Traveling With Kids – Doubletree Hotel San Diego – 3 Days Left

3 Days Left

Early AM

Damn mommy-hearing.

IMG_2233The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world can hear her youngest gurgle in his sleep from three floors down. I suspect, if put to the test, she could hear one of them cough from the lobby four floors down. With fire alarm going off. And a jet overhead.

It’s really remarkable.

I have exactly the opposite ability. I can’t hear what you’re saying if you’re standing beside me. It works well when the boys are shouting at the computer 2’ from me. Die! Die Bunny-spawn. Blam! Blam! It works well if someone wants to get up, go the bathroom then blow dry their hair.

elmer fudd huntingBut mommy-hearing may well be better than dog hearing. So I have to be Elmer Fudd quiet. Like I was huntin’ wabbits.

The boys were great last night, so quiet. This morning, they did their best not to wake us up. Despite that, I was awake at 6. WTF? Even when I can sleep in these days, I can’t. I have no idea why.

In a hotel room that doesn’t have a lot of space, I can’t get up and write, cuz that would have to be in the room where the boys sleep, and I can’t write in bed,  cuz that would wake up the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world.

So I waited, thinking my deep thoughts and a little pissed off I couldn’t go back to sleep.

The boys woke up about 7. I heard the pad-pad-pad-pad of bare feet on the carpet. Flick the light goes on. The light to the bathroom fills our space too. The bathroom door creaks open. The light is turned on, and, with it, the fan. Water streams into the toilet like from a garden hose. Then the toilet is flushed, hands are washed, the light is turned off and pad-pad-pad, back to bed.

It’s not exactly quiet. But I know they’re trying to be quiet.

God bless them.

iphoneIn the end, it’s not the boys who wake up the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world. No, it’s me. I hit the wrong button the iphone and instead of getting readable map directions to the zoo, where we planned to go today, I get verbal ones. At the top volume.


She looks healthier than she did yesterday. She’s still got a cold, but she’s had about 10 hours sleep and that’s gotta help.

Today, it’s the zoo and another attempt to see her mysterious friend, Schmennis. I’m beginning to think it’s an imaginary friend – which would actually explain a lot.

Outside, the weather is wonderful, and the oldest is about to have his first experience navigating. For some reason I don’t entirely understand, the boys can be so well behaved, such little angels, such creatures of goodness and purity one moment, then they get in the car, they turn into the spawn of Satan.

iPhone-4S-GPS-ImprovementWe tried telling them how hard it was to drive and navigate when they made so much noise. Epic fail. We tried bribery. Nope, not working either. We tried tiring them out. We tried threatening to take things away. We tried getting them to do interesting things –  other than poking each other or snapping the stretchie froggie at each other. Yeah, not working either.

So, we thought, why not let the oldest experience the joy of navigating? If we could, we would have given him the joy of driving in freeway traffic, but he’s a bit young. And too short for the seat and pedals.

This will either be a good lesson for him on how difficult it is and why the boys have to be quiet while we try and find places or he’ll be amazingly awesome in which case he’ll be promoted from chief-angry-bird- player-in-the-car to chief-navigator.

I suspect I know which way it’ll go.

It could, however, also end very, very badly for us if we ended up in Tijuana.


A few things I’m curious about. Has anyone had success keeping kids quiet in the car? How did you do it?

Has anyone ever let their kids (ages, say, 7-14) navigate?

And hey, please, if you like the blog, or like the pictures, or like the font, please share with friends, or follow. 🙂

Traveling With Kids – San Diego Seaworld – Fast and Wet

The Manta, Wet Times and Atlantis

Atlantis3_460x345Rides. Who goes to Seaworld for rides? Well, let me tell you, everyone should. The Manta is a full-on rollercoaster. The oldest HAD to go on it. He’s completely unafraid of those things. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world HAD to go on it. If there’s one thing she likes to do, it’s go fast. The youngest, though, wasn’t scared, no not scared, but someone, you know, had to kinda stay behind and take pictures.

So I did as well. It’s the great thing of having 2 adults, (or, in our case, one adult and one 200lb confused older being). One can do one thing with one and one can do one thing with the other. Say that three times fast.

IMG_0441So, I stayed with the youngest, gave him my phone to take pictures, yelped, holy hell! when he dropped the phone, and took a few pictures myself. The oldest and the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world loved the speed, loved the ride. The youngest told me that he wanted to go on it, but he didn’t want me to be alone. When I said I wanted to go on it, he said, “well, actually, maybe it’s too fast for you.”

But one ride he really wanted to go on. It was called the Shipwreck Rapids. It got anyone who rode on it soaked. And if there was one thing he loved more than cotton candy, it was getting wet.

After my shivering experience at Legoland, I wasn’t keen to get watered down, again. But the sun was out, there were NO lineups to get on the ride so how could I say no? But I had a plan. The ride looked like I could spin it around and so I thought I could maneuver it and stay dry (and soak the living heck out of the youngest.)

Turns out, I couldn’t. The ride had preplanned rotations. And a waterfall.

IMG_2205So, despite the fact that the sun was out, the water was polarbear cold and somehow the ride knew which one wanted to get wet and which one didn’t. Amazingly enough, both the oldest and I were drenched after the first ride. The youngest only marginally wet. Like someone sneezed on him.


What the heck?

So we switched seats and went again. The youngest sat where I sat. And yup, he escaped nearly all the great splashes, while I got plastered with water. He wanted to go, again, but I was done. There is only so much water I can take pooling in my underwear.

We had one more ride to do. The mighty Atlantis. A rollercoaster with a good drop, a couple of testicle-shrinking curves and a big splash.


The youngest wasn’t scared. No, not scared, and the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world refused to have her underwear filled with water so he had a chance to stay with her to, you know, to take pictures.

But not this time.

No. He decided to give it a try.

Here’s the thing. He was nervous. You could see it in his face. In his body language. The rollercoaster was awful high and fast, but he could get wet at some point and that, I think, was the deciding factor.

He talked the whole time in the very short line. Talking kept his mind off the screams. That and bouncing up and down like his feet are on fire.

IMG_2222But he didn’t back down. Not when the rollercoaster pulled up. Not when they led us to our seats. Not when he was belted in. And then it was too late.

I looked behind me to see if he was ok. I gave him the thumbs up. He gave me the thumbs up back.

And the rollercoaster shot off. Up the track, then into a tunnel and DOWN. Fast. My stomach shot through my ears, I gripped the hand rail. The oldest shouted with excitement. I prayed the youngest was ok and looked back right at the moment we hit the water.

He was terrified and thrilled at the same time.

Exactly the experience all rollercoasters should provide.

So we went again.

And again.

Each time, the youngest got more and more excited. Each time the fun became more powerful than the fear. Until, at the end, he LOVED the rollercoaster. He wanted to go on all of them. Everywhere.

IMG_2225But it was getting late so we played around with a few arcade games, won mustaches, the boys hugged a big milk container, then we drove back home.

We’d all had a great, great time, but seeing the youngest overcome his fear and learn to love the wild rides made the whole day worthwhile.

Disneyland was looking more and more like a possibility next year.


Traveling With Kids – San Diego Seaworld – Showtime


IMG_3605“The Whales Fly”

Seeing Seaworld is as much about balancing off what you do between the shows as anything. Like a hyper intermission filled with madly running around and screaming and water and sharks. But there are set times that the dolphins or killer whales come out to play. Crowds gather. Good seats are taken. Snack vendors magically appear. So we had to get there on time.

First up, the famous whale show. The Shamu Show. Apparently, that’s just the name of the show as none of the killer whales, (and there are 10 of them), are actually called Shamu. Sort of like the how Dread Pirate Roberts name just got transfered from pirate to pirate to handsome, farmer in love with a pretty girl.

Besides, who would go see a show named the Corky show? I would expect puppets and a guest appearance by Tom Hanks. So there’s a good reason they kept the name.

We decided to see the main show. There were other options. Shamu up and close. Dine with Shamu. Swim with Shamu and see if you can avoid getting eaten. All of these things seemed like a bad idea. They’re not called cuddle whales. So, yeah, main show.

We sat up high so as not to get splashed. They had the splash zones clearly marked, and not only marked, but the park guides told everyone coming in that the splash zones were, well, very splashy. Then, later, they made an announcement. Three in fact. If you’re in the splash zones, you’ll get wet.

For some reason, this came as a big surprise to some people. I think it’s the same idiots who put a hot cup of coffee in their lap and when it spills scalding hot liquid on their family jewels, sue everyone in sight.

IMG_0448 (800x600)Anyway, we were safe. Safer than safe. We were rows and rows away from the last splash zone set of seats. So high up that the air was thin and I think we could have touched the sky. I told the oldest we could and he gave me that look again. Like I’m having a stroke.

Now, let me ask you. Was the youngest more excited about the whales or the fact he could get cotton candy? You probably know the answer. However, the oldest was very concerned that the whales might not be treated properly as much as anything and wasn’t entirely convinced these animals should be in a tank giving performances.

One of these things I could solve. I got the youngest cotton candy. The other, well, harder to solve. He may be right. But these animals are treated well, they don’t have to worry about starving to death and the trainers really love them. I hoped to open up a bit of conversation about the whales, but it died as the show began.

The announcer asked the crowd to thank all the veterans in the crowd. For them to stand.

Being me and completely mishearing what was said, I stood.  Me and about 50 other men (and a few women).

This was odd, thought I.  Shouldn’t more be standing to salute the soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines?

The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world tugged on my shirt. “What’re you doing?”

“Applauding the servicemen and women.”

“You only stand if you’re one of them.”

Oh hell!

I don’t think I ever sat down so fast.

I felt so embarrassed.

Then the show started. The whales began by circling the tank, jumping in the air, then soaking everyone. I mean, SOAKING them. Like the teenagers at legoland had done. I feared they were out to soak me for pretending to be a serviceman.

IMG_0486 (800x600)Howevrer, more than a few people, somehow shocked that sitting so close to the tank would get them wet, ran for their lives like they were being sprayed with acid. Others, those that knew what to expect, laughed and giggled and shouted as water cascaded on top of them. Even a few adults.

Personally, I think the whales like this part. Personally I think they’re hoping the chubby, red-haired kid who threw a hot dog in the water will be splashed into the tank so they could take him for a long dive underwater.

Yes, some people are jerks, some kids in need of serious parental supervision, but by and large, we’re all well-behaved. We clap when we should clap. We go oooooh and awe when it’s appropriate. We eat lots of snacks that cost as much as a dinner at Denny’s.

I love seeing the whales, though. They are magnificent creatures. The youngest stops tearing at his cotton candy to watch them. The oldest seems to be looking at them to make sure they’re not being abused in any way. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world hugs them both while pointing out the best tricks.

IMG_3583 (800x450)When it’s over, I half expect the whale, at some point, to pull himself out of the water and shout, are you not entertained?

But no.

Nothing bad happens. No one is eaten. None of the whales are hurt or abused. No one drowns. One camera may be a write-off after being soaked, but we’re all good.

We are entertained.

And maybe, just maybe, we’re all more connected to another living creature. Maybe we’ll think about them when someone brings up drift nets or oil spills or harvesting them for whatever parts we think we may need.

Traveling With Kids – San Diego Seaworld – Flash Adventures

 How Many Adventures Can We Have in A Few Hours?

When there is so much to do and so many adventures, how do talk about all of them without boring everyone to death?

Answer, you can’t.

But let me summarize as best I can. Like a quick montage in a movie. Or remembering a drunken night.

The First Ride
The First Ride

After the seals, the boys go on the octopus-like ride. No lines. They literally run on. Twice.

Giggles are heard. Oldest loves every minute of it. Youngest not wanting to show he is a bit, you know, not scared, totally not scare, nuh-huh, nope.


Flash to the shark tanks. Sharks! There’s an upstairs where you can see the sharks in the pool. It smells very salty and fishie. No big surprise, I guess. The oldest knows more about sharks than the guides. He explains how to spot a tiger shark from a reef shark, what the difference is between a white tip and a black tip shark (you may be able to guess this one,) and what food they should be feeding all of them (and surprisingly it’s not ‘his brother’.) It’s really impressive.

IMG_0389 (800x600)A walkway leads down below. It’s dark. The walls look like clay. The walls have teeth in them. The oldest LOVES the teeth embedded in the wall. Especially the megalodon teeth. He forgets to hide the fact that he’s having fun. He smiles and talks about the teeth with animated authority.

Then we’re deep underwater. It’s dark. There’s a moving sidewalk that doesn’t move. No need. Not a lot of people here. The youngest, with eyes wide and mouth open, gets to walk through a tunnel while shark glide by overhead and beside him. He stops, transfixed as entire tour groups try to move around him. The oldest explains to me why one shark can be still and not die. I’d heard that if I shark stops moving, it suffocates. Not so.

None of the sharks attack. I am disappointed. The boys could have spent hours in that tunnel. The want to be sharks. They want one as a pet. The oldest wants to genetically engineer one that will talk with him.

IMG_0397 (800x600)I ask the oldest if he wants to take pictures for his dad. He’s not interested in taking pictures, in creating a visual history, (that’s my thing), but the idea sparks something in him. He loves doing things for others. So… pictures for his dad, a great idea. First, about 20 shark pictures. The, he wants one of him and his brother in front of, yes, you guessed it the megalodon.

Then to turtles. Not as menacing as sharks. A big slower. An old one has a huge bite out of his shell. I wonder what story he would tell. I ask the oldest if the turtle maybe swam into the shark tank. He looks at me like I’m having a stroke.

IMG_0423 (800x599)The youngest wants to take pictures of the turtles for his dad. He takes, well, about a thousand. Most, but not all, blurry. It’s hard to shoot in low light, harder still when you’re literally running around, and even harder when you refuse to listen to a wise new parent who has all sorts of great advice on how to take good pictures (even if, he himself, is completely unable to do so.)

The turtles are cute. But slow = boring. However, just as we are about to leave, we find a video game. We play small turtles trying to make their way to spawn on a beach. Evil, massive drift nets, oil pollution and sharks!!!! Try to stop us. We dive, we swim fast, we shoot upwards, at least one of us is eaten, at least one of us is captured by a drift net, but a few, a lucky few, make it to the end. The youngest spawns the most. For some reason, this does not surprise me. I expect this will be his future. 10 crazy-ass little ones of his own. Ha!

Outside, we wander past strollers lined up like soldiers on parade. Double strollers, umbrella strollers, high tech strollers with radar (or something that looked like it), strollers with coffee holders (oh what a good idea that is) and strollers with bags of diapers and wetwipes and toys and blankets. I’m glad, super glad, that I’ve entered this family at this point in the boys’ life. Stroller-aged kids look like a LOT more work. Plus, you know, strollers!

Now, if I was being wheeled around in one, that would be a whole different matter.

IMG_2194 (598x800)We go on to feel up manta rays in a pool.  I ask, what do they feel like? “They feel soft”, says the oldest. “They feel all raspy and rough,” says the youngest. Sometimes I think if you asked them what color the sky was, one would say blue and the other would say, white.

The youngest measures himself against a full grown ray. I refuse, having seen how close I am to a gorilla.

We eat almost too late. Everyone is getting the hangries. Hunger plus angry. Not a word I invented, but one I will promote. HANGRIES. We line up. We wait. We eat. No one is murdered despite the fact we have to wait a wee bit for fish and chips

Sitting down, that evil red-eyed bird appears and keeps an eye on the oldest. He’s sure it’s been stalking him. I can’t say he was wrong. I was kinda spooky. The oldest eats his food in record time.

But the real treats were yet to come.