Walter and Sara Let the good times roll
We left home on Thursday April 2nd. It was raining at home and we drove through snow and sleet off and on in Washington and on through most of Oregon. This of course only confirmed that indeed we were doing the right thing to be going south! The sun came out just as we went over the California border--further confirmation that we were headed the right way.

We stopped and visited Russ and Dorie, Walter's brother and sister-in-law in Napa. And we got to see his cousin, Carol too. Then simply for a change of pace we drove over the Golden Gate bridge, through San Francisco and down Hwy 280--something we hadn't done for years and years. It's amazing how the scenery on 280 hasn't changed. How lovely that there's still some undeveloped land in the bay area!

Then we took Hwy 101 south because it's much prettier than I-5 even if it's a little slower. Whose in a hurry? We're on vacation! We had great weather and had fun camping at Lopez Lake in Arroyo Grande just outside of Santa Maria. We saw some wild turkeys there (no photos though) and discovered that we were heading into Spring Break for much of California! There were lots of families camping and lots of happy kids out playing.

It was hot on our drive through the LA basin and we weren't surprised to find that it was pretty warm in San Diego either. We set up camp at Santee Lakes, our favorite place to camp in San Diego. This year we managed to work in a visit with our friend, Ridge. We spent a lovely time visiting with him at Balboa Park just south of his apartment in San Diego.

The next day we awoke to clouds and a few sprinkles. Shock. But as we drove towards the coast, the weather got better so we decided it would be a good day to visit La Jolla. And were we right!

Coastline at La Jolla California

It was sunny and pleasantly warm!

We walked along the cliff-side walkway until we got to the old 'children's bathing beach' that the California Harbor Seals have taken over for their own. Years and years ago (the 1931) they built an arching breakwater to shelter this little beach for a safe place for little kids to play. The tides have carried sand in and changed the slope of the beach and attracted the seals. They're protected by law and have taken it over.

Children's Wading Pool taken over by California Harbor Seals

You can walk out onto the breakwater and get a close-up view of the seals.

California Harbor Seals at La Jolla CA  Closeup of California Harbor Seals at La Jolla CA

They not only fill the sandy beach, they loll on the rocks and frolic in the waves too.

California Harbor Seal on the rocks at La Jolla CA

It's great fun to watch them try to get out of the water and up onto the rocks! Their flippers are really short and not much use for moving on dry land.

Walter and Tracy Cooke with sea statice at La Jolla CA

There was lots of sea statice in bloom and I caught Walter and Tracy talking together just past this lovely patch.

The walkway goes around the point, past an old surfing area with this great piece of sculpture dedicated to the lifeguards of old.

Lifeguard's Sculpture Memorial at La Jolla CA

In the old days, there were these lifeguard boxes with phones in them that you could call for help on if someone got in trouble. Clearly, by the lock on this sculpture, the phone isn't there any more. And the area is posted as out of bounds for surfing and swimming now because of the bad rip tide.

Walter and Tracy Cooke at La Jolla CA

Here's Walter and Tracy basking in the sun.

The walkway curves around the bend and gives you a great view of the La Jolla Cove, a landmark in the area.

La Jolla Cove

There were kids playing in the water, and people in wet suits doing long distance swims, along with the kayaks and the scuba divers.

We walked back along the cliff-side path and found a bench for a picnic lunch. A perfect day: gorgeous ocean views, lovely weather, flowers in bloom and the surf crashing on the rocks. Ahhh.

The next day we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The Wild Animal Park is a branch of the San Diego Zoo. It was built to create space for breeding programs of endangered species--and they've been very successful at that. It has a huge collection of critters roaming the acreage with walkways and a tram that you can take through the collection.

Waiting in line for the tram, I noticed this lioness sitting on top of an old jeep in the lion enclosure.

Lioness at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

She eventually fell asleep with her head on her paws.

Then big daddy came out and posed.

Lion at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA Lion at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

On the tram ride we saw lots of antelopes of all kinds and varieties.

Antelopes at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

And rhino's too.

Rhinos at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

In a separate enclosure there was this mamma rhino and her baby who came out from way back in their enclosure and right up by the front wall so we could see them both.

Rhino mother and baby at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA  Rhino mother and baby at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

Isn't he just the cutest thing?

Rhino baby at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

After lunch we were walking along and noticed that the cheetahs were awake! I managed to get a whole series of shots but this is the best.

Cheetah at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

Clearly it was a cat day! We turned around from the cheetah enclosure and they were setting up for a small cat demonstration. First they brought out a caracal, a small wild cat with these cool arching tufts of hair on his ears.

Caracal at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

They even have kitty toys on long arching leads for them to stalk and then leap in the air and catch!

After the caracal they brought out a serval.

Serval at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

He had a bigger kitty toy and could leap 7 feet in the air! They hunt birds in the wild.

At the zoo they have a collection of regular very orangish-pink flamingos. Here they have two sets of different flamingos, one set being Chilean. They are pinker than the ones at the zoo.

Chilean Flamingos at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

We weren't sure what this bird was doing (making a nest in the mud maybe?), but he reminded me of the flamingos that the Queen of Hearts used to play croquet with in Alice in Wonderland (Disney version).

Chilean Flamingos playing in mud at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

On the way out we saw this gorgeous okapi.

Okapi at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

We spent a considerable amount of time watching him stretch and stretch and try to get his very long tongue (he's related to the giraffe and has a giraffe's tongue) around the leaves of the tree just outside his enclosure.

Okapi reaching for tree leaves at Wild Animal Park Escondido CA

He never got a leaf off the branch but he did manage to lick a few of them!

Our last day in San Diego, it was rainy again. And once again even though it was raining inland it was clear at the coast. So we headed south to Point Loma. The views were great. In this panorama shot you can see the city on your left all the way to Mexico in the form of the hazy mountains on your right.

View from Point Loma CA

The Hotel Del Coronado is across the water on the silver strand.

Hotel Del Coronado from Point Loma CA

There were sailboats out and you can tell there was quite a stiff breeze.

Sailboat in stiff breeze from Point Loma CA

There was also this great two-masted sailing ship out for a test run with about 15 people on it. It started out in the harbor and we watched go out past the point and then come back.

two-masted sailing ship from Pt. Loma CA Two masted sailing ship from Pt. Loma CA

The Navy Seals were out training too, in large Zodiac-type rafts, going to beat the band banging over the waves.

The old original Light House at Point Loma is set up as a museum. It was at one time the highest (in elevation) light house on the west coast. The trouble was that when the fog came in, you couldn't see it from down on the water! So they ended up building a new one.

Old Lighthouse at Pt. Loma, CA

We hiked down the trail from the old Light House towards the city and down to the shore. Along the way we saw some quail.

California Quail at Pt. Loma CA

This cool lizard--you should know by now that I love lizards.

Lizard on wall at Pt. Loma CA

And this sweet little bird. I think it's a black phoebe.

Black Phoebe at Pt Loma CA

After our hike we drove on down past the new light house.

It's still active. And I guess was used in the shooting of Top Gun? Anyway it's very picturesque.

Pt. Loma Light House CA

And we found a bench for lunch with this lovely view.

View from west side of Pt. Loma CA

It was a great week in San Diego and we as always really enjoyed our time with Tracy.

The next day we took off for Arizona. We spent the night in Gila Bend and sure enough, the forecast was for rain just north of us. We didn't get wet but my sister, who lives in Phoenix, did take note that the rain seemed to be following us around.

In Part II, we'll be taking you to Kartchner Caverns east of Tucson and then on to Phoenix for a few days.