We purchased a dozen of assorted doughnuts from Krispy Kreme on Friday night. We ate one each on the way home from Thrill It. As I drove back to the misunderstood Portola Inn, I could feel flakes of glaze fall from the doughnut onto my shirt and shorts. “I have sugar all over my crotch,” I said. “Me too,” Madison chimed in. Lynnette broke out into laughter.
Madison spent Thursday running around playgrounds and through water shooters so predictably, we had a difficult time rousing her from bed. She spat out all of her usual complaints as we tried to get her up: “I’m too tired,” “Why is the night so short?” “I’m too cold,” and my personal favorite, “Leave me alone, dad.” “Okay,” I said. “You stay here and keep sleeping, mom and I are going to Sea World.” “Who’s going to watch me?” she said with her eyes closed. Just like the other woman in my life, it’s clear Madison was listening, but not really.
We scarfed down a doughnut each for breakfast and got in the car. We took Beach to the 5 South and rode it all the way down to San Diego (please read that last sentence with the accent from SNL’s The Californians). I had never been to San Diego before, so I was happy to add another place to my small list of places that I’ve been to. “It means ‘a whale’s vagina,'” I said. “What?” Lynnette said. “San Diego,” I said. “Oh, I thought you were just saying that for no reason,” she said. Don’t worry, Madison was asleep. She slept the entire 90 minutes there.
The very first thing we did upon entering Sea World was take a potty break. Madison was still in zombie mode and tried to fend off Lynnette’s suggestions of going to the bathroom. I didn’t leave my heart in San Diego, but I did manage to add Sea World to the list. Thank you guys, it means a lot. Anyway, Lynnette brought a Starbucks coffee and with in five minutes she was saying things like “I feel better now that I have some coffee in my system.” While we’re on the topic of physiological needs, I have not had a cigarette on this trip and since this is not Hawaii, people have been smoking cigarettes everywhere. The first day we were here, it took me a while to remember that Hawaii is one of the nation’s leading states in terms of making smokers into pariahs. The rest of the country hasn’t quite caught up yet. But back to the orcas.
The first show we saw was the killer whales. It featured two adult whales prominently, but the best thing about the show was the baby killer whale that was allowed to tag along during the show. Prior to the start of the show, Sea World played a video showing the live birth of a whale calf. It was pretty touching, actually. So when the show started and the two adult whales began flying around the pool, people ooohhed and aaahhed, but when everyone saw that the baby was in the pool too, everyone awwwwwwwed. The baby really was my favorite part of the show. The adults were pulling of complicated tricks requiring timing and skill and body control, but baby was just swimming around pulling small stunts on its own. Every once in a while it jumped out of the water and landed on its side. It did, however, always show up near the platform to be fed with the adults. Maybe one day we’ll return to Sea World and Madison can tell the whale that she saw it perform when she was a young girl, too.
The promotional material pushed Sea World’s new show hard. It had nothing to do with the sea, really, and everything to do with Madagascar. Now, I might be the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen both Madagascar and Avatar, but that didn’t really hinder my ability to appreciate Mad’s appreciation of this show.
I was spoiled by the production values of Disney’s shows and was initially let down when I saw that the costumes for the Madagascar characters did not have facial features that moved. I was also somewhat surprised when I saw that there was a live band and two lead singers, one male, the other female – both young and attractive.
But then I looked at Madison’s face – she was totally into it – and at the faces of other children of around us. I suppose it was a cross between a puppet show and a musical show like The Fresh Beat Band. The songs weren’t great, but they were loud and catchy. Also, I’ll take a guitar solo wherever I can get one, even at Sea World.
I leaned over to Lynnette and told her it was Mad’s first rock concert. Lynnette reminded me that that’s technically not true since Madison came with us to Incubus at the Waikiki Shell, only she was in Lynnette’s belly.
Madison’s favorite activities – other than those which involved a huge playground and water shooting out of the ground – were those which allowed her to interact with the sea creatures. First, we got her in position to touch a dolphin, but she panicked and pulled her hand back just as the dorsal fin was making its way towards Mad’s outstretched hand. “What happened?” I asked. “I got scared,” she said. I tried to tell her that she didn’t have to worry, that the animals wouldn’t gnaw her hand off her arm. I was dubious about whether she’d believe me.
I am so proud of her, though, for getting over her fear. Later in the day, she would go on to pet the bat rays swimming in a shallow pool. She even tried to feed them, but couldn’t get her arm deep enough into the water. According to Madison, bat rays are “soft and smooth.” When we got to the tide pool area, Madison was very excited to see a multitude of sea stars lying around. Madison did a great job of handling the stars and following the park rules of keeping the starfish underwater. She moved from ledge to ledge touching, lifting, and speaking to as many sea stars as she could reach.
I really have to hand it to Lynnette, I thought we’d be able to take this trip next summer, but she really pushed for this summer. I don’t know how things would have played out in a year, but I have to agree that Madison’s at a great age for this kind of trip. I’ve been making it a habit to observe other kids while on this trip and I’ve seen ones a little younger not be able to comprehend what’s happening; I’ve seen older kids disengage from some of the activities. Mad’s been all-in on everything, though. Well, except for getting up in the mornings.
One of the parts of going on vacation that brings me ambivalence is making purchases I would never make if I weren’t on a different landmass than my home. While Lynnette and I have tried to show a little restraint with our spending, I made a horrible “Screw it, I’m on vacation” decision yesterday. The worst part is, I don’t even regret it.
Sea World sells a number of plastic “collector’s cups” for $9-$11. They come filled with a drink of your choice. They also permit the owner to $.99 refills for the entire season. I suppose that’s a great deal if you live in San Diego and/or frequent Sea World, but neither of those two situation applied to use. But that didn’t matter, because I already talked myself into it being a great deal if you are a person who drinks a lot of Coke.
Did I get my money’s worth? Well, in truth, that’s hard to do with fountain drinks. It provides restaurants/eateries with one of the largest profit margins on anything they sell. It’s why a lot of places charge $2.80 for a soda, but then throw in the unlimited refills. It doesn’t matter, they already got your money. So I don’t know if I got my money back in Coke, but the sheer volume of bathroom breaks I took leads me to believe I made a valiant effort.
We wrapped up our one day stay by checking out a restaurant that my cousin Tyler swears by called Izakaya Masa. It’s a sushi/ramen/Japanese food restaurant. First thing I noticed when we walked in? All the workers were Japanese-Japanese, not fake Japanese like me. The second thing I noticed was that there were a lot of Japanese-Japanese diners. I pointed these things out to Lynnette and she responded first by saying “That’s how you know it’s good,” and secondly by trying to eat as much food as Coke I drank at Sea World.
Lynnette and I have already bombed Instagram with pictures of our feast last night. In fact, Lynnette’s been documenting each of our meals with Instagram. This, of course, is a double-edge sword as it will help me remember all of the wonderful things I’ve eaten while on our adventure, but will also make me weep for the fact that I cannot eat them while marooned on Oahu.
Anyway, I only have glowing things to say about Izakaya Masa. The food was great and reasonably priced. It was so good, Madison even ate all of her ramen. Before we left, my parents gave us a little money to spend on a nice dinner, and this was it. Thanks, mom and dad! It was delicious!
Of the three of us, only Madison put on sunscreen yesterday. Lynnette and I are burned badly. The thing is, though, the San Diego sun was strong, but not oppressive, so we couldn’t even tell we were getting tanned as it was happening. It wasn’t until I took off my glasses in the restaurant that I learned I had raccooned myself again. It wasn’t until Lynnette took her shirt off to shower last night that she realized she’d been reddened, too. I wonder what other diners though as the three of us sat there last night. Two red-faced adults ordering more and more food and taking photographs of everything that came out, then inhaling it. I could have eaten more sushi, probably, but I still had 90 minutes to drive.