the huge store they had in the front of the store.

But the big tore didn't have Chewbacca.

Daddy and Chewbacca

I always enjoyed those photograph opportunities where the display has a hole to stick your head in for someone to take a picture of you. This shark one is just too neat.

Anne the Shark

Sydney got in on it, too. And, I'm happy to report, she was more than happy to continue sticking her head into the picture displays throughout our vacation. You'll see more later.

Sydney in a Lion

I got a chance to ride a ride while Sydney was zonked out in her stroller. It's at the big red dragon from a few pictures ago. It's a two-seat ride and the arm whips you around in all directions. Seeing the picture will probably let you realize what is does better than I can explain it.

Daddy Rides a Ride

You get to pick what "level" ride you want. Anywhere from 1 to 5. There is a limit depending on your height.

Unfortunately, there is also an upper limit. There girls running it thought I was too tall. They had me stand under the maximum height bar, but they were too short to see. So they had me sit in the car and see how I fit. My feet didn't touch the loading platform (well, my toes barely touched) and my shoulders fit int he harness fine, so I got to ride.

Yes, I picked level 5.

Oh. And that big red thing on the right side of the picture is a dragon leg. Or part of a dragon leg.

We walked around the park a bit more while Sydney was asleep. It was later in the afternoon than she normally naps, so the exhaustion must have finally caught up to her from the exciting LEGO-filled day.

Sydney, Mommy and LEGOman

When she did wake up we found the little playground area. There was a train ride there. It was near closing time and not many people were there so the conductor let us all ride it a couple times without getting off.

Sydney and Daddy on the LEGO Train

I then went and spent a lot of money in the gift shops.

Day 7 - Friday, February 8


We got to SeaWorld as they opened. While waiting outside they announced that February is the 25th anniversary of the penguin habitat at SeaWorld. For the first 500 people at the penguin exhibit that day would get a penguin plush (stuffed animal). They also had cake.

We got a penguin plush for Sydney, but passed on the cake, even if it looked good. It was too early for cake, we were still full from breakfast, and would be eating junk the rest of the day anyway.

Happy Anniversary Penguins

An ice sculpture in a penguin exhibit? Well, I guess it won't melt. We're not sure if they were doing the giveaway every day in February to mark the anniversary month, or if we just got lucky on that one day. We like to think we were lucky.

On our way to the dolphin show we ran across the Flamingo Parade. It makes a few stops and the caretakers talk about flamingos to the crowd. They then move on, "parading" through the park with the flamingos.

Sydney recognizes star shapes and seems to like starfish. However, at the tidal pool where you can actually touch the animals, she didn't want to touch a starfish (or anything).

Sydney Refuses to Pet

But she liked looking.

Sydney and Daddy

Once again exhaustion overwhelmed Sydney later in the day. During this time we found the ray pool.

Ray Waiting for Food

If you think manta ray or sting ray you'll know what was in this pool. It wasn't either of those types, but a smaller cousin. Lots of them. Wanting to be fed and you could buy fish to take care of their needs. So I did.

Feeding a Ray

I almost didn't, but figured the opportunity doesn't come along often. There are still a couple things I regret not doing on our trip to Australia so that made me go pay too much for a few small fish and let the rays suck them out from between my fingers. It was fun.

Day 8 - Saturday, February 9

This is the day we had planned for meeting an online friend.

Alex is the owner/curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. (It's an online museum so we couldn't actually visit the museum while we were there.) He lives in San Diego. I am one of the Deputy Curators (moderator) on the Museum forums. We arranged to meet downtown and have lunch together.

We went down in the morning and looked around the the downtown/bayside area. The USS Midway, a decommissioned aircraft carrier, is docked there and is now a museum you can go tour. Near there is a statue that is apparently somewhat new.

Some Statue

It's called Unconditional Surrender. It is quite a statue.

As we walked along the park toward Seaport Village something caught my eye in the water.


It was the Loch Ness Monster. Nessie obviously knew that Alex and would be meeting and wanted to be there. Luckily I got this picture of her.

Anne still insists that it was two seals eating fish.

At Seaport Village Sydney and Anne rode a carousel.

Sydney and Mommy Ride a Carousel

We walked around a bit and then headed back to where we were going to meet Alex and his wife. We both arrived at the same time and introduced ourselves. I asked (made) Alex sign all three of his books that I brought with me and we had a very nice lunch. After that we took the ferry over to Coronado Island. Alex and his wife had to return right away because they had to be somewhere, but we took a few pictures first.

Sydney, Mommy, Daddy and Alex

After we saw them off at the ferry we headed across Coronado. It's a little over a mile to where the resort is on the other side of the island, but stopped for ice cream on the way and managed to handle it. And this is one of those days where the temperature was pushing 80.

The beach there is very beautiful and really nice. The slope down into the water is very gradual and you can go out a ways into the water without getting very deep. We all took off our shoes and socks and went wading.

Sydney and Mommy at the Beach

Daddy Lifts Sydney

That one is the desktop picture on one of my work computers.

Sydney and Daddy at the Beach

Sydney and Daddy at Coronado

And that one is on my other work computer and our home computer desktop.

Day 9 - Sunday, February 10

Wild Animal Park

The Wild Animal Park was fun, but it's very large and requires lots and lots of walking. Luckily we conserved some energy from the day before and took the shuttle back to the ferry on Coronado.

Two Giraffes

There are two giraffes in that picture. Can you see them both?

Two Birds

This is just a cool picture.

We took the "bus train" (Sydney's phrase) around on the tour of the grounds. At then end it passes the lion enclosure where they mentioned that some cubs were there. A lioness was sitting on top of an old vehicle they have in the area, but the cubs couldn't be seen. The cubs, they told us, hadn't figured out how to get to the roof of the vehicle.

As we exited the area we headed toward the lions.

Lioness on Car

The cubs were still no where to be seen. Until right after I took that picture.

Cub Checking on Things

There were four cubs total, which we found by circling around the enclosure further.

Lion Cubs

Sydney liked the lions. She even wanted her picture taken by one.

Sydney and the LionGiant Balloon

As soon as Sydney saw it she got excited. (She kind of likes balloons.) She had to go on that ride. That's practically all we heard from the moment the balloon was spotted. And we went on it.

Sydney and Mommy on the Balloon

And just to show that we were on it, here's a picture of the flamingo pond from high up.

Flamingo Pond

The Wild Animal Park was our first encounter with meerkats. And Sydney really liked them.


At lunch time I stopped to take a picture. Anne and Sydney continued ahead. As I was following to meet them at the restaurant I came around a bend. In a water fowl pond there was this black, shiny thing hanging on a tree limb. I stopped, trying to figure out why a garbage bag was in the animal area and no one had gone in to get it. Then the bird lifted its head. It had been preening its back so I couldn't see its head and neck when I first saw it.

Black Bird

And it's feathers were shinier in the sunlight than they show int he picture.

Sydney got to feed ducks.

Sydney Feeding Ducks

And she got to pet animals in the petting area.

Sydney Petting a Deer Thing

I think her favorite part of the Wild Animal Park, though, was seeing the baby elephant. It's been a big thing for her recently in her play for her toys to have and be in families.


We saw a lot of babies at the zoos, too. Most of them seem to have been born around November, if I remember correctly.

Toward the end of the day we found the carousel and this time it was my turn to go on it with Sydney.

Sydney and Daddy on a Carousel

Day 10 - Monday, February 11

Anne's sister, Helena, flew down from Vegas to spend the last couple days with us in San Diego. It was the first time she had seen Sydney (live, in the flesh, blog not counting) since her first birthday. Sydney was just as excited to see her.

Since she arrived mid-morning this was another day without a major attraction planned. We went up to Cabrillo National Monument. It's where they believe Cabrillo (the man credited with discovering the area) first landed. It's also supposed to be a great spot to see whales as they migrate between December and March.

Unfortunately we didn't see any whales.

Aunt Helena did have a neat camera, though. The LCD screen flips around so if you want to take a picture of yourself you can see what you're doing.

Sydney, Mommy and Aunt Helena

I also had my tripod with me and my camera has a timer.

All of Us

And here's the view of San Diego from Cabrillo Point.

San Diego Bay

After that we went to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. They have two really neat whale fountains out front.

Sydney, Mommy and Aunt Helena at a Whale Fountain

Sydney with a Whale Tale

They had a tide pool at the aquarium, too. We were there just at feeding time. We got to watch them stick a dead fish on a long pole and then put it in the water to feed a couple large lobsters in the pool. It was quite neat.

And Sydney also plucked up the courage to pet a starfish this time.

Sydney Pets a Starfish

I try not to take offense to the fact that she wouldn't pet the one I was holding, but is petting the one a perfect stranger is holding.

And there was an opportunity to stick her head in a hole and have her picture taken. This time with Aunt Helena.

Sydney and Aunt Helena in a Shark

The aquarium had two water tables set up outside. The water is pumped up to the top of them. It then flows down the table/ There are pegs in the table and small, plastic boards can be played to change the currents. There are little boats to stick in the water and watch how they go through the water.

Sydney at the Water Table

It's designed to help teach children about currents. It was quite fun and interesting. We let Sydney play with it, too.

La Jolla from Scripps

That's La Jolla as seen from the aquarium.

Day 11 - Tuesday, February 12

San Diego Zoo

We saved the Zoo to go to with Aunt Helena. It was originally going to be LEGOLAND until I found out that they were closed on Tuesdays.

Aunt Helena wanted to see the tigers first. She lost out, however, because the baby panda at the zoo is only on display for a few hours at the beginning of the day. And they're on opposite sides of the zoo.

So we headed toward the pandas. The path took us through a bird atrium or three.

Sydney and Mommy and a Bird

There are lots of birds at the zoo and by the end of the day we were all a little sick of seeing birds, no matter how beautiful they were.

But we made it to the area where the baby panda and its mother were.

Baby Panda

And here's mom.

Mom Panda

This was by far Sydney's favorite part of the trip. When asked the baby panda is the first thing out of her mouth.

Dad and sister panda were in a separate area and we saw them later in the day, but here they are.

Dad Panda

Sister Panda

As we wandered around we saw one animal that was very pretty.

Singing Dog

He's a Singing Dog. At first he wasn't visible. Then he popped his head out. As I read the sign and said what he was Sydney started yelling at it. "Sing doggy." She repeated it several times and we all chuckled. The dog didn't sing, though.

Sydney, Mommy and a Camel

That's a camel Sydney and Anne are looking at in case you can't tell.

Once again there were meerkats at the park.

Sneaky Meerkat

That meerkat was standing up right next to the sign. I raised my camera, framed the picture, focused and then right when I hit the button the meerkat decided he had something else to do.

Hey, they have a store especially for our daughter!

Sydney's Shoppe

A big gorilla statue makes a good picture spot.

Family Portrait

I seem to remember petting zoos having a better variety of animals when I was younger. But that doesn't matter, She obviously enjoyed it.

Sydney at the Petting Area

Hey, look. More holes for Sydney to stick her head in.

Sydney the Spider

Sydney the Llama Farmer

Finally, toward the end of the day, we made it to the tigers.

Tiger Nap

Can you see the tiger? We couldn't, either. Oh, well. Sorry, Aunt Helena.

The polar bears didn't cooperate much, either.

Polar Bear Resting

This was the only one visible in the area. Anne and I walked around from the viewing window. There was another viewing area around a ways. It was a little lower and looked in the water for when the bears went swimming. By the time we got around there the one bear had gotten up and moved. This was the view we had of him.

Polar Bear Face

Notice his face. Have you ever seen a face like that on anyone before? What were they doing at the time?

Yes, it was confirmed. Aunt Helena came around and told us about the bear getting up. Everyone over at the first window was excited because he was moving. Then he walked over to where he was, butt-first toward the crowd, and did his business. Aw. We miss all the fun stuff.

Sydney likes hippos. I think she likes trying to say the name. Regardless, she recognizes them without a problem and enjoyed seeing some live.


That night we packed up for the trip home. We had a discussion about going back home with Sydney. She gave us her take on some things, too.

Day 12 - Wednesday, February 13

It's time to go home. As much fun as we had and as much as we'll miss it (especially the warm weather) we were happy to go home.

After breakfast at the hotel we had to go finish packing. Of course, Sydney wanted to play outside by the water and run around. Aunt Helena stayed outside with her while we packed.

Sydney and Aunt Helena

The flight home was uneventful. Sydney got a little antsy the last half hour or so, but overall did very well. We were all very happy to get home and Sydney even cried with happiness when she saw her toys at home.

We had a few days left on our vacation. There are one or two things I will tell you about in another entry, but mostly we relaxed and recuperated from the trip. We had a lot of fun and spent way too much money.