Have you ever had a, what I call, a ‘joy and rapture day’. Well today is just one of those days. One place I really wanted to visit was the San Diego Zoo and today we did.
As a young mother I remember being amazed and awed seeing these beautiful and exotic animals and birds on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom featuring zoologist Martin Perkins. Reading National Geographic and watching Wild Kingdom was wonderful to learn about all the wild and exotic creatures that cover the earth but it cannot compare to seeing these beautiful creatures up close.
I took my children often to visit the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. They especially loved stopping by the panda exhibit always hoping for a glimpse of these playful bears.
The last time I visited the San Diego Zoo was with my family in 1979. We had a stopover in the city on our way to Hawaii. We decided to take the children to the Children’s Petting Zoo. We had a wonderful time there. The children loved being able to be up-close and personal with so many of the animals. I had such nice memories of this day that I wanted to return and see how the zoo had changed over the years.
When we arrived we decided to purchase the Adult 1-day pass because it included a guided bus tour. We thought this would be a great way for us to get our bearings and see as much as we could before starting our way. By far this was the prettiest Jacaranda tree purple blooms) I had seen since coming to California. Beautiful!
We sat on the top deck of the double decker bus. What a great view. We learned a great deal about the park, the ecosystem, the animals and birds and the efforts that are taken to create and preserve amazing habitats for all the creatures at the zoo. The habitats were all beautiful but so were the grounds. The entire zoo was filled with lush vegetation of all kinds. Beautiful trees, flowers, cactus and more. It was truly a beautiful place.
The zoo also has Kangaroo buses that allow visitors to hop-on and hop-off at the four locations around the zoo. The view from above was wonderful but now it was time to start our trek through the zoo on foot. We decided to walk for a while and then catch a Kangaroo bus when we needed a rest.
We walked by tiger, rhinoceros, camel, elephant, panda, lion, giraffe, zebra, panda, orangutan, flamingo, koala, polar bear, Siberian reindeer habitats and so many more. Each stop was just wonderful to see these beautiful creatures so close.
One attraction that caught my attention was the California condor habitat. During our guided tour the guide gave us a little history of this magnificent bird. We learned that the first condor was donated to the zoo in 1929 with a crippled wing. It lived for ten more years.
According to the history of these birds on the zoo website, “There were only 22 of the birds left in the world and a special “condor-minimum” with six large, free-flight enclosures was built at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The first California condor was brought into a zoo as part of the recovery program and was successfully raised at the Safari Park. Since that time the zoo has had 165 California condor hatchings. In 1992, the first zoo-bred condors were released into native California habitat in Los Angeles National Forest”.
According to what I read, these birds can reach flying speeds of up to 55 miles per hour and can fly to altitudes of 15,000 feet. Can you imagine looking skyward and see these beautiful birds with their large black wings soaring high in the sky? Periodically we would see them flying from one perch to another the wing span was incredible. It was beautiful, just beautiful.
We spent around four hours touring the zoo and finally decided to leave and make our way to the Paradise Point Resort Barefoot Bar + Grill for happy hour.
Once again Vilma brought us to a beautiful spot. The open-air restaurant and bar was located at a resort with views of a beautiful water fall to one side and a lovely marina on the other. We were seated at a high table close to the bar. There were five appetizer choices all costing $5.00 each on the happy hour menu. There were also a nice variety of libations at reduced happy hour prices to choose from.
Randy ordered the Pork Sliders (braised ginger cilantro with house slaw) and I ordered the Pesto Flatbread (Buffalo mozzarella-fresh basil and cherry tomatoes). Both were delicious. I loved Randy’s pork sliders and ordered a second plate. The pork was so tender and the slaw was sweet and tasty.
After spending time relaxing and enjoying our food, we walked around the grounds. The sun was starting to set casting a beautiful stream of silver light across the water.
On the way home I declared that Vilma was, “Queen of the Happy Hours”.
Tomorrow we are off to Riverside to have lunch with one of Vilma’s many friends.