San Diego Wild Animal Park

At Least I Got To See Them At The Zoo (ALIGTSTATZ)


The day started out kind of weird. I let myself stay up later than I should have (the previous night I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep…lots of tossing and turning for unknown reason…I think it was temperature based) but slept really well and slept-in an hour (instead of up at 7, ready to leave at 8, up at 8, ready to leave at 9). I got up, got everything ready and took everything down to the car (Mom and Sis staying at condo, so I can just leave my key and leave the resort without consequences). I start driving down the 5 to highway S12 (shortcut to Wild Animal Park) when I suddenly can’t mentally picture where my ticket to the park is. So I pull off the freeway and into a gas station and begin a frantic search. Then I more thoroughly check my pocket and there it is. <hangs head in shame> So I get back on the freeway and then head down S12 (Palomar Airport Road) to the 78. Now I’m driving along the 78 and reading the sanctioned directions to get to the Wild Animal Park. They say to get on the 15 south, then get off on Via Rancho Parkway and follow the signs. I’m wiffle-waffling, but finally decided to follow their directions. So I get off of Highway 78 and follow their directions. 10 miles later, I turn back on to highway 78. That’s right…I took a detour. I was totally Charlie Browning – AAAAGH!

So now I’m at the park and I walk in and stare…I don’t remember this place very well. So I decide to follow the San Diego zoo pattern (start with a guided tour then visit exhibits on my own). So I take the electronic tram and visit the large preserve and stare at all the pretty animals. No zebras (ALIGTSTATZ)….lots of deer/antelope, rhinos and giraffes. Some Arabian Oryx (my new favorite animal…them and sable antelope cause they’re horns are awesome). That’s it. I’m a little disappointed (Animal Kingdom does a bit better. Also the tram is WAY up on the hill and the photo caravans in the park are private ordeals. They’re opening a new tour in Spring of ’07, so I guess I’ll have to give that a try. Oh! I also see the only cheetah of the day (exhibit is closed because construction bothered them), getting ready for Cheetah run…another private event that you have to reserve. So after the tram I make my way to the first show of the day: frequent flyers. I arrive a half hour early, get a decent seat and take a nap. I’m able to keep my eyes closed for about 15-20 minutes, then I decide to sit up and just people watch. Oh, I scared a little kid in front of me and played a little peek-a-boo with him. Fun stuff. Finally its noon and they start the show. Lots of birds…very cool stuff. Show takes about half an hour, so I decide to go to next show, get a good seat and eat lunch. Elephant Amphitheatre, ho! So I get there and wait half an hour, eating my peanut butter and boysenberry jelly sandwiches and playing with the kid in front of me (mom and grandparents brought him to the zoo and he’s not really into it…ends up being a little distracting during the show, but it’s ok). Yay for elephants doing tricks! Over 100,000 muscles in the trunk. They have really good balance, but they’re the only mammal that can’t jump. Very cool show. After that I head around the south half of the park, wandering through the Heart of Africa and the brand new Lion Camp. Ooo look! Lions sleeping on a car. Yay for lazy animals! The exhibit is nice, but kind of small…I keep thinking that the Zoo had more. So I finish Africa and pass through The Hidden Jungle. The first room I walk in has 4 or 5 Andean Cock of the Rocks and they’re going crazy. They look and sound like freaking Muppets. It is a total trip. As I continue to walk around, I suddenly find myself face to face (not quite, but much closer than I ever expected) with an all blue (some gold, but not traditional?) macaw/parrot bird. After a little bit, he starts doing this low throaty squawk which I am somewhat successful at repeating. So we have a little conversation while he climbs around his little perch. It was really cool. After leaving the Hidden Jungle, I explore the entrance area of the park, suddenly coming across this vision from my past. I recognize something! Apparently it was this fishing village in Africa somewhere, but it was really cool and I’m all like YAY! Oh, ring tailed lemur exhibit also closed. BOO! ALIGTSTATZ. So then I work my way up to the North-Eastern half of the park. I had asked questions at a gift shop in the Heart of Africa and this North American exhibit (Condor Ridge) was where the dinosaur exhibit I remember used to be. So I’m now wandering about it and having a great time taking pictures of areas that I can almost feel I remember. I take a short detour and look out over the original lion and tiger exhibit…and there’s a tiger in the lion cage…or at least what the map says is the lion cage…it’s so confusing. Couldn’t see any lions in the lion cage…just the tiger. I also head by the elephant cage to watch the elephants wander about their enclosure. Then I continue through Condor Ridge. Nice exhibit…get to look at porcupines, hawks, magpies and bighorn sheep! But they didn’t have any big horns, so it’s like…hmmm. Oh yeah, and condors. Sitting on a rock. Not caring about anything. Whee. So now it’s getting close to closing time and I want to do another guided tour before leaving the park. The guide is absolutely hilarious. You’d have to watch the video to really get it, but it was almost like being on jungle cruise…so random…so beautifully funny. So now the park is closed, so I do my shopping: I want some clothing with the park logo, but they only have small T-shirts, so I get a large sweater. I also want a shot glass, but the only one that focuses on it being the Wild Animal Park is the lion camp one…oh well. I also want a black book dedicated just to the Wild Animal Park so I can go back and identify animals from exhibits. But it’s not in this store: just the two park book. So I put it on the counter and think I’ve purchased it. Walking out, I stop by another store to look for something else to buy and THERE’S THE BLACK BOOK! So I walk all the way back to the other store and try to return the two park book. But it’s not in the bag. I didn’t buy it in the first place. So I hang my head in shame and walk back to other store and buy black book. Sigh.

So now I’m ready to leave the park. I walk out and walk down the wrong parking aisle and think my car has been stolen. Then I think and walk down the hill to the very next row to find my car still there. Damn. So I drive out of the lot. Now remember at the beginning where I was all upset about getting off 78 to get back on it? Well I decided to be smart and follow 78 straight back to the 5. This works out fine for about 10 miles before the two lane (on each side) street turns into one lane and a left turn lane…which I’m in. So I divert and get back to the street as quickly as possible…and then I run into a housing development with a gate. So I drive around suburbia (leaving a trail of bread crumbs behind me) and finally get back to where the street says 78. Then I notice the signs. To get to the 78 you have to turn left, right, left. That’s right you have to weave through all of Escondido to stay on the damn highway. Finally I get there and just cry with joy. I’m just so happy to be going faster than 40 miles an hour. And then I drive home and relax. Great day, huh?

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