Because, aviously…

Before I went to San Diego everyone told me that I would HAVE to visit the Hotel del Coronado. I marked it down, but had no plans of visiting it, until I ran out of things to do on the last day there.

What a waste of time.

Sure, the Hotel is famous, having been built in the 1800s and housing numerous movies and filmings…but to me the excitement level is overrated.

The beach there is nice, but you have similar views at La Jolla, and the hotel is just overrun with tourists…so much so that I’d feel bad for anyone actually staying there.

If it was something you have to do, go ahead and do it. But the majestic bridge leading out to the island can be viewed nicely from Downtown, and the Hotel as a tourist site is only okay.

After last years failure in music, this year was much better, and that brings us to the third annual #Avisously giveaway.

Complete the form below and submit a list of my Top 20 songs of the year. That’s right, this year has expanded to 20 songs, but you only need one correct song to have a chance of winning Amazon gift cards!!

Here’s the price breakdown for how to win this year, and more info can be found on iamavig.com!

Most correct songs = $10 Amazon Gift Card
Top 10 in any order = $25 Amazon Gift Card
15 of 20 in any order = $30 Amazon Gift Card
Top 20 in any order = $40 Amazon Gift Card
Top 10 in correct order = $50 Amazon Gift Card
Top 20 in correct order = $75 Amazon Gift Card

And just like previous years, if we get 10+ entrants (or 25+ entries) the Top 2 entries win!

I’ll give the same hint as I give every year: Think how I think. Consider what music I like and what I’ve used in the past, and remember that in order to qualify the song MUST HAVE COME OUT IN 2017.
Another thing to consider: No artist has more than one song on this list (as the primary artist).

As the entrants from last year know, I am great at giving hints if you ask for them after your submissions, and in previous years all multiple entrants walked away with a gift card!

Fill out the form below, or use the link here!

Disclosures: One winner, unless above conditions are met. Multiple entries are allowed (up to 10, any remaining ones will be disqualified) and in the event of a tie, monies will be split amongst the winners. Contest ends when Top Songs of 2017 post goes live!

Part 1 focused on the animals, but now I’ll turn to the attractions and “Safari” part of the Safari Park.

Park in the lot and walk through their long paths, but when you get to the African Plains you finally get the opportunity to hop on a safari car and head up to the animals…almost.

The free Africa Tram will take you around the Plains, allowing you to see the Buffalos and Giraffes, Antelopes and Hippos, from a much closer distance than when you are standing at the Watering Hole or at the Kijami Overlook.
For the Tram, you want to sit on the left side, which will put you in a good place to see the Plains animals up close.

But if you want a real experience, you will have to lay out extra money, whether it’s with the “Caravan Safari” taking you up close and personal with the giraffes and rhinos up against your cart, or the “Cart Safari” and “Behind-The-Scenes Safari” that will bring you into employee-only areas.

Meanwhile, the Lemurs let you go into the enclosure with them, and if they are feeling up to it will come up and socialize with you.

The Petting Zoo, different from the typical NYC ones, allow you inside with the goats, handing out brushes at the door so you can make those baaaad boys your pet.

Balloon Safari – A tethered hot air balloon will take you high in the air for a sky view of the animals below

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, located 30+ minutes away from the zoo itself, is less of a “safari park” feel, but more of a “Bronx Zoo” feel, with a lot of walking to be done.

While the Zoo had a large variety of animals, the safari park features a large footprint, with less animals, but a lot of each.

Because of the amount of space that the safari park has, it leaves great plains to look over, with animals roaming and the traditional safari cars to drive through.

The Walking Path here is a lot more laid out than the Zoo, with Numbered posts throughout, and if you follow it from 1 thru 17 you’ll see the whole place.

African Loop – Will take you through the African Woods and Outpost, that includes okapi, flamingoes, and boars

Lion Camp – The lions come right up to the door when the feeders come to visit

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

Elephant Valley – Lots of toys and watering holes for the herd to show off with

Condor Ridge – Under construction due to the Walkabout Australia exhibit being built next door, but if you decide to make the treck up the hill anyway, you’ll be greeted by Condors and Mountain Goats

After 3+ years with the Moto 360 it was finally time to move on. A deteriorating battery that would turn off after only two hours at the first sign of a vibrate/notification, and when placed on the charger still showed 80%, caused it to be more of a weight on my wrist than any other use.

So I went on a search for a new watch, and while looking at some of the watches, like the Gear S3 Frontier, which was fantastic but way too pricey, I instead turned to the cheaper/older model of the Gear S2, and after a month with it…I’m glad I picked it.

The Face
The round face, with a rotating bezel to control notifications, has a great look to it, and with the preinstalled watch faces, the watch really stands out whether you want a classy or sporty look.
Meanwhile, the notification and apps system is easy enough to figure out and use, although some of the apps don’t hold sign-in information so well.

Battery Life
As the years advance so does the technology, and the 2+ day battery life on this watch is great. But what adds to it is the Quick Charging that it provides, allowing you to place it on the charger when you head to shower and come back and find it fully fueled and ready to go.
I recently was on 2+ days with another day still showing on the “estimated usage” bar, so I’m very happy.

While the screen is technically smaller than some others, it is large enough (and crisp enough) to read everything, and get full functionality out of it.

Operating System
While other watches run Android Wear (or watchOS on Apple), Samsung has their own Tizen OS, which has support from many apps including ESPN, Flipboard, and Bloomberg.
And while it runs a different system, it is compatible with all recent Android and Apple phones.

I haven’t tried it…and have no urge to try the voice-controlled options on the watch, but other reviews for it haven’t been entirely positive.

Final Thoughts
I would highly recommend it for anyone that is looking for a lower priced smartwatch, but if money isn’t an issue, try the newer S3, which has an even larger battery, built-in GPS, and more RAM, albeit a very large watch face.

BTW, all pictures have the very basic image shown below…but trust me, it looks a lot better once you customize it and make it your own.

Mount Soledad, located overlooking La Jolla, is home to the National Veterans Memorial and is home to the Suess House, the last home of Dr. Suess, where his wife still lives.

The mountain also features great views of the city and the surrounding areas.

The Memorial is one of a kind, featuring names, pictures, and descriptions on the wall of local veterans, mostly focusing on the Korean Wall.

You follow a long winding path up to the top of the mountain, which has limited free parking at the top, and many bike paths to get to the top as well.

Controversy has surrounded the mountaintop, as it contains a large cross that overlooks the site and city. Since it is a government-run site, it has been said that they shouldn’t mix church and state.
Personally, I didn’t have an issue with it, and just ignored the symbolism while viewing the memorial.

The Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista, is located in the San Diego Bay, right next to the US Fish & Wildlife Services center…and isn’t worth the visit.

The Discovery Center has a bus, to take you from the free parking lot down a dirt road to the main building, running on a loop the entire day.

The Center has a lot of rescue animals, and a surprising amount of variety, while a low quantity of each one (about one of each variety).
These animals include birds, turtles, sharks, rays, and snakes.

Key animals on exhibit all have special times that teach you about them, including feedings, mostly in the afternoons (1:15-2:45), with the sharks, turtles, and bald eagles.

This wasn’t high on my list of places to attend but was a time filler one afternoon.
At a whopping $16 admission, it’s absolutely not worth the price, and better to head up the shore to the Birch Aquarium for an extra dollar or two.

I recently finished Unstoppable: My Life So Far by Maria Sharapova, and it was a great read.

A young girl from Russia, trying to make it in the competitive tennis world, Maria was transplanted into Florida, with no friends, only her father around, her mother awaiting a Visa, and her showing immense drive and determination as a child, spending hours honing her skills and power.

Her failures and trials in life lead to her winnings and fame. From living in motels and her father working in the tennis clubs, to the high life of Wimbledon Galas to TJ Maxx shopping sprees. And she never knew where the next opportunity would come from. Whether it was Nike and her signing an exclusive to have her own dress for tournaments, and Motorola using her to unveil the original Moto Razr after her trying to reach her mother on the phone, live on TV, after her big win over Serena at 17 years-old.

Ah, Serena. The rivalry and hatred that comes from Serena towards Maria, started early and has never let off. Serena hates her because Maria saw her at her lowest, knocking her down a peg, and saw the vulnerable person that doesn’t show up on the court.

She spends a lot of time talking out her thoughts over the years, which can get repetitive at times, but that’s what makes the book feel most genuine, and brings a real connection between Maria and the fans.

She also spends some time on her shoulder surgery, and how it changed her powerful rubber-banding serve into a shorter stroke, and during that rehab, she played some of the worst tennis of her life:

Despite the large amount of support and love I received from people in my life, I felt so lonely and small. And nothing they said could make me feel any better. So I decided to resume my childhood habit of writing in a journal, putting my sad thoughts on paper. As days went by, that paper became my best friend, the only friend I could trust, the only friend I could share with.

Which in reality, is what blogging is to a lot of us.

This book is right up there, for me, with Anna Kendricks, getting an 8 out of 10.

The Weatherman Umbrella, designed by Fox News meteorologist Rick Reichmuth, is the last umbrella you’ll ever need to buy…but you don’t need to trust me with that, the details speak for themselves:

  • Strong – No more umbrellas turning inside out in the wind, as this bad boy can withstand 55-MPH winds
  • Safe – A reflective strip surrounds this umbrella so that cars can see you walking in the rain, trying to hail that elusive cab
  • Dry – With a quick drying fabric, no need to leave it sitting in a corner drying for more than a minute or two
  • Tracking – Never lose your umbrella again, with an addable tracking chip (included) you can check the app and see where you left it
  • App – Yup, I mentioned an app. The app is designed so that if it’s going to rain, you’ll get a reminder to take the umbrella before you leave the house

The umbrella is available in two models, the collapsible and stick, and a variety of colors from black to orange.

Find out more info on their website!!

Once again, the day following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, after everyone loaded up on foods and spent a ton of money, everyone should feel the urge to give back a little to those around them that are in need.

For starters, if anyone is actually interested in giving money to a cause, I have a story to share in which I personally am collecting money for. But it’s not for internet posting…so feel free to contact me.

In addition to organizations mentioned in 2016, 2015, and 2014, I’m gonna add to that list this year with the NASCAR Foundation – “Helping children survive and thrive. That’s our checkered flag.” – All donations up to $25,000 will be matched by NASCAR.

Feel free to visit givingtuesday.org for  more info!

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