Summer Vacation 2018, Part 2

On that Saturday, we decided to explore the Balboa Park area that has a lot of different museums for tourists to check out.  The night before, we asked the kids which museum they wanted to go to (narrowing it down to a few that Randy and I were interested in first) and Grace picked the San Diego Natural History Museum (the Nat).  I asked Ryan if he had a preference and he spelled REALLY LOVE MUSEUMS SO CAN DO GRACE’S CHOICE.

We got there and started checking out the place.  What I noticed (and loved) was that the descriptions on the different exhibits were brief but impactful.  The descriptions explained what the exhibit was in just a few relevant sentences, which allowed me to read them to Ryan (and on some have him point/track with me and read in his head) and they were not boring or long.

One of our favorite exhibits was Unshelved.  This area had specimens of different animals, plants, etc. with captions to go along with them.

As we were making our way to the second floor, Randy spotted a man wearing a Canine Companions shirt and baseball cap.  Of course, I had to approach him!  I introduced myself and the family and told the man and his wife that Ryan had Freckles, a Skilled Companion Dog, who was being watched by her puppy raiser, Dawn, for the week that we were gone.  The couple was Susan and Bob, and they had just attended the graduation for CCI in Oceanside, CA the day before.  They were puppy raisers and their first dog just graduated as a service dog in the ceremony.  They have a second dog that they are raising now.

Stephanie, Susan, Bob, Ryan, and Grace at the Nat.

After that, we explored some more and grabbed a quick snack at the cafe.  We then headed to the fourth floor for the exhibits there.  There were many pictures and displays and I came up with the idea of trying to “title” the picture or display before looking at the name of it.  The kids and I enjoyed doing this and I loved the creativity of some of the titles. (If you hover on the image, you can see the titles we came up with.)

We watched a movie before we left (Ryan did great again and sat the whole time).  It was called Backyard Wilderness.  While waiting for the movie, we checked out the museum store and after the movie, we called it a day.  We spent about 4 hours there, so we thought we did well.

That night, Ryan, Grace, and I walked to Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Little Italy.  The weather was pleasant (especially compared to the Texas heat), but the church did not have air conditioning.  It was stifling.  I was worried about Ryan in the heat and I positioned him close to the fans.  The Mass was great and the parish members were kind to us.  I always like taking the kids to Mass when we are on vacation so that they can see the similarities and differences to our church (and of course, it is important to us to go).  I was so worried about the fact that we were going to walk back after being in the extremely hot church, and I was unsure that we could, but once we stepped outside, I realized my fear was unfounded.  It was nice and cool outside!  We enjoyed the walk back and then hung out at the hotel (meaning Ryan and I did some more reading) and went to bed.

Sea World was on the docket for Sunday.  We purchased the All Inclusive Experience tickets.  Here’s why: these came with the ability to fast track the lines at the major rides, you could get all you could eat during the day and water bottles at most of the stands, it included 4 professional pictures (one for each ticket), and preferred seating at the shows.  When we went to Guest Services to pick up our tickets, we also got a Special Access Pass for Ryan.  This gave us the opportunity to get a scheduled time or go to the entrance on the rides that were not covered with the inclusive tickets (this included the Electric Eel and some of the smaller rides).  These two things made our experience amazing.

Ryan wanted to go to the Sesame Street area at Sea World.  As you know from our experience at Disney, Ryan loves the characters.  These characters were a big part of Ryan’s childhood.  As we got into the Sesame Street area, I saw that there was a picture opportunity for Elmo and Grover.  I asked him if he wanted to wait in line for the picture (the passes that we had did not apply to photo lines).  He replied YES.  After waiting in the line for about 5 minutes, an employee came out and stated that the line would be stopped about 3 families ahead of us because Elmo and Grover had to get ready for the parade.  The line started to disintegrate.  I was disappointed, but determined.  I asked Ken (the employee) if it would be possible for Ryan to still get a picture as this was important to Ryan.  He apologized and said that Elmo and Oscar (not Grover) would be back at 6pm.  It was a little after 3 pm at this point.  I was not sure how long we were going to stay at the park, let alone head back here to stand in line again.  I took Ryan to at least get a better look at Elmo and Grover.  He spelled:  CAN I GET A PICTURE WITH THEM, MOM?  I explained to him that I was trying my best to do it but I wasn’t sure it was going to happen.

We went back to near where the line was and I was trying to formulate some type of plan when a man and his son left the line and said to me, “You can take our spots if you want.”  I thanked him and found Ken and mentioned to him what transpired and he let us in the line.  Ryan was the last one to see them during this time.  It was important to see both Elmo and Grover because besides enjoying Sesame Street, two of Ryan’s favorite books growing up were The Monster at the End of the Book and Another Monster at the End of this Book.

When we got to them, Ryan spelled CAN REALLY SAY THAT I LOVE YOU GROVER AND ELMO.

Once we were home, I asked Ryan for his thoughts on the picture with Elmo and Grover:  DEARLY FEELING INDEBTED TO SESAME STREET BECAUSE IT MADE ME HAPPY WHEN I COULD NOT COMMUNICATE.  I LOVE ELMO ESPECIALLY.

Moral of the story:  Sometimes pushy moms, good samaritans and good luck are necessary for the win.

We stayed at Sea World until 6:45 pm that night after arriving at 10:30 am.  It was the best experience at a theme park that I have ever had in my life (the Sea Lions Live show was my favorite!)


The next day, we left in the morning to return to Texas.  This was the first time that I can remember that I did not need a vacation from the vacation.  It was a great balance of doing fun things and exploring and relaxing.

Ryan’s thoughts on the vacation:  I LOVED IT.  BOUND TO BE FUN.  MOSTLY READY TO TRAVEL AGAIN SOON.

We are back in full swing for school.  We have some cool things planned for the next couple of weeks, so we will be sure to share them in future posts!

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