Friday, October 19, 2012

DAY 58- Exit Interviews & San Diego Zoo & MENSA Candidates...

I get up with stiff legs from yesterday’s bike ride and I just didn’t feel ambitious enough to go for a quick spin on my bike around Chula Vista.  So I reset my alarm and slept in a bit.  I was down for breakfast at El Primero about 8:30AM, and this morning I appeared to be the only one.  I had a quick breakfast out on their outdoor patio area where you can hear a bit of the street noise from Third Ave but it’s more of a hum in the background.  As I was almost done with my breakfast, the husband of couple who own and run the hotel sits down across from me and says, “Okay, so I need to get your exit interview over with.”  Exit interview? What!?!?
Photos- The El Primero Lobby and the patio area where breakfast is served.

He says he meets all kinds of guests from all over and he likes to learn a little more before they leave.  He asked me what I did and then I started talking about my adventure.  Then, the conversation turned to him and his wife and how they got into the hotel business.  They used to buy fixer upper properties and turn them over after they did some work on them.  This hotel was one of the properties that they had purchased and started fixing up.  They were about half way through fixing up and had some really good offers but they were hoping to get a little more if they finished.  The housing/property values in the area crashed and all of the prospective buyers disappeared.  They had this property and were stuck with it.  So they decided that they would go ahead and run it.  That was about 8 years ago.  He says it’s been an adventure for him and his wife.  They’ve met people from over 64 different countries and from all walks of life.  He said he’s really enjoyed it even though it’s a 24-7 type of occupation.

In about another hour I was off heading north on I-5 towards the San Diego Zoo which was the main reason I had come to San Diego.  San Diego Zoo is the crème de la crème of all zoos.  I was SO looking forward to this.  I muddled my way through the Google directions and parked my car in the E Section of the HUGE parking lot.  I definitely needed to remember where I parked my car in this lot or I would be wondering for hours and possibly days trying to locate it.
Photo- A HUGE elephant!

I follow the mob of people and they lead me to the front entrance of the Zoo.  I was expecting more of a line but there were three ticket windows open and maybe two or three people in line at each.  Of course, it was the middle of a school week so that might have helped out with it being not too busy.  I purchased my ticket and then immediately went to the information booth.  I told the lady this was my first time to the zoo and I wanted to get make it a good experience.  She happily welcomed me and got out a map.  She explained about the different bus tours and transportation that was available throughout the Zoo.  She also explained some high lights that I might want to check out while I was here too.  She then helped direct me to the guided tour bus ride that covers about 70% of the park on its 45 min tour through the park.
Photo- Mom and her kids.

I got in line for the guided tour bus ride and it was rather long but they were double decker buses and they came about every 15 minutes.  I waited maybe about 35 minutes to get on the third bus that showed up.  The bus tour went through the Lost Forest section first and during the whole tour the bus driver is talking over the intercom about the different features of pointing out where animals are when the bus is stopped.  It was a good tour to go on but not one to go on if you wanted to get pictures.  There just were too many other people on the way in the bus and the angles were all wrong too.  I put away the camera after a while and figured I would just enjoy and get a feel for the general feel of the zoo. 
Photo- Best friends; a donkey and a zebra.

It’s a BIG Zoo!  The Zoo is over 100 acres and has over 3500 different species of animals.  Included in a One Day pass, you get unlimited use of the Guided Bus Tour, Express Bus, and the Skyfari Aerial Tram.  I stuck to the buses, and made use especially of the Express Bus that went by 5 different stops within the park about every 15 minutes.  That and walking were the best ways to access most of the park.  They did have some Footsie Wootsie chairs that would vibrate your feet.  I never tried them but I was getting a kick out of watching the people plop a quarter in and watch as their feet were vibrated at a high speed.  I guess I could see how that could help sore feet.  I especially got a kick out of this couple from Australia when they used the machines.  It was too funny listening to their expressions and their accent.
Photo- A zookepper scratching a belly!

I managed quite a bit of the Zoo within the few hours that I was there and I saw all kinds of animals such as; giraffes, zebras, donkeys, monkeys, flamingos, polar bears, lions, jaguars, elephants, hippos, and Giant Pandas.  I walked on the Hippo Trail, the Big Cats Trail, the Monkey Trail, and the Fern Canyon Trail.  I visited the Urban Jungle area, Panda Canyon, Asian Passage, Lost Forrest, the New Outback, and the Owens Aviary.  But after a few hours, I had enough of that much walking and that much people with kids.  It was a lot of noise and activity and I’m afraid I had reached my limit.  I swung by the gift shop before I headed out.  I didn’t care for any of the t-shirts that they had but I did find a bumper sticker for the car and some more postcards.  Then, I walked out to my car which I found rather easily.  There were few cars around mine.  All of those people that had parked had already left.
Photo- The Footsie Wootsie chair!

Off I went on Hwy 163 North and on my way towards Palm Dessert where I would be staying for the next couple of nights.  The traffic was heavy in some spots but only when there was a highway patrol that had pulled someone over.  Then, the speeds would pick back up to 70mph plus.  I stuck to the speed limit of 70mph but people were flying by me like I was standing still.  Then, I turned onto Hwy 371 and I was really unsure which direction I was headed but as I was going along the 2 lane highway that curved quite a bit I saw my first REAL high gas price.  At one end of a very small town in the middle of nowhere they showed $5.50/gal.  Yikes!  I had filled up at Chula Vista at $4.39/gal.

Since the last day I drove from Walnut Grove just out of San Francisco, all of the gas prices have risen about $.30/gal in general in California.  But I’ve seen quite a few of the price per gallon stay right around $4.70 in the southern area of California.  It has been on the news here throughout California and the gas companies are blaming it on refinery fires and a major pipeline in the area that broke.  According to the California papers all of the people are up in arms about it but I still see them driving on their crowded highways.
Photo- A wonderful sunset just outside of Palm Desert.

I get to Palm Desert just as the sun is setting and I’m coming in the back way through the mountains.  It’s a beautiful sunset of pinks that are almost a chalky pink with hues of lavender and edged in blue.  Just amazing to look at and I stop at a view area to take a break from the curvy descending road to enjoy the view.

I get checked into the hotel and proceeded to ask the hotel desk if there’s somewhere to go get a burger and a beer.  He looks at me and says there’s not too many in the area and says that he wished there were more because that’s his favorite combo too.  He ends up giving me directions 10 min. down the road to another town that has a restaurant called Beer and Burgers.  I’m driving so far out that just as I’m about to turn around I see the sign in a strip shopping complex.

I go in sit at the counter order a beer and ask for a menu.  As I’m waiting for my order the bartender comes over with 6 beer caps and lays them out in a cross in front of me.  “Here, try this!  Move one cap and form two rows of four.”  WHAT!??!  I look at the guy just down the bar from me and say that I’m not one to jump through hoops.  He laughs.  I move the caps a couple of times but I just don’t get it.  I tell the bartender that I give up and he shows me how it’s done.  Then, after I get done with my burger the bartender brings 5 straws, and lays them all in the same direction spaced evenly apart.  “Move two straws and make something that’s curved.”  WHAT!??!  I look at the guy down the bar again and I say,” Is he a MENSA candidate?” 

The guy down the way helps me with this one and when the bartender comes back and I’ve got it figured out he looks a little disappointed.  Then, the bartender comes back with a glass and two quarters and does another test.  By this time, I feel like I’m being picked on by the bartender.  I start a conversation with the guy down the bar whose name is John.  He’s a salesman for a company and Palm Desert just happens to be centrally located for his work.  I end up telling him about my adventure and he’s very interested and thinks it’s neat that I’m doing it.  He asks me all kinds of questions and it’s really a fun talking with the guy.  I have another beer and then my favorite coffee with Bailey’s kind of my night cap drink and we are still talking away.  The next thing I know John is picking up my tab and is asking me out to dinner for tomorrow night. Okay, I say as he sees me safely to my car and wishes me a goodnight like a true gentleman.

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