Because, aviously…

Taking a Harbor Cruise seems like a great idea in most cities. It gives you a great view of the skyline, and generally a nice look at what a city has to offer. But in the case of San Diego, save your time and money, and head to the sites themselves for better views, for a much better experience.

If you do take the Harbor Cruise North, sit on the top deck, right side of the boat (when facing the front of the ship), for the best views that they’ll offer, here is what you might expect:

  • Downtown Skyline – San Diego doesn’t have a shortage of views, and the view looking back at the skyline here may be the one perk of taking the cruise
  • Naval Base Coronado – While you can’t get too close, it is an active naval base after all, you get great sights of helicopters coming and going, and their dry docks and training facilities. If you are lucky you’ll get passed by training boats heading out for exercises.
    For better views of ships, planes, and helicopters, just head next door to the launch dock, and hop on board the USS Midway!
  • Seals hanging out on buoys and floats – A few seals here and there, as the boat cruises on by, just isn’t the up-close and personal experience, and it isn’t the best experience for it. Head to La Jolla Beach and literally hang out with them and take as many selfies as you’d like

My final installment of the museums at Balboa Park, in addition to Natural History and the Model Railroad Museums, will be on two museums that are right next door to each other, in the corner of the park.

Air & Space Museum

This museum will take you in a loop around a central pavilion, going through the different eras of aviation.

From the Golden Age of flight, through WWI, WWII, and an array of modern planes as well, the museum is a great place to get a little piece of aviation history.

When you walk in you get greeted by Charles Lindbergh and his Spirit of St. Louis, which glided across the Atlantic on the first solo non-stop plane to make that journey.

The museum also has a large number of flight simulators, so that visitors can get in the cockpit and fly their own plane, breaking G-Force and performing barrel rolls.

Automotive Museum

This one-room museum has a nice collection of cars and motorcycles but lacks a real history for those without a strong car background.

For enthusiasts of bikes and cars this place is probably a heaven, but besides for a DeLorean and one or two other pieces, most of it was exactly what it said on the outside of the building: Just Automobiles.

They have a few exhibits that bring out the best of motors, from Harley Davidson’s and Louie Mattar, to Barn Finds and off-roads.

The villain that made his name in Marvel’s Daredevil, Jon Bernthal’s Punisher is back, and on the hunt for his family’s killers.

From the first sequence, before the opening credits, you should be pulled in and if you aren’t hooked by the end of Episode 1, then maybe Marvel just isn’t right for you?

Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, aka Pete Castiglione, is back in NYC, trying to work out his anger after being killed in Daredevil, and not being able to avenge the unfair death of his wife and kids on the Central Park carousel.
But through it all, he’s fighting not just the people on the streets, but also the demons and dreams within him.

My family is gone because of what I know. – Frank Castle

The show spends time with Frank catching up with his former unit, as well as other people “dead to the world”, and let’s not forget the tie-in to the rest of the Marvel world, Deborah Ann Wohl’s Karen Page.

And despite the amazing performance by Bernthal, the supporting cast is just as good. Amber Rose Revah as agent Dinah Madani, Ebon Moss-Bachrach as fellow dead man David Lieberman, and of course Frank’s former unit mate, Billy Russo (played by Ben Barnes).
And it’s really hard to listen to Daniel Webber (Lewis) and not hear Lee Harvey Oswald from Hulu’s 11.22.63.

For me, it’s Episode 10 Virtue of the Vicious, that was my favorite, standing out above the rest, as they have multiple views of the same instance, working toward each person’s end game.
And when he goes full Punisher mode, nothing on television will create better scenes than that.

Meanwhile, Castle and Lieberman may both be looked at as “bad guys” to the world, but there’s no duo on television that I’d rather be rooting for right now.

I’ve been in my bathrobe in a basement for a year. – David Lieberman

This show may be one of the best Marvel and Netflix has done, easily pushing fighting Jessica Jones for the throne, getting a 9.5 out of 10.

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum, located in Balboa Park, in the basement of one of the many buildings on El Prado.

To me it felt like a shorter/smaller version of Northlandz, the NJ museum featured in Wired magazine last year, albeit it was 100X cleaner and with a lot more employees.

They advertise as the largest Model Railroad Museum in America, with mini-exhibits imitating some of the local mountain ranges and railroad tracks.

They have double track main lines, replicas if the Tehachapi Pass and it’s single track loop through a steep mountain grade, and one of the original route that had been planned for Carlsbad and Downtown San Diego.

One of the more interesting rooms was the Toy Train Gallery, which features the famous, and typical model railroad, of Lionel Trains.
This exhibit was all done up with modern toys, including the minion below, and had a train car filled with candy for people to take, being a few days before Halloween when I was there.

Also featured was the Centennial Railway Garden, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of Balboa Park. This exhibit, unlike all the other ones, is fully green powered, as it is powered by solar energy, and all the real plants used around the track are drought tolerant.

My biggest amazement was the number of employees there. Each exhibit had people walking around in it, with controllers and tools, starting and stopping lines, and building up new exhibits while maintaining the old ones.
After Northlandz, and their seemingly only 2-3 employees, this was a nice change and makes it show that this was a highly cared for, and beloved exhibit, as the people there were all knowledgeable and willing to talk about their trade.

Balboa Park, in the center of San Diego, is a similar expanse as the National Mall in DC, with a large park and a full array of museums and sights to be seen.

With its free parking, the Park is easy to get to, and once you are done a day at the zoo, it’s a short walk over to the other buildings.

I will cover the Natural History Museum in this article, and continue on in Part 2.

Coming from NYC, we are spoiled the number of museums that we have, as well as the quality and quantity that these buildings hold.
Based on that, I hold other museums to high standards, that it’s just not possible, on their budgets, to keep up with.

With all that being said, the Natural History Museum is a little sparse, but they have a nice selection of what they have:

  • Baja’s Wild Side – A collection of photographs showing off the local area
  • Coast to Cactus – Showing off the animals and environment of Southern California
  • Skulls – From gnats to mammals, and horns to beaks, this collection is full of all sorts of bones and skulls from the animal kingdom
  • Fossil Mysteries – The exploration of 75-million years of Southern California, and the creatures that roamed this Earth before people
  • Pendulum – They have a pendulum in one of their lobbies, that shifts with the Earths movement. A set of dominoes is placed around it at the start of the day, and as the day progresses they slowly get knocked over

Taylor Swift’s new album came out on Friday and being unavailable to Stream on Google Play (or Spotify and Amazon for that matter), the options were iTunes or getting the actual CD.

Since they cost the same, and with the CD you actually own the music, instead of Apple owning it and technically can take it back when they feel like, I went with the CD option, and when it showed up Friday, I wanted to upload the album to Google Play Music so I can listen to it on my phone.

Oh, how a seemingly simple task became such an unnecessary hassle.

In the past, meaning in the good old days of actual CDs in the early 2000s, you would put a disc into your computer and it would pull most of its info from the internet to populate the titles and artists, and then you could rip it to your computer in MP3 format.

Since it’s been many years since I had iTunes on my computer, the program I used to use to rip the CDs, I turned to Windows Media Player to try to do the job…yeah, that wasn’t the best.
For starters, and maybe it was because Reputation wasn’t available online, none of the data populated, even after selecting to “Get Info”, and when I put in the data manually, it was not the most user-friendly GUI.

Once I finally had the 15 songs in MP3 on my computer, I figured I can just go to the Play Music website and drag and drop the songs.
Well, they say you can…but no matter how many times I dropped it and it said “Uploading 0 out of 15”, and then that message would disappear and the songs would never show up.

So I had to go ahead and download the Music Play Manager, and after going through its surprisingly tedious setup to get the files I wanted, they finally started to upload to the Play servers.

Once they uploaded, I went to the app and saw that they had uploaded as two separate albums. Songs 1-13 on the first one…and 14-15 on the second one…and I had no options to combine them.
Instead, I made a playlist and had to put the two albums on them, making sure they were in the proper order when I did that.

It’s amazing how for every two steps forward that technology takes…it seems to take three steps back.

One thing I failed to mention in Part 1, is that while the zoo costs a pretty penny (unless you got the Go City Card), parking is free, and they have a pretty large lot, as it serves the full Balboa Park.

Amongst the things I searched for online before I made the trip to the zoo is the best route to take in the zoo, to see the most animals, in the least amount of time.
While this wasn’t such an easy find, I mapped out my own route and will pass that on at the end of this write-up.

Bus Tour – The Bus Tour is a great way to see almost the whole zoo and most of the animals, in under 40 minutes. The ideal place to sit on these double-decker buses is downstairs (out of the sun) and on the right side of the bus. The right side will line you up for great views of the elephants and rhinos, and line you up with the enclosures for most of the trip.

Picture from San Diego Zoo Website

Skyfari – This cable car will easy put you from the front of the zoo, near the entrance, to the back end of the zoo. There is one issue with this…if you do that, you miss walking up through one half of the zoo…and instead just walk back on one side.
Meanwhile, while on the ride, you get some good views overlooking the zoo.

The Best Route Through the Zoo

Here is the route that I took through the zoo, which allows you to see as much as you can, in the shortest amount of time, hopefully seeing all the animals you hope to see!

  • When you head into the zoo, head up to Treetops Way (at about your 1 O’Clock), towards the Orangutan Trail
  • From there head through the Parker Aviary down the steps towards Hua Mei Cafe and make a right down Center Street towards the Pandas
  • Walk through the Panda Trek, and continue down in the same direction past the grizzly bears to the Outback and Urban Jungle. For more on each exhibit, check Part 1
  • Once leaving Urban Jungle, make a right, going back the way you came, this time down Front Street towards the Zoo Exit, and head to the tour bus
  • After taking the Tour Bus around, head past the Zoo Exit to the Skyfari, and plop yourself into the back of the zoo
  • Heading out of Skyfari towards your left, and the Northern Frontier. After seeing the Polar Bears, turn back around, walking past the Skyfari, and down the Hippo Trail, through the Lost Forest
  • When you get to the Tiger Trail, head in until you see the Tiger, and then go back to the Hippo Trail, continuing to the right, where you haven’t seen yet
  • Head through the Scripps Aviary to Monkey Trail
  • Continue through the Monkey Trail back towards the Zoo Exit
  • Visit the Discovery Outpost (“Children’s Zoo”) before leaving

You can find the full Zoo map HERE.

Don’t forget to get a re-entry stamp before you leave the zoo, in case you want to come back in after visiting other parts of Balboa Park if you parked next to the Zoo.

The San Diego Zoo is one of the more talked about zoos in the country, alongside The Bronx Zoo, Zoo Atlanta, Zoo Miami, and the National Zoo.

Here are some of the highlights of the animals of the zoo. Part 2 will have the attractions and best path to take thru the busy zoo:

  • Orangutan Trail – With really tall climbing towers giving these animals a chance to show off, the birthday celebration was an added bonus. For one of the babies birthdays, they gave them streamers, allowing them to have some fun
  •  Panda Walk – They make you walk through a full exhibit before you see the stars (which can be annoying if you go back a second time to see if they are awake), and I was disappointed due to Mother Nature. The 95-degree day led the Pandas to want to sleep the day away. Next door to them they have other bears, including playful grizzlies
  •  Urban Jungle – Up close and personal with animals of the African Plains, including giraffes and rhinos, zebras and cheetahs (with their dog friends)
  • Outback – Your koalas munching on their eucalyptus leaves
  •  Elephant Odyssey – Their large group of elephants hang around, waiting for their spa treatments, which is touted as “highly enjoyed”. I question if they really like the large metal cages in which they get hosed down…but I digress
  •  Northern Frontier – The arctic animals of the zoo, including the Arctic Fox and Polar Bears
  • Hippo Trail – No babies here like in the Cincinnati Zoo, but still a sight to see swimming thru their pond
  •  Tiger Trail – Most of the trail isn’t worth the time, but when you see her in her element, it’s well worth it, as I caught her cooling off in the wading pool
  •  Discovery Outpost – The Children’s portion of the zoo…which I missed due to poor signage. I went looking for it, but I think it was just a drop further than I wanted to give it…so I don’t know much about it

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, but I won’t hesitate to repeat it again. The views in San Diego are all gorgeous, looking out onto the Pacific Ocean, and La Jolla beach may be the full experience. In particular La Jolla Cave and the Children’s Pool areas.

Minus the smell, there is no beach that I want to be on today as the weather in NYC goes below freezing.

The beaches of La Jolla are lined with wildlife. In other cities, this means seagulls and crabs. But on the beaches of La Jolla it is sea lions and seals, lounging in the sun, barking into the waves, and just plain old enjoying life, with not a care in the world.

You can walk out onto rocks hanging out over the sea, feeling the waves crash into you (and trying not to slip and fall into a puddle of sea lion slime…no comment).
I went there later in the day and felt that it might be the best way to end any day and watch the sunset, be it after a long work day or just a lot of walking during a day of tourism.

Here are some Songs of the Day that have been popping through my Playlists!

Good Old Days – Macklemore feat. Kesha

I wish somebody would have told me, babe
That someday, these will be the good old days
All the love you won’t forget
And all these reckless nights you won’t regret
‘Cause someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change
You’ll miss the magic of the good old days

What About Us – Pink

What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?

1-800-273-8255 – Logic feat. Alessia Cara and Khalid

And my life don’t even matter, I know it, I know it
I know I’m hurting deep down but can’t show it
Ain’t nobody callin’ my phone
Where you been? Where you at? What’s on your mind?
They say every life precious but nobody care about mine

Havana – Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug

Got me feelin’ like…
Oooh-oooh-ooh, and then I had to tell him
I had to go, oh na-na-na-na-na

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