Travel Date: Monday, Oct 13 2014
I drove to the San Diego Zoo around 9 AM to meet with Lauren. My friends and her mentioned that it is better to go to the Zoo when they open or extremely closer to when they close to avoid the large crowds.
I drive and park.

Walk to the entrance and see Lauren.

Give her a nice tight hug. I met Lauren at a Starbucks in Bangor, Maine. She was from San Diego and was graduating at the University of Maine. I talked about my road trip and she was planning to do a road trip from Bangor to San Diego with her friend and so we traded notes. We kept in touch through facebook, and since I was in her turf in San Diego we decided to reconnect.

Since she had an annual pass she could take one guest in for free – yaay! Plus she has been here so knows the optimal path to see all the animals.

First stop the flamingos!

Monkeys

Gorillas: bigger monkeys.

I believe I just got mooned.

Chimpanzees

Look at those biceps. There should be a law to possess those BIG guns.

Keep on walking.

We get to the Malayan Tigers

And the Okapis. Never head of Okapis

Quite interesting animals.

And the hippos

And some monkeys

Never seen a Panda

He looks hungover and in desperate need of hydration.

Go to see some Sun Bears

And then some Grizzlies.

Can you see them?
How about now?

There are TWO!!

And finally an otter.

And a Hyena

Time for the tall animals: giraffes

And not so tall animals: koalas – if you can spot them.

Two humped camel.

Camel yawn! Just to note I kept on yawning intentionally and yawning is known to be contagious and so it appeared to work on Mr. Camel.

Llamas

Never heard of a Hyrax.

And the big ol elephants

This one was playing with the tree branch trying to split it … and it ended up in the water

… so he followed it in. And someone else wanted to play too.

And then we go to see Lauren’s favorite: the Secretary Bird.

Leopards

Lions … my favorite animal.

I notice the sky trams and Lauren tells me we are going on it. I feel like five and gleeful.

But first the Polar Bear exhibit.

First the underwater side

And now the top level.

One is lying in the water

And then he/she decides to walk around

And then other is taking a lazy day off in the sun. Must be nice!

Lazy polar bear moments…

Next exhibit is the Siberian Reindeer

And something that would make Al Gore proud.

Finally I get to go on the SkyFari Aerial Tram. Yaaaaaaay! Yes I feel like I’m five.

Almost there … lucky #38

Obligatory selfie.

The views are great but difficult to capture as a pano while moving.

After we get off the tram we go by the Komodo Dragon.

Wouldn’t want to run into this lizard in the woods.

And now the tortoises

Looks like they are getting jiggy with it.

There is a two headed snake exhibit.

But unfortunately the snake has been vacated temporarily. Bummer!

And then we get back to the entrance and decide to drive down to the ‘island’ of Coronado.

The views on the pier are beautiful.

An active aircraft carrier.

We venture of to visit the famous hotel

Hotel del Coronado aka Hotel del.

But first we park nearby and see this in preparation for Halloween.

The hills of sand spell Coronado

There she is and she is beautiful.

We sit outside near the beach

Time for some lunch.

And a mojito.

And chat about various things

After lunch we walk around the hotel

And the beach

And then back to the car. Lauren has to go back to work and I decide to head to the United States – Mexican border. Don’t worry I’m not crossing over.

There is a mall right at the border.

That is the fence separating US from Mexico

The flag Mexico nearby.

Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents patrolling the border.

Now that I went as far south as I could on the California side I decide to head back to San Diego. Definitely not making a left turn.

Before Lauren left she told me to check out Old Town San Diego for some San Diego history. So I decide to head over there.

I get there, park and walk around.

Interesting setup of old town. Reminds me a little of Santa Fe but with much much older buildings.

Time to drive and visit Chris at his office.

Reflections:

One of the best things I’ve done. I really enjoyed my time with Lauren. I’m still tickled and in awe that I randomly met her in Maine and we reconnected in San Diego. She is such a warm and giving spirit. I’m grateful she knew the layout of the San Diego zoo because walking around was quick and efficient and we got to spend ample time in the exhibits we individually liked as well. Going in the morning was also perfect because there was hardly any foot and car traffic. By the time we left around noon the parking lot was full. THANK YOU Lauren for the amazing tour, the free pass and the SkyFari experience.

Driving into Coronado, visiting the pier and visiting Hotel del Coronado was like paradise. Hotel is very beautiful and pricey. But totally worth the lunch outside in the sun/shade experience with the beach in view.

Driving to the US Mexico was quite entertaining since I was checking the road signs and GPS 500 times to make sure I accidentally didn’t cross the border.

Old town was okay. I walked around and read some of the history but I think I should have probably spent more time checking it out another day. The zoo experience was overwhelming and that this point my brain was already fried from information.

Expenses: $54.52
Tickets: $0.00 (San Diego Zoo – free thanks to Lauren otherwise about $46.00)
Lunch: $54.52 (Hotel del Coronado)