Thursday, June 1, 2017

I Traveled To California and Arizona! (Part 1)

I haven't traveled (as in, got on a plane and gone somewhere) in about two years.  That's just kind of how things worked out with timing (post-marriage ceremony and my husband also graduated from college) and with the availability of money.  So once we started booking things in January, I really started to get excited because we finally had something on the calendar!  We returned relatively recently and I've had time to process everything we saw and experienced, so now I'm ready to share with you all!  All of the pictures are small so I can show you many pictures, but if you'd like to see them bigger, just click on them!

We left the evening of Mother's Day (sorry mom) and hopped on a flight from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.  Our flight was around 6:00 PM if I recall correctly and with the time difference, we arrived around 11 PM.  Naturally, we were exhausted upon our arrival, even though we slept a little bit on the plane.  I swear, it's like a hospital-- the flight attendants always seem to find a reason to keep you up when you'd like nothing better than to relax and fall asleep until landing.  But we made it.  We hopped on a shuttle that dropped us off at the hotel we were staying in for one night and crawled upstairs and into bed.  I don't know what it is about plane travel that's just so exhausting.

The next day, Monday, we woke up around 5:30/6:00 (not our choice, but we were wide awake), had breakfast, packed up, and got our very first Lyft in order to pick up our rental car.  Our driver was really nice.  He told us all about driving in California, about Ecuador (where he's from), and so much more.  We even had another passenger join our ride and he's lived in LA since he was about six years old, so it was really cool to hear his perspective about life in LA, especially since he's moved around a bit in his early childhood and again in college.

We got our rental car (the key to the rest of our trip... you'll see), which I was really nervous about because technically my husband and I are underage (under the age of 25).  But with a little magic being worked, we were on our way!  This was the newest car I have ever driven-- only a little over 5,000 miles on it when we picked it up.  With only a couple stops, we drove all the way to San Diego, which was our final destination for about half our trip.  And what a joy it was to finally get there.

We stopped near a Navy base about 40 miles from San Diego where we got our first real look at the Pacific ocean and some very adorable squirrels :)  The squirrels were fun.  The people who got there before us were feeding the squirrels bits of bread (despite the signs posted everywhere saying DON'T FEED THE WILDLIFE.  Honestly, I would have fed them too if we had food to give them.  Somehow I didn't see the signs until we were pretty much ready to move on).  That made it really easy to trick the squirrels.  We just had to hold our hands like we had something for them to eat and they would come up to you to get the food.  When the realized there was no food to be eaten, they darted away into their rock homes.  It was pretty cute, all the same :)

Our next destination before getting to San Diego was Seal Rock in La Jolla (La HOY-ah).  I'd never been to La Jolla before, so this was our first new area to explore.  It turns out we arrived in California on the last day of seal pupping season.  This means that we couldn't walk onto the beach (which was fine), but it also means there were a TON of baby seals around!  I'll say no more.  Please feast your eyes on these adorable seals.  I took way too many pictures.

You guys, I can't even.  Their little faces and their big chubby bodies... they're just so cute.  We got here in the afternoon, so they really were just sunbathing the whole time, but there was one (pictured top right in this section of pictures) where the seal was swimming around and then thought it was a good time to bask in the sun on the rock, so he tried to jump up when a wave crashed on the rock.  I mean, I guess you only need to be successful in this respect once to get what you want, but he worked really hard to get on that rock.  I felt invested in his future sunbathing.  But he did make it (see lower left in this section), but I think he was super tired afterward.  Some of the seals were also doing this really weird thing where they raised up their tails and just kept them there for a while (pictured middle right).  I don't know if they just didn't want to get wet, or what, but it was the cutest darn thing I've seen in a long time.

After getting some lunch, it was about that time we could check into our AirBnB.  This was the first time we've ever used AirBnB, so we were a little nervous, but we really had no reason to be nervous.  It was easy to communicate with our host and she was so welcoming and helpful to us.  Her home is busy and gorgeous.  We got to stay in her "tree house," which is basically a room on top of the roof :)  But it was wonderful and it suited our needs!  We had a place to sleep and relax, so we were happy.  I feel silly we didn't get any pictures of it... I guess we were too busy enjoying it!

Tuesday, we headed to Balboa Park.  We had been there before with Jack's family, but it was fun to go on our own to explore.  We like museum hopping, so this was our day to do that, really.  We got there before anything was really open though, so we took the morning slow and got breakfast first.  Afterwards, the first place we saw was the Mingei International Museum.  Neither of us had been in there before and if there hadn't been a "Free Tuesday" sign out in front of it, we might not have gone in at all.  But I'm really glad we did!

The featured exhibit was on Japanese shop signs.  A number of them were surprisingly literal, so I kind of made a game with myself to guess what the shop was selling before looking at the description card (since I can't read nor speak Japanese in any capacity).  Quite fun :)  The other thing that I loved about this museum is that they take every day things and call them art.  So that was challenging me to think of art as something more than a complicated painting or sculpture I can never hope to understand.  I could think of art as toys and clothing, for example.  So there were dollhouses featured as well as small toys like a Noah's Ark with what seemed like a hundred animals.  I got a lot more out of this exhibit than I thought I would, so I'm happy we decided to visit!

We went to the Museum of Man next, which was just down the street.  Jack and I had been there once before when we visited with family in 2014, but we both got a kick out of seeing it again (especially since there were different exhibits).  The ones we were most interested in were about cannibalism, how we choose our pets and which animals we eat, and monsters from different cultures.  Both piqued my interest and turned out to be a lot more fascinating than I thought.  Humans are interesting beings.

The cannibalism exhibit didn't just focus on cultures that practice cannibalism, but it went into the reasons why they might eat other people and even why people from cultures like our own (ahem, Europeans) even resorted to cannibalism at different points in history.  A lot of it came down to survival, which challenged our own notions of cannibalism, which we tend to think we wouldn't do... but what if your life depended on it?  Just something to think about.

 For Monsters, it was cool to see what people fear around the world (because there are certain trends depending on the part of the world you come from) and to see how our fears are similar to other countries and regions around the world.

The other interesting thing that we saw that we didn't get to see in 2014 was an exhibit on mummies.  Before we left for San Diego, Jack was looking up weird things to see around San Diego and he found this story about the Lemon Grove mummy.  The story goes that these guys went to Chihuahua, Mexico in search of mummies.  To their surprise, they actually found one and for whatever reason decided to take her home with them (I bet their mothers were very proud).  Not really knowing what to do with her when they got home, they put her in a box and when they moved, put their things in a woman's garage.  Years later when she's cleaning her garage, so comes face to face with the mummy and doesn't know or understand where it came from!  That's the story of how the rest of the world came to find the Lemon Grove mummy.

From there, we had lunch and our last museum of the day was the Natural History Museum.  We thought it would be a good way to end the day because they were playing two short movies that we thought would be interesting.  And they were in 3D, which is its own brand of interesting.  Especially for someone who already wears glasses.  We had fun exploring the dinosaur bones and the part that was most interesting to me was the part of the museum where you could learn about the different ecosystems in California.  Since we knew we were going to be camping in the desert in a few days, I thought it would be good to know what I was getting myself into.  Turns out there are tons of rattlesnakes and scorpions, so I was filled with a fear I didn't have before.  I'll talk more about desert camping in a separate post.

That was the end of our Tuesday!  This post is long enough as it is, so I'll keep writing about our adventures in a couple other posts.  Look out for those!

Thanks for Reading!


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