West Coast Trip 2016 Pt. 3 – San Diego

28 Jan

IMG_0802We arrived in sunny San Diego Thursday afternoon and were picked up by my dad and his girlfriend, Susan. It was our first chance to meet her and we had every confidence we’d get along swimmingly and, of course, we did*. We chatted with them, catching them up on stories from our trip thus far as they drove us to my aunt’s condo, where we’d be staying the next four nights. We looked forward to a relaxing last leg of our trip, with just a night of Seinfeld and a trip to the famous San Diego Zoo scheduled. The rest of the time we’d be content to spend with family**.  

*Susan was super warm and welcoming, which we appreciated very much!

**And in….THE TANK. Aunt Tabby got us completely hooked on Shark Tank, and we spent a lot of relaxation time judging people’s products and pitches.

IMG_0808After visiting with family and a bit of shopping, we headed to a lovely Italian restaurant, Buena Forchetta, for a big Italian family dinner. We made faces at my cousin Jon and his wife Lynae’s sweet baby Emma and ate and drank well. I loved my pasta and the slice of salami pizza I tried. I was preoccupied with Emma — she was my favorite dish at dinner! She’d carefully munch one pea at a time, and occasionally reach out like she was going to share…only to fake you out and just put the pea in her own mouth. She was delighted at her own power.

IMG_0815We headed back to my aunt Tab’s place with her and AJ and got some more time hanging with baby Emma. She was the youngest attendee of our wedding and has only gotten cuter since then. We totally coordinated our outfits here, as you can see. Also HER HAND IS SO TINY HOW

IMG_0816We loved getting to hold our tiny cousin and were glad she was game. What an adorable, chill baby. We were HUGE fans. It was so fun to watch her testing out her baby powers, practicing screaming at the top of her lungs, destroying any objects that you tried to put together (towers, stackable rings, blocks, you name it), and aaaaalmost getting the hang of walking. She’s heavy into the stand-and-lean phase now.

IMG_0841After a delicious lunch at Crack Shack with Jon and Tab, we headed to La Jolla to go on a walk with my dad and Susan. Caitlin was very excited to see all the seals lying on the beach. I HAS SEAL FRIENDS AND I IS EXCITE FACE.


I was just as impressed by the large birds and watching the waves. Pshshsh you are not “just as impressed” by birds. We learned in the zoo that you’re “meh” on birds. Although you do legitimately love pelicans so I guess these guys are the exception.


Had to pose with my lovely wife. “Where’s the curve?” – B.o.B. “Do you SEE me?” – me

IMG_0858And loved being by the beach with my dad. We had time for about an hour long walk with some stops for seals before heading back to my aunt’s place to get ready for Seinfeld. This walk was one of my favorite things we did on the whole trip. It was so nice to learn the history of the neighborhood and just enjoy the air with family.

IMG_0863My dad was gracious enough to get eight tickets so the whole family could see Jerry Seinfeld do stand-up together*. The venue was less than a mile away, but a rainy night had us hail a couple Ubers and duck into the auditorium. We were especially excited to see Jerry since Caitlin and I had watched the entire Seinfeld series in the last year on Hulu. We really wanted to love the show, but maybe it wasn’t for us. Jerry knew his audience was an older San Diego crowd and played to them and they ate it up. We were already out after hating his opener and hating the women cackling “yes, yes!” “So true, so true!” all set even more. I smiled during a lot of the set and had a few laughs and one big laugh at a bit about accidentally making eye contact through the hole in a bathroom stall**. But for the most part it was underwhelming, especially after laughing really hard the week before at the Comedy Store. It was nice to be with family and to grab a bite together afterwards, but it was a let down comedy-wise***.

*Thank you, Gene!!

**Definitely the highlight of the set.

***A real thing that happened: Jerry – “And then we’ve got all these devices today.” Women behind us – “HERE we go!” 😵


The next morning we headed to the world famous SD Zoo to visit the pandas. This one was especially cute chilling and eating bamboo. There was a line for the pandas, which seemed a bit ridiculous, but we decided to wait it out because this was one animal that doesn’t exist in the Dallas zoo — I’m so glad we waited, because these little guys were soooooo worth it!!


We actually didn’t see the pandas until later in the day. We started by taking the bus all around the zoo getting an overview of the whole shebang. We saw some enormous giraffes and an elephant taking an incredible pee and all the usual zoo animals doing their thing. I took a selfie with a zebra here. I can’t really remember why this selfie happened, except that it’s not every day you’re hanging out by a zebra.


I was impressed by how muscular these deer-esque animals were. It was cute how they were standing up on hind legs to grab some snacks. This was CRAZY! This guy standing in this photo stood the entire time we watched him, for at least 5 minutes and who knows how much longer.

IMG_0882We enjoyed the polar bears, but nothing was as great as the rare treat to see a couple pandas up close. There was about a 20-30 minute wait to see them, but it was totally worth it. Panda frieeeeenddddd.


I was far more excited than my face lets on here. After the zoo we met up with Jon and Lynae to watch the Cardinals-Packers game at this sports bar Bubs by Padres stadium. It was a crazy exciting game and we enjoyed eating wings and cauliflower wings and playing a giant best of three game of connect four. I’m surprised Zack is letting me off the hook here without mentioning how we rode the “Skyfari” and I was literally terrified for the entire 3 minute ride. I told Zack not to move or breath, gripped the middle pole like my life depended on it, and hated every wobble and wave we experienced as we dangled from a pulley system high in the sky. I used to gawk at the similar cable car situation that was over the San Antonio zoo, shaking my head and thinking, “NEVER!” I don’t know what made me think I’d like this any better — I guess the thought that the San Diego zoo would surely keep up their system better than anywhere else? — but I do know I will never get in one of those little cars again. There wasn’t even anything good to see! It was just trees and construction over the areas they’re currently revamping.


The next morning we headed to Susan’s condo to celebrate her birthday with her family over brunch. They were all as lovely and interesting and nice to talk to as she is. Susan and my aunt have been great friends for decades so the two families come together like one big family. We enjoyed lox and bagels and mimosas and great company and this incredible view from her balcony when not keeping an eye on the Panthers-Seahawks game. After cake* and ice cream, we headed out and met Jon at Bub’s for more football and more cauliflower disguised as wings. We spent the evening at Jon and Lynae’s house for their Sunday night ritual with friends having a home cooked meal and watching “Shameless.” It was nice to join them for that Sunday night routine after getting to do so on our last visit a couple years ago. And we enjoyed one last chance to play with Emma**.

*Delicious homemade chocolate cake to boot!

**The Jon/Lynae/Emma trio is just so wonderful. I’m such a huge fan! They always are so warm and welcoming to us, and I love to see their little family growing.


 For our last meal in town, we went to the pancake house across the street from Tab and AJ’s house. It’s the same family that owns the Walker Brothers pancake house in Wilmette where I grew up so I enjoyed trying the apple pancake and dutch baby comfort food of my youth. From there we had just enough time to relax, pack and get a ride from my dad to the airport to get back to reality. It was so great to get so much family time on this part of the “tour,” and everyone was incredibly hospitable to us. We really owe everybody bouquets and thank-you cards and all of our love for making our stay so comfortable.

IMG_0925We knew we’d have a very excited pup at home waiting to see us and he was just as snuggly and attention-demanding as we’d expected after ten days away. Scooby always makes coming home exciting, even when we barely had time to catch a few hours of sleep before heading into work the next day.


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